the difference between us

I have summer traditions and one of them is to visit a very good friend at her cottage and although I come to see her and her wonderful children I have always come to see her father as well.  I am crazy about this guy as he is a current version of who my dad  always was to me.

8 months after I separated he lost his wife, so his grief accompanied mine in timing but not genre. The first summer he was invited everywhere and looked lost trying to figure out what to wear and what to take, his daughter lining him up with hostess gifts and fixing his hair.

The second summer we talked about marriage and business. He is one of my advisors only he does not know it. He asked me some personal questions and some of them I answered.  I was choked up for all of the afternoon except for when I was laughing. It is like this with people you are comfortable with who can see right through you.

The third summer I answered every question and asked many of him. He was better and strong. He was always clean, not foggy about their life together-no regrets or residual anger . I see what peace a life, not a perfect life but a good life, can bring a person.

This the  fourth  summer, we found ourselves talking about dating. What it is like at this stage, what is funny and surprising, what is lonely and disappointing.

He said to me “I had a beautiful wife and the best marriage and nothing can compete with that.”

I said, without even thinking “I have not had my  best marriage yet.”


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how am I doing?

This is a different question to ask but an excellent one. The funny thing about being ourselves is that we have a terrible time with objectivity on how we ourselves are doing.

Truth be known, in times of stress,distress, challenge or even good fortune, we must ask this question. Advice must never be requested by someone we do not admire or someone who does not know us really really well. They must be good people who only want what is best for us but who will not beat around the bush. Tell me what I don’t want to hear, is a good place to start.

Asking “how am I doing?” is not a grab for flattery from a lack of self confidence, but rather a sign of  great confidence. By opening  ourselves up to criticism, we are affirming we want to be our best and check ourselves at every difficulty or change of staus quo.

Tiger and Brittany can’t ever seem to get the straight goods on themselves. They likely don’t ask and their people are loathe to tell the costly truth.

I learned about this question from one of my leading mentors-my mom. When my father was diagnosed with Dementia 11 years ago, they decided together, his faculties, self respect  and ego very intact at that point, to not tell anyone. He did not want to be enabled or pitied. With  time it became her lonely burden carrying an emotional and physical strain. She was impossibly graceful, strong, hopeful and joyful.

Earlier this month, on his 77th birthday to be exact, he was moved into a long term care facility. He will not go home.

She was a daughter and then  with a wedding and  a short car ride, a  wife of 50 years, with dogs (unwanted), children (wanted-mainly), grandchildren (extremely wanted), goldfish, turtles, hamsters and a winter of mice.

She has never once lived by herself until now.

She frequently asks “how am I doing?”

Spectacularly beautifully.

check out my other blog post on COMING HOME  by clicking on this.

spectator sport

As a smug married, I  regarded those splitting up with all the fascination of roadkill. I wanted a close look and a real understanding but was often afraid to look as I got closer. It grossed me out. I found it sinister and feared its truth.

If moral indignation is jealousy with a halo- there were later moments when I judged harshly people  splitting up, a reality that on one side is disappointing to me, but on the other helps me be patient with how people view me and my decision to leave.

In time I found I was a little envious of their bravery because I was searching for my courage. I wondered how they arrived at their decision. What was their last straw, their defining moment, their note of permission that no one could deny.

Francine Prose says “perhaps what should have tipped me off was the puzzling fact that whenever I heard that friends (or even celebrities) were splitting up, I was suffused with vague inchoate yearning and with something like the jealousy I imagine prisoners experience on learning that one of their jailmates  has made a successful escape.”

She did finally leave her husband and subsequently remarried then found that spectator divorce no longer brought her solace, comfort and inspiration. As a once again newly married person she represents the other team – the one longing to keep their hope up and not be the last ones standing.

The happily married, in this day of epidemic divorce rates, float clinging to their marriedness, as if on an ice flow while so many pieces break away- their friends’ marriages,that one acquaintance marriage-the ” epitome of the perfect married couple”, even the pillars of the institution- their parents marriages and friends of parents (often to a chorus of “why bother” as if life ends at a certain point and fresh starts are inconceivable and certainly a dramatic sadness after all the building and memories).

I am on a lonely team now. I can’t find my players- as a divorced woman who still believes in love, hope and partnership – I don’t always find that in other divorced people. Some have given up, many are too pragmatic/logical to go one more round, many, I fear, are broken from the experience. I cling tightly to my belief-like a ridiculous oversized stuffed animal that a grown up girl should let go of- experience sometimes attempting to pull it away from me.

I have a weird job but I love it. Check out my other new post to hear how I spent last week by clicking on this. Come along… you’re not that tired of me yet.