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!!!

Enough said about her

I am late to strength.

it does not come easily

it does not sit well.


8:00am

I still haven’t sent that letter I wrote earlier this month begging Michelle to take me back. I work on it a little bit almost every week day. I’m not sure why. The boys and I are better off without Michelle. I don’t trust her. I don’t trust her to do what is in my children’s best interest(s) if it conflicts with what Michelle wants. She is either not capable of seeing long term repercussions or worse, she does see them and is more concerned with her own wants and needs in the short term. Enough said about Michelle.

My mother wants me to come out to Arizona for New Years to patch things up with Patrick and Rae (that’s a funny coincidence considering my journal entry from yesterday). She said she feels like I have painted myself into a corner and don’t know how to get out. I got a bit short with her. I told her I haven’t painted myself into any corners. I said, “Patrick and Rae are fucking awful to be around. They talk shit about everyone. It is constant and it is stressful to be around. I am not in a corner. In fact I have reached out to them. They aren’t replying.” She told me she felt bad about the whole situation. I explained to her the ONLY part of this that I regret is how bad she and Dad feel. I know my mother went through a decades, long estrangement with her sister and they are both thinking about that.

 

 

More time

thought I was ready.

couldn’t be more wrong. I will

just keep doing the work


8:00am

I’m not sending that fucking letter. When can I stop being sad about Michelle leaving? When will I stop thinking about her every single day? She has moved on so what’s the point of that letter from Friday?

I had a good weekend. I was home with the dog on Friday night. I went to a good friend’s on Saturday night. Sunday, I went Christmas shopping, grocery shopping, I washed and folded all of the laundry for the boys and I, did the most brutal squat workout, went to Brad’s soccer game, and then went to the movies. I was planning on working on my journal but I just didn’t have the time.

Monica and I continue to talk and text back and forth. That is something. I like her a lot as a friend and I definitely find her attractive. She has been clear that being romantic is something she would like to do. I know we aren’t what each other is looking for in a long-term, romantic partner. She’s a George Strait girl and I’m a Billie Holiday boy. Both are fine and super cool but ultimately not the best partners. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love to get her naked and in bed. It also doesn’t mean I would use her and lead her on with implied promises of us being a couple. We’ll see. It would be nice to have a lover to share some time with.

So that is a bit of a change right? I’m hung up about Michelle but now I’m thinking about sleeping with another woman to fill that void. Jesus…I am a mess. I think I need to put more time between my relationship with Michelle and now before I entertain the idea of a new one.

 

 

 

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.

9:30am

Chicago was a completely fucked weekend. I had a complete melt down that went into Monday back in Omaha. I was fucking miserable there. It was an unintended exercise in masochism. The only thing I enjoyed was my morning run through down town Chicago and seeing Hamilton. The rest of the time I was sad and lonely. I missed my kids and I missed Michelle.

To top it all off, I found out Friday night she is in a new relationship. She went to the Nebraska football game in Lincoln with him (which was odd as she despises football) and posted pics on Facebook. I went off the deep end and sent her a series of ill-conceived text messages.

Me:        You should probably update your relationship status to whoever that guy you’re with instead of me…don’t you think? It makes me sick how happily you discarded us. We were a family and you moved on like we meant nothing.

Since when do you go to fucking football games?

Your little hipster boy looks ridiculous. Let me guess…is he a vegan, barista at a coffee shop that only uses locally sourced coffee beans? You’re tragically and transparently hilarious.

She read the messages and took down the post immediately. Sunday morning I thought better of sending  it all and sent her the following message:

Me:        I know you won’t respond to this. I wanted to apologize for lashing out on Friday. I am sorry I said those things. I was only trying to be mean. It serves no purpose.

You look happy and content with your new life. I am glad for you. I am still working on my “moving on”. It is mostly going well with a few bumps (Friday would be one) along the way.

I still regret what happened to us and wish I could go back and change it but I know that isn’t what you want. Dennis and Brad still miss you being their step mother. So do I.

Again, I am sorry I lashed out Friday!

I know I sound like a crazy person for saying this but: I still love you so much! Take care of yourself.

I have been a mess since Friday night in Chicago. I feel like I am on the verge of tears 90% of the time. It feels like the work I did with Lisa and on my own has been erased. I feel like I am mid to late August with my emotionality. What the fuck?!?! I really felt good about things. I missed Michelle but it was fading. Writing this journal entry I have gotten weepy twice. This is bullshit!

Turn the page

it is about time

I turned the page. no one else

can. I might as well.


4:30pm

Driving home tonight I thought about my divorce. Specifically how I was able to move on almost immediately and Collette had a more difficult time. I had been thinking about (fantasizing really) about leaving her for a long time. We were so unhappy together, I wanted a different life. I know that is why Michelle has been able to move on so quickly. She had been thinking about (fantasizing?) leaving me for quite a while. She was ultimately not invested in our relationship. She went through the motions but was leaning towards leaving. I imagine it was the boys that had her holding on…that was the only reason. She doesn’t believe she could do what she wants to do in life while being with us. She thinks we would hold her back and stymie her ambition. I wish she had talked to me about it. I would have told her how proud we are of her and her accomplishments. I would have told her we could have made an internship out of state work. I would have told her I love her and we could make anything work as long as we were together. There is so much I would have said to her if she had just talked to me.

My drinking and her total lack of communication is what killed our relationship and destroyed the family we had built. The stupid, crazy, hopeless romantic in me still thinks it’s not too late. We could see a family counselor and start working on everything. That’s silly and naïve. Michelle is all rage and hate. She’ll never change that. It’s her armor. We are never going to see each other again. We are never going to speak to each other again. I will never find the intimacy and love we found with each other. We will find love again…someday but it will fall short. The only conciliation is what I said this morning, in 10 years I’ll remember how I felt but the feeling itself will be worn down. I hate that we are done.

I have been recording my blog posts in a journal. I am starting a new journal tomorrow. The one I have been using is almost full anyway. I’m going to put this one on a shelf, where it belongs, and leave it there.

 

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.

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.

Sliding Doors

8:00am

I have been writing in my journal less lately, just once a day. It hasn’t been intentional. I just have less on my mind to get out on paper. I talked with my therapist about this. She thinks it’s good sign. It means the inner turmoil, depression, and conflict are subsiding. I feel it. I feel like I’m on “this” side of my depression. I still feel sad sometimes. I miss Michelle and how we were together. I miss thinking about our future together. Putting that down on paper makes me sad, the past tense of the verb. It’s the way things are. Even now it feels so wrong and surreal. It’s like I’m in Sliding Doors. I wish there was a version of me that still had Michelle in my life to love. I miss hearing her voice. I miss telling her about my day. I miss reading while she does her homework. She used to do this stupid thing Saturday mornings while she was getting ready for work. She would turn on the ceiling fan light (which is super bright) and right before she did it would yell out, “PREPARE, PREPARE!!!” so I could cover my eyes with a pillow. I miss it…the day-to-day minutia of our relationship. I like the idea of there being a Sliding Doors (alternate) universe where Michelle and I figured things out and were back together living life towards our future. I wish there was an “our future”. There isn’t. She wants something else. I don’t even know what she wants because we don’t talk anymore. The last time we communicated was almost 2 weeks ago and she was screaming and hysterical about not being able to see the boys.

So I’m alone. I used to like being alone. Unfortunately, these days alone means being without Michelle. I don’t like that at all. Maybe, someday, I will.