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

spirituality

Confronting God Alone, After Divorce

OFF-jesus-necklace

We are the rebound and rebuilding of our past loves and losses.

I’m certain that I prayed to God to save my marriage. More than once or twice. I would’ve done nearly anything to keep my little family unit together. I counseled with my minister, I shouted out loud at the heavens, I wrote prayers that sounded more like love poems. And nothing…

It was a time for miracles and togetherness. One shiny family, orbiting God, and giving thanks along with lots of giggles and screams.

Turns out, somewhere, a bigger plan was being put into motion. Praying for the repair of something broken might not have been aligned with the plan. Who’s plan? What plan? And when would I know the rules and routes of the plan? I knew very little about any plan, and I was getting pretty snarky in tone as I pleaded with my higher power to fix things. I wanted them fixed the way I wanted them. I had no idea what was in store, but I had a lot of living and self-discovery ahead before I would catch a glimpse of my bright future.

My then-wife and I got really spiritual about the time we decided to start “trying to have a baby.” That means we ended all birth control and had a brief window of joyful and bountiful sex. It was the opening up to the possibility of a child, or children, that was the big Ah ha moment. We had some woo woo things we did, like talking to the baby in the womb and going to birthing classes. And we prayed and said thanks all the time. Life ahead appeared to be full speed ahead.

In less than a year after being married, we were gifted with the first child, a son. Once again, our lives were transformed as we surrounded him and each other with a warmth that only comes from some kind of spiritual grace. We were aligned, in-tune, and in-communication with God, capital G, for sure.

Through toils and snares we tried again and were given a baby daughter this time, to fulfill our pair, one of each, our unimaginable fortune. For years and years the kids took all of our energy, all of our creativity, all of our focus, and a lot of our time. But we were happy for the transformation in our lives from self-important to parents. It was not a sacrifice to tell friends, “Sorry, I can’t come see the movie, our kids are working on an important Lego fortress and I’ve got to help.”

I was devastated and depressed and God was nowhere to be found.

It was a time for miracles and togetherness. One shiny family, orbiting God, and giving thanks along with lots of giggles and screams. As it turned out in our case, the bliss didn’t last. And after a series of events, none of them catastrophic, we agreed to get a divorce. In spite of our love for each other, and our love for our kids, the love of our relationship had wained. Perhaps we didn’t focus enough on each other as we were praising and singing to our children. Perhaps we didn’t pay enough attention to our own individual needs. But in the Spring of 2010 we were no longer a family unit, we were two houses and two kids and two single parents.

That’s the moment I came face to face with my own relationship to God. It’s not like I went looking for some spiritual revelation. Actually, it was quite the opposite. I began to crumble under the loss. The nights and days without seeing my kids was torture. All the years we had spent as one unit, to be locked out of my own house, outside the circle, and given about 30% of my parenting time back, was akin to being turned into a zombie. Lucky for me, I had family in town who took me in. I had recently lost my job, and had no money for an apartment, and no desire to find one. I was devastated and depressed and God was nowhere to be found.

Except when my kids arrived. Everything changed when they were around. My little girl snuggling and asking me to chase her around the house. My son hard at work on some project or another, rather stoic and aloof. And me, trying my best to put on a brave face. I was anything but brave. I did hold it together, somehow, but there were times when I was actively trying to give up. That’s what depression is: giving up. Of course, when you have kids, there is no such thing. I suppose you could run off and vanish from their lives, start over in Montana or something. But without that option, the future was here, in the same town with my ex-wife and my kids, trying to hold it together at school functions and holiday kid swaps.

Somewhere in that period I went through my dark night of the soul. I had joined a divorce recovery group and we were supposed to write out our “anger letter” to our ex. I started out at about 10pm, with a fairly tame rant. By 3am I was on fire and fuming. This anger was the energy and turning point that expelled the depression from my heart. And even as I was writing the words to her, I was also expressing my anger at God, at “the plan,” or “his plan,” if that’s what you want to call it. I was fuming mad and I was going to get it out in every way I could.

Depression, the saying goes, is anger directed at ourselves. Well, I had un-targeted myself and was shooting sparks at God and my ex-wife and all of her friends and the friends who had abandoned me… I was just plain mad. A bit “mad” actually. But the anger sure got me motivated and un-depressed.

In the process of this rebuilding, if we listen for spiritual guidance, what we hear is our own hearts, our inner spirits.

During this period, one of the weekly chores of the divorce group was self-care, or doing something that helps you feel better. I started an Aikido class and began learning how to get thrown down on the mat every afternoon. And I didn’t think much about God except during the quiet times, when the kids were away, and my Aikido hadn’t burned all the fire out of my day. In these moments, staggered between loneliness and the potential of growth and energy I was cultivating that I began to pray again. These prayers were much more like love poems. Like Rumi as he called out to the beloved, I was also seeking a beloved. I still had a long way to go, but I began to hope and dream about being with a woman again, and the possibility of even falling in love again. Hard to imagine, but easier to pray about.

In the quiet moments, I do think my higher power was listening. Maybe it’s just the higher power in me, but the praying, and love poem writing began to soften the anger just a bit. The driving force that got me up off my ass was not very conducive to finding a date. I was pretty far from dating material, but I was at least beginning to think about my quality of life when I was the “off” parent, when the kids were not with me.

Looking back at this time of rebuilding, strife, prayer, Aikido, and living with my sister, I can sort of imagine the roadmap that got me here, to today. I can acknowledge that my marriage to the mother of my children was not serving either one of us, for whatever reason, and in the moving on I was given a new lease on happiness and even love. All of those fractured years, after the divorce, I spent building new ideas about myself, about what was important to me, and keeping the focus on building my now time-limited relationship with my kids.

Today the love poems are arriving en masse for a woman who has arrived to wake up my sense of God once again. “How could I have known?” I ask her, playfully. “That all of that shit would crack open my creative spirit again, and that from these prayers and poems I would find you.”

She still smiles at my pontifications and says, “Those that fired us, brought us here.”

We are the rebound and rebuilding of our past loves and losses. And in the process of this rebuilding, if we listen for spiritual guidance, what we hear is our own hearts, our inner spirits. It is in the listening that I was able to hear what aspects of a relationship were important to me, and what things I would like to avoid in the future. And while there’s not guarantee, the woman of my dreams is sleeping beside me these days, as we flow through the happiest moments of our lifes. Even when my kids are not with us, the joy between us… Well, isn’t that God, in a way.

Love = God.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

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image: santo cristo tile image, mary anne melo, creative commons usage


temper the joy

OFF-final-cut-300[from a second wave – poetry]

with potentially dangerous epiphanies
i learned to temper the joy
hide the enthusiasms
mistrust the high
i could not contain
i tried many strategies
tell no one
tell selected few
tell my therapist
none worked very well
epiphanies may be between you and god
see… that right there is the problem
saying stuff like that
gets you in time out
and adult time out is much worse
then kid time out
so for now…
this time…
this joy
moment
bliss

i’ll keep between me
and
my

you fill in that blank for yourself
no, it’s okay, i’m good

8-2-14

image: the final cut, robb north, creative commons usage


Three Loves: Eros, Filial, Agape

OFF-snakeI’ve been trying to create a lover from thin air. Using all my conjuring powers, all my musical and romantic tricks to summon the next great lover. And… I’m not sure I have been doing it right. I learned something this morning as I revved forward into a peaceful Sunday morning, alone.

At church I was listening and not listening to the sermon. I had not been in over a year. But I did love this preacher and this feeling of home that was comfort and solace in my past joys and pains. But for brief moments I was trolling. I was scanning the entire church for attractive women. WHAT?

Sid, was giving a sermon on love. WHAT? Maybe it was time to give my search a rest and listen. Maybe this morning was no random occurrence. And in my somewhat mixed state I listened and scanned. But I became aware of the frivolousness of my longing. The type-a searching, that had produced ZERO ecstatic partners, may not be serving me. What if I relaxed. Sat back. And grooved on being present and lovable. Loveable even to myself.

The words from a song by the band Bush kept running through my head.

Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breath out…

So, there was one woman. She was familiar. She had been part of the church for at least 5 years. She had joined as a recently divorced mom with a three-year-old daughter. She was beautiful.

Eros: is often thought of as the love of sex. But it’s much more than sexual. It’s the fire, the passion, the drive to create. And noticing that much of my eros, or erotic energy was focused on finding a partner, I could understand how that energy was being funneled away from the other creative passions. In my attempts to create the lover I wanted, to woo in a certain way that the other person becomes inflamed at the same level, was draining some of my resources and some of my beauty with all the effort.

It was not her. I was too intent on looking for someone. Perhaps I was too intent on “creating” someone who loved me back. But my impatience could lead me to a lot of unnecessary churn.

In fact, I want to let go and present myself a bit more low-key and wait for some of the flame to come from the other person. I wanted patience. Even in the heat and rush of passion I did not want to be the 90% generator of the flames. I would not create my lover. My lover needed to come fully created and meet me on the field. Anything else, was beginning to feel like pushing the river.

Filial Love: family, community, connectedness. This was the love I was being washed in, sitting alone with friends. Sometimes, in the darkness, even this filial love is not enough, and we’d rather stay in our quiet, dark, boxes and suffer alone. But just knowing that our family was out there, that our filial ties were strong even when we were all silent… Today I felt the family I had been missing. And the love from the family of origin that I had never gotten as a child.

Agape Love: the flat-out powerful love of the creator, however you care to imagine her. God, Jesus, Mohammed… Native American gods. All part of the whole. The GOD of gods. However you chose to believe, however you chose to be amazed, that was the god of Agape. And while it could be sustaining, it was not nourishing in the same way as the first two. And certainly not as filling and energetic as the first one, Erotic.

So if I am running around, poetry-ing, wooing, sending love letters to someone who I hope to awaken, perhaps I am draining some of the essence that I could be using elsewhere, if I just relaxed into the process. Time is the key. Time is everything. And timing is important too.

Let’s look at the woman in the congregation. She was obviously attractive to me and known to me. She was the only sexually attractive person in the congregation of about 120 people. And that’s it. We caught each other’s eye several times. I flirted in my mind, and tried to return to the message Sid was delivering. I had mixed results. But I did learn something.

  1. I found 1-person-out-of-120 people sexually attractive.
  2. Her physical beauty was what drew my attention in, as I was scanning.
  3. What I knew about her, other than her initial introduction to the church, was nothing. She was alone today, but that’s all I could tell.
  4. She smiled at me. Or was she smiling in my direction? Hard to know.

If I had been determined and focused on finding a partner I might have stayed after church and initiated a conversation with her. I didn’t.

This one attractive person was amazing, and the revelation of my above-average tastes was also revealing.

I do understand the commitment, beyond all measure, to continue the search for love and loving within the entire arc of our relationship.

It was not her. I was too intent on looking for someone. Perhaps I was too intent on “creating” someone who loved me back. But my impatience could lead me to a lot of unnecessary churn.

I learned something from what Sid said about marriage today and the line of the marriage vow, the part about “until death do us part.” It seems so archaic today. Do we really believe in marriage, or that vow, with today’s marriage statistics?

What I learned, or heard at least, was that this vow was more about commitment. Could we commit to wanting and working towards a love that would last. That we could put ourselves all in, and vow to do whatever it takes to keep the relationship and love growing, in spite of setbacks both personal, financial, and physical? Could we say YES to the full thrust of the LOVE we were being asked to participate in?

It’s food for thought. I don’t know about marriage. I don’t know what the ring and the vows mean today, in my life. But I do understand the commitment, beyond all measure, to continue the search for love and loving within the entire arc of our relationship. Where it will all lead, that is more of a mystery. But when she shows up before me, and says, “YES,” I won’t hesitate. I will know. But I can’t go out questing for her. I can’t write poems to capture her. I cannot make her into the lover I imagine.

Trying is not fair to either of us.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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image: snake, hand, bokeh, james lee, creative commons usage


Sunday Means Get Together: Or Get Alone – And Breathe

happy sunday - the off parent

Here’s one I’ve never written before.

This morning I woke up with enthusiasm and a headache. I was longing for connection. Of some sort. Here’s the path I am taking today.

  1. Chatted via Facebook with an old flame. Literally my first high school sweetheart. Who lives at the farthest reaches of the US where Winter is still happening. We imagined making love, and chatted with hot thoughts, more virtual than real. From high school flames.
  2. Tried to arouse myself with random pics and streams. Oh physical connections are so much more rewarding. Got bored with that.
  3. Started to write a song, a poem, and a story at the same time. Got confused.
  4. Reached out on Facebook to the wife of the pastor of the only church I would consider myself a member of, I’m spiritual but not religious. Got the time for the current service, confirmed that her husband was there this morning.
  5. Made a pathetic plea on FB for someone to join me for breakfast. Oh, I hate that, don’t you?
  6. Read some poetry.
  7. Made a decision to go get breakfast tacos and go visit my family at the liberal church next to the big white conservative church, that I call mine.

Imagined telling my friends about this random trajectory and my willingness to launch into the unknown having unsuccessfully connected with anyone within a 1,000 mile radius except the wife of my favorite minister.

Life is exactly where it should be. I am happy. I am hungry. I am starved for connection. And I have all the connection I need.

Sometimes breathing is the best exercise. We (I) get too focused on the doing, going, producing… And forget to stop and pause and appreciate. That’s where I’m headed. But I wanted to give you a little chat and wave before I head out the door, just me and Jack Kerouac’s poetry.

Happy Sunday. Go breathe, together or alone. But go!

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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image: sunday means get together, yasin hassan, creative commons usage

+++ bonus

swimming

Oh, so now I’m understanding why I joined the swim team in high school. Three of the front row, in sequence, blew my little high school mind. We were 2nd year boarding students. Wow.


Unavailable Women of Desire

unavailable womenWhy not lust after rockstars, movie stars, lesbians, and happily married women? My current path of ”availables” has yielded very little. WAIT! Am I getting discouraged?

Three times last week I fell in love with unavailable women. It’s almost like the early days, of hanging around with “the most beautiful girl in the world.” All the longing and desire are unrequited and unrequitable. But that doesn’t keep the desire from being sparked when in the presence of attractive and powerful women.

But what is it about my mating call that is not working?

1. Perhaps I’m still not looking in the right places

  • More church, yoga, hiking groups, meetups

2. Perhaps I’m not the star that I want to be

  • Fitness
  • Confidence
  • Spiritual mojo

3. I’m still too focused on the external desire

  • Rather than connecting with my own internal feelings of fulfilled desire
  • When I lose 20 pounds, I’ll simply be 20 pounds lighter
  • What needs to change?
  • How am I not loving myself enough?

4. My productive time is sacred, but I still waste it on Facebook

  • Facebook IS procrastination
  • Facebook IS NOT creative
  • Facebook IS TV

5. Time Spent at Craft

  • Butt in seat and writing (screenplay, poetry, blog, music)
  • Get the live music show on the road – singer songwriter path to performances (2 weeks – before end of June)

6. Time With Others

  • She will not find me sitting here in my house
  • How can I get introduced to more people unless I’m with more people
  • What ways do I want to spend time with others?

Update from this weekend. Had a nice long walk and movie with the remaining woman with potential. Time together. Still no kissing. What’s up with that? What does she want? When does she want it? Maybe it’s not me that she wants it from.

Today’s quote from Alan Watts struck me as particularly enlightening with regards to my way forward. I’m always so concerned with not pushing the river. In this quote he gives us permission to push the river if that’s where we feel the connection. The push is happening either way. Our job is to connect with the WOW of everything, rather than focusing on the striving we consider so important.

When I can no longer identify myself with the little man inside, there is nothing left to identify with — except everything! There is no longer the slightest contradiction between feeling like a leaf on a stream and throwing one’s whole energy into responsible action, for the push is the pull. And thus, in using intelligence to change what has hitherto been the course of nature, one has the realization that this is a new bend in the course and that the whole flood of the stream is behind it. — Alan Watts – This Is It

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Finding Adoration

sex is spiritualBringing sex into the picture can really complicate things. And when it’s an animal drive rather than a move of adoration, it’s something else. I’m not looking for animal sex with someone I don’t crave. I want to make love, the next time, to someone I simply adore. That’s the highest form of connection and adoration I can give. And I want to feel the loop going both ways. Like a circuit; there is a connection that lights up both people.

I was listening to a Doyle Bramhall II song in the car today when the lyric hit me.

You and me, we’ll wait to see the day come down.
Don’t go, sit here girl, let’s have a drink and watch the day come down.

Something about the longing in his voice and knowing that this record was a victory lap on his marriage to Lisa Melvoin, (of Wendy and Lisa fame) just struck me as appropriate. I want to watch the day go down with a woman, just be. Time together being relaxed and not pressured to do anything.

And then I imagine the sex becomes part of the passion and adoration that grows between us.

It seems to me, I’ve been trying to hard to FIND a girl friend. And what I learned yesterday, having a couple of hours hanging with the MIA woman with potential, was: it really is about the quality of the time together. The “feeling” you get. The unstoppable glow that wants to be fulfilled through the ultimate act of intimacy.

Sex is a spiritual act. And engaging in it should be a form of beauty and expression. When it becomes mechanical, or there’s a hint of boredom or duty, it’s done. I aspire to actually make love next time I’m with a woman. And until then “friends” are just fine. Now, kissing… That’s a bit less intimate and should be an indicator of the sensuousness in the relationship. But the intention should be there as well. So woman with potential might be over thinking, or she might just be really spiritual and going slow.

100% or just don’t waste your time.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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+++ a Doyle Bramhall II song, live from my home town. The woman on the left, singing is Lisa, Doyle’s wife at the time, now divorced. Wendy is playing bass.


Not Obeying the Speed Limits, Enjoying the Daily Journey

Coming home from the movie, I noticed how hard it is for me to drive the speed limit. I think I have that tendency in relationships too. (This post continues the story started here: Go Big This Time, or Go Home)

speed limits in dating and love

In the most recent installment, we learned that kissing can make quick work of the intimacy that usually has to be built up over time. So my warning, to myself, obey the speed limits. With good reason the kissy girl slowed the “runaway train down” so we could figure out what relationship might look like before we tore each other’s clothes off and dove head first into sex.

Turns out, even with less than a week under our belt, the kissing had formed a bond for her that was less easily loosened than maybe if we had not lip locked so quickly. I have no regrets about that. But I learn.

It was hard tonight, telling her, repeating, and reframing the proposition that I wasn’t interested in a relationship with her. “That’s fine, but I thought we could just hang out and not rush into anything.”

Needless to say she was confused and disappointed. And she was convinced that I had not handled the situation as well as I could. Fine points, I guess, as you are in the middle of a breaking up with someone, but let’s take them at face value.

“You could’ve told me the second you knew something wasn’t working for you,” she said. “In stead of dragging it out over the last three days.” Okay, but I tried. My txt “I’m not ready to be in this relationship,” wasn’t clear enough. I can hear that. But I didn’t really have any clear time to deal with this discussion, until today. And in my mind, I was still figuring it out. I had the idea that meeting in person to say it might be a better approach.

And speeding up the process for sex, or passion, or kissing, is not a good idea. I want the relating to be ahead of the feeling. I want the experience of being “with” this person to be something coveted and sacred long before we make love.

I said. “I did try to say that I was having second thoughts.” And I mentioned the idea of the other person not having kids, and thus not quite understanding the “kid thing,” was an issue. But I was not clear at that moment, that I was saying NO to everything.

“Still you left me hanging all day. What were those texts about?”

She had texted me earlier in the day to discuss plans for the evening. She had asked for flirting. I didn’t give that. “When we talked on the phone, I was trying to be clear. BUT, I had back to back meetings most of the day. It wasn’t until six this evening that I was really clear enough to have this conversation, clearly and definitively. But I’m clear about it now.”

Okay, so the drama is over. She has gotten the picture. I’m done. I’m not interested in hanging out and “having some fun together.” And I’m certain that I was not prepared to kiss again. Not even a little bit. The drug of even that is a powerful enough to cloud my clear thinking.

It’s hard. It’s messy. And I do give her the point that I jumped right up to the passion play pretty quickly after we met. It was a mutual thing, but I did do my part to fuel the fantasy. And then I saw the New Girl. And it became very clear, I was trying to justify or rationalise the relationship with KG and I wasn’t even in the ball park.

Seeing this “ideal” woman, who DID in fact show up in full regalia and say, “So are you checking me out?” She is most certainly still in the projected fantasy mode, but this time she and I are clear the slow pace is more important than the passion play. Well, at least that’s how she explained it to me.

“I’m not really big into passion. I’m not looking to fall madly in love with someone,” she said, yesterday on our walk.

“You’re not into passion?” I asked.

“Not at all. It’s just, I’m just more fixated on regular life. Sometimes all that passion, that stuff we were so high on when we were in our twenties, some how that’s not all that important to me, or how real life is.”

“Yes, I can see that. I lost my priorities when the big passion came on with my ex-wife. I let go of some of the things I now see were critical path for me.”

We sat in that moment. We rubbed her dog’s belly. We drank our Topo Chico. We enjoyed the moment.

She showed me her hands. “I want to be more like this,” she opened her hand, palm up. “Rather than this,”  she flipped her hand and gripped the table. I agreed and took her hand in mine. Just for a minute we sat and held hands.

Then she volunteered, “When I say my vows again. I want it to be something like this. ‘I would like to spend the rest of my life with you, and we can be together.”

“I can see that.” I said. She was echoing my definition of beauty, that I had articulated in our first “lunch.”

The key words, the key idea, “for the rest of my life” resonated brightly with me.

That commitment does not allow for “almost” or compromise. Not at this point in my life. I don’t want to spend a single night in “almost.” I’d rather be alone. But I don’t want to be alone. So I have to look for the “rest of my life” girl.

And speeding up the process for sex, or passion, or kissing, is not a good idea. I want the relating to be ahead of the feeling. I want the experience of being “with” this person to be something coveted and sacred long before we make love. Kissing, maybe sooner than that. I mean, as I learned, kissing is a pretty powerful opening.

It’s a big journey. But the next relationship is the biggest one of my life. And I want the mundane to be ecstatic simply because we are doing them together.

But even that has no business being hurried. When GF 1.0 kissed me on the first date, I was swept up in the moment. And while that ended reasonably well, and even today’s Kissing Girl went away without a mortal wound, it was difficult and tiresome. We have a finite amount of energy, and I intend to use as much of it as I can, and use it wisely.

So, for me, I’m going to throttle down the runaway train, and be more conscious of the “being” together rather than the rush. I felt the rush with NG, right away. Seeing her, being with her, and the moment she asked me the telling question, I felt a thrill at even being inside her house. I had thought about her before.

So now we are in the micro-crush phase. We take small steps. We look and evaluate our compatibility on innumerable levels. How do they deal with disappointments even in this stage. How do you let them know of a change in plans? How frequently is contact desired, initiated, responded to? It’s all a microcosm of real life.

I really like the idea, of “being together” and letting the other stuff fall into place. Certainly I’d be sad if I didn’t think there would be BIG PASSION again. Because I can see how with the build and desire that I have already for NG, it would be HUGE, it will be HUGE if we kiss. And even BIGGER if we made love. But I want to experience every single nuance of the build between now and then. And I want to keep on experiencing the little steps of awakening excitement on through the “rest of our lives” together.

It’s a big journey. But the next relationship is the biggest one of my life. And I want the mundane to be ecstatic  simply because we are doing them together. Idealistic? Perhaps. But I’m clear on one thing. Almost is NOT ENOUGH.

When poetry and song are part of the equation even before we’ve really started, all I can say, is we’re off to a great start. Even if the fantasy is still just mine, at this point, let’s see how the reality develops before my very eyes.

Update: In a short email KG said she was sorry. She asked, “Friends?” Here’s my response.

You are bright and beautiful. And I wish you all the best in your search. But I don’t think I can be friends. 

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Making Love to Parker Posey

imagining parker posey in my arms

So let’s say SHE does show up. The uber woman. Arrives fully outfitted for your bullshit and dressed to the nines. She’s unafraid, but she has some demands she needs to lay down first. In my mind, Parker Posey has some of the best and worst qualities you’d want in a girlfriend. Of course, she doesn’t want to be your girlfriend, or even acknowledge the relationship, and that’s okay, if that’s how she wants it.

The woman shows up, she’s ready to load her bags on to your train… and… wait a minute? What am I supposed to do about losing my reclaimed alone time, I talk so much about? What ARE the parameters you’re willing to move and compromise on IF SHE DID SHOW UP.

Even after all the searching and fretting and imagining, she has not yet shown up. The near miss this week, still being slowly put back in the “friends” box, was the first wake up call I’ve had since divorce, that showed me a new problem.

I LOVE MY ALONE TIME.

I’m not afraid to say it. I’m not ready for someone to ask to be with me on every night I don’t have my kids. I flat out, can’t do that. I suppose eventually I’d live with someone again, and that would be the result, but that’s not a goal of mine. In fact, some of the struggle in my marriage was between me and the ex-y around how much time I could spend writing or playing music. It was WE time I was sacrificing to make ME time. Now, with the rules all TBD, I’d best be considering the best case scenario, so I can guide my wishes in that direction.

My friend said, “She has a rich and full life of her own.” And that has some resonance. But would a relationship with PP be any fun? And it hit me. For the first time in my post-marriage relationship experience, I actually had to say to someone, “You need to slow your roll.” (Not in those actual words.)

A full circle from the first CONNECT in an online dating session that ended with the woman giving me her number and suggesting we could just “hang out” some time. I was thrilled. She was so easy. We talked and gazed across the margaritas dreamily. I went home and wrote down what I was feeling.

And then I shared it. (Oops.) It freaked her out. And not just a little. It freaked her out a lot. And she never agreed to meet me again. Ever.

Today I sort of get it. This woman, KG (kissy girl) is ready to usurp all available bandwidth. And it’s up to me to draw that boundary. While I’ve already decided that KG is not the next relationship for me, it was quite an awareness to learn that IF SHE HAD BEEN, I would not have been prepared. If it had been Parker Posey and she had said, “So what are you doing with the rest of your life?” I’d a flipped out.

Walking my kissing relationship back to no relationship is going to be a bit of a trick. I don’t like to be mean or misleading. And I KNOW that she is not going to be right for me. (See: The Church of Kisses) But worse would be to try and limp along without letting her know it’s a MISS for me.

I did talk to her on the phone today. She had begun to freak a bit that I hadn’t called her back by 11:30 this Saturday morning. I didn’t want to call anyone back. I was here doing a project with my son. I felt a bit of an intrusion from a woman I met a week ago who was now demanding that I call her back so we can talk about “What’s up.” ACK.

The good news, the saving grace, I think in this case, was that she had slowed the runaway train that was heading towards sex. The kissing was great. The sex… well, that’s part of the problem. I have no intention of making love to this woman. And that’s the part I need to let her know.

The conversation this afternoon went something like, “Okay, what’s freaked you out?” and “We can talk about anything. If you just let me know what’s going on.”

Um, a rude me would’ve said, “It’s not me it’s you. I just don’t want to make love to you, ever.” But I didn’t. I set a parameter around my time. Giving us some cooling off time. (I didn’t see her yesterday and won’t see her today or tomorrow.) By Monday, my intention is to tell her, I’m not moving forward with an US in any shape or form. I don’t need a friend. I don’t need someone else who’s interested in my time. I need the ONE PERSON who I’m willing to give my most precious asset to, ME.

The poem from yesterday (travel together) came from a chance lunch meeting with an old acquaintance. And you know what… I almost sent it to her. Talk about SLOW YOUR FKIN ROLL! I am so glad I didnt’.

Bottom Line: It’s okay to have wildly romantic fantasies. And it’s okay to project some of those into the marketplace of relationships. That’s what keeps us going in spite of the failures and long odds. And it’s really okay to fall madly in love with someone, when you vetted out as many of the “must haves” as you can.

My new must have: “How much time is enough? How much time am I willing to give? How will I push back when I need time alone?”

So this idea of always leaving them wondering a bit, hungry for the next contact, sort of makes sense. While NG (new girl) and I have known each other for 15 years or so, we’ve never really been friends. She illuminated that yesterday when she said, “We’ve been acquaintances, but not friends. You’ve never shared with me like you did today.”

And so the spark is present. Great. Now it’s time to take it easy. Don’t press forward into sex, or trying to define what’s going to happen or how it should be. Let it be easy. (I’m repeating this so that it works like a mantra to soothe the excitement in me, about crossing paths with NG at just this moment.)

Slow your roll. There is no need, during this initialization phase, when projections should be measured against reality, to hurry things along. Savor each step. Stop occasionally and ask, “Is this enough?”

Then when you see Parker Posey again, you can tell her how you’ve missed her, craved her, and wished you could spend more time with her. And she is able to say or not say the same thing. And that’s the dance. When the other person begins unpacking their bags too soon, even if the bags have magical treasures, it’s scary. And it’s too soon. Let the mystery unfold in time. Don’t rip at each other at the first chance. There are too many subtleties that need to be addressed BEFORE you MAKE LOVE or HAVE SEX.

Too many fantasies to balance against reality. If you’re already deeply addicted to the sex juice it’s going to be hard to pull back. With KG I think I caught my error early enough. With NG I hope I have not already pressed to far with my outreach via txt. Thank god I kept my poem in my pants.

She’s waiting. She’s thinking. I am a mystery. Let’s slowly unpack some of our things and compare notes along the way. We are complex systems. And for our constellations to align, it will take some delicate maneuverings  We don’t want to repeat the past mistakes. And in my case, I don’t want to let beauty overwhelm and bypass my fundamental requirements.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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There Is No Fountain of Youth; Let’s Find A Deeper Level of Connection

Youth is not the answerI guess it’s traditionally a woman thing. This obsession with youth, taut breasts, eye wrinkles, etc. And maybe culture HAS established this bar of glamour. Magazines, television, movies, celebrity, we are in love with the beautiful. And for many youth has it’s allure. But it’s very thin this skin deep obsession. And in this moment, I am trying to understand even more clearly want my own wants and desires are, and what drives my taste vs my passion.

I was educated on a woman’s body by Penthouse magazine. And before you glaze over and discount this observation, I want you to understand that in my generation, that’s what we had. And yes there was a very clear distinction between Penthouse and Playboy. Playboy was about big tits. Penthouse was about showing the vagina. And occasionally Penthouse taunted and trained us with the obsessive fantasy of lesbians. Hot lesbians. Lipstick lesbians, who while, into each other at the moment, would clearly like us to enter the picture at any moment. That was the bill of goods we were being fed.

And maybe the irony is, you were raised on a different kind of porn, but porn nonetheless. Women’s fashion magazines are part the media training that you received in identifying what was beautiful and what a real man desired.

We’ve both been sold a load of crap. And the lie continues. Even the medical authorities have gotten into the game with longevity medicine. Now, in addition to Botox and lifts you can have your biological chemistry measured and you can subscribe to a supplement regimen that is guaranteed .. Oh wait, no guarantees… Sorry.

There are a few elixirs that I DO know of that work. And the remarkable thing is, they work for both of us, men and women. Here’s what I believe about fitness and beauty.

Yoga is probably to perfect exercise. It incorporates self-reflection, patience, meditation, and relaxation. The term flexibility that applies to yoga is also a topical remedy to everything life throws us. Understand and learn how to be flexible. Move when the pressure is too much. Breath into the issue and see if there is an answer in the pause.

Water and supplements are required. No matter how well you eat, unless you’re paying a chef to keep you healthy, you will probably need a supplement or two. In the functional medicine world, these supplements can be expensive and very pinpointed for your “condition.” A very popular local MD has a two month waiting list to get into her “program.” And the opening volley is two thousand dollars. Before supplements  Nice if you can afford it, but… You can afford a very high-quality organic vitamin from Whole Foods that should cover a good portion of your nutrient deficiencies. (Of course I have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m just saying, you probably need supplements of some sort, so get the best vitamin you can afford and take it.) And if you are drinking other things MORE than water, try and continue to shift the balance back towards water. Clean water.

What you eat can have a huge effect on your health, weight, appearance. So pay attention to what works or does not work for your body. I recently started doing a paleo regimen  and I dropped 17 lbs without really adding much additional exercise to my planning. I’m back up about 5 lbs from that point, because I added some breads and desserts in as a celebration. The celebration is over. Back to simple meat and veggies.

Exercise is fun if you like to do it. If you don’t, find something you DO like to do. I love tennis. I love walking around the lake where hundreds of others are walking. And I almost always work with great music driving me on. If you don’t exercise your body will have less resilience.  And without exercise your diet is going to help but not kick you back into the fitness level YOU desire.

Let’s get this straight. I’m not ever going to have the body I had as a high school swimmer. BUT, a man my age, I’m not really interested in looking for the high school swimmer to date either. The young woman in the picture above is beautiful, and just starting out in life. She’s more a daughter figure than a date. And while the porn and media still show us the 20-somethings as the object of affection, I’ve pretty much moved on.

Youth is amazing to look at. And youth needs our guidance to keep their orientation on career path rather than glamour, cheerleading, or sports. Sure, do those things too. Be popular. But think about what you are going to do for a living.

And as far as our generation goes (I’m at the tail-end of the boomer generation) let’s let go of gravity-free breasts, cheeks caked and injected, and hair so processed it’s not really hair, it’s a wig.

As the ex-y went from a runner physique to a mother physique I was pleased. Very happy with both incarnations of her beautiful body. And when her breast went from beauty to utility and then ended their supply run, I was still just as in love with them, as they had aged gracefully and naturally.

I’m no authority on fashion or cultural stereotypes, but I know that I have my own youthful-addiction when it comes to beautiful bodes in movies, music videos, and on the net. (Not so much into porn these days, as touch is so much more critical path for me.) And I still, personally, go for the bad girl. Even when all the signs are there. And I’m guessing this is partially the culture and media culture as well.

Here’s a final example of my own whacked out beauty measuring stick. In the video below make a note that Courtney Love is 45 years old in the video and has had hundreds of thousands of dollars of plastic surgery done to tuck and sculpt her into this bad girl. And the bass player, who is much more my type, is also a figment of our imagination, rather than a real person. How they smile, tease and entice with their siren’s looks and come hither moves. Oh…

Courtney Love the poster-child of fked up

click for video

But we know for a fact that Courtney Love has some serious mental problems. And yet, she’s desirable. BUT, I will note, not in a relationship kind of way, but in a pretty-to-look-at obsessive way.

The end of the video has a surreal moment with a beach full of women in lifeguard bathing suits carrying baby dolls at their breasts. And Ms. Love walking through them and tears off her dress and jumps in the ocean.

Her final lyrics are, “I can’t be near you, the light just radiates. I can’t be near you, the light just radiates.” And from the wikipedia entry, Love is “a woman who, for the last 15 years, has been as famous for being a rock star as she’s been for being a victim.” Courtney Love

This Barbara Walters interview shows a bit of the train wreck of Courtney Love. But I think this picture of the vixen at Cochella this year, shows a bit more clearly how the facade is not holding up that well. And still, there is a that bad girl appeal somewhere in my gut. YUK. No thank you. Maybe this is reinforcing the “youth” stereotype, but it’s not her youth or lack of youth that is appealing or appalling. It’s her entire show.

cochella 2013 courtney love is a mess

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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The Next Chapter to Write: Picture a Girl…

I’m looking to burn brighter while standing next to someone who is already burning brightly themselves.

the woman I want is ...

I can see her across the room. In a crowded restaurant on St. Patrick’s day (today). I can see the one woman I’d like to meet. How is it we can sense, taste, imagine so much into a person we’ve never met.

“And then she smiles and I know I’d be lost…”

It really is something beyond our comprehension, this attraction. It’s not entirely under our control. We have options and choices, but when the proverbial “chemistry” is right, everything else can fall away. Our expectations, plans, and maps can be blown away by the proper force of nature. And if you’ve experienced it, you know you can’t settle for anything less. There is no compromise in the heart. In my imaginings, this charge is what sustains us through the harder moments, that are surely to come.

In my first crush-to-marriage I was smitten by a dark and beautiful woman who challenged authority with great flair. And I was certain that I needed the fiery artist who could and would kick my ass. I learned that fiery is NOT what I needed. Turns out she had a rage inside due to early sexual abuse, that I was not prepared to defend against.

In my second marriage, I was smitten by a beautiful woman who I’d known in high school. I think now, with some perspective on things, that I let my crush obscure some relationship issues early on. Ultimately we had a good run, we have two amazing children together, and we’ve moved on. I do think that my attraction and intoxication with my 2nd wife allowed me to compromise on a few traits that are critical path for me in the future.

Touch.

The Love Languages book does a great job of outlining the types of ways people feel loved. Unequivocally, mine is touch. When I enter a room and see someone I care about, I want to touch them in someway, to establish a connection. Sort of the way a dog will always greet you with a wet nose and a wagging tale.

Can express deep emotion.

Aside from anger, my ex-y had a hard time expressing emotions. We joked in therapy, as if we had done a complete role reversal, but it really wasn’t a joke. So she learned her emotional stoicism from her father. And in her love language, she felt the most connected when someone did something for her. Like a chore, or a home repair. (I’m not kidding.) This must have been the way her father coped with his emotionally damaged wife. And my ex-y learned that when things got difficult, you could always put attention on the house, or the bills, or the projections for next month.

I think that was most evident when there was a crisis. I would want to be held, snuggle, take a nap or make love. She wanted to look at the spreadsheet and try and calculate our options.

Another common issue with people who don’t express emotion very well, when she would drink, occasionally the emotions would bubble out and we’d have what I thought was a breakthrough. “Wow, if she could hold on to that idea and learn to be more like that,” I’d think. But it wasn’t a lasting effect and the epiphanies were usually only on my side.

So, back to tonight, in a crowded room I noticed my “match.” She laughed easily. She had a great smile and sparkly-curly dark locks that appeared still wet from the pre-party shower. And my projection would like to map all these wonderful things into her persona. A map, a caricature, a projection of who I want her to be.

Expressive of emotional trust and vulnerability. Love language: touch.

And a few other things thrown in:

  • financially stable
  • happy with their life/kids/work
  • okay with their ex
  • spiritually seeking
  • creatively inclined
  • low drama

Sure those are resume bullets, like an online dating profile. And they are merely a guide for the relationship I would like to form. And standing across the room with her friends, we knew nothing about each other. But the disturbance in the force was clear for me. There was one woman in the entire place that would work for me. And that’s something much more chemical and primal than all of these ideas of who or what I am looking for.

So I need that. The chemical buzz. The awakening. And then I need my priorities to remain in tact. TWO MUST HAVES: Emotionally expressive & Love Language of Touch. The two exact key misses I had in my relationship with the ex-y.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

references

 Note: As I am writing this post an email comes in from the ex-y. She wants to know about timing on this month’s check. You see, it’s perfect. She’s doing what she does, going to the spreadsheet, for whatever is going on in her life. And often, even when we were married, my current state, or effort, or situation, does not apply. You see, I got her the last half of February’s money last week. And it’s not enough to know that I haven’t missed a payment, she’s asking for when. And she doesn’t deserve the information about my car breaking down on Saturday, and my company comptroller being on Spring Break rather than writing me my next check. She doesn’t deserve that information, and in fact, she wouldn’t care. It wasn’t about emotional commitment, or what’s going on, it’s about checking the box, balancing the excel spreadsheet, and establishing the money first. She started the email with a “thank you so much for the money, last week…” Yeah, right. It’s not personal, it’s just business. Ah, she’s a step ahead of me in this whole process, again.

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What Are the Big Relationship Questions After Divorce?

lena dunham is powerful and beautiful and...What’s sex about? How do I make a living in this world? Are relationships where it’s at?

Lena Dunham is the 25 yo powerhouse who’s show GIRLS is a hit on HBO. Is she and her cast voicing millennial ennui of our time? The show tries to be shocking. It’s stars are quirky, damaged, and beautiful in many different facets. At least we’ve graduated beyond the vapid (shoes, sex, power, self-obsession) view of Sex and the City. And we’ve come a long way from Carrie Bradshaw to the lead in GIRLS played by Ms. Dunham.

So sex is a loaded gun.  We’re all carrying it around in our pocket.

And the questions, I now realize  are the same ones I am asking myself. The questions that divorce and recovery have pressed firmly in my face as said, “Get your shit together, or don’t.”

And we know what not getting our shit together looks like. It looks nothing like writing and staring in your own TV series.

So the voice of this younger generation… The same questions. No wonder it’s doing great. Well done, Ms. Dunham and Co. Now let’s see these three biggie questions are pretty important.

What’s sex about?

Is it possible we (I am) are still trying to answer this question? In fact, as Thomas Moore would lead us to believe, the sex in our lives is one of the last un-illuminated mysteries of our lives. It’s still the primary place that can generate elation, ecstasy, horror, passion, obsession. Not all good, not all bad, but mysterious, yes. And taken one step further, Mr. Moore suggests that there is a spiritual component to sex, even if we don’t want to look at it. God is there, in the mystery. God is there in beauty and unexplained fantasies. Not all good. And not all bad.

So sex is a loaded gun. (pun sort of intended) We’re all carrying it around in our pocket. Sometimes we have concealed permits and we keep our deadly weapons hidden. Other times, sometimes with shocking results, we wear our weapons on our sleeve. I think of the 50+ woman in the local grocery store in her yoga pants and perfect hair and perfect teeth. I’m guessing her car is quite new and clean as well. It takes money to be dressed like that, to look like that, mid-day on a work day. For most of us, yoga, midday on a Tuesday is not an option.

If I’m clear and in-tune with my inner dialogue and self-directed goals, it’s easier to enter a relationship and stay true to what’s important to you and YOUR goals.

There she is. A loaded weapon. Sharing every good piece of herself that she can. She may or may not have been to yoga, just now, but she’s looking like she just stepped out of the Yoga Journal, or some “special issue” of Playboy, “The Yogini Babes of the West Coast.”

I don’t think she’s putting out “come hither” vibes. But she is putting out the best that she’s got in a very sexual way. And all the other loaded weapons in the store, men and women, are taking notice. And that gives her some additional lift. Her brightly colored tennis shoes springing just a tad more as she heads for gluten-free.

So *what* is SEX all about?

Hell if I know.

Today I have a few touch points. But of course, tomorrow they will be different.

  1. Sex is essential. In fact is on the base level of Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s connected with survival. Instincts. Primal, animal, procreative sex. When you don’t have it, you either NOTICE or you don’t. We’re all animals with different wiring.
  2. Sex is fun.
  3. Sex can be messy. (Complications, miscommunications, obsessions, loss, lack of…)
  4. Sex… well it’s somewhere between Miranda in Sex in the City and XXX in Girls. Where you fall on the spectrum, has more to do with your family of origin and how you feel about the loaded weapon you are packing.

How do I make a living in this world?

I guess until you hit the ball out of the stadium, or inherit the unlimited wealth, making a living is going to form a large part of your existence. And your relationship to this task is critical to your self-worth, self-expression, and even your ability to thrive. And the rules and conditions change all the time. You think you have it figured out, and you get laid off. You imagine a big project is coming, and someone dies leaving the signed contract in limbo. There is always change in the world of work.  Learning to take the “change” with balance and integrity, forms a good portion of how you walk in your life. There is nothing abstract about paying bills. And there is nothing casual about missing mortgage payments.

Are relationships where it’s at?

We deserve to burn brightly. We crave that other flame that will bring additional heat and passion and beauty to our lives.

I think so. But I also know the “relationship” to myself comes before my ability to relate to another person.

“To find someone to love, you’ve got to be someone you love.” — nada surf, concrete bed

When I don’t have my own shit together, so to speak, it gets messy pretty quick. However, if I’m clear and in-tune with my inner dialogue and self-directed goals, it’s easier to enter a relationship (whatever the form: lover, inspiration, ex-wife) and stay true to what’s important to you and YOUR goals.

If you don’t have a clear link with your plans, if you don’t have a PLAN, you are likely to be misdirected by relationships.

There are three kinds of relationships that are most important in my life.

  1. Relationship to self and god. (*my* spiritual program and self-care regimen)
  2. Relationship to my children. (a life-long lesson in humility and blessings)
  3. Relationship to another person.

In my failing marriage, my therapist said to me,”It seems like she’s cut her flame off from you. She is protecting her flame for some reason.”

The metaphor worked for me.

“You should probably let her go. You deserve someone who can stand unshielded with you. Next to your flame. Someone who can burn brightly WITH and BESIDE you.”

Yes. We deserve to burn brightly. We crave that other flame that will bring additional heat and passion and beauty to our lives.

However, without our own flame, we are more likely to be looking for a light. That’s the wrong way to enter into a relationship.

So there you have it. Are relationships where it’s at? YES. And there are THREE of them. We have 100% responsibility for the first one. Relationship to self and god. (Please put whatever *concept* for god in there that fits with your belief.)

We have a lot of control over the initial trust and love of the second one: Relationship to my children. At some point they will fly under their own power, but at this critical juncture they need all the guidance and inspiration they can handle.

And on the final one: Relationship to another person. The loaded gun is in our hands. Either we have a clear understanding of our goals and purpose in holding it or we don’t. Either way, the gun is still in our hands. And the gun is always loaded.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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A Moment of Enlightenment Has Arrived: The Path I’m Leaving Behind

moment of enlightenment - blake, newton

I could hope for an Age of Enlightenment, but I’m being realistic.

I can comfortably say that I have passed through the Dark Ages, and I am somewhere in the Between Ages. But I have also reached a moment, this moment, where I can see certain things quite clearly. And while the path ahead is not clear, the mistakes of the ages behind has never been clearer.

The other day I was describing what I was seeking in my relationship.

“Someone who is warm and deep feeling.”

Online dating is an opportunity to refine your perspective, and building a profile is like setting intentions.

You see, I believe those are two of my strongest qualities. 1. Warmth: expresses joy and togetherness easily, often encourages and brings energy and happiness into a room when they arrive. 2. Deep Feeling: able to connect with the emotions that are often the cause of suffering, disappointment, and immense joy.

It is my understanding, at this moment, that deep feeling and warmth are the two qualities I have not held out for in my first attempts at marriage. There are a lot of traits to connect and disconnect with people on, and somehow my other “needs” or “connective traits” seemed more important at the time. Maybe I was lonely. Maybe I lost sight of what was possible. But somehow I settled on these two qualities in both my previous marriages.

While my most recent wife was beautiful, smart, devoted, and organized. The labels of “warmth” and “deep feeling” are probably not going to be generally applied to her personality. That’s okay. We are all different. And maybe what is warmth to me is something different to others. That’s all fine. But for me, even at the beginning, when we were courting madly, there was that spark of joy missing. The deep feeling seemed to arise when we were engaged in love making and enjoying a glass of wine, but of course, you can’t always be fucking and drinking, there’s a lot more to life.

So outside of those kind of extraordinary circumstances, what is the quality of the person you are looking to be with? When the tasks become more mundane, what is the timbre of the relationship?

So this momentary illumination of these two critical traits is important. I don’t have to try and convince myself that these two traits are more important than a flat stomach or a an activated and creative imagination. Both of my wives had brilliant creative impulses, and both were beautiful to look at.

As we travel through this process, appraising, arranging, asking, flirting, explaining… we get a chance to refine our pitch and our wish list.

Online dating is an opportunity to refine your perspective. In many ways, building a profile on an online dating site is like setting intentions.

1. We have to say who we are: Here is what I want you to know about me. Here is how I present myself in my best light. Here is a picture that I think does make me look cuter than others.

2. We have to begin the process of identifying who we want to be with next: Initially it’s a bit like browsing for a house online, you are looking for the initial curb appeal. Again, these photos are some of the best this woman could find to represent who she wants you to see. Photos lie.

As we travel through this process, appraising, arranging, asking, flirting, explaining… we get a chance to refine our pitch and our wish list. And once we get clarity on those non-negotiable traits that we must have in our next relationship, the task is much easier. Or, at least, clearer.

Now I have it. At this very moment I believe that everything comes after my two main criteria. Warmth and Deep Feeling. Of course, there has got to be the curb appeal or I won’t even have a chance to say hello. (this cuts both ways) And, I believe my “enlightenment” comes from the realisation that other traits are important (1. intelligence, 2. outward beauty, 3. self-awareness/spirituality) but without warmth and the ability to express it at a deep level, well, without that we have the path I am leaving behind.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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When I Stopped Believing – And Started Growing Up

When Jesus let me down - my parents divorce

There was a distinct moment in my life when Jesus Christ let me down. I will never forget it. And probably I haven’t forgiven him.

The worst thing in the world was happening, my parents were getting a divorce, my world was coming apart. I was seven or so. Some how I begged my mom to take me to this movie about family values and redemption. (It must have been some kind of “special” or something, because I don’t remember this type of movie before or after.)

In my mythological retelling of the story, both my mom and dad were there. (I think it was probably just my mom who took me.) We watched the movie. The theater was freezing cold and I was shivering AND transfixed the entire time. The family in the movie was falling apart, just like mine. And some how, this family held it together, with the healing power of Jesus Christ. I was sold!

As the lights came up in the theater I was stoked and shivering. My mom pulled me to leave, but they had said something at the end of the movie, that there were people who would talk to you if you wanted to learn about Jesus. And at that very moment, at that pivotal moment, I REALLY WANTED A SAVIOR. I really wanted to learn about how Jesus could turn my family life around.

My mom (and dad?) said they’d wait for me in the lobby. I was fiercely determined to have Jesus hear me. I sat there, freezing my ass off, waiting for the missionaries, or who ever they were, to make their way to my seat and SAVE ME.

+++

Needless to say the salvation didn’t happen. My dad was still a fkin alcoholic and my mom was still crying. And from the ages of 7 – 9 they fought over my dad’s fortunes and over my custody. And the whole thing blew apart.

I may still not have recovered my belief in Jesus.

What I cried about the very moment I figured my ex-y was serious about the divorce, was not ME. What unraveled me, was how I was going to tell my son, my little me.

What I learned as I was crying and hugging my mentor/father-figure/counselor was I was grieving not my divorce, but the destruction and betrayal I felt at my parent’s divorce. I was not crying for my son, that would come later, I was sobbing for me. The son I was when Jesus couldn’t put my family back together again.

A song came on the radio as I was driving to my counselor’s house. Lullaby by Shawn Mullins. The chorus is, “Everything is gonna be alright, rock a bye.”

The tears welled up as I was driving to my appointment. How was I going to say that to my son when I didn’t believe it myself. What I thought at that moment, falling apart, was NOTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT!

I guess on the other side of that grief was the work of getting my act together to be strong and clear for my kids, during this major upset in their lives, the shit storm that was heading their way. I had to get some of my despair out so I could be solid for them when they needed me to be a support for them.

The afternoon we told the kids, together, was one of the saddest moments in my life. But it was sad for my little boy, for the death of THAT dream. I had some hope that MY kids would be okay. I knew that I was not going to turn into an alcoholic or rage-filled bastard.

My daughter’s first question was, “Are you going to take any of the pets?”

My son was “I’m fine” about it. He channeled his energy into the idea that they were going to have two Christmases just like some of their friends who’s parents were divorced. It was a win-win for him, at first. About an hour later, he was sobbing in his bedroom. He was confused.

And the ex-y and I stayed solid. We assured him that neither of us was going anywhere.

He quickly changed the subject, “Can we all go to a movie this afternoon.”

I was tempted to say yes. But the ex-y wisely counseled that there would be plenty of time for movies, but that we were just going to hang out for a bit. “And then your dad is going to leave.”

I can still feel the lump in my throat as I recall that moment. But I’m getting better. It is getting easier to share about it. And our kids are doing really well. I have to give credit to the level head of my ex-y at that moment. There was a part of me that heard my son and was like, “SURE, one more movie as a family, what’s it gonna hurt?”

We never did another “full-family” outing again. And that’s probably for the best.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

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Lullaby – Shawn Mullins “Everything’s gonna be all right, rock a bye.”