Insults and put-downs.

“Do not argue with an idiot.  He will drag you down to his level and beat you with  experience.” ~

I love one-liners and insults.  Understand, I don’t want them used to describe me unless I make such a huge screw up that nothing else will do.  Then, hopefully, I’ll laugh at myself.  Sometimes I think in insults just to entertain myself.  For example, last evening someone rang my doorbell.  I wasn’t expecting anyone so I looked through the peep-hole and saw that it was someone hoping to sell me something (illegal in my neighborhood).  I snickered to myself and said, Lights are on but nobody’s home.  Go away!

And do you ever have a conversation with someone but you know he/she is not understanding a word you’re saying?  And it’s so simple that an idiot could get it.  When that happens to me I go away thinking, Well, I do believe she’s just one blade shy of a sharp edge.  Or He’s playing hockey with a warped puck.  Or The elevator doesn’t quite  make it to the top floor, does it?

There’s another type of idiot that drives me up the wall every time I see the news these days.  The so-called “birthers” who don’t believe that Barack Obama is a citizen of the United States.  Now…when I watch crazies on TV I talk to them.  I know, that might make some people call me a crazy.  But understand that I now live alone and I’m a very social sort so I’ve gotta talk to somebody.  I find myself looking at those GOP nut cases and saying, You do know, don’t you, that Hawaii is a state in this country?  I’m not watching news as much as I did but whenever I see that brand of nut case I think, It’s too bad there’s no vaccine for stupidity.

One more.  I cannot stand to listen to a speaker who slaughters the language grammatically.  So far I’ve been controlled enough not to walk out even though I’ve sometimes wanted to.  And I’ve resisted the urge to stand up and say Excuse me.  Who gave you permission to speak?

By now I’ve probably convinced you that I am an intolerant bitch.  I’m really not.  I promise.  I’m just having a little fun.  Sometimes I have to entertain  myself.  That’s all.


Girlfriends, part two.

“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes.” ~ Maya Angelou

I entitled one of my early posts:  “Thank God for Girlfriends.”  I referred to the girlfriends as members of two groups in that post.  Tonight some specific kind acts by some of my girlfriends are on my mind.  I can’t sleep because I was so tuckered out after the grandchildren left this afternoon that I took a three-hour nap.  Never a good idea.  But what a great time we had in the back yard looking for Easter eggs and discovering what treasures were inside them.  But I digress as blogger Helen of likes to say.

I was thinking in particular of a dear friend whom I will refer to as J.  Unlike many of my dearest friends, I had not known J very long when the divorce fiasco began.  But she and I had bonded right away.  We had a love of books and reading and we shared books with each other.  Also, we are both very liberal politically.  Two good reasons to become good friends.  I dedicate this paragraph to J because she proved to be one of my greatest supporters and allies in a very dark time for me.  I could call her up at a  moment’s  notice and she would meet me down at the coffee shop for one of our many “chew the bastard out” sessions.  She was more indignant about how my ex was treating me than I was.  So, J, I thank you for your unconditional support and caring and time freely given and your worn out ear.  And for being angry for me when I didn’t have the energy.  You were exactly what I needed.

Several days later…

Another such friend is C except that she is my oldest friend.  Hee, hee.  I love telling her that.  We’ve known each other since we were ten years old.  I’m actually four months older than she is.  What do I say about C?  She was with me for the birth of all three daughters.  She has unconditionally loved and supported me through two divorces.  When we were children we meandered all over our small mountain town.  And when we went home later than we should have, we helped each other figure out what to tell our parents so that our stories were more or less the same.

C just left my house yesterday after a couple of days of talking non stop.  C is one of those rare friends who can walk in the door or pick up the phone and restart the conversation as if there had been no interruption.  And back in the days when we were rearing our children, that could sometimes be a year or two.  But we don’t have to talk.  We are also comfortable with silence while we read or knit or crochet.

There’s much more I could say but I imagine you get the picture.  So…here’s to you C, my pal, my confidante.  Thank you!

They bloom in clusters.

It has briars. It must be a rose.

Change: friend or foe?

“Change, like sunshine, can be a friend or a foe, a blessing or a curse, a dawn or a dusk.” ~ William Arthur Ward

Change, when forced upon me, feels like a foe, a curse and a dusk.  Well, that’s how it feels at first.  And it is all those things.  When I first found out I would be divorced against my will, I had a hard time imagining my future.  My dream of growing old with my husband was erased.

An interesting thing, though–it was change itself which forced the change that I thought I didn’t want.  I must admit that I had considered divorcing him because of all the changes.  He obviously wasn’t happy.  I wasn’t happy and I told myself it was because he was so depressed and unhappy.  I realize now that neither of us had that kind of power over the other.  I believe that all of us continue to grow (hopefully) and when it’s a married couple you either grow together or apart.  There were lots of times I felt as if we were parallel to each other.  But I thought we would eventually merge again.  As I said above, I had thought about the possibility of divorcing him.  There were many times when I got tired of wondering what would make him happy.  But I loved him and I said “for better or for worse.”  I had made a commitment and I would honor it.

Now, here’s the part I don’t like to admit but if I’m going to be honest with myself, I must.  When he told me he wanted a divorce and I was trying to assimilate the information, I became enraged at him for daring to do what I had thought of doing and decided  not to do.  Is there any logic in that?  I don’t know.  My excuse is that everything was raw at that point.  I worried about everything.  How would I get along without my almost 35-year companion?  Was there enough money to sustain both of us?  Where would I live?  When would the pain stop?  When would I ever sleep again?  If you’ve been there, you know all the questions.  And at one time or another I had all of them.

My conclusion about change is that it’s whatever I choose to make it.  Being bitter and cynical would have caused me to get stuck, unable to grow.  From the beginning I knew I didn’t want that.  But it took a while for me to be ready to forgive and get on with it.  I have a forgiving nature and I’m glad about that.  I’m starting to bloom again like the azalea at the top of the page.  One day maybe I’ll look like the one below.

Dressed for the prom.

“I don’t know where I’m going but I’m on my way.” ~ Carl Sandburg

Periwinkle with variegated leaf?

Pulitzer Prize winning poet Carl Sandburg spent his lifetime asking the eternal questions Who am I, where am I going and where have I been? (Source:

It reassures me to know that someone as well-known and successful as Carl Sandburg asked those questions all his life.  It encourages me and gives me hope.

I always thought (and hoped) that I would have some sort of innate, experiential wisdom in my retirement years.  So why don’t I?  I never thought I would say this but here’s the truth as I see it right now:  Since D left exactly four years ago, I have done more toward developing into a wise woman than I ever would have done had he stayed.  Why?  Because I was too comfortable, maybe, with who, what and where I was.  Because I spent a great deal of time waiting for him to get home, to call, to help make decisions that affected both of us.  I’m not saying he required those things of me.  I required them of myself.

Since he’s been gone, I have studied and read and questioned and affirmed my faith and spirituality.  I have been writing regularly, something I always said I was going to do but never got around to it until my life was in such a turmoil that I had to.  Now that I’m no longer dealing with his/our issues, I have almost endless patience with people and family I deal with daily.  (OK, I admit that some of my patience may come from the Lexapro I’ve  been taking since D left.)  I’ve learned to accept what is in my life and run with it.  And you know, it’s not bad.  Some days it’s great!

Could I have done these things while living in the marriage?  Of course.  Would I have done them?  I don’t know.  I had done some spiritual soul-searching during the last years we were together.  I thought he was doing the same.  If so, we certainly came out of it in different locations.  This makes me giggle a little because I know that no two people are ever on the same path or journey.  But hopefully they will be able to hold hands anyway and agree to disagree.  I’m not saying our faith or lack of faith had much to do with our separation.  But it might have been factor.

Human needs.

“One of the oldest human needs is having someone to wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night.” ~ Margaret Mead

I’ve been thinking lately about divorce and its effect on our basic human needs.  Now that I’ve refreshed my understanding of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, I’m not sure this was a good idea.  I may get angry all over again.  The effects are devastating, disastrous.  No wonder I was such a basket case for so long.  And no wonder those of you who are struggling along behind me by a year or two or three are still feeling like fish out of water.  All areas on the pyramid are disrupted.

When I was reduced to struggling once again for simple physiological needs, I could function only partially at all the other levels.  I didn’t feel safe, I couldn’t think straight enough to solve problems, I didn’t feel loved, my self-esteem was in the basement.  I wasn’t living well, I was existing in survival mode.

I have only recently started to feel some level of self-actualization again.  Take a look at this chart, if you haven’t in a while, and tell me what you think.  Did your divorce have similar effects on your life?  If the print is too small, just click on the image and enlarge it.  (I’m sure you know that.  I’m the one who’s techno-challenged.)

Get your knees green.

White azalea.

“If your knees aren’t green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously examine your life.” ~ Bill Watterson

When I was a child my knees were green most of the summer.  So was the seat of my shorts.  My shirt.  My hands.  I loved being outside.  I lived in the mountains.  It was considerably cooler there than in Charlotte.  Here, and now, I have to take advantage of spring and fall and even winter for my outdoor activities.  Today my knees are green.  I worked in the yard this morning.

Sometimes, when the summertime heat and humidity become unbearable, I head for the hills.  I remember one time a number of years ago when D and I did that.  He had asked me what was wrong, that I seemed sad, depressed.  I told him it was the heat.  I didn’t think I could stand it one more minute.  I wanted to be outside.  I couldn’t.  The temperature had been in the high nineties and even triple digits for at least two weeks.  The only way to escape it was to stay inside in the air conditioning.  D said,  “Let’s go find some cool air.”  (He was often so very thoughtful and kind in those days.)  We got in the car, turned on the air, of course, and headed north up I-77.  We drove until we came to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Then we found an old homestead that had been preserved.  We got out of the car, walked down a little trail and found a rock wall to sit on.  We sat and felt the breezes blowing off the valley.

As we sat, the tears flowed freely down my cheeks.  D took my hand, put his arm around me and just held me.  I thanked him for taking me up there where I could breathe again.  My misery mattered to him and he acted to relieve it.  And now the tears flow freely again  as I remember.  That’s the D I will never stop missing.

I had no idea what direction my writing would take when I sat down.  I’m glad I have this sweet memory.  And that’s why I write.

“Fearlessly be yourself.”

My neighbor's dianthus.

“There is only one you for all time.  Fearlessly be yourself. ~ Anthony Rapp

I seem to have, these days, a deep psychological need to be myself.  I hope I can figure out what, or who, that is.

When I was a young child and a teenager, I had a number of teachers who told me they liked me and enjoyed having me in class because I was not pretentious.  I was straight forward.  I was consistently the same personality.  They didn’t have to wonder which Pat was going to be in class from day-to-day.  I was who I was.  I never understand quite what they were trying to tell me at the time, especially the young child version of me.  But I understood that they were bestowing a special something upon me.

I now understand clearly what they were saying.  I hope I have kept some of that quality about me throughout my adulthood.  I know, however, that I haven’t always done it well.  There were times when I put on various masks in order to be the person I thought my ex-husbands wanted me to be.  I recognize that much of it was my perception of what I was supposed to be as a wife and a mother.  I imagine I got those perceptions from the dysfunction of my family of origin and from the society of my growing up years.  I am happy to say that I never went so far as to vacuum the floors in high heels and a dress.  (Yes, I’m that old.)  That’s what the media were bombarding us very young mothers and wives with back then.  It tends to make you think you’re somehow less than you should be.  But then I read The Women’s Room by Marilyn French and started to understand the insanity of those images we’d been fed.

By the time D and I got married I had developed into a mother-of-three would-be hippie with long, straight hair, blue jeans, t-shirt and no bra.  D’s dad called me an equal-libber.  And I was. I Still am.  D and I both still wear blue jeans and t-shirts but I’ve added a bra.

Somewhere in the middle of this second marriage D and I became respectable. He started making a lot of money.  I think we both enjoyed the privileges of affluence.  Maybe we enjoyed it too much.  Maybe we forgot what was really important.  Maybe we forgot to be ourselves.

Alone but not lonely.

The tulip stands alone.

“What a lovely surprise to discover how un-lonely being alone can be.” ~ Ellen Burstyn

Each spring this lovely red tulip shows her face.  She stands proudly alone.  Usually I am awestruck by the beauty of great masses of tulips.  But  there is something noble and rare and delightful about this one standing there alone in all her glory.  It’s  as if she’s defying tradition and daring to be her best self by herself.  I’m taking her lesson to heart.

I’m thinking, and hoping, that my best self is yet to come.  How can that be?  I don’t know exactly but I have this powerfully optimistic sense that it is so.  I am no longer a part of a couple.  I’m not even a part of a cohesive family unit any longer.  I live alone.

When I started this “alone” journey I was lost and sad and so very lonely.  I told an acquaintance (also divorced) last night that I went from one protector to another to another in my adulthood.  It has taken some time to shake the notion that I need someone to look after me.  But I realize now that I don’t.

This past weekend we had severe thunder and lightning storms with heavy rain and hail.  And wind!  Well, I walked outside a while ago when I was taking a break.  I checked on my lone tulip.  She was wiped out.  Beaten into the ground.  Pieces of her scattered.  (Sound familiar, reluctant divorcees?)  I looked at her rather sadly for a moment and said, “Don’t worry, Tulip.  You’ll come right back, strong as ever, next April.  If I can do it, you can do it.

I must remember to ask my daughter how I should give Tulip extra care and love over the next year.

“We made too many wrong mistakes.” ~ Yogi Berra

Garden gazing ball.

No matter where or how I place this ball; no matter where or how I place myself, I always see me looking back at me.  That seems significant today more than usual.

To those who have been reading my blog for a while, you are well aware that I have been all too willing to blame my ex for what he did to me and to our families.  He certainly has his share to bear.  I don’t want you to think, though, that I blame all of it on him.  I think I am past the hand-wringing dither I was in at the beginning.  That’s when I stayed awake nights asking what I did wrong and what I didn’t do right.

I’m talking now about the failure of both of us to nurture our relationship.  To cherish the good times and the things we liked (even loved) about each other.  To ignore more of the irritations.  But most of all to talk about the good and the bad.  It would have reinforced the positives and mitigated the negatives.  I can’t put a finger on when we stopped talking and sharing.  We would talk non-stop for hours when we first met.  That’s one of the things I so loved about D.  Somewhere through the years we made too many wrong mistakes. And I regret it.

I read recently that every story has a moral.  The moral to this one?  Communicate!!!

“… freedom to choose.” ~ Thornton Wilder

Carolina jessamine.

“The more decisions you are forced to make alone, the more you are aware of your freedom to choose.” ~ Thornton Wilder

I have this meandering vine growing in my back yard.  I don’t recall blossoms on it in previous years.  This is my third spring here.  My daughter who is also my plant expert has identified it as Carolina jessamine.  It has a soothing sweet fragrance and as you can see its color matches my dandelions.  I love it.  I wonder why it chose to bloom this year and not the past two.  Daughter # 1 could probably answer that for me, too.  Maybe it’s been taking in whatever it needs in order to once again show the world its stuff.  Like me.

(Pause for a little research.)

It blooms best in full sun and with plenty of water.  Mine is in partial shade and we had several months of drought the past couple of years.  It was stressed.  Like me.  Unlike me, it can’t decide when it’s going to bloom.  Come to think of it, it’s not so unlike me.  For the better part of the past four plus years I haven’t been able to decide to bloom either.  But now I can.  Did I decide to or did it just happen?  A little of both, I think.

There was a time when I felt too wounded to make decisions, yet make them I did because I had  no choice.  I was forced to make decisions just as I was forced to get a divorce and live alone.  I can’t imagine not having the freedom that I have now–to choose or not to choose.  I like it.