tales from the surviving straight spouse

we take a moment and breathe.

after a day of bullying, fighting, teachers disorganized – calling students names – I come home to the tutor from 4-5 – that is tricky because oldest son finishes dance class at 5…4 miles away during rush hour, son #3 finishes wrestling also at 5.  The tutor goes overtime by 10 minutes. Son#2 accidentally lets crazy puppy out.  Son#1 – 5:20 pick up, simple lecture from coach.  Son#3 5:40 – a more complicated “FYI” from coach. 

It is 5:45 now.  We head to son#3’s therapist for his final session (at this time).  We have 1 hour 15 minutes to get there.  I am sad that I have to do a fastfood dinner.  Then I realize I need to pick up son#2’s prescription at the doctor’s or the maws of hell will open in the am.

Traffic sucks.  We get the prescription and to the therapist’s town with 25 minutes to spare.  The entire time son#2 is speaking continuously.  Eventually everyone in the car is pleading for him to be quiet.  He laughs a simplistic giggle and keeps on talking. I dream of veering off the highway and floating into a dimension of peace and silence.

Instead, I must find food for them. My self loathing is increasing because they are not eating healthy. I turn into a Dunkin Donuts. “They have sandwiches here…lets get…”. “NO WAY, MOM” son#1 barks. I ask him to just pick something. He refuses. I tell him we don’t have time for this, he digs in his heels. When did they lose all respect for me? I pull out of the drive through line and continue on my way.

I wonder how many subconscious thoughts run through my brain that tear me down. I want to scream. Instead, I pull into a Burger King drive thru. I lecture on respect. I know it is moot.

I order nothing…too gross for words. I get yelled at for accidentally giving out the wrong sandwich. The wrestler son insists he is not hungry – really, not hungry after wrestling practice and nothing to eat since noon? (he didn’t eat breakfast this am either). While checking the order the guy behind me lays on the horn. I take off. Yes, son#2 is still talking.

We sit in the therapist parking lot. We are missing a fry, of course it is my fault. Wrestling son tries not to eat – his kids meal. He goes up to the office. We sit in the lot. Son#2 and #4 are fighting over who gets shot gun. I make sure they understand we are not going anywhere and that when we do seat assignments will change. Son #2 persists and asks for reassurance 15 more times in the next thirty minutes. I feel like crap. I go up to get son #3 from therapist office. He has something he needs to tell me. He wants to know when I will quit smoking. I tell him I just am not sure but will come up with a reduction plan. At this point I havent had a smoke in a few hours.

We stop at the pharmacy, drop off the script. Come home, do home work, showers, jammies and snacks. Run out to pick up the prescription because of the pharmacy backlog we could not wait earlier. Son #2 intermittently sucks his thumb and speaks to everyone within a five foot radius. I cannot keep it together.

I make it to the car. I text a friend for support. Son#2 tries to read over my shoulder. He asks 20 questions about my text in 5 minutes. I tell him to stop in a very firm voice. (God this is tedious to write…should we take an intermission??). He opens his phone and starts texting gibberish like crazy “I can text, too ya know. I know how. I can do it.” He is mad and trying to get under my skin. We just spoke about this 6 hours earlier.

I am reminded of the reading teacher lecturing him this afternoon about his text messages to her – looking exasperated with me for my son’s unavoidable short comings. I cannot maintain calm any longer. I explode as nicely as I can reminding him what text messages are for, what he is capable of. Just when I fear he will cry, he whisper, “Sorry, Mildred” and lays that honey sweet smile across my spirit. I am humbled by his perseverence.

It is 10:20. I am on empty – but we have the meds and kids are fed. I ask everyone to get to bed, apparently in Chinese since no one moves. I ask my wrestler to turn off the game, get a shower and get to bed. He looks at me and returns to his Skyrim quest as if I was invisible.

I speak the Chinese in a louder octave. Suddenly, they understand the Chinese. I also become the mean, unfair, unkind mom.

An hour later everyone is asleep. I am unfocused and hazey. Too charged to sleep. I breathe, be present and breathe again. I wouldn’t want any one else to be Mildred.

sometimes I just can’t do it.  It feels as if everytime a piece of joy comes my way, I believe that something will screw it up.  That “something” is usually me or the kids or DD. 

This fatalism is a wicked sister, she self fufills her prophecy.  Who, what, when told me in this life that it will always be a struggle, that nothing is what it seems?

My mother always warned me to stop being so naive, so open.  She was correct.  She also shielded me from the wicked desires of others.  She set me up to lose much.  She and my dad also showed me how to laugh how to find joy. 

Normal, typical are now and will be foreign.  Yes, living now in the moment works.  I can’t fool myself, though.  The road has been longer than I imagined and I am afraid to dream of the future. 

Those big dreams of motherhood and marriage burst rather violently into my psyche.  I am afraid to dream, sometimes.

I sit with a son who cannot control himself.  I live a life where I continuously struggle to make sense.  Tonight I am worn down and feel adrift. 

I cry like a immature baby.  I want to know why the fuck me?  and the answer is most assuredly, why the fuck not?

Let This Day Pass On

I couldn’t begin to tell you the swarm of emotions that flow through me right now.

Completely joyful, (heh) and completely ready to cry.  I guess I picked the right name for this blog.

If you came to this blog to read about life after divorcing a frustrated, self loathing, outward projecting, still closeted, very much Catholic gay man, well – JACKPOT.

I can’t say that the pain goes away completely.  I can say that with really hard work there are very sunny days and hope begins to dance on your doorstep.

How?  Everyone wants to know how do you heal and how do you move on.  If your DD is like my DD, the healing can be slow and tedious…the moving on is easy.  The strange contradiction is that it’s harder to move on when someone treats you nicely, but easier to heal.  DD’s continuous attempts to play cat and mouse with me has made it very easy to move on.  I have no lingering ‘what ifs’ or ‘sigh, I could have made this work.’   So, I moved on very quickly, but healing has taken much longer.

How to heal in 8 steps (yeah, right)

  1.  Discover Yourself, completely.  You know who you are and what you’ve been through.
  2. Don’t date just to feel wanted, want yourself first.
  3. Know the warning signs, so you don’t get fooled again.  Even if your next guy isn’t gay, obviously you are susceptible to deceit and trust me, they see you from a mile a way, as if they can hear your huge heart beating.
  4. If you fall again, that is the universe telling you to wait, find happiness in your solitude.  It isn’t time to pair with another.
  5. Be picky.  If anyone in your circle of friends and family begin to bring you down, continue to harp on how much you were fooled and used, provide ridiculous platitudes such as “I knew it from the very beginning”, or “How the hell did that happen”  GET AWAY.  Find your cave and decorate it with your love for yourself.
  6. Speaking of caves, turn your bedroom into your private paradise.  Paint, decorate, think and lay on your bed and smile, this is you, yours…throw out that old mattress of lies and humiliation and prepare to break in a new one.
  7. If you have kids, don’t trash your DD.  I KNOW, I KNOW, so incredibly tempting, especially if his evil ways seep into how he treats the kids, in hopes of making you miserable.  Be present to your children, be ready to answer their questions with fact, even if it is showing them your divorce papers (when they are ready).  They do come around to reality – be there to catch them as they drop.
  8. Find a way to laugh every day.

Most importantly, know that you are amazing.  I realize how hypocritical that is of me, since I struggle with seeing what I bring to the world, yet bolster others as often as I can.  The stress of your marriage could have killed you, but it didn’t.  Your best revenge is no revenge, it is allowing yourself to be loved again and allowing yourself to love another.

Happy Could-Have-Been 20th Anniversary to me, a confusing, swirling, swishing day.  I see something sprouting though, on the horizon and I wish that for you, too.

I Wish I was a Bitch

Last night I had the strangest dream.

I was living in the same house with DD.  Our youngest son was there and we were fighting. I had confronted him because his lawyer had told me that he had plans to stab me and I reminded him about duty to warn.  He pointed a shot gun at me and pulled the trigger.  Nothing happened.  Oh, how he laughed.  I told him it wasn’t funny.  I began to pack my bags and leave.  Our youngest son was crying so hard – I couldn’t take him with me, I wasn’t allowed.  When I was at my car, he came running out of the house, very sad and upset.  He had read a letter I had hidden for him and it opened his eyes to how evil he was.  He begged me to stay, saying he would stop being so awful.  I woke up, crying.

Today I received a note from DD requesting that I come to probation with him because they messed up alimony and child support.  His lawyer submitted 3 different court orders that each had to be corrected and refiled for probation to pay for alimony and child support.  His alimony and child support payments were 10-14 days late every payment since June – with one check bouncing.

I think of spending 3 years asking to change the child visitation and six years of asking for the alimony and child support checks.  Only once did he ever actually give me a check on his own – and that was in front of his sister who always was extremely rude to me.  I don’t know what that was about.  I think of our son with his shaved scrotum.  I think of our other son calling me in tears because he’s been left home with his big brother and no adult supervision – again!

I think of all of that and so much more and I wish I was a bitch.  He thinks I’m a bitch – why not just be one…

I’m not, though.  I am me.  I can be annoying, sometimes I talk too much or too loud.  I don’t always make the best intellectual connections that others seem to do so easily.

I will answer tomorrow night sometime.  That’s as bitchy as I can be.

I wish I could get that image of our youngest crying and him holding the shot gun to my chest out of my head.  Now, that is some crazy shit symbolism there.


Sometimes I get sick of me.

The same old story: DD, kids with special needs, snotty town – it becomes tedious, even for me.  My shit really does stink.

So I took a break.

Hi.  I’m back.  The fertilizer continues to propagate.

I saw the Mary Tyler Moore Statue.  I love friends who know that I know that we are so glad we found each other.  I am grateful and though the dance continues with a sickness that I try not to think about, I think overall life isn’t so bad.  Puppies, though piddling, make hearts grow.

Last week I got a call from son#3’s therapist – “I have blah blah blah open please call me back to confirm one of those dates.”

All of the dates are the week that ex husband has son#3 with him.  I text ex husband Son#3 has therapist on blah blah, can I pick him up and take him? no response for a week.

I get a call from the therapist, “I spoke with your ex husband and he is going to bring son#3 on Thursday at 6.  We decided that every other session would be with the other parent.  I hope that is okay with you.”  Of course this is okay!  I want his father involved.  I don’t want this to be about me.  She sounded nervous.  I hate to be paranoid – but I am sure that she is beginning to fall under the DD spell and start to doubt how anything could be wrong with this man.  I trust my supervisor, though and she highly recommended Ms. Peach.  I can only stay calm and focused.

I had to text DD, though:

you could have discussed with me the scheduling of son#3 with Ms. Peach.  I asked you last week about him and you ignored my text.  You don’t have to play games.  I know you need to, but I am doing this for son#3 because he asked – not for me or you.  

I’m not playing games, Ms. Peach insisted that she talk to u.

She told you to ignore my text?

No. She didn’t have the 8/14 @ 2 appt in her book.  I didn’t respond to ur txt b/c I knew I would be discussing all of this with her.  I’m sorry if my waiting to respond to u left u feeling slighted in some way.

Thanks. she didn’t have it in her book because I was waiting on you to respond to my text.  i thought we could talk to each other instead of through Ms. Peach.  If you prefer we can continue to go through her.

No response for a day.  Then this little gem:

I have to leave the house at 7:30 2mrw.   Would u like me to bring the boys over then or would it b easier for u if I brought them over 2nite?  I’m thinking 9pm.  I’d like to do what’s best 4 u.  Tx.

Amazing!  Suddenly he is thinking of me, how incredibly sweet.  It isn’t because he can’t get the boys up in the morning without a battle?  Is this the same man who just lectured his sitter for coming by my house with son#4 to get money I owed her?  Is this the man who said it isn’t appropriate for son#4 to come to my house when it isn’t part of the schedule?  Is this the man who has continuously ignored my texts as part of his games?

I forgot.  Last Friday I received a tearful call from son#4:  “Daddy left me home with big brother.  I don’t want to be home with him.”  I text DD and tell him that son#4 is very upset and it is inappropriate for them to be left alone.  DD calls me (can’t answer a text message)  He is extremely concerned that CPS will be called.    I told him not to worry.  I have given up.  I won’t be calling them any more.  I no longer have the fight in me.  I tell him that it is sad that I get phone calls like this.  DD has been told by so many people to stop leaving the boys alone.  As always, he is above the rules that most people view as logical and safe.

Last Sunday son#2 and son#4 told me that they were going to camp for a week this coming Sunday.  DD got on the phone and told me he had signed them up (without discussing it with me).  He also informed me that he was going to be away and that I would have to take them to camp.  It would never occur to him that perhaps I might have had plans with the boys.  I recall two weeks ago when son #3 was going to camp for two weeks.  I offered to DD to take him since they hadn’t seen each other for a week and he would then be away for another 2 weeks.   I try, seriously to be thoughtful and travel on that high road.

I have a nasty taste in my mouth.  It is the taste of defeat.  It is the taste of playing games.  I was free tonight.  I could have taken the boys, but I thought of all the times I’ve bowed to him.  I told him I had plans and I am up early anyways.  I reminded him to bring the camp gear.  Son#2 calls me in tears, “Daddy says  you aren’t taking us tonight because you have plans.  Don’t you want us to come over?”  I lose again.  It seems as if he manages to make me the bad guy with minimal effort.  I’ve dropped to the low road.  It stinks down here.


I start with a new therapist tomorrow.  Not for me, but for my 13 year old (son#3).  So much is weighing on him:

  • father who is gay, but pushing the Catholic Church agenda
  • older brother who can’t stop talking or apparently shaving parts of his body that have no business being shaved
  • parents who haven’t settled down into divorcehood
  • and the hormonic symphony of adolescence (cue Timpani)

I wish I could just travel with my own genogram and say “here you go, call me with questions.”  Instead I will tell the tale.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve told that tale.  I will hear the usual “Wow, that’s a lot” “Your sure do have a lot on your plate” or maybe just the blink blink and moving on the the next section.  It actually starts to get fun – cause it is a psychologist’s/geneticist’s wet dream. Then the “oh, shit this is a real person, not a case study” sets in and we get down to business.  How do we muddle through this shit and come out okay in the end?

July 3rd was my aunt’s 90th birthday.  She looked great!  We had a party at my brother’s house around the pool.  I stayed in the pool most of the time to avoid the family drama.

It worked out, until we sat down to eat.

“I wouldn’t go to Puerta Vallarta, it’s too gay.”

“How do you know it’s too gay?”

“Because of all the music they play there.  Gays love music”

A roar of laughter erupts.

“Yeah, I want a straight vacation.”

Son#3 looks at me from across the table.  His face is blank but his eyes show the hurt.

“Shall we swim?”

“YES!”  he jumps from the table and we get back in the pool.

He has medium brown eyes that express a lot, if only people would take the time to truly look into them.  Nobody makes time to really look at each other any more.  It’s as if there is a cursory examination – like searching a supermarket shelf for the exact brand and size of feminine product.  Have you been down those aisles?  Geez – too many choices!

“They forget your dad is gay,” I say.  “I’m sorry.”

“It’s not just that.  Why does it have to be so funny?  Why is it even discussed?”

“Because they ran out of bad things to say about Obama?”

Now, he is laughing.

I wish I could wash it all away.  I can’t though.  Tomorrow is Ms. Peach.

I hope she helps him make it to adulthood without too much resentment.

He is a key to tolerance.  His entire life is a lesson of tolerance.  I want him to know how awesome and unique he is.  I want him to learn to take his anger, expel it creatively and never let it fester inside.

That time of the month

I haven’t had a visit from Aunt Flow in about 5 years.  It’s okay.  I’ve got issues.

So when my son says, “it must be that time of the month” I want to laugh because that’s been ages – and he would know when I’m really having a hormone fluctuation.

Actually, he has no idea what he is really saying.  He saw it in a movie with his dad.  First he got mad at the baby sitter on Friday and he said it to her.  Then he got  mad at me today.  I was mortified.

They live a childhood divided, though.  “They” being my four sons.  I am told often “we can watch whatever we want at Dad’s” and “Dad always takes us out to dinner”

Tonight I blew it.  I did.  I yelled.

It was a very long day.  I was up at 6 to make sure that son #3 gets to his blacksmith apprenticeship at 8.  I have to get 2 of his brothers ready who struggle to get it together in the morning.  We stop for a quick breakfast on the way.  Then we go to the farmer’s market where I buy son#2 flowers to plant in his garden.  Then we go to the “Halo’s Farm” to buy juice.  Then we went to Goodwill where everyone got to pick something.  Then we go to Aldi’s (thank you Mz. P.) to buy groceries.  “Can I have this?” “Can we get that?”  “What about this?”  If I could get a monetary reward for artfully expressing the negative, I would be able to have someone shop for me.  Finally we stop at CVS because son#3 will be melting after working at the Forge all morning.

Then we went to my brother’s house for a pool party for my aunt.  She turns 90 this week.  It isn’t a big deal, but my family has gotten tired of having special needs relatives.  I don’t know how else to say it.  I have been told that I need to keep a good eye on son#2 because he “just asks so many darned questions and it is a bit much”   – not much relaxation at that party.

By the time we got home and I started cooking dinner, I was pooped.  I made a deal that if they didn’t like my dinner we could go out.  It was sweet potato fries, applesauce, carrot sticks and boca chicken pattis on deli-thins – not bad for a Saturday night and running around for 12 hours.  So, when son #1 began to complain that he needed to go to Memphis BBQ because Dad takes him there and son #4 pouted at the dinner…I had my say and a significantly increased volume.

Which was:

I won’t be compared to your father anymore.

I am not a bad mother because I cook dinner for you.

I say no, not just because I don’t always have the money – but all of you need to know that you can’t have everything just because you asked for it.  It isn’t how life works and I don’t want you to spend your adult life thinking it is unfair – I want you to love and appreciate what you have now.  

Love is not getting things or going out to eat.  Love is right here at this table and in this room.  

son#1 says “this is the better house, mom”

That’s not what I mean.  Your father and I both have a place in your lives.  I don’t want you to love me better or choose me over your father – I want you to understand that we both are important parts of your life.

I can’t fucking believe I am defending him.  I really am a bag of nuts.  Or maybe this is just wishful thinking – that he will be the father he should.  Oh, crap – doing it again – I just know it isn’t right to say – “You’re dad’s a fucking asshole and you may never get it.”  So I am sticking with the bipartisan post divorce statement.

I am sorry for the divorce.  I can’t change it.  I know it hurts and I know it seems unfair.  Regardless of what daddy and I are to each other, we are still you father and your mother.  We are both raising you to be good, polite, kind, healthy young men – I won’t stop trying.

I am sorry for yelling – but I am unable to keep it to myself anymore.

Five years.  That is what I see.  When son#3 turns 18, I move away.  Whoever wants to come with me, can.  Whoever wants to come visit for the summer, can.  I won’t spend anymore time or energy competing for something that has no winners.

Only one life — that is all I have and I am not going to keep living it like this.