Sunday, July 10, 2011

Been out of town

...on vacation with my kids, along with my parents, brother and sister-in-law.  Went to the beach.

So, we're there, and I'm watching throughout the week the inter-dependent relationship between the waves and the beach.  Where and how the waves break depends on the geometry of the shoreline - which is, in turn, shaped by where and how the waves break.  The system reaches a stable point after a period of time, but the stable point is dependent on outside inputs outside the realm of both: winds, deep-sea waves, tides, phase of the moon, etc.  When the outside forces change, the inputs change and the system changes until it finds it's stable point again. 

I say all that as backdrop.  The last night we were there I took a long walk down the beach by myself.  The two previous summers we took the same trip, but with my now ex-wife.  At some point in the week the two of us would always take a walk together down the beach.  This time I did it by myself, in the hopes of getting in touch a bit with how I feel about things.  I feel like I'm repressing my real feelings so very much.  I mean, I have yet to really, actually, cry about any of this. 

That last night was also when the winds and such changes and the beach started going through a pretty serious metamorphosis. 

So, I'm walking down the beach and I realize that, while this is certainly the same beach where I would walk with her, it also is not the same beach - because it changes daily. 

And I realized something about this and about me and about how I have to be to deal.  The waves and the wind are beyond the control of the sand - they come in from outside and the mess it up.  But it's still the same beach.  It adapts to its circumstances, it finds stability, it gives and reshapes itself - but it never stops being exactly what it is.  That piece of shoreline is never the same two days in a row, and yet always the same. 

I've got all kinds of external forces hammering me right now that are beyond my control.  I can go insane trying to stop them all and force myself into control - but that's all futile.  As futile as the sand trying to stop the breaking of the waves.  But I can bend to circumstances and be who I need to be - and I can do that without actually changing who I am.  I can be the same person, and yet change to deal with what I have to deal with. 

So, I didn't find my lost mourning for the ex.  But I did find out something that, I think, was pretty important.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


I haven't posted here in a bit because nothing much is happening.  But I guess that in itself is something I need help dealing with.

I'm just kind of existing.  In limbo.  Separated, but not divorced.  No real end in sight in that, either, since her lawyer is doing whatever she can to stretch it out.  Just going to work and doing my job and spending time with my kids and doing what I do at church. And hanging out with friends.

Which is all good, but I'm so used to moving towards a goal that I'm really uncomfortable with not having a plan.

And I can't really have a plan because I have no idea what is coming down the pike, and a lot of the moving on I need to do has to wait. 

So, I'm in limbo. 

I'd like to, at some point, start moving towards dating again.  But I really can't until I'm actually divorced, nor do I actually know how to go about that anyway.  I'd like to get moving towards some financial future where I'm not living in a little apartment and penny-pinching to get by.  But I can't until I have some idea of what my financial fate will be.  I'd like to start thinking about maybe taking classes again, but that, too, has to wait on financial decisions and such.

I hate this. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

So much stuff

Life can be really hard sometimes. 

I've had my kids a lot lately, which is why I haven't got to write much.  It's hard to blog when I have them, especially since the only computer in the house is connected up to the TV as my Netflix box.  In the living room.  Great big TV as a monitor, but not a lot of privacy.

So, both the Ex and Captain America got a bit in trouble with her boss because of some of what's been going on.  They, of course, both blamed it on me - as if no one would ever have any issue with their choices without my influence.  Blamed it on me, and one one of our mutual friends.  Well, used to be mutual - when he and his wife didn't 100% take her side the Ex decided they were evil, too.  Anyway, these formerly mutual friends, who are still my friends, have been two of the most stand-up and simply Christian people I've seen through most of this, and they are catching hell for it.  Captain America called and emailed them with all sorts of nasty nonsense, yelling, accusing, cursing, making threats, etc.  And all because someone else, somewhere, decided on their own that maybe my Ex and her boyfriend haven't acted with integrity sufficient to the ethical clauses in her contract. 

So, now the nasty venom is being spewed at my friends, whose only crime is being associated with me. 

But, on the bright side, her actions are starting to catch some attention, and some of the consequences of those actions are starting to be felt.

That's probably why, last night when she was picking the kids up from the Memorial Day BBQ I took them to, she started crying and asking it I would really try and make it work with her, etc.  No, she doesn't suddenly love me again.  For the first time.  She doesn't actually want me back.  She's just realizing that maybe leaving your engineer husband when you, yourself, have zero marketable skills and when your new boyfriend is starting to be something of an albatross around you neck may not have, all told, been such a well thought-out plan. 

And, no, I really don't want to be back with her; but it is really hard to look my children in the eye when I know I would have a chance at making all this go away for them.  Not that what we had or could have again would truly be better for them.

So, fun week.  Oh, and my friend from high school I mentioned?  Yeah, I had to not be her friend anymore.  After she more or less asked if I would take her if she left her husband for me.  Yeah.  I have a special life. 

But life does go on.  Despite all this, I'm feeling pretty OK about myself right now.  The beginning of last week I was absolutely crushingly depressed.  I don't really know why.  It just hit me with all the hopelessness and everything.  But I'm feeling better about myself now.  Some of it is just time - my moods come and go.  Some of it is that I got to hang with RS this past weekend a bit, and that always cheers me up.  Some of it is that I changed my look a bit - a facial hair thing - and think I look pretty good right now.  And some of it is that I've more or less decided to go ahead and start taking classes again.  Not sure if I can start by the fall, but definitely by next spring I want to be taking stuff.  I love school, and so that would be fun. 

But a lot of it is just having my kids here.  They are a lot of fun.  Even when they are being whiny and not really paying attention or obeying much - like they were today.  They are still fun. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Good times

So, as I mentioned last post, the kids have had a lot of fieldtrips and stuff at school this week, that normally I wouldn't go on, but that I now have to take off work for because otherwise the Ex would send Captain America instead. 

Kind of a pain, especially since I actually DO have stuff I ought to be doing at work.  But what certainly is not a pain is spending time with my kids.  

So, I had all afternoon with my son at a local place that's sort of an arcade but with all kinds of other stuff, too - mini-golf, go-carts, bumper cars and bumper boats, laser tag, a paintball course, etc.  Today I spent ALL day with my daughter at the zoo. 

It is really great to be dad again. I think I'm finally really remembering how and getting back into the groove. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Been really busy.  Sorry for the lack of posts.

So, Captain America continues on his ever-raging battle against the Evil Enzo.  By trying to take my kids away - by trying to be substitute Daddy. 

So, this time of year my kids have a lot of field-trips and stuff from school.  Because I work and she really doesn't, the Ex would go on most of these in previous years.  I was OK with that, because I work for my family, and going to work is part of me expressing my love for them.  OK.  Well, so a couple of weeks ago she informed me of one my son had.  I probably couldn't get out to do it, since it was all day.  I didn't hear another word about it.  Come to find out that she didn't go, either, or just send him with another parent.  Nope, she called Captain America to take him. 


Then, this past week when I had my kids they were both acting kind of uncomfortable and I asked them about it and they said that he's over there almost every day and it is making them uncomfortable.  The ex even has him be the one who tucks them into bed and gives them their good-night kiss.  Which is so totally beyond any and all aspects of appropriate that it boggles the mind.  No, not that she would have someone else do that job - she was always too lazy and too busy with facebook to bother doing much of anything.  But that he would do it is surprising. 

So, yeah, I'm dealing with that. But life is just that special.

So, my friend who was once my girlfriend that I talked about in the previous post and I talked last night about religion.  So, OK, her mom was a nut-case, and the way she pushed religion on her daughter really messed her up - and, not surprisingly, part of her reaction as an adult was to reject pretty much everything religious.  But she knows I care a whole, whole lot about my faith.  We were talking about that when she mentioned that, in discussing me with her similarly-non-religious husband his comment was, "He's, like, genius-level smart and very educated.  Why does he still believe that stuff?"

Don't worry, the questions were asked to me in a very respectful fashion.

Still, is there a more important question to be able to answer?

I won't give you the entire answer here, because we talked for a long time, but in discussing part of it I had some interesting thought that I thought I'd share.

So, there have been a LOT of extraordinarily intelligent people in history who have also been very deeply religious.  Three of the people I consider in the top 5 most intelligent people in history - Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Sir Isaac Newton - were all very Christian.  So, being a person of faith puts you in good company when it comes to intelligence.

Of course, when you say that a lot of people today would say, "Yeah, but they lived way back then.  Today, we know so much more..." 

But do we really?  I'm an engineer.  I work on some of the most bleeding-edge tech there is.  I also study history.  And I truly think we've lost a LOT more over the last few centuries than we have gained.

I mean, sure, we can hop in a car and drive to a grocery store for twinkies.  Yay, technology.  Yah, convenience and luxury.  But all the electric lights and airplanes and nuclear weapons in the world don't make us, as a society, any closer to actually appreciating truth than our forefathers.  In fact, if we look objectively at our culture, I think we are far, far, far less able to recognize much of anything as True and Beautiful.

The church I attend still does all it's readings and prayers in 17th century King James English.  Beautiful language.  The language of Shakespeare.  To many today it just sounds old fashioned and stupid and it become nearly incomprehensible.  But actually study the language - it is a LOT more sophisticated a language than what we speak today.  In comparison to it, 21st century English has devolved almost back to mere grunts.  We are losing the ability to speak, or at least to speak with any sort of complexity or nuance.  The language itself is collapsing.  Orwell said that if you don't have a word for a concept you can't think of that concept.  What about when the entire structure of the language makes it impossible to form certain thoughts?

Truth and Beauty.  We live in a cultural wasteland.  Has there been anything really worth reading written in the last 100 years?  Has the English language known any true poets in the last 200?  Have there been any real and true artists?  My ex loves old movies - "Singing in the Rain" is both her favorite and Captain America's, too - and the other day my daughter asked me what my favorite old movie was.  I thought about it and said, "I don't have one."  The question assumes that there are films deserving of becoming "classics" and to be remembered, and I simply don't consider film to be an art form at all.  Sure, it can be entertaining, but entertainment isn't art.  Art is about a connection with Truth and Beauty - and it is art that is worthy of being remembered. 

And don't get me started on music.  Bach vs Ke$ha.  Any questions?

We live in a cultural wasteland.  We consider Shakespeare extremely high art - and I certainly do, too, because I absolutely love the Bard and his works - but in his day his plays were considered crass entertainment for the masses.  Same plays.  The difference?  Their society still had and recognized true art.  We have nothing.  So, what was low art for them is high art for us - because WE have devolved. 

But most importantly to this conversation is philosophy.  To us, philosophy is something kids who don't want to actually put out any effort in college study.  It's only for the most useless of academics.  Too bad, because philosophy is important because it governs how you think.  Not that people don't have philosophy - we still think - but people aren't aware of it as a discipline, and so their thoughts are disordered and contradictory and meaningless and they don't even know it. 

Even the most educated and important among us suffer this.  After all, science is, itself, governed by a philosophy - a philosophical system that combines rationality with empiricalism.  Read Karl Popper some time and you'll see how deep and complex the philosophy of science is.  Yet, most of our present-day scientists not only don't actually KNOW the philosophy behind their own discipline of thought, the very thought that there IS a philosophy behind it would be a foreign and probably offensive idea.  Yet it is.  This disconnection between the experts in a field and the philosophical underpinnings of that field are largely responsible for most of the nonsense that gets passed around today in the name of "science." 

So, all this to say, when those of the present day dismiss the faith and knowledge of extraordinarily intelligent people from the past as just superstition, they are arrogantly assuming that because we have more technology then they did that we know ALL things better than them.  But being able to build machines doesn't correlate to actual knowledge of the truth.  Deep and real increases in the knowledge of how the physical world works does not imply real actual increases in the ability to discern what it means.  Our forefathers knew a LOT more about that.  Their culture produced works of great art simply because they were more in tune with Truth and Beauty.  They knew philosophy because they knew it was important to know HOW to think before you try to think - or at least before you claim that you know better than anyone else.  No wonder our language is devolving, and removing even the ability to express nuanced and careful thoughts.  No one has used those facets of the English language in centuries. 

So, no,  I think we very much can listen to the wisdom of the intellectual greats of the past.  Our world may have things theirs did not, but theirs had a lot that ours does not - and what we've lost is, at least as relates to this question, far more important than what we've gained.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blast from the Past

This past week I posted something on facebook that made oblique reference to my current situation.  Apparently there are a lot of people who know me and are friends of mine on facebook who hadn't known about the divorce.   I guess I haven't been very public about it.  Anyway, they saw the post, checked my info page, and then freaked out and emailed me. 

One of those is an ex-girlfriend of mine.  The closest thing I had to a "high school sweetheart."  We dated for a year from the end of high school (for me, she's 2 years younger) through my freshman year in college.  Sweet girl.  And one of my only ex-girlfriends that I don't have any harsh feelings towards. 

She was very concerned, and wanted to talk - to see if I was OK.  So, we talked.  That was weird.  First time I've spoken to this girl in 15 years or so.  Yet, even so, she still knew me scary well.  Just talking to me for a short time she pegged a LOT of stuff that's going on with me that I didn't even really realize all that well.  

She's married and happy.  Which is awesome.  She deserves it, especially after the childhood she had. 

But weird.  Weird emotions it brings up.  Gotta' figure out all that it means.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A lot to talk about

I've been out of town on business the last few days.  A lot going on.

First of all, that whole worry about her wanting me back?  Yeah, I'm pretty sure that isn't going to happen anymore.

Not sure how much of this I've talked about, by Madam X's job has some serious ethical clauses in her contract - it's a very deeply Christian, um, non-profit organization let's say.  Anyway, her bosses aren't all that impressed with her behavior lately, when it comes to me, and so she might lose her job.  In order to keep it, they've told her to go do counseling with a minister here in town.  And this minister's response, when he first talked to her, was that he wanted me there, too.  So, he called me and asked and it was the right thing to do, so I went.

Last Saturday was our third session with him.  He was really pushing hard on the, "Won't you just  try and reconcile?" bit, and she wasn't saying anything, so I said, "You know, that depends.  Because there is no way I'd sign back up for how it used to be."

The ex responded, rather icily, "Oh, and how was that?"

So, I told her.  She got angrier and angrier.  Finally the minister let her have her say - let her respond.  And what she said was, "Before that, I have to know, Enzo, if we were to try and reconcile, what is there you are doing right now in your life that you would have to change." 

I answered honestly, "Nothing."

That's when she stormed out.  Then she came back, crying, and told the minister she would meet with him again if she had to to keep her job, but would not if I was there. 

So, I think that put a fork in THAT. 

OK, that's one issue down.  The real big one left in detangling our lives is the financial stuff.  My attorney and I sent her and her attorney a letter with an offer of how we think it should go down.  This was I think a month ago.  We finally got a response back. 

As far as the part I'm most concerned about - how much the alimony and child support will be - there was nothing.  But on the part about dividing assets...  That was interesting.

So, from the beginning she said she wanted to keep the house.  I was OK with that because it's a big, expensive hassle.  That's why I moved into my little apartment.  But now she's realizing these is no way on God's green earth she could ever afford that place by herself.  So, she no longer wants it. 

Instead they are offering to just sell it and split the profits. 

But there is obviously another choice - I could buy her out and move back into my home.  I never even really considered this option because I thought there was no way she'd let it happen.  But now she kind of has to let it happen. 

That would mean that when the kids were with me, they'd be in their own rooms.  That would mean I would be a LOT closer to work and could bike to work again - and I wouldn't have to sell my truck.  I would have my garden back.  I'd be just a couple blocks from church, and just a couple blocks from the kids school. 

In order to do this I would have to give her my ENTIRE 401k, but I'd come away with the real estate.  On which we don't owe all that much. 

OK, so my expenses would go WAY up.  And that is WAY too much house for just me.  And the house isn't in that great a shape and is a big hassle.  But it's my home.  I could go home. 

A lot to consider. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

My Place

Some of this feels like it may be stuff I've already said.  If so, smile and nod and pretend like it isn't.

When I moved out of the house back in late January I knew I needed to find a cheap apartment, preferably on the other side of town from the ex and the kids so I wouldn't be running into them at the grocery store or whatever.  I looked at the same place RS and Therese live, but they didn't have one ready, so I ended up renting one in the same complex where me and the ex lived when we first moved into town.

There's probably some interesting psychology there that I have no real interest in exploring.  Because it's probably pretty screwed up.

When I first moved in here,  I completely hated it.  It wasn't home.  It wasn't the house I had bought and worked on.  My kids weren't here.  My stuff wasn't here - or at least not all of it.  It's tiny and my neighbors are loud and uncouth.  I hated it and didn't see how I could ever NOT hate it.

But then time went by.  I remember telling people (probably on here, if I looked) that it wasn't home and never would be - it is a place of exile.  But, as far as places of exile go it's pretty comfortable and nice. 

Then time went on.  And  I got the rest of my stuff here - which, as I talked about last week was a hard thing and had a lot of emotional baggage, but at least it's all HERE.  And that's important.  I found myself this morning, as I cleaned the place, actually feeling like it is home.  And being proud of it.  I think I have a nice place.  RS and Therese can comment on that, because they've been here, but I like what I've done with it.  Not that I'm going all gay interior decorator, like the Ex's new BF, but I think it's nice. 

And it's now home. 

I think for me that old saying is a bit different: Home is where my books are.  They are here, and it's nice. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Talkin' about my generation

What the hell is wrong with us?

Next door to my office lives the girl who does all our configuration management.  She stopped by to talk.  She's going through a divorce, too, and wanted to hear about my experience with custody mediation.  As we talked me mentioned several other people we know our age who are going through all this. 

What is going on with us?  Why can NOBODY seem to make it work? 

Sunday, May 1, 2011


So, I finally was able to get the rest of my stuff out of her house yesterday.  She made it a lot harder than it should have been.  I could have gone over just about any time and got stuff, or sent someone else if she didn't want me there.  But, no, the time had to be scheduled in advance, negotiated by lawyers, and she had to have "witnesses" there.   I guess she was afraid I'd go crazy, running through the house, and taking all her stuff.

Since I'm so known for that sort of thing.

But we were finally able to do it, and got it all over here.

And that's a pretty big milestone, and it carries with it it's own emotional content.  That place truly is no longer my home at all.  Not only do I not live there, and am not allowed to go over there, but none of my stuff is there.  It is all hers now.  This place here is my home now. 

It wasn't the nicest house in the world, but I still put a lot of work into it.  Even more, I put a lot of dreams into it.  And it has a lot of memories.  And it's no longer mine because it was taken from me.  I'm no longer family man living in the nice house in the nice part of town.  Now I'm living in a bachelor pad on the less nice part of town.  That's a hard transition, and this makes it all real now. 

All I have is my life is what I have right here.  I'm not a stuff person, in terms of finding happiness in things (well, except for books, but those are a bit different), but it's the simple fact that she has rather effectively removed me and cleansed the remaining traces of me from her life.  The fact that my stuff is HERE was important to her because that means it isn't THERE. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Another thing to think about

And this one is a doozy.

So, in the weeks right before and right after she served me with papers we did bits and pieces of couple's counseling.  Invariably, she quit before anything could really get started, while I would continue to talk to the therapists and ministers we were talking with.  But also, invariably, the counselors would come to two conclusions, that seemed rather obvious to everyone, apparently.  Number one was that the two of us should simply never have been allowed to get married because it would NEVER have worked in the long-term between us. 

That one I've thought about a bit.  And it's true.

But the second one I've just ignored: that at some point, probably not too terribly far in the future, she would realize what all she was giving up and come asking me to reconcile. 

That one I haven't thought about much, but I also know I have NO idea what I would say or do if it were to happen.

Because, on one hand, how can I NOT accept?  Her coming back and saying, "Let's not break up our family.  Let's try and make it work."  How could I not try?  How could I justify refusing her as the right thing?

Yet the fact that this might happen someday, and the fact that it would be the right thing to do to accept it doesn't negate the first point.  And that one is pretty important.  Marriage between the two of us will NEVER work in the long-term as long as she is who she is and I am who I am.

Over the last few months I've talked to a lot of people, and grown surprisingly close to some surprising people.  There is one lady who used to work with Madam X.  She and another woman worked very closely together, while the ex worked more by herself, but would stop by often to chat with the other two.  After she would leave the two of them would sit there astonished and say, "Why would ANY woman talk that way about her husband?  Doesn't she know how badly it reflects back on her?"

And these were pretty gossipy people anyway.  And it shocked them.

The last six months before the divorce she would often come to me, angry, and say things like, "Nobody likes you, nobody likes to talk to you, everybody thinks your a jerk, I'm tired of people not wanting to hang out with me because of how badly they dislike you," and I would think to myself, "The people I talk to like me.  It's just the people that know you better than me who feel this way.  The problem isn't me, it's what you are saying about me to anybody who will listen."

But that's who she is.  To this day she believes that NOTHING that ever went wrong in our marriage was at all her fault.  At all.  That all of it was my fault, and that all of it was caused by me being the wrong person.  Her last grasp "attempt" to make things work before the divorce was to say to me, "The only way we can make this work is if you change everything about who you are." 

What kind of person does that?  What kind of person says that?  About six months before the divorce she started seeing a therapist, and then she insisted I see one.  But it was obvious that, to her, the reason I needed a therapist was because everything with me was wrong; and the reason she needed one was to learn how to deal with me. 

That's a level of messed-up that's pretty amazing.  I guess if I was some really, really awful guy that might be all justified.  But I'm not.  I may not be perfect, but I also know I'm, generally, a good guy. 

But, then again, she never really wanted to be married to me at all.  She's told me that, too.

So, when she comes back asking me to reconcile, what do I do?  I know the first time she does it, she'll try to make it on her terms: "If you change everything about you then we can get back together."  Sorry, but no.  But what if -- and this possibility is a lot less certain -- she actually comes back more contrite? 

I don't WANT to have her back.  I'm really OK not being married to her.  I mean, it is going to take YEARS to heal from how much she would tear me down constantly, but already I feel so much better about myself.  So much more comfortable being me.  When you don't have someone you love telling you all the time how much you suck, the world feels a lot better.  I can't go back to that.

I can't go back if her attitude is still that everything was my fault, that she was perfect, and that all the change needs to be in me.  That I will never sign up for.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

This is my life????

Not that it's bad.  It's just surprising.  Everything is so new. 

So, this morning, I was asked by Father to serve again at the altar.  That is now the second Sunday I've done this: Palm Sunday and Easter.  Those are kind of big, as far as Sundays go.  I still have no real idea what I'm doing.  But he has confidence in me.  And so does most of the congregation.  They are always so supportive and complementary. 

But it's just really new.  The whole vesting myself is new enough.  But so is all the rest.  And I still don't understand all of it.  It's not bad, just new and different and kind of weird.  So, still scary.

I had my kids on kind of a weird schedule this weekend in order to keep away from what, to my ex-wife, would be the worst thing conceivable: me taking my kids to church.  The handing back and forth got a bit tiring.  But, still, my kids are very happy and are very affectionate with me.  They love me.  And I love them dearly.

I continued my weekly dinner party thing, this time having RS and Therese over for an Easter dinner: leg of lamb, a pilaf with kind of an Azerbijani flavor, and a cream of spinach soup for an opening.  Complex.  Kind of difficult.  I broiled the leg of lamb and the amount of smoke it poured out was astonishing - I thought for sure someone would call the fire department on me.  But it all turned out very nice. 

A nice night with nice friend and good food and good wine, and it was fun. 

But all this: this is my life?  So very, very different from what it was just months ago.  So different that you would have never convinced me then that this is how I would be living.  I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it all - even as I go forward rather boldly with all of it. 

Does that even make sense?  I'm not sure.  Yet, here I am.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


So, I really have no intention of this blog going like the last one where it became primarily about debating theology, but I thought I'd mention church a bit, because today is the first day of the Triduum and I had a lot of fun tonight, and because it is actually a rather relevant topic when it comes to my divorce and most especially to the complete reboot of my life.

I am currently a part of a small Anglo-Catholic community.  It's a little church, and for years I would drive by it and say, "I wonder what they are like?  I ought to go see sometime," but never really did.  There was a lot of reasons for my interest, not the least being that I was already (at the point of time I'm discussing) daily doing morning and evening prayer out of the Book of Common Prayer. 

Then, late last spring, things were getting SO bad at church where I was that I decided I NEEDED to go look around a bit.  So, I went by myself and visited.  It was the Sunday before Ascension, if I remember right.  It was nice.  I liked it.  Then, a few months later, I visited again, this time with Therese and, of all people, my ex's current beau, Bluto.  (Who was so uncomfortable he looked like he thought he was being mentally raped just being there.)  That was  the Sunday before July 4th. 

On both occasions, Father was just awesome and welcoming and made a great impression on me.  It's a little church, but beautiful.  And I loved the liturgy. 

So, when my relationship with my old religious affiliation all came to a head and I HAD to choose to go elsewhere, they were the first place that came to mind.

Now, it isn't perfect.  I have some ecclesiastical issues with them - and with the entire continuing Anglican movement since it is all so fractured.  I may not stay there forever.  But, for right now, it is what I need.  Father is one of the most pastoral men I've ever met.  He's awesome.  And it's a very little place, so I quickly got to know everybody.

And having sat down several times to talk through stuff with Father he cleared it with the Bishop to have me be involved and help out even though I haven't, officially, jumped through all the required hoops yet. 

So, on Sunday, the guys that normally help him out were all either sick or out of town.  So, as I was about to sit down he came up and asked, "Can you do me a big favor?"  And I said, "Sure, what?"  And he said, "Can you serve today?" 

And I answered, "I have no idea what to do?"  But he walked me through it and it was fun.

It feels really good to be involved again.  To not be just someone who shows up and sits in the pew, but to be a part of it all.  OK, so it is all new and different and kind of weird, but it's good. 

And he that sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."  --Revelation 21:5a

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My kids are here...

And all is well.  I love my kids.  They are so different and both so very fun.

The whole way home my daughter had this Star Wars ship, pretending it was some video game controller and the game was to blow EVERYTHING up.  So, she's make laser noises and then inform me that the car in front of me was blown up, so I could go.  Meanwhile, my son is discussing with me (or attempting to) H. G. Well's The Time Machine.  She's 8 going on 4 and he's 11 going on 30.

When we got home, my son started working on homework.  He had math and spelling and stuff, but the big thing is this big project his class is working on. They each had to pick a country in the world and then research it.  They have a paper due, a poster, and several other things, including a "country in a box" which is just a decorated box filled with things either from or representing that country.

My son chose the UK.  Which is just awesome, since I am a rather pathological anglo-phile.  Not sure why, I just always have been.  Even in high school, almost the only music I would listen to were various British imports, from the Beatles to Clapton and the Kinks. 

And, of course, since I am now Anglo-Catholic in religion, I get it all even more deeply. 

So, we sat down and talked through a lot of stuff tonight.  He's just starting the project and was really just making a list of what he needs to research.  He's mainly using encyclopedias, so I basically helped him put together a massive list of people and places and things to look up.  That was fun.  When he presents this he has to do an oral presentation, in costume, and bring some typical food item to share.  He's has already asked me to make some scones, and help him brew up a nice pot of English tea.  This was fun.

So, a good night of bonding with my kids.  It's nice to feel like a father again.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Not sure I discussed this yet, and while it isn't the most important thing going on, by far, it is still important.

So, X always liked being married to someone who made an engineer's salary.  Not so much the being married to an actual engineer.  But she liked the money part.  A lot. 

I'm a pretty non-materialistic kind of guy and I can live pretty cheap.  She was the one always buying unnecessary crap just because she could.  I had a financial plan that would have had us in an AMAZING place in a couple years if we could just have a little discipline - we would have had the house paid off before my eldest graduated from high school, would have never had to borrow money for vehicles, would have been able to pay just about any college tuition out there, etc.  That was my outlook on our finances. 

Her's was, and I quote, "In a family that makes as much as we do, nobody should ever be allowed to say, 'we don't have the money for that.'"  She would talk about how her friends husbands make SO much less than me yet let their wives spend whatever they want.  I would want to respond, "It's called 'debt', honey," but I restrained myself.  In any event, while I saw my earnings as the path to future security and ease and blessings for our kids, she saw it as a ticket to an unlimited supply of useless crap, crappy clothes, and stripper heels. 

This puts us in an interesting position here on this side of the divorce.  I make a bit more than 90% of our combined income.  She spends somewhere above 65% of our combined income.  Something has to give way here. 

When she first filed papers she said she wanted the house.  That's really OK with me.  A 2200 square-foot house is a bit more than I want to be paying for right now, and considering how much equity we have in it, she'll have to give me just about every other asset we have to buy me out.  So, I can come out with no debt (even mortgage debt), my 401k intact, and a LOT lower living expenses than she has.  That's good.

But because I make so dang much and she makes so little the alimony and child support are going to be through the roof.  Combined, we are looking at upwards of $25k to $30k per year.  That's not so good.  And that is even with the child support being held down a bit by the fact that I'll continue to pay the kids' private school tuition.  Which is another $12k per year I'm on the hook for. 

I keep running my numbers.  I'm living in this little, cheap, kind of crappy apartment.  My utilities are next to nothing.  I don't eat out hardly at all.  The only place I'm spending an excessive amount of money is gas for my truck, since my round trip to work is 30+ miles.  Even so, I'll be brushing up against the edge.  I have no idea at all how she is going to live.  Her expenses are a LOT bigger than mine and even with all that money I'll be sending her every month she'll still be living on a lot less than me. 

Financial tip for anyone out there thinking about divorce: after you divorce you are still going to be making the same amount of money but will now be paying for two places to live AND will have to pay a big chunk of change to lawyers.  These things are not good.  They are not conducive to future financial security.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I'm just tired

First of all, thanks so much to all my bloggy friends who have found me here.  FTN, great to hear from you.  Aphron, glad you came by.  Thanks, everyone, for all your support.  Even that one girl named "Val" that left a comment that I was kind of half thinking was actually making fun of me.  But even if it was, welcome.

So, today.  Today sucked.

Not most of it.  Most of it was awesome.  I went in to see my therapist at 5:00 and I when he asked how I was I said, "I'm good.  I'm actually good.  I think I'm getting a handle on this stuff."

Boy, teach me to jinx it.  I wasn't even out the door with my therapist when one of my friends called me.  So, apparently my ex's boyfriend thought it was appropriate to post something criticizing me on facebook - over an incident he knew next to nothing about.  And he did it in the most insulting terms possible. 

OK.  What do I do?  I tried being mad, but it all just came out tired.  But, seriously, what could I possibly do?  Call him out on it?  How would that do anything other than make it worse?  He (and I'm seriously not making this up) thinks he actually knows both sides of everything going on, despite not actually talking to me for six months.  The friend that called me was talking to both me and Madam X up until about a month ago when the ex de-friended her (in facebook and in real life) for not taking her side on everything.  But up until then, she was talking to us both.  And X's boyfriend had the gall (and insanity) to tell this friend that she had taken her position because she didn't know both sides like he did. 

So, seriously, would talking to someone that detached from reality do anything good?  And would macho bluster over my reputation do anything but make me look even worse?  It's a no-win scenario.  Well, except for that whole "vengence is mine, says the Lord" thing. 

Father at church recommended that I let God handle it.  In his words, "the best way to defeat the assaults of the devil is to ignore them."  And he's right.  But I can't help feeling like a doormat. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

The hardest part

The hardest part of all this is just overcoming the sense of the unreality of all this.  Literally, every day I wake up and I look in the mirror and have to convince myself that, yes, this actually really is happening and, yes, this actually for real is my life.

And every single day, I find myself surprised by that fact.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Being of two minds

So, back when a lot of this first started - it was actually the first weekend I had my kids at my place - I asked the kids what they would think if some time in the future, when it was the right time and I was ready, I dated someone new and maybe even eventually get remarried.  I tend to try and think ahead, and was already thinking along those lines for the future, and was concerned about what they would think and feel about it.  I didn't understand yet that one of the strongest dynamics of the new situation is that everything I say to them gets back to Madam X, who then twists it beyond all recognition.  So, what she took from all this is, "Daddy says we'll have a new stepmom soon." 

Which is, obviously, a bit different.

But there's an interesting thing at play here.  One thing I've told just about everyone who would listen one constant mantra since this started (which should have been my first clue that this is something I should explore about myself) that I didn't want this divorce, I didn't start this divorce, and I certainly didn't want my family split up and all this.  Yet, I can also say with complete and total and forceful honesty (like I did tonight at my friends' house) that I am really, really rather glad I'm not married to her anymore. 

Do these two things contradict each other?  Sure.  I'm of two minds about the entire thing, which shouldn't be all that surprising.  On one hand I really, really don't want to be divorced.  On the other, I'm really, really glad I'm not married to her anymore. 

She, of course, can't see that.  When she hears me say anything (or hears of me saying anything) about not wanting this, or any other such equivocation, she immediately interprets it as lies because, if that's how I really felt then I would have never asked the kids what they would think about me dating again.  If I really didn't want to be divorced then I wouldn't even be thinking about dating again. 

Well, so, she doesn't get it.  That's not really all that new.  There's a lot she doesn't get. 

Friday, April 8, 2011


So, I've now been separated from the family dwelling for almost 3 months.  For that entire time, we were working on a time-sharing plan for the kids that had them with me not much at all.  I could have had a better one, but things got nasty awful quick and I thought it best to let things settle down a bit.  To not kick it up another notch in the crazy scale. 

This was not a popular decision with my friends and family, as you might imagine, who mostly accused me of letting Madam X get away with whatever she wanted and of me not fighting for my kids enough.  And there's probably a bit of truth in all that, too.

Starting today we are on a new and more permanent time-sharing plan.  One that STILL doesn't give me the time with the kids that I ought to have, or that I could have had if I had been willing to let it all go to custody arbitration, but I was trying to avoid destroying my children's lives, so I pushed her as hard as I could during mediation and got as good a deal as I could without getting courts involved.

That also wasn't a popular decision.  But I think I've got a bit firmer ground to stand on in defending this one.

But in any event, I've spent three months now mostly away from my kids.  When it all first started it was hard and it felt really weird, but we were all still family.  But by now...  I don't know.  It's like I've forgotten how to do this.  How to be a dad.  How to be THEIR dad.  I'll have them more now, enough that it will be more regular and normal and involved and everything.  Hopefully enough to remember how to do this. 

Being a father was everything to me.  It was how I defined my entire existence.  Not being dad - or not being allowed to really and truly be their dad the way I ought to be - has been the absolutely worst part of all this.  I love my kids so much.  And I know they love me.  I know they want to be here with me.  But it still feels kind of artificial and forced and I don't really remember what to do or how to do this right. 

Divorce is evil.

Divorce is bad, mkay

And you shouldn't ever do it at all.  It sucks worse than anyone who hasn't gone through it can possibly know.

But, if you just have to get a divorce, please, by all that is holy and good, get a good attorney.  There is nothing that can make it better for EVERYONE. Especially yourself.

Now, I know that seems obvious.  Of COURSE you want a good lawyer.  Nobody wants to go into a divorce with a bad lawyer.

The tricky part is that what actually makes a good divorce attorney is pretty much diametrically opposed to what people think makes a good divorce attorney.  At least that was true for me.  I'd watched way too much TV, and thought a GOOD lawyer was one you would go in a really stick it to the other person, demolish them in court, come up with a Chewbacca defense for anything you were being stuck with, etc.

No, that's actually a pretty good description of a BAD divorce attorney.

It's like this.  A GOOD attorney is one that, when you come in with the list of all the crap you want (I want the kids all the time, and for he/she to not have them at all/I want to not give her any money/I want him to give me all his money so I can sit at home and eat bon-bons all day/etc) will tell you, "'re not going to get that.  Here's what you CAN get," and then convince you to be reasonable.  Then he or she will go meet with the other party's attorney, and if they are both good attorneys and both did the job outlined above, they will quickly negotiate to the settlement that both of them knew going in they would end up at.  Then you sign papers and are done.

A BAD attorney is the one who promises you that you can get whatever you want, who doesn't help you be reasonable, but drives you to being more and more unreasonable in your demands, and thus who stretches out the entire divorce process like crazy all so they can get paid more in legal fees.  And, at the end, the settlement will still be just about what it would have been if both had been good lawyers and both parties had been reasonable.  The difference is that it will take 10 times as long, cost EVERYBODY 20 times as much.

Oh, and it will absolutely destroy the lives of any children you might or might not have.  Because divorce is always hard on the kids, but what destroys them is when it all gets nasty and drawn out and the courts have to step in to make all the decisions because the two sides couldn't agree to a reasonable compromise.  THAT is what destroys kids.

So, get a good lawyer.  Help make sure your new ex finds a good lawyer, too.  Because the good, smooth, minimally-destructive process only works if BOTH parties have good attorneys.

I like my attorney a lot.  She's a very good attorney.  She works hard to keep my bill down.  She tries to get stuff through easily and reasonably.  Madam X's attorney is the absolute stereotype of a bad attorney.  She has a reputation in the local legal world of being, well, a complete bitch who has a tendency to take control of the case from her client and then drive it all into complete insanity.  It's just known that NOTHING goes smooth when she is involved.  Whenever you submit ANYTHING, she will HAVE to send it back with a billion amendments, trying to play every trick she can.

So, yeah, my life is just so much fun right now.  Let me tell you.  I'm identifying way too much with this right now.

So, don't get divorced.  It sucks.  But if you just have to, get good attorneys.  Save both of you a lot of time and money and heartache.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Weird stuff that I miss

So, there's a lot of adaptation I have to do in all this.  A lot of stuff that has to change that I never even thought of.  A lot of habits I have to break.

Like, for instance, I'm at some friends' house tonight, and I keep feeling like I have some place to be.  When I leave I look at my watch and curse how late it is...before I realized there was no place I had to be, no one who would be mad I was out that late, and nobody who would have known if I'd stayed longer.  Besides my friends, that is.  I'm so used to being...well, on a leash is how I'd put it right now.  I'm so used to being answerable to someone else who would be mad if I spent time with my friends.

Another one: I'm so used to someone else keeping my calender and telling me when I have to be places.  I keep almost forgetting appointments and stuff because I'm used to that being someone else's job.

Another one: I'm used to consulting someone else's opinion before I make decisions, big or small, and so now I'm having to do them all by myself and it's hard. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


...what to talk about.

So, I feel better about stuff that I did a few days ago.  My emotions right now are like the stock market - or how we hope the stock market is, anyway.  It has its ups and downs, but the general, long-term trend is up.  I am getting better, but I still fall down a lot. 

But I'm doing better. 

So, let's talk about my new job.  That's a topic I haven't explored a lot yet.

In my old job I was, basically, a software engineer.  The software I was writing had an intimate connection with engineering hardware -- so it wasn't a purely software sort of job, like writing windows applications or iPhone apps would be -- but it was still mostly about writing code.  I'm very, very good at writing code.  Not the ins and outs of syntax and little tricks with the compilers or whatever.  That's not me.  But being able to quickly whip up a nice, little script that would do what we wanted right then - that's me.  OK, someone who WAS the expert ins and outs of syntax and who knew all the tricks would have to come around and clean it up to make it run with any sort of efficiency.  But the functionality -- the designing of the algorithms -- that was all me. 

It was a fun job, that I enjoyed a lot, and that I was very, very good at. 

But the economy being what it is, that company started having issues.  They started laying people off.  A lot of people.  But they did it really slowly and, well, wrong.  Instead of saying, "Over the next year we will only have work for X people, so we have to lay Y off," they would say, "What is the MOST people we can support at all this month, giving us the LEAST number we have to lay off right now." 

OK, so they were trying to be nice and lay off as few as possible, but it meant that the next month they had to come around again and do another round of lay offs.  And another one the next month.  And so on and so forth for, like, a year.  Over that time we lost half our staff.

Really scary, and all the worst because there was never one big cut and then it was over.  It just kept going on.  We all got REALLY tired of looking over our shoulder.

So, I decided to be pro-active and start looking around for something else on my own.  Well, I had talked about it.  But then, before I had even gotten around to sending out one resume or applying to one posting, out of the blue a former colleage called me.  He had seen which way the wind was blowing a LONG time before that, and had left then.  The place he was now working at is a kind of quasi-government sort of place (we always say it feels like the center between private industry, government, and academia).  The project he was working on needed someone with a particular skill set and asked him if he knew anyone with it, and he thought of me and gave them my name. 

I applied and got the job.  Yay me.  Nice, big increase in pay, too.

But the job, I quickly learned, was not software engineering.  It is systems engineering.  Highly related, yet very, very different.  What my manager wanted was someone who knew the software world I came from - the ins and outs, what it takes to do it, and how to apply it to these sorts of applications - and to then relate all that to the rest of the project.

So, I don't get to write code anymore.  At all.  (I've even been forbidden by my manager from even loading the programs necessary to write any of it on my computer.)  Instead, I write requirements.  I write systems engineering plans.  I plan configuration management schemes and release schedules.  I help formulate test plans and requirements verification matrices. 

Good work.  Easy work - a lot easier than what I was doing before.  A lot higher level, a lot more management-oriented.  A lot more being the guy in charge.  But, wow, do I ever miss writing code!

Don't get me wrong, I love my new job.  I've described my job to people as mainly consisting of going to meetings and then acting like I know what I'm talking about.  How easy is that?  I write power point charts a lot.  It's easy.  Kind of boring.  But easy.

The issue is that it is just SO different from what I did before.  I know what skills I had then, and I had a LOT of confidence in them.  This job...not so much.  Half the time I'm expecting my manager to come in and say I just wasn't really who they were looking for and so I have to go.  Which isn't going to actually happen - whenever I DO talk to my manager she raves about how everyone thinks I'm so great.  But, still, it's been a hard adaptation. 

Especially since in my former job, someone else would figure out what needed to be done and then tell me and I would do it.  Alone and by myself.  Now, I'm having to figure out what to do, but then I have to delegate it all to someone else.  And that's hard.  Now, I have the responsibility of telling them to do the RIGHT thing, and if it's not, then I screwed up - yet I don't have control of the actual process, so I can't fix it if it is wrong. 

Plus it is, as a job, a lot more people-oriented.  And I speak code a lot better than I speak people. 

But I seem to be doing well, by the standards and opinions of the group/company.  So, I don't think I have anything to worry about.  Just another weird change.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tonight was fun

So, as part of my quest to actually have a life, instead of to just exist and survive, I decided to start having people over once a week.  To cook and have them over and do the dinner party/entertaining thing.  I started by asking over some friends I met through work.  The wife and I work very closely together, and she's kind of adopted me.  She calls me her "work son."  Her husband is an awesome guy, and the two have quickly become pretty good friends of mine.

They had me over a few weeks ago, and I decided to return the favor.  It was fun.  I got to cook good stuff and pretend I have class and am all fancy, and got to have a nice evening of conversation. 

It's certainly a good way for me to try and repay just a little bit all the people who have been there for me so deeply the past few months, and who have given of themselves to help me out.  I'll start with this couple, and make my through my list of people I owe debts of gratitude to week by week.  It's fun.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I'm still in a funk today

I don't really know why.  Well, yeah I do.  Kinda'. 

I miss my wife.  Yeah, she was evil and mean and made my life hell, but at least she was mine and I was hers.  There was someone to whom, whether she liked it or not, I had to be the top priority.  As she was mine, like it or not. 

And now I'm not anyone's priority.  I have friends.  Good friends, who are wonderful people and who care about me, and would do anything for me.  But they all have other priorities that are higher.  It's not wrong - in fact, it is the only way they can make their choices in the right way.  It's not their fault - any of them.  It's just the way it is.  But it hurts all the same. 

I don't know how to be this person.  I don't know how to live this life.  I don't know how to do this.

Friday, April 1, 2011

I really don't know what's wrong with me today.

Everything was in place for today to be just awesome.  And, for some reason, I'm more depressed that I've been in a long time.

Note: I'm already well on my way to being blind drunk, so if this starts to get a little incoherent, that would be why.  

I don't know.  I had an easy day at work.  Everybody at my company works 9/80 schedules, so we all have every other Friday off, but my rotation on that seems tobe 180 degreees out of phase with everyone else on my team.  So, I was there today, and next to nobody else was.  Quiet day to myself.  Because of how the 9/80 works, even my Fridays on are short - 8 hours instead of the 9 I work Mondays through Thursdays, and being Friday, I fast, which means I don't take a half hour for lunch, either.  So, easy, short day.

Fridays are when I get to see my kids (on our current schedule), and that's always good.  It seems like forever since Tuesday when I had them last, and I'm always so excited to go pick them up.  We always have such fun.  Today I've just been blah about it all.  We had fun tonight, but it was just so short, and sometimes I just don't know what to do with them.  I feel like, our time together is so precious that it has to just be awesome, and that's a lot of pressure.  And I can tell, when they are with me, that they are trying really, really hard to be OK but that they really aren't in a lot of ways.  I don't know what to do for them, and it scares me a lot.

And today was when my friend got home.  Ten weeks.  And, with the exception of the one week before she left, it was another four months before that since we really interacted as friends.  I'm very excited to have her home, but I'll admit some apprehension.  It's been six months since we've really been close.  Six months in which a LOT has happened.  I don't know how close we still are, and that scares me. 

And, I guess, psychologically, I've been kind of surviving here the last three months on the assumption that if I can just be OK, amd make it through until she gets back then somehow that signals that I will, in the end, be OK.  It was just some sort of milestone marker in the Project schedule in my head.  Well, she's back, but that doesn't mean I've really passed any sort of real milestone.  I'm not just all OK by now.  It all still sucks.  I guess my mind could handle it all when I thought there was an end in sight, but there's not. 

And none of that was conscious, of course.  I'm just now realizing it all. 

And please no one reading this think I'm implying anything inappropriate in my feelings.  It's just that everything is so interconnected.  It was September when I couldn't be her friend anymore because my wife said I could't, yet even when I chose my wife over my friend (to the point of saying good-bye, I thought possibly forever), things just got worse then.  They got worse and kept getting worse.  Then the divorce, which sucked, but since she was divorcing me then, hey, that does mean I can be friends with whomever I want again.  Right?  But the divorce was almost simultaneous with my friend going out of town;and while what I have been going through has been hell, so has what she's been out of town doing.  So, I guess my subconsious just made a connection: her hell experience had an end-date, so mine must, too. 

But mine doesn't, and life still sucks, and I'm in this massively fragile emotional state which just makes me feel like a loser, and she walks back into town with more self-confidence and emotional strength than I've ever seen in her.  What doesn't kill you is supposed ot make you stronger, and that worked with her, but I'm still staggering from the hits I've taken.  I guess I just feel like a great big, loser.  Like this scared little kid who can't do anything right. 

And I just feel so very deeply alone today.  I'm walking this path by myself.  And there's no one there to pick me up if I fall down.  nobody but me.  And I'm as tired of having to pick myself back up as I am of falling down again.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

I said I would post everyday..., dang it, I'm gonna write something if it kills me.

So, the thing that's really bugging me right now is that both of my parents are really wigging out over everything.  My dad called me the other night and started asking why my lawyer didn't coach me before I went into the mediation or something like that, and the second-guessing of me and my actions and decisions (as if I, again, am not just quite perfect which means I'm not just quite good enough) was too much, and I kind of yelled at him to leave it alone, that I really couldn't deal with that right then. 

I called the next day to apologize and he was all, "Lesson learned, I won't talk to you about your divorce ever again."  Which is SUCH an over-reaction. 

Don't really know what to do with that.  So, I haven't called him back.

But I called my mom to ask for some meal ideas for the dinner party I'm hosting over here on Sunday for a couple I know from work, and in the middle of the conversation she wanted to start talking about church stuff, and why I left the Church of Christ, and how she's all emotional and worried about it, and how she can never tell that to my grandma because she would die, etc.  I basically told her to knock it off, too. 

Don't know what to do with that, either. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


So, I had a big long talk with my therapist about all the stuff I posted on here yesterday, the stuff that you either read or did not read depending on how you responded to my disclaimer

It was an interesting conversation.  We tread a lot of ground.

One thing I realized talking to him is that it's not that my dad didn't/doesn't love me or approve of me, it is just that expressing that approval has always been hard for him.  One reason is because he held me to such high standards.  I'd come home from elementary school with a 93 on a test and the response wasn't, "I'm proud of you," but, "why didn't you get a 100?"  That kind of thing sticks with you.

My mom would do that, too, but where he was stern while demanding perfection, she was and is all overly emotional and stuff, while still holding the same standards.  What did I learn from all this?  Several things.

  1. If you want approval and acceptance and validation, go to women, not men.
  2. Everyone expects you to be perfect, and if you are just meeting expectations don't expect praise.
So, I go to women for validation and acceptance and ALWAYS find it hard to connect with other guys.  I just don't feel like they'll ever accept me as one of them.  And, second, I believe somewhere deep that everyone expects me to be perfect, and when I'm not, that I will not be accepted at all.

So, translate that into what I talked about yesterday.  I go to women for validation because, truth be told, guys scare me in the "they'll just make fun of me and run me off and will never let me join in any reindeer games."  But really in any group is just feel acceptance is out of reach because to get that I have to be perfect.

With girls, I've always been self-conscious, for instance, because of my height - or lack thereof.  Girls like talk guys and I'm not.  OK.  But I have a feeling I could be 6'1" and if a taller guy walked into the room then I would suddenly have no confidence again - because I'm not the best there is at that particular thing in that particular group.  And I'm not accepted if I'm not the best and perfect.

It's all pretty screwed up.  But at least now I have the resources to help deal.  Therapy is awesome.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011



Everything is in place for me to be completely happy.  What's holding me back is that other piece: belief in self.  Feeling good about myself.  Being happy with who I am.  Really and truly happy.  Where I'm not wishing I am someone else somewhere else.  So, how to get there?

Lists of accomplishments/qualities don't seem to do it.  I've had those all my life.  Typically, what's been the key point is belief that I am truly desirable to women.  While not an unimportant thing, I completely exagerated its importance because my entire self-image revolved around the approval of women.  But if I KNEW that I was attractive, that would, personally, be VERY important.  But there has to be more.  Character?  I think I am a good person.  But there's something else: I often feel when I'm talking to people - male, female, in person, online, whatever - that people are laughing at me and making fun of me for being a geek.  Why?  High school?  Still???  Because I AM a geek?  Because X was right and I DON'T know how to talk to people?  I just feel there is something wrong with me.  I've always felt like an outsider in ANY group - even when I was core and at the heart of the group.

I've never felt truly accepted.  That's the key.  And that goes back to my Dad.  I've never really felt accepted by him.  Not really.  (And I also KNOW that is all my own neurosis, because he does.)  And I've been searching for real acceptance from ANYONE ever since, but also never believing I ever really had it even when I did.  I have always felt I was NOT accepted, really, and was thus an outsider.  When there was no reason to feel the outsider I made one - espousing political or religious opinions outside the mainstream, doing my own thing, etc.  The only "group" I feel truly a part of is a couple - whether me and a friend talking one-on-one or me and a woman.   I guess, in that situation, there's no one else to compete with for attention.

Acceptance.  How to be accepted?  How to recognize it when I am accepted?  How to believe it when it is real?  How do you truly step from the outside to the inside and become a part? 

I guess I could start by looking at my own criteria for accepting people.  In general, I try and accept everyone for who they are.  That's why I actually get along with a LOT of people that others find hard.  The only people I have a hard time accepting are those who are just frustrating; typically because they are just slow and dumb and tiring.  The only other group I can think of that I don't just accept are those who embrace a sub-culture that is crude and ignorant and debased.

So I, in general, am not that picky.  I, generally, like people. 

Of course, one question I have to ask myself is how much of that is my own self-focus and selfishness?  Am I not picky because I don't WHO they are as long as they pay attention to me and listen to me and make it about me? 

Maybe a bit.  But I don't think that is all of it.  I hope that is not all of it.  I think I'm also, generally, a likable guy and that I genuinely like people and accept diversity.  I like variety.  I like that people are different. 

But those are my issues.  The thing is, while I may be a bit more accepting than some, most people aren't THAT picky (if they were, they would be pretty lonely).  I thing most are willing to give me a chance, and as long as I'm not particularly obnoxious or odious, I think I AM generally accepted.

  • Gaming at my friend John's - I am very accepted (even if I STILL feel like an outsider)
  • Beer group with friends from old job - they like me.  That's why they invite me.
  • Church - Father and his wife have really taken me in.  They like me.  So, do my new friends from church.
  • Work - Not generally a very social place, but I have one co-worker who calls me her "work-son" so I think that's acceptance
  • Blogs - I think I was well-liked here before, even if sometimes people were probably a bit afraid of getting me too wound up on certain subjects.
  • Fark (where I still hang out too much) - This one is tough.  People are not restrained by normal behavior rules there and are often purposely mean.  I've been accepted there before.  
Key to not being rejected: Don't be desperate, don't be awkward.  Don't be needy.  Be in teh group because you want to be, not because you need to be.  And don't be weird.  Don't be all mopey and depressed.  Be at peace, by happy, show joy.

OK, that's great but stop trying to fix it.  HOW to be accepted is less then issue than how to believe I am accepted.  How to be comfortable in a group and confident that I am "in" and not an outsider.  For that I just have to know that most people aren't that picky, everybody is, ultimately, not that different from me with all these same feelings and are all in similar positions - they need people and desire social contact.  NOBODY is fully self-secure and NOBODY has so many friends they can just reject people out of hand.

OK, now how to help me believe all that, for reals? 

Finding Happiness



OK, so how do I get that?  It is important that I first learn to be happy by myself.  Happy with my life.  Happy with myself and being by myself.  That doesn't take away the reality of my situation, nor my physical/social needs, but it means I need to have a way of handling them that is healthy.

So, how to be happy?  For most of my life what has made me truly happy - the only real thing - is sex because that made me feel good about myself.  It's very hard to feel happy when you don't feel good about yourself.  So, I need 2 things: 1) the ability to feel good/confident about myself outside of female approval; and 2) another basis for personal happiness.

Sticking with the latter, how to be happy?  On what basis?  The monastic/Catholic/Christian answer is that happiness comes from the contemplation of good and beauty, and in living a moral life in moderation - and that to be happy one must remove the sources of unhappiness, which is sin.  So, purity of heart and recognition (and appreciation) of what is truly good and beautiful.  In more broad form, it is the beatitudes.  Christ's basis for happiness:
  • Poverty in spirit -- non-materialism, not being owned by what you own, non-elitism
  • Mourning -- mourn sin and mourn the world, not expecting life to be perfect, so not being surprised or thrown out of sorts when life sucks, but mourn it before hand because you know the state it is in.
  • Meekness - under control, kindness, not ruled by passions
  • Merciful
  • Purity of heart - throw off sin and corruption and embrace purity
  • etc, and all in the face of hardship, suffering, and persecution.
All of these have EVERYTHING to do with ME and nothing to do with anyone else, what they think of me, or with any life circumstances.  But they DO, I think now, imply that you choose who to be, you be it, you believe in it, and you have confidence in it.  You are happy because you are the right person with the right virtues - virtue is its own reward.

So, be good, fight sin, and be happy because of it.  Know God and be happy because you do.

Other standards, while not from Christ, are still potentially relevant.  Like having productive, fulfilling work, which I would have if I would just pay attention and apply myself.  Having friends: and I do.  I have good friends.  Good stuff to do: Yup.  Entertainment: I have more books, movies, and games that I could ever use.  Family: my family is awesome and stable and healthy and function and supportive and cares for me; and I still have my kids, too, who love me and are great.  Activities: lots.  Hobbies: yes, too many and not enough time even now.


 First, read the disclaimer

Also, this is the second part of one big, long narrative.

I also know myself enough to know that one reason I NEED sex so much is that the only time I ever feel truly confident with myself and comfortable with myself is when a girl is showing me she really does truly want me - that she truly accepts me - because she's fucking me.  It makes me feel good about myself.  It's about the ONLY that that makes me feel truly good about myself.That means I'm not truly able to enjoy sex - which may be one reason why sexual satisfaction is so hard for me to find.

So, again, like always it comes back to me being able to be happy with myself as I am, and with my life as it is, for real, now.

My focus on women's bodies and beauty and sex instead of a real relationship with a real person has other effects.  I look.  I stare.  I fantasize.  I can even strut around a bit and let them see me.  I can think thoughts about how attractive I am.  But when put in a position to actually talk to an attractive woman - in no matter what situation - I freak out and get nervous and fall apart.

The reason I ended up with Madam X is because I had/have so little real self-confidence when it came to actually dealing with women that I settled for someone not very attractive or stable or likable or of good character, etc, because, since she DIDN'T have these things then I wasn't really attracted to her which means I wasn't nervous.  Which means I could actually interact with her on a somewhat normal level.

This realization is amazing.  I always wondered why with my previous girlfriends I, on one hand, was always this hopelessly romantic boyfriend buying them stuff all the time, but on the other hand, was always freaking out over EVERYTHING; but I had none of this with Madam X.  With girls I actually liked, I would try really hard to get them to like me and yet never truly believed they did - and that lack of confidence drove all that.  Try hard, but freak out and all because on one hand I NEEDED her, but on the other I never believed she really loved me.  And with X that was always different - because I KNEW she liked me more than I did her.

[Side note: most of the experiences I'm talking about here were before X, which means a long time ago when I was just a screwed up kid.  I know I've grown up a lot since then.  Doesn't mean exploring this is irrelevant.]

There's a lot screwed up with that, too, and in both cases I was being driven totally by my own needs and wants and feelings and that's hella selfish.  I should be nice and romantic and loving because I know the girl loves me.  It should be driven by confidence, not the lack of it.  I should never be with a girl I don't like, if a girl is with me I should trust it is because she wants to be, and if she doesn't I should be OK (sadness is probably OK, though) because I shouldn't want to be with someone who doesn't want me.

But, more than anything, I HAVE to just get over myself.  I've been treating all these women my entire life based on my own insecurities and selfishness.  I've been nice because I'm insecure.  When I'm secure, I take them (her) for granted a bit.  And my security or insecurity is based on one and only one thing: her physical attractiveness.  I want/demand an attractive girl, I think I deserve a very hot girl, and yet I have NEVER trusted that someone attractive would ever actually want me and be satisfied with me.

That's screwed up.

And, again, it all comes back down to being happy and content with myself and my life as they are; and confidence in both.

OK, let's start

First off, read the disclaimer.

Second, realize that this is just part of a one really long narrative I wrote by hand today instead of paying attention at work.  I'll break the thing up into multiple posts so as not to drown anyone.  But it will be a set of artificial breaks.

So, all I've been able to think about lately is meeting someone new.  I'm obsessed with it.  I think about it all the time.  Where to meet women.  What to say when I do.  What I have to offer.  Why a girl would want me.  I think about how much I miss things like kissing and especially sex.  Whenever I even see a pretty girl - even a marginally pretty one - my brain lights up.  I stare.  I look at her left hand to see if she has a wedding ring (they always do).  My brain starts thinking up scenarios of how I can meet her and what I would say.  I think about posting a profile on dating sits (which I can't, yet, because I'm technically still married).  I look through Craigslist ads.

This is completely unhealthy.  On so many levels.

First, I'm not near psychologically ready at all for someone new.  My emotional state is completely fragile.  And I HAVE to be OK by myself.  I can NEVER have a healthy relationship with ANYONE if I don't.

I mean, let's look at this.  If I go into a relationship because I need it, then it can never work.  That's rebounding.  That's co-dependency.  That's pathological.  That's the 16-year old me, who was REALLY screwed up.

A healthy relationship is one you are in because you WANT it, not because you need it.  If you need it, it takes you from not OK to being OK.  With a healthy relationship, you start out OK, and it makes you better - which means it is enjoyable.  You enjoy it.  It makes you happy as opposed to keeping you from being unhappy, which is really your own responsibility not someone else's.

Second, look at what it is I am thinking about and wanting/needing: mainly sex.  Not the actual relationship, not the person, not the companionship and conversation.  Just sex.  The pathology here is profound.  We are talking about real people, not sex toys.  And, from a Christian perspective, sex is about consummating a relationship, a joining of hearts and minds, forming one flesh, one out of two; and having this joining form a family that then gives birth to new life out of love.

And when it comes to actually meeting women, it doesn't matter how successful and wealthy and attractive I am if I am like this: nothing is more unattractive than desperation and neediness.

Noticing a pretty girl is one thing - that's normal.  Notice, let it make you happy, and then move on.  But looking purposefully everywhere you go to find pretty girls and then drinking it all in like a man dying of thirst is not. Creating all these scenarios in my head about how I could meet them means I'm not living in the now, but in some fantasy future.

A lot of the problems in my marriage were that I never really and truly loved her - I was never happy/satisfied with how things were.   My feelings were all based on fantasy - I love the her I thought she might be some day.  I was happy because of how I thought things might be later on, not how they actually were.

That's almost a bit of derealization going on.  I was living a paradigm where my emotional well-being was built on a vision of the future and not on the real here-and-now.  What would it mean to actually live for real in real life, in the now not in some potential future?

Well, right now I probably would be crushed by despair.

Yet I have to learn to not be.  I have to learn to be happy.  Happy with how things are NOW.  With hom my life is for REAL.

And with me being alone and celibate.

But that's all easy to say.  But just saying, "I need to be OK being alone and celibate," oversimplifies everything.  I still have needs.  I am seriously missing human touch and human contact.  I find myself fascinated by women's hair because I miss touching it.

I miss the feelings of passion - of wanting and being wanted.  I miss that oh-so human pair-bonding.  Love, passion, eros.

A bit of a disclaimer

OK, so I'm about to post a bunch of stuff I wrote today (while I was supposed to be paying attention to this big day-long meeting), and it is all extremely raw.  If you are going to judge me, then don't bother reading.  Not that I'm going to be revealing anything embarrassing I did or anything, but because I'm just going to be honest about how I'm feeling about all this and where I think it is all coming from.  As honest as if I was sitting with my therapist.  The kind of honesty you just don't do where other people can hear because, even if we all have these kinds of thoughts, you just don't say them out loud. 

Just warning you.

Monday, March 28, 2011

OK, that's great an all..

...but now that I've analyzed WHAT is happening and everything, the question is: how do I feel about it all?  That's what I'm losing touch with.

When I told RS the other night about a lot of this stuff, especially the stuff with her boyfriend, he looked at me kind of funny and then asked why I wasn't acting angry at all.  And the answer is, because I'm not.  AND I DON'T KNOW WHY!  Why am I not mad?  The guy was my FRIEND, or supposed to be anyway, and while this wasn't his doing, he was certainly a factor in the complete collapse of my life as I knew it.  Why am I not mad?

I don't know.  I ought to be.  I ought to be raging.  But I'm not.  I'm calm and cool and that's just not normal.

And why am I not mad at her?  After all the stuff she's said about me, and all.  She's made getting almost ANY time with the kids like pulling teeth.  But I'm not mad.  She calls up and asks for help, and I don't have the slightest hesitation.  It's not that I still want her.  I don't.  But I don't know why I'm not mad.

I know I'm kind of lonely, but that's normal.  And I'm not THAT lonely.  And not only because I have good friends who only give me a couple nights a week where I'm not doing something.  I'm actually kind of enjoying time by myself.  I'm not unhappy.

But why not?  I know that I miss my kids terribly.  But I'm pretty sure that they and I will all be OK.

I feel embarrassed and ashamed over the failure of my marriage.  Oh, I now fall into THAT demographic.  Like I should have been better and done better.  I also miss all the things I thought were in my future and obviously are not: like it is now pretty unlikely that no matter how quickly was to find a new girl and marry her that I would ever experience a 50th wedding anniversary.  That was always out there in my future and now it's not.  Instead, my future has split Christmases with my kids forever.  And that is sad.

I know there is fear.  Of what might happen.  I am terrified at the thought of growing old alone.  I also have hope for the future - that I can, eventually, find someone new and great and all - but that's a potentiality not a certainty but what is a certainty is that I WILL grow old.

There's just so much change it is hard to even begin to emotionally get my heart around the whole thing.  It's just too big.  I never even considered the possibility that I could ever honestly say that I have no idea what is in my own head and in my own heart.  I don't KNOW what I feel about a lot of this, and what I am feeling (or not feeling) doesn't make any sense.  I don't know.  How can you not even know what is in your own head?

OK, I know this has nothing to do with the subject of this blog...

...but it's too cool not to share. 

Mashup of the Beastie Boys and Rush

Take a listen.  You'll thank me.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Why did my marriage fail?

There seems no more fundamental question for me to ask right now.  OK, so I know that asking that is the most normal thing in the world.  I also know that I also know that asking that is, ultimately, futile and irrelevant.  But I'm an engineer.  Without a post-modem on it, how do you form lessons learned?  And without lessons learned, how do you not repeat the same mistakes next time?  Asking it from the very pathological standpoint of, "what did I do wrong?" or "what is so wrong with me that makes me so unlovable?" is obviously unhelpful.  Actually stepping outside and looking at what did and did not work might be helpful.  As long as it doesn't fuel my depersonalization thing. 

But, anyway, I can't help it.  That's what you do when you divorce.  You ask why.

To me, the answer to that question goes way, way back.  As I think I've mentioned, more than one counselor who has seen Madam X and I since the divorce started has come to the conclusion that the two of us simply should have never been allowed to be married.  That it was simply doomed from the start.  That means a lot to me.  Since my, oh, I'll guess I'll call it, "conversion", I have very deeply internalized the ideas and theology behind the idea of marriage annulment.  That not everything we as human beings call "marriage" truly is, just as not everything we label "divorce" is that.  God has His own standards.

And by any standard I know of, it would be hard to call what Madam X and I had a valid marriage.  The combination you find universally in both scripture and tradition that determines what is and is not marriage is sex and consent.  We certainly consummated our marriage.  But did I -- or she -- ever truly give consent? 

I know that I did not.  I told my mom six weeks before our marriage, and three weeks before I found out she was pregnant that when I graduated and left school for my job I would not take Madam X, because she was NOT the one.  I had decided NOT to marry her.  Not to continue our relationship.  To leave her and find someone else.  She certainly knew this was my decision.  She is and has always been very perceptive.  So, she got herself pregnant.  On purpose. 

OK, so this does reveal other choices of mine, that were freely made (if not well thought out), but consenting to sex with a ready and willing girl doesn't equate to consent to life-long marriage.  But she knew I am the guy that always does the right thing, no matter the consequences.  So, she got pregnant because she knew I would marry her.  That is what we were both taught was the "right thing." 

For the first 5 or 6 years of our marriage the thing I most strongly felt was trapped.  I didn't want it but I had no choice.  The first blog I had helped that.  I realized that a lot of the dysfunction in our relationship was that I had never chosen her.  So, I decided to really for real make it work.  And it did.  For awhile. 

But then there is the other half of this: she never really wanted me, either.  Yeah, she got herself pregnant so I would marry her.  But, by her own admission, this was not because she loved me.  She wanted away from her mom.  She wanted out of her home town.  She wanted a different life.  And I was her ticket out.  Me and my career.  So, she made sure I took her with me. 

But that's not really a solid foundation for a marriage, either.  It was OK until she met my "friend" Bluto.  Then she decided there was all these things she wanted that I was not and that he was.  She decided she had settled for far too little.  She decided she "deserved" more.  And so, she left. 

What went wrong?  Well, first of all, I didn't really have a lot of standards when I was first sleeping with her.  I've always had a big problem with self-confidence, and, while I was still trying to date other girls, was still sleeping with her because she was available and because I didn't think I could do any better.  I never really wanted her.  But she was there.  And, at that point, no one else was. 

I read a really good article a little while back.  It was written to single women about why they aren't married yet, and so is a pretty insightful look at what guys look for.  Or should look for.  The author says at one point, that smart guys wisely pick their wives "for their character, not their cup size."  That's about having standards.  That's about making sure the girl is the RIGHT girl.  And I just didn't.

 And that was because I didn't feel I deserved any better.  I've always struggled with self-confidence, but especially then.  There were a lot of other girls I would have rather have been with, but I thought they were way out of my league. 

OK, so what to do now?  What do I learn from all this?  Well, as my previous post showed, she still has something for me, and it is because, even if she really wants Bluto, she knows that in a lot of ways I'm the better guy.  She knows I'm the guy she can REALLY count on.  She HATES me, and even she still feels that.

So, why NOT be confident?  I'm an intelligent, educated, and successful guy.  I make in the six-figures for a rather important institution.  I'm not grossly obese or anything - and even she, in a moment of pure honesty, said I'm more sexually attractive than her other guy.  And, I do the right thing.  I have character.  I have gravitas.  Why not be confident?  Why not KNOW in my heart of hearts that ANY girl would be lucky to have me?

I don't know.  But believing that is still awful hard.

Today was a weird day

After church  I got a haircut and then took a nice, long bike ride (I'm really trying to get back in shape again since, after taking my new job, I really haven't ridden at all), and finally settled down on my couch to watch some TV.  I had just sat down when Madam X (my oh-so not creative moniker for the ex-wife) called me.  Now, she's not supposed to do that.  There is a no-contact order in place in our divorce.  Neither one of us is allowed to call or otherwise contact the other.

But she called me.  For the last six months or so (maybe more) she has suffered from some weird thing with her skin, where she gets these dry spots that itch and drive her crazy, but it has all gotten exponentially worse since the divorce.  She originally thought it was because the master bath at the house had a pretty nasty mold problem, but they cleaned that up (by completely renovating the room) and it's only gotten worse.  She called me crying asking if I would take her to the hospital.  She couldn't find her insurance card, and Bluto is out of town, so she called me. 

My brother thinks I should have just said, "go to hell," but I know the right thing to do, when someone calls you crying asking you for help, is to help.  So, I drove over, picked up her and the kids, dropped the kids off at a sitters, and then took her to urgent care.  Until the divorce is finalized she is still on my insurance, so I gave her my card, and helped her through it.  The diagnosis is "stress-induced hives."  Then I picked up the kids and took them all home.

So, this is weird.  OK, so it proves once again that all these things like court orders and legal documents are all at the sufferance of her convenience.  She wants them, as long as she doesn't need me.  Then they don't matter.  Just like how she tried to convince the lawyers and courts that the fact that I struggle with pornography meant it was unsafe for the kids to stay the night with me, yet when she needs a night to herself she would always (this is pre-divorce) have them stay with me. 

But there's more.  She divorced me.  It was her decision.  I have no control over it, but if it were all my choice, this is not what I would choose.  I didn't even know, really, that it was coming.  I found out about it when the policeman in my yard served me with papers.  She had time to prepare.  Yet she is the one suffering the most from it.  It's hard on me - all the time alone is the worst - but I'm doing OK.  She has lost a LOT of weight and is starting to look very unhealthy, and now every inch of exposed skin I could see is covered in hives.  The stress is physically effecting her.  All I've got is this vague sense of depersonalization to bother me - and my therapist (who in the other half of his job works with people with dissassociative identity disorder, so he would know) says there is nothing pathological going on with that. 

Why am I handling this so much better than she is?  This was her choice.  She forced this on me.  She removed me from my home and took my kids from me.  She has her boyfriend, who she left me for.  Why am I doing OK, and she is now physically sick from it?  I don't know. 

And why, of all people, did she call me?  OK, so she needed the insurance information, but, still.  OK, so Bluto was out of town, but she has plenty of other friends.  Our friend RS once said something to me that effected me to a massive degree.  He said that, from his perspective, one of my most characteristic personality traits is that I do the right thing with no thought to the consequences.  That I just do what I feel is right, regardless.  I guess, if RS is right (and I'm in no position to judge) then Madam X, after being married to me for 11.5 years, would know that. 

And, despite it all, it was the right thing to do to help.  She called me crying and when she asked me, "Can you take me?" it sounded like a scared little girl who didn't know what to do.  There's no way on earth I could have NOT helped, damn the consequences.  But that she would turn to me...  I don't know.  Some of my friends think that, eventually, she is going to be hit with an absolutely massive sense of regret because of all the amazing things she judged as worthless and just threw away.  Again, I am in no position to judge (although I'd like to think I'm a good guy, and that any girl would be lucky to have me), but she certainly seems to know I'm not going to turn her away when she needs help.  I'm still the one that will save her, no matter how much Bluto wants to play the knight in shining armor saving the damsel in distress.  That may be the role he wants to play, but when push comes to shove, she calls me.

That's interesting.  Back in September when she said I couldn't be Therese's friend anymore, she admitted to me that she was in love with Bluto (no, the irony and hypocrisy didn't escape me even then), but she would also say, in the heat of passion, that when it came to sexual attraction, I rated a LOT higher than he ever would.  That if things were decided strictly by hormones and gonads, I would win every time.  He's trying to take my place now.  Sounds like he just doesn't measure up.  Pun definitely intended.

So, what if she comes crawling back some day, asking me to take her back?  She's not there yet.  I have talked to her now three times since the divorce went down -- twice in mediation, and once today -- and all three times she has said something like, "You and I both know that this is for the best, and will make things better."  At this point is sounds like she's still trying to convince herself.  But what if that fails?  What if she comes asking me to take her back?

That's a really tough question to ask.  On one hand, as a Christian, I feel it is my duty before God Himself to do whatever I can to make it work with her.  On the other hand, she has made my life hell for a very long time.  The last 9 months especially, but it wasn't a party before that.  I don't WANT her back.  I don't WANT to be married to her.  She IS right, this WILL be better.  This IS for the best.  And I don't know of any standard, held by ANY Christian tradition, that would deny me the right to find someone else.  I married her because, when I had decided she wasn't the one for me and that I was going to leave her, she got pregnant on purpose (by her own admission).  I didn't want her then.  Then she lied and cheated and divorced me without any justification based on my actions.  I am free.

Free to decide for myself what is best.  I also don't think any standard held by any Christian tradition would deny me the right to try and make it work.  So, what do I use my freedom for, if, some day, this question is put before me?  I don't know.  And that, more than anything else in my life, bothers me.