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.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


OK, this may float like a lead balloon, but since I mentioned cooking below, and how much I love it, and how therapeutic I find it, I thought I'd mention some of what I've been cooking lately.  And, if it takes, then I may keep this up.

Since I moved out of the house and into my own apartment, I have made:

  • Shrimp Creole
  • My brother's kick-ass taco salad
  • Mjedderah
  • Red beans and rice
  • Butter pie
  • Steak and Guiness pie
  • Welsh rabbit
  • Jambalya
  • A homemade mac and cheese, with the cheese sauce made with a blend of edam, feta, parmeasan, and Danish blue cheese
  • Quiche
  • Lamb pilaf
  • Homemade pizza
  • And a homemade and rather authentically Italian spaghetti sauce
So, quite a bit of Cajun.  A bit of British cuisine.  Some Middle-Eastern food.  And some other random stuff.   I like keeping it eclectic.

Another one

Oh yeah, one more silver lining.  How could I forget this one?  I never, ever, EVER have to deal with my crazy, red-neck, white-trash inlaws again.  Ever.  That alone makes my life eleventy-eight times better than it was before.

So, I saw this yesterday...

... and it really spoke to me:  The Five Friends Who Will Get You Through Divorce

Good stuff.

Do I have these five friends?  Well, let's see.

1) The Vault.  The person who just listens.  I have several people who fulfill this role in some form or another, but nobody who just does it all.  I certainly do not have a shortage of people to talk about how I'm feeling right now.  My priest at church to start with.

2) The Entertainer:  Right now this position is being fulfilled rather admirably by RS, who a lot of people around these parts know pretty well.  He's a bit more laid back about things than the author's entertainer, but whether it is paintball or movies or just hanging out and watching TV, he's the one watching out for this side of me.  And I appreciate it more than I can say.

3) The Taskmaster:  This is the one I DON'T need.  I've kept that part up rather well, I think.  Mainly because stepping out of the emotional side and focusing on the numbers and procedures is a defense mechanism related to my depersonalization of things.

4) Your First Single-Parent Friend.  This one I need.  Badly.

5) The Fountain of Youth: The one who has known you forever.  That's an interesting thought.  I mean, I talk to my brother a lot, and he certainly qualifies here.  He's good.  But one of the first things I did when all this went down is reach out to a friend of mine from college that I hadn't talked to in a decade. She was one of my best friends during the time when I first met the ex and got married, and so I reached out, mainly, to ask, "Who was I back then, before her?"  Because how else will I know who to be NOW?  That was an awesome friendship to rekindle.

So, what do I take away from this?  Go find a single-parent support group or message board or some sort of community thing I can plug into.  Maybe through church?  If not the exact group/parish I'm in now (which is absolutely tiny) certainly somewhere in town in the same general religious genre.

Edit: I updated the link to the original blog it appeared on.

Don't think all this change means everything is bad and sucks

...there are always silver linings.

Not everything is bad.  I actually like living in my own place.  The ex was a complete and total slob who really did nothing at all as far as house work.  My inner neat-freak was screaming for 11 years.  Now, I am free to not live in filth.

Another thing is, as I've stated before, my marriage wasn't all that pleasant before.  Not for a long time.  If ever.  I actually have the opportunity to find someone else who isn't evil.  And probably prettier than she is, too.

Another: I'm a fairly non-materialistic guy and rather thrifty - she is not.  As crazy as it sounds, I may come out of this, when all is said and done, the better for it all, in a financial sense.  Sure, she'll take half the assets, and sure I'll have to cut her a massive check every month for a while, but she's also taking a massive share of the expenses.  I still have my peak earning years ahead of me, and if things go how they appear they will, I will probably come out of this with my 401k intact.

Another: since I no longer have to worry about her issues and her opinions, I am now free to fully explore where God is leading me in the religious sense.  Considerations of her opinions and views DID hold me back in a lot of ways, that I know is a fact.  And now I am free to follow His leading.

Similarly, in most every way I am more free to be who I am.  She never really liked who I actually am.  She liked the fact that engineers make good money, but never actually seemed to like actual engineers.  Especially me.  Not when I acted like an engineer.  I have a friend I work with at my new job and he has got to be king of all the geeks (in a good way, in my opinion - I think he's an awesome and fun guy) and when he is around his wife you can tell she not only puts up with his geekiness, she loves him for it.  He'll say something so completely geeky it's almost around the bend, and she just beams.  There's loving someone in spite of their quirks, and then there is loving someone for their quirks.  And then there was my ex who sometimes would put up with my quirks, but not most of the time, so I really did not have the freedom to actually be myself.  I always had to carefully try and be someone else.  And now I don't have to.

Another good thing: I actually have free time.  At first that was the most scary part of all this.  The what am I going to do with all the time? question.  But now I kind of like it.  My friend calls up and wants to play paintball.  Why not?  Another friend wants to get together for dinner.  OK.  Not like I have anything big I can't postpone.  And even more cool is that I actually have time to read.  For myself.  I haven't had that in almost a decade.

Another: I LOVE to cook.  I adore cooking.  It is one of the most relaxing things I know of.  Before, I would cook occasionally, but the ex never wanted to eat what I would make.  Mainly because if it wasn't exactly the same as the boring, bland stuff she grew up with she refused to even consider that it might be good.  New was bad and scary to her.  New anything.  So, I would get this bug to cook and would and then face this complete disapproval.  Cooking for someone who cannot ever at all find it in themselves to appreciate it is not fun.  But now I can cook for myself, and I can cook whatever I want.  Seafood (which I love and she despises)?  Sure.  Really spicy stuff (which I love and she hates)?  As much as I can stand.  Weird new cuisine from various cultures around the world?  Why not?  I LOVE the new.  I think new is good and exciting and adventureous.  So, last week I made a lamb pilaf with this Azerbaijani flair in terms of seasonings and spices.  And it was AWESOME.  I couldn't have gotten away with even having half those ingredients in the house before.

So, while there certainly is a lot to fear in the future for me, from one perspective (I am terrified of the thought of growing old alone), in general the future does look bright.  I can have actual real hope for the first time in a very long time -- hope not in a fantasy world of how things might be if she were to decide to be different, but actual real hope.

Friday, March 25, 2011

OK, the comments thing should be fixed now

So, Desmond, you can comment now.  And anyone else should be able to as well.

Other things new and different

More of these keep occurring to me.

Before, I would spend quite a bit of time watching TV.  I wasn't quite a couch potato, but I'd watch the History Channel, and the few good things on SciFi (I refuse to use the new name), and I would watch a lot of sports.  Now, while I have a TV, for the first time in my life (really!) I don't have cable.  I have the TV hooked up to the computer and do netflix and hulu and the new Amazon streaming thing.  Which means, on mornings like today I can't grab the remote and just surf around until I find something interesting on.  I have to know what I want to watch and then go find it.

Speaking of TV and sports, I've always been a big college basketball fan, and so March Madness has been a favorite time of year for me.  Every year since my oldest was born, me and the now-ex, and whichever kids were old enough to speak filled out brackets.  Then, the first two days of games the ex would take off work to watch them on TV, while I would most of the time move my laptop into the breakroom at work and work in there for two days, watching them on the TV in there.  This year: no one to do brackets, no breakroom to watch the games in, and no cable to watch them on at home.  And, for some reason, I really don't care.  I haven't even tried to watch any of it this year -- and that counts for the entire season.  Too much other stuff going on.

Last year at this time -- as in past years -- I'd be spending March planting seeds in pots in my kitchen window and getting all the lawn equipment and sprinkler system in working order.  Then, around the end of March, beginning of April I'd have to start weekly yard work, as well as starting up my garden for the year.  This year, I live in an apartment, and I don't even have any South-facing windows to do a window garden in.  And, as far as I know, the ex knows nothing of yard maintenance and probably hasn't done anything, which means she hasn't started watering yet, which means my yard (and my trees, and my grape vine) will all die.  Oops.  Not mine anymore.  That's changed, too.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Oh, yeah, other changes

I thought about editing the other post and adding this but decided to surprise everyone and give a short one.

Another big change from a year ago to now: last spring I was working furiously to finish my master's degree.  I had been going back to school a class at a time while still working full-time for a full 5 years at that point.  Then, in May of last year, I graduated.  So, after 10 straight semesters of school, I'm now on my second without it.  That's new.

Another: because a year ago I was a) not paying for two places to live and thus had more money, and b) was in full-on theological searcher mode, I was buying books like crazy from Amazon and doing some rather serious research.  I was reading and writing up new classes to teach and all that.  And now I'm not.  I taught a class on Wednesday nights at church for 7 straight years.  Now I'm teaching nothing.  I have nothing to prepare for.  No classes to teach, no research to do.  There are certainly still personal questions of a theological nature, but I've already made my big decisions -- even if I haven't quite followed through on all of them yet -- and so what's the point?

Another: in past years, because my family was so important, I would often get asked by people at work or whereever to come over and do guy stuff and I would often turn it down because I had to do stuff with the kids.  Now, I'm sitting here in this little apartment by myself most of the time (well, not most of the time, I'm not that isolated, but it feels that way sometimes) because when I call now to see if anyone wants to hang out they all have to do family stuff.  Because all my friends are married and have kids.  That's new.

Expansion on a previous one: work and what I do.  Before, I was the techy guy who sat in the back in front of a computer all day and wrote code and analyzed data and, while I'd interact with the rest of team pretty well, and would put together presentations for briefings and stuff, I was the techy guy.  Now, my job is to go to meetings and talk like I know what I'm talking about, and to give other people direction, and to write systems engineering plans and powerpoint briefings, and to draw little cartoons for the powerpoint briefings.  That's awful new. 

So, new life, new blog

Some of the people who will find there way to this little journal will be people who knew me from my past blogging world.  Some of you will, hopefully, be new.  But for either group, I think I need to give a little background/update.

So, one year ago my life was completely and totally different.  I was approaching 11 years of marriage.  I was also approaching 11 years with the engineering firm I was working for.  I was a deacon at one of the local congregations of the Church of Christ, and was teaching 3 classes a week.

I had a very broad circle of friends from both work and church - and while I've always felt a bit of an outsider in any group, I also know I was respected.  One of the classes I was teaching for church was at the small group hosted at the house of a much older and wiser and respected man from church, and he put me in the role of teacher for his group.  I was the youngest person there, and was teaching them.  At work, I was doing the job I had done for 11 years, and I did it very well - writing simulations of systems, and then doing data analysis of the hardware systems, and letting the two halves interact.

As for friends, the best I had were a group that was just then getting put together, but would eventually be a small group Bible study before flying apart.  There were three families, including mine, and one single guy and the only thing they had in common -- the only thing that brought them together -- was me.  In the group, I had one very, very close friend, who happened to be female (as most of my close friends throughout my life have been), but I was also developing a very close friendship with the single guy in the group.  The first real, close male friendship I've had in a very long time. 

That was a year ago.

Since then, my entire life has rebooted.  Hence the blog name.

In May of last year me, and two of the guys from our small group had a great big doctrinal fight with the elders of our church, and in June we all left that church - and, though we all left at the same time and for similar reasons, my doctrinal issues with it all went a lot deeper and were a lot more fundamental.

In August of last year I took a new job at a new firm.  Work and money and such were getting very scarce in my old firm, and they were laying off a ton of people, and I got tired of looking over my shoulder.  So, I went looking around and found an awesome opportunity.  But, in a new place, with new people, doing something COMPLETELY different.

In September of last year, my wife decided my close friendship with my female friend bothered her, and demanded I end it.  There was nothing inappropriate about it at all.  There was nothing wrong.  Certainly nothing romantic and adulterous.  But, when my wife said stop, I did.

In November of last year, my theological issues with the Christian movement we were a part of started coming to a head.  My family ended up leaving another church, but in two different directions because my wife wanted something that was more deeply Church of Christ, and it was the deep, traditional Church of Christ theology that I could no longer do.  So, she and the kids went to the ultra-conservative Church of Christ in town, and I went to an Anglo-Catholic church across the street.

Then, in January, I come home from work to find a policeman in my yard serving me with divorce papers.  In order to justify her actions to her very conservative friends and fellow church-goers, my wife accused me of having an affair, and spread that lie to anyone who would listen.  And quite a few did.

The real reason, of course, was that she and my single guy friend, who I thought was the first real, close, male friend I ever had, are now quite the item. 

So, new job, new Church, and now completely new life situation.  Living not in the nice, middle-class house we bought 8 years ago right before my daughter was born, but alone, across town, in a rather lower middle-class apartment.  Of my friends, those who weren't so much friends, but just aquaintences from our old church mostly bought the lie and don't want anything to do with me.  My single guy friend - let's label him Bluto - thinks every word that comes out of my now ex-wife's mouth is gospel truth, and thus thinks I'm some sort of pathological liar, and hates me.  Even while he tries to replace me in the lives of both my wife and my children.  The other couple in the small group is still friends with me, but I know just having me around makes them nervous.  Not that they'd ever admit to that or stop having me (and the kids, when I have them) over to visit, but I can tell they don't quite know what to do.

Of course, now that my wife has left me, I can at least be friends with my female friend -- and her husband -- again.  Interestingly enough, since September her husband has become one of the most faithful and stalwart friends I have.  We always got along and considered each other friends before, but not quite like this.  So, that's all new.

So, brand new life.  Outside of my kids -- which I get to see far, far too little -- and a few of my personal items there's not much in my life that was there a year ago.  And I really don't know how to handle it all.

I mean, how do you handle that much change?  That much change at once?  My very core identity is at stake here.  I used to always identify myself, primarily, as a husband and father.  My old blogger log-in even had "husband" in the name.  Fatherhood was the most cherished aspect of my existence I had.  Now, who, on the most basic level, am I?

My therapist says I'm handling everything very well.  Much better than anyone he's ever counseled in similar situations.  Yet, that alone scares me.  It's not normal to handle this sort of thing well.  It's normal to freak out and go a little crazy.  Yet, I'm calm.  I'm rational.  I'm reasonable when I have to deal with the ex.

I'd like to attribute some of that to faith.  Certainly I feel closer to God than I did before.  Before, I was in full-time searcher mode.  Which is a fun and interesting intellectual exercise, but that's not devotion and relationship and all that other existential stuff I'm now engaged in.  But I know faith isn't all of it.  Or probably even most of it.

Some of it is that a lot of the change was necessary, even if it was painful.  The marriage we had was in trouble for a long time.  Several of the ministers and counselors we have seen together or individually over the last few months have, in the end, come to the conclusion that the two of us simply should have never been allowed get married because we really, really didn't work together and the marriage was more-or-less doomed from the start.  And the new job is a good career move and has given me a very good situation (even if I'm really not all that comfortable with my new role yet).

But I know some of the reason why I'm appearing to handle things so well is less healthy.  I know I've been checking out a bit, in a very deep way.  I've had rather strong and persistent experiences of depersonalization and dissassociation lately.  Which isn't good.  I mean, I know that's all psychological defense mechanisms to help one deal with trauma -- and this certainly counts -- but when you factor in all the newness -- the me of today is really and truly not the same as the me of even 6 months ago and that makes it really, really hard to even know who "me" is -- things get scary.  I depersonalize it, as if it happened to someone else that I'm just watching from the outside, as if I'm just watching a rather tragic play, and so that means I don't have to emotionally deal with it.  Because, is it really me it's happening to?

So, I know I NEED to personalize it, and the only way I know to do that is to do it like I have always dealt with stuff - write about it.  Think about it, process it, feel it, and then talk about it.  To the ether.  To the universe.   I blogged marriage problems 5 years ago.  Then, I thought it was all good and stopped.  Then I tried to start again in September after that mess but then my wife and her new boyfriend started reading it, and that was just not-good on an epic scale.

But, now, she's gone and he's gone and this is a new blog for my new life.  I need to write in this and I need to do it every day.  To get my thoughts and feelings and experiences out.  To talk it through.

So, that's the story.  And, if you're new to my blogs, I'd like to tell you the length of this post is atypical of me, but the others that DO know me would immediately call me a liar.  So, I'll not even try and make that claim.