Thursday, July 28, 2011

Filling the Holes

Six weeks after the big breakup XBF has officially removed all of his possessions from my house.  I told him to take his time but six weeks felt like a bit much.  It just felt like the longest.......breakup........ever.  Like for the past six weeks it was over but not over, you know?  So the point at which he was officially done moving was a big turning point for me.  

My house is mine again.  I didn't mind sharing it with him when he lived there...but sharing it with his stuff after he was gone, and having him come back twice a week to collect a few things at a time, it was hard.  I'm glad that part is over.

So the project of the day (week? month?), you know for the five minutes a day I'm neither working nor pulling weeds, is to rearrange things to fill in the holes.  I have walls that used to have pictures but now have only nails.  I have shelves that used to hold assorted memorabilia where now only holes in the dust remain.  I have one and a half empty closets!!!  I have neither the desire nor the money to acquire new things to fill in these holes, but the holes get on my nerves.  So I need to rearrange what I have to fill the empty spaces.

Oh yeah, I guess I should dust too.

This rearranging feels very symbolic of what I'm doing with my life in general.  When I got divorced I filled the hole that my marriage left with another relationship in fairly short order.  This time, as much as it feels like I'm filling the relationship hole with FREAKING YARDWORK....that's not really, entirely the case.  I'm expanding my relationship with The Boy...not always to his liking but it's tough to be him I guess.  And I'm hoping to expand my relationship with myself.  I need to spend a little time on me....working out, going for walks, spending time with friends, reading, becoming confident in home improvement projects and learning to ask for help when I need it, and even self-indulgent time-wasting things like sleeping in and watching TV in bed.  It feels like it's time to be a little nice to myself for a change.  The big work will be in making myself okay with that.  It's easy enough to sleep 'till 10 (I'm a pro at it, let me tell you).  The trick comes in not beating myself up for it for the rest of the day if it was something that I feel like I really needed to do.

Right now I feel like this being nice to myself stuff has to wait until after every last hole is filled and every last weed in every last flowerbed has died a slow and painful death, which would mean we'd be talking about mid-December-ish.  I'm working on convincing myself that every single thing doesn't have to be done before I can stop and take a breath.

So it's a balance between filing in the holes, killing the dispicable weeds, and stopping to breathe.  Balance is not something I'm especially good at.

But back to the holes...the holes need to be filled, though they don't have to be filled rightthisverysecond.  And I have to be very careful of what I fill them with.  Nature hates a vacuum, and it will tend to suck into it anything that happens to be passing by.  I need to be careful to fill my holes with good stuff, existing stuff.  Growing what I have to be bigger and better stuff.  And then, on down the road, should there be more stuff (pictures, knickknacks, a man); I will be more likely to gently and thoughtfully make room in my house and my life.

Today's lunch (filling my pie-hole, to stick to the theme) was a six inch Subway tuna sub on wheat.  Yum.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sneaking Up To The Grownups Table

In 20 minutes I have to leave my cozy, cool little house to go out into the 90 degree heat to meet my boss and one of my coworkers at the hotel up the street where my boss is staying.  The three of us will then drive to the home of the owner of our company to have dinner with the nine top people in our organization (the owner and my boss being two of those nine) and the other six people who work in my office.

I'm nervous.  I've never been to the owner's house before.  I hear it's beautiful and it's right on the lake.  Six of the top nine are in from the east coast and, while I talk to all of them by phone on a regular basis, I still feel very much like a kid trying to sneak unnoticed up to claim a seat at the grownups table on Thanksgiving.

I wonder if I'll ever feel successful?

I am working in my career of choice...well OK never has a six year old said "Mommy, when I grow up I want to be a Payroll Manager"...but the fields of Princess, Ballerina, Country Singer and Freelance Writer are highly competitive so about ten years ago when I fell face first into a Payroll Manager job I made a very conscious decision to make a career out of it.  Prior to that I had job-surfed, wearing the hats of Secretary, Office Manager, Administrative Assistant and Accounting Assistant to name a few.  So when I found myself doing a job where I wasn't primarily responsible for making someone else look good, I decided to stick with it.

And when I lost that job six years later, I agressively searched for another one in the same field.

So there is some success in just the fact that I AM working in my field of choice.  I have worked in this field for a bit over a decade, I have earned professional certification.  I'm a CPP.  Certified Payroll Professional.  It's a real thing.  Honest.  Look it up.  I was hand picked by my former boss to be the first Payroll Manager in their growing company, and I have built a successful one-and-a-half person department from scratch.  I am responsible for making sure 1,700 people get a paycheck every two weeks.  This is no small feat.

And in spite of my ability to toot my own horn, and the fact that my boss makes me look at an amature at it, I still feel like everyone else is all grown up and successful and I'm...I don't know....lucky?  Faking it?  I don't know.  I'm asking!  Is this typical?  Do we all feel this way?

Five years ago I got divorced.  I bought my ex husband out of the house we had built together.  I have kept the house for my son, so that he can reach maturity in the only home he's ever known.  Stubbornly, to my own detrement at times (like now) but successfully I've done this.  But even to this day, when someone says I have a nice house, I think to myself that it's thanks to my ex husband.  It's MY house...I need to start just saying "thanks" and feel some pride in the fact that I am a single mother who owns a four bedroom colonial on an acre and a half of land.  I deal with the headache of it, and there IS plenty of headache that comes with it, I should allow myself to feel the pride.

But why do I do this?  Why do I have such a hard time seeing my successes, when it seems easy for other people to see them.

I need to work on that.  Meanwhile, though, it would be good if I wasn't late.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A View of my Bellybutton

Every summer, as part of the divorce agreement, The Boy spends four weeks with his dad.  We don't do this all in one stretch, I would miss him too much.  We split it up over the summer in ways that is convenient for us parents.  Week one was scheduled around a business trip I had planned, which I had to cancel in the wake of XBF's departure.  As difficult as that week was, and the empty house made it a bit scarier, it was a blessing that I didn't have to try to appear stronger than I really was, and The Boy didn't have to watch his mother disolve into a puddle of snot on a daily basis. 

Week two was last week.  A couple of friends expressed concern, wondering how I would deal with being alone.  I assured them that I would be fine.  I was too busy not to be.  And the early part of the week was a whirlwind of yardwork and post-funeral duties and catching up on work at the office that got behind due to the funeral planning.  It was nice to just be able to re-heat the food a friend had brought me because of my mom's passing, throw my single dish in the dishwasher and move on to the next task at hand without making conversation and being, you know, a Mom.

Toward the end of his stay with his dad I found some spare time, which was not necessarily a good thing.  I had been wishing for a breather, looking forward to sitting in my big comfy chair with my dog on my lap (I feel I've been such a neglectful, absent doggy mommy lately) and just watch some mindless TV.  I did all of that, but the momentary lull in the schedule allowed a few sharp pieces of reality to stab their way into my consciousness.  It was painful, and perhaps a bit soon, but they had to get in there one way or another, so maybe it's for the best.

During the more introspective times (I am, after all, an olympic level, grand champion naval-gazer) I found myself feeling.......adrift.  The best way to describe it is to recall an article I read years and years ago on the subject of rules.  The expert author assures us that children not only need rules, they WANT rules.  And to a child, life without rules feels similar to if you or I was to walk through a door, expecting to walk into a room, but instead found ourselves with no floor beneath us, no ceiling above, no walls surrounding us.  It would be a scary thing. 
That is how I was feeling, but the issue wasn't really lack of RULES.  I was LOVING the lack of rules, the ability to close my curtains and buy junk food and watch what I want on TV and use the overhead light in the living room instead of the lamps on the end tables and...well I could go on and on but sufficed to say that I was enjoying some freedom to do things that I wasn't exactly FORBIDDEN from doing, they just weren't worth the fight...and now I can have them and do them with no fight....those are rules I do not miss.

What I felt I was lacking, was a job.  I mean I have a J.O.B., a career actually, (and thank God for it on a daily basis) and heaven knows I have plenty to do with the oversized house and the loathsome yard that surrounds it, but if you look at all of the things that fill our days, and separate out the difficult, less than pleasurable me, those are all "jobs".  Everything from going to work to going to the bank to going to the grocery store.  Everything from maintaining the house to maintaining the yard to maintaining relationships.....and THAT is a job that I have lost.

And let me tell you folks, that was a was a 


...that doesn't quite cover it, but I don't know how to add flashing lights and dripping blood to the letters so you'll just have to use your imagination.

I have been consumed with trying to "make the relationship work".  And after a couple of years of banging my head against that brick wall...the sudden absence of that brick wall caused me to not only, quite unexpectedly but thankfully temporarily, fall on my face...but the sudden lack of BANG BANG BANGing has left a ringing in my ears that almost drowns out the silence.  I find myself sitting among the rubble and bricks, a halo of cartoon stars whirling around my head, the sound of tweeting birds in the background, and thinking "now what?"

Before I had to answer that question, The Boy came home.  And now I can focus on him.  In this parenting gig, it's a very slippery slope between not enough attention and too much.  Between neglect and smothering.  When SHOE THREE dropped I had to fight the screaming parental urge to lock him in his room and never let him out because I was convinced that anything bad that could happen to me WAS happening to me and I was TERRIFIED about his safety....certain that the next time he left the house a bolt of lightening would reach from the blue, clear summer sky and strike him down only because I love him so much. 

The Boy is sixteen years old.  To paraphrase a line from a movie that I can't quite put my finger on at the moment.....there's nothing a sixteen year old boy likes more than spending time with his Mom.  Ok...there's nothing he DOESN'T like more...and I do realize that.  But I'm trying to build a man out of a boy here and that is a JOB in itself.  And I feel fortunate to be able to more clearly focus on the task at hand, and to be able to do it in a way that I, with the input of his father, feel is correct without being told over and over and over again about how every single freeping thing I'm doing is wrong.  Another brick wall my head does not miss.

So this past week has been spent chauffering him to appointments and investigating home schooling (he's not interested) and working side by side in the yard and forcing him to come home from his friend's house long enough to share a meal with me and say "How was your day?".  Tonight I am sparing him from having to share food or oxygen with me.  I have yardwork to do and a friend who is willing to help me so he's off the hook.  But he WILL go to a movie with me this weekend, and we will help each other rearrange our bedrooms.  We will fight and he will drive me crazy and I will certainly return the favor. 

It will be awesome.

And then I will let him go have fun for a while.
And come Sunday afternoon week three with his dad will begin.  Hopefully I can spend the week accomplishing some things around the house and learning how to relax without trying to see too far into the future...or into my belly button.

Today's lunch:  Panera Asian Sesame Chicken Salad, whole grain baguette, flower cookie.  A work lunch which I dind't have to pay for.  Free food is always good.  And SO yummy.   The flower cookie is a seasonal thing.  It's your basic miraculously wonderful panera shortbread cookie, with frosting and sprinkles.  It is the proverbial unicorn farting rainbows and glitter. It's wonderful wrapped in scrumptious wrappe in oh em gee. You can't get better than that.  But when I first heard about it I thought it was a FLOUR cookie...and I was reminded of this joke.

Woman:  You don't pay any attention to me, you barely KNOW me.
Man:  Baloney.  I know plenty about you.
Woman:  Ok....tell me....what is my favorite flower???
Man:  Um.....Pillsbury??

Saturday, July 9, 2011


I wrote something here.  It made NO SENSE.  So I deleted it. 

I guess I should sleep.

But I wanted to say I'm not as hopeless and pathetic as I was last night. 

G'night my friends.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Four Weeks

Four weeks ago he left.  Many of his things are still here.  The detangling of our lives is not nearly complete.  I did say"take your time" after all.

But it's been four weeks and I'm still alive.

Most days I'm fine.  I'm good.  I'm....well I won't say I feel strong, because I usuallly don't.  I have moments of strength, punctuated by stark, blinding terror.  But I'm learning to live with the push it to the back of my mind and go about my day so that for all intents and purposes I AM FINE.

But nights like this.....these nights are hard.  Nights like this it's hard to remember that I only miss the man I WANTED him to be.  I miss what I thought was going to happen some day. 

I guess I miss having hope.

Five years of my life, blindly believing that things would work out.  Every time he said "You're stuck with me" I believed it.  Maybe he did too. 

I won't say it's five years wasted, because I have The Girl.  Not like I used to, but she's still part of my life, and I thank God for that.  Literally. 

Yeah, me and God, we're recently acquainted. 

I came across a Christmas card today.  My last from him.  It was three weeks after I had surgery and apparently he was quite fond of me back then because he wrote in it the sweetest things anyone had ever written to me.  All about how, while I was being operated on, he realized how empty his life would be without me.  When I found it today, I couldn't even read it.  I just gently put it in the trash.  If I read it I will either read it as lies, or if I see it as the truth I will not be able to bear the thought that a man could love me that much and six months later just leave.  And I simply can't imagine there will ever be a time whe reading it, just SEEING it won't cut my heart to shreds.  So I really have no choice but to throw out the sweetest thing that was ever written to me. 

Sorry guys, I don't have a happy ending for this post.  I'm going to bed.  Maybe there will be some happy tomorrow. 

But here's a poem.  I didn't write it.  But I feel like I could have.

After A While
By Veronica A. Shoffstall

After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn
that love doesn't mean leaning
and company doesn't always mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren't contracts
and presents aren't promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman,
not the grief of a child
and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow's ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down
in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every goodbye, you learn...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Shoe Three.

I'm sitting here in my home office...ok to be honest I'm sitting at my desk in what is otherwise the room I keep my dogs in at night....and I'm looking at the piles of stuff I should be dealing with. Two weeks worth of coupons that need clipping, receipts that need filing, bills that need paid and other assorted papers which need other assorted shuffling.  But I don't wanna do any of that.  So I'll do this.  It is, after all, lunch time.

If you've been reading BlogOverLunch through the past month you know that my child support got cut almost in half, seriously impairing my ability to do things like, you know, buy food and make my house payment.  Shortly after that my boyfriend left me, further impairing the ability to survive finacially and delivering a paralyzing emotional blow.  In the wake of those two events I still felt like something else was coming.  I was waiting for another shoe to drop in spite of the fact that two resounding thuds had rocked my house to its core.

Well...turns out I was right.  My tormentor, be it the devil or anti-karma (I SWEAR I'm a good person..ask anybody...ok ALMOST anybody), whatever psychic, cosmic, plasmic entity has been tormenting me these last few weeks has three feet...and the third shoe dropped the morning of June 29th when my mom passed away.

My mom and I weren't close.  We saw each other on Mother's day, Christmas, Grandparents Day.  This past year, the first in probably ten years, she even called me on my brthday.  When we talked it was strained.  Always about what she ate the last night or about something one of the aides in the nursing home said.  She had no interest in what was going on the life of her only child or grandchild.

But all of that said, she was my mom.  I didn't want to see her suffer and even though I would prefer to die than to live how she's lived the last four years, it was hard to deal with her passing. 

The ordeals of this past month have all morphed into one, long, surreal drama which I am eager to leave behind me.

So yesterday I buried my Mom.  That's what people say anyway.  I laid a flower on her casket, the people at the cemetery did the actual burying.

Through all of this, since XBF left and especially since my Mom passed, I have found that I have four types of friends.  Yes, I'm a labeler.  Feel free to label me as such.

I have a couple of friends who I always believed would be there for me no matter what, and these two have not let me down.  I don't want to think about how horrible these past few weeks would have been without these two wonderful women. 

I have several friends who haven't been super active in my life over the past few years, we just stay on each other's radar through Facebook and email, but in this time of need they have emerged to be as strong and loving and supportive and wonderful as I remember them to be back when we saw each other all the time.

I have one friend who I had not seen but a handfull of times since High School.  I haven't cooked since my mom died thanks to her, and I hear there is more food on the way.  She has been a wonderful source of strength, musical advice and spiritual guidance, and I hope to count her as a friend for a long time to come.

So these ARE the times when you find out who your friends are.

Oh and the fourth group.  These are the people who I hoped would be there for me, but weren't.  I'm not talking about the friends who were out of town or recovering from surgery or dealing with their own grief over recent losses or couldn't get off work.  I'm talking about people who, were the tables turned, I would have been there for them even though it might have resulted in uncomfortable moments for me, but they weren't there for me, and have offered no explanation as to why, leaving me nothing to think except that I had misjudged their friendship.  Maybe this is just evidence that, if the tables WERE turned, my support wouldn't be appropriate and my friendship wouldn't be appreciated.  Maybe these people never really were my friends, and I'm just stupid in thinking they ever were.

But, if that's the case, then I haven't lost anything, have I? 

It's a realignment of sorts I suppose.  A by-product of hard times like this.  People you thought were just aquaintences prove themselves to be true friends, and people you thought were true friends prove to be just aquaintences.  And in the end, I guess it's a good thing to know.

I gotta of my friends just brought me ice cream.