The Other Woman

4

Heartbroken

I recognize your body

Am familiar with your face

I know the way you look and feel

And know the way you taste

***

I have watched you sleep beside me

Your bag perched beside the bed

I accepted what was offered

Though it was never said

 ***

Stolen moments, chances taken, secret rendezvous

Too few hours to fall in love

A secret world created for two

A gossamer cloud from above

 ***

Questions never answered

Even fewer questions asked

Too many painful goodbyes

A fake smile hiding my face like a mask

***

I never knew your other life

And you knew even less of mine

An unspoken rule between us

About walking that fine line

***

Now looking back after the end

I know we did not even exist

Like a brilliant dream about “Happily Ever After”

We completely vanished into the mist

 ***

 Over before it began

Emotional Cutting

Emotional CuttingI am an emotional cutter.

I spent yesterday haunting the places we used to love; feeling his spirit, sensing his smile, knowing his warmth, and missing him more than ever.

At first, when I went into The Silver Peak, I felt a vague sense of familiarity; we had been there so many times before.  We would sit on the patio and laugh across the table over plates of hummus, pita bread, olive tapenade (although, truth be told, he hated the olive tapenade), and endless glasses of white wine.  We hosted co-workers through crises, drunken spiels about their love lives, and the odd quirkiness of their personalities.  The Silver Peak was our place.

However, last night was entirely different; it was cold and crisp.  The tables that usually graced the sidewalk were packed away and completely out of sight; I sat at the bar alone and ordered the chicken tacos, not the Greek Sampler.  I ordered a Malibu Press, my current signature drink, instead of “our” bottle of white.  The crowd was entirely different, too; it was younger, hipper, or was I just feeling so damn old that I they appeared young.

I passed the time talking to the bartender and two young men at the end of the bar; they confirmed the crowd was altered.  Years before, the establishment was filled with lawyers and professionals from the downtown office buildings; now, artists, beatniks, and tourists filled the restaurant and crowded the bar.  Nevertheless, it did not matter, it was not my place anymore, I was infringing on a memory, and I was a ghost.

My quest to torture myself did not end with one slice across my flesh; I walked up the street and meandered through the smiling vacationers, sinking into my memories.  I paused in front of Rum Bullions, picturing him sitting with my daughter on her 21st birthday, smiling, laughing, and socializing.  The overhead music was Nickelback, some sentimental song that always makes me think of him; I stood frozen in front of the giant mining structure in the middle of The Silver Legacy.  Would the pain ever end?

Apparently, not anytime soon; I walked into the last place I should have been, Bistro Roxy.  I sat at the bar and ordered one of the 102 martinis they have on the menu; it was all I could do to choke back my tears as I sat swirling the sweet liqueurs mixing in my glass as I listened to the piano thinking of him.  The crowd was fun and lively, but it was too old, it was not our crowd.  The drink was the same, too sweet, too sticky, too expensive; he would have known which one to order for me… he always got it just right.  But the rest of it was all wrong; the people were too old, the bartender was too dull, my mood was too dark, and he was not there.

I should not have gone there, to our places; but returning to a town where we fell in love, there is not one place without his fingerprints, his smile, his smell, him.

The cutting continues today as I listen to Pandora… Michael Buble, Nickelback, James Blunt, even Trans-Siberian Orchestra (in February?) all so diverse, but each one of them is us, is him.

Broken Promises

imagesI am usually not one to ask for anything; or to believe somebody when they tell me they are going to give something to me, I simply did not have the kind of life where silly dreams and fantasies turned out to be true.  Promises, to me, were something somebody told you to get you to do what they wanted you to do; perform a task, have sex, stay with them, it didn’t matter, it was all the same to me.  I typically did as I was asked, I was compliant and submissive.

One year, after reuniting with my ex-husband, he wanted me to lose 90 pounds; he told me I was fat and it was unattractive.  Acceptable; I was fat, and, it was unattractive.  However, it was painful to hear; and incredibly difficult to lose the weight. I had packed on the pounds through a variety of bad habits, unhealthy eating, too much alcohol, and four years of 27 different medications to control my multiple diagnoses of mental illness.

Finally quitting the prescription meds, since I was more suicidal than ever, I thought I might be able to get control of my weight.  It didn’t hurt with Hitler as my coach; I had to weigh myself in front of him every day, and email him a food journal of every calorie I ate.  Additionally, I started a rigorous schedule of working out beginning at 4:30 every morning, on my lunch hour at work, and then again after work.  All sans gym membership.

Day by day, I saw my weight drop; and in less than a year, I was down 90 pounds and had surpassed his goal for me by 15 pounds.  Along the way, he had offered me little incentives to help me.

The biggest one was a “boob job”; not as if I had ever thought of one before, but when he presented it to me, I accepted.  He always complained about my “too large” breasts; I had 36DDD, and he preferred an A cup.  Even when I weigh 120 pounds, my chest is far larger than it should be for my frame; as a runner (before the unfortunate period of the 11 foot surgeries in 3 years) it was challenging, to say the least.

He offered a reduction if I met a goal of 135 pounds; apparently believing I would never meet the goal.  When I exceeded his goal by 15 pounds, I asked him about his promise, his response was a flat, “I was never going to spend that kind of money on you.  It was just a way to get you to lose weight.”

So it goes, so it goes.

Never mind the fact that I made at least as much as he did, and I believe about $10,000 more; or the point that he had bought a motorcycle for $8,000, wrecked it one day at a “track day”, bought another the day he was laid up for $8,000, (all cash), and spent 10’s of thousands of dollars day-trading, all lost.  I never said a word.

Broken promises.  Needless to say, I am not a fan.

 

Three Things I did Right as a Mother – the Challenge

imagesRecently, a reader posted a challenge to me to write about three things I did right as a mother; I honestly did not think it was going to be so difficult, however, I can think of two things fairly easily, but the third one is going to be a challenge.

As my children have fairly unique names and I would not want anybody to read this allowing it to get back to them, as they are already embarrassed by me enough, I will call them X and Y; X being 15 months older than Y.

***

One

When X and Y were around 2 and 3, I took a part-time job working two days a week for a manufacturing plant working in their company store.  The plant was extremely progressive boasting an on-site daycare or I never would have taken the position since it was mostly a wash on my salary.

Both of the girls hated going to the daycare; they were used to our days together of playing in the parks, water coloring, or going to the library or free museums.  I took advantage of anything free in our small community; as we lived on an incredibly tight budget.

A few months into my new work experience, the receptionist was terminated; the plant manager asked if I could step in while they looked for a replacement.  This would mean full-time daycare for X and Y, but it also meant a full-time paycheck; at least for a few weeks.  I had not worked since I had been a teenager, so I was excited but apprehensive; still, I accepted.

My two-week stint as the replacement receptionist turned into a full-time gig and I became the receptionist permanently.  The girls were miserable; frankly, we all were.  The extra money turned out not to be very much by the time daycare was taken out of my meager entry-level salary; and, I missed so much work because the girls were constantly sick from the daycare exposure.  I still had to pay all of those days, though.

I was exhausted, too; I worked all day and then still came home and prepared full meals from scratch every night for the three of us, and sometimes four if my husband was home.  I was still responsible for the cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping as well; not to mention the entertainment schedule for X and Y.

One day, while driving home from work, I was just too tired to make dinner; Y was a little older than three by then.  I decided to stop by McDonald’s and buy the girls the famed Chicken Nuggets; they had never eaten there.  Take-out was a luxury we couldn’t afford, but I decided we had a little extra money by then, so what the heck.

When we arrived home, I spread the food out on the table and tried to make it exciting for the girls with the tiny plastic toy that came with their meal.

Both girls just glared at me; however, it was Y who got up from the table and got a cookbook out and brought it to me begging, “Mommy, can’t you please just make a recipe?”

Their entire lives we rarely ate fast food; even years later when I remarried and we could clearly afford to.  I cooked for them every chance I could, trying to teach them it was better for them, and showing them I loved them with what I made.

Years later when X and Y were 19 and 20 and I lived thousands of miles away, Y called to tell me she was helping X move to a new apartment.  “Mom,” she spoke into the phone, “I just looked into X’s freezer.  She has all kinds of frozen meals in here.  Pizza, all kinds of junk.  Do you know she eats out at fast-food places all the time?”

I was stunned, I didn’t know what to say, “Y, I am thousands of miles away, and she is an adult, what do you want me to do?”

“I don’t know, Mom,” she replied, “Talk to her, we weren’t raised this way.  It’s wrong.  I make everything from scratch.  I could teach her if she needs me to.  She is just being lazy.”

I had no answers for her and she finally hung up the phone on me.

***

Two

When X graduated from high school, I took her on a trip to Minnesota to go to the Mall of America; everybody said, “Oh, you have to go, once in a lifetime shopping trip.”  Wrong.  Basically, it is a huge mall with several of the same stores over and over again.  Besides, I have no idea what I was thinking, as we are not really people who shop for no reason; I do not window shop, and I did not raise my children to aimlessly mill around if they were not purchasing something.

Still, we were there for five days; so we made the best of our time in the area.  We did go to the mall twice.  Once we were there for four hours and another time we went back for three hours.

The rest of our time in the area we went sight-seeing; we went to an old historic battleground, Fort Snelling something or other; we went to a castle; we went on a Mississippi River boat cruise; and we went to several museums.  Our days were filled exploring the city.

One of the best nights we had was going out to a fancy dinner where we delighted in paying $8 for a glass of tap water, and $10 to park our tiny rental car blocks away from the restaurant.  We enjoyed each other in a way we hadn’t in months.  She had been a pain since turning 18 and deciding she no longer had to follow the house rules; needless to say our home had been tension filled.

There was a lull during our trip when I turned to her and apologized for the trip not being as exciting as I had hoped; it seemed it was a little more boring than expected.  I was happily surprised by her response, “Mommy,” she has always called me Mommy, “You raised us to never be bored.  Only boring people can be boring, I am having a great time, thanks for bringing me.”

We went on to talk about what life was like when she was little; how I often times had to do so much with so little, making everything from scratch.  We laughed about how I would buy sheets from the thrift store for $0.50 and make matching outfits for her and Y.   We talked about how I made Barbie Doll clothes one year for them for Christmas, and how challenging it was to sew them because they are so tiny.

She seemed really appreciative, until our flight was cancelled; then she flipped out and became hostile at the airport, but that is an entirely different story.

***

Three

On December 31, 1994, X and Y’s dad came to me and said, “I don’t want to do this anymore.  I don’t want to be a dad or a husband.”  With that, he took two boxes of his things and drove away.  I later found out he had a 17 year-old girlfriend who was pregnant with his baby; he was 27 and we had been married for 7 years.

I moved in with my parent’s two states away; I immediately got a job and applied for college.  Other than my brief foray as a receptionist, I had not worked since I was a teenager; but I did not have a choice now.  My future ex-husband never sent a dime to support X and Y from the moment he walked out the door.

A few months after he left, he called and wanted to reconcile; we had gone back and forth as teenagers, but I was done playing games, I just couldn’t do that now that X and Y were in the picture.  As soon as I declined, he started to get nasty; the police showed up at my parent’s with a warrant for my arrest for kidnapping my children, and I had to get an attorney to defend myself.

As the months wore on, the fight got uglier, but I continued working and going to school; all the while, trying to maintain as much normalcy for X and Y as I could.  When their father would call, he would start to curse and tell them ugly things about me, so I would gently take the phone and hang up; leaving them in tears.  They were still very young, Y was just turning 5 and X had turned 6 by the time our divorce was finalized.

By the time everything was over with him, he never voluntarily paid anything for their support.  As soon as the child support order went into effect, he quit his job; so his unemployment was garnished and the kids did get something until it ran out.  After that, they would get checks for $2 to $0.32 for the next few years; then three years after the divorce, he finally terminated his parental rights.

My second husband adopted the girls and their biological father rarely saw them afterwards.   He simply was not a very good father; he did not provide financially, and when he saw them or spoke to them, he was high and belligerent.

However, during all those years, I never spoke one demeaning word about him.  I always believed the girls had a right to determine who he was on their own, that it was not my place to run him down.  I felt if I had issues with him because he was not right for me, I did not have to burden them with my bad feelings; that would serve no purpose for them.

I think that is something I did right.

Door Number Two

Even though I met my second husband when he was 16 and working for my first husband

Door comparison

Door comparison (Photo credit: Daveybot)

in a fast-food restaurant at the time, I clearly did not make an impression on him.  He was the best friend of my younger brother; he soon became very close to the entire family, embracing the moniker “Camaro Chris” to distinguish him from my brother-in-law “Big Chris”.

My husband, children and I soon moved over 700 miles away and would only come back for brief visits, so I did not see him after that, and he apparently forgot about me, even forgetting my brother had another sister.  For the entire time he knew my family, my brother, both of my sister’s and my older sister’s family all lived in the same house with my parents.  Additionally, my parent’s house was peppered with wall to wall pictures of family; in the living room there were three graduation pictures, my older sister, my brother, and my younger sister.  Then, every square inch of the rest of the living room and all down the hallway the dusty paint did not even show through for the pictures lined up one after another of my brother, sisters, brother-in-law, parents, niece, and nephew.  There was not a solitary picture of me or my family; not for lack of their existence.

So, when my first husband and I separated on December 31, 1994, and I arrived in Reno at the beginning of February, 1995, I was sitting on the couch, when in walks this young man of 20, almost 7 years my junior.  “Hey, who are you?” he asks me boldly, sitting down on the couch like he owned the place.

I was stunned.  He looked exactly like he had when he was 16; long hair, almost to his waist, thin, and smoking a cigarette.  “Uhm, I’m Jimmy’s sister,” I replied, using my brother’s boyhood nickname that he hated; I am the only one in the family who refuses to call him James, something he has insisted on since his voice changed around the age of 13.

“Wow.  That’s weird.  I didn’t know James had another sister,” came his response.

Looking around the house I could see how he might feel that way.  Still, if he had paid any attention four years earlier, he may have known that there was another sister; perhaps I should have been a little more put off than I was.

It was not long before we started spending a lot of time together, flirting, talking, staying up all night chatting as he worked on his car; I was lonely, and he was shy.  He didn’t date a lot and I had just been dumped by my husband of seven years, so it felt good to have some attention.  We dated for several months; then, it was going to be his 21st birthday and I thought I would treat him to a special dinner at his favorite steakhouse in town.

He picked me up and we made small talk as we drove to the restaurant, for some reason I was still nervous when we went out; we had been dating for several months, but we had not been intimate, we were taking things slowly.  I ordered wine and appetizers, he had iced tea, he does not drink at all.  Right before our dinner came, we started to talk about our relationship for some reason; his exact words to me, “You are actually a lot older and heavier than who I would typically date.”

I believe in being honest with people, I have always been known as somebody who does not mince words, and everybody always knows where they stand with me; but, there is a time and a place.  For him, the time would have been before we started dating, and the place would have been anywhere but there.  I stood up, placed enough money on the table to cover the entire bill and walked out of the restaurant, heading toward the door.  He sat there for quite some time because he found me across the street walking the direction of the five mile walk home.  Eventually, he talked me down off of the proverbial ledge and gave me a ride home.  Somehow, we recovered and continued dating after that.

In retrospect, I should have walked away that day and never looked back, as that them reverberated throughout my marriage to him like a sonic boom.  Years later when my weight ballooned and we had been separated for three years, he came to me and said, “You have to lose the weight, it just isn’t attractive.”  I accepted it with as much grace as I possibly could, it hurt, but he was right.  I lost over 90 pounds in less than a year, and I was proud of myself.  What was a little bit more difficult to take was having to step on a scale in front of him every day, and still going out to ice cream parlors, ordering pizza, and going to the movies while he and the girls ordered popcorn, all while drinking only water; sometimes it just felt cruel.

Even after losing 90 pounds and the rest of my family started to call us “The Skeletor Family”, he would still say “You need to tone up some”.  I was working out three times a day and we could not spare the $30 a month for a gym pass so I worked out in the Nevada cold, snow, and wind 365 days a year.  When I would ask about the gym, while earning over $50K a year, less than he did, it was just not a priority.

The final straw should have been when he would constantly comment about young girls that were 18, 19, and 20; my bruised ego from being left for a 17 year-old in my first marriage had never healed.  I thought, I can lose as much weight as possible, starving myself and working out like an Olympian, but I will always be almost 7 years older than you.

That night at the steakhouse was the beginning of the end.  It should have just been the end.