Why I do this

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a “Why do I do this?” post. Sometimes I need reminding. Why would anyone write anything if the fear of writing was that others might see it. I think that might be the difference between people who have the compulsion to put their thoughts into print and those who would never want to express what they feel on paper, much less risk someone else reading it. A lot of people do write, and they hope that no one ever sees it. So what compels some of us to put such personal thoughts out for just anybody? Like that dusty bowl of ribbon candy at your grandparents’ house.

There have been many times in my life that I have felt alone in how I feel, and nobody else seemed to feel that way either. So, that moment when you read something that echoes how you are feeling, you find a connection with someone else, either separated by miles or even years. In some cases centuries. The truth is the people a thousand years ago are going through much the same things that we are now. With a few minor differences (more like complications) thrown in by technology.

I’m sure there was a second century farmer out there who thought that the young kids of today had it so good because they had some kind of iron bit at the end of a stick instead of just wood. We just used wood in those days, and it was good enough for us!

Today I stumbled across one of my older blog posts. It is one of my favorites. At the time I wrote it, I was feeling really raw, but I was also healing. The me from three and a half years ago is different than the me I am today. Back then, he couldn’t have known the challenges he would have faced, and maybe it would have been too much for him to bear. But he did see the natural progression of some things. Not so much a self-fulfilling prophesy, but more like just being able to read the road.

I’ve been through a lot of bullshit since then, but I have also had amazing moments, sprinkled in here and there. There will probably be more of that to come–good and bad–but I do see a break in the clouds. I see opportunity. Adventure. Contentment. Peace. My life isn’t over yet. I have only just started really living. When pathways are taken away from you, rather than sit there and stew and whine about it, you have to push ahead and find something else to live for and new pathways to make for yourself. It isn’t easy. There are days that is the last thing I want to do. Like hiking up the side of a mountain, you can stop where you are and say, “I just need to catch my breath.”

Some people just pitch their tent right there and never go any further. They are too afraid to see what is on the other side of the mountain. It’s easier just to stand on the side of a steep incline all day, because that is what they are used to doing.

I have this ringing in my ears. It comes from years of abusing my hearing with loud music, playing the drums, heavy equipment, you name it. In a quiet room, I can sit here and hear that neeeeeeeeeee just ringing in my ears. That’s the way it is sometimes. We live in a world of chaos where there is always drama or conflict or people shouting and acting bonkers. They don’t feel safe without the familiarity of so much chaos happening around them. It would be like sitting in a quiet room and just putting up with the ringing in your ears without it. So, they metaphorically crank up the stereo, vacuum the floors, turn the TV up to full blast…just so they don’t have to hear that ringing they can’t stop.

The ringing in my ears is annoying, but it isn’t hurting anyone. Not even me. It’s just a sound. It just means I have damaged my hearing and made some mistakes in my life. I can still hear. I can still feel. I can still walk and climb and drive and sing. I might not be able to hear as well as I used to, but I can still hear. And even if I couldn’t, there is a lot more to life. Focusing on the one thing that doesn’t work that well and making it your personality is exhausting.

After a while, you don’t even notice the ringing in your ears. And if you want to play loud music, play it. But only because you enjoy it, not because you are hiding from the ringing in your ears.

So, back to the original question. If you are reading this and it spoke to you, if it made sense or captured what you couldn’t put into words, I’m glad I wrote it. I do this because we are wired to communicate and this is just one more way we can do it. As people, we are flung all across the planet. Sometimes our tribe isn’t the people we are neighbors with. Sometimes they are halfway around the globe. I write because that’s how my brain has found its happy place. The peace it needs. Most nights I can’t even sleep unless I write. The noise in my head becomes too much then. Writing is like turning off something one by one until all you are left with is the quiet. Sometimes it even turns off that incessant ringing.

And since nature abhors a vacuum, that emptiness, that quiet lets good things back in. Instead of ringing, I hear music. Instead of all that weight, I feel strength. And instead of fear, I feel brave enough to keep walking ahead to see what is on the other side of the ridge.

Anti-social

Sometimes I just don’t want to be around anyone. My dog is good enough company, and as I write this I’m even fine with her being in the next room, sleeping on her doggie bed. The house is quiet right now except for her snoring. I am just enjoying the silence. Sipping coffee. Letting my thoughts marinate.

I have assignments I need to write this week. Money is getting low and I have bills coming up soon. I had the chance to socialize this weekend, but I’m not doing it. I am not obligated. I don’t want to people (verb). The idea of being social tonight almost makes me angry.

This is a month of many anniversaries. October is neck and neck with April in being my least favorite month. My oldest kid turned 21 this month. Happy Birthday, kid. The time has slipped by. I haven’t seen him in six years. I haven’t even had a conversation with my daughter in four years. A year ago this week, a judge determined that my youngest son needed to live full time with his mother. So, when people say parental alienation isn’t a thing, I will say “fuck you.” Not only is it real, but the courts assist toxic parents in accomplishing it. They must have a vested interest in filling prisons and rehab centers, because that is usually the result.

Honestly, I’m tired of talking about it. I’m getting on with the rest of my life. Or trying anyway.

Eight years ago I took the first step at doing this. I began researching how to get out of an abusive relationship and how to file for divorce. Eight years. Really, with the exception of one year off, I have been in court for most of this time. My ex-wife loves to remind me what I was getting out of. She’s probably reading this, because she continues to stalk me online. She needs to get a life. When I see my analytics list her city as one of the places with the most hits on my blog, I know who it is reading my stuff. I don’t know what she is up to with her life. I don’t care. I haven’t cared for eight years.

Being who she is, she probably loved seeing that reference to her. Ugh. Gross.

That’s not why I’m writing today. I just needed to get that out of my system. Like a yearly colonic to remind me how far I have come–and how far others have continued to sink.

I’m doing okay. Really. Tonight is just quiet.

This time of year brings back a lot of memories. Good ones. Like the time I got invited to a Halloween party by the deaf interpreter who had a crush on me. Later I found out she threw a party in hopes that I would come and we could hang out. She dressed as Galadriel. She wrote me poetry. I didn’t really know at the time that she was interested in me. I was seeing someone and didn’t think much about anyone else.

I think about the Halloween parties my friends and I went to together. I remember when my girlfriend at the time won a date with Darth Vader (David Prowse) and we got to hang out with him at a five star restaurant in Denver. He did not like George Lucas. Hell, her birthday is in four days. I still remember after all these years. One of a handful of people whose birthday I do remember. Happy birthday, you’re still a fish.

I think of the way the weather would get cold and the first snows would come. We wouldn’t see leaves on the trees for another eight months. This time of year makes me think a lot about the past. It is a transitional season, a time for changes as summer becomes winter, the dead stir from their rest for a time.

A year ago, I was in denial. I had lost someone and I wanted them back in my life. I fought hard. I did everything I could to win their heart. It’s the last time I am going to fight for anyone like that. You shouldn’t have to fight for someone like that. They should just want to be in your life if they are worth it. I should have just let it be. Let it die a dignified death.

The theme for a lot of this is that need to be wanted, isn’t it? Tonight, I realize that a lot of loneliness stems from a need to be wanted. A fear of missing out. I can’t think of a better place to be right now than a quiet house, watching Netflix, maybe drinking a glass of Ridge wine, and hanging out with my dog.

Not too long ago, I would have been climbing the walls that everyone seemed to have somebody and I was all alone. Not only does it not bother me now, but it feels pretty nice. I don’t have to check in with anyone, I don’t have to do something for someone else, I just get to live my life at my own pace.

Tomorrow will be a work day. I have to get caught up on some assignments. I have a couple projects in the works too. More than enough to fill my time. For now, I’ll take listening to music from another room. Coffee. And that eternal neeeeeeeeee in my ears from tinitis.

Enjoy your life on your terms, my friends.

Let’s start a new tradition

I was reading another blog and the writer was talking about her upcoming wedding and asking for suggestions on what to put on their wedding registry. The question got me to thinking. I offered my suggestions in a way that was hopefully as sincere as I could manage. Just because my luck in being married wasn’t ideal, doesn’t mean I don’t wish other people happiness. You miss 100% of every shot you don’t take, as the Great One says.

Looking back, my wedding registry was ridiculous. Lots of towels, expensive kitchen stuff like matching slotted spoons and soup ladles. Pizza stones. Small appliances. We just went OFF with the scanner gun at the Aurora Target. Most of it didn’t last long. The towels wore out. The appliances broke. And of course we wound up fighting over a large chunk of what was left over, paying lawyers $300 an hour to bicker over a set of dishes that were missing most of the coffee cups.

The other day, my mom and I were at a thrift store and we were amazed at the number of complete china sets they had for sale. China has gone out of fashion when it comes to presentation and bringing family together. Whole sets were selling for like $75. Originally, they were probably over $500. Like the families who donated the china, I didn’t need any of it. I’m sure those china sets were on someone’s Registry stretching back to the 40s and all the way up until the 90s. I remember one of the patterns was a set that I had looked at with my ex wife back in the day.

It got me to thinking. Why don’t they have a divorce registry? They should be doing a lot of what is involved with divorce differently. It could be an excuse to have a decent party, sorta like a wedding, or a funeral.

For example, when someone dies, they are inundated with casarole dishes because grieving people usually have to force themselves to eat, or at least cook. The same is true of divorced people. And most of the good stuff they used to have in the kitchen to help them cook has been divided in half (best case scenario), or destroyed by a vengeful ex. So, why not unload your favorite hot dish on your divorced friend? Or better yet…you might see where I’m going with this.

Have a Registry! And a party!

They can scan all the crap they are going to need to put their household back together. Even if it’s just a couple chairs and a couch from Ikea (which would be the perfect place to register: mattresses, furniture, housewares, towels, etc). You’re going to need forks, knives, and spoons. Blenders. Mixers. Nothing will replace the bowl that has been in your family for generations that your ex decided to hang onto (or smash in the driveway), but maybe you can add some decent stainless steel mixing bowls onto the list of stuff you will need.

When I got divorced, many of the people I found coming back into my life were very generous. They gave me gently-used couches, TV stands, kitchen tables and chairs, and stuff for the kitchen. I appreciated all of it. I only wish I could have had a nice big grill out for everyone. A celebration of starting over in life. Maybe a big pit-cooked pig like at a luau. An open bar.

I’ll likely never get married again, but if I could have done things differently, other than choosing a different bride, I wouldn’t have registered at Target. I would have registered with an airline or airbnb. You can pick up just about anything you would need for home at a thrift store or an Ikea. It won’t last anyway, and if it does, there’s the chance it could outlast your marriage. Who needs to be reminded of that?

I say give the gift of experiences. Go somewhere. Do something. Enjoy yourself, because nobody can ever take that away from you. The memory might be soured, but some blood sucking lawyer isn’t going to be counting up their billable hours when your ex wants your memories of paragliding to keep for themselves.

If I had the money, I would give a couple starting out the chance to have a trip they would enjoy.

Bill Murray once said:

“If you have someone that you think is The One, don’t just think in your ordinary mind, ‘Okay, let’s make a date, let’s plan this and make a party and get married.’ Take that person and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all around the world, and go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of. And if when you land at JFK and you’re still in love with that person, get married at the airport.”
–Bill Murray, Men’s Health, 2014

I know my ex and I did not travel well together. Every excursion was a chore or a carbon copy of some childhood vacation she had been on with her family, replicated right down to the endless bickering and fighting. We probably should have known. We should have called it at the honeymoon.

If you have a recently divorced friend, you and your friends should all chip in and send them on a trip. There’s a couple reasons for this. Their finances are going to be bullshit. They are soaking their money into attorney’s fees, they are focusing on their kids and essentially bribing them to continue loving them, and they are working on starting their lives over again. They are NOT going to spend valuable resources on going on a vacation. Even though that is probably the one thing they could really use right now. Don’t make it an option either, because if they have cash on hand, their ex or their lawyer is going to grab it.

Remember Eat, Pray, Love? Remember How Stella Got Her Groove Back? Remember Under the Tuscan Sun? Getting the hell out of town is sometimes exactly what someone needs to find themselves again. I know I would have loved that. Instead I dated someone who went to Asia and Europe without me and would send me pictures of all the places she was and I wasn’t.

And no, the goal shouldn’t be finding someone to sleep with. Hell, you can do that at a bar. The goal should be self-realization. Self-exploration. Creating new memories with the one person you should have been investing your love and affection into this whole time: yourself. Because the best way to be happy is to enjoy your own company and shake the codependency that got you fucked up in the first place.