A Roller Coaster Journey

From professional to employed mother to stay at home mother, I'm facing the challenge now of being the wife he left behind. It's a roller coaster ride and I don't know how it will end. But when you're going through hell, you keep going. Thank you for visiting my blog and may it help you on whatever your journey is.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Good Year in Review

So what have I done this past year, that's good?

I have found out that I have a lot of true friends. I have people that will ask, "What can I do?" And then they will step up and do that thing. I LOVE my community. I also feel a small twinge of schadenfreude at the things other people are saying about Mr. Gone. I am trying to move beyond that to a better place, but still, it makes me feel loved, supported, and that I don't have some insane personal perspective, that what he did was WRONG.

I have started on my new career path. Balancing work/school/parenting is tricky, but I did the whole thing: GRE, essays, applications, financial aid. And I did it all myself. Not much help from anyone. I got into one of the most exclusive schools in the country! That's saying something. Of course, I'm going to the state school instead because exclusive = expensive.

I have cut my hair really short, let the coloring grow out, gotten new hip glasses. My hair is salt and pepper grey now, actually kind of cool looking. Ten years ago it was mousy brown. Now it's very dark with grey streaks. I look older, but I've always looked very young and am finally looking like a grownup.

I'm enjoying eating what I want to eat without catering to the whims of someone who was, looking back, really kind of picky. We can have mac n' cheese for dinner! The bizarre list of things he wouldn't eat included cheddar cheese, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, salad, anything "vegetarian" or "healthy", egg things like quiche or souffle, melon of any sort . . . yeah, he was meat and potatoes all the way. Cooking has been simplified so much.

I'm watching my kids step up and grow up. Sometimes I've lost it with them, I'm short on patience. But they are really trying to do what they can to help, when I'm not here to start dinner, when things need to be cleaned up, laundry put away . . . and I'm also finding more fun times with them. Used to be I was the homework and chores parent and Mr. Gone was the fun parent. He now gets to be mostly disneyland dad due to the visitation schedule, but I'm trying to make sure that I get to do fun things with them too.

And I'm finding strength, ability, and resources to fix up things around here that need fixing up, and prioritize and get household repairs done without having to wait, go through a long conversation with another adult with different opinions about what's a priority (ya know, water in its many forms is always a priority!) and adjust expectations. I fixed two cracked windows (lots more to go), and am reglazing the whole darn house! I'm learning drywall! I can flux a pipe! I feel like Rosie the Riveter, only my guy is not coming home from the war.

Things are better than I thought they would be. I still wish for a time machine to go one, two, three years back and fix the cracks in the marriage. But honestly, they were not cracks I could have fixed; they were mostly defects in Mr. Gone's character and personality. I'm still not OK. But I'm going to be.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

One Year Ago This Weekend

One year ago I returned from a girl's weekend getaway, several hours earlier than expected.

Mr. Gone said, "Oh, you're back early" without looking at me and went back to his computer game while the kids played video games.

He ignored me the rest of the afternoon.

After the kids were in bed I pressed him to tell me what was wrong. He didn't want to, but finally said, "I like and respect you but I haven't been in love with you for a long time." My life fell apart.

Looking back, I think there was someone else. Several someone elses. There was one affair I suspected around the time #2 was born. Why else would a married man with two small kids go and spend precious weekend time with another woman? And I think he had a fling during his high school reunion. The weirdness and wrong feeling really started then. I think it was guilt.

How much responsibility do I have?

I could have pushed for counseling sooner.

I went through my own perimenopausal crisis, and a couple of SAHM years that sucked. Multiple small kids, grinding monotony, and continuous uncertainty about whether daddy was coming home that night or being shipped off on a two week overseas business trip. I was not happy. But I had come through that to the other side. Made peace with my partner's faults. He was never going to see the dirty dishes in the sink, or underwear and kleenex on the floor. But that was OK, because I loved him for his good and bad parts together.

I let him get away with putting me and the family very last behind his job. I resented his work. The late nights, the missed holidays, the phone calls during dinner where he would turn from daddy to a-hole in front of my eyes. The work paid for the dinner, and the roof over our heads. A choice I made, and that I let him make.

I dismissed his ideas. Rent out the house and live overseas for a year? No. The packing and prep would all fall to me, and I don't really want to live in the middle east.
Buy an investment property and become landlords? No. We SUCK at maintenance. We had no spare time. At least, HE had no spare time and it would have fallen to me, like so many other projects.
Move closer to his office? I found a couple of houses. He didn't like them. I told him to look. He found houses we couldn't afford. No, really, a mortgage that's 50 % of your gross income is a bad move. Really. Really. And then he told me I didn't understand money and real estate was a smart investment.

Mostly, I let him get away with being absent. Emotionally. Physically. When I tried to bring him back, I always backed off so he wouldn't accuse me of being clingy. I worked on myself but didn't urge him enough to work on himself.

But in the end, can we change other people? No. Only ourselves.

So that's how I got to where I was a year ago. Self justifying, maybe. The universal reaction, though, has been, "He's going through a midlife crisis." From my friends. Our mutual friends. Acquaintances. Neighbors.

Next time, the past year in review.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


First full week of classes is now under my belt. Starting to figure out where things are, who people are, getting in the groove. Also beginning to wonder what I've gotten myself into.

It's probably the most diverse group of people I've ever spent time with; mixed race, mixed background and experience from the fresh out of college student from Ghana to the pulmonologist who's getting another degree. Very rich environment. I'm having actual conversations with an active reserve military guy who is bright and reasonable, and breaking through a lot of my anti-military prejudices. Much less feeling of competitition than my previous grad school experience as we all want to "save the world" and all in very different fields. So this is all wonderful, empowering, cool, amazing stuff.

The kids survived my first day of long classes, got themselves home, most of homework done, and all ok.

My hours have been way cut back at work, and I'm missing the money there but enjoying the time. The orchestra conductor may try to send some strings students my way, which would be great-working from home, more flexible hours.

Bad news: the schedule that didn't look so bad on paper -- one class Tues, one Wed, three Thurs -- is going to be a bigger mouthful than I thought. Lots of homework, lots of very very dense reading.


But I can do this, I will do this, I want to do it. One step at a time. Women's health. Health disparities. Major issues that need addressing. I'm smart. I will beat my head against a wall in this field, but I can advocate for change, those things that NEED to be changed. Maybe someday someone will get the mammogram they need, will use the contraception or tell her boyfriend "no," or breastfeed a baby who then won't get allergies, or will leave the abusive partner and have a social safety net, because of some work that I did.

My life sucks a bit. But I'm SO lucky. Clean water, a palace to live in, enough to eat, able to make a living with my brain instead of my body, and having control over that body and brain.

Movie night at school last night was "The Princess Bride." Wesley says, "Life is pain. Anyone who says different is selling something." Well, maybe I can reduce someone's pain. Make life a little more fair for someone. Just have to balance that with my family.

Time for house cleaning.