Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

desire

Going for Gratitude No Matter What

Every morning I wake up and contemplate my gratitudes. Often it is in contradiction to how I feel and I use the first moments of the day to reorient my attitude. It would be much easier to wallow in the negative, the losses, the current crappy situation I have landed in. But I know the negative can rule my life. I can live in the down and depressed. Anger on the other hand is an emotion that I have a hard time accessing. So if I can even be grateful for the anger in my life, perhaps I can harness some of the energy that’s caught up within that emotion.

This morning’s meditation came back with plenty of the negative aspects of my current situation, as it does many mornings.

  • I’m homeless (my last relationship included her house)
  • I’m alone (as it should be, I’m refinding my solo-self)
  • I’m working a shit job (it’s the most fun I’ve had at work, but it won’t pay my car payment)
  • My ex-wife gets half of everything I earn, after taxes, so my effective hourly rate is somewhere in the $5 – $6 hr range.
  • I feel the frustration of the pennilessness every day.
  • I no longer see my kids every other weekend, I don’t have rooms for them, so I see them “as I can make dates with them” and with teenagers that’s a challenging goal

And somehow I feel entitled to more. I should have a job that utilizes my 15 year career and college degree. I should have rooms for my kids, though things are a lot easier on all of us now that we’re not switching every other weekend. I would love a relationship, an opportunity to be building again towards the future. And I’d really be happy to reach some arrangement with my ex-wife that takes the impossible financial burden off my daily life and ties the payoff to the sale of a piece of property that I inherited. But that’s not how things work. We go through hard times, we survive, and we come out the other side changed. And I think we either come out smarter, leaner, and more optimistic, or we break and become bitter. It is through the active reframing of my life, with positive affirmations and prayers, that I am changing my attitude about my situation.

  • I am grateful that my kids are healthy and doing well in school and life.
  • I am grateful that my ex-wife has maintained gainful employment since the divorce.
  • I am grateful that my mom (humbling disclosure) still has an extra room that I inhabit.
  • I am grateful that I am able to maintain joy in my current job.
  • I am grateful that I have the financial help of my mom, as strained and emasculating as that is.
  • I’m grateful that I am super healthy and getting plenty of sleep.
  • I’m grateful that my creative energy is strong and my inspiration is growing.

Today, I have everything I need. I may not be close to having everything I want. But my basics (food, shelter, safety, community) are pretty well covered. If I can keep my attitude at the proper trajectory I can see that my current state is temporary and my prospects are ever-growing and improving. I have to believe that. I have to believe that I can find a high-tech marketing job as an “older worker.” I have to believe that I will grow out of this phase of my life back into the self-sufficient adult that I thought I was, that I have been, that I will be again. It’s like a prayer, really, these affirmations. I keep repeating my thankfulness. I keep appreciating what I have. I keep letting go of my expectations and immediate gratifications. And I am learning, everyday, to be closer to living in the moment. I am appreciating my current life, my current job, my current loneliness. And sitting in this place, I am also learning to become more conscious, more compassionate, and more humble about what I have vs. what I want.

Just for today, I will rise above it.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

@theoffparent

image: man in stress, creative commons usage


Sexual Energy and the Power of #Desire in Men and Women

I have no authority to write this post, and perhaps it will piss some people off, but I’ve been thinking a lot about sexual energy and the power of desire. Let me explain. As human animals, specifically men, we have been told we are programmed by our sexual desire to be in continuous pursuit for a sexual partner. It’s animal, we’re trying to reproduce and ensure the continuation of our genes. And this sexual pursuit is hard-wired into our brain and body. And from what I experience of my own behavior and fantasies this appears to be true. To a point.

I do love looking at women. Men, not so much. And I do enjoy seeing young, fit, attractive women as well. But they are not sexual objects to me. They are not targets for my affection, they are merely beautiful creations to be appreciative of. The same way I admire a Ferrari. I don’t want a Ferrari, and I don’t really want any of the young women sexually, but they are both amazing to look at. Is this the same thing?

What makes “people watching” so fascinating? I think it is the flow of human beauty that we enjoy looking at. Again, we might initially be more drawn to the fertile and nubile of our human tribe, but this gut reaction is not all about sex. And one thing I’ve noticed about myself, even when I’m sexually depleted, having zero sexual energy, I’m still attracted to watching the flow of women passing by. What could that be about? It’s not about passing my seed, unless this is an unconscious drive, and that’s Freud’s assumption. But it is something sexual. I’m not drawn to men in the same way. Still, I find it fascinating, that even when I have no sexual energy or passion, my mind still get’s “up” for a pretty woman.

As it stands, I’m not in the market for a lover. I have two children, so I’m not in need of procreation. And yet, women, the female form, fascinates me. Is the unconscious hard-wiring that strong? It’s as if I can’t look away without effort. And my attention is not only on the youngest and fittest. In fact, most of the young women resonated with thoughts of my daughter and are actually less interesting for that reason. And maybe that’s the crux. “For that reason” does point towards some sort of sexual tension.

And coming from a man’s perspective, I’m curious if women approach people watching from a similar perspective? I’ve read that women don’t feel sexual energy the same way men do, something about testosterone, but I’ve also read that we underestimate the sexual desire in women due to social mores. I can see how a man might be more driven, if you will forgive my pun, for release. And women might be more driven by security and power. But is that just clichéd thinking? Do women view attractive men in a less sexual manner?

I’m sure there is a difference in the chemistry of men’s and women’s bodies. And I’m sure that testosterone has a role in that “drive” towards sexual fulfillment. But I’m curious, for a population in their 40s – 50s, with “families” already established if the sexual drive is more similar in men and women? Do we both enjoy the sexual thoughts that come from people watching? Aren’t we essentially doing the same thing? Asking that tried and true question of our inexperienced, and pre-family youth, “Would ya do them?”

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

@theoffparent

image: frame rate, creative commons usage


Losing Everything Again, And Finding Happiness Anyway

I’m in a rough place. At the same time I can’t say that I’ve ever been happier. But I’m just beginning to realise happiness is about my relationship to myself and not someone else. Sure, I’d like to be in a relationship. I really miss the physical contact, the camaraderie, the checking-in at all hours of the day with little texts and messages. I love being in love. And I love being in relationship. Until it’s not working. Then I’m not all that good at expressing what I need to make things better. So I suffer. I moan. I get depressed. What I should get is ANGRY. But I suck at that even more.

Two months ago I was asked to move out of “her” house. I was broken. I was freaked out and scared that I was retreating to my mom’s house to die. I imagined myself sleeping all the time, fighting with my mom about not getting up, like a teenager. I knew the sadness was going to be overwhelming. I mean, I loved this woman with all my being, and she was everything I dreamed I wanted in a relationship, and now she was going away? I was almost as afraid of the darkness I was going to descend into, more than the darkness I was in, but I knew that staying was not healthy. I was anxious and depressed at the same time. And I needed to get out of the house and get on with the grief and healing that would come from losing it all again.

And for the first two weeks I suffered. Very differently than I thought I would. I was sad. I was grieving. But I was also relieved. I relaxed a bit once I was alone again. I slept better. I napped anytime I felt tired. I took back control of my schedule and my priorities. And one thing I did, for sure, was I exercised every day. It was a commitment I’d made over a year ago when I was struggling. No matter what, I can walk. Even if it’s only 3 miles or so. I can walk. And while that won’t make me feel better in the short-term, in the long-run I knew it was as good for my soul as it was for my health.

I also attended a boatload of Al Anon meetings. I was going almost to keep from being so alone. But I was listening too. And I spoke a few times about the struggle of giving up on a relationship. And I got a lot of phone numbers of people I could call when I just needed someone to talk to. It was the best support network I could’ve asked for. In ways that were different from friends, these “friends” had experience with what I was going through. Most of them had years in the program and gave pretty sage advice when asked for it. But mainly they were sounding boards for my recovery thinking, about the relationship, about where I was going, about how sad I was, about how I couldn’t see my future at all. And mostly they listened. That’s really what we need more than anything, someone to listen.

Well, as it turns out, I never really fell apart. I was expecting it to happen at any time, but I simply kept going on with my life. I kept walking. I read and worked the Al Anon program. I went to meetings. I talked to some people on the phone. I got a sponsor. And I really just struggled on with my normal life, except that I was alone and not living with someone. (Well, my mom, but that is different. And we worked out a pretty good relationship around privacy and sharing resources.)

I sought out the grief. I watched sad movies and cried. I read books about breaking up and grieving. I wrote goodbye letters to my former fiancé. I dug into my feelings and sat there, not really sure what actions to take. So I stayed still. I sat with the feelings. I prayed and meditated. I ate three meals a day and walked in the brutal Texas heat. And I kept going.

I wasn’t feeling better during those first few weeks. I was feeling liberated, somehow, but sad and alone.

And about three weeks in, something happened. (I think my new meds kicked in.) I started to see possibilities for the future, my future. alone but surviving. If you’ve never experienced true depression you don’t quite understand the depth of the helplessness that happens. I didn’t really see my demise, I just couldn’t imagine my survival. But a new dawn began to break as a result of my work, my time away from a toxic relationship, and the help of my chemical altering drugs.

Then my brain kicked back in at about 4 weeks. It was as if I had been sleeping the entire time prior, and now awake I was capable of accomplishing anything. I wasn’t grandiose, I was just happy again. I was hopeful again. I was still doing all the same things, walking, napping, getting plenty of sleep, eating well, and boom, like a light switch was flipped, I was back.

That was six weeks ago and the reignition has stuck. I’ve gotten over the edgy side effects of the new meds. I’ve calmed down my fantastic ideas. I’ve watched my sleep schedule very carefully. And I’m still soaring what I consider my “normal” functioning self. I’m happy. I’m alone and living at my mother’s house and working a shit job, but I’m happy. And I’m writing. That’s one of the big tells with me, if I stop writing something is off. My brain likes to express itself with language. And when I clam up, I’m battling something bigger than just a temporary setback or disappointment.

I’ve learned to ride the edge of my good feelings too. And I’ve learned to laugh off the overused term “manic.” Sure, back in my teen years I had a manic phase. But since then, when I get high, I think I’m returning to my natural “high self.” There are psychological terms for this state as well, but I don’t even think hypo-manic fits for me. I could get there if I drank too much coffee, didn’t eat well, and didn’t watch my sleep. I could easily slip over the edge of mania and do some crazy shit. But I learned when I was sixteen, that this type of behavior only results in sadness later.

So I’m alone, homeless, and happy. How joyful I will be as things begin to turn in my favor. And it’s the season, fall, where I usually get stronger. I’m trying to relax a bit more. I’m thrashing a bit about being alone. But at the moment, as you can imagine, I don’t have many options for being in a relationship. And I KNOW that I don’t need another relationship right now. My relationship to myself is the one I need to nurture and continue to build. I’ve still got a lot of forgiving to do for my failures and failings. At the moment, though, I well on my way.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

@theoffparent

image: cartwheel, creative commons usage


Uh Oh, She’s Not Perfect, Not Even Close… Pitfalls of Dating Again After Divorce

I’ve got a friend who is probably the coolest guy I know. But he’s not finding the woman of his dreams. And it’s not that he’s not out there, he is. But I think the issue might be his unreal expectations he sets for how their relationship will start.

He’s a bit of a prima donna. A hard nut to crack. And you’re either going to love him or grow tired of him very quickly. (Example: he might jump your shit for being 5 minutes late, then later the same day, be 30 minutes late himself, without a peep.)

He’s hypercritical of his dates from the very start and yet can’t understand why he hasn’t met his match.

Okay, here’s what I’d like to say to my friend.

  1. The woman of my dreams did not come fully wrapped with a bow on her. There are still things we’re working on. But we’re madly in love, and compassionately seeking a better connection on a daily basis.
  2. A deal killer, what I thought might be a deal killer, is actually an opportunity for discovery and exploration.
  3. She drinks. I vowed off drinking years ago. I should write her off. But I didn’t and the issue was really mine not hers.
  4. She’s never had kids. Sure there are some tight moments when my kids act out a bit and she can’t understand why I don’t lash out at them. (They might trash the kitchen a bit too often, but we’re working on it.)
  5. She’s pretty self-centered. Again, this could easily be a deal killer in many ways, but I understand. She’s amazingly pretty. She’s delightfully orgasmic. She’s probably never had to work to hard at investing and exploring life with another person, not to mention three people. (I’ve got two kids that are part of the package.)
  6. She doesn’t have one of my primary desires: she doesn’t play tennis. But she’s a sport and will get out there and hit balls and promise to get better. And she’s so fit, she’s getting good pretty quickly.

I’d like to tell my friend to ease up on the “ideal woman” for a minute. Take some of the flawed candidates and take the time to get to know them. If you’re only looking for thin 10s you’re going to have to stand in line with the other suitors. I know it’s what you think you want. I know it’s a must have. But can’t you see it’s killing your opportunity for kinda nice and…

Dating takes time, I get it. I’d rather be working on one of my creative projects than going out on a “first date” with anyone. And it takes time to weed through the fake profiles on Match.com to actually get a real girl who’s interested in meeting for coffee. And there will be set backs. So far, one woman and I have missed our window three times. But she keeps coming back and I keep coming back and eventually we’ll meet in the middle somewhere. I don’t think she’s the one, but I’m willing to see what she’s like. I know she’s tall, thin, and beautiful.

So, dating again really takes a new mindset. Define what is perfect for you, then dial it back by 80% and let the 20% of unknown be a surprise left for you to discover. I remember my first girlfriend after getting a divorce. I made a joke about “my next girlfriend will definitely have a tattoo” and boy was I surprised. It was a huge lion on her stomach. It kinda stared at me, so I wasn’t a huge fan, but my little whimsical thought came true. So, rather than praying and thinking of the Victoria’s Secret model, put your attention to something beyond physical attraction. You’ll be better served in the long run, and you will probably meet women who are a little bit more realistic about what they are looking for in a relationship as well.

Take care, and if you need someone to talk to about dating, divorce, or depression check out my coaching page.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

@theoffparent

image: salsa, creative commons usage


love loving love

[from strange horizons poems]

in this blistering pace of the day, this life
all that is missed or lost or unremarked upon
all the moments we didn’t stop
and pause in prayer of affirmation
what gets lost?
what loves go unfound
unspoken
ungifted

i am certain in my last days
the joys i have celebrated will out balance the dark times
or, i am certain
that given the chance
starting at this very second
that I could begin
to tilt the balance towards
more love poems
towards more love moments
towards love
period

pointing this direction of my life
i can choose my targets
i have opportunities so clear as this
given the choice
given this life, and this pause
given everything i do and everything i’ve yet to do
if i choose with intention
i can aim my arrow
towards a deeper appreciation
of love loving love
and being loved back

01/2015


What I’m Not Saying

I can’t talk about it yet. Well, I am talking about it, but over here http://wholeparentbook.com. But this place, The Off Parent is for the rad posts, the anger posts, the depression posts, where I can really let things fly. And I’m not ready to go there. In fact, I’m scared to go there. When I hit the anger about my lost relationships I know I will be furious.

So for now, if you’re waiting for the next chapter, head on over to my PUBLIC blog and take a read of what I’ve been up to in the last week or so.

I will be back here, I’m sure. And of course, some of that silence was my depression coming on strong and sticking around for a long fucking time.

I’m getting the varnish remover ready on my writing so I can give you the dirty truth about what I’ve been dealing with for the past 2.5 years. But not today. Today I just wanted to say “Hi. I’m here if you need me, and I’ll be back with my OFF writing soon.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

@theoffparent


it’s me and the coffee cup today

OFF-montrealmorning

[from strange horizons poems]

it is often what i leave out of the picture
is what i really want to tell you about
the images and shapes just behind my screen
the consciousness i call me
filters hard against the dirty messy stuff
a few gems get out
when i’m tired or not paying attention
but i’m letting you know
the images you can almost see
in the photos and selfies
contain the heart of the matter
i’m digging
i’m trying
but i am often afraid
and i shy away from cutting too deep
into my own exposure and isolation
i’m reaching out in this way
but there’s so much left beneath
so much to crack open and share
but if the connection is not secure
if the contact isn’t full-bandwidth
i know
i’ve been there
a lot of the subtleties will be missed
and the message gets muddled
in the words i select
in what i’m willing to try for
i’ve grown a bit weary
of the attempts at binding myself to another
it’s what i live for
it’s what i’m dying for
it’s what i lack
in my constant seeking
for syllables to convey my love
brilliance
intelligence
worthiness
and she’s missed again
by a mile
the target was undeveloped
and my shotgun approach
was taken full force in the face
and i scared another potential
off frame
and again
it’s me and the coffee cup today

11-1-14


in my blue bedroom

[from strange horizons poems]

there is a blue that binds us together
Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 3.04.14 PMme an d u

a blue so blue
it hurts
my fingers
to t y p e this
just so you know

a blue that reminds me of the time without you
and beds and nights of ocean cool
and a blue so cold
so pure
it felt like i might be dying

with      without you
or any thought of you
didn’t exist yet
in my blue bedroom
before u
arrived

3-9-16


Bang! The Lies My Wife Projected On to Me

OFF-header-wanna

When we first started dating, my wife was living with another man. She failed to mention this to me over the course of several lunches that got ever-more flirty. So, in some ways she was hedging her bets by staying with the other guy and not telling me about it. She wanted to see how things went before telling the other guy she was unhappy or looking for something else. Hmmm. This is not a good opening.

She was confessing and confiding in another man about her husband’s depression, and the hardships of her life at that moment in time.

Then we got married, had two kids and suffered the financial disaster of 9-11. Everything we had imagined was going to be easy, was hard. And it got real hard.

During one of the hard parts she began to have very deep email confession sessions with a younger man from work. She even took him to lunch and showed him our local library. WHAT? Do you think I heard about this little migration? I did not. Another WTF moment. When I discovered the indiscreet emails, by accident (I was cleaning spam off our shared computer) she apologized immediately and cut off the relationship.

But it WAS a relationship. She was confessing and confiding in another man about her husband’s depression, and the hardships of her life at that moment in time. He was recently out of a relationship, and from what I understand, fairly attractive and bit young. < THIS MY FRIENDS IS EMOTIONAL INFIDELITY.

She may not have slept with the guy, but she went a lot deeper than that. Yet, the real betrayal was in NOT telling me what hardships she was experiencing as a result of my depression and the hard times we were in. She was a stoic. She clammed that stuff up and rarely talked about emotions. But it must’ve been easy with this guy, because it wasn’t long before she was revealing my depression and her dissatisfaction with her current life.

That’s when the light bulb goes off, now, looking back on the entire way our divorce went down.

She was unhappy with her life. I got us into marriage/couples therapy. She was not talking about being near divorce, but at the same time she went and met with an attorney to “figure out her options.”

We were spending weekly sessions in couple’s therapy and she was not talking about wanting a divorce? WHAT THE HELL? Why was she agreeing to be in marriage counseling if she was also seeking legal advice about a possible divorce. They say you can’t prepare for war and hope for peace at the same time.

She would occasionally go to lunch with her ex-husband and fail to mention it to me. Why? Why should she hide unless she was, again, “checking out her options?”

While all this was very shocking to me, as it happened, and even these years later as I’m still unravelling what happened, the illumination I got today was this: she had been lying to me all the time. Several times in our history, her trustworthiness was called into question. Yet in therapy she was hammering me for being untrustworthy. Like the time I didn’t tell her I’d gotten a speeding ticket. (As in avoiding unnecessary conflict with her during a difficult time.) But she was using those minor transgressions to trump of charges of being deceitful, and it was HER that was not coming clean. She was projecting her guilt and lying on me. Saying I was the one with the honesty problem.

There were other little things along the way, during our marriage, that didn’t make sense. She would occasionally go to lunch with her ex-husband and fail to mention it to me. Why? Why should she hide unless she was, again, “checking out her options?”

So I was being raked over the coals about being dishonest and my wife was consulting with an attorney rather than bringing her issues into couples therapy. She was focusing her unhappiness on me and what I was or was not doing for her. That is what killed us. Her lying. Her secrets. And her trying to keep the focus on my issues to keep from revealing or confessing her own. And that’s fucked. We were doomed from the time we started dating, by her distrust and dishonesty. Wow. And I’m just getting this six years after the divorce.

Respectfully,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

< back to The Hard Stuff posts

related posts:

image: close up portrait, creative commons usage


mvd2.0

off-hearttree

[from strange horizons poems]

something about your heart doesn’t make sense
a desire beyond all desires
a part of your soul you don’t understand
but are drawn to
the thrill, the chase, the capture,
the loss, the love, the sadness
it’s all in there at the beginning
and if you spot the one you’re looking for
no amount of distress or baggage
will keep you from
giving it your best shot
communicating freely
loving wildly
being reckless
bold

don’t hold back when the winds of love arrive
the storm approaches and you can lean in
or run with the dust and rain

ours is the way of brave things
kisses like arrows of fate and joy and excess
piercing the veil
of loneliness
hope
and
desire

the poetry of desire has created the maelstrom
a belief in myself
in my power to call in what the universe demands
of lovers
and answering the call
who am i to hesitate
when the time opens up and says forever
i am good to go
perhaps for a year
perhaps for a lifetime
i have only lived this far
i do not know
but i feel

you have awakened the life in me
of potential and possibilities
lying together
side by side
strokes and cuddles
smiles
and groans
as we seek the hand
push back against the night
with laughter
longing
and
full
fill
ment
of
the
we

2-5-16


her surrounding love

illig-framed-2016

[from strange horizons poems]

just above her wrist
there’s a sweetness
that only i know
a place behind her thigh
that i hold on to
and the left neck nibble
drives her to laughter
no matter what mood
might be passing through
i cannot imagine
a more perfect union
flawless in our imperfection
fitting in our wants
reverent in our needs
she keeps me in her pocket
when she leaves
she keeps me wrapped up inside
warm

2-1-16

image: framed, by Ed Illig ©2106, used by permission


The Problem Always Seemed To Be Me

OFF-endofsex

“So you know what, I’m having sex alone. Bummer. Are you having sex?” — a txt message to my then-wife.

In couple’s therapy we seemed to focus on me and my issues. She kept bring us back to some crisis of trust. Over and over. It was as if I was an alcoholic or something and I kept slipping. But it wasn’t quite that dramatic. Something else was at play.

As your partner begins withdrawing from sex, they are giving you a strong signal about something.

  • They are having an affair (emotional or physical)
  • They are getting ready to divorce you (pulling back to lessen their involvement)
  • They are dealing with some psychological issues of their own
  • They are angry and are using sex as a means of manipulation
  • They are tired. Tired all the time. (this indicates some other potential problems)

Conscious sex (fully-engaged) requires both partners to be sober and open. When there are unresolved issues it becomes hard for the aggrieved party to join in a full and passionate way. In our case the issue of “being tired” appeared to be the most obvious excuse. This is when things were *good* between us. She would often reject my offers of a back rub, or a bubble bath, with tales of how tired she was. How many chores still had to be done. (Oh, and BTW motherfucker why aren’t *you* doing them?)

Sex is not everything, but in our case it *was* an indication of her withdrawal.

At this point in our marriage, I could not figure out the formula, even in the pleasant times, to unlock her sexual side. Is it too revealing to share that we were both on some form of antidepressant at various periods? We both embraced the concept of better living through pharmacology, when necessary. At one point I went off exploring the #1 side effect of the med she was on: suppressed sexual desire. Yeah, I could’ve written the book on it. As in ZERO.

But it wasn’t all her, right? It had to be me as well. Right?

What I tried.

  • Doing more chores, more clean up after dinner, bath, and kids to bed.
  • Hiring a maid once a week to take care of 90% of all laundry and household maintenance.
  • Worked harder to make more money and put more money into savings.
  • Asking in more creative and less demanding ways. Asking without asking. Showing my desire through touch and small gifts.
  • Leaving sexy or funny notes during the day.
  • Suggestive texts leading up to a night without kids.
  • Everything I could think of, read in magazines and online, imagine might get her in the mood.
  • Refrained from porn, so I’d be even more arousable, more available, more present.

But there was always something wrong. Always some reason, in her explanations, that prevented us from having sex. As it turns out, in the last year, she was probably working up the nerve to divorce me. So she was withdrawing as a way to remove the feeling from our relationship. In that aspect, I suppose, her shut down was quite effective.

As we continued therapy during this time, however, the idea on the table was continuing in our relationship. We were in therapy to save our marriage not get out of it. And yet she was not reentering the relationship in a sexual way. I wanted to bring this up, she always seemed to have bigger issues. In my case, there might not have been a bigger issue.

We were less than roommates at this point. It felt at times that I was merely in the way.

And I’m not saying I didn’t have issues. I did. I do. But I was trying to be the “more balanced and loving person” by letting her agenda drive the sessions even as I was starving to death emotionally. We were less than roommates at this point. It felt at times that I was merely in the way.

The Spring Break one year before the final fracture she decided she was taking the kids to visit her aunt in the deep south valley of Texas. I was attending a tech conference in our city the week that she was leaving with the kids. It was a “nice break” she said. Where she could get some time to think about where things were.

When she returned I tried to make the house perfect. I had love notes scattered around for her to discover. Everything was spotless. I had enjoyed my time alone, but I had also been recharging my attitude for her eventual return. I was going to woo her back into love with me.

The results were not at all successful. In fact, we were in a fight within about 30 minutes of her return. Even as I was trying to go over-and-above she was angry about the way I had assumed she would be interested in sex upon her return. I can’t recall the exact details, but she was pissed that I was in such a romantic mood, “right after she had just driven home for 5 hours.”

“I don’t think I love you any more.”

At some point she not only gave up on the marriage and sex, but she began to plan her way forward, without me in the picture.

It was as if my romantic aspirations were a demand on her. I wasn’t asking for sex. I was trying to show her in my actions and in little love notes how much I loved and missed her. It wasn’t about jumping into bed. It was about reconnecting. Needless to say, we didn’t reconnect. She stayed mad for a long time.

Something about my blog (the marketing one) was making her nervous. She was certain I was killing my job prospects by being a blogger. And she was mad about it. Furious. Scared, maybe, but it came out as anger at me. As I recoiled from the rebuttal, and attack on my creative output, I was aware of some new strain of anger.

She had taken her best friend with her to share the driving. But something new had entered into her vocabulary after that trip. She kept saying, “Pay attention to what I’m saying.” And “You don’t seem to be understanding how serious this is.”

What she was saying in words was, “I am mad at you.” And she tried this one on a few weeks later.
Now, those are fighting words in my book. But there was no fight left in her. She was done. I think she gave me the next year to figure it out. Or she needed the time to make her plans, measure her options, or something. We took a break from therapy after she described her overall feelings about the relationship as cynical.

A year later, we were just starting up therapy again. Again, right after a Spring Break trip alone. This time there would be no recovery. But what I didn’t know at the time was she had already been to see an attorney. At some point she not only gave up on the marriage and sex, but she began to plan her way forward, without me in the picture. I guess this is what you do if you are the dumper (the person who initiates the divorce).

My experience of isolation and constant anger was painful and dark. When the concept of divorce was broached I was horrified and I fought against the idea with all my heart. However, as the conversations moved forward, I was also aware that too much would have to change for me to agree to stay in the relationship too. She pulled the trigger. But in the end, I too was relieved to be escaping such a sexless and toxic relationship.

Sex is not everything, but in our case it *was* an indication of her withdrawal. And had I fought at the first signs of her departure I might have saved some of our relationship. But I allowed her to dictate the therapy topics away from our emotional/sexual relationship.

At the fundamental core she had shutdown her sexual desire as she moved away from me. I could’ve spoken up sooner, but I’m not sure I could’ve steered her back into a loving relationship with me. She wanted something else. She wanted things to be different in her life. And at that moment in time, she had the kids and the nice house, perhaps in her mind it was time to seek a more “responsible” partner. Well, that’s how she described it, anyway. (grin)

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

back to The Hard Stuff

related posts:

image: 206, mitya ku, creative commons usage


a love poem so big

off-girlrace

[from the collection nyc m]

my hand
is stronger resting against the small of your back
my vision
brighter because of your warmth and illumination
this ease is not effortless
but won at the failure of many other paths and loves
what joy
your joy ignites
and smiles that smiles reveal

if i roll back the videotape
examine evidence of love in my life
even one year ago
my heart was pouring out love poems
my broadcasting network was crackling with energy
all theoretical
all imaginary, hoped for, aspirational vapors
i simply willed you into existence
by the force of my desire

a love poem so big
so open and honest
that you could not help but fall for me
the moment the last syllables crossed your lips

no sequence of words
no love poem divine
is capable of capturing the transformation you have brought
though i might try
over and over
to exclaim

love love love

is a word that pales in my mouth when i try to express myself
the ashes of my former lives are scattered seaward and wide
the nights of soul’s dark, no longer faced alone
and this very second
i know nothing
and everything
at once

and it began with a kiss from you
a signal
an opening
a fire
still growing in heat and light

this is what i mean but can’t say
with words
today
or tomorrow
or ever

7-12-15

image: race for a lifetime
, creative commons usage


may i be gentle always

off-tiffany[from the collection nyc m]

may i be gentle always with you
as i cradle your hand in mine
to support your living dreams
and dreams yet unborn
enthusiasms come and go
i stay steady as a sunbeam
warming at the touch
giving you a lift
stroke
glass of water
kiss

7-7-15


I Want To Thank You for the Divorce

OFF-breakfastinbed-2015

It’s already sounding snarky to me, but I have to give thanks to the mother of my children for releasing me from a marriage that had grown unbalanced and unhappy. She pulled the trigger and set the separation in motion long before I was willing or able to admit we were done. But we were. Kind of.

I was not done, but I was very unhappy. As an eternal optimist I trained myself over the course of our marriage to sublimate the desire for sex or the desire for joy. I was a good husband and a good provider. But I was not good at just going through the motions. We described the last year of our marriage as “living like roommates.” I was unhappy about this, she was more matter-of-fact. Things weren’t living up to her satisfaction, why would she continue to have intimate relations with someone she no longer loved.

As I took matters into my own hands and forgave her for some loss of libido, I was also beginning to feel a bit hopeless about my ability to remain centered and happy. Of course, I was already way off-balance, but I didn’t know this. I thought I was being the honorable and stable one. What I was being was stoic and stubborn. I should’ve called for a time out or a pow wow long before we reached the D stage. But I didn’t.

I’ve learned I’m what’s called “conflict adverse.” If I can avoid a fight I will. I will hide certain facts (like a speeding ticket or bounced check) in order to not “get into it.” But this sort of behavior, even as small as it was, was maddening to my then-wife. She had trust and security issues. And any minor infraction of this “trust issue” as it became known in our counseling sessions was met with cynicism and “you will never change.”

In therapy we seemed to focus on me and my issues. She kept bring us back to some crisis of trust. Over and over.

The problem was our relationship while built on the desire to have kids was not strong enough to build and rebuild once the kids reached school age. While I was always pursuing my creative crafts (writing, music, blogging) my then-wife had put most of her artistic ambitions in the closet, right behind the vacuum cleaner. She became more obsessed with the cleanliness of the living room and less interested in the connectedness of our relationship. How could someone you love be okay with going a month without sex? I was astounded and hurt that we had reached such a distant state. I asked for therapy, and contributed actively to the rebuilding idea, but something was not working.

In therapy we seemed to focus on me and my issues. I suppose, due to my bouts of depression, I allowed this to happen, even when the issues, in my eyes, were more emotional. She kept bring us back to some crisis of trust. Over and over. A little thing, a receipt from a restaurant that I forgot to report on my company expense report for reimbursement could become a “thing.” And the issues continued to grab the lion share of our therapy sessions. Meanwhile we were sleeping in different beds about 90% of the time and my suggestions at intimacy were rejected by habit.

As our emotional life was being crushed we were counseling about “trust issues” and my “mental health.” Of course, my depressions had been awful, and I have nothing but respect for this woman who stood by me through the worst of it. I also began to believe that she might never return to her happy state. She might never joyfully suggest sex or show up in the hallway in matching bra and panties. She was somewhere else emotionally. She was packing her bags as she was hammering me about my next job and when the new insurance would kick in from the new job.

She’s laughed with me at the stupid complications my ex-wife has injected into my life through litigation. We laugh a lot.

Today, almost six years later, I can say, I am very happy and very sexual in my new relationship. And while we’ve got our work ahead, I have to acknowledge that something is very different about how we relate to each other. For one thing we BOTH really like sex, and we BOTH seek out that connection. (Who knew that the best sex was ahead?) AND we seem to have both gotten our emotional and psychological issues mapped out enough to related on a very open and honest level.

She’s seen me depressed. She didn’t freak out or run away. She’s seen my financial status vacillate from AWESOME to BROKE and back. And she’s laughed with me at the stupid complications my ex-wife has injected into my life through litigation. We laugh a lot.

And on my part, I’ve seen things in her that were a bit different from what I imagined. I had developed the idea that only a mother would have the skills and empathy to understand my own kids. What I didn’t know at that time, was how complete this woman could be with her life and her choices and how she could WANT my kids in her life, even if she didn’t have any kids of her own. In fact, the non-kid aspect made our early courtship a lot easier as we merely coordinated around MY kid schedule.

Today, I can openly give thanks to my ex-wife for giving me the opportunity to seek and find a different kind of love. And I look forward to build a new life around and with my kids and this wonderful new partner.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

back to Single Parenting

related posts:

image: breakfast in bed, nyc, 2015, cc the author, creative commons usage


along the beach

uber-mlovesj-sand[from strange horizons poems]

as her hand entwines with mine
i can see and taste the future joy
as an unending laugh
or ecstatic embrace
even as the sand is coarse beneath my feet
i know the softness of her love
the way she has cracked open my
everything
even things I did not know
have split open in loving her
the salt of her skin
the heat of the sun
still radiating from her chest
as she arcs into me
with

one

clear

yes

all in the clasp of her fingers
the squeeze and tickle
home i feel
beside her
inside
and outside
and along side
her
and her big heart
worn in plain view
with a quirky smile
and sparkling mischievous eyes

she has captured me back
taken some dream
and brought my little boy to life
and she holds tightly
and pulls us along the beach
faster
more joy
more love
more sun

if it feels like too much
at some moment
i pause
she stands steadfast
manifesting all she promises
adoring with intention
to be here
be present
and bask in some mutual
glow

this is everything
this moment
begins with each breath
as we walk together down the beach
once lost and alone
now full and close under the solstice moon


the art of holding hands

[from the collection nyc m]

how our fingers entwine says a lot about the state of our connection
someone who doesn’t hold hands well… not an option
if you know your love language is touch
the hands will be a bit tell for you
is there a mutual reaching out
does she touch back or pull away slightly
is there a grabbiness or playful flexibility in her
it tells a lot more about her than you know
and when you find the match
another empathic soul stretching for god
and the love found between two people
as a prayer and song of thanksgiving
the hands will constantly be seeking a join
a comfort and calm in the casual wrap
the playful hand within a hand
the single finger grip
or entwined one by one
it’s almost a roadmap for love-making
this holding of hands
between two people
who cannot physically get any closer
yet desire
some entry point, some warm wire of communication
that only a hand-in-hand can provide
plenty of love transfers over the air, the eyes, the sounds and words
but the touch of a warm hand, cold hand, dry or moist hand
gives entry
feedback
clarity
to the connection
and expression of another’s
sensual desire

6-25-15

off-lovewatches


splendored

[from the collection nyc m]

and what if i were to tell you
to actually let. you. know.
for sure
that love
in all it’s many splendored splinters
is true
that it’s still possible in your life
no matter
no time
no hurt
has taken away your potential to love
we ache for the oporutnity
to pour ourselves into another person
and sometimes we forget
we have that person but we miss
we slip into something
other than
adoration
but even then
even now
in this second
you can turn it around
you you you
can take a breath
make a change
and keep yourself
angled in the right direction

it’s not easy
i’m not trying to kid
or sell you a load
but i am here
to at least deliver the good news
love has struck
right here
right in this very moment
and you are now witness
to a great moment
a longing beyond ages
a fracture that felt unrepairable
two people
wandering wondering questioning
and in
a
split
sec.
ond.

finding something so
pro. found.
deep.
clear and present
that the time stretched and compressed all at once
and we knew
knew
just knew

everything since that moment has been a confirmation
a testing without testing
a smile and tickle
a laugh and launch toward what we had almost imagined
unattainable
but we never gave up
not completely
never lost sight
and
in this second
right here
i can only tell you
that the love of my life
took 52 years to show up
to deliver me
from sadness and aloneness
to
this
fine
moment
completed
whole
and
happy

6-21-15


love times five

OFF-love-times-five

[from the collection nyc m]

word and hand
finger and smile
you are here
and all the world
is rushing by
oblivious to the transformation
taking place
right here
between us
underneath the daytime stars
in and around
strawberry fields
of joy
this

moment

is the last

moment

we will spend
this far away
as we surge forward
into
a new
relationship
status
a
new celebration
for our friends
of what we’ve known
since
the week
we first kissed

6-21-15


the girl the girl the girl

off-thegirl[from strange horizons poems]

what if the girl arrived
what if the girl the girl the girl arrived
here and now
to let you know you were alive
to give you energy and rushes of blood to the head
and what if
she said
she would never leave
and she meant every word
to the point where you started believing too
and she listened to your poems
smiled
and said nothing
but her eyes burned with the understanding
the romantic expression
captured in her hunger and joyful gaze
even as she’s drifting off to sleep
now, this very now, right beside you
and the tap tap tap
of these words
and this poem
is music within some dream she is weaving
here beside me
and far away
and here, arrived
confirmed
loved

what if the girl has arrived
really arrived

here

she

is

6-15-15


and know i love you

OFF-monkey-coffee[from strange horizons poems]

though i can’t see now
what i’m supposed to be
alone and happy
i don’t understand
how you’re not with me
was i dreaming

it’s not right with my world
i hope it’s right in yours
without me
it’s not okay with me
may you be okay and strong
without me

i was holding you
when it first revealed
you were leaving
there was no recourse
no rebuilding life
you’d decided – for me too
if i tell you now
that i love you still
would you hold me
now that you have gone
i’m in a better place
loving someone
and i don’t know what
the future holds
i’m rebuilding
if you hear my voice
just ignore the words
and know i love you

song idea: 6-14-15


Appreciating Your Partner’s Exes

off-massage

Saying “Thank You” to your partner’s ex can take humorous turns.

He fucked up and lost her. After two years of dating she threw in the towel. I could be mad or hateful on the old boyfriend, but I’m not. I’m grateful about a lot of things, and his lack of appreciation for her, well, for that I can thank him daily.

Now in the case of this boyfriend it wasn’t a very graceful exit on his part. While she failed to disclose our relationship (“I don’t want to hurt him”) he failed to take no for an answer. And for several months he texted her, dropped by her house, and left gifts out at her house for her. At the same time he whined that she had “dumped” him. He vacillated between “would you like to join me in the hot tub” to “you’ve made the worst mistake of your life, dumping me.” It was an odd and tense few months.

On the one hand I wanted to remain confident, unattached, and non-judgemental of either of them. On the other hand, his texts cause me pain. No matter how I covered it up, I was not feeling 100% confident in my connection to this amazing woman, and him… Well, he had money, he had a career that seemed bent for higher things, and he’d had her as his girlfriend for almost two years.

But I had her time. She was with me. You’d think that after a few months of not seeing her car in the driveway (he lived nearby) he’d figure out that she was overnight-ing at someone else’s house. But loneliness is a mean mistress. And after a few days of silence he’d usually chime in with some sexual enticement or frustrated complaint. At first she responded. I suggested she cut him off, let him know she was with someone, or that she just stop responding all together. But I also had to let go of her behavior and responses to his texts. I had to step away from my own jealousy, even of a man who was no longer in her life.

And then it just got weird. He dropped off a massive jar of Organic Coconut Oil at her house. She was like, “WTF? I don’t even know what this means.” I joked, “What it means is he went to Costco and had to buy two of these vats and he donated one of them to you.”

The humor of the situation didn’t occur to me until several months later, when she had moved into my house and I noticed the vat of coconut oil in our pantry. And about that moment a post from The Elephant Journal appeared on my Facebook news feed about coconut oil as the miraculous sexual lubricant. It smells like coconuts. It’s good for your skin. It’s safe externally and internally. And it is an amazing, water-soluble slippery fluid. BINGO.

I brought the vat to the bedside table a few days later, and the rest is history.

Amazing in two words. Coconut Oil. Try it.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

back to On Dating Again

related posts:

Reference: The 3 Naughty Things I Do With Coconut Oil. {Adult}

image: massage, nick web, creative commons usage


the hunger

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 3.04.14 PM

[from strange horizons poems]

in my hungry state i’m more agitated animal than man
lack of food or companionship get me buzzing a bit
as if each young woman is part meal part plaything
i know it’s not right
i can feel when all is not right with my world

and then…

in a flood of torrential proportions
the transformation occurs
in the act and arms and embrace
an alchemical phase change of every cell in my body
from a negative cool charge
i am flipped on
warm, hot, positive

only one thing can burn away the hunger
and the hotter the fire, the hotter the friction
setting electrons, every electron, in motion
reorienting towards due north
win
yes
home

when i am empty i roam the desert like a predator
full i become more kitten than killer
and in the seconds and minutes that follow the feast
a new set-point can be established
an imprint of what “really good” feels like
again

at last
finally
even just for now
enough
full-joy mode

1-20-15

image: headless lovers, ludo, creative commons usage


entwine and twirl

off-santafefire

from strange horizons poems]

i want to fill your mouth with words
and your mind and blood with dangerous thoughts
passion run amok, the burning desire to rub again
into the feeling, the heat, the joy
a love poem that echos your name
will be what wakes you up every morning
in your arms i am powerless to stop the flood
the song, the symphony, the dreams
the now and here are alight with our laughter
and i only have to dip my hand in the flowing stream
of us
and the poems write themselves
this is what *we* feels like
an unhenging of doubht
an upending of sorrow
and the burning energy
at 3am
calling us to entwine and twirl

5-23-15

image: snowing, hernan pinera, creative commons usage