Thursday, March 24, 2011

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.


  1. I wondered if that might not be the case w/ yer ex and her BF. But I was hoping I was wrong. . .

    Like you say, tho, it clears some things right up for you, doesn't it?

    I know all this change, all at once, is pretty disorienting, but do your best to keep track of what you know to be true. And it's always good to keep track of the distinction between what you DO and who you ARE. . .

    I'm sure I'll have more to say as the conversation develops, but most fundamentally, I just want to be your friend, and stand alongside (at least, as best I can from a couple thousand miles away. . .)

    Hang in there, bro. . .

    - Craig

  2. That distinction between what I do and who I am is a hard one, though, because we are all, to some extent, defined by our experiences. And my entire life is now different. Can I really and truly say, then, that I am the same person?

    I feel like a snake shedding its skin.