I don’t remember when I first heard that phrase but I knew immediately it described me. And now many, many years later nothing has changed.
I’ve done my best to squeeze myself into a round hole and almost always it didn’t work. And more importantly it left me bruised and battered. Now at 57, I wonder if I’ll find a place where I fit.
I thought I had found my forever home. My ex and I lived in a Dallas suburb from 1986 to 2013 when we divorced. I had even started thinking about buying burial plots. The divorce forced me to leave. I couldn’t afford it.
Moving around as a kid, having an extremely small family I didn’t have a connection to a particular place, a place which felt like home. It broke my heart to leave Flower Mound.
My heart is seeking a place to call home, a place where I belong.
I long to live in a place which says goodbye to summer with bright flashes of color, deep scents of cinnamon, pumpkin and apple. I long to have a home where the windows let in a cool breeze for a night of refreshing of sleep. A place which offers a new experience for all my senses with the passing of each month. Will I ever be able to live in my wonderland?
I don’t know if you can tell from the photo but I’ve been sleeping on a very small and uncomfortable sofa for the last two days. I helped move my daughter to the LA area. I helped load the truck. I drove the truck and then helped carry boxes up to the second floor apartment. Thankfully she moved no furniture.
Without going into details the room she’s subletting and the apartment were filthy. She said, “Mom, how can people live like this?” I don’t know but working as a real estate agent a few years ago, I learned never to be surprised what was behind closed doors. So rather than unload the truck first thing, the next few hours were spent making the room clean enough to even begin. Once we unloaded the truck, I thought I had been hit by a semi. I don’t remember the last time I ached so much.
Then we ran a few errands including buying paint. When we returned I promptly set about painting the orange and blue room a soft gray. More unpacking and cleaning, finally crashing about midnight on the sofa.
The next day we made an IKEA stop, along with half of LA followed by Walmart then we set about assembling a bookcase. The room needed more cleaning. A lot was accomplished including cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning. Hopefully we will finish up today because I fly out of LAX this evening.
Maybe it’s the physical, emotional and mental fatigue which has caused the nightmares to return. They not only make for a poor night’s sleep but I awake feeling depressed and disheartened. I return to spend another week with my family and will go to chemo on Thursday. I will manage to see three high school friends before my cat and I hit the road again for two long days.
There is nothing I wouldn’t do for my daughters as long as I am able to help. I no longer have the ability to help financially even with anything small need. I wonder if their father, who acts as those they were never born, realizes he is missing out on the lives of two incredible women and the love of the three of us. Praying the nightmares leave so I don’t wake up feeling so down.
Oops I did it again. Yes, I moved. This is my 6th move in 4 years. I’ve slowly pared down my belongings although from the photos it doesn’t appear so.
I decided with this move to sell one huge reminder of my ex: our bed. It is a large four poster wood bed and I bought the small full size iron bed on Craigslist. Just waiting for a new mattress to be delivered. Now when I go to bed at night, there will be no visual reminders of the past.
When I do buy furniture I’ve always tried to find pieces which can be used in a multitude of ways. So my formal living room end tables are now night stands in my room. The small tables with drawers I bought at Hobby Lobby for my bedroom are now in the living area. The tall, narrow drawer chest has been moved from my bedroom to the kitchen. And the small armoire which went with my four posset bed is now in the guest room.
I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the boxes but reminding myself to be grateful to have such a problem. The heat and humidity aren’t helping the unpacking process but hard work and sweat never hurt anyone.
As much as I’d like a cool shower and a good book, I’m heading to the garage and another box.
My youngest told me today it was time to stop worrying about her and her sister and start to worry about myself. I wanted to laugh because most parents (except my ex) always have their children on their hearts and minds. I don’t worry per se, but I pray for them and if they are sick or feeling down I’m concerned. It’s like the moment your child is born as with goes on inside of you and you realize for the first time in your life what love really is.
I am doing my best to focus on rebuilding my life as I approach my next move. I’ve signed up to volunteer at a local theater. I’ve joined a few Meetup groups. I found out I qualify for a free senior checking account and a discount at the community recreation center. (Happy to save money but still difficult to realize how old I am).
It’s hot and humid here in central Texas. As I sweat or as a southern lady glisten my way through the day, I remind myself all that humidity is good for my skin and helps delay wrinkles!! I am privileged to grow old. Not everyone gets the opportunity.
This being my sixth move in four years, I decided it was time to find an easier way to determine where each box should go. I’ve tried writing on the boxes. I’ve used different color markers. I’ve purchased large white labels and wrote on the boxes. And while each helped some, I wanted a way to quickly look at a box and decide where I wanted it to go.
I bought duct tape in a variety of colors. Using a box cutter, I carefully sliced the tape down the center so it would provide me with narrower strips and twice as much tape. Then in a small notebook, I put a piece of each tape and labeled which room it represented. The living area is yellow. Christmas is black. Office/Craft room is white. You get the idea.
I’ve begun to move the boxes to my garage to get more organized and figure out what I have left to pack. With a quick glance I can tell where I need to place the box I am moving into the garage. And since I am having to downsize yet again, I will know which boxes will be headed to storage.
Colored duct tape is providing me with a simple visual clue to help organize my very unorganized and unsettled life. And right now any small thing which adds to my sense of peace and control, it a miracle from God
We read stories everyday of women that have been abused by a man. And sadly these women tend to repeat bad choices and go from one bad relationship to another. For anyone with a solid self-esteem and self-worth, it is incredulous that any woman would stay in such a damaging relationship. Here is something that so many people fail to understand; the abuser rarely walks in and begins the abuse immediately. There is physical abuse and emotional abuse. They go hand in hand but emotional abuse can happen without physical abuse. That is my story.
Why didn’t I share? I was embarrassed and ashamed. Slowly over time my sense of independence was destroyed. Over time the belief I was lovable was destroyed. Day by day comments, looks, turning things around so I would begin to question myself believing somehow I caused him to cheat and having my concerns being dismissed and ignored regularly created a complete sense of instability. If my ex-husband was home I was always tied up in knots because I was worried I wasn’t making him happy. When he was out-of-town I was tied up in knots because I worried about what he was doing. Should I have left years ago? Of course, but he didn’t reveal his true-self all at once. He did itslowly over time. Think of a bucket being filled by one drop of water at a time. It takes a long time before the bucket overflows. So don’t judge your friend who finds herself in my position. Listen to her. Don’t rebuke her for not leaving sooner. Hug her. Offer support anyway you can. Don’t exclude her because she is no longer a couple. And certainly do NOT remain friends with her abusive ex-husband.
If I could give advice to any woman who is living with a narcissist, it would be to read as much as you can about narcissism and how narcissists manipulate their victims. I would encourage her to find someone to share any secrets i.e. his cheating, his addictions, his crimes. Had I come forward the first time I found out what he was doing, I might have received support from my friends. However the shame he created in me, kept me silent. Silence is a killer. It kills your spirit. So speak up. Leaving is scary. I am facing homelessness at 56 because I was a stay-at-home mom and with no full-time work experience since 1984, I can’t get any business to take a chance on me.
Why do I write about this again? I write about this again because I can’t just dump the over-flowing bucket of abuse. It leaves as slowly as it came. Now I have a small hole in the bottom of the bucket and daily a little more of it drains out. It is just going to take time, a lot of time. Sadly I don’t have time when it comes to a job. While my ex enjoys a life in the lap of luxury, ignores his children and pretends he never destroyed lives, I work to survive and they learn to accept life as fatherless children.
Since relocating three years ago, I have been visiting churches. I’ve lost count of how many I’ve visited. They include churches of all sizes and denominations. I remember thinking my church (where I was involved prior to my divorce) was friendly and what I have learned is that friendly and inviting are not the same thing. Every church I’ve been to has some moment either before or during the service to greet the people around you. At a few churches no one has approached me. At most churches people shake my hand and say hello but that is the end of the moment. At only two churches have members taken the time to introduce themselves, ask a question or two about me and then invite me to join them in some additional activity. I even had a couple offer to walk with me to their Sunday School Class. I had a woman offer to pay for me to attend their women’s dinner when she find out I was unemployed. Guess which churches I liked the best?
Shaking someone’s hand and saying hello doesn’t cut it. It is difficult enough to walk into a church not knowing a soul, especially when you are alone. I remember being comfortable at my church and being involved. In the beginning I was great at seeking out and inviting new people to join me in Sunday School or a Bible Study or a women’s group or a family event. But over time, like most people, I became complacent. I am learning first hand how not reaching out beyond a handshake makes a visitor feel excluded and unwanted.
When you are busy chitchatting with your friends about an upcoming event, I am left standing there twiddling my thumbs praying the pastor hurries up and tells us to sit down. A visitor is a fish out of water. A handshake and hello does not invite them in for a swim. Now some of you may be saying I need to make an effort and just join a group. While that thought is nice in theory, in practice there are very few people that will actually on their own step out of their comfort zone and join a group. For most people just being brave enough to visit a church is placing them way outside their comfort zone. It is up to the church members to reach out and invite the visitors to experience their church on a deeper and more personal level. Don’t say to yourself, well we have a committee to do that. Or we have people that do a follow up call. It is the responsibility of every believer to try and make that connection.
So next time you have those moments to greet people or share the peace, take the time to get their name and find something out about them. If you don’t have time, make sure you get them before they walk out of the sanctuary. Invite them to something. Get their email, give them your email. Get out of your comfort zone and make your church not just a friendly place but an inviting place.
Recently I read about the misconnect that happens when middle-aged adults enter into the online dating scene. I can’t remember where I read it but it was completely accurate.
The premise is that for most of us the last time we were dating, we were significantly younger probably in our 20s. I know it is true for me. There was no computer dating options. Now when we sign up and go online our head says I’m young. Our heart says I feel young. The same is true for men and women.
So we look at the photos and groan. These are old men. These are old women. This could be my dad or granddad. This could be my mom or my grandmother. I can’t possibly be in this age group, let me double check. Ugh it’s true. These old people are my contemporaries. It bites. It’s frustrating because society (yes it’s true whether you like it or not) give men much more leeway when choosing a partner. Men can easily marry someone much younger with little to no comment and they can marry down educationally and economically with no one saying a thing. My ex is a perfect example. He has partnered down in age, economics and education. He can because he is a man and he makes a lot of money. As I’ve always told my girls you never see a young woman with an old poor man. Money talks. Especially when it comes to dating and remarrying later in life. I suppose if I made a lot of money I would have a slightly broader choice but society still keeps women in a narrower role.
If I were to marry a younger man who had no children, people would feel bad for him because he was giving up his chance for children of his own. If I married someone with less education and less money, I would hear she must be desperate. I know times change but change is slow and I don’t believe this will change until women can have children into their 50s and 60s. An old man can marry a woman of child bearing age and still give her a family. The reverse is not true. And please do not lecture me on invitro, egg donation, adoption etc. This is an orange to orange comparison not an apple to orange one.
So I wasted $75 to join an online dating site where I now have my profile hidden. And I expect it to stay hidden until I can connect my young mind and heart to the reality of my age.
I am a collector of books. Typically I read every book I buy but sometimes I buy a book that requires interaction. This summer I purchased the above Experience Passport from Chronicle Books. It gives 45 ways to broaden your horizon without going anywhere. Since my life circumstances have changed, it is unlikely I will be doing any extensive traveling again. I thought this looked like a way to have fun and push myself out of the cocoon I have created for myself.
Some of the suggestions are easier to accomplish than others but all will open up my life to new possibilities. You don’t have to do them in any particular order. I’ve done #2, #7 and #26. I will share some of the things I learn while using my experience passport. Care to travel with me?
#26 Favorite quotes from an award winning piece of fiction. I will share one quote from Still Life by Louise Penny.
“Life is change. If you aren’t growing and evolving, you’re standing still and the rest of the world is surging ahead.”