Feeling good

8:30am

I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with my life. For years it was about Michelle and I. Our life as a couple, my supporting her (emotionally and financially) as she built her career, our life with the boys, our life after the boys were grown and gone, and finally our life in the my later years. I was so happy it was all mapped out and that it was going to be with Michelle. Clearly that is not to be. So I’ve been in this, “what now?” mode.

Michelle and I had talked about volunteering (as a couple) with the Peace Corp once I was of retirement age. I have always wanted to do that. But I want to do it sooner than later. I need to get Dennis and Brad established and settled in their lives before I can just take off and think about myself. I figure 10 years from now they should be in good shape. They will be 26 and 24 years old (respectively). That would put my retirement at 54 years old. I would be giving up the Deferred Comp plan (I’m eligible for that at 60 years old) which is a sizeable chunk. I’ve done the math and the analysis. I know how much I need as a nest egg when I quit at 54. If I can get that together…by the time I’m 65 years old…between entitlements and my investments, I’ll have all the money I need to live on. It’ll be a stretch to get to “nest egg” goal in the next 10-12 years but if I buckle down, I can do it. I won’t need to sell my home either. I can hire a rental company and rent it out…that’ll be a way to build equity while I’m overseas.

Ever since Michelle and I have split up I have felt kind of rudderless. I feel like I don’t have any direction for my life past the kids. I have 5 years until Brad is out of the house to college. I want to enjoy my boys while they are still boys. I want to help get them started in life as men. I want to travel before I’m too old and tired. I want to give back to the world that has been so good to me. I want to be comfortable when I eventually retire. I can get all of that done. I’ve had a pretty decent life so far…I can make the second half even more interesting!!

My trip last weekend to New York was inspired. I was so positive and happy there. It felt amazing to be travelling and experiencing life. I’m not ready to have that as my occupation. I want to live and revel in Dennis and Brad. They are such great kids. I can see both of them being good men (for different reasons).

I feel good about this!

I have good friends

2:00pm
I have good friends! I was discussing my journal entry from this morning with an old childhood friend of min. He was floored by what I had put up with Michelle. He then said:
“You know what? Instead of a ‘reasons you shouldn’t be with Michelle list, how about a list of things you want in a relationship. You need to quit looking behind you and look to the future. All you’re doing is spinning your wheels thinking about how things went wrong with Michelle. You’ve done the therapy. You’ve effectively addressed (and continue to address) your anxiety and drinking. Move on man.”
He is right. I am just hurting myself and wallowing in what was…like another friend said a few days ago. I need to look towards the future. I have my meeting with the Match Maker this afternoon. That is a step in the right direction. I was thinking this morning I was going to cancel the meeting. I am not. I need to take steps forward. Not keep looking the in the rear view mirror.
I’d like to amend my last sentence this morning from, “fuck me for being so obtuse and stupid for so long!!!” to “fuck me for being too focused on the past and not looking towards my future for so long!!!” I’ve handled my mistakes from my last relationship. I’m a better man for the next one. Hopefully, I’ll find a wonderful woman who will love me and the boys. Someone we can share the love and joy the boys and I have have together.
Like I said…I have good friends. He told me exactly what I needed to hear this morning. I feel a lightness in my chest. It’s where my anxiety usually is.

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.

A good example

8:45am

I had a busy weekend. I was discouraged last week with my weight loss. I cheated a bit with cake on Brad’s birthday party and then I had small amounts of candy all week. Well this morning I’m down another pound. That makes 38lbs I’ve lost since July 25th.

I met a dear friend for lunch on Saturday. I ran 2 ½ miles to the restaurant to meet her. I was able to do it without stopping. I am getting to a point where I actually enjoy running. It is challenging but not totally killing me. It feels good to be getting my fitness back. It’s strange that I am getting to this level in my early 40’s. I have tons of regrets about having wasted my 30’s on cigarettes and drinking. I recently saw a photo of myself from a number of years ago. I was big!! There was a fair amount of shame when I looked at myself. That said, I feel pride in where I am at now. It’s not about the aesthetic benefits but the benefits to my physical health and longevity…and most important, the example I am setting for my boys when they are men.

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.

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.

 

 

If this then never that

8:30am

Driving into work, I was listening to Story Core on NPR. It was a conversation between a woman who received a life-saving kidney and pancreas transplant and the mother of the young man who died and donated the organs. Both the recipient and donor were addicts. The young man died of a heroin overdose. The recipient said what motivates her to stay clean is her family and legacy of the donor. She said she needs to stay clean to honor his death and her life. I know I’ve said this before but it helps to put it down on paper. I will stay sober for my children. Dennis and Brad deserve a father who is the best version of himself. I deserve a life where I am the best version of myself. I will stay sober.

I can’t escape the obvious benefits of doing so. Every aspect of my life (exempting my relationship with Michelle) is better: the boys and I are closer than we have ever been, it feels like I have a handle on my control issues and anxiety, I am more productive at work, I have read 7 books since I quit, so far I filled 190 pages of a journal, I sleep better, my complexion looks better, I have lost 33lbs, clothes fit better, I can run further and faster than I ever have, I am physically stronger than I have been since my 20’s, I am sharper mentally, generally speaking I am more attractive (physically and emotionally), the list just goes on and on. So the verdict remains the same, sober David is a better David.

I was talking with a friend over drinks last night (mine were the non-alcoholic variety) about Michelle and I. She is of the same opinion of all of my friends who spent a lot of time with Michelle and I. She thinks we should not get back together. She said Michelle hasn’t dealt with any of her issues. She feels like Michelle is in the “look everyone at how great I am doing” space. I know Michelle has run up credit card debt because she has started getting offers to help her refinance high credit card balances sent to my house. She said Michelle will eventually have her anger and rage subside and I will be getting a phone call from her wanting to talk about us getting back together. I doubt that. She doesn’t know just how deep Michelle’s anger issues run. Michelle was promised $500 from a past employer over 3 years ago (he never paid) and when it comes up in conversation she still has the same level of anger/resentment she did back then. If she can’t let go of a promised $500 that never materialized, what are the chances of her letting go of her anger with me?

Getting better

I wanted to change

for three. I should work for the

two who deserve it.


8:30am

I am surprised by the amount of boredom that comes with sobriety. I am bored…all the time! When I would normally stop off at a bar/friend’s house for a drink is just dead time. I can’t tell you how many times I say to myself, “now what?”  The better I am emotionally, mentally, and physically…the more energy I have. The more energy I have, the more I am bored. There is only so much laundry to be done, I can’t clean the house all the time, the dog won’t go on endless walks, there are only so many books to read, so many movies to see, I can’t play games on my phone endlessly, I can’t work out more than once a day, it’s too cold to play golf…I am just bored, a lot. Looking at this from the outside I can see someone posing the question, “does being bored make you want to drink?” It doesn’t. That’s good.

Of course I think about Michelle and what we would be doing together. I’m not sure why I’m bothering talking about that…silly.

My therapist thinks we have reached the end of her usefulness. She pointed out several things that are different since we first met:

  • Grief has moved (mostly) to acceptance
  • Stress and anxiety are way down
  • I am effectively using tools to manage the anxiety that remains
  • My desire/need for control has abated
  • I have been sober for 15 weeks

Consequently, I am happier than I have been in years…happiness is my “starting position”.

I have to agree with her on all fronts. I know I feel sad from time to time. I think about and miss Michelle in my life every day. Knowing she is happy and grateful to be free of the boys and me hurts and makes the “missing her” worse. That said, I wake up every morning feeling good. I don’t feel like a different person…just a better version. I started out doing this for Michelle (I could have become the embodiment of everything she wants and she still wouldn’t be with me. She left because she doesn’t want roots. She wants freedom.) This change is ending up being for my children and myself. I like this version. He is kinder, gentler, and more patient. The boys like it too.

 

Do as I say not as I do (hopefully)

8:00am

I feel great today. So much so, Brad told me it was annoying what a good mood I was in. So I played up the annoying because…you know…that’s what Dads do and also…screw him for finding my joy annoying…LOL!!

I feel healthy, ambitious, content (with life), physically strong/able, just all around great. I like this, this consistency in my mood. I was talking with an acquaintance I hadn’t seen in a while on Friday. She was asking me about my sobriety and what I have noticed the most since I quit drinking. I told her it was the clear head every day. She laughed and said, “You mean you’re not hung-over?” It’s true. I haven’t had a hang-over since I quit drinking (obviously). The only time I have had a headache waking up is when I had a particularly sweaty work out the night before and didn’t drink enough water.

I keep coming back to sobriety. Well that’s not entirely true. I keep coming back to Michelle, our relationship, and then sobriety. I should have addressed my drinking years ago. When I say years ago, I mean 10+ years ago. Better late than never, I guess. I think being open and honest with the boys about my drinking is a net positive thing. They get to see and understand the dangers of drinking. Until now a drinking problem was the homeless guy on the street or the man in jail for driving drunk. Now, it’s their father (with: a successful career, a big house, a nice vehicle, who exercises 4 days a week, etc) who has the drinking problem. My life didn’t fall apart (aside from losing Michelle) but I was still unhealthy. Now that I quit drinking, they get to see the incremental improvements not drinking has added to our lives and take those into adulthood. This has improved their chances of breaking the cycle I was stuck in. They won’t have to wait until they are 42 years old to start (hopefully).

We are happier

the three of us are

closer than we were before.

we are happier


8:00am

It is so good to have the boys back with me again. I always miss them when they are with their mother but it is brought into sharper focus when I have them…how much more fulfilled my life feels. I enjoy the time I get to spend with them. Our relationship has gotten better (and we have always been really close) since I have quit drinking. We laugh and have fun more. I still have that stern, “I’m your father and I have expectations!” thing because you know…I am and I do. It just seems easier, more relaxed…I don’t know what word fits best…not organic… somewhere between relaxed and natural. Whatever word best embodies that emotion.

I have to admit to a sense of pride in myself. I can look back on how I was doing, day to day before Michelle left me to where I am now and see a happier person. Don’t get me wrong, I am still sad about Michelle and I. The happiness is just a general, underlying state of being. The background noise is happy. It’s my first position (if I can use a dancing term).

Drinking has recently been difficult. The cravings have been more frequent. I went to dinner with some friends at a place that makes great cocktails and someone ordered their “Perfect Old Fashion”. I could feel the desire to have one in my chest. It was uncomfortable.