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.

Hope?

the difference from

where I was – to now, gives me

hope for the future


8:00am

Yesterday, I was so upset and angry at Michelle with the horrible thing she was saying to me that I left work. She is consumed by anger and resentment (maybe hatred?). She kept landing these blows that were expertly placed for maximum damage. I wish I could say I didn’t try to do the same but that would be a lie. She is just so much better at it than I am. My heart isn’t in it. I mostly ended up trying to defend and explain myself. I’m pathetic!

I got in my car and just started yelling at no one in particular as I drove home. That lasted a good 10 minutes or so. After I blew off steam I decided I needed to get out of my head. I got home, did a tough 20 minute circuit work out, and immediately went for a 3 mile run. All told it took about an hour. When I got home from my run, Dennis and Brad were home. Brad and I talked for about an hour while his brother did his homework. Then the three of us went out for sushi down in the old market. We walked around talking, having fun, and ended up at a coffee shop for desert. We talked at length about Michelle and how they aren’t going to be seeing her for a while. They were/are both sad. I explained why it was for the best with an analogy:

When you pull off a band-aid, you can do it slowly and it doesn’t hurt as much but it hurts a lot longer. Or, you can quickly rip it off. It hurts at first but very soon stops. The way I see it (this is me telling them), we can either extend the pain because it seems easier (it isn’t) or just rip that band-aid off.

As we were driving home, Brad said he feels good about the decision. I asked why. He said he feels less stress (he suffers from anxiety and has a therapist) because he knows what is happening now. There is no longer any confusion about the status of Michelle and I. Uncharacteristically, Dennis chimed in and said he felt the same way and then said, “this was a really great night.” Brad agreed.

After her attacks the last two days, I know what I wrote to her in that letter (on Sept 18th) about being so much further ahead of her and being afraid she wouldn’t be able to catch up…it has come to pass. She doesn’t even think she needs to see anyone. I feel so sad. I need to focus on the positives: I’m healthy, I’m sober, I have honest/clear/loving lines of communication with my children, and I’m not overwhelmed by being sad like I was.

After dropping the boys off at their mother’s I went to the movies. When I got home, I went to bed and read for an hour. I am proud of myself. I left work just a mess: hurt, sad, and longing (I’m being honest, I am still wanting Michelle). Shortly after, I had worked out and was on the front porch laughing and talking with Brad. I turned my day around. I did that! I didn’t stew about things. I felt those awful emotions, I let them in, and then got rid of them doing what I know works: exercise, time with my kids, movies, and reading. Last night I slept like a baby. I have made so much progress.

I just realized, my go to thing when I am upset (like I was yesterday) was drinking (either alone or with a friend). That never entered into the realm of possible solutions to getting “out of my head”. That is progress!!!!!!!

 

A dust-up

11:00am

Michelle received my letter. A huge dust up ensued. I wish I hadn’t engaged but I did. She said a lot of awful, hurtful things (!again!). She made assertions that aren’t true, she insulted my integrity, and maligned me as a father. Here is the last punch she landed before I stopped texting:

Michelle: Your boys are screwed without me. Have fun with their crippling insecurities when they are older because nothing is good enough for Collette. You’re a terrible father!! I was their only champion.

She is awful. I am so upset right now!!

 

I was so upset with all she said, I wasn’t able to concentrate, so I left work early today.

Ephemeral

she was like others:

ephemeral and fleeting.

I will never leave.


8:30am

Tomorrow evening I am going to have the conversation with Dennis and Brad about Michelle and not seeing her in the future. I need to get the logic behind the decision organized so it is coherent for them.

  1. We love Michelle, we miss her.
  2. Michelle no longer wants a future with me (I was going to say “us”…I think “me” is better).
  3. We need to move forward with our lives. We can’t hope Michelle will change.
  4. This is painful. It is okay to be sad, hurt, angry, confused, scared.
  5. These feelings may never go away but they will diminish with time.
  6. Some people will come and go in your life. I will never leave you.

Number 2 is still difficult for me. It will be difficult for the boys. I hope they are further along in their grieving than I give them credit for. The 6th point…it makes me feel good to remind them of it.

 

You’re not worthy of them

8:30am

What a weekend. Friday was the Nebraska game. I made homemade nachos (and killed it…they were perfect). Saturday Brad had to be in Lincoln for a soccer game at 9am. We got back home at 2pm. I worked out, bathed and rested for a few minutes. We met some friends for pizza and then went to the UNO soccer game. Home in time to watch SNL (season opener). Sunday had to get Dennis to a swim meet for warm ups at 8am. Came home for a quick lunch and then went to the movies. Had a 5pm soccer game for Brad, made homemade chicken noodle soup, and then to bed. I am exhausted from my weekend.

I ended up texting with Monica off and on. It is nice to download my brain to someone new. We might get together for a few drinks later in the week. I’m not looking for anything there except having a friend. They are in short supply these days.

I’m sleeping better and the obsessive thoughts about Michelle seem to be subsiding. The last time I visited my therapist, we talked about her continued relationship with the boys. I was honest and admitted the reason I capitulated and allow her to maintain her relationship is because she was upset. My therapist is right, there are all kinds of complications that can come up in the future that will be more harmful to the boys than losing their relationship with Michelle. Here is what I am sending to Michelle in a letter and email.

Michelle,

I’ve been working with my therapist for 10 weeks now. I’ve come to trust her and respect her. She pointed out all kinds of potential complications that, net, will be more harmful to the boys than the loss of their relationship with you. At this point in your life, you aren’t interested in any version of the world where you might need to grow. You are stagnating. My boys deserve people who can take objective stock of things and make adjustments that are in their best interest. Right now, you aren’t capable of that. I hope, some day you will be. Going forward, I do not want you to be a part of my children’s lives. With the selfishness, entitlement, and manipulative behavior you displayed regarding my health insurance, I won’t risk you not honoring my wishes as it relates to my children. I am going to cut off your contact via text, phone, and social media.  If I had to sum it up in one sentence it would be this: I don’t trust you to be objective and act in Dennis and Brad’s best interests if what is in their best interest conflicts with what you want.

David

P.S. I really do hope you are able to change and learn how to evolve and grow. I miss how happy we all were together as a family. I can see it now, as we were…our breaking up was inevitable. I love you.

I sent it this afternoon in a letter. I will send it to her via email on Thursday as well. I want to make sure she receives it.

Manipulative

I would really appreciate your thoughts on this post. Please leave a comment:

11:30am

I had a revealing conversation with my therapist yesterday. We discussed boundaries. At first I had no idea what she was talking about. She asked me a question. “Why do you always feel the need to make everyone happy?” that made me anxious, in fact I feel anxious thinking about it right now. She asked me what “I wanted the template for the future to look like?” I had no idea what she was talking about.

She talked about the pitfalls of thinking like this. You end up losing yourself and it breeds resentment. People take advantage of you (not intentionally…it’s just the construct of the relationship, they express discomfort and you act to alleviate that without any regard to whether or not you should. They get used to this and naturally fall into the behavior). I can see that with Michelle. In fact she just tried to manipulate me into keeping her on my health care Tuesday night. Here is the texting exchange:

Michelle: Is there any way I could stay on your insurance for another year? It affects my life so much having good insurance. Please think about it.

Me: The last time we discussed it was that Friday we were out all night. We were going to work on ourselves thinking there was a chance we would then have a possibility of being a family again. I know now we are never going to be a family again. I accept it isn’t what you want. You’re now asking me to continue to provide your insurance?

Michelle: I’m asking you as a person that cares about me. You know how this affects me. It doesn’t affect you at all.

Me: That statement makes me feel like you’re trying to manipulate my feelings so you can use me.

Michelle: Well I feel like you kicking me off it is just pay back.

I had to explain to her we are lying to my employer about being domestic partners and I could get into trouble.

Realizing my desire to fix things allows people to take advantage of me pisses me off. Reading that exchange with Michelle and how she blatantly tried to manipulate me pisses me off. Her sense of entitlement pisses me off. I know having her off the insurance is the right thing to do. I know her attempt at manipulating my feelings is awful. What is most upsetting; I almost capitulated. Logically I know I shouldn’t and she’s being selfish but I still feel really guilty

Interesting note…her attempt at manipulation is right out of my ex-wife’s play book.

Happy birthday

we want you with us

but you are so far behind.

please catch up, hurry!!


the resentment I

felt was not real. it was fear

wearing a disguise.


9:00am

Michelle sent me a text a few minutes after midnight wishing me a happy birthday. Of course I’m reading all sorts of things into that. I just responded with “Thank you”.

I can see now I’ve really hurt my chances at reconciling with her. Thinking back to the letter I sent her on the 18th, where I said I have gotten so far ahead of her…of course she is resistant to everything I say. She hasn’t processed anything. I’m seven weeks into therapy and sobriety. Emotionally, Michelle is still in Arizona, nine weeks ago when my drinking problem and resultant controlling behavior became so evident to her. She hasn’t moved beyond that. She won’t be able to until she starts therapy.

I’m a different person. No, that’s not correct. I’m the same person…I’m just a better version. I understand what drove my drinking. I understand what created my need for control. I understand all anxiety touches and impacts in my life. Knowing helps me: not drink, squelch (I love that word) my controlling behavior, and manage my anxiety. I’m going to continue with therapy and continue to get stronger and healthier.

To say Michelle is resistant to therapy would be an understatement. Until she starts, any time we spend together will be fraught. It will be detrimental to any chance of us finding each other again. I’ll be looking to the future wanting to heal and she will be angry and resentful of what happened in the past. She has said she loves me and wants to be with me. She has also said she doesn’t see how that can happen. We can’t address the desire to be together and reconcile it with the anger and resentment she has until she gets help. As much as I want to, I can’t spend time with her until she does. I have to be patient.

Thinking through this…I’m not resentful (anymore). I am afraid. I am afraid she’ll never catch up. I’m afraid she isn’t brave enough to grow. I’m afraid we’ll never be a family again.


3:45pm

Michelle just sent me a text asking if we could get together. She wanted to buy me a crème brulee for my birthday. I told her I have plans and can’t. I do have plans tonight but I could meet her. I really, really want to meet her but can’t. It will do more harm than good.

 

It’s her anger

your anger is what’s

hurting us now. I am not

the problem anymore.


8:30am

I had another great night of sleep. I didn’t wake until my alarm went off. This is the best rested I have felt since Michelle and I split up. My therapist commented (more to herself than me) the grief seems to be lifting. Is it fucked up that makes me sad? I’m not over Michelle but the severity of the loss is diminished. I guess it’s to be expected considering how much I’ve been working at therapy and my sobriety. I suppose I should say, good for me?

The boys seem to be doing really well. We are still laughing more since I quit drinking. They seem to be more at ease. Dennis and Michelle are going to start spending Tuesday afternoons together before his swim practice. I think it’ll be good. I know they miss each other.

Tomorrow is my birthday. Michelle wanted to get together and go out. I cancelled. I’m not interested in pretending everything is fine. It isn’t. I’m angry she hasn’t done anything with respect to her anger issues and panic attacks. I shouldn’t be around someone who makes me feel like shit. That’s what she has been doing. Everything I say is responded to with contempt. She won’t listen to me. She just waits for me to stop talking so she can tell me how much she resents me and how angry she is.

That’s enough about her. Let’s focus on something positive that doesn’t make me feel like shit. After I dropped the boys at their mother’s house I came home. I was considering going to the movies or watching some Game of Thrones while doing laundry. I thought what if I went to another AA meeting? What if I went to a discussion meeting? I like that I can go to these meetings and just listen. I might go to one on Friday after I have dinner. I’m going to start going to meetings a few times a week. I don’t have to buy into all that God bullshit to derive value. Dennis, Brad, and Michelle are the thing I’m giving my drinking up to.

I wish I could leave Michelle out because she doesn’t give a shit about me. To get through all of this, I need to be honest with myself. It’s not just the boys…I’m doing this for her too.