Tag Archives: divorce

the season of giving

As some of you may or may not know, the position I occupied at my last job was “eliminated” and thus so was my income. I received a modest severance and because of this will not receive any actual Employment Insurance until the first week of February. For most of my life I’ve lived pay check to pay check. I’ve posted plenty of times about how my handling of and relationship to money, like most people who live in the western world, could stand for some improvement. It is an ongoing investigation and process, involving a lot of self examination and, subsequently, necessitating growth.

As some of you may or may not know, the work that I’ve been doing for most of my working life has been less than satisfying on many levels. While the way in which I’ve chosen to support myself has lacked much in the way of professional validation and stimulus, I’ve managed to support myself when I was alone, contribute to -at times more than half of- the household income during my marriage and now, as a single parent, largely support myself and my son, with my earnings. I want to acknowledge that my son’s father does contribute to our household, and without this contribution we would not be able to enjoy the lifestyle that we currently enjoy. The standard which we live in is largely the standard to which my son was born and the one which we’ve become accustomed to in this affluent north american culture in which we live.

By the same token, though, we haven’t had an excess of loose change, and many of the luxuries that were easily accessible during my married life are no longer a possibility. Every luxury has to be considered and weighed for value and worthiness, even while I was employed.

And, if you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you also know that there have been some financial struggles in our lives, especially over the last several years since leaving my marriage. The loss of my newly acquired job in January 2010, soon after our move back to Canada, was a huge blow. Without any savings to speak of, the first month after being let go was brutal, and the struggle continued for months after that, while anxiously waiting for the EI checks to arrive and not being able to pay the bills (cell phone, cable, health insurance, furniture I had purchased on credit) that continued to roll in. There was money for food and rent but much of everything else fell by the wayside.

It took four months’ time for me to find another job, one that was not ideal but that certainly was a relief to obtain so that the looming bills could finally be settled, at least in part. Four months later I got into a car accident in which my car sustained lots of damage. Because it was considered my error, my deductible was $1,000, which I of course did not have, but in order to claim my car back from the body shop which held it hostage, I had to pay it. Robbing from Peter to pay Paul, I got the car back, but the hole that was left in the wake of this financial gap was something that I continued to struggle to recover from.

And now, once again, I am jobless. Jobless and truly wondering why the Universe continues to dish up this same meal for me to partake of. Someone recently, after I mentioned that I would not have any money flowing in to the household until the end of January (which I’ve now recalculated to actually be the beginning February) told me that this was a character building experience. Initially, I found the remark to be insensitive and flippant, making light of something that really was very serious and life altering in a way that only someone who has had the experience of being in the place in which I find myself to truly understand. The growth will occur, certainly, and will potentially yield a better direction – at least that is my hope. The choice, as always, remains mine to take, though everyone has an opinion on what that choice should be. And while I “trust” in the Universe, it doesn’t exactly deliver random and sizeable checks through my mail slot just because I need it.

The day that I had that brief exchange, I had been catapulted into complete deer-in-the-headlights mode. How was I going to pay for food and rent? Both my son’s and my birthdays are in January – they would be write-offs, certainly, in that we would not be able to celebrate them. I spent the night tossing and turning, stomach churning and cursing that I had to once again be mired by this burden that I could not seem to pull myself out of.

Finally, I did the only thing that I could think to do and asked my ex-husband for additional help, so that, in the least, I could pay my rent. To put this request into context, you have to understand that much of the strife within our marriage was one spurred by financial discordance. My issues with money. My inability to have enough self-mastery when I was emotionally bereft to come to grips with the management of the funds that he so trustingly put into my very incapable hands. To further frame that, you also should know that I never hid the fact that I had these issues. From very early on, in our conversations, I openly and with much candour disclosed that I was not good with the stuff, and told him exactly what happened with the stuff when I had it in my hands, especially when I was in crisis. He had his own issues with it. It seems that many of us have a rather unhealthy relationship with the stuff – I am not an anomaly, despite being made to feel so throughout the length of my marriage.

So, when I asked for help by requesting the very thing that was the bane of our marriage, it was humiliating in a way that I can not even begin to adequately express. I knew the thought processes which would run through his head when I asked. I knew that ultimately he would probably help, but not without a cost.

Last night, after preparing a very nice meal and sitting down to enjoy it with my son, we got into a discussion about jobs, job searching, how tight things would be for a bit, and that it would be a good thing for him to perhaps find himself a part time job as well, so that he could buy himself the nice things he’d like that extend beyond the necessities that I am able to provide. What he said floored me. He said that I shouldn’t rely on income from his job to supplement our household, and that my lack of an income was affecting others already, including his father. Firstly, I never intimated that I would be asking for his help in assisting with the household. However it was not what bothered me the most about our conversation.

The fact that his father discussed -even merely in passing- our financial arrangements with my son violates an unspoken agreement that I thought parents should have (certainly one that I thought we had), especially those who are no longer in a family unit, in regard to affording their children the semblance of a unified front, a sort of solidarity that despite there having been a rift that separated our mutual ideologies enough to necessitate a parting of ways, that at the core of our interactions and by virtue of our shared history (and joint interest in our offspring), there remained an underlying respect and genuine caring for each other’s well-being.

I resent that I am (or continue to be), whether overtly or subliminally, being vilified – by my ex-husband to my child – when I am in need of the most support. Wouldn’t it be in everyone’s best interest to be supportive of each other, and hold each other up rather than beat each other down? Furthermore, I have never spoken ill of my husband to my son, despite there being plenty of ways in which I could list his various failings both as a father and as a husband. We are imperfect, and thus we at times make choices that are not necessarily the best ones. In light of this, I don’t share my thoughts on these things with my son.

I resent that, while my son is too unformed in his own maturity to see it otherwise, his father is engaging in skewing his opinion of me, despite the fact that he does not live in our household (and is not even able to witness it in any proximate way) and is clearly not in a place to judge. Not only that; his lack of clarity not only in this case but essentially in regard to his own role and contribution to the success or failure of our relationship while we were married strips him of the right to comment in this case, but should he desire to comment, it should be to me and not our seventeen year old son to whom he should air.

It is easy to vilify someone, but much more difficult to embrace our part in the failings of an enterprise. For many years I looked to place blame outside of myself for many things, and at some point decided that the only way to begin to tame my demons was to finally accept them, own them and examine them. Sure, there were (are!) reasons for which I am the way I am that were outside of my control, many in fact formed during my childhood despite them not being formed in a way which engages enough life experience to be useful (then or later), and ones which continue to manifest even as mature adults.

I have spent much of my life attempting to deconstruct the reasons why I do things, to gain an understanding of what underlies my instinctive reactions and to gain enough emotional maturity to be able to lay new pathways, to rework those reactions in more beneficial ways. I could cite various and sundry childhood and early adult traumas which are partly at the root of these behaviours and the ways in which I’ve learned to cope with them. I have been alone and unsupported throughout this process, particularly in the context of my former marriage. I understand that we can only show up with what we are capable of (and I did, after all, choose the relationship), that despite our intelligence, knowledge and life experience, things continue to escape us. We are human, after all. I did expect, though, that after all of the things that we shared together, that there would be an underlying sense of compassion that imbued our dealings, post and prior to our parting, though seeing that if that would have been present in the first place, more than likely we would still be together.

So I leave you all with this. Even for a moment, try to imagine yourself in another’s place, not just as an onlooker but as you would if you were in identical circumstances, not in the context of your own life but the one in which they are in. What would you do? How would you feel? What, if anything, would you want someone to say to you or do in order to ease your distress, lessen your burden, share in your human experience?

Being kind costs nothing. Staying out of judgement, despite it being really difficult to do for some of us, affords greater connection with our fellowmen than it does to stand in judgement of them. Compassion is truly the only way for humanity to reconnect with itself, to cure whatever ails it, and much ails it.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.  Romans 14:13

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I’m tired tonight. Bone tired, despite resting for most of the weekend. Despite the appearance of the sun yesterday and today, and absorbing same like a sponge during forays outdoors over the weekend and at lunch time today.

This is a tiredness of the soul, I think. I sit this evening in semi-darkness, light filtering from the overhead stove light and the lamp at the kitchen entrance into the dining area where I sit at the table with my iPad propped up, the wireless keyboard submitting without complaint to the tapping of my fingertips as I type this. From the lamp’s switch hangs a tiny porcelain rabbit charm with a carnelian bead and faceted crystal strung on a red knotted string – a talisman that is supposed to bring luck and prosperity. I am not feeling very lucky. Or prosperous. Still, I hope that the tide will shift. Soon.

A dream that I had (last night? the night before?) resurfaces as I dig deeper into this sorrow that has bobbed to my surface: I dreamt of Steve and how he pulled out these haphazardly folded, crumpled up blue jeans from one of his travel bags and it is teeming with insects – worms, mealy and earth varieties, pill bugs, grubs of all shapes and sizes, and hands them to me to wash. My aversion to the bugs is outweighed by a sort of stoic resolve in knowing my responsibility, so I drop the pants into the washing machine and get the cycle going. I can’t remember much more than this. Perhaps more will come, but I think this is enough to work with, if I choose to dissect this message from my psyche.

I haven’t examined this dream too much yet. I’m sure it means many things, on several levels. Today I finally popped our marriage dissolution agreement into the mail; I’d signed it about a month ago but then it languished on my desk at work for another month. The signing of it took about a year for me to accomplish. Why this has been such a difficult process for me, I have no idea. It will be four years that we have moved apart (geographically) at the end of this June. By that point it had already been ten months that we had made the decision to part ways, on the basis that whatever love that may have been present at some point during our marriage was no longer there. This end of April would have marked the twentieth anniversary of our wedding. In many ways I am still mourning the end of something, or perhaps mourning the fact that the something that I had hoped would be our marriage never was, and now I am old. I’m not so old that I can’t function or take care of myself, but my youth is gone, and with it, it feels like, also my dreams, particularly those regarding a loving, nurturing, intimate relationship with a another.

All this talk about loving self first in order to be able to love another… on some level it makes sense, of course, but I think that growing to love self through loving another and receiving that other’s love makes more sense to me. I think we all like, maybe even love, things about ourselves. Wholly loving every aspect of ourselves is a more difficult task, and certainly doing so with another is perhaps as difficult. Yet I think it is possible, but it all hinges on how two people relate to each other.

How can we be accepting of our shadow parts when the person closest to us – the one we so desperately wish to entrust the secrets of our soul to – is unable to fully embrace the very parts we ourselves are appalled with, and mirrors back to us the same disgust and nonacceptance we perceive at our core? If the dark sides of ourselves aren’t acceptable to the person who is supposed to love us, then how can we function in the relationship, how can it thrive? How can we evolve and shift our view of our shadow parts if we are asked to disown them, to “fix” them, instead of integrating them in a more positive way and shifting them so that they serve us rather than stymie us?

So I put it to the Universe: let it bring me someone who can see these shadows within me and find them to be beautiful facets of who I am – tweaked a little, perhaps, but still wholly acceptable and loveable in spite of them (and that I may do the same in kind).

Non-visual journal entry… well, sort of…

Stargazing Tip for April 9

The Moon huddles quite close to the brightest star of Virgo tonight. Spica is a little to the upper left of the Moon as they rise in early evening.

Big Hand for a Little Star

Stardate: April 9, 2009

The tears are flowing this morning, a relentless stream following the inner crease of my eye, along my nose and down my cheeks to be deftly wiped away before they escape. I don’t know why today is any different than yesterday, or tomorrow. Since being let go from my job at the beginning of January, it’s all been like one long flowing day, punctuated with stress here and there, but otherwise rather dull and numbing.

How is it that every time change occurs in my life, it has to be everything all at once? Is it my sense of impatience in general that controls even the manifestations of my higher self? Are we both equally impatient? And yet, I must be patient, for I have been waiting for what seems like an eternity for something to happen that will push me into the place where I will flourish. Perhaps this is it. If only it wasn’t so gut-wrenchingly devastating at the same time. I wish I could muster up more enthusiasm in light of these developments.

Perkily, Steve went apartment hunting yesterday, online, and found a junior one bedroom apartment that he’s put dibs on in Costa Mesa. Funny how the very construct we met upon so many years ago has also facilitated our separation. It’s not as though it happened suddenly, and blind-sided us. It became a wedge, like a curtain drawn between hospital beds, and severed our connection. While there is a fondness between us, we’ve lost our soul connection. I wonder, sometimes, if it was ever really there.

I wonder what the point of our union was in the first place. If it was to get me here to California, it has seemingly failed in its purpose, since I will be leaving to go back to Canada shortly. Of course, that too is my choice. I could stay here, but I have no where to go. Doesn’t seem like much of a choice. I don’t feel safe here. And I’m not sure why I feel any differently about being in Canada, but some things reach me at gut-level and I’ve intuited this as being the best course of action.

I am afraid. I am afraid of being alone for the rest of my life. I am afraid that I will amble from one job to the next as a means of paying my bills without deriving any joy or satisfaction out of my daily work. I fear that I will not be able to support myself and Gabriel to a standard that will match what we are leaving behind. I fear that he will also someday abandon me in favor of living with his father. I fear that I will never figure out what it is that I am here to do on this earth, making it all a pointless exercise in futility, like pounding sand. I fear that I will start off this new segment of my life with so much less than I started with, and that I won’t have the strength, ambition or focus to make it back to good. Sometimes I fear I’ve made such a mess of things that it is too far gone to fix; that it’s irreparably damaged.

I have this sense of diminished worth that I carry like a mantle. Who gave this to me, I wonder? Was it intended to protect me during my meandering through life? Did I put it there to protect myself from undue interest; to not have to measure up to anything because I was running under the radar? How can it be that I have not been able to maintain an intimate relationship with another human being? Am I meant to be alone?

I get these inspirational quotes via email. Today’s is “Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness” attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes. Some days they inspire me; other days, like today, they merely sound insipid.