Our humble return

I do not know where or how to begin back on this blog… I do know, however, that unless I just “do”, the random pieces of me – the pieces I love, the pieces I detest and every other element in the middle – will begin to float out into a vast black hole of nothingness. And it will be as if it never happened; even perhaps as if I haven’t existed in those frames. There would merely be long frames of life and action, empty of humanity…filled with nothing but the space around the people: an entire section of a movie void of any activity or characters; photographical “still” shots, running consecutively without humanity to define it.
I’ve yet again returned to my home that never was. I’m delighted to do so as for a moment there, circumstances and events all pointed to the distinct possibility that returning ever again might have been an unfortunate impossibility. So, I return with gratitude… Gratitude that I had a place to “return” to as well as mass gratitude that I was given the ability and resources against the odds to actually do so.
In the City of Sin, I lived in a lovely house with my two daughters and Jasper the cat. We lived about ten miles from the children’s father. I could go on and on about the terrific points of our brief stay there. It was certainly not as horrible as it could have been. However, my children’s father was not the same person I’ve we’ve thought he was for many years. He was cruel and abusive. This began as being directed only toward me, which was disappointing and uncomfortable, as well as shocking and unwarranted. Shortly after I realized that I was to be treated like the unwanted step-child, I soon realized that this wasn’t to stop with me. The daddy slowly started directing it toward our children – the very children whom he was “moved to tears” that they would be living in close proximity to him. Even this I thought would be workable, such was my faith in the man I’d come to think the daddy was. Yet, when we combined his blatant disrespect and dis-compassion to me with his treatment of my children, our children, I very quickly realized that I was powerless to protect my children from the same treatment. Without the mutual respect of our previous relationship, my attempts at interfering on their behalf merely caused huge arguments, more disrespect, more apathy, and the treatment continued…and worsened.
I want so much to be grateful that my children had never before seen or heard their parents argue and be grateful that they had no concept of how horribly unkind their father was capable of treating their mother. After all, this was the very reason these children had never lived in a “nuclear family” situation. I decided when they were still infants that I would prefer them to grow up in a single mother dysfunction rather than expose them to the kind of environment which was their parents living together as a family. My choice in moving across the country in order to allow them more contact and closeness with their father was based entirely upon the mass changes he had made in himself, his life, and his character since our early days. It proved, however, that I merely postponed their exposure to these things for thirteen years and then promptly moved them directly into the line of fire to experience the very way of life I so proudly and fiercely had protected them from as babies.
So, I wish to be grateful that they were saved from experiencing this as their only life experience up until this point, as I understand some children have… But, I can’t. I’m angry as hell that I made this choice: angry at myself and furiously angry with their father! Had I not regained such faith and trust in him, my children very well might have gone their whole lives without knowing on any personal level the kind of person their father could be… and often is. But now they know. And even my attempts at coloring the events with my rosy crayon fell upon eyes now too old to fall for such deceptions. It wasn’t long after we arrived that I ran out of smoke and mirrors and plausible explanations for his behaviors.
Now my gratitude is only in that I was able to successfully remove us from that situation. Not without massive loss… we had no choice but to leave our belongings there and leave with only a few suitcases of clothing. We were satisfied with that exchange when we thought we might lose our home if we did not leave these things behind. However, in his anger at our choice to leave against his will (and more notably in spite of his “power” over us), he opted to take our home from us anyway. So we returned “home” homeless. To add insult to injury, “Daddy” also decided to contact my father to warn and threaten him not to “assist us” in any way, claiming that it was for “our own good” to suffer the consequences of our “rash and thoughtless” actions; threatening to never again provide any support or assistance to either myself or our two children if my father opted to assist us in any manner. Adding in there that any kindnesses my father might offer us would be taken for granted(by us), as any and all previous kindnesses had been. The “Daddy” was terribly insulting to my father, as well as our two children and me.
I am exceedingly grateful that my father did not heed these threats or warnings and chose to assist us anyway. Thankfully, I mustered up the finances to get us back in a safe environment and we were fortunate enough to stay with my dad for a few months until I could find a place for us to live.
And we are home…with not a single desire to ever leave again. I don’t miss my things much… my clothes, my furniture, not even my precious life mementos. What I deeply miss is the innocence of my children; their beautiful faith in their father, our respect for him as a good man – those are the things I miss the most that in the aftermath of this whole disaster, I fear can never be replaced or restored.
I realize here on my blog, that only a few months ago, I truly believed the worst pain I could feel was a repeatedly crushed and destroyed heart courtesy of Dave K. I now realize with horrifying impact that even that doesn’t compare to the agony of watching your children’s hearts break and knowing you are powerless to ever repair or soothe their pain.
I have the most amazing and beautiful children any mother could have, as well as the blessings of angels in the assistance my father provided us in our desperate time of need. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

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Gratitude…

Lately I’ve really been thinking a lot about gratitude.  I look for it in others to see how it looks on them.  I regularly exercise my own gratitude and stay in a grateful place…

The more I’m aware of gratitude, the more I see a chronic lack of it in so many.  And I wonder, perhaps mine is too large and thus, easily taken for granted and/or manipulated?  Or do I just happen to have regular contact and life dealings with basically ungrateful (selfish?) people?

My ex-husband is a most generous man for the most part.  I would never deem him selfish  in any monetary sense and yet, the man has a perspective that is selfish to such an extreme that I have trouble comprehending his view, much less reconciling it with the man I know who would help me or our children out with money to just about any length we requested, as long as it wasn’t just an obnoxious request… So, I wonder just how a generous man so regularly maintains a perspective of every day dealings quite as” ME, ME, ME!!!” as this man does?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely grateful for his financial generosity and I do understand that’s a rare circumstance and blessing for a divorced, single mother.  I just can’t help but wonder how someone so financially generous can maintain such absolute selfishness?  The two just don’t mesh.  And my petty side, when faced with this realization over and over, wants to say, “My gosh, you are the most unbelievably selfish man I’ve ever known!”  And yet, I could never in good conscience say that given the overall picture of his mostly quite generous nature, which I strive to stay grateful for and feel it’s the utmost of ingratitude to even think such a thing about him!

…there just seems to be a point though, when generosity goes beyond merely being willing to write a check to help.  Or more importantly maybe it’s less about the money and more about the mutual experience and feelings involved.  It’s so much easier to stay grateful toward a person who is full of gratitude in return!  But a person who think his act of financial generosity is so far above and beyond anyone else’s kind gestures that he treats them as though they just don’t count…or as though they are expected…and still don’t quite make the cut of something to be grateful for…

I’m sure I sound like a spoiled brat…and perhaps I am?  No, I’m not able to help many out with much  money compensation or assistance(although I certainly do when I’m able), but I am that person who does any and every thing else I possibly can in order to feel I’m a helpful human being, if only generous with my time, compassion, or other things which don’t hold a price tag of any kind and therefore can never be measured by today’s materialistic standard of “generosity”.  Somehow it just feels frustrating  to stay grateful for every little smidgen of generosity from a person, when that person is completely oblivious to any gifts  of kindness he’s been offered.  Almost as though anything I could ever offer is merely expected, while anything I receive should fill me with gratitude.

I just don’t know.  It isn’t that I DO things for the gratitude.  I prefer to do kindness anonymously actually…but when that’s not possible and the person does know what you’ve done (or at least knows your intentions), a little gratitude goes a long way toward feeling that kindness made any difference in this world or for that person whatsoever.  I think feeling like your best efforts mean nothing just sucks a lot of the momentum to make any attempt at this at all.

And at least when it’s done anonymously, one can always assume and pretend that it was indeed special and a valuable contribution to some person’s life, day, heart, etc,  somewhere.  Even if it’s not appreciated at all, you’re just not so acutely  aware of how useless your kind intentions and attempts were.

Elephant in my living room!

I can’t talk to M about much of anything anymore and it scares me.  We are moving so soon and so much rides on him for that…. 

I keep trying in a delicate, but honest, way to point out my concerns, but just like 13 years ago, everything is an “attack”.  Every word of concern gets met with, “I AM NOT A BAD PERSON!!  I AM NOT A BAD PERSON!!  I AM NOT A BAD PERSON” screamed repeatedly over my trying-to-stay calm voice and words, until I have no choice but to hang up the phone.  Obviously, this doesn’t result in anything productive and does the very opposite of reassuring my fears. 

This experience throws me clear into full force PTSD as I’m hurled instantly to 13 years ago…trapped, scared, nervous, with a 3 month old child to care for.  My knees shake, my head spins and the frustration at not being heard, not being counted, not being considered, not being able to even TALK is overwhelming and terrifying to my core.  What am I doing?

Mark, he who I’ve watched struggle and kick for years, fighting his way past and beyond all that once haunted and controlled him, is yet again unreachable, irreproachable, impossible to reason with. And I am left feeling two options:  return to that horribly handicapping environment which threatened my sanity or continue raising my children far away from their loving father.  

Even the choices alone don’t feel like choices.  They feel like steel walls closing in on me fast, boxing me in tight, with the “rules” written in graffiti all over them in bold black paint.  Rules from my childhood; rules from my relationship with Mark 13 years ago. 

The rules:

  1.  No matter what M does or says, it’s always absolutely fine.
  2. No one is to question, doubt, or worry about M’s behaviors or choices.  They are all as close to perfect as could possibly be.
  3. No one is to point out (kindly or otherwise) any fears or, God forbid, discrepancies in Mark’s choices.
  4. If you see an elephant in the living room, no one is to speak of it, question its presence, or for God’s sake call it an elephant.  Nothing is what it appears and only M knows what it really is, so he cannot be questioned or expected to communicate with the rest of us. 
  5. It’s M’s world…only his reality counts…the rest of us are just graced with the opportunity to live in it…so SHUT UP.
  6. If you speak or imply any of the above, it is a direct “attack on M” and he will kick and scream accordingly, deftly playing the offense is the best defense game to the point that you’re wasting every word you can actually get into the conversation, trying (in utter futility) to insist that you’ve not attacked or insulted M.
  7. Every word you say that is not an ass-kissing “M, you’re the GREATEST!”  is, in fact, going to be considered an attack.
  8. Your actual words will not ever matter.  They are ALL an attack on Mark, unless they are a direct and undisguised compliment of his person and character.
  9. M will hear what M hears and it’s not up for discussion…  What M hears IS what you said, no matter how far off it may seem (to you) from what you’ve actually said.
  10. Questions, doubts, fears (authentic or otherwise) will NOT be tolerated or spoken of EVER.
  11. Unless you are complimenting M on how wonderful he is, you must SHUT UP AT ALL TIMES.

I am afraid.  I am rendered paralyzed to act and terrified to speak of my concerns…while the walls close in tighter on me.