Little Christmas tree made of recycled wool felt. Made by Pat.
My pastor, in a recent sermon, used the term “expectancy without expectation.” I’ve been thinking about it ever since and trying to figure out what it means in my life. I know I’m supposed to analyze this because a light bulb flashed when he said it and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind.
I looked up the words in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and they defined both words exactly the same: “act or state of expecting.” Duh! That’s a circular definition and it certainly doesn’t address my expectation of what I think of as the nuance between the two words. There is, I believe, a shade of difference which the pastor meant and which I immediately grasped even though I couldn’t quite put it into words. Next I looked in the Oxford Dictionary. Aha! Expectation: a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. Expectancy: the state of thinking or hoping that something, especially something pleasant, will happen or be the case. That’s more like it.
So here I am at the beginning of another Christmas season and I find myself dreading Christmas alone. This will be my fourth solo. I think that’s why I’m supposed to focus on expectations and expectancy. Actually, I think I want to focus on expectancy and forget the expectations. Ivan Illich said, “We must rediscover the distinction between hope (expectancy) and expectation. And that’s what I’m trying to do. If I have expectations, good or bad, for Christmas, I’m probably setting myself up for disappointment. On the other hand, if I await Christmas with expectancy and an open heart, I believe I will find peace and I will certainly be better company to those around me. And maybe the true meaning of Christmas will find me without my having to stress and worry about it. That is to say that it’s not about me. It’s about my family and my friends and my faith. (FFF)
I’m going downstairs now to decorate the tree, sing carols and work on getting these ideas from my brain to my heart.
“Got no checkbooks, got no banks. Still I’d like to express my thanks–I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night.” ~Irving Berlin
Here’s a bit of tongue-in-cheek gratitude to prove (to myself, maybe) that I still have a sense of humor. I think it’s Marie Osmond who’s credited with saying, “If you know you’re going to laugh about it later, you might as well laugh about it now.” I’ve tried to remember that as I’ve worked my way toward liking my single status. I have learned that I can find humor in almost anything if I try hard enough. Here goes:
- I’m grateful for my saggy boobs. In this age of the breast-cancer scourge, I feel lucky to have the old girls. So I just buy a good bra and hike’em up.
- I love that my hair has totally lost its pigment. It goes well with my wrinkles. And my boobs.
- I am glad another woman stole my husband. Living alone ain’t so bad. And I have the pleasure of trying to figure out which of them is the bigger loser.
- I’m grateful for my “uniform” which consists of jeans and a “Life is Good” tee-shirt. It’s better than wearing a shirt that says “Life Sucks” even when it does.
- I’m glad we have politicians. I can see them on TV and shout, “Dumb ass!” and no one’s feelings get hurt.
- I dearly love Helen Philpot of Margaret and Helen blog fame. While I’m trying to be politically correct (well, sometimes), she’s just spitting out exactly what I’m thinking for the whole world to see.
- I’m grateful for my three sisters, even the one who isn’t speaking to me at the moment. Silence is golden??????? Love you, B.
- I’m grateful for rap music (now there’s an oxymoron). I’m a huge lover of all types of music and rap gives me a genre to hate. Hey! It’s better than hating a person. I try not to do that.
- I’m happy to have those moments of feeling better after hours of nausea and then finally throwing up. What a relief.
- I’m grateful for my bum ankle. I can fake a limp and avoid doing things I don’t want to do. Would I do that?
- I love my Nook Reader. I can add 1500 books to my collection without buying another bookshelf. Think of the trees I’m saving.
- I’m glad I have a MacBook. It keeps me humble. Something/Someone has to.
- Last (and there’s nothing funny about this one), I am grateful for family and friends and my new blog acquaintances. Thanks for “listening” and supporting and encouraging. And I hope your Thanksgiving is all you would have it be, even if your circumstances are not ideal.
I realize you probably will never read this letter but I feel compelled to write it. I have learned after four years of writing “divorce journals” that just the writing is cathartic. Our four-year “anniversary” is coming up on December 29. That date will mark four years since the day you told me you wanted a divorce–“a day that will live in infamy” as FDR said about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. At least it is for me. Time is working its miracle of healing and I’m getting emotionally healthy again. In fact, I think I can honestly say that I am reasonably healthy these days. Most family and friends are noticing a marked change for the better in my overall well-being. But as the date approaches I start to relive, on some level, the “bomb” you dropped on our marriage. Forgive the metaphor, but it felt like a bomb to me then and it still does. I don’t think I want to forget how it felt that night and the many long nights that followed. I need to remember in order to remind myself how much better off I am without you. And I don’t mean any malice when I say that. I think it’s a truth I have come to understand after much soul-searching. Should I thank you for dumping me? Maybe. But I wish someone had given you lessons on an appropriate way to go about divorcing someone after 30 years of marriage. No one did, obviously. And that’s a rather dramatic understatement.
I remember a sermon Rob preached once about forgiveness. He said it would be so much easier to forgive those who have hurt us if they would only apologize and own up to what they’ve done. He says that almost never happens. And in this case it certainly hasn’t. I have stopped trying to figure out why you treated me the way you did. But I can’t forget the pain of being your wife one day and the next (literally) having no connection to you at all. As if I didn’t exist all of a sudden. I won’t dwell on this because it still makes me cry and I’m sick of crying. You’re no longer worth it to me. (Again, no malice.) Still, though, I want you to know that I forgive you. And I don’t hate you.
I wish you all the good that you desire from your new life. And good health and wealth (so you can pay me what you owe me). After such a long history as ours, how could I wish you any less.
A friend and I were walking in the park yesterday afternoon when we noticed that the light poles were decorated for Christmas. It was a sunny beautiful day. The bluest sky I’ve ever seen. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, the temperature was about 70 degrees and there’s a big snowflake up there. I love the incongruity. As I admired this picture I started to think about other oxymorons and juxtaposing ideas and words. There are so many of them. Naturally, since this is a blog about my divorce, I started to think along those lines.
Terms like amicable divorce, uncontested divorce, civil litigation, collaborative divorce and no-fault divorce come to mind. Ha! I know there are some amicable divorces out there. Ours wasn’t one of them. I think we’re becoming friendlier as time goes by but it’s complicated when one partner dumps the other. D and I started out with attorneys who were “experts” in collaborative divorce but one of them didn’t really understand what it meant. Someone should remove him from the list of collaborative family lawyers. D’s lawyer and I never did agree to disagree. In fact, I left all our meetings feeling as if I had spent an hour or two in holy hell and knowing that I had been clearly misunderstood. I wondered if he and D weren’t both examples of the oxymoronic adult male. Is there such a thing as an adult male as relates to divorce?
So what’s it like when one partner in a marriage turns up missing? The one left behind starts to recognize the sounds of silence. And at first they are perfectly awful. There’s the sound of me thinking out loud. And I usually didn’t like what I was thinking at the beginning of the separation. There’s a droning silence which is really me mentally moaning. Or sometimes it’s just the refrigerator. There’s a screaming silence which is sometimes interrupted by real screaming–mine. There’s a sneaky silence that wakes me up and I become hyper-alert wondering what I heard. Later, months later, the silence becomes just that–and more often welcome than not.
I can laugh about some of it now. Does that mean my 30-year marriage was just a comedic tragedy? I don’t think so. But the fact that I can laugh means I no longer have the numb feeling that I once had. If dying is a part of life, then maybe I can start to accept the death of my marriage as a part of that process.
OK. If you’ve read this far you’re probably moaning by now. Are you moaning aloud or silently? Sorry about that. Thanks for reading.
“This above all, to refuse to be a victim.” –Margaret Atwood
It is a natural thing to become a victim when on the receiving end of an unwanted divorce. The truth is you are a victim. The trick is to avoid becoming a permanent victim. Not so easy.
I have known people who had a “victim mentality” and that was their one defining characteristic. I don’t know the official psychological definition of the term. I can only describe what I’ve seen in others and what I’ve sometimes recognized in myself, especially since the beginning of my separation from my ex. For me it comes in waves just like all the other aspects of working through a difficult time. It consists of a refusal to take control of one’s own life and happiness. I found that when I was very, very angry at my ex and the situation I was in, I was not a victim. When I was alone in the middle of the night and couldn’t sleep and felt sorry for myself, I was. When I was researching finances and how I would take care of myself, I was taking control. Sometimes I would wring my hands and wonder how I could take care of the minutiae that life brings and how I would pay the bills and the victimized me was back.
I learned that there are certain benefits to being a victim. Others will feel sad for you and with you. I found out how kind friends, family and even acquaintances are when you let them know how badly you’ve been treated. And that’s good, temporarily. But I also know how much I don’t like to be around a person who is a constant whiner. One who blames all of life’s unfairness on someone else or on circumstances beyond his or her control. I have always believed that there are those who make things happen and those who let things happen to them. Granted, we can’t always control what happens to us but we can, after a recovery period, determine how we’re going to react.
I don’t want to be defined by anyone as a victim. I don’t want to be defined as a divorcee whose husband left her. I think I’ve played both those roles to perfection and now it’s time to be the strong independent woman I’m supposed to be and that I’m certainly capable of being. Parts of the process are naturally accomplished by the passage of time. The rest is up to me. I choose to volunteer. I choose to try new things. I choose to exercise and eat well. I choose to become the best role model I can be for my daughters and grandchildren. I refuse to be a victim!
Glorious mountain sky!
“Personal history must be constantly renewed by telling parents, relatives and friends…” —Carlos Castaneda
One of the really scary things about getting divorced was the feeling that I was losing my history. I know that sounds strange but D and members of his family (not all of them) were acting as if they hardly knew who I was. I was no longer welcome at any family gatherings. I had spent more than half my life with this man and his family (I was quite fond of most of them.) and all of a sudden I wasn’t welcome. I realize now that some of that estrangement was D’s ineptness at bridging the gap between married and divorced. Some of his family said that it was because I “wasn’t ready.” Wasn’t ready for what?! To be in the same room with the interloper? That’s right. I wasn’t.
I don’t think I have mentioned before that D is the stepfather to all three of my daughters. I don’t usually bring that fact up because it doesn’t serve any good cause for the most part. I always worried that it would be divisive. And I think that he was a good stepfather for a very long time. I bring it up now to make a point.
From the beginning of our separation I was separated/estranged from D and his entire family. He, on the other hand, had no qualms about attending my family gatherings. And that would have been fine with me had he not brought his “friend” with him. Going to the children’s sporting events and birthday parties became a very special kind of torture. I am always grateful, though, when he brings his mother along. I still love her. And I think that’s all the venting I’m going to do. It’s exhausting.
I had a friend who told me I always brought D up in all our conversations. I don’t remember what I stammered back at her. This was only a few months after he left. And she was right, I did. But you know what–I still do and I don’t apologize for it. It’s my history. I still have pictures of him in my house, mostly with the grandchildren. It’s their history, too. I don’t think I’m being overly sentimental about this. It is what it is. It’s history.
WGASA got flocked in Raleigh. What fun!
“In real love you want the other person’s good. In romantic love you want the other person.” —Margaret Anderson
I was talking with a young friend this evening. We haven’t talked in a while so I was happy to hear from her. She is in her third month of bed rest as she awaits the arrival of her third child. I had told her earlier to check out my blog if she got too bored. She did. I stressed the young because I’m amazed at the wisdom she often displays when we discuss life topics. I was telling her that my ex is getting married. And that now when I see him I do a sort of mental double take and I wonder exactly what it was that I liked about him. She said, “Your D and the fiancée’s D are two entirely different people.” And that’s it exactly. If I were meeting him today for the first time, I doubt I would give him a second thought, or glance. And I have to admit that I truly believe I got the better D.
Based on the above quote I have graduated to a higher level or something like that. I have realized that I don’t want him any more. At least that’s how I’ve felt lately. And I’m trying and planning to keep that thought. I want him to be healthy and happy. I’m trying really hard to get honest with myself. I realize that I’ll probably have times when I curse both of them again because my progress is not a steady thing. It bounces around like a rubber ball, especially if I start to feel lonely. I have to remember that bad company is worse than no company. I must embrace my aloneness and not let it become loneliness.
And that’s what I’ll do. I mean it!