Rise.

Fall.

Fall hard on my knees.

Tears and screaming and pointless pleas.

Though the world collapses in on me, there’s somewhere else I need to be.

 

Diapers and tears and endless cries.

Fake a laugh. Don a disguise.

Tie a shoe, pretend to be wise.

Fake it all when they look in my eyes.

 

Tear-filled Kleenex in great mountains rise.

No sleep, no relief from dusk to sunrise.

No way out of this cycle that I can devise.

Diapers and clocks and blue or black skies.

 

Collapse in anguish, hoping to die.

Imagine his new lover. Bake a pie.

Search for tears but find I’m bone dry.

Kiss a skinned knee. Stop asking why.

 

Lift. Sweat. Buckle. Breathe. Crawl.

Stagger. Try. Fail again. Fall.

Parent, alone, these babies so small.

Collapse beneath the weight of it all.

 

Will yourself to standing. Confront your fear.

Laugh for once and find it’s sincere.

Stop being elsewhere, just be right here.

Dance with them anyway in the moonlight clear.

 

Books and late nights. Yawn. Repeat.

Missing socks and lunch-pails and tiny feet.

Hugs and self-loathing and kisses sweet.

Victory, it seems, is holding hands with defeat.

 

Rise.

Rise from my knees.

I’ve got adventures with my kids to seize.

My world did not collapse in on me, because there was somewhere else I needed to be.

 

 

 

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

This post ran previously in 2015

I’ve known for some time that I should see a counselor. I’m not equipped to handle the ‘skein of fuckedupedness’ that I unwittingly attempt to untangle every day (shout out to the AMAZING Chump Lady). I feel like a grade school teacher trying to land a 747. So, I began therapy last week. The therapist didn’t know quite where to begin with me. I’m pretty decimated in every area of my emotional life, and as I’d already warned her about, feeling incapable of getting myself out of this prison of my own creation. So she played it pretty safe, and stuck to the basic getting-to-know-what’s-wrong-with-your-crazy-ass script. But then she busted out with a simple exercise for me to do until I saw her again, and honestly, it’s been rocking my world.

She wants me to imagine two chairs. Every day, I have to decide which chair to sit in. In the first chair, I can only speak positively. I must mention only the good characteristics of my life. I must not have a negative outlook about the future. Ha haaaaa!!! As if. She clearly doesn’t know me.

In the other chair, I can do and say and think whatever I want. I can give in to my deepest hatred, fears, and pain from the past. In it, I’d feel perfectly justified to give voice to my rage and lay waste to small villages with my sarcasm cloud.

And as I’m contemplating how comfortable the second chair sounds, she says it. Those six simple words that have been keeping me awake at night for the last 2 weeks. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

The petulant child in me dug in her heels. I smiled and listened, all while thinking ‘Um, NO. It’s not. I don’t have any control over my suffering. It was imposed upon me. My brain makes no distinction. It simply plays and plays the horror reel from the night it all went down. It takes my heart and crushes it in a vice with imagery of my nuclear family being ripped apart in a firestorm of tears. It’s on autopilot, my brain. SO IT MOST CERTAINLY DOESN’T FEEL LIKE A CHOICE, LADY!

 But I knew she was right. I just didn’t want to eat my broccoli. So after wrestling with it all week, I sat down to pen a few things that I thought I might say if I were to sit in the first chair.

The First Chair

Ok. Here’s the chair where I’m supposed to somehow wring the infinitesimal drops of goodness out of what Honey did to us. I want it on record that I’m sitting here begrudgingly. But the view is nice.

Hmmm. I suppose I could say that he set me free. Free to what, I still have no idea. But at least I’m not married to someone I thought was my best friend who is, in actuality, a selfish asshat. Ok, wait. I think that wasn’t very positive. Let’s try again.

Ummm…ok, think I’ve got one. My son and daughter will not have the man he turned out to be as an influence in their life anymore. Or at least, in a very limited capacity. Binding my hands so I don’t type more here.

I’m in my home town again with my friends and family. Juxtaposed against the misery I felt living away from them, this is a return to normalcy that I don’t verbalize my appreciation of often enough. Sure, I know what a blessing it is, but I shouldn’t take a blessing as something ‘standard’ or expected. The girl in the other chair might say ‘yah, I’m back with everyone, but at what cost? Look what’s been done to us!’ But the girl in this chair has a lump in her throat thinking about how much this has been my healing place. This tropical paradise, with its familiar streets and sights that flood me with all manner of great memories from the course of a lifetime. I can drive down a street I remember being on with my dad when I was 5. I should never take that for granted. The people here love me and my children, and have supported us fully. I thank them endlessly, I really do. Yet in my mind, I’ve let the bad that’s been done to us outweigh the importance of what having these people in our lives really means. Don’t think I could possibly appreciate them more.

See? I can do this.  I’m kicking ass and taking names.

If this hadn’t happened, I’d never have known what I’m capable of as a parent when I have to be. Even when I say I can’t do it, or I can’t go on, I do. Because their little faces compel me up and out of my paralysis. I’d do anything for them. Despite going through the worst year ever, I’ve made sure we read books, and do puzzles, and go to the zoo and SeaWorld and the beach. We examine bugs and play in the dirt and I sing them songs every night while I rock baby girl to sleep in my arms. I need to forgive myself for the early days when I was a zombie, and didn’t and couldn’t step up for them. But as soon as I could, as soon as I could orient myself to the horizon, I did. I will choose to focus on the good that I can do, rather than the family that Honey robbed them of. I have to let go of the fact that I simply have no control over that. And, I think if I really work at it, I can eventually put down the picture of the nuclear family I’ve had clenched in my fist for so long.

Aren’t I a fount of positivity?!

And, if this hadn’t happened, I never would have started talking to Van. That relationship, though I recently ended it, saved my life in this last year. Yes, it was all by phone (he’s 2,000 miles away), but it was intense and amazing and life changing. He made me feel valued. Loved. Adored. And to me, removing the pressure of being together in the same place made it even better. I was not thinking rationally, and the last thing a woman should do is place themselves in a vulnerable position with a man when their defenses are down. I love him. I really do. And he loves me. We get along beautifully. It’s like a symphony of wit and sarcasm every time we talk. So, why end it before it could really begin? Because no one, especially not someone as amazing as Van, deserves to have someone as emotionally scarred as I am. It’s not right. There were some other factors at play about compatibility between us, but ultimately once things calmed down and I could see clearly, I realized that I am simply NOT ready. And though I hurt him, we still talk and will remain friends.

I can see this all as a positive if I just frame it right. Must be the chair.

So, that brings me to the other chair. I’ve been sitting in it for over a year now. When I thought about what it might look like, this is the first thing that came to mind.

The Other Chair.

This chair is going to kill me. I can’t stay here. I will do my best not to sit down in it again. Though I make no promises, I can at least say that if I do, I’ll do so knowing full well that I do so by choice. This will be my new mantra, by God.

This chair is a choice. This chair is a choice. This chair is a choice.

And I’m going to repeat it until one day, I absentmindedly sit down with a book and a cold glass of tea in the first chair instead.

The view is much nicer there anyway.

 

 

 

 

Thank heaven for crappy lawyers!

Honey filed a custody case against me in September. You can read about it here.

It was finally heard last week. Why the long wait? Because Honey hired, in my opinion, one of the single worst attorneys that I have ever seen. It was…glorious.

Not that I’d ever tell Honey what I think of his lawyer. If he cannot discern between a competent lawyer and a clown, far be it from me to enlighten him. And while this unmitigated disaster of a man’s bungling ended up costing me an extra $1,500 (that I don’t have, beyond the thousands already paid that I didn’t have) to keep my lawyer at the ready, it was worth every dime.

After several completely avoidable paperwork delays caused by Honey’s lawyer, it was finally our turn to be heard…four hours later. I thought I would throw up, faint, and pee in my pants when they called our name, in that order. Here’s how it began:

My Lawyer: This motion to amend support is improper, your honor. There is an open child support case in the child support court, which has jurisdiction. It’s in every declaration we’ve filed from day one of this case. So we can only discuss custody today.

Honey’s Lawyer: (indignant) I was not aware of this!

My Lawyer (turning fully to address him, stunned) Yes, you were, sir. Not only have you claimed to have read our declarations in this matter, you appeared on your client’s behalf in child support court on that matter last year.

Honey’s Lawyer: I did no such thing!

My Lawyer: (incredulous) That is FALSE, Sir! On the such and such day of 2016, you appeared in that court. There were witnesses, including my client. 

Honey’s Lawyer: I did no such – uh, hmmm. You know what? That’s correct. I did appear there, I recall that now. I’m sorry your honor.

This was a court room packed with very stressed out people about to have their child custody cases heard. For some of them, it may have been the worst day of their lives. And yet, in this somber place of misery, the entire crowd burst into laughter at the bumbling fool to my left. The judge didn’t even look up from her documents or quiet the crowd, annoyed at the time he’d already cost her court and the sheer idiocy of what had just unfolded. It was beautiful.

Oh, and the child support reduction issue? The ACTUAL reason he went for custody of the kids? Since his lawyer botched it and filed the motion in the wrong court, 5 months of waiting, delays, continuances, paperwork errors, declarations, and expensive lawyers, and he couldn’t even get that part heard.

In the end, no, Honey did not get custody. What he did get was a court order to complete a series of therapeutic re-unification visits here in our state over the next 2 years. Custody will not be revisited until and unless those terms are met.

From the beginning of this case, Honey was taken aback and offended by my suggestion that he would need to fly out here for recurring re-unification therapy before he would EVER be allowed to just get on a plane and fly off with them. To send them off with him before they’ve re-established their relationship would completely traumatize them, because the kids no longer know him as a trusted adult or legitimate parental figure. All they know is that he once used to be, but ‘left them to go live with his other kids’ (their words, sadly).

He was offended at the notion that his kids do not know him well enough to just hand him custody, because SKYPE. He said, and I quote, “Wow, I’m just floored that you would even ask for therapeutic visits. I mean, wow. I’m speechless. I don’t know what to say. I’m just really taken aback. Wow.”

Of course you are, Honey. That’s because you’re the king of your own imaginary kingdom, Big Guy.

They have no memory of living with him. They have no memory of visiting with him. He’s been in their presence for 4 days of the last 40 months. This man is totally delusional and knows nothing about kids and how they process things like this. They’re not terriers that he can just stick in a crate and chuck on a plane. They’re people – people he’s wounded and has done nothing to make amends with.

Think I’m being dramatic? Let’s see how well they know you as a parent when you’re cruising at 20,000 feet, Honey, with no mommy in sight for the first time since EVER, going somewhere with a person they last saw in person over 2 years ago, and the weight of that hits them. G’head. Let’s think on that real hard and consider who that’s going to be most traumatizing for – them, or every passenger on that plane. You will not traumatize these children again because of your indifference to their well being. You did that once already when you walked out of their lives. Never again.

Luckily, the judge was in agreement that simply reappearing after all this time to take them away with him on a plane would be completely unacceptable. At least a judge echoed what I said and perhaps Honey will grasp that this ‘outlandish’ requirement is not some personal attack or power trip. It’s about the kids, period.

So on to child support court we go. His recent defiance of court-ordered job contacts may not make the judge in that case very happy. Nor will the W2’s that show he worked last year, but didn’t once report that employment to the court or provide one dime of it to our kids.

He’s only a LITTLE behind, so maybe they’ll cut him some slack. He only owes $34,140 after all. But if, by chance, a judge didn’t think it was very nice of him to dodge paying for Little Man and Baby Girl’s food and rent while ensuring that his new family was fed and housed, he’s lucky that he’s already got the perfect tattoo for his new job making license plates in county.

 

Do you have a story about YOUR day in court? Post in the comments below!

 

The F Word.

Forgiveness, to me, is a four letter word. For the last 2 1/2 years, I’ve been referring to it as the F word, incapable of forming the actual sounds and syllables with my mouth lest I wildly vomit at the utterance of its name.

I’d like to take the F word out back and shoot it point blank in the face. I want to print the word off, tape it to a mannequin, and uppercut it into a raging bonfire. I want to shove it, face first, out of a moving vehicle. No, a train. Oooo! Oooo! No. A HELICOPTER. Then, I could watch it fall helplessly, a look of shock on its face, arms outstretched in slow-mo like Hans Gruber falling off the Nakatomi Tower on Christmas Eve. Yes. THIS.

hans

Bye, F.

So when I got to my group therapy session this week and found out the subject matter would be the big ole F word, my primitive brain – thinking only of escape – envisioned running at full speed through the plate glass window to my right. Luckily the rational me thought better of it, seeing as how we were on the fourth floor of the building.

I took my seat, mouth agape at the horror of what was surely to come, one eye mildly twitching. As my terror reached its zenith, I thought ‘You cannot be serious. Get me out of this room, God, and I swear I’ll think about maybe thinking about doing some more thinking about forgiveness, maybe. But tonight, I just flat out don’t want to hear it.’

Which is, of course, precisely why I needed to. In my arrogance, I thought I knew what was about to happen. I was going to hear a whole lotta people tell me ‘The F word is your friend. You should invite it in, feed it some soup. Tell it your deepest darkest secrets. Cuddle with it on a cold day.” And I’d nod and smile, all while envisioning the F word meeting its untimely demise at the business end of my boom stick.

But that’s not what happened.  Instead, they acknowledged that reticence to dishing out the F word is normal, there’s nothing wrong with you, and they just wanted to give us some things to mull over. They started out by discussing what forgiveness is not. So here’s the basic message that was presented that night about the super-happy-fun-time subject matter that is the F word:

Forgiveness is not:

  1. Easy. It may be one of hardest things you will ever have to do.
  2. A one-time event. It is a process that will need to be revisited and repeated.
  3. Minimization of the hurt of offense. It will not diminish the harm done.
  4. Trust or reconciliation. You don’t have to trust that person again or wish to have them in your life again in order to forgive.
  5. Forgetting. You will not forget the offense, but you will no longer hold the offense against the person who committed it.

‘Hold the offense against them.’ That’s an interesting phrase, I thought. If it were a metaphor, Honey’s crimes could be viewed as a physical, tangible thing. I could choose to keep pressing this heavy object into his torso, or I could choose to put it down. I really wish I could put it down, actually. My arms are nothing but jello.

I’m angry. I’ve been angry for a long time, and I probably will be for a long time to come. But I don’t want to become an angry person, and I can see how that is a slippery slope indeed. As Desmond Tutu put it, ‘You should never hate yourself for hating others who do terrible things: the depth of your love is shown by the extent of your anger.’ Anger is a god-created emotion. It is necessary, and it is good. To borrow from a fellow chump whose husband cheated on her, ‘I hold anger in high esteem; it’s a signal that I know who I am.’

But the problem with anger -especially righteous anger – is that it fools you into justifying bad behavior. It tells you that the bitter, sarcastic text you just sent is somehow ok because, well, you’ve earned it. You’re right. And for this reason, being right can be dangerous.

And while that list they gave me was actually logical and helpful and far less koombaya-let’s-hold-hands-and-I’ll-just-pardon-your-atrocities than I thought it would be, there is one very simple and over-arching reason that I can’t seem to put this thing I’m holding against Honey down.

Consequences. Namely, Honey has never had to face any. He was gone too quickly to see any of the pain he caused. He never had to look any member of my family in the eye, or suffer awkward or painful moments of any kind. He simply moved to the other side of the country where he could invent an entirely new narrative, one which was never questioned by HomeWrecker. He enjoys a perfectly intact reputation among friends, both old and new. His family endorsed his horrific behavior within days of leaving us. He never had to slowly watch the realization on his son’s face of what happened, or watch me process what he’d just done to the family I’d so deeply suffered to give him. He didn’t have to pack a box or a dish, or help us move back to my home town for help. He just vanished with nothing more than a suitcase and a smile, moving right in with HomeWrecker and washing his hands of any of the thousands of responsibilities that were suddenly heaped on me in my destroyed state.

And in the years since, he’s acted like a non-confrontational robot when I mention the fallout the kids and I have suffered. Doing as you please and expecting a consequence-free life is completely unrealistic, yet that’s Honey’s mentality to a T. So that means, to him, I’m the problem. I’m pointing out things that no one else is, that no one else is making such a big deal about.

He will never understand the pain I see in the eyes of his babies, or the rage this produces in me on their behalf. So it’s certainly a no-win prospect for me to try to explain the harm he’s caused, and frankly, it’s just not my job anymore. If he can’t figure out on his own that it’s wrong to betray your spouse and abandon your post as parent, nothing I could say would make a damn bit of difference.

He’s now $30,854 behind in child support. Now, he’s taking me to court for partial custody so he can get his support payment reduced, and blames me in the legal action for ‘making it difficult to co-parent the kids’. First of all, that’s completely untrue. Second of all, I think the 2,300 miles is why he can’t co-parent his kids, because last time I checked, he can’t make his son or daughter dinner or take them to a doctor’s appointment from there.

So if anyone thinks I could pardon him for all of this, as well as for shaking his crying toddler off his leg with zero emotion to get out the door the day he left us, they are out of their ever-loving minds.

But…holding someone else’s crimes against them is exhausting. And what does that make me? A guard, or a prisoner? Does it really matter? Both have to spend all their time in a jail. And holding this heavy thing up all the time doesn’t leave room for growth in me, growth that comes from looking at my own deficiencies and fixing them, or from for helping others, or from improving our lives as a family. It takes up valuable mental real estate, and I can see that it’s taken its toll on me emotionally, spiritually, and physically.

No matter how much I would love to see some justice and some consequences befall him, I can’t live my life behind bars waiting for Karma to pay Honey a visit. I want indifference towards him, not emotional investment about what is or isn’t going to happen to him. And so as much as I’d like to shoot an arrow through the F word’s heart, the fact is, I just don’t want to work at this prison anymore. Too many neck tats for my taste anyway.

As I listened on, we got to a list about what forgiveness is.

Forgiveness Is:

  1. A promise to cancel a debt. You no longer owe me. The offense has been imputed into God’s care to handle in His way and in His perfect court of justice.
  2. A decision, not a feeling. It’s an act of sheer will. Your feelings may not want to right now, but you remain committed to doing it. Your feelings may catch up later.
  3. Liberating and Healing. Forgiveness is often the turning point in the healing process for those who say they can’t get past the pain of betrayal, abandonment, or divorce.
  4. Motivated by God’s forgiveness to us. Matthew 18:21-35, Ephesians 4:32

Sigh. Lot of sense being made here. It was pissing me off something awful. I left there feeling completely scrambled, and also convicted. There’s been this gigantic, glaring elephant in the room that I’ve been pretending isn’t there, and after this session, I knew that it was finally time to face it.

God forgave me. God instructs me to forgive others. He doesn’t recommend it. He doesn’t suggest it. He directly tells me to do it in His word. Now, for non-believers, the entire concept that all people need to be forgiven by God may be a foreign one. It certainly was for me for the first 21 years of my life spent as an atheist who openly mocked Christians. But the longer I live as a believer in this fallen world, the more I see the biblical truth about the sin-nature of people all around me. And yes, that most certainly includes me.

Though my feelings scream ‘Run! Don’t you dare forgive him, he doesn’t deserve it!’…I have to remember that God forgave me when I didn’t deserve it, either. So my will can be set, despite the opposition of my feelings, on a course that is in line with my beliefs and God’s instruction.

I’ve been disobeying my father/creator/savior out of fear. Fear that what Honey did would somehow cease to matter if I forgave. That he would get a pass, just like has in every other area of life. But it’s not true. I can impute this offense into God’s care to be handled in His way, put this heavy thing down, and get some damn sleep.

Ok, here goes. This will be an act of sheer determined will, because my feelings are telling me to go have a Kylo Ren-style temper tantrum with a light-saber in my kitchen. Alright. Sigh. Let’s do this thing.

Honey,

For your past atrocities against the children and I, I F you.

For your present insensitivities, F is the letter of the day, Big Guy.

And for your future ball-dropping and parental absenteeism, I’m gonna go ahead and give you a great big fat F.

Sincerely,

Ex-Wife

Hey, it may not be pretty, but it’s the best I’ve got. While I’m dishing out pardons, I can’t forget there’s one more.

Ex-Wife,

I forgive you for not knowing who you were married to. I forgive you for your less than kind responses to Honey this year. But it’s time to put it all down, baby girl. Be kind to yourself today, please. Play with the kids. Get a nap. And be happy.

Sincerely,

Tammy

Second Chances.

ID FINAL

ID: Hey, Ego.

EGO: Yah, ID?

ID: Check this out. (motions towards the cop show starting on the TV)

TONIGHT, LIFETIME TELEVISION FOR WOMEN PRESENTS THE ALL NEW MADE FOR TV SERIES, ‘SECOND CHANCES’….

STARRING ANDREA ELSON AS ‘SAMANTHA CHANCE’…

SUPEREGO: Hey, wasn’t that the little girl from Alf?

AND LUKE PERRY AS ‘JONATHON SECOND’…

EGO: Oh, no. I think I can see where this is headed.

CAN THIS SCORNED SINGLE MOM AND BITTER SOLO DAD PUT ASIDE THEIR DIFFERENCES TO CRACK THE CASE? WILL THEIR PASSION FOR JUSTICE TURN INTO A PASSION THAT NEITHER BELIEVED WAS POSSIBLE?

‘I’ve been burned before, Jonathon!’

‘It’s alright, Samantha. You can trust me. Take my hand. 1,2,3…juuummmppp!!’

(both jump from a moving vehicle which then explodes into a towering fireball)

CAN JONATHON SECOND AND SAMANTHA CHANCE LEAVE THE PAIN OF THE PAST BEHIND AND BELIEVE IN…

EGO: Wait for it…

SECOND CHANCES?

EGO: (making retching noises) So ridiculous. Why does it have to be so damned contrived? Anyway, why is wife watching this drivel? Did you put her up to this, ID?

ID: Obviously. Because unlike you, Ego, and the twisted doomsday scenario you’ve got planned for all of us, I believe that love IS possible again. I believe in second chances, and if anyone deserves one, it’s Wife.

EGO: Oh, sure. I believe in second chances, too. After all, you got one. Wife took pity on you and couldn’t go through with letting me string you up or drown you in the kiddy pool. Poor thing tried and tried, but she lacks that killer instinct. Pity.

ID: For your information, egomaniac, the reason she couldn’t let you ‘off’ me is because somewhere deep down, she just can’t bear to kill the possibility of love. She may not have much hope, but she knows killing me would spin the dial on the safe, weld the door shut, and throw it into the Pacific. She had to leave that glimmer alive, no matter how small. She denies it, but I know it’s true.

EGO: Oh, please. I think I know her pretty well too, ID, and I don’t think that’s why she spared you. I just think she’s afraid of what your absence would mean, like she would immediately feel dead inside and want to adopt, like, 17 cats.

SUPEREGO: For your information, you’re both wrong. If shes’s held on, it’s only because she hasn’t wanted to face the prospect of never having that one person in her life who cares if she makes it home safely at night. The person she can stand in the kitchen with and laugh about her day over a plate of rolled tacos. She can’t bear the thought of never having a spouse, and getting to BE a spouse, because she was fulfilled by that. Because she was good at that. But the reality is, she is alone, and based on the level of heart-mind-soul destruction she’s dealing with, it’s no wonder at all to me why she’s chosen permanent celibacy.

ID: (interrupting) Uhhh, hold the phone a minute there, SuperEgo. Celibacy? Let’s not go throwing the ole ‘c’ word around, ok? We’re not doing that. She’s not doing that. That’s not happening.

SUPEREGO: No, ID, it is. Permanent celibacy is what she’s chosen, and I agree with it 100%. It’s a perfectly reasonable and moral choice for many…

ID: (interrupting, whispering) I hate you so much right now.

EGO: Finally! Thank God. She must have read my actuarial tables.

SUPEREGO: ID, this IS what wife wants, and like it or not, that is in line with our belief system. It was my idea, actually. Whether God sends someone her way or not, she’s not going to remain open to it. She didn’t share it with you because she didn’t want another massive internal war breaking out, given our history. So you might as well get used to the fact that we are NOT sleeping with anyone without being married to them. We are never getting married again, ergo, we are never having sex again.

EGO: (stunned) This is the proudest day of my life.

ID: (whispers) I’ll get the rope.

 

 

 

 

This has been the second installment in a series involving ID, EGO, and SUPEREGO.

To read the first episode in this series, ‘The A-Sexual A-Team’, click here.

 

The Dishonorable Discharge.

I broke down sobbing tonight after watching a video on FaceBook of soldiers coming home and surprising their families.

Fathers running into their daughters arms. Little children fiercely crying and clinging to their dad’s leg. A grown man weeping as he embraced his son, freshly off the battlefield.

But what set me off crying wasn’t just the beautiful mash-up of these families reuniting. It was when I started to call my kids over to show it to them, but stopped cold. I like to show them pictures and videos of all kinds of things, because I can turn those things into teachable moments.

I’ll show them a quick video I saw on FaceBook of firefighters cooking chili at the firehouse, and explain the life of a firefighter.

I’ll show them a picture of PD cruisers and motorcycles, and explain why there are laws and police.

I’ll try to foster gratitude by showing them a video about the living conditions of kids in India.

I wanted to show this to them to teach them about heroes. Real ones. Self-sacrificing, hard-working, salt-of-the-earth heroes.

But I just couldn’t do it. It was only once I began to call them over to watch it that I realized it, and froze. I had to get up and leave the room to deal with the sudden crushing wave of anger and sadness that swept over me.

Why?

Because I cannot show them images of what it looks like to have a real father. A father that weeps uncontrollably at the sight of the 3 year old that he has longed for and missed for the entirety of his deployment. A father that flew halfway around the world to sneak up behind his teenage daughter with a rose at her graduation ceremony. Children that never have to question whether their parent authentically loves and sacrifices for them, because the child can clearly see that being away from them caused great suffering and sadness. Being back in their presence was the greatest thing in the world to their parent.

The separation hurt daddy. Why? Because Daddy would die for you, baby. Because I flew halfway around the world just to see you smile, and I’m going to go home with you now and cook ribs and play football and have a tea party to make up for our time apart until I have to go serve my country again.

They know that I would die for them. They know what that looks like in a mother. But they  have no earthly idea what that looks like in a father. And the irrational fear that gripped me was the idea that showing them what it really does look like will cause them to truly grasp what Honey’s taken from them.

Love’s opposite is not hate, it is indifference.

Of course, rationally I know that I need to be showing them things EXACTLY like this so they can see what fathers are supposed to look like. Aside from some family members they get to see be great dads, how else will they know?

I know I can’t shield them from a broken heart on this forever. They are asking so many questions now, especially Baby Girl. She has said things that have knocked the breath out of me. She is very intelligent, and she is starting to understand.

Did you know that Honey used to be in the Marines? It’s true. I used to be filled with pride when he’d be asked to stand with others on Memorial Day in our church service, so we could all applaud our American heroes. So when I saw HomeWrecker’s mom’s tag Honey in this picture on her FaceBook page on Veteran’s day, I nearly lost it. She thanked him for his service in the comments.

marines-little-girl

How much irony is there in this unintentionally condemnatory picture meant to THANK Honey?

All the irony. That is my answer to that.

It should have been used to convict Honey. To shame him. To DISHONORABLY DISCHARGE him as a member of our great armed forces and as a parent, retroactively.

EVERYONE understands how sad this is. EVERYONE understands an innocent little girl longing for her daddy. EVERYONE understands how difficult it is for the mom to explain why she’s being forced to part with him, and how excruciating it is for a child when their parent goes away, even for honorable reasons.

Well…everyone understands that except for Honey.

This is how I imagine Honey would deal with this situation if he was there in the crowd.

Since he’s real good at thinking that all men are obtuse narcissist like he is, he’d probably walk right over and separate their hands, and send the little girl back to her mother in the crowd.

The marine said ‘Uh, thanks…I guess that was for the best. Her little eyes were filling with tears. It was about to make me choke up, and we Marines don’t do that in formation.’

Honey says ‘You got it. Semper Fi, brother!’, and flashes him his Marine Corp. tattoo.

Shaking Honey’s hand, the soldier says ‘Hey, what do you know! A fellow Marine! Got any kids?’

‘Yep. A 5 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. In fact, my little girl has blonde hair and blue eyes just like yours.’

‘Oh man, that’s gotta be so hard for them to be apart from you. How long is your deployment for?’

Honey scoffs. “Oh, I’m not being deployed, brother. I’ve been out of the marines for years. I just decided to move 2,300 miles away from my kids for this woman I’ve been seeing for a few months. Had to get rid of the wife first, but she’s with the kids, so it’s all good.’

The stunned Marine asks ‘How could you leave your son with no man in his life? How could you leave your daughter with no protector, no dad? ’

Honey replied ‘Oh no, it’s all fine, see? Because I was motivated to move away for love, brother! My daughter will understand someday.’

The marine, wiping the hand he’d touched Honey with in disgust, said ‘Oh, don’t worry, a**hole. She will.’

DIRECTOR’S CUT!

You are not on a mission of relief in Haiti. You are not defending our freedom in the middle east. And it’s certainly clear you aren’t waiting for that day when you can run across a football field to be reunited with your kids in a blaze of hugs and joyful tears (and to actually stick around to be their parent).

You are sitting thousands of miles away in your lazy chair, chronically unemployed, playing Call of Duty. I say again; the opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference.

So you are free to go, Marine. Consider these your walking papers. We don’t need the likes of you dishonoring this fine institution, or the great institution of fatherhood. You are dismissed, soldier.

The A-Sexual A-Team

This post ran previously in 2016

ID FINAL

ID: Saw the hottest man tonight that I’ve seen in years. He was standing in line waiting for his rolled tacos. I usually don’t go for long hair, but it was just the right length to catch my attention but not put me off entirely. You know…cut a little shorter than ‘living on my friend’s couch’, but a little longer than ‘respectable’. From the side, I could see a short, well-kept beard on his amazing square jawline. He had piercing blue eyes and brown hair and his lips were incredible. He had on a North Face jacket and the most perfect jeans. I couldn’t tell you what the cut was called, I just know that someone somewhere in a factory made those jeans completely unaware that they would hang so perfectly from a man’s hips that a grown-ass woman would do a cartoonish double-take at the sight of them. And they hugged him in all the right…

EGO: (Interrupting) Please don’t finish that sentence, ID. I was there, remember? We never go anywhere without each other. You’re just lonely, ok? We all are. Deprivation of male company isn’t something any of us are used to. I know it feels like a dry season with no end, which is probably why you’ve taken to ogling men in taco shops. But I think I have a solution to our problem. I’m going to kill you.

ID: Um, sorry. Could you repeat that last part? It almost sounded like you said you were going to kill me.

EGO: It’s nothing personal, ID. Please understand that I WILL miss you. You’re awesome at parties, and you’re really the only innocent and hopeful part of us that we’ve got left. But you’re under the spell of some societally-concocted notion that true love saves the day. It doesn’t. And it won’t. So you’ve got to go.

ID: (starting to cry) But…I don’t want to go. I’ve got so much living left to do. We could find love again! I mean, what if we could just find a man who is decent and funny and honorable who loves God? And what if he loves us in the way we deserve, maybe then –

EGO: (interrupting) – No. See, that’s the problem. You’re holding out hope for something that not only doesn’t exist, but something that I would no longer allow even if it did. No men. Not again. Not ever.

ID: But…what sane woman would ever make that choice? That’s ridiculous! Of course we want a man. We want that with every fiber of our being. We want to give and receive love and to care and be cared for. We want romance! Passion! Love! A father for the babies! There’s a man out there that isn’t like Honey. He could be the one to complete our family. You’ll see.

EGO: And I suppose this man you’re describing not only exists and is single and lives near here, but is going to be on the lookout for a 40 year old single mom of 2 with no free time, a shattered heart, and a propensity to eat an entire Kaukana cheese ball in one sitting? You’re blind to reality, ID. And that’s charming, it really is. But we’re fishing with no bait here. You’ve seen ‘Say Anything’ too many times. No one is going to show up on our lawn with a boombox, ok? It’s a hopelessly lost cause for so many reasons. Don’t make me spiral into even greater depression by detailing those reasons for you.

ID: No, I want to hear it. If you’re talking about murdering me in order to permanently take down any hopes and dreams about men along with me, then I at least deserve to know why.

EGO: (Sigh) Fine. Let’s just say somehow this man magically existed, and somehow even though we’re insanely busy raising a 2 and a 4 year old alone, working, and being a full time college student, we somehow meet him against all logic and against all odds. What then? We are an emotionally decimated train wreck with casualties still littering the crash site, and we despise our body and appearance. And knowing you, you’ll get our heart all wrapped up in the fantasy and ruin multiple lives in the process. I mean, how could we be expected to be anything meaningful to a man when we are an emotional train wreck, and always will be? We’re talking charred limbs on the rail lines, dead cattle in a mangled heap, blood everywhere…

ID: You can’t begin to know how sorry I am that I asked.

EGO: I’m just saying that I can see the ugly reality for what it actually is. I don’t pretty it up with euphemisms and flowery fantasies like you do. Life can be beautiful, but it’s also horrifying. It’s hard, it’s unfair, and no one is riding in on a white horse to save the day. We’ve been on the receiving end of more horrific emotional atrocities than we can count. Our whole lives have been spent looking for some man that does not exist. Get your head out of the clouds. I’m the only one of the three of us that can logically assess the reality of the external world. And, I’m apparently the only one willing to take action based upon that assessment in accordance with the level of risk it poses to our survival. And let me tell you something, ID. Hope? Hope is the single most dangerous thing to our survival of all.

ID: That’s ridiculous. How can you just turn off hope? You think killing me will do that? No. I know what will happen. If I’m gone, you’ll start to believe that love is possible again, and then what are you going to do? Kill off SuperEgo because maybe she’s to blame in your eyes? Soon Wife will be a lifeless shell with no personality or moral compass at all. Life is unpredictable, EGO. No one knows when or if they’ll meet the right person, when they’ll have kids, when they’ll die…

EGO: Well lucky you. You’re about to have one of those questions answered. I’d say you’ve got about two minutes left.

ID: Aren’t you a delight?!

EGO: Like I said, it’s not personal. You’re going to get us killed, so I’m simply taking you out before that can happen. You represent exposure to substantial emotional risk. I should know. I’ve drawn up actuarial tables.

ID: You’ve got to be joking.

EGO: I never joke about actuarial tables.

ID: Of course you don’t.

EGO: According to my research, re-experiencing the magnitude of pain we felt during Honey’s blindside/abandonment anomaly would be a death-blow. It would be an extinction level event. It would cause more trauma than our body can take. We’d get cancer or have a massive stroke or an aneurysm or a heart attack, and this cannot happen. We need to be here for these babies. All of the numbers point to only one conclusion: we can’t risk it. No romantic love. Not now, not ever.

ID: Life expectancy probability? Survival analysis? Predictors of mortality? This is how you’re unilaterally deciding to kill off the most lovely, most feminine, and most hopeful part of our being?

EGO: Precisely.

ID: Is that why we called things off before they could even begin with one of the most amazing men you’ve ever met? Is that why Van’s out of the picture? Because of some damn chart that you made that says love is too great a risk? Well news-flash, EGO! Love is, and has always been a risk. There are no guarantees implicit anywhere in the fine print, ok?

EGO: Yes, I get that ID. I really do. But what Honey did to us, in one swift and cruel motion, utterly decimated our willingness to hope. Because hope leads to disappointment. Disappointment leads to pain. Pain leads to trauma, and more trauma leads to death where we’re concerned. I’m here to tell you that we wouldn’t survive it this time.

ID: Screw that guy! You want to let that liar, that…that…fraud determine the rest of our life? Hasn’t he taken enough from us? You want to give him the power and control to take this from us, too?

EGO: It’s not a choice to allow or not allow him to do anything. You’re not hearing me. It’s already been done. He removed our ability to be vulnerable with surgical precision. Being able to be vulnerable is the entire basis of a healthy relationship. Think of it this way: it’s like a puppy that’s been kicked by its master in the face. Do you blame the puppy for no longer trusting people? Of course not. So don’t blame me for simply being honest enough to say that our capacity to trust has been broken, it’s permanently broken, and this was not chosen by us. This was foisted upon us by a selfish con-artist who’s off somewhere blissfully unaware of the destruction he’s left behind. Honey shoved a grenade into our chest cavity and pulled the pin. Let’s be real here. Aren’t we allowed to be real about this without some flowery euphemisms about the sun coming out tomorrow?

ID: But it will come out tomorrow!

EGO: Yes, it will come out tomorrow. But the only thing we need to care about is making sure to get sunblock on the kids. It’s not there to be some guiding light illuminating our path toward Mr. Right. Screw that.

ID: But we can heal! We can get better, I know it! We just need to be around good people – good MEN – and it would restore our faith that they actually exist. Even if not to seek love with them, just to witness that functional men are very much alive and well in this world.

EGO: See, there you go with that hope crap again. Hope is a four letter word, ID. And being around men who are ‘normal’ would only make things worse. Because you know very well that that’s how it would start out, but as soon as we become attached to one, our soft underbelly is exposed…and there’s no way I can allow that to happen. Come on. Let’s go for a walk. I’ll tell you all about the rabbits.

SUPEREGO: If I may interrupt here, Ego, before you go all ‘Of Mice and Men’ on ID over there, I just want to say that your argument is…noble in a way.

EGO: Thank you, SuperEgo! Finally, someone who gets it.

SUPEREGO: No, you misunderstand me. What I’m trying to say is that though your intentions come from the right place, they’re based on a false premise…which means your entire argument becomes invalid.

EGO: Oh? And what false premise is this, may I ask?

SUPEREGO: That you’re in control. You’re not. You are not God. You are not in control of this life. You have no idea what God could have in store for us. How can you attempt to manipulate that which you have no control over? Moreover, who voted you judge, jury, and executioner of ID? What makes you think she’s solely to blame for our desire for romantic love?

EGO: Oh come on, Superego. You know very well that you and I could go months without even thinking of a man if she wasn’t around. With her gone, we could be like an a-sexual A-Team.

SUPEREGO: That is literally the saddest and most depressing thing I have ever heard you say, and this during a conversation in which you describe charred bodies on a rail line. So, yah. That’s really saying something. And another thing, EGO. Aren’t you forgetting that murder is a crime and a sin?

EGO: Shut it, Superego. I’m well aware of that. But it’s ID or it’s all of us. She’s going to get us killed. We’ve got to take her out. We could just tie her hands with rope and take her behind the building to drown her in the kiddie pool. You know, the one with the giraffe head and the cute little sprinkler? Ooo, or maybe we could string her up in the perfect tree by the side of the house, like in those old westerns…

SUPEREGO: Something is seriously wrong with you.

ID: Yah, you think? She’s over here planning my murder as calmly as she’d decide what she wants from the Chili’s lunch menu.

ID, EGO, SUPEREGO: Mmmmm….Southwest Eggrolls….

ID: But what about a father for the kids? Don’t you think ever about them as you lie awake coldly planning my murder?

EGO: I think of them and the hole he’s left in their hearts every minute of every day, ID. You know we spent the entirety of our adult life making sure we were married and stable before we brought kids into the world, only to find that Prince Charming was really Jack the Ripper. I would never deprive them of something so fundamental as a father. Honey did that to them, not us.

ID, EGO, SUPEREGO: (Sighing) Yes. He sure did.

EGO: We have to be here for these kids. We HAVE TO, you get me? We are their only chance at a normal life. You want to die and have them have to move thousands of miles away to live with a sociopath and his heartless stripper baby-mama? I shudder.

SUPEREGO: I’ll get the rope.

 

 

 

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