Monday, January 24, 2011

May I become...

May I become at all times, both now and forever

  • A protector for those without protection
  • A guide for those who have lost their way
  • A ship for those with oceans to cross
  • A bridge for those with rivers to cross
  • A sanctuary for those in danger
  • A lamp for those without light
  • A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
  • And a servant to all in need.

-Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

Sunday, January 23, 2011


"My wife Mary and I have been married for forty-seven years and not once have we had an argument serious enough to consider divorce; murder, yes, but divorce, never."

I've been blessed with a couple of friends who are at about the same stage in the dating (or preparing to date) game as I am. It's always nice to have other women doing similar things that you can talk with- kind of like when we were all first moms and shared stories about pregnancy and caring for infants.

One of the things I've discovered in the past year is that I really do have an arrogant streak when it comes to dating. Dave and I spent eleven years as a couple. We were happily married for nine years when he- died. He didn't leave. I didn't get tired of him. We didn't "grow apart," or "fall out of love." We loved and appreciated each other more on the day he died than we did on the day we married. In other words- our marriage was a success. I'm not single because of choices that I made, or because of choices that Dave made.

Most single people in their thirties are divorced. There's a lot of divorce going on with our age group. Divorce doesn't mean you're a bad person. It doesn't mean that you don't have what it takes to be part of a successful relationship. It doesn't say anything about your character. The circumstances leading to your divorce- those say a lot about you.

It's almost taboo to bring up people's failed relationships. I realize that it may hurt to talk about what went wrong. So many people respond by saying that they don't want to look backwards- they're focused on the future- because it's the future that matters. That's an admirable outlook- in a way. But, no matter what led to the divorce, I don't think you're ready to date if you haven't analyzed the negative outcome and examined how your own choices and actions led you to where you are today.

As a new member of the dating pool, I want to know what people are going to do differently this time around. If you just never were a good match for you spouse, what are you looking for in a partner this time? What traits did you overlook that later on you couldn't live with? Even if your ex is psycho- how did you wind up choosing them? If you admit some blame in the failure of your relationship- how have you changed so that the same issues aren't going to haunt your next relationship?

My heart is delicate. My husband guarded and protected it. He placed my well being and protection above his own. I was spoiled, and in return I spoiled him. I would have walked through fire for that man. We laughed- a lot. We loved- a lot. We simply enjoyed spending our time with each other- a lot.

Before we got married, we spent two years dating. In the beginning we weren't looking for a life partner. We were just having a good time and enjoying each other's company. As the months passed we spent more and more time together. About six months after we started seeing each other I realized Dave had become one of my best friends. He thoroughly ticked me off one night and then hurt himself when he was out walking off his own case of mad (because I did a good job of ticking him off too). As I was pulling the goat heads out of his hands I realized that I loved the idiot (I was still a bit mad at him at the time).

Those two years of dating were sometimes a bit stressful. Once I realized I was most likely in love with Dave, well, I wanted to know how the story was going to play out. It was too early to think of marrying the man. I really do think two years is a good time frame. You learn so much during that two year time frame- and you have your own space so that you can think about whether the things you're learning are things you want to live with or if they're going to drive you to wish to commit murder.

The hardest times for us, as a couple, were probably in the year after I realized I REALLY cared for Dave. I didn't want to grow to care even more if he was going to wind up walking away in the end. There's such a fine line to walk between protecting yourself and being open enough to let love grow. It wasn't made easier when Dave refused to say he loved me- 15 months into our relationship. He told me that those were words he never planned on taking back and he was saving them for his wife. Over the next few months he admitted a few times that he probably did love me- but he still wouldn't say the words.

I hated feeling like I was vulnerable, but I trusted Dave to treat my heart gently. Finally, I had the opportunity to apply for a job in Moscow- which would put me about four hours farther away from Dave than I was while living in Gooding. I was only partially teasing when I told him one afternoon, "You should marry me or I'll be moving farther away." He said, "Okay." And then- then- after almost two whole years- then- he said...


and he kept repeating it for the rest of his life.

Our marriage was fairly smooth (we all have our arguments though), but our dating relationship was strained at times because I so badly wanted to know whether to stay and wait for him or whether to walk away and look for someone else. How do you navigate the dating pool? What questions do you ask? What experiences do you look for?

I know that my approach can seem arrogant, but really, my marriage was a success. If I ever marry again I want that marriage to be just as successful. The group of single men my age is so completely different than the group of single men was when I was in my early twenties. They're a scarred bunch. Battle wounds- divorce, addiction, strange personality quirks- the battle wounds are plentiful. We all have a LOT of baggage (hey, look! I have 3 kids!). How do you go about sorting through the possibilities? When you meet someone that you do care for- how do you know when it's time to move on or when it's time to fight for what you want? Heck, how did we know that the first time around?

Thank you, fellow single women in your thirties. Even though none of us have the answers, it's still helpful being able to talk among ourselves. It's really helpful to have validation that you're not crazy, that your questions are questions being asked by the entire group.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rage at stupid comments made by unsuspecting, innocent bystanders

Yesterday a friend whose son was climbing all over him made the comment that, "this is what happens when we don't have enough daddy time." There's nothing wrong with that comment, right? Divorce happens- and it happens more frequently than anyone likes. In fact, it's almost more common at my age than a happy marriage is.

The moment the words were out of his mouth, I felt rage. Instant rage. Of course we were standing in the shop out back- which is where my husband spent most of his time, and where he died. My emotions are always close to the surface out there.

I hate feeling sorry for myself. Really, I do (all evidence to the contrary). This is one of those issues that push my buttons so fast I can almost feel my head start spinning (like in The Exorcist). His son is so small and so cute. He's four (I know, because I asked). My baby was three when Dave died. Sam was 5, Chris was 7. They were so young.

My kids get so mad when I call them my babies- but they'll always be my babies. When the paramedics were working on Dave I just kept thinking over and over, "Oh, my babies." Every chance they had to make memories with their Dad ended on Oct. 1, 2009. Jake will never know his dad at anything other than the level of a three year old. He won't talk to him about girlfriends, or puberty, or his first job. Sam won't be able to read to his dad as he masters the skill of reading. None of them will be able to show their dad the projects they make. There will be no more water fights, no more working in the garden and watching their father obsess over making everything perfectly square and in line.

All the small memories that make up a relationship- they're finished.

I'm so glad that most children won't ever have to deal with losing a parent while they're still a child. It's not that my friend is divorced. It's not that his son is lucky enough to have two parents. The comparison between what others have and what we don't have- it's heart breaking.

I'm furious that Dave's gone. Every time I think I've moved forward and healed a bit- something like this happens to remind me that while I may look fairly still on the surface- underneath I'm paddling like crazy. I'd bet that people never realize when something flips that switch. I don't say anything, but I can feel all the hair on my head stand on end and my skin gets very cold. It feels a lot like the initial shock- so very cold. So often people tell me how strong I am. I'm not strong. I'm mad... and I have a feeling that it's going to be a very long time before I get over it.

*For the record, in case anyone is wondering, I don't like it when people censor themselves either in an attempt to protect me :-) I guess the truth is that it's the situation and not the comments that set me off.

So- please don't quit speaking freely around me.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

It's a God thing

This week I had the opportunity to give $130 to someone who needed it way more than I did. I don't know the person I sent the check to. She's a friend of a friend and I learned of her need through facebook- mainly because she was so frustrated it kind of leaked over into her status update. I was curious and asked what her need would cost- and it was just short of $130.

After I saw her response I thought to myself, "It would really be nice if someone would just take care of that for her." She's dealing with some major stresses in her life and her family. I remember how it feels when it seems like life keeps throwing rocks at you and the barrage never seems to end. How can you ever get ahead- or even deal with the rocks currently being lobbed at you? I've never sent money to a stranger ever before in my life. For some reason I felt compelled to do it this time.

When I first offered to pay the bill, she turned me down- because she didn't know when she'd be able to pay it back. I told her that when Dave died people carried us. I have a karma debt- and it's a big one. No repayment is necessary- pay it forward when the time is right. She reluctantly agreed.

It felt right. I have no other way to explain the impulse that drove me to mail that check- it just felt right. I finally got the check in the mail yesterday morning. One hundred and thirty dollars. It's not a small amount of money, but it wasn't going to make me or break me either. We can be creative and not eat out this month. There are several areas my family can cut expenses to make up the difference in our budget. More than once in my life I've felt a strong compulsion to do something. Usually it turns out to be a very good thing.

This afternoon a friend on facebook posted a link to a class her local college is offering online about how to be happy. Here's the comment I left her (and I was being kind of sarcastic, but not totally). "Maybe I can save you some money, lol! Work hard towards something. End each day with gratitude for what you have and forget what you don't have. Believe in something larger than yourself. Take every opportunity to be of service- without expecting anything in return-ever. Smile. Be a friend a friend would like to have. "

Then I went and picked up today's mail.

In the day and a half since I mailed that check I've recieved two checks made out to Dave as settlements in class action lawsuits that we never signed on to. One was for $4.91 and the one I found in the mail right before I left for 4-H tonight was $100. I also found a twenty dollar bill tucked into a strange spot in the tote bag I used while Christmas shopping.

So... to recap... in the day and a half since I mailed a $130 check to a woman who I don't know (but felt compelled to help)... I've had $124.91 in unexpected money make it's way into my hands. This means I'm only down $5.09- and I got to feel the joy of helping someone without expecting ANYTHING in return.

Yep, it's a God thing.

Jake camping in the living room

Jake camping in the living room