The Greatest Hits!!

8:00am

I want to think about something my friend Jill said (2 weeks ago) when we were talking about my drinking. She said if I was happy in my relationship, that she doesn’t think I would have been drinking like I was. I didn’t agree with her when she said it (and I told her as much). I didn’t/don’t want to think Michelle and I shouldn’t be together…that we aren’t great together. Since then, I’ve thought about Michelle’s rage and anger issues…especially since she sent me that letter on the other day. I don’t know why but I’m reluctant to talk about Michelle’s rage and anger issues and how they made me feel. They happened all the time and I’ve lied to everyone about that. I tried to minimize how often it happened and how scared it made me. Here are the some of the greatest hits:

  1. The reaction she had the night Dad was in town over a woman being rude to her about a friend of Brad getting hurt and needing a bandage…she was upstairs screaming into her hands and a pillow. She was out of control. We actually took a break from each other for a week. I was really freaked out then…it was the first time that happened.
  2. The time she lost her shit over my ex-wife and the custody issue (I was considering suing for full custody and decided it would be too traumatic on my kids…she disagreed with me). I had to call her mother because I was scared and didn’t know what she was going to do or how to help calm her down.
  3. When she lost it (over how terrible she thought a friend of mine was to her husband) driving in an Uber from one pub to meet different friends. She was so out of control, screaming and ranting in the car, the driver tried to kick us out of the care in -10 degree weather. I had to beg him to help me get her home. She raged on for hours and into the next morning. I had to sleep in Brad’s bedroom that night.
  4. The time we had an argument (I forget what happened but I’m sure I was on the wrong end of the argument) and she demanded I apologize. She was literally jumping up and down (at the bottom of the stairs) screaming at the top of her lungs over and over again, “apologize, apologize, apologize!!” I had to leave (my own home) because I was scared of what she was going to do and just couldn’t handle it.
  5. Another episode where she was so far gone screaming and yelling that I was scared and had to call her mother. She came over, sat with her, and calmed her down while her Dad and I sat out back.
  6. Her hate filled rant on Facebook about her brother that ended up getting us uninvited to Boston. She was upset and raging about something he posted and ended up calling him a racist amongst other things…it was pretty awful. I asked her to take down the post and she wouldn’t for about 30 minutes. Once her family started calling and texting she did. She ended up completely broken down and tears with me holding her for an hour.
  7. Arizona this past summer. I sent her away instead of helping her. I didn’t know what to do and I was drunk.

I talked to her about getting help and she just took some pills and said she was fine. My mistake was internalizing all of my anxiety. These events were so stressful. Each new one helped crystalize this was life with Michelle. They weren’t “one-offs”.  If I was going to be with her I was going to have to accept that Michelle’s rage, on occasion, would be uncontrollable and scary. I was lying (to myself?) about how it made me feel. She scared me sometimes. I wasn’t afraid of her physically (I’m 6’5” and she’s 5’4”)…it was just fear of how terrible and out of control she was. She would say the most horrible things to me during these “episodes”. Not addressing it compounded my anxiety, increased my need to be controlling (if I control the outcomes I limit my anxiety…right? Bullshit!!!), and increased my desire to drink (to mute the anxiety).

I’m not going to sit here and blame Michelle for this! I am a 40+ year old grown man of above average intelligence. My anxiety, my controlling behavior, and my drinking problem are all on me. They were my reaction to stress and anxiety. Michelle wasn’t the only source of anxiety. On occasion she was the largest…but not the only.

I can say this. My stress/anxiety is always going to be there. I needed to and have learned to handle it in a healthy, productive way (exercise, reading, writing, being with my boys, talking with friends). Fuck drinking…fuck controlling every outcome…fuck me for being so obtuse and stupid for so long!!!

Too selfish to be their mother.

9:00am

Jesus Christ!! Michelle stopped by the house yesterday afternoon while Brad was there. He called me and was really nervous and upset. She was dropping off cards, presents, and a letter for me. The notes in the cards were nice and positive. I let them keep the cards and read them. They didn’t want the gifts. The letter she left me asked questions: Why did I make her leave in Arizona? Why didn’t I come to the hotel and get her in Arizona? All questions I have asked myself a million times. She answered those questions with this: “the answer is I have come to realize you are my abuser and I am your victim.” She has accused me of being an abuser.. I am without words…my post from December 11th (questioning whether her isolating me from my friends was the early signs of her being emotionally abusive) is so poignant.

We had the following text exchange:

Me: Brad just called. He said you’re at the house. Is that true?

Michelle: Yeah I dropped off Christmas presents and there is a note for you in the front mail box.

Me: You terrified him. Collette is at my house right now and she said that he is shaking.

Michelle: I didn’t think he would be home.

Me: Yes you did. We lived together as a family…you know when he gets home. Collette says he is so upset he is shaking all over.

Michelle: Did you let them read the letters or did you throw them away, or let me guess you read them first to make sure they are okay. Like a person who can never let go of any control. Notice she doesn’t acknowledge how upset Brad is and her part in it.

She timed her “dropping off” of presents when she knew Brad was going to be home. She could have put a stamp on them. She doesn’t think about what is best for Brad and that he might be made super upset by her just showing up…she only thinks about what she wants. Just selfish.

As I was rushing home to be with Brad I had a thought. What if she was there to talk? What if she wanted to talk about us and maybe us working on things? I got a sick, nervous, dread-filled feeling in my stomach. I think the emotional (heart centered) part of me is catching up to my brain. This moment is definitely part of my closure with Michelle. It is forcing the reality of our end to sink further in. Not the reality…the necessity of it. She is too selfish to be a step-mother to my children.

This morning I had the following exchange with a good friend:

Me: I was thinking about Michelle’s nonsense yesterday as I was driving into work this morning. Ugh…what a jerk!!

Derek: Just laugh about it! Even after 4 months she is still thinking about you!!

Me: I guess

Derek: Well. I guess you could wallow in the fact you were a dickhead at times by being too controlling and drinking too much. In other words…you would be just like Michelle in that you would become bitter and angry about the past without making the future better. Such as you have done by recognizing your behavior and controlling your drinking.

All true. I am lucky to have good friends to give me perspective. I feel better about the end of my relationship with Michelle than I have.

Something disgusting

1:30pm

Michelle posted something terrible on Facebook this afternoon. Two friends sent me a text with a screen shot (I’m no longer friends with her on social media). It is a picture of Michelle and the boys when we did family photos last year. She posted the following text with the photo:

Michelle: TBT of the 2 loves of my life. Due to selfishness, manipulation and control issues I don’t get to see them and if you didn’t know, it is killing me, especially missing Brad’s birthday and Christmas coming up.

I was super upset. I went into her feed and posted the following comment:

Me: We miss you too…but you left us. This is neither true or fair. Please stop using my children as a prop to get attention. It’s disgusting.

I deleted the comment about 5 minutes after posting on her feed and then reported the photos to Facebook. What a transparent, desperate, pathetic, immature cry for attention. How dare she use my children as a prop!!!

I feel much better texting and talking with friend. I feel supported and cared for. I do not feel alone like I did when we first broke up or in Chicago.

The rabbit hole

4:00pm

After over 4 weeks of radio silence she suddenly reaches out to me. Here is our exchange:

Michelle: Can I come over and get Christmas stuff I left there, some of it is pretty sentimental.

Me: When would you want to come over? I will make sure the house is unlocked and I am not home (so you don’t have to see me). I am meeting some friends out around 6:30pm…you can come over then

Michelle: Ok that works, I’ll go there tonight

Me: Please don’t bring your new boyfriend into the home we shared.

Michelle: I would never do that but I will bring someone so I’m not alone

Me: Because I am dangerous? Really? Is that the reason…because you think I am a physical risk to you?

Michelle: No, just because it’s the smart thing to do. Delena is coming

Me: It’s the smart thing to do when you’re with a strange man you can’t trust.

You could have just said Delena is going to be with me. You didn’t need to insult me (again). Just can’t help but twist the knife can you?

Let’s do it this way. What sentimental things do you want? I will pack it up and mail it to you. That way you don’t need to be at the house at all.

Michelle: I don’t even know what is all in there, just let me come get it. You put words in my mouth…please stop

Me: No I didn’t…you said that with a purpose. I feel like you are just fucking with me again. I don’t like it. Tell me what you want and I will mail it tomorrow evening.

…blah, blah, blah. What am I doing? It is such a waste of time and energy. It went further and further down the hole with us back and forth. I eventually got mean insulting her new boyfriend again.

Me: Enjoy Christmas with your Barista.

Michelle: He’s actually a software developer for an engineering firm

Me: Who gives a shit

He looks like the shih-tzu you always wanted. From the way people have described him he is. Your mild, little doormat. Good for you.

More insight

8:00am

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving next week with my long weekend in Chicago. I’m worried I’m going to get bored while I’m there. I’ll pick up an extra book just in case. Friday after Hamilton, I think I’ll take an architectural boat tour. I have this nervous fear my parents are going to “surprise me” by coming out. I hope they aren’t coming. I really want the solitude right now.

I have been thinking about the right way to structure/organize my thoughts about Michelle. I need to frame them differently. I need to stop thinking about our happiness. I need to remind myself she doesn’t want a family. More than that, I need to remind myself what my friend said the other weekend about hoping we don’t get back together. That was/is a paradigm shift for me. It brought all of the things Michelle did or didn’t do into focus. She took me for granted and I feel taken advantage of. She never really was bought into our relationship.

All her blame and anger are a smoke screen for her guilt. There is a part of her that hates she wants to be free of our family. We would still be together if I was able to move. She would have worked on our relationship if she could say, “I want to move to (insert city)” and I was able to do it. I can’t though. So she tells everyone what a piece of shit I am as the reason we broke up so they don’t know she really broke up because she doesn’t want the obligations and limitations of living her life with the boys and me. She can’t have the adventure and excitement she wants while being with us. She isn’t willing to postpone that till after my boys are grown and gone…she wants it right now.

Okay…giant sigh…that feels right. My life as a father doesn’t offer flexibility or adventure and Michelle wants adventure (right now) more than she wants us.

All of this doesn’t mean I don’t miss “us”. I miss the joy, laughter, love, care, sense of common purpose, sense of family, fun, ease, touch, tenderness, our conversations, her kiss, watching her love my boys, feeling her love me, making love, holding each other…I miss “us”. I have never felt closer to another human being as I did to Michelle. I have never been that intimate with another person. It is a once in a life time type connection I doubt either of us will ever find again.

None of this negates my controlling behavior. It was there! It was a direct result of my anxiety, my anxiety was exacerbated by my drinking. Controlling behavior was a way to eliminate the outcomes in life I was anxious about. Drinking helped numb the anxiety. It was a vicious cycle. I would feel anxious and drink to mute that feeling. Drinking lowered my inhibitions and allowed me to be more controlling. The longer I went in life drinking, the more I needed to drink to get the desired effect. The more I drank the more I felt the need for control. I went further and further down the rabbit hole. I feel like I have broken the cycle. I am clear headed. My anxiety is manageable because I am addressing it not muting it. I address it with exercise, meditation, reading, and writing. I have dealt with toxic relationships. I have worked on creating healthy boundaries (for me and my children) that do not sacrifice what is good and healthy for me/us to what makes other people happy.

I thought for a long time my anxiety stemmed exclusively from my relationship with my father. It doesn’t. It is rooted in bullying from when I was a child. There were some pretty traumatic things that happened in the 7th grade. It made me anxious to be at school. I felt powerless. I internalized all of it and told no one. I was afraid I was going to be bullied again all the time. It’s why I hid in the library at lunch from 7th grade until I was a Junior in high school. If I wasn’t where the bullies were, I couldn’t be bullied. It was my first attempt at controlling and it worked. It reinforced that if I could control things, I would be safe. Never addressing the root trauma allowed the controlling behavior to leach into most of my life. Drinking magnified it.

What I am about to say is very difficult. I have never articulated this before (not even to my therapist). I have had a substance abuse problem since I was 19 years old. I have self-medicated my anxiety for 24 years. From the first time I felt the wonderfully numbing effects of smoking marijuana in mid-September 1993 to August 1st, 2017 (when I quit drinking) I have used marijuana and alcohol to tune out the deafening noise of my anxiety. I used to call it “turning my brain off”. The never ending scroll of “what if’s” would just stop when I was high or drunk. They were manageable when I was controlling and in charge of the outcomes in my life…but they were silent when I was high or drunk.

I feel so much better now. Now I know what to do. Now, I know what is real and what is my anxiety screaming nonsense about the end of the world. All of this insight is the only positive thing to come out of losing Michelle. Losing her was my rock bottom. It was what inspired me to change and work to be a better man and father.

16 years ago, I did what Michelle wants to do. I moved to a big exciting city (San Francisco), worked, and advanced my career. It was a scary, wonderful adventure I’ll never forget. I didn’t have anything tying me down. I was single. She is right at the same age I was when I did that. Our age difference doomed us. If we had been married, she would have stayed with me and been bitter at how her life hadn’t been the adventure she had envisioned. We would have been divorced in 10 or 15 years.

Maybe one day she will look back on our time together without all the hate and rage she has. Maybe she can admit being a family with the boys and me wasn’t important enough (I say this without judgement) and not have the guilt or loss she is carrying around. At this point, who cares really? I have a good life. I have great kids. I am healthy and I’m working on staying that way. I love Michelle. I miss Michelle. I wish we could work through all of this and be together but that will fade over time. In 10 years, we’ll remember how we felt but the feeling itself will be worn down.

Son being bullied

8:15am

Brad is being bullied at school. It’s by a girl he doesn’t know. She asked him to come over by her desk and then promptly kicked him in the groin. She got into trouble. The dean told him if she said anything to him in any way to let him know. He assured me they took the incident seriously and would not tolerate any kind of bullying. This morning I asked Brad if she has said anything to him? His teacher asked him to pass out a completed test. When he handed the girl’s to her she told him, “don’t touch my paper.” This is a continuation of her bullying. She is testing the waters to see what she can continue to get away with. What is most frustrating about this is Brad was physically assaulted and because it is a girl he is unable to respond in kind. We’ll see what comes of this. I’m pretty angry right now.

What kind of home life does this kid have? Her lashing out is just her way of venting frustrations she doesn’t understand or know how to deal with. Knowing that tugs at the strings of empathy…until it’s your kid she is “venting” at…so fuck her, that little asshole!!!!!!

Strength

clarity is (comes

when it wants. rushed…you dilute

its poignancy) strength


7:30am

Wednesday…what to write about? I’m taking Friday off to spend some quality time with Dennis (he doesn’t have school). I’m excited about hanging out with just the two of us. He is at the age where he generally isn’t interested in doing that as much.

I feel great today. I keep doing the things that work when I get upset or sad about Michelle: exercise, read, take a bath, etc, etc. It helps with sleeping. I don’t have any repetitive, obsessive thoughts. This morning, Brad asked me about sleeping and if I am getting enough. I asked why he was asking. He said, “I don’t know…you don’t seem as tired in the mornings.” We talked about drinking and how some people use alcohol to help them get to sleep. I explained it actually makes for a very restless sleep. He asked me what people who can’t sleep should do. I told him use the techniques we’ve both learned to quiet our minds and eliminate the swirling, obsessive thoughts. He liked that.

The three of us had an interesting end to the night last night. We watched the “Nosedive” episode of Black Mirror. In it a character has an epic, public meltdown. When the show was over I asked the kids if they understood why she had her meltdown. They did…they could see her stress building and building to an explosion. I told them that is what happened to Michelle when she lost it in Arizona. I explained the way their Aunt Rae and Uncle Patrick (mostly Rae) had treated her and her efforts to ignore it caused so much stress those weeks she finally cracked under the strain. She didn’t have any control once she cracked. I think they finally understand what happened that evening back in July.

 

What works

I am Regret. I

force questions that do not have

answers. I loathe sleep.


9:00am

Monday morning I sent Michelle a photo of Brad and his soccer team after they won their tournament with a brief description of the weekend both boys had. I sent her the picture because I thought she loves my boys and would like to hear about them. On my drive home from work I received the following text from her:

Michelle: I don’t see the need for us to have any more contact. I will not be responding to any more messages.

I was so upset. I have been feeling so good about things. Thursday I get all weird and freaked out about going on a date with a different woman then this. What the fuck? I did what works. I had a brutal workout, spent quality time with my boys, cried a little bit, talked to my dog, took a long hot bath, and read my book. By the time I was in bed I felt better.

I had some choice things to say back to her immediately after she sent me the text.

Me: Yeah, I can see that from your perspective. Why keep in contact with people you really never cared for to begin with. You are a cruel, unforgiving, and vindictive person. You kept that hidden for over three years. I don’t know if that is admirable or terrifying. You always said the song “Just My Imagination” by the Temptations was our song as a couple. Talk about foreshadowing huh?

About 5 minutes after I sent that I thought maybe I shouldn’t have. Now, I don’t have any regrets. Fuck Michelle and the space she keeps taking up in my head and my heart!! She IS cruel, unforgiving and vindictive. I am sending her the following text and then I am blocking her number from my cell phone as well.

Me: Yesterday, for about 30 minutes, I felt bad I sent that text. That was it. I stand by it. You ARE cruel, unforgiving, and vindictive. I should have included selfish, naïve, and immature as well. You’ve allowed one moment to define everything. You can’t allow I am capable of change because you are NOT capable of change. You have told me to “go fuck yourself” and that “you ruined my life and I fucking hate you.” I wish I had it in me to respond in kind…I don’t.

I’ll leave you with this: your actions the last 13 weeks and 2 days has as much to do with us being apart as anything I have done. One day, you will look back on our life together (our family) and you will regret leaving. You will miss us.

I sent this as a text and as an email. I have blocked her on my phone and email.

 

Love is a behavior

8:00am

Real love is a behavior not an emotion. It doesn’t matter how we “feel” if we have no action or “works”. An abusive spouse may feel they love their partner but the abuse says otherwise. A cheating wife may feel she loves her husband but the infidelity says otherwise…and so on and so on. Since our break up, I have tried so hard to make myself a better person. I can look back on the last 12 weeks and really say this has been a demonstration of my love for my children and Michelle.

Michelle doesn’t love me. It’s that simple. It is so clear looking at it through the prism of “love is a behavior not an emotion”. In fact, reflecting on our relationship, it makes me question if she ever did. I think she loved the idea I represented and the comfort my money provided. I say this because when we came to our first, real crisis she ran like a prisoner who sees freedom for the first time in 3 1/2 years. She has never looked back. Since then she has: misrepresented my actions, twisted my words, insulted my integrity, maligned me as a father, consistently said horribly cruel things (with the sole intention of hurting me), tried to manipulate my emotions for her financial benefit (health care), lied/went behind my back to try and maintain a relationship with my kids, and who knows what else. I guess the last one would be an example (all be it a misguided one) of her loving the boys. Her actions speak volumes about how she feels. She doesn’t love me. The only regrets she has with our relationship failing is losing Dennis and Brad and the material benefits that come with being with me. My “demonstrations of love” since our breakup have been a spectacular waste of time. I need to focus on loving just my boys.

Please don’t patronize!

9:00am

Michelle sent me the following text at 10:30pm last night:

Michelle: You ruined my life and I fucking hate you.

She called me multiple times. I texted here and asked her to stop. She called at midnight I didn’t look to see who it was (I was asleep) and answered the phone. She was sobbing and inconsolable. She feels I am punishing her by “taking” the boys away. I described the confusion the boys feel and why that wasn’t good for their well being. It isn’t what she wants to hear. She started hurling the insults again and telling me how I felt rather than listen to when I talked about my feelings. She is all rage and hate. I’m afraid she’ll never change.

I sent her the following text this morning:

Me: Are you okay this morning? I know you don’t trust or believe I am getting better with my drinking and because of that you don’t want to be with me. I just feel the need to tell you this so you know…I still want us to be together. I am willing to do whatever work is necessary. I am already in therapy for myself. I will do couples therapy…I will do anything for us. Please don’t patronize and dictate to me how I feel. This is how I feel! I hope you are better today.

Maybe she will take me back, maybe she won’t. I won’t waste my time trying to influence that. I will make decisions about my life and my children’s lives using all the information I have available to me. She has told me innumerable times we aren’t going to be together:

  • I don’t want you to have any hope of us getting back together.
  • I have felt so much, more calm since I don’t have your standards to live up to.
  • I feel more content with myself when I’m not with you.
  • Go fuck yourself.
  • If there was ever a chance of us being together that is gone now.
  • You ruined my life and I fucking hate you.

I don’t have anything else to say about Michelle today.


Oct. 6, 2017

12:00pm

Monica and I have been talking more. She was getting a bit flirty and I had to tell her that isn’t what I want in reconnecting with her. She’s been lonely and with our sexual history it makes sense. To be honest I had thought about it too. I have extremely fond memories of that aspect of dating her. So I’m working on boundaries. Making sure to keep what I need/want in mind. Not trying to please everyone else etc.