Lesson Learned

The Harder Truths

The Harder Truths

Killing Us Slowly….

We bought the worst house possible. Several months after moving in (and having to move onto the front porch just to be able to breath) husband was injured while at work and eventually lost his job while still on work comp for being unable to perform his job duties. He was in pain and now unemployed. Soon I had to move back in with my parents because I couldn’t stay at that house even on the front porch due to all the mold. We didn’t live together for over 4 months, although husband had 2 of his friends living at the house with him. During that time I only saw him a couple of times a week. He was always in a bad mood and it was hard on our relationship. I didn’t know it but he was taking prescription pain pills (he didn’t have a prescription for) on top of all the pot he was smoking. He hid that from me and I also heard rumors that he was having an ex girlfriend visiting him at nights. I asked that we go to counseling. He rejected the idea. His behavior became so dark, and his mold poisoning so bad, that eventually I dragged him literally kicking and screaming from the mold house of doom under threat of commitment in a mental facility and divorce if he didn’t.

After several days at my parent’s house he seemed to be feeling better and started acting more normal. I didn’t realize it at the time but he was detoxing from the pain pills. I attributed it to mold but the problem was deeper. I tried to repair the fractured relationship I had with him. I wasn’t ready to call it quits yet even though a large part of me wanted to. If I had known then what I know now things would have gone differently. Instead we forged ahead. He began working on the house again, trying to strip it down to the studs so we could spray it down to treat the mold and rebuild it all. The next 11 months were hard. Progress on the house was slow. I was paying a mortgage on a place I couldn’t live at and contributing to my parent’s house, my commute to work was long and I was miserable at my job. I was burning through my savings because husband was still unemployed and not receiving any income. At the point where my money was just about to run out and I was going to have to decide which bills weren’t going to get paid husband finally found a new job. It paid next to nothing but it was just enough to keep us from defaulting on the mortgage.

He moved back to the mold house and continued working on it in his evenings after work. Part of me was relieved to have free weeknights to spend with my friends. I didn’t really feel married and deep down I was happy about that. One morning on Halloween of 2011 husband woke me up at 4am to tell me that the house was on fire. I groggily got up and drove the 30 miles to the house, arriving after the fire had been put out. While husband and the insurance agent were discussing money out front someone broke in and stole our laptop and a TV husband had in the back bedroom he’d been sleeping in that was untouched by the fire. Shortly after we realized the fire was still smoldering in the roofline and reignited causing the fire department to make a second trip out there. This time they smashed every window and sprayed every inch with a foam retardant. The house and foundation were soaked through and through and winter was coming. The foundation ended up crumbling as a result. In the aftermath of the fire husband and I clung to one another, who had time to contemplate how broken we were when we had just lost so much?

It would take almost a year to get insurance to settle with us on a total loss payout. The contractor we eventually hired was the absolute worst and in the unending saga of drama that was my life with husband I continued to ignore the signs that we were not right for one another. We were living in a condo (temporary housing) and husband didn’t wait more than 2 months to offer our spare room to one of his friends, rent free I might add. This was a pattern of behavior I had never understood. In all the time I have lived with that man less than a year of it has been alone with him. He seemed unable or unwilling to live with just me and I took it personally that I had had to put up with him housing so many of his friends. This friend was probably the best one he had and I have been grateful many times over the years that he has been our roommate (still lives with us now)  but it was still a blow to me at the time that he seemed to need a buffer in the house.

That year in the condo ended up being the happiest year I had in my marriage. I was close to my friends and my job and I loved living there. Still, eventually the new house that was being built was ready to move into. It wasn’t actually finished but our allotted money for temporary housing had dried up and we didn’t have a choice. Back to St. Paul I went, back to a house I still didn’t want to be at. I figured I would make the best of a stressful situation and put all my efforts into working on my marriage and that stupid neverending fucking house. I tried to be happy but husband was emotionally abusive and clearly so unhappy himself. He eventually got a better job and then another better job and I was hoping that him bringing in more money than me would finally help alleviate some of my frustrations about paying for everything. He just started spending even more money on non-bills the more he made so that I was still stuck paying for all the necessities while he splurged on non-essentials.

Then my niece died unexpectedly and it hit me very hard. I grieved for months and while I grieved he was creating dating profiles online and signing up for hook-up sites because he felt like I was ignoring him. He was never sober and I felt like nothing was ever going to change. I felt trapped. I vowed if nothing got better I was going to file for divorce but another year went by and I was too drained to do anything but hope my life would get better. I watched my family fall apart after my niece died and tried to hold it together but I was more overwhelmed than I let on even to myself. I took my brother on a 3 week road trip with husband and I hoping it would help him in his grieving. I tried to repair all my damaged relationships but kept wondering at what point do you just throw in the towel? I made the decision to put in one last ditch effort to do everything I could to make my marriage work. To accept that I would just have to pay for everything and that husband would always smoke pot and I would have to be ok with that because he wasn’t going to change.

Then my dad died unexpectedly. Not even a week later the police came to my house to do a search and seize my laptop thanks to husband’s late night antics. I was deep in grief and in that moment I realized I had just lost my past and my future. No father to lean on and no children to raise, it destroyed something inside me. If my father hadn’t just died I would have kicked husband out. Instead I was an emotional wreck and couldn’t handle losing them both at the same time. I tried to make myself believe husband when he swore the police wouldn’t find anything on the computer and this was all a mistake. I told him if he was lying it would be the end of us. He promised he wasn’t lying. I waited and tried to compose myself. It took a little over 3 months but the police came back one day to arrest him and charge him with 14 felony counts of possession. I knew then that my marriage had to end. Not over what he was being charged with (although that alone was more than enough reason) but because I would never be able to trust him again and more than that I had to be able to trust myself and if I went back on what I said would be a consequence I would compromise something I wasn’t willing to compromise.

I stood by him while he faced court appearances but I was pulling away every day, little by little. I didn’t want him to use my leaving as an excuse to avoid facing his demons. I started focusing on making changes in my life that were positive. I had lived for so long ignoring what I wanted and needed because I was focused on making sure he was ok (so I wouldn’t have to deal with emotional abuse or manipulation) and happy. I was done with the dysfunction but the ties that bound us were so damn intricately tied together. I had become dependent on his ability to get things done that I didn’t know how or didn’t want to do. I didn’t know if I was ready to take on the responsibility of the entire house and knew for sure I wasn’t able to swing things financially on my own. I was scared to make that clean break. During this time husband resisted admitting he was guilty of his charges. He lashed out at me and tried to share the blame for his actions with me, stating I had let him down and he was in this mess because of me. That was the final push I needed. I filed for divorce and was granted it in a matter of days. Except he was still living there and nothing seemed any different even though I wasn’t legally tied to him anymore.

In the subsequent months since I got divorced ex-husband has suddenly decided that all the things he would criticize me for are now amazingly attractive traits. Now he wants to change all his bad habits and become the man I always deserved. He doesn’t understand that I have just had enough and all I want now is to start over. Even in his attempts to be nice and spoil me he is being disrespectful because he is essentially telling me that what he wants is more important than what I want. He is trying to convince me that if I refuse to have a romantic relationship with him he will go to jail because he will have too much therapy to complete before his next court date. He is still trying to manipulate and control me so that his life can be better. He says he wants me to be happy but if that were true he would respect my decision. It took the better part of a decade but in the end our relationship died…slowly but surely. Now I just need to figure out a way to put that final THE END on it once and for all.

 

 

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday (Misalignment of Want vs Action)

It appears that a common topic has been hitting several of the blogs lately, it is a topic that I have long pondered. When it comes to what you want, and what you actually do, how often are they aligned with one another?

This last weekend was yet another example of my actions being completely out of line with what I wanted to be doing. Social expectations, personal relationships and my own guiding principles often play heavily in determining my actions. What I feel like doing, or would want to be doing if I lived in a consequence free world, are more often than not at the bottom of my decision-making process. I am not sure if that is common (anymore?) amongst the general population as I am constantly seeing people act with little consideration for how their actions will negatively impact their life or the lives of others.

While it can be frustrating at times to refuse myself the impulsive desires that naturally occur, to keep my mouth shut when I want to scream obscenities at a deserving recipient and maintain a strict adherence to personal standards, I do so because I have seen firsthand how dangerous it can be not to. While family and friends can come and go, I have to live with myself forever. I would rather not have to live under the long-term consequences of poor choices made to fulfill a fleeting want. Our past actions, more than the honeyed words we speak, determine how much faith others have in us. If others do not trust you, life can be a very lonely place, if you don’t trust yourself it’s even lonelier.

That being said, why is there a trend towards doing whatever the hell you want? What motivates others to discard developing stable relationships, provide quality services and focus solely on whatever pleasure or profit can be gained today, with no thought of how it could destroy things tomorrow? Is it another symptom of our self-destructive nature? How do you justify it? Is it really as dangerous a lifestyle as I perceive it to be? I am not asking these questions in a judgemental way, I am genuinely curious to know why people do what they do.

 

Killing Us Slowly…

Vows were said, pictures taken, a dance or two danced with some cake and all the jazz. An exhausting day ended with a disastrous hotel experience and us sleeping separately. Our first room was super dirty and we had to wait for a new one, the next one had a used condom in the bed and by the time they put us in our final room it had been several hours and I was tired, hungry and cranky. We ate shitty pizza from the hotel kitchen and it made me feel sick. He felt rejected that I was tired and felt like crap and wasn’t up for being amorous. He slept out on the couch of our 2 room suite while I slept alone in the bed. Our morning wasn’t really any better, they messed up our breakfast and my front tire was flat when we went to leave. Our first day as a married couple and we were off to a rough start.

A week later we watched 2 more of my friends get married and after attending both weddings we got in my car and headed off to Florida for our honeymoon. I fell asleep and woke up several states later, he felt like I was ignoring him the whole way. It was a quick trip and we got down to Miami the next afternoon. Some more snafus with hotel rooms (it would become a theme throughout our marriage) ended us up in an upgraded room for less money. We dropped our bags off and headed out to meet up with his old hs friend. We saw sights, we ate gelato, we relaxed on the beach and I learned that my new husband really liked to browse through “adult” stores. He informed me he was a on a mission to find a particular “toy” he wanted us to use together. I tried to be open minded but I felt like he was springing it on me. How did I marry someone without knowing they wanted to use a strap on in the bedroom? I wondered what else he wasn’t telling me.

After our honeymoon (where we were not intimate at all btw) we settled into married life. He worked all the time and I never saw him. I ate dinner alone, I slept alone, I did not feel married at all. I told him I felt alone. I told him he shouldn’t work so much especially since they were not paying him. I even went up to his work late at night to check and see if he was actually there. I felt frustrated and didn’t know what to do. He developed a VD, then I did too and I freaked out. The doctors told us it was from that darn HPV everyone has but I wondered why it hadn’t shown up before. Mine went away immediately but his never did. It felt like too much too soon but we were in the process of buying a house. I wasn’t a quitter. If I had known what was coming maybe I would’ve cut my losses and walked away then.

To be continued…

 

Why Is This So Hard?

These past several months have been hard for a number of reasons. Despite the setbacks and grief and drama I have been focused on starting a family and have refused to let the events in my life stop me.

What I wasn’t counting on was how my body would stop me, over and over and over again.

When I was young I did everything in my power to keep from getting pregnant and now all I want to do is see that positive test result. The problem is I keep failing month after month. If it was just that I didn’t have my timing right I might not be so upset right now but my issue isn’t in getting pregnant it is in staying pregnant. The pain from this issue is both emotional and physical and I don’t know how many more times I want to endure this.

I don’t want to wait another 6 months before a doctor is willing to discuss the problems, after all I am not getting any younger. I’m sick and tired of not being able to vent about this or express my disappointment to my support network, there’s still the general consensus that people don’t talk about miscarriages. Except they suck, so much and the more of them you have the harder it gets.

On top of everything else I don’t want to deal with this reoccurring almost every month, and I know this is something I could just stop trying for right now but I have a feeling that if I do give up now that will just be the end of it, I won’t try again because something else will come up or there will be some other detractor. There will never be a perfect time to try and if I am going to do this I have to keep at it until I get the results I want. I just wish it wasn’t so hard. If I am quieter than normal on here though, this is the reason why.

Progress?

This last weekend was exhausting, both mentally and physically. On Saturday we began the arduous process of cleaning out my mother’s house. There is almost 3 decades of accumulated goods and memories covering almost every inch of the house, garage and yard.

I was instructed to get a 20 yard dumpster, I had stated I thought at least a 30 yard one was needed but everyone else outvoted me. My aunt, uncle and mother started in the basement and I decided to begin tackling the garage.

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It was soon evident to me that I had bit off more than I wanted. Without my mom around I didn’t feel comfortable chucking the majority of the stuff in the dumpster. I organized things into piles of like-goods and when my cousin showed up I moved into the foyer and began de-cluttering there.

Before finishing the foyer I got distracted by the dirty fridge and then spent the next couple hours cleaning that out, along with some kitchen cabinets.

My aunt took a break from the basement and began cleaning the bathroom, my uncle wandered back out to the garage, my mom just sat in the living room looking lost and overwhelmed. I asked her to decide if things from the kitchen were going to be saved, tossed or donated. I felt like I was on an episode of hoarders.

All too soon the dumpster outside was full.

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The garage is still full of items that need to be tossed or donated, especially the rafters which we didn’t even begin to explore. The shed in the back is full of stuff I think just needs to be tossed. The basement is still full of things, the crawl space is crammed full of items, there are closets and cupboards and nooks and crannies all just waiting for us to come play the keep, toss or donate game with their contents. We barely made a dent.

It was hard, so hard, to keep from letting my emotions run me all day. I kept telling myself “this has to get done, we need to get this place ready to sell, the garbage has to go” and then I would see some memento from my childhood, or a cherished item of my dad’s and I would feel the tears welling up and threatening to stop my progress. I can’t even imagine how much it was affecting my mom.

The next day I spent the afternoon photographing a family reunion for a co-worker. It was a nice distraction but I felt like I should’ve been spending time with my mom. She was clearly upset by the previous day’s purge and insisted she just wanted to sit alone at her house and go through some things. She will be heading back to stay at her house today, now that my brother is back from WA. I will miss her. I will worry about her, and her dog, when she is no longer there. It’s been a hard weekend but I hope that maybe the path of progress has had the first stones laid and we can continue to build it together.

Depression Dependants

Husband is caught in the pit of depression. I can see him down there, hanging out with my mom. We were all down there together but I couldn’t stand it and clawed my way up.

It’s dangerous down in that hole of negativity. There’s a cold sense of comfort that comes from wrapping yourself up in misery. Nothing good left to lose. No rug to pull out from under you. Slow death disguised as coping.

The problem is that while I might not be stuck at the bottom with hubby and the momma I am still dangerously close to the edge. Depression is like a large black hole that is constantly trying to suck everything else into it. It takes immense strength to pull yourself out of it and almost as much strength, if not more, to keep from getting sucked back in.

I see them imprisoned down there but am not strong enough to lend them a hand to pull them up. I don’t think they’d take the hand even if I could offer it. Their presence down in it adds to the gravitational pull of the depression. Makes it that much harder to stay out of the pit. The negativity is contagious even to the strongest positive immune systems.

I don’t know how to motivate them to fight their way out of this. I know I can’t carry them but I feel guilty about it. I know logically I shouldn’t feel guilty but that doesn’t stop me from wrestling with it. Part of me want to distance myself until I can build up my reserves but I am more afraid to leave them alone.

I wish there was a magic phrase or action that could inspire them to want to challenge the hold depression has on them but I know from experience that each person’s battle is unique to them and their motivators will be different. What works for me doesn’t work for them. They feel safe in their negative blankets, they’ve bought into the lies whispered at them from the recesses of their minds. The self-fulfilling prophecies of pessimism reinforcing their belief that they deserve to suffer.

Battling depression is so much harder if you’re surrounded by willing participants.