Friday, October 30, 2015

Baseball & the VOTE

One thing I didn’t do in my marriage was watch sports.  I could never understand (nor want to) football. I’d watch a little tennis but never got that scoring either.  Golf too slow and boring to me and basketball, well, basketball was just too roughtoo intentionally violent in a sport that should be power and grace.  I understand the need for that physicality playing football because that’s what it is — the inevitable collision of bodies, but I believe basketball shoudda stayed pure.

That leaves baseball. This game is the one that can most hold my interests probably because I can understand it and it’s got so many, many variables and many plays often open to interpretation which is something I find I like and maybe am even good at.

Watching baseball was something we could have shared I think, if I had chosen to.  I didn’t.  I’m not sure why, if it was a passive-aggressive kind if thing or a bias that I felt I wouldn’t enjoy it or was it partly making the choice to do something that I thought needed doing.  I just don’t know.

The Mets (my husband’s team) is playing in the World Series and surprisingly I’m pretty focused on watching, even that first 14-inning game.  I texted him back and forth that night, but on some level I felt I might be interrupting his enjoyment of the game so the next night, I stayed silent and solitary.

What’s also weird to me is that now they interview (briefly) the team manager (Terry Collins) DURING THE GAME!  How intrusive is that??   But that’s the way of the world these days.  A demand for more and more information, instantaneously.  Seems no one can wait for anything.

That worries me — this drive for more and more information but not information that’s necessarily of value.  While I certainly know that not everything has to have substantial “worth,” I do think the pendulum’s swung all the way to people consuming more and more that says less and less.

What worries me beyond the multitudes gobbling up and spewing out more and more words, words, words?   People are not voting.  The electorate is content to sit back and watch the game of politics without participating.  John Oliver said the other night that a higher percentage of people in Guam vote than in the US. We are letting lapse the fundamental right that makes this democracy work the way it does.  Or not.

In a marriage, it can be something huge that upsets the cart, but some times it comes down to lots of little decisions along the way that can derail things. 

Same is true for a democracy.

The Mets are up again tonight fighting the fight.  Let's hope they knock it outta the park!  

And you can knock it out of the park too — 

if you just make sure to VOTE.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Stuck ... at the Curb
Sunday it was 6:19 pm, ten hours after waking and I had not yet gotten dressed.  I had not changed out of my pajamas.

Despite all my best intentions, it became one of those days when try as I might (or not),  I could not get myself out of bed.

Not to The Merchant’s House Museum. Not to Kikoo Sushi (with a Groupon that will soon expire).  Not to someplace where I could get free Wi-Fi. (And not to the comfort of the public library — closed on Sunday.)  I just didn’t get outside.   Not even outside the confines of the sofa bed, except for the bathroom and food.

The most I did — and it took a lot — was to throw a top over my pajamas and pad down the carpeted hallway in my socks to tape a postcard with a message on the apartment door of a woman I’d seen twice and spoken to once in the elevator.  That was my attempt at reaching out.  Making a connection. But it was all I could do that day.

I couldn’t escape the waves of melancholy.  So rather than fight a losing battle, I decided to sink into it.  (I prefer to optimistically think of it as "sinking into" as opposed to drowning.)  Then a lightbulb moment and I saw something about myself I'd never fully seen.  

If asked to describe me, anyone who knows me would describe me as strong, forceful, stubborn, controlling.  There is certainly truth in that characterization (of at least one aspect of my personality).  Unfortunately, that tendency is in the fabric of who I am.

It started in second grade when I began worrying that things would not turn out alright.  Except at school — my safe haven — no one gave me any information about what was going on or how to cope with what was going on.   No one at home told me anything growing up.  (Well, maybe my sister.)  I quickly found out if I didn't pay attention, I wouldn't know how to avoid the next upset, disaster, explosion that inevitably was around the corner.  I was obsessed with learning all I could as a means of surviving in an emotionally turbulent household.  I tried hard to be perfect thinking that would make people like me, value me.

Once I had my kids, that instinct to control, to make everything perfect, to be perfect, became much, much worse.  I was bound and determined to tell my kids EVERYTHING. I was going to ensure that they had every bit of information possible.  I'd help them interpret the world and give them the tools to navigate it.  I was going to prepare them the way no one had prepared me.

It wasn’t until mid-way through my life (when a husband and teenaged kids kept telling me repeatedly to stop!) that I recognized this obsessive behavior and struggled to curb it.  But I hadn't really understood it in a big picture way until now.

Though clearly it comes across that way, I’m not trying to control people, I’m trying to control circumstances. It’s ridiculous to imagine I could control events.  Yes, ridiculous, but that never stopped me.  Even lack of success didn't deter the behavior — it’s so age-old, so ingrained in the fabric of me.   

Image by Michelle Arseneault
What a disaster.  This compulsion to teach, to assist, to share-all, became a curse.  At times, my drive to give everything I could to those around me, led to the smothering, crushing, suffocating of them and eventually, all but exhausted me.  

I still struggle to curb it.  It's hard to weed out.

The day in bed?

I felt kicked to the curb.            
                                               Time to get back up.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

At the End of a Marriage

At the end of a marriage you only see what’s wrong, what’s frustrating and annoying, what’s horrible for you.  
You only feel the bad. 

Then, as the marriage is dissolving away, and you find your husband has moved on, you are flooded with nostalgia over what once was.  Waves of memory painfully wash over you — reminding you of what brought you together in the first place.  The spontaneous fun, the unknown challenge, the great sex, the new adventures

Everything was so easy then. 

Building a life we wove multiple threads creating a colorful tapestry that was an apartment and a wedding and babies and a relocation and new jobs and the growing kids and trips back home and ER visits and birthdays and middle school and vacations and teens and driving permits, college applications, graduations and the death of our siblings and the dementia and demise of parents.

The tapestry's still there but now it's worn and frayed and unravelling.  Things change.  

This unravelling, this sadness feels overwhelming and sinks you into an emotional paralysis that takes over your being lock, stock, and barrel.

Yes, you are the one who initiated the divide.  You are the one who wanted more.  You are the one who emphatically said, “I can’t live this way anymore,” but that doesn’t change the pain of the enormity of the loss.

I don't expect anyone to truly understand what it feels like, unless they've been there.  Done this.  Walked away from the familiarity and the relative security of a 35-year relationship into the unknown.

In the depths of this sadness, I have been unable to see or feel past it.  I wondered if I could or would ever be able to move forward; move out of this grief of mourning the marriage.   

Thankfully I am coming out of it — with the help of my daughter and (ironically) my husband...

My daughter (originally, and understandably, resentful of my decision, and the destruction of what she perhaps thought was indestructible) shared with me that she now felt my leaving was for the best and that it wasn't really the end of my relationship with her dad — we'd have a different relationship, given what had changed. She firmly told me that the two of us would find a new, better way of relating and being there for one another.

It struck me that she was being incredibly wise. But it wasn't until later that evening (when I talked with my husband) that I truly experienced what she meant.

Trying to break-in to the job market here in Manhattan, I have been scrambling from thing to thing.  Senior Editor, Facilitator, Program Manager, Part-time Diversity Coordinator, Development Officer — all things I can do well and have rich experience doing, but NONE the sole occupation of my work history.  Everyone I spoke to for advice wanted a narrowcast focus on one particular function, one well-defined strand of my skills and talents.   

It's the challenge of taking my extraordinary Jill-of-all-trades career and translating it into multiple versions of resumes, cover letters; extrapolating all that is relevant to one singular profession and selling myself online along with the multitudes of others.  Forget forty years of my work life — in today's market only the last ten are relevant!   What I wanted, what I craved, was a face-to-face, one-on-one, real live appointment with a human being — but in this day and age that seemed an anachronistic impossibility.

Crippled by the job of getting a job, I've felt fragmented, frustrated, exhausted amid the four hundred thousand opportunities and the overwhelming machinations of finding employment online.  Should I focus on higher ed because that's where the bulk of my most recent experience has been?  Become a trained home chef for  Explore the non-profit world?   Sign up with to start doing ANYTHING, to make some money?  The endless possibilities were weighing me down.

Then, when I was emotionally at my lowest, having a dishearteningly depressing day, Teri — a friend, my client, the President of Skillful Means Training and Consulting  reached out to give me a tremendous piece of advice.

"Stop trying to find just ANY job.  Don't settle.  Open yourself to imagining your ideal job and go after it.  I may not know you well, but I have complete confidence that you are entirely capable of achieving whatever you imagine.  That much I know." 

I heard her words.  I tried absorbing them but they didn't sink n; they didn't translate into any feeling or action.

Later that day, the conversation with my daughter.  And finally, late that evening, while sharing my anxiety over the job search to my husband, and stating the possibility that I'd fail and might have to return to the hometown and figure out something else...he abruptly put a halt to my words.

"Stop hedging your bets.  You've got the talent and what it takes.  You only have to get in the door someplace and they'll see what you are.  Look, you got yourself to New York because you belong there.  You're gonna succeed.  Go after what you want.   Even if it doesn't feel that way to you now, even though it's tough, you can do this.  I know you can."

There it was.  For the second time that day, someone was expressing with surety that I could achieve whatever it was I wanted.  I hadn't seen this for myself.  Now I did.

There was such consolation, such comfort in realizing: my husband knows me better than anyone. He's still there for me, cheerleading, helping me see what's best. Just as I hadn't compromised by staying in the marriage, he was urging me not to compromise now.  No matter how painful or tough.

I felt a door opening, a veil lifting.  And all in a moment — I clearly saw the path I needed to take.

There is still grieving.  There's no getting away from it.  It is what it is.

But among all my rollercoaster of emotions, I feel deepest thanks — to one and all who continue to support me on this journey...