All By Myself

Soooo… remember that time I was all like, “MER. You GUYSSSSSS…. I have to go to a funeral all by myself and it’s going to be awkward and stupid and gross.”?

Remember that?

And then, I sat there like this:

Even though you couldn’t see me.

And then remember how I put on my big girl pants (size small, thank you very much) and went to the funeral?

Remember that?

Well, in a CRAZY turn of events, it just so happens that I am WAY awesome at flying solo. Like, even more awesome than I was when I was part of a twosome.

Honestly, I was kind of brilliant with the whole, “Going by myself. To a funeral. All alone. Just me. No one else. Yes, sir. Going to a funeral.” thing.

I KNOW! WHO KNEW?!

Turns out, that when I’m all by myself, not tagging along as a third wheel, or one half of a whole, I’m totally fine. You know why? Because I don’t have to worry about anyone but myself. I don’t have to worry about what someone else is doing or saying or thinking. It’s BRILLIANT! It’s pretty much the best time ever.

It’s funny. I always thought I’d be horrified to go places by myself. And then after being married, I thought I could never do anything by myself ever again. Turns out that I totally can… and it’s way more enjoyable than I ever thought.

I think part of the reason is because when I was married, I kind of functioned as the adult in the relationship. I was the one who knew how to behave appropriately in social situations. My husband was… well… a complete ass (and not in a cutely awkward kind of way). Only, he didn’t know he was being an ass. He thought he was being funny and charming. But really, he was just being an ass.

For instance, after the funeral service ended, I hugged my friend, offered my condolences and said a few kind words about the service and her husband. Then I left. I did not say something like, “So, what’s Mike up to these days?” (in reference to the deceased – name changed… obviously), or “Where can I get some food around here?” or launch into some gripe about how the florist at my great aunt’s funeral had butchered the arrangements and then charged the family double. DOUBLE!

In fact, I didn’t say or do anything inappropriate. My husband? Totally would have. (I can easily see him saying any and all of the above.) And then I would have promptly died, while those around me chuckled politely, aghast at his horrifying attempt at humor. Then I would have had to explain to him in the car why the comment wasn’t appropriate. Then he would have freaked out because I was being a control freak, and besides, everyone knew he was kidding and they thought it was funny and that’s why they laughed. And then I would have to explain that people weren’t actually laughing… they were trying to cover up their horror, and that was just their polite way of dealing with an otherwise really uncomfortable situation. And he would tell me I was wrong and making him feel bad about himself and it would have been this whole… THING. But nope. None of that happened. And you know why? BECAUSE I WAS BY MYSELF. Now that I’m all by myself… NO THINGS! No inappropriate comments! No horrified reactions! No putting on of kid gloves to explain how the world works to a grown adult!

I’m sorry… but it’s kind of… AMAZING.

And freeing. And… really, really cool.

I need to do things by myself more often.

Turns out, I’m pretty good at it.

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The Secret Lives of Boys – Part 4

I swear I intend to wrap up the series in this installment. Could I be wrong? Absolutely. Do I plan on it? Not so much.

And If you’ve missed the first installments, you can find them below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


Obviously, throughout the course of my life, my perceptions of men have changed – from being woefully naive and sometimes outrageously unrealistic to having a better understanding of the expectations women put on men and just how unrealistic those expectations can be.

Looking back on my marriage, I can honestly say I didn’t have unrealistic expectations for my husband. Were there things I had to learn to let go of? Absolutely. Had I learned to let a lot of things go and let him be himself? Yes. It was a constant learning process, a continual give and take. Was I always successful? Of course not, but the point is, I was trying and giving it my best. But it becomes difficult when the world has expectations of what men should and shouldn’t be, and when your mate suddenly doesn’t meet those expectations… it becomes an awkward dance for the woman to “make” her mate more… “presentable”.

Let’s face it. Society expects men to be everything a woman needs wrapped up in a fashionably dressed package. They should be sensitive, but not too sensitive. Manly, but not brutish. Funny, but not overly sarcastic or off-color. Professional, but personable. Present and engaged, but not meddlesome. Able to lead, but not bossy or demanding. Responsible, but adventurous. Adventurous, but not unnecessary risk-takers. Helpful, courteous, kind and compassionate, but not so much so that you begin to confuse them with your closest girlfriend.

Are you picking up what I’m laying down? We want men to be everything, but not too much of something. It’s no wonder so many men are commitment phobic and wary of women. What the hell do we want from them, anyway?! (On the flip-side, of course, men’s expectations of women are oftentimes just as confusing and unrealistic, but that’s a whole ‘nother box of worms for another time.)

After the terrible, harrible, no good, very bad event, I began to build up more expectations, higher expectations, and unreasonable expectations for men in order to avoid being screwed over by anyone ever again. And these expectations were beginning to look a lot like the unreasonable expectations I had started out with in the first place. I was right back where I started from. Which was insane, because after my experiences with both my husband and my brother, I knew no guy was perfect, nor was it reasonable or fair to expect that of him. Furthermore, after seeing what some guys managed to morph into after nagged into submission by their significant others, I knew I didn’t want that. But… I didn’t want to get hurt again either. So, how was I going to find a perfect man that was still… a man?

I wasn’t. There is not such thing as a perfect man. There are good guys, honorable guys, and loyal guys, but there are no perfect men. Even the best, most gentlemanly and honorable guys are going to have a penchant for driving too fast, telling off-color jokes, taking risks, and occasionally behaving like adolescent hoodlums. Why? Because they’re men. They’re not women. They’re men. No matter how much we try to “polish them up” or make them more “presentable” to society, a man is a man is a man. What exactly is wrong with that?

Apparently there’s enough wrong with that that men feel the need to keep portions of their lives hidden from their female counterparts (much like my brother did) out of guilt and not “measuring up”. They’re not trying to be idiots, but they have to be men, and that means sometimes being stupid, blowing off steam, getting angry, telling dirty jokes, laughing at dirty jokes, driving too fast and sometimes taking some risks.

Please understand. This is not a free pass for men to engage in total asinine behavior. Men can still be responsible, loyal, faithful, kind and patient without giving up their manhood. But if a man is all of those things, is it really necessary to tame him to the point of demanding he give up his motorcycle, his affinity for cigars, and his appreciation for dirty jokes all in the name of making him more “polished”?

Ladies, we need to learn to pick our battles. We need to recognize that men are supposed to be a little wild and untamed; they’re supposed to be risk-takers; they’re supposed to be “men”. And if we’re not okay with that, then maybe we need to re-evaluate some of our expectations. I know once I did, I found myself appreciating men a whole lot more for who they are, not for what they had the potential to be.

The Secret Lives of Boys – Part 2

Missed the first part? Find it here: The Secret Lives of Boys – Part 1


So, basically, I had these unrealistic and completely unreasonable expectations for the men in my life.

And then I got married.

Obviously, I didn’t carry all of these unreasonable expectations into marriage with me (because, let’s be honest… if I had, there would have been a blood bath after the first month), but male behavior still bewildered and baffled me. It didn’t help matters that my husband hadn’t grown up with any sisters, but instead 4 overgrown babies of brothers who couldn’t handle much social interaction outside of scratching, farting, burping and making poop jokes. Basically, my in laws were the cast of “Alaskan Bush People” (and that’s only a slight exaggeration). This did not bode well for a girly girl who thought men were already weird in the first place.

Despite this, I never tried to all-out change my husband. (Note to all women everywhere: You cannot, should not and will not ever change your husband/boyfriend/fiance. Stop trying.) Sure, I rolled my eyes at his gross jokes, and showed my disdain when he’d fart in public, and I tried to get him to dress more nicely… but, I never tried to change him. Polish him up a little bit, sure. But change him? Not so much.

At least I didn’t think so…

The funny thing was, when I was around my brother and he would show these same “male” traits, I would just laugh, and then roll my eyes at his wife when she would get mad at him. With my brother, it was funny. With my husband, it was  unacceptable. I realized the disconnect there, but I could never pinpoint the reason for it, nor change it. Why were the same “boy” things okay for my brother to do, but not okay for my husband to do?

In recent years (and especially in the months after my divorce), my brother and I have become quite close. So, it bothered me when I began to notice that the weirdo freak of a brother I had grown up with was turning into a brow-beaten stump of a husband who was supposed to behave properly at all times. In a word, he was whipped. Suddenly the things that my sister-in-law and I would commiserate over (why can’t men pick up after themselves, what’s with their obsession over cars, why do they think it’s funny to tell dirty jokes in mixed company, WHY CAN’T THEY JUST BE NORMAL?!) became reasons to suck the life and personality out of the men in our lives. Suddenly, as a single woman, I wasn’t okay with that. In an attempt to be “normal” and more “acceptable”, my brother was losing the personality that had made him so funny and awesome in the first place.

Had I done the same thing to my husband? Were women doing the same things to their husbands? How long had we been doing this? “Where have all the cowboys gone?” I DON’T KNOW… MAYBE WE “POLISHED” THEM TO DEATH?!

As a single woman, I was suddenly seeing things from a new perspective. And I didn’t like what I was seeing…

Accountability

So… I kinda need to talk about it again.

I know, I know, I know… AGAIN?! STILL?! FOR THE LOVE OF PETE, WOMAN! DROP IT AND MOVE ON!

I know. I will. I promise. I just… can’t… right now. Too many thoughts, too many emotions, too many “what-ifs”. I blame it on my period.

But as I try to “deal” with all these thoughts, emotions, and “what ifs” instead of running away from them, something keeps bothering me.

Accountability.

I feel like I’m waiting for someone… anyone… to hold the jerk accountable for what he did. And I have yet to see it happen.

It certainly hasn’t come from his family, who turned their backs on me the second this whole thing happened. Not a single in-law reached out to me to see if I was okay… to offer prayers… to offer support… to offer love. I suppose he had told them any number of lies to take the responsibility off himself, and so they figured it wasn’t their place to “interfere”. Still… you spend 6 years with this new, make-shift family and they turn around and walk away the second things get tough. They probably have more loyalty to the family accountant than to anyone who gets screwed over by their beloved son and brother. Plus, the fact that they’re “okay” with their son and brother screwing people over says volumes about them as a family.

Shared friends certainly have been too afraid to say anything. They don’t want to “take sides”. It’s comments like that that make me want to gouge my eyes out with rusty metal spoons. Take sides? TAKE SIDES?! I suppose, they’ve listened to his crap and his lies about “having problems for some time” and about the girl being “just a good friend”. I’m sure he’s told them it was me who didn’t want to work things out. They see this as a two-sided kind of thing. There aren’t two sides. There’s the truth and there’s his version. There were never any major problems in this marriage (none that would lead to divorce anyway)… the girl was more than just a “good friend”… he refused to work things out because he refused to cut ties with his “good friend”. There’s right and there’s wrong. Screwing your wife of 6 years over to pursue your own selfish needs is just plain wrong. Why won’t someone hold him accountable for his actions?!

Even the so-called “Christian” counselor he was seeing didn’t hold him accountable. According to the ass-hat, all the counselor did was sit and listen and help him sort through his feelings so he could make a decision that would make him “happy”. Either the ass-hat is lying about that, or this counselor had no right counseling anyone in matters of marriage.

No one… not a single person… has held him accountable for his actions. No one has slapped him upside the head and told him, “Dude, that was a really shitty thing to do.” No one has questioned his motivations and his version of events. No one has had it out with him and asked what the hell is the matter with him, who does he think he is?!

And honestly? That’s all I want. I just want him to see and understand the pain and devastation and turmoil he has caused. And okay, I want him to hurt as badly as I do. I don’t necessarily want vengeance, but I do want vindication.

I know I may not get it. Even if someone does hold him accountable and I am vindicated, I may never know about it… and I have to live with that. But right now… any amount of vindication and accountability would really feel nice.

*sigh*

Faker

My mom has been trying to get me to listen to relationship and/or marriage programs that are aired on the local Christian radio station. I think she does it because she wants me to see that this divorce wasn’t my fault – I did everything right. But when one person doesn’t value the vows they’ve made, there’s not much one person can do. Marriage is a two-person job.

She means well, but I refuse to turn these programs on. At first I would listen a little, but it always made me homicidal. Don’t get me wrong – there were great stories and funny anecdotes and helpful advice. It wasn’t the programs that bothered me. It was listening to people – even “professionals” talk about how to maintain a happy, healthy marriage that really got to me, because everything these people were saying were things we did… and STILL, my marriage fell apart.

We prayed together. We read the Bible together. We read marriage books and went to church and shared our thoughts and concerns with each other. We voiced our frustrations and fears with one another. We comforted one another. We laughed together and tried not to sweat the small stuff. We shared our hopes and dreams with one another. We made plans and worked hard together and knew we’d stick it out through thick and thin and always be there for one another. Divorce wasn’t a viable option. It wasn’t even on the table. Sure, we’d occasionally fight like rabid wolverines and say some stupid, hurtful things, but we never seriously thought about the big “D”.

Or at least… I didn’t.

It got me thinking…  How much of my marriage was faked? As I looked at all the things we did right, it occurred to me… I was doing these things and taking them seriously and truly invested in our marriage, but… was he? I can’t answer that question. Only he can. Was I naive enough to think that just because we were doing these things we both meant them? Just because I meant them didn’t mean he did. Why had I never considered that before?

I suppose I never had any reason to question his sincerity or honesty when it came to our marriage. I never realized he may have been going through the motions, putting on a good front, pretending, lying… faking. Because if he was (and he had to have been… why else would he pull up stakes and run?), he was brilliant at it. He had the right words, the right responses. He knew exactly what to do and how to do it. He was passionate and emotional and caring and considerate and Godly at all the right times and in all the right places. But… had he meant any of it?

8 years together. 6 years of marriage. And I’m sitting here wondering if he had meant anything that came out of his mouth. Which portions of my relationship were fact and which portions were fiction? Trying to figure that out would be a lesson in futility to be sure, but I can’t help but wonder. At what point (and there had to have been a point when this decision was made) did he decide to just fake it? Because up until that phone call this June, I believed everything that came out of his mouth. Did the faking start when she re-entered the picture? Did the faking start before then? Did it go as far back as our engagement, when we were dating? But why fake it then? There’s no need to fake things that early on… if you don’t like what you see, just cut ties and run. Nothing is holding you there. And yet, I wonder… was any of it real? Or did the faking begin because he had convinced himself he could do better, that I wasn’t good enough, that I had never been good enough and that it was time to end the charade?

This summer when I was removing my belongings from our place, I agreed to meet him briefly at his request. He asked me if I had ever heard the phrase “Fake it ’til you make it.”? (Just the fact that he asked me this question made me want to punch him in the face. Who HASN’T heard of this phrase? But this was yet another prime example of how he treated me like a dumb little kid half the time.) He told me he thought that’s what he had been doing during our marriage. Faking it, hoping he would learn to love me if he went through the motions. But then, why pursue me? Why go to the ends of the earth to catch me? Why put all that time, money and effort into wooing me? Why marry me? I mean… why do any of it? You don’t like someone you just… don’t.  Why commit to something that serious if you don’t really want to? And why, when I had tried to break it off with him early in our relationship because I wasn’t sure of my feelings, did he resort to crying and begging me not to leave. I mean… why?!

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I didn’t have my own doubts about marrying the guy. There were plenty of times before and during the marriage when I wondered if I had made a mistake. When I had to learn to love him. When I had to put forth the effort to love him even when I didn’t want to. But sometimes that’s what marriage is, and putting forth the effort and sticking to my vows just established and solidified my love for him. Even when I was afraid I had made a mistake, I had entered a contract before God. I made my decision, I had to live with it. You don’t just get a “do-over”.  Or maybe you do. Looks like he did anyway…

I just… I don’t know. Maybe none of this is making sense. Maybe I’m just going around in circles (I’m fairly certain I am…), but I just want to know when the faking started and why? (I know a lot of what I’m saying is probably baffling as it seems to fly in the face of an earlier post where I stated I had never loved him. I loved him. But it was something I learned. It didn’t happen entirely naturally.  And I did love him when I married him, I just didn’t fall in love like I expected to. And okay, maybe I was blinded by the intense amount of wooing and affection going on… But I did love him. I’m horrible at acting. I was not faking it. Just to be clear.) I don’t know how he could have faked the tenderness, the compassion, the love. Maybe he did. Who knows? Or maybe convincing himself of that just helps him sleep better at night.

I will probably never get an answer to all these questions. But maybe just being brave enough to face them is a step in the right direction.

The Holidays

I’ve heard that holidays are the worst for the newly separated and divorced. It’s a blaring reminder of what you no longer have, a gut-wrenching carousel ride of memories you don’t want to think about, a game of “what if” wondering what it would be like this year if you were still together.

High five. Sounds like an awesome time.

Oddly enough, I’m not dreading the holidays like I thought I would. I’m actually overjoyed that I do not have to dread the upcoming discussion of “Whose parents will we see this year?” Gawd, that was one discussion I could do without forever and ever amen. Seriously. Every Thanksgiving, every Christmas, every Easter, every Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, every inane “holiday” that his mother would make up as an excuse to see each other… again.

I can’t tell you how many times I would look at the calendar and calculate how long we had until we had to have the “discussion” again. Even in July I would start to panic… only four months until Thanksgiving and the dreaded “discussion”! I could hyperventilate just thinking about it. It was the worst. Especially, since I knew that during this discussion I was supposed to behave like a mature, reasonable, fair, logical adult when all I really wanted to do was throw a tantrum so epic that two year olds would bow their heads in reverence. I hated seeing his family for the holidays. They were weird and gross. And my family wasn’t as weird. Therefore, experience dictates that we should choose the less crazy family to see for any and all holidays. Mine. Simple logic. What is the problem? What do we have to discuss? And why is he now throwing himself on the floor in a glorious display of two year old fury? (Looking back, there are probably a lot of things we didn’t do very well while we were married.)

In my defense, his family was… well… weird. With the exception of a few, a lot of them had personal hygiene issues and had been diagnosed with verbal diarrhea. It made the holidays nearly unbearable for a natural introvert and all around “prissy” girl. A lot of times I was fair, but more often than not, I was probably unreasonable because… well… I just didn’t like his family and I didn’t want to spend the holidays being tortured. Call me crazy. Plus, his family lived only 20 minutes away. We saw them a lot. Much more often than my parents who lived 4 hours away. My argument still holds water that even though we didn’t see his side for Thanksgiving the previous year, we had just seen them for their made-up “Fall Festival” celebration and we hadn’t seen my side since the 4th of July. I honestly still think that was a perfectly fair and reasonable argument. He did not.

Regardless, I’m thrilled that I don’t have to have the argument again this year. Because even though it was meant to be a “discussion” it would always snowball into an argument, and one of us would eventually have to give in (usually him) and one of us would NOT be very happy with the holidays. (Yes, if you’re wondering, there are definitely things I would do differently now, looking back. But he never gave me the option of remedying any of our issues so… that gives me the right to now say that I was right in every argument we ever had. Look it up. It’s science.)

This year, I get to be with my family, and I am thrilled. Plus, I don’t have to feel guilty about it, which is awesome. See? There are some nice things about being single again.

Well, that’s just dumb.

Remember when I told you guys about what a hardcore people-pleaser I am?

How I can never disagree with someone or say no?

How I can never be anything less than agreeable and polite and easy-going and fine with everything?

Um… yeah. That annoying little trait definitely isn’t helping me out in this whole divorce process thing.

When I really want to be all like angry-woman

I end up being like 8

Only much better looking…

Anyway, it occurred to me that I don’t want the ass hat to think I’m… a jerk. Or that I’m unreasonable. Or unlikable. Or mean. Or vindictive. Or asking for too much.

Um… excuse me? Why the heck do I care what he thinks?! Was he not a jerk? Was he not unreasonable? Was he not unlikable, mean or vindictive???

The dumb thing is… I am not any of these things! But I worry that he’ll think of me in this way if I ask for a decent amount of spousal support, or make certain reasonable requests, or demand that he help out with certain logistics of this whole divorce process.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?! I KNOW none of that makes any sense! I KNOW that’s just about the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard or said. I KNOW that if someone else were in my shoes, I’d be slapping them upside the head saying, “SNAP OUT OF IT! He did this to YOU! You need to stand up for yourself, WOMAN!”

Why is that so ridiculously hard to apply to myself?! I’m expecting so very little out of him. If you knew how much I was asking in spousal support, you would be shocked. You’d be disgusted if you knew how much he was willing to pay. You’d also be so disappointed to see how agreeable and NICE I’ve been through this whole ordeal. He’s been staying in the apartment. He’s been able to use all the furniture and things I’ve left behind until I can get them, no questions asked. He’s only had to pay me for certain big items that I can’t take with me right now. He hasn’t been inconvenienced in the least through this whole ordeal. Nothing in his life has changed except that now he can freely visit his girlfriend whenever he wants without feeling guilty about it. I’m being ridiculously agrreeable. And I have no idea why! Why can’t I stop myself?!

I’m not saying that I should become some raving lunatic, some vindictive jerk face… but I could at least stand up for myself and expect something from him for upending my life and leaving me in the lurch, right?

Something needs to change. I need to change. I can see that. It’s the actual application of that change that’s the hard part. Any words of advice, peeps? Because I’ll take it.