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

health

Easier To Be Quiet: But Harder When Your Unspoken Desires Are Crushed

the off parent - being quiet

I know it would be easier for everyone if I would just shut up about my divorce. We’ve rehashed all the problems, all my perceived injustices, all the ways I’ve been wronged. I know I keep telling the same story, over and over. I know, I hear you.

And I won’t shut up. Sorry.

In my marriage, I learned to cope. I learned to nurture myself in the absence of love. I self-regulated and made do with less and less affection. But the education, the pattern that I learned about what love looked like didn’t begin with my ex. Nope, I learned how to be disinterested and disconnected from my parents, just as you probably did. I mean, they were the only examples we had. And boy did I learn how not to do a marriage. But of course, my images and imaginings were done by the time I was 8. It was all over by then, for my mom and dad. And everything else I thought I knew, I made up.

We are not ready for the changes of marriage. And we are certainly in no way prepared for parenting. It changes everything.

In my marriage, the changes were too much. We lost touch with one another and learned to be quiet even when we should be shouting at the top of our lungs, “This is hurting me.”

Anger was a form of control in my family of origin. My father would rule his house with rage and yelling. And we would hide, tremble, and obey. But this is no way to behave. But what it did to our range of acceptable emotions, was to limit our own access to anger. What it did for me was teach me to be agreeable, at all cost. To even lie if it meant I could avoid a fight.

But in a healthy relationship, we need to fight. We need to have access to our full range of emotion. And when I started getting angry about what wasn’t working, I learned that it was okay. Of course, my ex would’ve loved me to stay in the submissive mode, I started to draw boundaries for the first time in my marriage. I started expressing what wasn’t working. I started to express my anger at being ignored emotionally and physically. And I demanded a change.

Of course, the change I was hoping for would’ve come in the form of realigning our marriage, and what I got was an exit request. But I was no longer willing to just be quiet.

So sure, I could shut up about the divorce, the depression, and the anger. And it would be a whole lot easier on all of us. But the beautiful thing about anger, that I did not know until I had unleashed some of it… Anger is healing and powerful.

Anger does not have to be abusive or rageful. Anger can be a consistent request for love and affection. Anger can be a demand for the other partner in a relationship to wake up and relearn how to express joy. Anger gave me back my balls, so I could express what I really needed in my marriage.

Try as I might, I was not able to call my ex back into love with me. Perhaps things had gone to far by the time I started fighting for my rights as a lover and husband. Perhaps my attempts to ravage my beautiful wife were no longer welcome. But I did not give up. I did not back down. I was no longer willing to masturbate alone all the time and wonder why she never had a sexual impulse. There I said it. I wanted to have sex and for some reason, she didn’t.

And it wasn’t the typical dude grabbing at his woman daily for gratification. It was not rutting sex I was after. I genuinely needed to feel skin-on-skin contact. I needed to affirm my warmth and closeness with my lover. I needed to be a lover and to reignite the lover in her.

I lost that negotiation. And ultimately I lost my marriage and the full-access to my kids. Bummer. But I was not willing to just be quiet and bear the coldness and aloneness that my marriage had become. And while she ultimately was the person who asked for a divorce, I was the one who had finally begun speaking up. And even in the face of her divorce request, I was certain I was fighting for my marriage. I wasn’t. I was fighting for what I wanted my marriage to return to, or what I’d hoped my marriage would become.

It’s not easier to be quiet, actually. It’s devastating not to speak your truth and be embraced. It’s debilitating to ask again and again for affection and be given all number of reasons that it’s not the right moment, or that I didn’t ask in the right way. I was starving to death while lying next to the one person who could nourish me.

Well, fortunately, I learned my lesson. And I am still embracing my ability to ask for what I need, to seek truth and connectedness, and to find another person who expresses themselves easily through physical affection. It’s simple when you both crave the same Love Language. It’s a stretch and a negotiation if you don’t. But it’s never easier, in the long run, to be quiet.

Sincerely,

John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
Facebook  | Instagram | Pinterest |  @theoffparent

As a certified life coach, I’ve been helping men and women find fulfilling relationships. If you’d like to chat for 30-minutes about your dating/relationship challenges, I always give the first 30-session away for free. LEARN ABOUT COACHING WITH JOHN. There are no obligations to continue. But I get excited every time I talk to someone new. I can offer new perspectives and experiences from my post-divorce dating journey. Most of all, I can offer hope.

< back to The Hard Stuff index

related posts:

Resources:

image: lovers, alice313, creative commons usage

+++ for a moment of comic relief


Single Dad: Losing Touch in the Off Times

last-rays-sky-smAnd as the long holiday without the kids continues into this week, I am trying to remain relevant in their lives. Last night, when we video conferenced on a mobile phone, I was amazed by by how different they appeared to me. I don’t want to be a footnote in their lives, I want to be a main cast member.

I am aware just how far the distance can be. So much of their daily lives, their school routines, their haircuts and clothing choices seem so mundane, and yet I regret missing out on every single one. And for a second, looking at them on this video call, I became aware of how different I might also appear to them. How alien and distant after 4 or 5 days have passed. This dad in a box, snuggled with a kitty, reaching out for my 5 or 10 minutes of connection through a video conference.

I felt the first pangs of Divorcemas heading in. Just what I was working to avoid. And sometimes it rushes up to greet you. A loop. A moment that catches you off guard and you’re bummed. WHAT?

Just noticing this is enough for now. I’ve got my kids this weekend for a refresh and reconnect. But I’m aware of a tenderness that I experienced. And of course the energy and rise I’ve been on couldn’t be sustained forever. So a bit of coasting, slowing down, and paying attention to the basics again.

As the cold fronts are hitting all around, today. Food. Exercise. Sleep. And enjoying my kids while they are here.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

< back to The Hard Stuff pages

Resources:


Of Course You’re Not Happy With Me, We’re Divorced

 

And I want to do better, and I want to not enjoy just a smidgen of her troubles… But she can still make me madder than anyone else on the planet. And that’s understandable, she’s my ex. Legends about the evil ex abound. There are even Twitter hashtags devoted to the cult of the ex. Of course, she’s not that bad. (On Twitter see #thatswhyyourmyex)

In fact, in this fourth year since our divorce, I am working to release her from the evil ex moniker. But a little healthy anger can sometimes help if we know how to use it appropriately or dispose of it. Keeping your anger inside is a known stress booster, it shortens your life and lengthens your belt size.

I’ve been framing up something I’m calling The Divorce Recovery Roadmap, and anger plays a very critical role in this growth through and ultimately freedom from anger at your ex. I believe anger is part of the engine that got me out of my depression. When my world was shattered, even if I was complicit in the dismantling, it wasn’t until I found my anger, and began to voice it, that I started to recover my authentic self.

I’ve talked a lot about the self-awareness part of my recovery. And I will state it again as clearly as I can. Divorce has been the most devastating event in my life. And it has transformed me, sometimes by fire, sometimes by tears, back into the happy and creative individual I was before the divorce, maybe even before the marriage.

When I started this blog, even as I was still living under the same roof with my ex-y, I tapped into the vicious anger that was brewing inside. “What? You’re fucking giving up on me?” I wanted to rage. But I wrote it instead of yelling it. And it wasn’t all pretty. In fact, some of it was hurtful and spiteful. As if I wanted to say, “If you’re taking me down, I’m taking everyone down with me.”

But the fight wasn’t with my ex at that point. The fight of your life, the recovery from the wounds of divorce, is with yourself.

In that summer of discontent, when I had lost everything and was living with my sister, basically homeless, I raged. I wrote the FUCK YOU that I couldn’t say. I got a few pats on the back for the blog and pressed on, and eventually found my voice, with The Off Parent.

Then she found out about the blog and called me on the phone.

my jackass sequence to recovery

“I found The Off Parent.” she said.

“Okay.”

“And I want you to take it down. It makes it too hard to trust you. And we’re trying to raise these two kids together, and it’s just too hurtful.”

At that moment, I was so distraught at my situation, and my self-pity (we’ll get back to that in a minute) that I simply said, “Okay, I’ll take it down, now.” And I mothballed the blog.

What was not apparent to me at over the next month of so, was how quickly my unvented anger became anger pointed inward. That’s one definition of depression: anger pointed at yourself. And I just about rowed that boat over the waterfall of darkness. I didn’t get suicidal until the following summer, but I lost touch with my anger at her. Healthy anger. Anger that needed an outlet.

I crumbled. And maybe that’s when I hit what alcoholics refer to as rock bottom. Because I started feeling really sorry for myself. I started placing the failure and blame on myself, on the things I did or didn’t do. When, in fact, I made numerous pleas with my ex to stop and reconsider her request for a divorce. I wanted reconciliation, I wanted change. But I didn’t want a divorce.

I had been exposed to the 12-Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous a long time ago, when I started attending ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) meetings, back when that movement was emerging. And some of the principles I learned, still guide me. But in my despair, I grabbed onto two AA principles that lifted me back from the dead, even without this blog.

The first principle was Self Pity. It is one of the core shames we learn when we are raised in broken or breaking homes. As we uncover just how horrible things have been, we begin feeling sorry for ourselves and our plight. (This is magnified 100-fold for folks battling alcohol addiction, so I don’t mean to make light of it.) In my case, as I was in my sister’s house, basically breaking down mentally, was this sorrow at what had become of my beautiful life. My regrets and should’ve-dones became like a mean Greek chorus shouting me down as I tried to find my footing as a single late-forties man. Man In Divorce, it’s a thing.

I started reading some recovering alcoholics notes on the web. I attended a few AA and Alon meetings to remember how miserable I was, and how far from those darknesses I still was. And the idea of getting over my self-pity, my wallowing in my own stew of misery, was a good one. I wanted to comply, to shake it off, and to grow up and grow a pair, but it wasn’t that easy. Those AA slogans are great when you finally believe in them. Initially, they come across as unhelpful platitudes. Still I grabbed on to the life ring of Self Pity and waited for someone to pull me back to safety.

Of course, that’s not really what happens either. Not in real life, anyway. So I slogged on. Read some AA material and tried to apply the maxims to my life. Live and let God. Giving up my pain and process to my Higher Power and all that. But it wasn’t until I hit the next gem of wisdom that I finally got moving.

I was reading a blog about recovery and the phrase that struck a nerve with me was “Take Massive Action.” The idea is, in recovery from addiction it is not enough to go to meetings, say the sayings, read the literature, you could not dabble in your recovery process if you were serious about getting well. In order to flip your life back to ON you needed to commit to Massive Action. You had to commit to doing EVERYTHING all at once to get well. And leave no little pockets of doubt that you could fall back on later.

I needed to build and agree to my own Massive Plan of Attack. Here’s what I did.

  1. I enrolled in an Aikido class that was a few miles from my sister’s house and I agreed to go to class 3 or more times weekly.
  2. I enrolled in a divorce recovery class that started in two weeks, based on the book When Your Relationship Ends.

And two weeks later I was already feeling the changes as I attended the first night of the divorce recovery class. And when I started hearing this masterful gentleman talk about the divorce recovery process I knew I had hit a vein of gold. Here were 20-or-so men and women in various stages of divorce and willing to admit that things sucked and we needed help.

And that first week after the class we were required to call at least two other classmates and check-in on the phone. I remember really hitting it off with the first person I called. And as we chatted she let me know she was a recovering alcoholic. She became one of my champions in my Massive Action campaign.

I called her a few days after our first phone call and said, “I don’t want to go, and you don’t need to call me back, because I’m going to my Aikido class right now. I’m not happy about it, but I wanted to let you know I was going. Fuck.”

(People in that class liked to cuss a lot. And fuck seemed to be one of the best words in use. Maybe because none of us were fucking.)

And so my massive action plan began to take shape and I began reshaping my relationship to the divorce. More importantly, I began reshaping the relationship to myself.

About seven weeks into the class comes Anger Night. Essentially you go through a process of expressing all the “fuck yous” you need to by writing a letter. A letter you never send, of course. And then you share your letter with some of these other people in your class.

I was sad and overweight when I started my massive action plan. And by Anger Night I was at least in motion, but I was still pretty depressed. But the night after the class, when we were given the assignment, to write the real letter, I came uncorked.

That night, in the process of writing out all my fuck yous and complaints to my ex-wife, I reconnected with the healthy part of the anger. The part that I had been stuffing and hurting myself with. The fury, once unleashed, became unmanageable. And I wrote from about midnight to about three in the morning. But I was transformed.

When I accessed my anger that night, it was like a switch had been thrown on inside and the power to my healthy system was restored. The transformation was notable. And four weeks later, when the good doctor was looking for facilitators for his next session, he invited me to be one of the shepherds. What an honor and validation for the work I had done.

By the end of the class, I was on a roll. I was negotiating a new job, I was still hitting the mat in Aikido several times a week, and I was beginning to feel like “life” was possible again. I’ve never looked back at that letter. It’s still here, on this computer, somewhere. But I don’t need to read it. The very real, very visceral, and transformative power of that night of anger, brought me back to life.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

< back to The Hard Stuff pages

Related Posts:

Resources:

image: Santorini’s Donkey sequence via creative commons license


Happy Mom Chat About How I Got Here: What I Figured Out

I took lunch to my mom’s house today, just to stop by and say hi. We talked about this blog for a bit.

See my ex-y left some sort of message about something I was doing that was damaging my family. My mom wanted to know what it was. I showed her The Off Parent and explained how it was anonymous.

“But it’s on Facebook,” she said.

“Yes, but it’s not connected to me in any way. I don’t even LIKE my own page.”

She was happy with my explanation. And she said something next that brought the conversation to a different place.

“I’m glad to see you taking a different path than your father.”

She went on to tell me about how he once told her that she was the reason he drank. “So, I told him I wouldn’t be that reason any more.”

We talked about my dad and how he went on to marry another drinker and eventually drank himself and her to death. And I told her, that her survival after the divorce had colored a lot of my childhood, and probably formed a good portion of my personality. She was always quoted as saying, “I’m turning X’s into plusses.” And that’s kind of a maxim that I have learned to live by.

Even as things got hard for us, back in my elementary through high school years, she would keep us pointed at the good side of the situation. A lot of the time I thought it was bullshit. Just a way of escaping some of the pain of the moment. But eventually I heard myself using the exact same phrase when talking to myself about bad situations.

I told my mom about how this blog had given me a voice, a place to process the anger and frustration at the divorce. And how eventually those parts of the blog began to subside and a new part of the story began to emerge. As I transitioned out of anger, depression, and divorce mechanics, I started moving into how to turn this major X into a major WIN.

The divorce is the biggest thing that’s ever happened in my life, and I’m 50 years old. What ripped through my safety and joy has now become the fire that has burned away the bullshit and brought me down to WHAT’S IMPORTANT.

Here’s what I figured out about the positive side of this blog, and the positive part of the divorce, for me.

1. Self-care. Physical and mental health are a full-time process for me. While I’ve never had a substance problem, I have used the 12-step program for various parts of my recovery. What I am working on is EMOTIONAL SOBRIETY.

2. Kids First. There is nothing in my life more important than the love and support of my children. Keeping them safe from the bitterness and anger that could’ve erupted in my divorce was always part of my agreement with their mom.

3. 100% Positive. While there are plenty of times I’m angry with their mom, there is NEVER any reason to voice those complaints to my kids. I remember how horrible my dad was at speaking about my mom. And of course, she was doing only a little better at voicing the victim side of the horror. And it was pretty bad. Eventually, in high school my dad began taking it out on me, saying that the divorce was my fault and saying that I didn’t love him. These will never be words that my kids hear from me. And I believe the ex-y has the same intention.

4. Lead With Love. I may not be in love with their mother, but I will never stop loving her. It’s often that love that turns to bitterness and hate when it’s flipped around. But I won’t ever go there. She is gone. She is someone else’s. And I can do better each day remembering the relationship of the divorce is about my kids. And if she’s happier, they will benefit.

I don’t always get it right, but I keep trying to return to these principles. And as my ex-y has now turned me over to the Attorney General’s office I guess we will see what it’s like trying to abide by these principles while she is suing me. I imagine that she is doing the best she knows how. At least, I suppose, she will know with the bankruptcy that I’m filing, that I’m not secretly stashing money away, or trying to keep her from child support payments.

Even in cutting off most of the conversation between us, I think she must be doing that for some personal, self-preservational reasons, rather than hate at me. We’ve got these great kids. And we do everything we can to support and encourage them. If she no longer wants to sit face-to-face to map out some plans with me, that’s okay. I guess we go back to emailing each other. That worked some while we were married.

And I’ll keep mapping my own path along this journey here. Turning my ex into a plus.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

Resources:


Check Engine Light: How Long Until Repairs Are Forced By a Breakdown?

check engine light

The summer is done, the kids are clicking right along in their new classes, and even my work seems to be okay. But the service engine soon light keeps coming on. And it’s more than a metaphor. While I am on the positive side of the divorce, and growing stronger by the minute, some of my fundamentals are still damaged.

First fail: I am not making enough money. I’m behind on my mortgage, trying to avoid bankruptcy through additional work and applying for full-time jobs. And the work is coming. Two new clients and a former client are all asking for more hours. That’s good, but it’s still “coming.”

Second fail: I’m still not doing a very good job of keeping the dishes done or the house picked up. It’s easy when there’s no one to entertain (I even used this as a way to keep me from pursuing a sexual relationship, last month) to let things go a bit. But I’m not doing the greatest job of setting an example for my kids. I can do better.

The breakdown happened in my marriage. The continued breakdowns were facilitated by our relationship that began to spin out of control at some point.

Third fail: Inspection and Registration stickers are both expired on my car. And I have a ticket out there someone waiting for me. That damn “service engine soon” light means there’s something wrong, and that something will prevent them from giving me a healthy inspection sticker until it’s fixed. Sure this is how the system is supposed to work, but … GRRR.

So at what point does the system (me) simply breakdown?

There was a moment, during the darkest part of my marriage, when my then-wife said to me. “There is no rescue coming. We are it. There is nobody else.” At that moment we were still in the collaborative mode of fighting against the economic struggles caused by 9-11 and my subsequent depression, that brought my earning power, as a consultant, down in a hurry.

Is there a reset button? What’s the reset for me? Fall apart again?

In fact, even as I face the most difficult financial time of my life, where my back is pressed against the proverbial wall, I’m feeling stronger than ever. October has begun, healthcare might be more affordable for me and my family, and I’m ramping up towards my birthday in November, when my powers of strength and imagination tend to peak.

The breakdown happened in my marriage. The continued breakdowns were facilitated by our relationship that began to spin out of control at some point. And while the financial fight before me is high, I raise my cup of coffee every morning at 6 am and laugh at the day. I am alive. I am happy. I am thriving. And I WILL FIX THE CAR, when I have the cash.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

< back to The Hard Stuff pages

related posts:

resources:


Stages of Attractiveness In Approaching Potential Partners

Range of Attractiveness to Me

I noticed the other day, while walking, that I could sense body attractiveness about 50 feet away. Clearly the first indicator of a tail wag, in my dog senses. And, I think, an indicator of my flexible desire, on the physical shape only. The ex-y actually got too skinny for my taste at one point. I liked her a little less hard. But I was fine with her though all of her variations, from dating, to pregnancy, to post-pregnancy, to too skinny for my tastes. She fell within my range of desirability. What I now have to figure out, is do I fall within that range as well, for someone else?

So from a distance I can sense rather quickly if the approaching woman would be attractive to me. Interesting. As we get closer other clues begin to enter my calculations. Hair color, clothing, skin color, even before I can make out the features of her face.

And finally the face, gives all the final input on the purely physical level: smile or frown, bright eyes, theoretical age, and something else… Magic. There is something beyond our calculations, something that takes all of them into consideration, but leaves them behind when the “magic” is present. I don’t know what it is, or how to describe it, but it comes into play once I can recognize her face.

I was longing for more, even when married, and the happy pockets would carry me through the droughts, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted holding. She wanted better spreadsheets and better chore allocation.

Somewhere deep in my core wiring, my brain and heart are calculating, “Could I long to look into this face for the next 20 years?” It’s as simple as that, and as complex as all of my hard wiring, past relationship, modeling, experience, and fantasies all wrapped up in a few seconds and judged: YES, NO, MAYBE. But it’s the maybes that get dropped from the mix unless they have some extraordinary … No… Wait… A MAYBE is really a NO in the long run.

From this little exercise I know, I have a type, but the type is more flexible than rigid. I have a storm of sensory inputs when walking towards a woman on the jogging trail, and within a few feet of passing, I know if she’s a YES for me. Amazing.

Of course, there are so many other factors that would go into a Relationship. But I believe the initial blush of desire is a good indicator. And as GF #1 once asked me, “Have you ever known that burning desire to develop over time, if it wasn’t present in the beginning?” Um, no, I haven’t.

Therefore, I know I’m seeking magic. It is the magic that kept me hopeful in my marriage, even when things seemed hopeless. It was that desire to be along-side forever, that kept me so strongly in the game. My love of the ex-y allowed me to suffer untold pains and rejections with hopefulness and flexibility. “I can do better. I can be better.”

In our case, there was no repair that could be made between our different Love Language needs, and over time it made her so furious, she had to seek her love elsewhere. Me, I was longing for more, even when married, and the happy pockets would carry me through the droughts, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted holding. She wanted better spreadsheets and better chore allocation.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

< back to On Dating Again index

related posts:

resources:


I Must Be Insane: It’s the End of the World, and I Feel Fine

love poem - your a song I want to sing - john mcelhenneyThere’s not much that is going to plan at this moment. YET, I’m happily plugging along on my path and flipping the bird to the ex-wife, bill collectors, family members who think they know exactly what I need to do. Fuck’em.

And as I checked in with my therapist this morning, he said, “Either you’ve gone completely insane, or everyone else has.” I’m gonna stick with our assumption that unhealthy systems don’t like for people to get healthy, or stand up against them.

Let me be clear, I am behind on my child support payments. THIS I KNOW. But I am not avoiding them or trying to hide behind excuses. It’s pretty simple. A client’s business took a hit recently and changed their payment terms with me. I’m not working any less or taking time off, but I’m not getting paid with the same frequency. They will get caught up too. And when they do I will give my ex and my kids all the money they deserve. This is not a choice I am making to stiff them or begin my slip towards becoming a dead beat dad.

Of course, that does not help my ex and her own cash flow problems. I tried to have a discussion with her since she keeps sending messages of some urgency. Here’s how the conversation went.

ME: I’m happy to meet or talk at anytime this week if you’d like to talk about things.
HER: First question: When can you pay me?
ME: Um. I’m not sure.
HER: Next question: How much?
ME: Okay, I see this is how the conversation would go if we were to get together. Maybe that’s not necessary. Let me ask a question. “Is there some extenuating circumstance, or something I’m missing that is causing our kids great suffering? Or is it just cash flow?”
HER: I am incurring debt because of things your are not paying for.

Ah, so… It’s really just a choice, then to pound me for the money, even when I’ve been as clear as possible about my financial situation. Am I going on vacations or spending money on anything other than food and shelter? NO. And I won’t rehash how her financial situation is just fine… Not my business or my concern.

You see, knowing that you owe taxes is not the same as having the money to pay them. Avoiding penalties is great if you have the money. When you dial back to survival mode you have to thicken your skin a bit and take care of what you CAN take care of and ignore the rest of the URGENT MESSAGES that come from everyone looking for their money.

I tried to explain this to my ex. Her urgency didn’t translate for me. In fact, it just made me a bit more frustrated as I tried to give her information (she was asking for information) but no firm dates and amounts. That’s what she wants. How much and when. That’s fine. But it’s not possible for me to answer that question. And there’s a wrinkle, that I’m looking into as well. [Based on actual income vs. estimated income, I’ve overpaid her significantly since we got divorced.]

As we move along, perhaps the urgency or villainy will be moved from me to someone something else for her. Today I’m her target, but I’m getting ready to punch back. Or not. Just like my divorce recovery class says, “Treat them like a convenience store clerk. Just take care of business and get out.”

When she came by on Saturday to pick up the kids she looked great. She’s still my type. I could see how I would still find her attractive and want to date her. I would hope, today, that my self-awareness would allow me to see some of the fatal flaws before falling in love with her. I noticed her and her attractiveness like I might a pretty waitress, and then we conducted the business of transferring the kids’ stuff.

I wish her well. The better she does the better my kids do when they are with her. And I hope her boyfriend turns out to be more reliable and a better honey-do than I was.

I will get her all of her money. All of the money that belongs to my kids. At this moment, that money is for extracurricular things. And I don’t have a single extracurricular dollar. That’s why the downstairs bathroom is in need of repairs. And why the creditors, including her, will have to wait until things move back into the plus column. They’ve been heading in the right direction all summer, but a few hitches along the way, and I’m still plugging along in survival mode.

The good news is: even under the duress of the financial and familial stress I am still centered in my own happiness. That is the only happiness I can manage.

Sincerely

The Off Parent

< back to The Hard Stuff pages

related posts:

resources:

The Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.


Better Off Divorced – 3 Years Later Celebrating My Independence

happy 4th of july

happy 4th of julyI have to say, I am flourishing with the creative and self-development time the divorce has afforded me. Now, looking back over the three years since it became official, I can say I’m better off divorced. For a long time, I was not sure I was ever going to be able to say that. But it’s true, today. It was not always true.

In the initial storm of divorce, your emotions will take over all negotiations and adversely affect your judgment. In my case, I was set on demanding 50-50 parenting schedule and joint custody. It seemed FAIR.

In the month or so of negotiation with the ex and a wonderful child psychologist who specializes in divorce, we came up with… guess what? … the Standard Possession Order. Even in my happy state, I’m not sure giving in to this demand, and advice, was the BEST option for me and the kids, but it is certainly what the ex wanted, and would likely get were we to enter the Texas court system. (80% of all divorces in Texas end up with the mother getting primary custody and enforcement of the SPO.)

On days when money is tight, I feel like I was ripped off. And occasionally I feel like I should FIGHT and enter the courts again, and go for 50-50 and reducing my financial obligation to my ex. BUT… I don’t. And here’s why.

Today I crave time with my kids. There is never enough time with them. SO, when we are together, I am 110% engaged. There is nothing more important than being an engaged father. Occasionally I am sad about not having them with me, but I’ve been on the UP side of creative for a year or so, and that makes my alone time quite productive rather than sad.

The ex has a very different situation. She craves time with her boyfriend. And occasionally offers the kids to me (mostly too late for me to actually accept) for an additional night or day. If I’m reading that right, from her self-centered approach to everything dealing with me, she is asking for time off from having the kids. Or more accurately, time with her boyfriend. That must be a strange pull. The desire to have time away. When I am on the exact opposite polarity, I crave time WITH THEM.

It’s neither good nor bad, but it’s very different.

And I can understand. During the school year, she does have the brunt of getting the kids to school on time and homework. BUT, that’s how she wanted it. That’s what she demanded in the therapist’s office, that “she was the more complete and responsible parent, that she had been providing the majority of their care.”

REALLY?

In the heat of that discussion, I was furious. But over time, the therapist showed me the reality of the situation, should I want to fight this PLAN. I objected, but I did not fight. And I gave in. “In the best interest of the kids.” At least, that’s the language they use when you’re negotiating.

So I ask you. Was it in their best interest? Perhaps. They got to stay in the marital home. They stayed mostly in their old bedrooms and got to school from Mom’s house in much the same way they did when we were married.

Of course, the reality was/is, I was the primary morning person that roused the entire house and got the kids ready and fed on the way to school. Often the ex would be much more focused on getting ready and pretty. And that’s okay. That’s just the way it was. I loved my mornings. I still get up at 6 am and do most of my creative stuff in that first few hours of the day, before I had to wake the wife and kids to start their day.

And so, she got exactly what she wanted. The house. The kids (on SPO and full custody). And full child support payments, including healthcare. Seems like a pretty good deal.

But I know it’s been HELL getting her routine organized to get up and get the kids ready and fed and off to school in a “happy” and unrushed way. The clocks that have appeared in every room of the house, sort of point out the fact that I was also the “happy time-keeper” saying “Okay kids, we’ve got 10 minutes before the car leaves the station, let’s go.”

The most satisfying moment, came in year two when my son said he’d advised his mom to do mornings “more like Dad.” And he described my typical morning routine with them, as the gold standard.

“Get us up early so we’re not rushed. Give us plenty of time. Make it fun and not so rushed.”

So my not-a-morning-person ex-wife now has most of the kids-to-school duties. (grin) AND she’s working an own-your-ass 9-to-6ish job, that has her working hard then she ever did when we were married.

That’s victory enough.

So she’s craving time with someone else, other than the kids. And I’m craving time with the kids, with no other priorities or relationships demanding my time and attention.

I think I got a fine deal. Hard on the pocket-book at the moment. But overall, I’m happier than I had been in the last 1.5 years with the ex when she got terminally mad.

And she’s still terminally mad. She likes to project this anger at me. But today I no longer have to take any of it. And I’m happy to be clear from that toxic situation.

Happy Independence Day!

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

NOTE: Image is not of my girlfriend. I don’t have a girlfriend. That is a “friend” from Facebook who lives 2,000 miles away. So there! But she’s an inspiration on many levels.

Resources:


Unavailable Women of Desire: And Why I Can’t Resist Them

unavailable women of desire

unavailable women of desireWhy 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,

John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
Facebook  | Instagram | Pinterest |  @theoffparent

As a certified life coach, I’ve been helping men and women find fulfilling relationships. If you’d like to chat for 30-minutes about your dating/relationship challenges, I always give the first 30-session away for free. LEARN ABOUT COACHING WITH JOHN. There are no obligations to continue. But I get excited every time I talk to someone new. I can offer new perspectives and experiences from my post-divorce dating journey. Most of all, I can offer hope.

< back to On Dating Again index

related posts:

resources:


i could be back here in an hour

shaking off depression

 [from The Black Pages – poetry]

i am down but i was up just a little bit ago
feelin high singin songs smiling through the light in the hotel room window
but now i’m down, can’t find what’s on the ground in my mind
i’m underneath, in-between, i’ll be right back with who i really wanted to be tonight

if you’ll excuse me please, it won’t take but a day or two or a week

sometimes
when i hit it just right
i could be back here in an hour
swimming in the pool
i could

but nothing is cool about this foolishness today
nothing is colder than the grip of icy fingers across the back of my neck
i won’t be down for long, cause i don’t play this way
but when i can, i let the time and the rest and the touching lead the way

just wanna be with me, wanna be talky or play a game?
ya wanna go fishing?
go somewhere different
we can have coffee in a new cafe, everyday, don’t ya think?

cause there’s nothing to be done for it that ain’t already be done
there ain’t no vibe that a kicking rock song can’t find an edge
something so pretty, something of sparkling bliss
that can pick me up, take me out of this state

i’m a bout half as tired as when i went to sleep last night
all the words and projects and figuring it out
never gave my gentle thoughts equal time
i’ve been like this before, and if i can move beyond the bum
i can sometimes find my way into fascination

fascination and creativity are doors out of this hole i’m in
singing connects all of my arts with word, soul, resonance, breathing…
performing for people sets me free, shows all of my parts

9-7-09

a poem, written fragment of hope before the demise…

This is a list of todos to help with my emergence out of depression was ahead of this love letter to myself:

MUSIC
TENNIS
SEX
PLAYING WITH KIDS   and FAMILY
swimming
seeing live music 
performing music
writing music 
writing 
poetry 
publishing

The blue dots represent parts of my life currently reactivated today 5-27-13. With a little bit of effort and good fortune I could light up the other tasks shortly.


Winning the Battle, Losing the War: Divorce and Co-parenting

i'm late but I'm not a dead beat dad

i'm late but I'm not a dead beat dadShe’s ready to turn my month-and-a-half-late ass over to the Attorney General’s office. (See: Sting) She let me know yesterday via email. And as I was responding via email, I think I identified and called out the crux of the issue.

Perhaps this can provide some illumination into my thinking. It’s not that I’m late, it’s not that she needs this money right this second. It seems to be the “principle of the thing.” And what I understood while writing this message to her, was how closely this situation echoes much of the trouble in our relationship. These actions closely resemble the actions and misunderstandings that led to the divorce.

I don’t think it’s about the money. I don’t think it’s about her fears that I won’t ever pay or get caught up. (I’ve never failed before.) I think it’s about having someone to focus your anger on. Whatever is wrong with her world, I am still at the center of her problems. Now, I don’t believe this. I didn’t believe it in the closing moments of our relationship. As I asked her, “Do you think you are suddenly going to be a happy person when I walk out the door?” She didn’t GET HAPPY.

And she’s still unhappy with me. And of course, I am to blame for her unhappiness, because she’s owed this money, and she might never see it, and… WAIT. In what universe? Like I’ve got an option to bolt on my child support? NO.

So if it’s not the child support, really. Well, I think it’s easier to see from here. Let me know if I’ve got something wrong. I’m prepared to hear that my logic and emotional truth is OFF on this one. But it felt so right when I wrote it, that I knew I had to continue the drama from yesterday.

And with this letter, I’m setting in action the process that will remove “money” and “timing” and “enforcement” from our vocabulary.

+++

Dear ___,

I am certain that I don’t know your situation. And I’m not sure it has any bearing on my options.

I did not run out of money. And I am not trying to keep you in the dark about my situation. My company shifted to NET 15 on me. Instantly changing my cash flow. And, of course things happen (car repair, computer loss) that can compound the situation. That’s all that has changed on my end. A couple new clients in the pipe for both my company and me personally, SHOULD open things up again.

Your responses to the information I have been able to give you is, “that’s not good enough.”

And yesterday you basically said you’d rather have the AG’s office sort it out for us. For the next 8 years! Wow.

So that’s what you’re gonna get. It’s fucked. And there is no way to unplug once we’ve entered the system.

Therefore, my responsible duty is to recalculate what your are owed, what you got in credit based on my projected income. I’m guessing it’s a bit more than half, averaged-out since we’ve been divorced. So you can re-run all your calculations based on that idea and see where you end up.

My preferred approach was to honor the expectation, even as it affected me quite adversely. In the name of being nice, giving you everything I hoped to give you, that is what I was trying to communicate to you.

But it feels like some macabre redo of our divorce. Me asking, “Are you sure this is what you want?”

Want to calculate the money based on reality? Want to bring the AG in to help you?

Done! And done!

My “thank you” response yesterday was genuine. You are forcing me (again) to look at an unhealthy relationship. I am being given an opportunity to clean up my own shit. And, with the help of the state, I will gladly disconnect from the cash flow crisis mode one of us seems to benefit from.

I hope this process will allow us to remain friendly and cordial with our coparenting. All of us benefit from being flexible. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure the AG’s process is setup to fight against flexibility. And maybe it will help us keep our business to parenting.

You will now be able to call your case worker and explore “collection” and “enforcement” options with them. Hope that serves you.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

< back to The Hard Stuff pages

Resources:


Breaking Up and Getting Over It: Someday We’ll Know

bw girlTonight was one of those nights when you see your ex, and you think, “Thank god I have been released.”

It’s not that she’s suddenly become unattractive. Or that she’s doing a bad job at being a co-parent. (Hammering me for money is another thing altogether.) But there’s a hardness that I hadn’t noticed before. She’s gotten too thin. And kinda mean looking. (This is not meant to be a rag, sorry.)

She also looks very professional, and I am grateful that she seems to be thriving in her current job. As we no longer combine forces, she no longer has my sympathies, but I respect her hard work. She’s always been a dedicated worker.

But tonight, watching our son perform in orchestra, I was glad she came to sit next to me and then decided, “I need to be closer where I can see,” to move towards the front. I had a nice side view of her intense face. She was staring into her phone. (Seems to have become more and more the mode for her.) Perhaps she was exchanging chats with her lover. Perhaps racy emails with her girlfriends. Who knows. But what I saw was complete disinterest in what we were doing at the school. It was a checkbox. A task that needed to be completed at the end of the school year, like so many other tasks. And it was the last event that was keeping her from her night with her lover, before a weekend where SHE HAS THE KIDS.

It really must be odd, and I don’t know the feeling, of wanting to be elsewhere when your kids are around.

My daughter said something tonight, about how there was never any food in the house. “L the babysitter always goes to the store for dinner stuff, and there’s never any leftovers.” Now, my daughter, who was saying this, has a tendency to be dramatic. But she was sharing a glimpse into the life that my ex has constructed.

I know it well. When she got on the work train, while we were married, there were many times when it was assumed I would feed, read, and put the kids to bed. I was being her “wife.” Well, I was grateful again, that she was employed. And I would do whatever I could to make a nice house, a nice leftover plate for her, and a bunch of smiling (from bed) kids for her to return home to.

And, god knows, there were even more times when she was performing this type of 100% parenting for me, while I was working late. But there was some different tone about the entire thing.

For me, it was more acceptable. Like the man at work, the wife at home making dinner. While I spent a number of years at a large corporation, it was a lot easier for her to work less than full-time, and spend a lot of extra time with the kids, at their school, doing projects at home.

When she was working late, by contrast, it was kind of dramatic. Like there was some great urgency that was keeping her at the office. And some sense that it was quite unfair for her to have to be working so hard.

WAIT A MINUTE!

That was MY INTERNAL VOICE saying those things. It’s dawning on me — right this very minute — the resentment I was feeling was not about her attitude, it was about mine! WTF? Seriously? I should have been the one working late, not her. If I had been a better provider, she wouldn’t have to work so hard.

Maybe she played into my shame, a little. I don’t know. But I can now see this was MY SHIT, not hers.

I’m wondering if my scoffing at her taut looks tonight is also a product of my shame. I’m asking myself, “Sour grapes?’

I don’t think so. BUT, she was the best thing I’d ever had up to that point. She stayed with me through the toughest times in both our lives. And then she gave up on me.

No, for that I won’t be forgiving her. For the release from a sexless and joyless marriage, I have to thank her. I won’t be putting up with that again either. Ever.

And that’s the wonderful thing about the story. Even if I don’t know the ending, what I do know is the possibility is out there. GF #1 showed me what it feels like to really be adored. I CAN HAVE THAT AGAIN. And I actually deserve it.

In the discussions with women, of our age, about who they are meeting in their dating lives, what I get is that most people our age are cynical and bitter. I am always complimented on my POSITIVE ATTITUDE. “You’re so positive.” or “So much positive energy.”

It’s not exactly the same thing as irresistible, but I’ll take positive right now. And that’s the side I’m showing my kids.

The ex also asked me if I would let the kids know about the money shortage as well. As if she needed me to fess up to my own contribution to whatever struggles they were having about “stuff.” I spoke to them tonight about my current situation. I said we could not go to the BBQ place for dinner, because I didn’t have the money for it, and I had plenty of food at home.

“Why don’t you have any money?” my son asked. It was just a point-blank question, no real emotional inflection.

“I have three clients that owe me money right now. And it’s not like I don’t have any money, it’s just that when things get low, I really don’t spend money on stuff like eating out when I have food at home.”

That satisfied both of them. My daughter, who has become somewhat obsessed with Starbucks, was quiet.

I am positive. I am certain I will continue to dig out of the financial hole the divorce and my subsequent low-times wreaked on me. All systems are go, the work is ahead, the clients are happy. (Affirmation: no low-times this summer.)

And I am positive I will find a more compatible mate. Now that we have this kid thing sorted out, there is only the relationship between me and this new person to sort out. I don’t need anything from them but adoration and the opportunity to adore them back.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

< back to The Hard Stuff pages

related posts:

resources:

image: creative commons usage – medusa

+++

Someday We’ll Know – The New Radicals


Little Ecstasies In the Afternoon: How a Nap is a Bit Like Sex

divorce and the little ecstasies

divorce and the little ecstasiesI’m coming upon a realization about why naps are so powerful. They are a bit like an orgasm. There is a moment when your body feels like breaking and then you give in, clear the schedule, open the flood gates and let yourself go. Even in the middle of the day. There aren’t too many things like a nap that you can do for yourself to create this little ecstasy. (chocolate, masturbation, maybe a great shot of liquor)

Of course, we long for the big ecstasies, when possible. Making love is often the most accessible of those. I remember when the ex and I knew that we’d cleared an hour out of the day for love-making, how excited I would be. Showering for the event. Anticipating in a Pavlovian way, in an almost tastable way.

Today I have little ecstasies. It’s okay. And on the days I don’t find the time, make the time, to nap, I’m a bit more dependent on coffee and type-a drive. But why wouldn’t you want a nap? Maybe it keeps you up late at night.

And in your relationship why wouldn’t you want a big or little ecstasy? What things would prevent you from wanting unlimited amounts of chocolate, if they could somehow make it non-fattening and good for you?

I guess routine can set in, even boredom. Noticing for the first time that your lover is bored is quite a wakeup call. Noticing it with your wife is a much deeper transgression. Maybe it’s different for men and women. Maybe there are things a woman would like even more than to be made love to. Maybe there are things that sound better than a nap on a sunny afternoon wrapped around your lover.

But I can’t think of any.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

Resources:

ecstasy defined


This April’s Fool: Today I Napped When I Should’ve Walked

I masturbated when I should’ve written. I ate well and then I ate a bag of popcorn. I watched television and played an iPhone game on the hammock in the front yard. I was April’s Fool today. I was full of something, unaimed and unfocused, I gave into the whimsy of the humor on Facebook. I forgot for a moment that I have a business to run, that I am trimming myself to attract a better mate. I forgot all this stuff and simply fucked around today.

I did pick up the guitar and I wrote a few lines of a song…

maybe the lover IS the goalyou’re who I think about, when I think about *uhhh*
you’re who I think about
you’re who I think about when I think about it
and I think about it
and I think about YOU

And I found myself thinking about the lover again. What about that proposition? Just walking around the grocery store I could see the beautiful taut bodies and think, hmmm, maybe if I said YES again… I’m conflicted. But masturbation is so easy. So quick. So soulless. It’s clearly why I went on Flight 7 a few weeks ago, just incase. In many ways I’m happier than ever, and in some ways I’m still alone. Full of myself, but alone.

Perhaps I talked too much today. I spent time on the phone with my male friend talking about her and it and what we were gonna do. And then I didn’t do it at all. I started out with a spark, but it faded, and today even the coffee and moments of inspiration didn’t carry me forward.

Alone I am able to listen to my heart. Sometimes I don’t want to. I had an offer to join someone for happy hour and hugs. But I was more comfortable being uncomfortable. I noticed that if I filled all my empty spaces with a relationship, I would have very little time for this empty, and yet important, reflection on myself. Myself being alone.

I point at how fast my ex-y jumped into the sack and now into the house with someone else. And I hold up some example of health and mental clarity, but here I am, alone.

What is alone, today?

When there are posts to write, music to sing, or poems to voice, I am like a romantic warrior on a quest. SHE is here, SHE is everywhere, SHE will eventually find me again. When I am bored, bored and alone, I have a different conversation. I wonder about what I want. I wonder about what it would look like if this evening, instead of dinner for one and catching up, alone, on Game of Thrones, I wonder what it would be like if that someone, if SHE was in the house waiting for me to come in and start our “together” time. And for a moment I have pause. I wait and savor the peaceful sunset in the hammock. I cook the salmon to my liking and give the rest to the cats.

What is difficult about being in relationship with an artist, from the artist’s perspective is how to balance the draw towards time with loved ones vs. time at craft. Without the “time at craft” the artist will become an idea rather than a practice. I am rediscovering the artist that has held his tongue for years. Hold that vibrant word inside no longer.

But what of that potential date? What draws me towards giving up this quiet nothingness of an evening? What warmth of company, of community, of skin and breath and angle of bone, is worth all the trouble of figuring it out? Last week I could not have told you. Today it was apparent, I wanted comfort. Not applause, or even sex, just company.

It is important to listen to the desires of the heart. It is important to remember what I am seeking and what I am willing to give up.

And on an April day it is occasionally okay to abandon the plan and camp out on the hammock and play games, fuck off, and day dream. Drive and direction can be picked up again tomorrow. There’s plenty of time. And in this time, this alone time, it is critical to listen to what the heart is longing for while being aware of what I am willing to give up in the name of resolving or filling that longing.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

Resources:

off-onmymind


On Domestics, Exotics, and Sports Cars (An Aspirational Relationship Metaphor)

I am pretty sure I would have a hard time picking any domestic car that I would be happy with. In the same way, I’m pretty sure I would feel like I was settling if I didn’t aspire to be with a beautiful woman. And then there are the exotics. The Ferrari’s of the woman world, lulu lemons, fit, mid-day at the local Whole Foods still slightly damp from their yoga or crossfit class. Oui!

Now, stepping back and looking at my 2.5 years of post-divorce longing I have a few more data points into my likes, loves, and must haves. And most recently, I ended (mutually, I might add) a relationship with a beautiful woman, who floored me with her ability to express her feelings, and completely disarmed my defensive resistance by her adoration. “She really digs me,” became one of my refrains when describing her. I said it internally, as a mantra, like one continuous healing prayer. “She digs me, she digs me, she really really digs me, someone could really dig me, she digs me…”

There was nothing not to like about this sports car model. She was fast, sleek, shiny, responsive, and did I mention, she adored me?

But…

And this was the hard thing for me to fathom… At some level she was not the brand of sports car that got my pulse all hot and ready to go.

At first my internal dialogue sounded something like this… “Oh shit, I’m older, oh crap, I’m fat, oh hell, I’m depressed, oh my fucking god, I’m having sexual disfunction for the first time in my 49-year life. (Of course, I’m 50 now, a point we used to laugh about, me being the younger man and all.) But it was a mystery to me, how this “perfect” model could be more *ho hum* than *rev rev*. And it saddened me a bit.

But I went with it. I often over think things. I WAS depressed when she met me. And fuck if I knew what my brain or dick was thinking. Maybe it was my meds. God forbid if it was my desire or my erectile proficiency. God forbid!

The first month my dialogue went like this, “Oh I don’t know what I want, I don’t know what I need, I need this, I really need more of this, this is incredible, but… well… why am I not getting the *burn* for her?”

The second month my inner dialogue sounded a bit different, “Well, we’ve only been together a month, there’s no reason to jump to conclusions, I don’t have to move in or marry her right away, it sure feels good when she’s here, really really good, what is wrong with my dick and desire, how is there such a beautiful woman who digs me and I’m looking her gift mouth in the horse?”

Moving into the third month things began to get a bit more frustrated and my self talk took on a new quality, “She’s amazing, she’s everything I want, she’s beautiful, she’s stable, she’s got her finances together, she’s a HUGE plus, I could really see combining forces with someone like her, but… It’s not her?” I did my best not to thrash with my emerging thread, “It’s not her. It’s not really (consciously) me. It’s something else. It must be chemistry.”

Adding one more metaphor into the mix, I started trying to understand the ON and OFF switch to be something a bit more mammalian. “Two dogs meet up in the park, they sniff and size each other up, and based completely on their animal instincts, one of them wags an expressive and desirous tail and the other dog walks away with indifference.” There’s no accounting for size, color, breed… Nothing. It’s as if some internal radar system that detects passion level is ON for one of the participants and the the other is a MAYBE or an OFF. There’s no point in dissecting the WHY at some point. For the dogs it just IS. There’s no shame for either dog. It’s just the magic game of life and love.

So, my girlfriend was a sports car to be sure. There were a few things that were different from any previous relationship I’d been in. There were a lot of things I could point to as desirable and great qualities. But some internal radar was not wagging my tail. Why struggle and fight?

Except I wanted to observe what things DID make my tail wag. I did want to see if the logic and affection could override the heart.

In my case, the heart won.

As we moved into the holidays, there were moments of great joy and moments of disconnect. She had a catch phrase that would pop up at times when we hadn’t seen each other for a while. “How is it with your heart?” she would ask.

I could never really come out and say it. “Um…”

We both knew what she was asking. She was checking my pulse. In her own way she was asking, “So… You feel it now?”

An amazing thing connection we had kicked our connection off in an amazing way. We were both graduates of the WYRE divorce recovery class, given in town by a psychologist who’d been leading the classes for over 25 years. I was a graduate of class number 172 and a facilitator of class 173. When we made that shared connection at about minute 20 of our first “date” it was a slippery slope into bed. We were both hungry. I was ravenous.

So the other day, post “back-to-friends” change with the girlfriend, I was out with my daughter. We ran into a woman who was one of the most charming exotics I’d ever met. “She’s almost too pretty,” I said to my daughter, who was gunning for me to ask this new woman on a date. “She liked you,” said my little 10-yo wingman.

There was a blood rush that happened the moment she began talking to us. A smile, a tone of voice, a laughing style of talking. WAG WAG WAG. She’s also 10+ years younger than myself. No ring, so there was that as well.

I was a bit intoxicated as we left the “party” in the local high-end dog treat store. She was “selling” for a local high-end veterinarian business that was nearby. Maybe she was selling, I thought. Surely someone that pretty and happy has a boyfriend. Surely.

My concern with the exotic in general goes something like this, “She’s hit on by every man in a 100 yard radius. Eventually Brad Pitt is going to show up and she’s gonna go with THAT exotic.” But that’s a projection of my own insecurity. For me, once there’s a lock, there’s a loyalty and a trust that can be established that is unbreakable. I’ve seen it. I know it exists. I’ve experienced on my side. And I’ve seen it fall apart on the other side, IF it ever really existed.

So, I’m into exotics but I’m a bit scared of the intoxication that goes along with them. (Lot’s of preconceived notions about who they are and how easy their stroll through life has been. Of course that stereotype is bullshit. But still hard to shake.) BUT, the funny thing was, when the tail wag happened there was very little I could do to stop the rush, longing, the “hey, let’s go sniff around that for a bit more.”

She was charming. She was selling services to a local vet. She said how pretty my daughter was. She made sure we had the $25-off coupon. I made sure we said good bye in a “see ya later” way.

I don’t drive an exotic. But I don’t drive a domestic either. I drive something on the sporty side of sports cars. A solid german car with a bit of a AWD punch added in. I love my car. I am loyal to it. I don’t have eyes for ANY OTHER CAR. That’s the way I roll, I guess.

And that was the final tell for me in the relationship to the beautiful ex-girlfriend. I was clearly not DONE when I was with her. I wanted to be DONE, I wanted to be SET, I wanted to be LOVED. But I was unsatisfied at some dog-brain level.

She and I used our training from the WYRE class to discuss our friendship, hope for the other person to find what REALLY lit up their passion radar on all levels. And mostly, we hoped for each other that the adoration would be mutual. She deserved someone who adored her, who coveted her, who IMPRINTED and LOCKED on her scent, color, strength, and passion. She deserved more than I could offer. And her, “How’s it with your heart,” question pretty much illuminated how much she knew that and desired it too.

As we were having coffee and breakfast after the breakup, I told her, “You have been my best friend for three months. I don’t want to give that up. I will continue to care about you and encourage you to not settle for anything but AMAZING.”

We are good friends. She’s a lighthouse who brought me out of the deepest of self-fogs. She illuminated the possibilities in my heart before I could seen them for myself. She loved me out of my stupor. And I will continue to LOVE her, I even said it in a txt or email last night, in a different and powerful way.

She is my healing relationship. (a WYRE concept) She still IS.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

< back to On Dating Again index

Resources:


Like Father Like Brother Like Son

depression, divorce, suicide, family historyI’m in paradise. I’m in the hospital. My brother, like my father before him, is awaiting open-heart surgery. And I look at my brother, and I look down at my own girth, and I’m committed to doing even more on my healthy living path.

My father had his first heart attack when I was about 10. He was playing in the finals of a tennis tournament. I wish I could remember what my dad was like on the tennis court. Though it became my favorite sport, I’m pretty sure we never played.

It was a typical hot Texas weekend and my dad had just split sets in the singles final. In the 5 minute break he had reclined in the shade with a huge glass of iced tea. He never got back up. The ambulance came quickly and screamed off to the hospital with him. I was left with HER. My drinking, smoking, step-mother.

My dad faced a choice soon after that moment: change your life, for the better, or deteriorate into a series of health catastrophes until your untimely death.

Somehow! Even with four loving kids. My dad did not rectify his life. He died at 53. His widow followed soon after. Young and pickled from their love of alcohol.

It’s an odd thing when you are facing death. Mine came in the form of suicidal ideation. (A gentler way of saying, thinking about killing yourself, but stoping short of making plans to kill yourself.)

There I was, a wreckage of post-divorce sadness and self-pity. And my silly, wounded mind kept imagining my fall from a famous bridge, or calculating how many Ambien it would take to make the euphoria just take me away.

EACH TIME I came back to the impact it would have on my KIDS. While I wasn’t pulling through FOR them, I was certainly not going to intentionally devastate them with my self-inflicted demise.

So how did my Dad make the choice to turn away from us, me (his adoring mini-me) and my brother and two sisters? My rationalization goes to his alcoholism and the complete lack of clear thinking possible under his Cutty Sark dementia.

Still, it is not enough. Something deeper drove my dad to his death-wish demise. Some wounding, some battle-royale with his mom or dad… Some overwhelming sadness that fed his helpless withdrawal from being my dad.

And now, staring across the darkened hospital room at my obese brother, I am praying rather than rooting for him. At a point there are the larger things in life that drive us onward. For me, in those dark dark dark times it was my kids that held me to the mast.

My brother is 5 years older than my father when he died of his heart failure and cancer. When I look at his buddha-like figure I recognize too much of my own pain. I have kids to guide and encourage my future efforts at remaining healthy and alive. I wonder at my father’s lack of perseverance at getting well, after his FIRST heart attack. And I am prayerful about my brother’s condition. He is alone, without kids or current relationship. He has us. My mom, my sister and me. What will be HIS core strength?

I see my father in my brother’s condition. And I see too much of my brother’s tragic sadness in myself to ignore the resonance. I sit in the dark and listen to his labored snoring. I think about his easy laugh and willingness to make other’s happy at his own expense.

There is nothing easy about today. I am happy in my life. I bring that joy to others. Beyond that there is prayer.

We Skyped my kids last night from the hospital. They danced and entertained us for 1o minutes. It was a bizarre-futuristic movie scene. There was joy and poignant sadness at what was missing from my brother’s life. At least he has us.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent


How Much Longer Until I Feel Better? (Post-divorce Depression)

when will I feel better after divorce?

One a day, or one day at a time, is the only way to think about recovery from divorce. Recently a trusted friend said that we DO need to take vitamins, that there were some key elements (in the general population’s diet) we were just not getting from our diet any more. And while I’m certain she was thinking of something more holistic than one-a-days, the price and convenience was right.

Each day, I dutifully swallow these little green happy pills. And I can’t help but wonder, “When are these new minerals and vitamins going to kick in? When will I feel better?” (Of course, if you need real happy pills be sure and talk to your doctor.)

There is no map out of this land of confusion. You press on, day after day, because you must, because there are people [kids in my case] counting on you.

There are going to be good days and bad days. And even when you feel completely free of the influence of your ex-y, something will happen, a trigger, a song, a restaurant, a movie, that will trigger you feelings of longing and loss again. It’s okay, it’s good to feel into those deep feelings in the moment, and then move on past them.

For me, the routine is the thing. I’m usually up by 6:00 am when I do my creative writing. (I developed this habit when I needed time to write and I would wake up before the entire house to get an hour in before I needed to wake everyone else up. It was always a little like being Santa Claus. Every one was soundly dreaming away an I was up making coffee and lunches and sitting in my comfy chair and writing. It was a golden moment.

And I enjoyed the routine of getting the kids out the door every day, for school. I was the breakfast dad. And I’m sure, from what my kids tell me, things are a bit different at the old house now. My son told me he shared with my ex-y about how I get them up in plenty of time to listen to some music and roll around in bed before having to get dressed. There’s always music in my house.

I do have to get the work done, so I can keep the house, and keep making child support payments, and eventually catch up on my taxes and credit cards.

So now there are 4 or 5 days in a row when I don’t have them to wake up, when they are with their mom. I still get up at 6 and write. And even by myself, even on weekends, I love this time alone. And I think this blog, this writing about it, has brought me up and out of any lingering sadness completely. Not so sure about the One-a-Day vitamins. I think my friend was imagining a more holistic vitamin. (grin)

So I’m up and at it early every day. And not that it’s getting really damn hot during the day, I try and get my walk in before 10 am as well. There is no question that the walking has helped a lot. Not with my buddha belly (yet) but certainly with the energy and confidence that comes from “doing what’s good for you.”

And today, just for a moment, speaking to my son on the phone, I wanted to be with him rather than where I was. I could’ve changed my day and done something else with him, but instead I stuck with the plan. I do have to get the work done, so I can keep the house, and keep making child support payments, and eventually catch up on my taxes and credit cards. Onward we go.

And walking down the road or trail with my iPod blasting, I can imagine that I will come through all of this in a better place. (Hey, maybe that One-a-Day is working.)

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

< back to The Hard Stuff pages

see also the depression tagged posts

Related Posts:


Nobody Is Going to Hold Your Dream for You

So when did we start making love to abs? I’m kinda sick of it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, a sculpted body is nice, and obvious results from a hell of a lot of work… But…

I’ve seen my abs once in my life. I was a sophomore in high school, I was on the swim team and we were swimming twice a day, lifting weights, and eating well. It was all so planned and supported. And I had swimming teammates, and perhaps a romantic interest in more than one of the women on the swim team. It’s kind of what you do up East in the Winter. Swim, Basketball, or Ice Hockey. I swam.

Once in my life I had the abs we so aspire to. But is it like pornography, the uber-fit woman or man? Sure we glamorize the human body. And the magazines are filled with 20 – 30 year olds who have spent a good bit of their free time working on their abs. I can’t think of anything quite so boring.

I’m afraid the effort it takes to maintain that form would completely outweigh the potential time with me, or time fulfilling other parts of what’s important in a life.

I wasn’t one to spend time in a gym. I mean, running on a treadmill going nowhere. What do you do with that? Watch TV? No thanks. And something about being inside, always feels kind of like cheating. But, then again, I live in Texas, and it’s fuckin hot out there. So what’s the trade off?

I probably will not see my iron stomach again in this lifetime. I mean, it’s possible, but it’s not really a goal of mine. I can’t add up the number of hours it would take, doing stuff I don’t like doing, hate actually, over the next 6-months to a year. Um, yeah… Not going to happen.

That’s not to say I don’t have ideas of getting in better shape. I do. It’s just, the learnings I am getting along the journey back to fitness from depression, divorce, and isolation, are unbelievably valuable. It’s a process back to myself. Back to learning what I’m in it for, what I like doing, and what the time is worth that I could be spending “at the gym.”

I have plans. I am getting ready to work with a nutritionist to learn about things like gluten and carbs and my particular chemical make up. But I can tell you this, I have had love handles in some shape and form, since I was 2 years old. And that one brief period of my life, when I was 15, was the only time I’m going to have a GQ-cover-worth stomach.

So that’s not my goal. And while I would love to nuzzle up to the beautiful body above, I’m afraid the effort it takes to maintain that form would completely outweigh the potential time with me, or time fulfilling other parts of what’s important in a life.

She once said to me, about her beauty, “It’s all I have.” She was depressed about her divorce and she drank alone on weekends when she didn’t have her kids.

There’s a lot to be said for physical beauty. And there’s a lot more to be said for attitude, life approach, centeredness, and warmth. (see Enlightenment post) And when I find the next woman, I hope she has a slim figure, it’s what I’m trained to be drawn towards. [It probably has more to do with my older sister’s ghost than any media driven ideal.] But that’s not the first thing I’m looking for or at.

So here’s the concept: No one is going to hold your dream for you. The woman who I met a few weeks ago, who felt like a first possible “match” was not impressed by something. And she couldn’t possibly see the me I am aiming for. And could I actually expect her to understand my self-improvement plan? No, of course, she sees what she sees.

And the lesson here is, SO DO I. I see myself, and if I compare my stomach to my 15-year-old stomach, I might get depressed. But it’s not about my stomach flatness. That might be something that she is interested in. And it might be something that I marginally aspire towards, but it’s nothing like the athletic-gym-addict stomach above.

I recently met, and hung out with a woman who resembles the picture above. She was funny, cute, spunky, and obviously obsessed with her image. She once said to me, about her beauty, “It’s all I have.” She was depressed about her divorce and she drank alone on weekends when she didn’t have her kids. [The definition of tragedy.]

We can’t set anyone else’s priorities or reprogram their dreams. The near match woman was as close as I’ve come to someone who seemed balanced.

But she didn’t have time for me. I wasn’t stalking her or anything. We went out dancing one of those vodka nights. And we had a blast. And I was only able to wrestle one more meeting out of her, over coffee where she fiddled with her iPad the entire time.

Her email later said it all. “We can have fun. I just have to get some more of my life back together first.”

A few months later I saw her running on the trail around the lake. There was a moment of recognition and she ducked her head and ran on past. Yes, fine, I didn’t want to interrupt her run.

Later I pinged her via email. “Did I see you this afternoon on the trail?”

“Yes, that’s about all I have time for, being a single parent and all. Work, working out, and taking care of my kids.”

“Okay, well, you looked good. Hope you are well. Cheers.”

That’s what we’re all doing. Setting priorities between work, self, kids, relationships, spiritual practice. There’s only so many hours, and of course, you are what you pay attention to.

So I’m happy with a flat and fit stomach on others. And I do want to get mine in better proportion to how I would like to look. But if I start aspiring towards my old 16-year-old body, I can lose sight of my own priorities.

We can’t set anyone else’s priorities or reprogram their dreams. The near match woman was as close as I’ve come to someone who seemed balanced. And if I’d been more balanced, maybe she’d have seen the same spark I saw. But, of course, she could not hold the idea of who I was becoming, or where I was going. How could she? There’s no one who is going to hold your dream for you.

No worries. Of course she is out there. And the me I want to be is too. Oh wait… The me I want to be is right here. I need to remember that.

It gets better.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

related posts:

resources:


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

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.”

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 lovemaking 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 kinds 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 an activated and creative imagination. Both of my wives had brilliant creative impulses, and both were beautiful to look at.

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 wishlist. 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 realization 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

related posts:

resources:


Followed by the Black Dog (of depression)

the black dog disappears

the black dog disappears

He came out of nowhere with a grin and a wild look in his brown eyes. The black dog began following me this morning on my walk. It was as if he was lonely for someone to cruise around with, and he took my singing with the iPod as encouragement. And he was like a shadow.

So much of the time recovering from divorce is about recovering from depression. “Clinical” or “temporary,” depression is a bitch. It keeps you in bed when you should go to work. It makes you eat crap when you should really start watching what you eat even more carefully. And for me, the worst part, it makes ME isolate like a motherfucker. That’s the killer for me.

I’m not depressed at the moment. So I am able to see and respond to the black dog [sadness] with an open hand. My energy level is high, I’m walking, so that’s good, and the music is weaving its tentacles in my brain and I’m feeling quite buoyant at the moment. So where did the black dog come from?

One of the most pivotal moments in recovery is admitting to yourself that depression is a problem. For me, isolation is pretty deep on the list of symptoms. By the time I’m isolating and fucking up at work, the other mechanics of depression are in full bloom.

My check-ins look kind of like this:

  • eating
  • sleeping
  • sexual desire (even masturbation can be a positive sign)
  • laughing or playing
  • calling people back
  • spending time with friends

When any of these balance points gets way out of whack I’m heading towards a wrestling match with the black dog. The last real battle lasted 4 – 5 months and could’ve easily killed me.

So when the black dog of depression is showing itself, I try to take evasive action as soon as I can.

Evasive Actions:

  • go for a walk
  • play a game (online with others if I can’t be with real people)
  • clean up my diet (it’s amazing what junk food and sugar highs can do to your overall life-performance)
  • see if there’s anything pornographic that interests me (if I can get an erection, at least I know I’m alive, I have a desire)
  • call one of my D-buddies (“Um, I’m just calling because I don’t want to call, and I don’t want to get together for lunch or anything.”)
  • meet with my counselor or doctor (talky therapists are critical, and meds doctors are too, if you’ve ever had deep bouts of depression)

The most important thing for me is to stay out of the isolation chamber. That is where I slowly, patiently, kill myself.

So this morning, I’m not feeling much charge from the depressive side of my life at the moment, and the black dog is more of a friend and companion. He won’t come close enough for me to pet him, but he smiles at me just the same. He keeps his distance, I keep singing along to the music on my iPod, and we mosey on down the road together.

And then out of nowhere appears another set of black dogs. The twins from down the street. These guys I know.

the twins from down the street

For a minute I’m not sure if the black dog is going to gel or fight, but I keep walking, imagining they’re going to work it out between themselves.

I look back about 5 minutes later, to see if the black dog is still with me. The three dogs are doing some sort of ecstasy-daisy-chain-circle-dance, They are lost in their dog-ness.

I am happy the black dog has found better companions. I’m not afraid to befriend him. The converse is true. Depression is part of loss. And if you are FEELING the divorce, you will probably feel depressed.

For me, this blog became one of my re-stabilizing forces. I write to process. I write to learn and make sense of what is happening. The first time, when my ex-y asked me to take it down, I was depressed. What I realized only later, was that I was in the early stages of depression. By shutting down the expression of my anger, sadness, and loss; by killing this blog, the first time, I actually hastened my own slip further into darkness.

Today the black dog (of depression) is my friend. I will see him again from time to time. He will travel with me for a bit. And we will part ways when one of us has a more interesting opportunity.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

< back to The Hard Stuff pages

related posts:

resources:


The Monday Morning Drop Off and The Longing of the Off Parent

unavailable women of desire

two car garage, one car - the single parent

My daughter saw this picture and headline above on my posterous site. “I know what that means,” she said. I laughed. “What does it mean?” At 9, she has been sharing more of her understanding of the world. “It means, for now. Eventually you will park on the side when you’re making room for a girlfriend.”

This post was written as a response to a reader’s comment. You can see the entire dialogue in the comments of this post:  Putting Your Foot (Fool) Out There – Online Dating in Perspective

+++

Wow, H. You seem to have started a wonderful dialogue with yourself (and me) as a result of posting on The Off Parent. I salute you. And welcome the interaction. Here’s the crux (for me) of what you said:

“And then soon, I forgot the ‘longing’ of wanting something/someone else. My life as it is today, perfect, with my children, as they are my family now….Just like your happiest hours on Thursday nights (forgive if I got your name for it incorrect)…well, that is my life, every day and night.”

I appreciate the Happier hour of Thursdays. And I feel the tweak of my happiness every Friday morning as I drop them back at school. On the weekends when they will return to me Friday afternoon I have a nice routine, I finish my work around 3pm and I take the rest of the afternoon off, after I pick them up at 3:30.

This is such a weekend. Full. Complete. Completed. I do understand your fullness. When we are together there is nothing missing. We are a family as I envisioned it. Except of course, their mom. But of course things are MUCH easier without her, for us. There is not one single argument about cleaning the house, about chores (we have them, yes) about what we’re going to do on Saturday. This core unit has a connected and free form flow that probably drove my ex crazy. She much preferred the work plan model.

The longing for me, takes place, as it will tomorrow, when I drop them back at school on a Monday, after our full family weekend. It is that morning, as I pull away from school that I feel an ache.

Why did I, how did I end up in this “missing” place? It is a familiar feeling, but I no longer welcome it. I acknowledge the ache. And I can understand my past history that is riddled with so many “missing” moments. And for today, I move away from that HURT as I drive away from their school and them.

It is THAT longing that holds the key to me for what I am missing in the rest of my life. I DO want to be in a relationship. While I get so much joy and fulfillment out of simply being DAD, I am hungry for a companion. That longing that you have learned to forget just might be a key to the relationship you want as well. It’s easier to keep driving away from their school and the ache and just carry on.

Later in the day your THREE return to you and you are full up in the activity of FAM again. Mine do not return to my fold until the next Thursday evening. And this coming Thursday, that glimpse, that ONE NIGHT and MORNING, is all I will have of them for the entire week. And the rest of the time I am what I call, The Off Parent. Both physically (they are not with me) and mentally I am OFF.

I love having entire weekends to plan activities alone. Time and options I never had while married. But I also wish it were not so. I was content wrapped in the everyday details of being Dad. Now I don’t have that luxury. Perhaps I am pushed out to learn more about myself, my needs, my next plan or dream. Certainly, that’s what’s happening. But the reality is I LONG FOR MY KIDS when they are not here. And to a lesser extent, I can feel that I LONG FOR A RELATIONSHIP again.

There is no real reason to put up with red flags the new experimental relationships. What’s the point? If there are too many fouls, you pick up and move along.

So, H,  perhaps you will find the longing in something as mundane as a painful shoulder that needs a strong and warm hand to knead and rub it. For now, you can put heating gel on it, or ask one of your kids to beat it for you. (that’s what I do.) But if you can listen to the ache, only if you want to, you might find the energy behind the longing. And at this point in my life, I am finding that ache-to-energy to be quite powerful and quite transformative.

I am becoming someone else. I am expressing all sides of the joy and pain, here on The Off Parent. I am leaving all of my grievances behind. And when they show up I’m putting them to rest by journaling them here.

I am excited that you have found the reason, the energy, to post such a reflective comment here. I hope you continue. A dialogue is forming between us. Another wonderful and interesting development from writing this down. The hard stuff and the good stuff. The dark sex stuff and the vulnerable stuff.

Thank you for joining in the dance with me.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

Resources:


Feeling Again or NOT Feeling Again

See if you can feel the irony of this. I am picking up my kids after school at my former house. And the dogs have gotten into the trash in the kitchen. So what do I do, clean it up? Make it a little more messy? Ignore it, not my problem.

Well, she is nice enough to let me use the house as a pick-up zone. It’s good for the kids. So I do a partial pickup. Coffee grounds and trash off the kitchen floor. Sweep, but not mop.

So we’re waiting 20 minutes for me to take my daughter to Brownies. Cause my ex had a business trip and it IS my day. We hustle up to the playground and there is no one in sight. We drive over to the park and it is completely empty. Turns out they are inside at the playground in the MUD office. We figure this out about 20 minutes into the meeting.

The plan was for my son and I do to a quick grocery run while they were doing girl scouts. Problem was, by the time we got her to the right room, there were only 30 minutes before the meeting would be out. So we couldn’t even get there and back in 30 minutes. So my son and I were left to our own devices. He drew and I fuddled with my Blackberry and wished it had a real browser. And tuned in to all the beautiful women coming to the playground with new offspring. Oh yeah.

So at the same park where I was a Den Leader with my son in Cub Scouts, I was now simply waiting in the park on a beautiful day, looking at beautiful women, and grooving on the pictures my son was drawing.

I guess we could have gone back to the house. It’s HER house now, but it will always be the house. Much of me is still inside.

And I give thanks that my ex is not bitter and angry or she’d have my shit in a storage unit. As it is, I am still looking for a place to live and all of my furniture and most of my clothes still in her house. She’s been boxing and moving some stuff. But lot’s of me still remains. Almost trapped, in her house, until I can find my house.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

< back to The Hard Stuff pages

Resources: