Dying a bit more each passing day

I try.

I really do try.

I think positively about being here for my kids.

I try to see the “everyday qualities” of the area and what it has to offer in the “big picture” as well. I seek out time with people I respect and admire and I understand that meeting people somewhere else will be even more difficult as a new person all over again. I think rationally about how problems don’t go away with a scenery change. I explain to myself how I have come to romanticize being somewhere else and that quality is not reality.

Unfortunately it does nothing for my deep soul.

I feel that I am slowly dying inside from the rut of my current station. I feel trapped by my own self imposed immovability. I know the choice is ultimately mine to make about how and where I choose to live my life. However, I am first a mother and the needs of my children come before my own. They are only in my charge for a short time and I owe it to them to be a decent parent and provide a stable environment they can thrive in to become the best adults they can be. Part of that environment includes their father in the vicinity. I’m not naive about that need for a child. Nor am I willing to sacrifice their need for my own need to change my environment. The window grows smaller…only 5 more years. Though the tunnel seems so long and I feel like when I reach the other side I will have lost the vitality of life that I will need to start over.

I will be in my late 40s. My children will all be grown and out just beginning their lives when I will feel like I can finally begin my own. I feel tired regularly as it is now. There is never enough to do all the things that demand time and money. And the future prospect of money becoming a major life issue for me is debilitating. I am working on ways to save over the next several years so I can have a cushion, as well as ways to increase my pay by getting extra certifications. Unfortunately with the late entry into my profession, it will be awhile before I see a decent level of manageable income for a single person. I will most likely have to contemplate a roommate in order to afford to live on my salary. In order to break the $50,000 mark, I need to have over 15 years in my county. I’m not even half way to that time due to staying home to raise my kids. Not to mention the rising cost of health care that continues to eat into earnings. I think I’ve heard from fellow colleagues that they have progressively been making less per year with the rising costs and the lack of increases over several years.

Every few months I do a search for “teaching in a small town” to see if there has been some article published to help direct where I should try to land once I’m able to move away from the community I’m currently drowning in…

I’m not a city girl. I never have been. The congestion of the people makes me feel crowded in and claustrophobic. I also don’t do well with the societal excesses of people needing to “keep up” or the falseness it breeds. I desire to be around honest, hard working people who don’t need to put on faces for fifteen seconds of fame or to show off their status. I prefer local businesses that do good work and take pride in themselves over the dirty, lackadaisical ‘working stiff’ places that provide low wage work to the masses. I like ‘off the beaten path’ kinds of things over glitz and glamour to impress.

I don’t need much. I’ve decided a small, modest home is probably the best idea for me. Not even really interested in over 1000 square feet. I’m so tired of seeing all these 3000-5000 square feet homes going in for half a million dollars and up and it being the golden apple for people to attain. I want a few things. An efficient floorplan, a small fireplace, many windows and possibly even a sunroom area with cozy seating, and outdoor space for sitting as well as cooking/eating. I don’t need a huge yard. Though I would like to plant some of my own vegetables someday when I have more free time.

I want to be able to travel to see my kids, though I hope they choose to live in close vicinity to one another so they can create the family dynamic we have always discussed where they get together often and their kids know one another and we have “family get togethers” on a regular basis. I actually look forward to being a grandma one day. I want to see my children enjoy their own lives and families and to be a significant part of their lives. I want to be a source of support and stability for their lives.

I also want to find contentment that it seems eludes me and has for several years now. I hate feeling that this is somehow my fate and I just need to resign myself to it. That many people have it so much worse and I should be more thankful. Knowing I should feel differently and working to remedy it is very different than actually feeling differently. I just want to find the place where I belong…and soon before my light fades so dim I can hardly notice it myself.

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Been such a long time…

I can’t even remember the last time I wrote…

things have been hectic and crazy as a life of a divorced mother of three teenagers an a full time working elementary teacher can be.

My oldest is graduating from high school this spring, and has come to the conclusion that he needs to enlist in the Marines. I am happy he feels settled and excited about the prospect, and deep inside me I know this move is probably the best one for him to make at this juncture in his life. Having said that, I also worry for him and hope that it doesn’t all blow up in his face (literally and figuratively) but I also realize he needs to make his own decisions about the direction of his life – and this is his decision. I know in the end he will find his way and be a great man…he has such a good heart.

My oldest daughter is flowing along – continuing her academic drive for near perfection, strengthening her artistic talents, and growing her relationships with friends and a “boyfriend” that she previously felt was out of her league until they started dating a few months ago. She has been committed to bi-monthly therapy to help deal with her anxieties and she seems to be doing well. I have two more years with her until she determines the fate of her own future and goes off to pursue it. I’m proud of the good head she has on her shoulders.

My youngest is lamenting middle school. As all children do. The immaturity of peers, especially boys, and the uselessness of teachers that she feels don’t ‘reach her intellect’ in the ways that she desires. She is also voicing her disappointment in me lately which is leading to some self doubt of my own. I don’t spend enough quality time with her. She is feeling neglected. Some of it is normal teenaged drama and not true, but there is at least an element of truth because our schedules are so filled with running here and there, not to mention visitation with her dad limiting the available time to spend ‘quality’. I am looking to find time to carve out very soon.

The ex is maintaining his usual “let’s be friends” routine and even went so far as to pose a suggestion that in order for me to save money and also help him out with costs for the house he can’t afford without a roommate; that I move in and rent the downstairs from him…he must not have heard me the first time he suggested back in October that it was nowhere in the realm of possibility for me to ever consider living with him, because he again suggested it about a month ago. Some may think it’s an attempt to “get me back”, however I can attest, he has been dating a woman (I actually met her for the first time back in November) for well over a year. Though the first time he suggested the roommate scenario, he also made sure to assert that he “wouldn’t date anyone while I was living with him” – which didn’t make sense to me, (and hasn’t made any attempts to stop dating her since I haven’t agreed to the roommate situation) but I digress.

I’ve dated off and on…more off right now because it just gets too cumbersome for me to deal with. I don’t meet eligible men in the normal comings and goings of my life. All my friends are married, and even many with small children, and not in similar stages of life. I get together frequently enough with a couple different groups of these women, but there are no “men friends” to speak of in any sense of the word. I don’t even have a group of mixed men/women couples that get together. So I certainly miss the interactions of men in my life. Which takes me to online dating.

I’ve met some men, messaged many who never responded to me, and blown off several that were nowhere near good possible candidates. Of the men I’ve met, I was either not attracted sexually at all, or found that we were incompatible in maturity or expectation of dating, or saw red flags with issues of communication – a definite deal breaker for me. I try not to take the ‘not finding someone’ thing personal. I really do. But that’s hard. I definitely feel often that there must be something wrong with me…that other people seem to find common ground with someone who wants to invest in them, but I just can’t. I try to analyze how I’m going about it to make sure I don’t emit desperation (I certainly don’t feel desperate because I don’t want to settle for the guys that could be just a ‘warm body’) and I try to think of my expectations and determine if my expectations are unrealistic. However what I come up with each time is that I just want to find someone I’m excited about getting to know and spending time with who is just as excited to do the same with me. I’ve come to the conclusion that that isn’t too much to ask. But it DEFINITELY is easier said that done.

Work is challenging me enough lately anyway. I have been navigating my new grade level and am anticipating testing this spring that I hope I am adequately preparing my students for, while at the same time hating the machine that makes it necessary for me to administer said testing and squash my professional talents with unrealistic expectations of 8 year olds. I am also going for my National Board Certification, so there is that added workload as well as the questioning of whether I will achieve the goal in the end.

More often with my ‘down time’ I spend it sitting on the couch vegging out to mindless television. Not that I have much down time, mind you. Often I am grading papers or lesson planning while watching as well. However, this does wonders for my mental and physical state, thus contributing to some of those aforementioned feelings of inadequacy for the dating pool. I feel stretched thin, and long to be away from the rat race. I want my own little space and peace of mind. I want to feel freedom from my burdened thoughts and responsibilities, and to feel more joyous about my situation and free to experience life with a different perspective. Maybe someday. Small steps.

Right now, I just need to finish lesson plans for the coming week, plan something special for my daughter’s birthday, work more on my teaching portfolio to send to the Board, clean my house, and watch just a bit of mindless television before heading into another week of the same stuff.

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Smooth Sailing

I haven’t written recently because things have been generally going along smoothly and I typically turn to my keyboard when I’m working through a tough moment. The summer has been going by fairly well though. I am teaching summer school (only 1/2 days Mon thru Thurs) and spending time with the kids and recharging. I switch grade levels next year, so I’m planning my new year also. I guess I have things to distract me. Plus, I took myself off the online dating sites. I think the stressors of dating removed help to even me out also…I’m not judging myself and coming up short because I don’t have the kind of activity I want happening in the dating world. I’ve started trying to resign myself to understand that I may just be designed to be alone. I don’t really hope that’s the case, but it seems to be the reality and I choose to be a realist so I’m surrendering to the truth.

The kids are doing well enough. I’m enjoying having my son back with me more regularly because I have him since I’m home more often. My ex did have them for a week and a half which was difficult because I missed them terribly, but that’s passed now so I’m enjoying the time we do have. He is preparing for his senior year, which is making me sad, excited, and apprehensive all at the same time. I love him and know he is a great kid…but great kids can frustrate parents just as easily as problem children…just maybe not as often or to as severe a degree. I truly am thankful for that blessing.

I still pine away for a better location/community. I’m not feeling any more connected to this area the longer I stay, which helps fuel my research into other areas within the US to move once the time comes…six years isn’t really that long. Not to mention that I need that time to prepare for the financial burden that will result when the supports all end and my income is reduced by more than 50%. I think that is going to be the most difficult for me, but hopefully living on my own with the kids all grown will be significantly less expensive in many regards. I’m counting on it at least!

So, I guess I don’t really have much going on to tell. I went back and read some earlier posts and I always find my story to be like an out of body experience…like it must have happened to someone else…but the reminders are there that it is the reality I live daily. I still sometimes wonder how I got to this place. I just try not to throw a pity party as often if I can help it. I realize I truly am blessed in so many ways.

Well, I wish you well blog friends…hope you’re going along smoothly as well!

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Life Interrupted

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Ramblings and Doubts and Rationalizations

I think I have been disengaged with myself for the better part of the past three or four years.

That’s a long time.

I’ve been stuck in a rut of devaluing myself and going through the motions of life.

I spend ‘free’ time escaping through mind-numbing Netflix and Hulu time to avoid thought. When I do pull myself out enough to think, the thoughts are not typically positive. I feel stuck, I act stuck, I am stuck. The replay button must have molasses on it…

I don’t know who I am or who I want to be. When I try to spend time thinking about it in a positive and meaningful way, I get caught up in all the regrets of not being present and not knowing how to correct myself…and then the disengagement comes again. Fixing my life seems daunting and insurmountable because the things I want to fix seem out of my control and impossible to attain.

I tried to make a list today of times when I’ve felt happiness in my life to see if I can see any patterns and possibly start seeking experiences akin to what caused happiness previously. I wish I had more moments from my marriage that stuck out to me as being happy.

I don’t.

I think that also makes me sad and want to retreat too, because of the weight of the failure to recognize that I sucked at marriage. The evidence of me sucking at marriage makes my thought process look toward the present and feel that the reason I haven’t found anyone to be interested in dating me is because of that suckiness. Though I want to believe that I didn’t suck and that I deserved to be loved for who I was and what I had to offer – the bottom line is that I wasn’t…not really.

In the past several years I have had some good friends come into my life, and also go out of it. Some due to proximity limitations when you move far away from someone, but I feel that mainly it’s because I’m not a terribly ‘supportive’ friend. I feel capable of little compassion, most likely because I think I have been so wrapped up in my own head. Close friends need that compassion and when I can’t supply it, they need to move on to others for that close friendship. I become relegated to the ‘acquaintance’ level or removed from their lives completely. Then I rationalize that THAT is what must have happened with my ex. I wasn’t compassionate enough or thoughtful of what I needed to do/be for him as a wife.

Then rational thought says WTF? as the list of random neglect and withdrawal my ex perpetrated on me comes swirling back to thought.

See.

The thoughts.

Then I want to disengage.

My mother often begrudges me that I don’t have some ‘hobby’ to spend my time in a worthwhile endeavor. She quilts and cleans and gardens. She has always had hobbies because she has always been a stay at home mom/wife and she needed things to fill her time. She doesn’t realize that my job and my kids are a HUGE hobby time filler. I definitely parent very differently than she did…I’m much more present. It’s not that I don’t recognize the value of having a hobby to put efforts into…I do. I just don’t know what that hobby for me would be. I try different things and there’s a level of detachment even when I’m doing it. I’m not like her. I don’t have desire to sew, or meticulously clean, or tend a garden, or other domestic seeming tasks. I also don’t run, or exercise, or do other ‘group societal’ activities that are mainstream these days.

And not doing those things makes me feel like I’m not ‘normal’ and therefore not appealing to the opposite sex. (at least not the ones I want to be appealing to) Like I somehow should be making myself into something more appealing or I am definitely going to end up an old spinster. Not that I have opportunities in my life to meet interesting men anyway…

I have social groups. There are women I work with that I consider good friends. We get together outside of work and I lean on them, and they on me. I have another group of women I was accepted into that get together socially once a month and I see them randomly in other areas of life via kids or work activities also. They’re all awesome women, but I don’t really feel connected to them directly…more of an interloper of sorts. It’s a lonely existence for me, and I don’t know if it’s my own doing, or if people just aren’t drawn to me for meaningful relationships.

I feel lonely in a crowd. Even a crowd of my own ‘friends’. Last night was one such occasion. I was the host of the evening. I prepared everything for a group of 15 and the house was full of laughter and conversations. I was there, but I felt apart. I know it’s me and not them…I just don’t know how to fix it and make it different.

I don’t like my community (not my immediate ‘people’, but the quality of those living in the area)…I often wonder if people anywhere I would go would be the same. I think not because of the strong connection I had to my community several years back before the move to this state and before the divorce changed my ‘station’. There’s a rat race that exists here with the proximity to the HUB of city and government that disgusts me. There is also a “high school” level maturity to how adults act with other adults and a lack of parenting responsibility that seems rampant. There’s also what I consider a following of hypocrites that proclaim the spirit of their savior as they go out and sin willfully with the knowledge that their sin is forgiven…and I’m not supposed to judge. Plus they act like they’ve got it all figured out and they’re happy and God is leading them and then it makes me question myself again in that why do I feel so forsaken by Him. And I’m sure it’s due to my own doubt. God can’t fully reside in a doubtful heart.

So bottom line…I don’t feel fully present. I don’t feel happiness. I don’t feel fulfilled. I feel empty and disconnected.

And I know it rubs off into my relationships with others.

And I don’t know how to fix it, and honestly I try.

And fail.

Over and over again.

And then this shows up in my FB feed…

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The MOM Badge…I’ve got one!

The appointment went smoothly enough. I don’t understand why I am always anxious going in to situations such as this…I often come out feeling more validated than judged. I guess it’s the long standing self doubt that was instilled in me throughout my life and marriage. I don’t see my own value accurately because it was never valued by those I hoped loved me and SHOULD value me…and ultimately I don’t value myself enough?!

My son was afforded a conversation that was LONG overdue in my opinion. His dad was brought to the table for abandonment and feelings of neglect spanning time before our resulting divorce. He apologized to his son and made his case that he made some “wrong decisions” that hurt him and how he was regretful of that…I wish he had taken more direct responsibility for his actions…like “I’m sorry I didn’t put you first for such a long time. It was wrong. I want to be a better dad. I hope I can make it up to you somehow.”… but then again, he is still the same man he always has been. Me wishing for a different outcome is like expecting Old Faithful to all of sudden stop spewing hot steamy water from the earth. The conditions all remain the same, therefore the outcome continues. Such is the same for my ex.

My son asked for more ‘meaningful time’ with his dad. My SIXTEEN year old son…almost SEVENTEEN…asked for more time. I think that’s unheard of for a teenager to WANT to spend time with their parents. Yet mine asked. We’ll see if there is follow through. There were good words of support and appreciation for the request…as well as blame thrown back that “well I didn’t think you wanted to do those kinds of things” like it’s my son’s fault that they don’t do ‘guy’ things together. Typical fashion.

I have some amazing kids…truly amazing. My son just scored a 1280 on his first attempt on his SAT as a junior…now his lack of motivation where schoolwork is related leaves A LOT to be desired, but at least I know he has some major potential. My oldest

daughter is excelling more and more and coming into her own as an artist, while still maintaining her straight As in the accelerated program in her high school. The one on the left is literally FINGERPAINT and the one on the right was a ‘rough pencil sketch’ she went over with pen/ink. And these are just pictures I took with my phone!!

My youngest is coming into her own and is trying out many different things and wants to give basketball a try…not something I would have ever seen her going to since she danced for most of her life until she quit last year…but I look forward to supporting her with the endeavor!

I truly am a blessed woman. I am thankful that I have been there through all of it with them. Walking with them, carrying them, and prodding them along the way. I have very few regrets about my involvement with my children. I worry a lot. I push them sometimes too far and sometimes let them get away with too much. I feel like a failure a lot.

But I wouldn’t trade my MOM badge for any other job in the world.

 

 

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Brokenness

My son started living with his father since the beginning of this year. He was failing in his classwork, becoming withdrawn into his technology (not socially, just gaming), lacking any motivation in any way, and he and I were beginning to fight constantly. I know he has always truly needed a male role model that has been lacking for him, and I hoped since his dad was trying to step up more that it would be a good move.

He also started therapy.

I’ve always felt I had a pretty good, open relationship with my kids. I allow them space, but also have high expectations.

Today we have a session with my son and his therapist so he can address his trust issues with us (my ex and I both). His issues with his dad started long before his dad left due to the divorce. His issue with me surrounds the most recent move to his dad’s place.

I truly did not want him to feel that I was trying to ‘get rid of him’ in any way. I honestly hoped that a tighter bond (if it was possible) with his dad may help him find some direction and purpose. I was feeling extraordinarily hopeful I suppose. His father is still who he is at his core. But I think I also felt that if it didn’t work, at least my son knew who his dad was and what he could expect from him without ever feeling like he ‘didn’t really have the chance to know’ his dad.

So here we are, four months in, and nothing has changed for the positive except that we’re not fighting constantly as we were because we don’t see each other as much. His motivation is still slack and his grades are worse than ever for an honors student. He’s a junior in high school now, during the year that counts the most when colleges look, and he’s showing his worst abilities.

I want him back with me. If he’s not going to do better, then I want him back. I miss him. I feel his absence. But I also realize that is about ME and not him.

I don’t know how to read what he wants. I want him to decide, without feeling like he’s ‘choosing sides’…or feel guilt over his decision. But I also want him to ‘want’ to come home. I don’t want him to not come home because I have disappointed him by ‘sending’ him in the first place.

I hate that I have helped to perpetuate a feeling in my son that he is somehow not wanted.

I don’t know how to fix this.

I’m not looking forward to sitting on a couch with my ex and a therapist discussing my son inbetween us.

Mainly because I think I blame my ex for breaking him to begin with…and now I’m supposed to work with him to help my son forgive what he did and move forward so my son can be healthy.

Ugh.

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