Sunday, August 25, 2013

where the chips fall

dear slt,

once upon a time, a long time ago, there lived a grandmother who loved her granddaughters more than anything in the world.  over a period of time, she became concerned with how her own son treated her granddaughters--losing his temper, yelling at them, sometimes so loudly and so frightfully, that her oldest granddaughter would cry so hard she would throw up.  her son would make her granddaughter sit there frozen, she dared not move, because he was so angry with her for spilliing her [grain of rice, soymilk, fill in the blank].  One time, she was at the house and her son became so infuriated with her granddaughter that he locked her in the bathroom, with the lights off, and with no windows, the room became a pitch black cell.  Her granddaughter wailed in fear, but he would not relent, until finally his wife opened the door and held their daughter, trembling and sobbing.

About this time, her daughter-in-law had become concerned with the grandmother's son's temper and the escalation of events--with the birth of their second child, she realized things were getting worse rather than better. he began to throw things, break things, stomp on toys and shatter them, the children were getting kicked, pushed, shoved, the puppy was getting thrown against the wall.  she asked the grandmother if, and only if, one day, should she and her husband not be able to overcome these anger outbursts together, if the grandmother would still allow her to bring the granddaughters to visit.  the grandmother said, 'of course!' as if it would be the easiest thing in the world...

a year later, the grandmother told the court reporter that her husband used to beat her children, and broke her wrist in fits of rage.  she said that he was hard on the children, but it wasn't a domestic violence sort of thing.  she said she was concerned with her son's temper and agreed he had trouble containing his anger.  a few months after that, she was in the hallway in the courthouse, making fun of how the soon to be ex wife said her granddaughters name.  she was whooping it up and laughing and joking, as if waiting for a concert or at a picnic, or anywhere else that was not the hallway of family court, in between witnesses testifying at trial.

the grandmother went on the stand at trial and said her son did not have an anger problem.  that he was good to his daughters and would never hurt them. because she had said the opposite just two months prior at her deposition, the her testimony was deemed not credible.

the chips fall where they fall.  my children love their grandmother with all their hearts.  this grandmother loves her son, loves her granddaughters.

someone once told me--what does love do for you in the face of anger?  love doesn't do anything to help you or protect you.  the only thing left to do is remove yourself from danger and protect your heart and little hearts, too.  i wish i had a better answer to this fairy tale.  i guess i'm just grateful that our house is free from the kind of love that comes at a price.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


dear SLT,

well, the truth is, i have somehow, against many odds, found love again.  i met someone articulate, kind and loving.  smart and funny.  considerate and generous of heart and spirit and even generous and giving with material things.  someone who is forgiving and accepting.  liberal and respectful.  someone with a heart the size of texas.  the last year has been quite an adventure with this new love.  i admit i tested boundaries a lot, i vetted him.  i actually researched his criminal background to be sure it was clear.  i made him take HIV and STD tests and show me the results.  yeah, well, thinking practically, and yet he did everything with grace and patience.  He even wanted to do those things.  And I made him meet almost everyone I know (he has, pretty much, except for my people who live 3000 miles away).

so why am i suddenly scared shitless?  it comes and goes, i'll be tooling along, perfectly serene, confident, loving, happy, and then i'm on the brink of tears, suddenly terrified.  waiting for the door to slam in my face, or the floor to shatter beneath my feet.  it's crazy talk, he has done nothing to worry me.  the few disagreements we've had, we've talked it out, and even if we don't agree, we are respectful and usually end the discussions in laughter.  his past has had tragedy, too, and i think that's another level where we connect.  so why am i freaking the f*** out?

i know this will sound stupid so i'll just say it:  i feel like i don't deserve this.  i feel like there is something wrong with me.  i say and write and advise others to believe in the good in people, to believe that good can come back into your life somehow, if only you keep your heart open and forgiving.  but why do i have so much trouble living it?  why can't i feel normal and happy unless i'm dealing with some f***ed up trauma?

i think part of it is that we accept the love we think we deserve.  (and i talk about making all this progress getting out of an abusive marriage, but have i really?)  and i think that i can only accept love that comes with pain, because all my life i learned that love comes with pain.  so i'm looking around everywhere, in the nooks and crannies, for the pain, and when i can't find it, i'm terrified.

so tell me, anyone out there, who has survived an abusive marriage, does this terror abate...?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

happy day

someone once told me that when you share time with your small children--and they leave you for a good amount of time (1-2 weeks), it's akin to letting your children go when they are much older, say, to college.  It's empty nest syndrome up close and personal, because your little hearts and little faces are suddenly not with you every day, you don't hear their little voices bouncing around the hallway between your bedroom and theirs.

that was the case for me...summer vacation scheduling being what it is, they were gone for 10 days and it was difficult.  i filled my days with errands and work and quality time with my significant other, and yet there was a driving, quiet, background anxiety.  this was the first time, really, they had been gone that long, so in retrospect, i understand it a little better.  little things that are normally swept up in the current of every day normalcy suddenly threw me off orbit, off kilter, and i couldn't understand why.  maybe i was trying too hard to be perfect working single mom--i do that a lot--think i can handle everything, and if i don't, there's something wrong with me--and in this case, pretending i was okay without the biggest pieces of my heart away from me.  i wasn't.  as soon as i laid eyes on their faces and as soon as we were singing johnny appleseed before dinner and as soon as baby sister hollered, 'mommy come!' and as soon as big sister said, 'i *know* mommy,' about something or other, i knew i had been missing them fiercely.  and was so glad our lives were back to normal.

Friday, August 2, 2013

keep swimming

I woke up today for the first time in days anxiety free.  I don't know if it's because it's a Friday after a long and stressful week, or because I know my babies will be home soon (they are away on summer vacation time with dad), or if I'm excited for a new school year for big sister and baby sister at pre school...

Maybe that innate sunny part of my soul is showing itself again.  Throughout the two years of litigation--I never stooped, I never lied, I never slung mud.  I kept on the path of the high road, so that I could be confident in the end that I didn't play dirty and somehow survived.  I was hopeful that my sunny nature would remain intact.  And it has for the most part.  A bit worn for the wear.  No, totally battered and run over and over and over.  I'm sure there's still tire treads hanging about.  But somehow, I'm hopeful today, and can feel it shining.

As if a divorce wasn't stressful enough, I ended up applying for and getting a new job.  Which I'm not so sure I love.  I do like it.  It's starting all over again after building years of credibility with my old job.  But I've always been a proponent of when a door opens...walk through it.  I thought it was a conjunction of forces...a new life, a new profession, a new way of living.  I supposed it will take a few more months to settle in, maybe a year.  Do I regret leaving the security of my old job?  A little.  I miss the familiar faces, I feel like I was just making real headway with interdepartmental projects, impacting access to justice for the state in subtle ways that made me feel proud.  But hopefully I can do the same here, once I build new relationships.  Get to know people.  Do the work that I know that I can do.

The last week or so I've been struggling with the thought that maybe I made a mistake.  Yes this job offers much more financial security in the present/long run.  I have two little hearts to take care of and support for the next 19 years or so, lol. It seemed like a no-brainer. 

Yesterday, I stopped by to drop something off with my former supervisees (in my field, the community is very small here, so everyone keeps in touch and has a collegial relationship with one another), and was hit with a giant wave of nostalgia, i still feel the remnants washing about my feed. 

Yet, deep inside, I know, I did the right thing to accept my new job.  Maybe one day my path will take me somewhere else (back there?  a different direction altogether?), but for now, I will just keep swimming forward.

p.s. the crazies did come last week a lot, though, i made a mistake!  how do i know if the door opened for me to go through it?  i walked through a bunch of doors in my life before and ended up in hell and a hand basket.  how do i trust this?  and i calmed myself down with this:  we do the best that we can in the circumstances we find ourselves in, making choices with the information at hand, and that is all that we can do.  be happy in that you are being true to yourself and with the best interests of your little hearts in mind.