The Hillhouse

The Journey of a Mother and Son

Dream Tears May 10, 2013

Guess I’m still workin it out. Every now and again I’ll wake up in the night, racked with sobbing. It’s the physicality of it that wakes me, and I always stop and spend a few minutes trying to piece together the events of the dream that led up to it. In the ‘beginning’, that is to say within the first few months of my ex’s news, I’d find myself waking in tears several times a week. In the years that followed, it only happened every other month or so. This past year it’s happened only a handful of times, so even in my groggy state I was rather surprised at it. Even more surprised to remember the situation surrounding it. Last night was a brand new theme; usually it was me begging him not to go, or being surprised once again at his news, but this time it was quite the opposite; I had just told Fareed I couldn’t marry him. Everything was in place for our ‘second’ marriage; somehow he’d left the anonymous other woman he’d been with, somehow things were all set to begin again. His uncle had even come to my house to discuss some plans… But I couldn’t. I remember it being the hardest decision I had ever made. In some ways I could think of no greater relief than to be reunited with this person with whom I’d shared so many years of my life. His company was agreeable, he was an intelligent person, we shared a common knowledge of things musical; there were a lot of reasons to make him the simple, easy answer for a life partner. But something in me knew, and finally I had the balls to face it. And in the eleventh hour, I informed him, his parents (and his uncle), that I was not going forward with the plans. This dream was long and involved, and as I lay there trying to calm my breathing, reconstructing the events of the dream, I surprised myself at the number of details I was able to recall. Fascinating. I had been the one to end things this time, not him. Guess deep down I needed to reclaim the power I must have felt I lost in being the partner ‘left’. The right decision, but a tough one, and it still involved enough conflict to break my heart once again.

A friend suggested on my recent birthday that I look back over my old posts so that I might fully appreciate where I am today. Sometimes – most times, I think – distance from life events is required to formulate perspective on what’s happened. Understanding and insight cannot be rushed, they are organic and need to grow and evolve before their ultimate lesson can be recognized. My friend’s idea was a good and fitting one for such a landmark birthday, and it reminded me of an experience I had back in the beginning of this blog regarding perspective… I recall writing the very first post here, entitled “Snowflakes”, and in it saying something about knowing that things had happened as they were supposed to; that my situation had actually served me well in some ways. Immediately upon writing it, it occurred to me that although I was certain it was true, it didn’t feel true yet. I wondered if I might edit it out – because honestly, my heart hadn’t caught up to the platitude. But some two and a half years later, I finally feel it. Makes me wonder how my current experiences will resonate with the me two years down the line. Funny how some things can’t be rushed. They just need to happen on their own timeline, no matter how much you wish things would hurry up and resolve themselves.

Some five years later, it comforts me to learn that my sleeping self is still tending to its healing. Woulda thought that was all history, a done deal by now. But apparently not. Guess that’s what dreams and tears are for.

 

Twist September 14, 2012

I’d heard of it happening before. So I know I wasn’t the first. In going over some routine business through email today, I learned from Fareed that we were in fact – and had been since July 18th – officially divorced. Unexpected news. I still hadn’t heard it from my own attorney. In fact I’d recently written my lawyer a letter. I’d wanted him to know the process was waiting on one final dental procedure, that Fareed knew this too, and he could go ahead and ‘finalize’ our divorce after that. Guess it was a moot point. Another lesson in the never-ending ‘rules’ of divorce: if the insurance company isn’t told about the divorce (let alone the wife herself), you are still covered. Until they know different, things are as they’ve always been. That is to say, it’s all a friggin game. There’s some play in the rules. Things ain’t necessarily what you thought.

That I come to discover today that I’m now divorced is, in reality, very unspectacular. That I should even be moved to write a post about it probably seems silly. That I cried when I read the news should seem rather ridiculous. That I felt anything at all, it just doesn’t make sense. I kept going over it and over it again in my mind – why did this make any difference at all? Why should this news still jar my system, shake me up, break my heart all over again? I had to understand this. If I put myself in the shoes of readers for whom this drama dragged on way longer than it should have to begin with, and then appeared to have been over half a year ago… how would they feel about another self-sorry, virtual crying jag over this tired not-so-new news?

Just this afternoon I’d been at the eye doctor’s and was explaining that I could still make an appointment if it was before my dentist’s appointment – because I was still on ‘my husband’s’ insurance. I noticed how familiar it was to say ‘husband’, noted how many years I’d been saying it. I even noticed that in spite of the fact that it was soon to be different, I still liked to say that. “My Husband”. It felt like home somehow. To know that somewhere out there, I did really have a husband and his name was Fareed. He was a friend with whom I’d laughed, made music, and with whom I’d been around the world, and he was the man with whom we’d had one very planned and long-awaited child once, not too terribly long ago… Secretly, somewhere deep down, I liked that we were still married. While I knew all the reasons it was not a real marriage anymore, I still felt it kept us connected to so many things I wasn’t looking forward to letting go of. (And I don’t mean insurance.) So much history…  My mind flashes to a time when we lived in our tiny hi-rise apartment in Chicago. It was a time when I (and perhaps I alone) felt things were goin really good. Life was full then. Close to perfect. We were in love, our cats slept on the bed with us and we had coffee together every morning at the little corner cafe. So when I mourn our marriage, that’s one chapter of many that comes to mind. Just one. Of many.

But really, what the hell??? Married to a man who knowingly had another woman pregnant at the same time as me? Married to a man who now has two children with another young woman with whom he’s been in a relationship with for more than five years?? (And all this while he was still married to me; one wonders: is she patient or foolish?)  What, oh what, has changed that I can still feel such poignancy at the expected – and intended for – news? It’s not like I didn’t know it was coming. Divorce is just so, well, different from marriage. Marriage you plan – then you celebrate in a big, public and joyful party. Usually with good food. But divorce – it sneaks up on you quietly. Divorce backs up a moving van to your life, loads up all of your stuff, then drives off without leaving you so much as a box of pizza to soften the blow.

I’m lying in bed with Elihu tonite, we’re kinda thinkin about butcherin our roosters tomorrow morning, we’re kinda thinking about cool Nordic names, we’re kinda thinking about the crazy rules of this modern life. He wants to know what changes now. Now that I ‘really am divorced’. I tell him not much. Most of the hard changes have already happened. Lots of quiet follows. “I’m mad that we don’t have enough money”. Not sure the context, so I wait. “I’ve been thinking. Grandpa Riaz has money, right?”  “Kinda” I answer, as it’s complicated. Lots of real estate, probably not a lot of cash flow. “It makes me mad that we have to figure out how to pay for Waldorf and he doesn’t help one bit.” Obviously he’s been ruminating like this for some time. He simply wishes we had money. Somehow he is taking this divorce news to confirm our poverty. That’s what it is I guess. Hmm. Gotta turn this one around here…

I present to him my spin on things: how much more comfortable would his bed be if we had more money? How much more would he enjoy his chickens if he had more money? How much better would he play his drums if he had more money? And so on… He gets it, and I’ve made a good point, but he’s not stupid. Me neither. We both know that be able to heat the house before it gets super cold – and not to have to wait for assistance to kick in in November – that would definitely make things better. Not to run our of money for food by month’s end. That would definitely make things better. And realizing that both his Dad and his Dad’s family have exponentially more means than we do, well, that is no longer lost to a bright nine year old boy. I can comfort and justify only so much. His wheels are turning, and he’s seeing some inequities here for himself. For the first time.

But I can offer this: It is all an illusion. Nothing is what you think it is. Everything you know will one day change. And money can’t stop that. Money can’t fix your broken heart or make you healthy. So money isn’t what it’s all about. Not really. Only problem is, it also kind of is. I mean I want to be honest here, money is a loaded subject. I can be all Zen about it – and ultimately I want us to know what it is to feel good with what we presently have. Really. And honestly, for the most part, we do feel pretty good about what we got goin on.

But shit. Just think twenty thousand could do, huh? Git a little infrastructure taken care of around the crib and knock the to-do list down to nuttin but a grocery list. Can’t say that wouldn’t feel most exquisite. That’s some serious cash. So yes, money can make things better, easier. (The little voice within is yelling ‘dishwasher, please!’)  Life can be poor, rich, simple, complex, married, divorced. Kinda all at the same time with lots of blurry lines in between. There’s something to be appreciated about every situation and its flip-side too. The trick is feeling ok where you currently find yourself. And not to bitch too much about how it might be otherwise. Just relax, cuz whatever you think you know, or whatever place you might be in right now (mental or physical) – it’ll probably end up changing. So just try to be here and be ok.

Like my favorite soft-serve ice cream cone, twirling together lemon and raspberry (locals, I’m a Dairy Haus girl, if you must know) it seems the lives we lead are less about straight lines and more about the twists… and the surprising experiences that result.