Monday, January 8, 2007

Moving Forward

Well, I've been very very busy. That's part of the reason why I haven't posted in a few days. The other part is that I'm trying to avoid turning this into another soccer mom Live Journal. That said, if you can make it through this post, there's good stuff at the end.

Today, for the most part, was a good day. At least, it has been so far. But, I'll come back to that in a moment.

I had great plans for Saturday. It turns out that I had to work Sunday, so I wanted to make sure to optimize the one remaining day of the weekend. I planned it so that I would get up, take the kids to their therapy appointments (we go every Saturday), then do the grocery shopping, hurry home to do a load or two of laundry before my wife came at 4:00 to pick up my son for a day out. I figured they would be back around 6:00, which meant I would start the spaghetti around 5:15 so we could have a quick meal before I had to leave for a birthday party I was invited to Saturday night. It looked good on paper.

On Friday my wife called because the brakes went bad on the vehicle she's driving. I told her not to worry - we'd get it taken care of. So the plan was for her to get up, get an estimate, have the repair, then meet with a mutual friend to pick up some furniture and have coffee. That should have allowed her time to get to my house and pick up my son.

What really happened Saturday was that nothing went as planned. On my way to the grocery store that afternoon after therapy, I called to see how the estimate was going, and my wife was still asleep. Fortunately, the shopping went well, and I simply adjusted the schedule to reflect reality. I was bound and determined to get things back on track. Then, when she arrived, things went downhill for me.

I hadn't cried since the last time I saw her. For some reason, when I saw her again and sensed that she was further withdrawing from me, I cried again. She also didn't want to stay for dinner. Honestly, I think I need to do a better job of managing my expectations.

I managed to upset myself enough that I threw up after she left (note to self: chew lettuce better). Then I resolved to get things a little more under control, and do a better job of letting go. When she dropped off my son, I told her I was going to leave her alone. I explained that I meant I was no longer going to have expectations, and I'd try harder to give her space. She gave me a strange look, but said okay.

When it came time for the party, I was exhausted and didn't feel like going - particularly since I found out it involved a 45 minute drive each way. I bagged it and spent the time with my kids instead.

Later that night, circa 1AM, my son puked all over the stairs. You know it's bad when you hear a splash that sounds like throwing a bucket of water in the bathtub, and then you realize that it's carpet. To compound the issue, he flatly refused to even help clean it up. Now, I've been angry before, but this made me furious. Having your 13-year-old yark chunks all over the stairs at 1 in the morning, and then belligerently refuse to clean it up (or go back to bed for that matter) is the ultimate test. He was sorry the next day. Still, it was frustrating - the perfect end to the perfect day.

On Sunday, I worked until about 7PM Sunday trying to get my project back. I made excellent progress, although I'm still working to bring it in for the big finish. While in the office, I bumped into a coworker I have chatted with a few times. She is very calm, easy to talk to, and has a son about my age. In the military, I would have referred to her as "dark green", which is a reference to her African descent (there is no black or white in the Army -- only shades of green).

We grumbled about having to work the weekend, and then for some reason, I felt the urge to open up to her. I told her I assumed everything we were saying was off the record (a fair assumption, since she made some pretty unflattering remarks about my boss). She chuckled and said she certainly hoped so.

Then I told her that something else that made it difficult for me was that my wife decided to leave right before I started this job, so I've been struggling with that and doing the single parent thing. Her response surprised me.

Without hesitation, she moved closer to me, wrapped her arms around me, and gave me a hug. While we embraced, she said, "I don't really know you that well, but I know that you need that. I'll tell you a secret. Just before my birthday in December, my husband of 25 years told me he wanted a divorce."

Sometimes, the smallest gesture makes the biggest impact. From now on, I will always feel a sense of closeness and kinship with this lady.

So, today was another busy day. I spent a large part of the night dreading my boss' reaction to the project not quite being finished, but in a stroke of really good luck, he was in a good mood today. Things went very well.

Against this backdrop, I've had another epiphany (for those who bothered to read this far). I've spent too much time worrying about what my life might be, and not enough time worrying about what it is. The truth of the matter is that I'm in good health, I make good money, I like my job, I have two wonderful kids who love and support me, and I'm surrounded by people (like you) who genuinely care. Does it really matter if I'm divorced a year from now? In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't.


Dream Reader said...

First of all let me just tell you that your flair for words is something else!! You really should look into writing a novel. The way you explained how it sounded when your son threw up...I felt like I was there!! Thanks a lot!! Also, I hate to tell you but you should have cleaned it up. That's your job. My daughter is 18 and she was sick a while back and I cleaned it up still. Maybe it's mom thing, but you gotta suck it up, dad :P
Now that I've said that, I have a question. Does your wife still come to you when she needs something, such as car repairs etc.? Remember when I told you about giving her time to miss you? I don't mean to sound like game playing, but she needs to remeber that if she leaves you, she leaves ALL of you; good and bad. She can't just have you around when it's convenient for her.
I was so happy to read that your friend at work gave you that hug. I know how it feels to need some affection and not get it. Sadly, I have to say I'm still with my husband and it's very rare that I get a hug or a kiss, much less anything else. So I get into bed each night with my husband and I still feel alone, and that makes me very sad. We are more like room mates that husband and wife. One of my New Years resolutions was to make my marriage work. While my actual resolution may have already changed, I haven't given up. My revised resolution is to work on ME and hope that my husband follows my lead. That's really all I can do, right?

Wounded Heart said...

Wow - you said a mouthful. It's a nice long comment to address an overly long post. I'll try to address this point-by-point.

The novel:
It's funny you should mention the novel. I've always wanted to write a book, and it's on my to-do list for life. I actually put together an outline for a story, and I'm letting it sit to see how I feel. (I find that in my present state of mind, I often go back later and am repulsed by the sickly sweet, over dramatic musings I write.)

Since anyone can have a story idea (and this probably isn't original anyway) I'll share my idea with you.

First, let me say my inspiration for this story comes from two key places: my own current experience, and the experience of a former coworker who died from cancer. He chronicled his journey in a blog at One post in particular really gets to me. If you have a box of kleenex handy, you can see it here.

Caveats out of the way, the basic plot of the story surrounds a man whose wife decided to leave him. They have a couple of grown children (the youngest just starting college).

After the wife leaves to figure out what to do with her life, he finds out he has cancer. She decided to come back and help him die. As the story progresses, they reminisce about how they met, how they fell in love, and the life they built together.

The story is told in the 3rd person, with the exception of a journal that the husband keeps, which is (obviously) in the first person. The reader will have the benefit of the storyline, plus his journal to fill in the backstory.

In the end, they figure out they love each other after all. Sadly, it comes just before he succumbs to this horrible disease eating him, but at least he dies happy and loved.

I'd love to hear any thoughts on that plot line.

The puke:
I understand your point. The core issue, however, was less a question of who has responsibility for cleaning up a child's mess in the middle of the night and more one of respect for parent. In point of fact, if he had said "I'll get it", I would have cleaned it. Frankly, I don't think he could have done a good enough job anyway. The issue was his outright refusal before he had even been asked, his belligerant attitude, and his subsequent refusal to go to bed.

The needs of my wife:
Again, I understand the point your making. Like so many people, though, I have to say "this is different". The truth is that I do no more for my wife than I would for a friend, or than I still do for my first wife that I divorced 12 years ago. My wife is a very independant and self-reliant person. For me to treat her differently than I would someone else would be dishonest to myself, unfair to her, and perhaps even a bit juvenille. The reality of the situation is that I'll always be there to help, no matter how silly that may seem to a bystander. It's who I am.

The situation for you:
I'm sorry that things are working as well as you had hoped. Does your husband know how you feel? If he didn't, you may just be spinning your wheels. He's a man, so you may have to konk him over the head to get his attention first, but I'd say make sure he knows how you feel.

Dream Reader said...

WOW, I cried just hearing the story idea. I can only imagine how it would be to read the book. When you write it (and I really think you should write it) can i have a autographed copy? :)

Your son sounds like a typical teen age boy. Yea, been there, done that. Oh wait...still doing it.

All I can say about your wife, (and even your friends) is that she is extremely luck to have you in whatever capacity that may be. You seem to be a truely generous person.

As for me personally, you know the expression "Talk is Cheap"? Well, I've tried talking so much. It's time for action. I think I either need to put up or shut up.

Well, wish me luck.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog and I feel for you. From my own experience,I can tell you that you always want what you cant have. I say that because knowing that your right there pining for her makes it easier for her to seperate. But if she thought that maybe you were getting over her she would think twice about her actions. Knowing that you can go on might scare her.