Friday, September 29, 2006

The Upside of Anger

I have long had a problem with anger, and not the way most people have anger issues. I have a difficult time getting and staying mad. I think part of it is owing to the fact that my dad had serious anger issues, hit us out of anger and often would lose control once he got angry. That was terrifying and, at least in my memories, I was often the one trying to calm him down when he got enraged. As a result, I usually take a mediator-type role when tempers get flared and always look for the solution to a problem, not a way to accelerate it. I am extremely uncomfortable with loss of control (self or other's loss), which serves me well in my chosen profession. I am the person you want in the throes of an emotionally-charged conflict.

Incidentally, my dad, like most folks, has chilled over time. He is a good man with an anger problem and he has gotten better at controlling his anger.

B has an anger problem, too, which I guess is unsurprising, as we tend to marry people who remind us of a parent. In some ways, he is absolutely nothing like my dad - my dad is a "by-the-books," play-by-the-rules, God-fearing man. He doesn't think outside the box. He doesn't abide by politicking or jockeying for success. He is the kind of man who believes if you do your best, give it your all and demonstrate an unquestionable work ethic, you will garner the respect and rewards you deserve.

B can't even see the box, let alone think inside it. He is quick on his feet, a great salesman and charmer, and the kind of guy that everybody instantly loves and wants to be around. He is very skilled at making you feel like one of the most interesting people in the room and he rarely forgets a face or a detail. He is the consummate deal-maker. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer of a company where he started in the (metaphorical) mail room and worked his way up. I was so goddamn proud of him for that, even though his commitment to his job often came at the expense of our relationship. He, too, has an unquestionable work ethic, although different from my dad's.

But they are similar in the anger thing and for most of our marriage, he intimidated me when he got angry. Like my dad, he learned how to better control his anger as he got older but he still would lash out and cross all sorts of lines when he got enraged. Those fits caused many (emotional) scars and probably kept me from communicating a lot of unspoken thoughts and feelings. Things were better when he was happy and it evolved to the point where I just didn't say certain things because peaceful was always better than strife. Keep the peace was sort of my mantra -- don't rock the boat.

Right now, I am prone to unbelievable feelings of rage, tempered by profound, indescribable bouts of pain and sadness. I have lost control of my emotions and that loss of control is utterly unsettling. The sadness parts I am more comfortable with, as it was my usual reaction when either my dad or B got angry to resort to tears. But the rage? The desire to hurt someone who hurt me as much as he did and continues to do so (albeit without thinking)? I have never experienced it and am totally at a loss.

What consoles and calms me, however, is a desire to manage it and grow from it, as fucking Oprah as that sounds (again with the Oprah?). I desperately want to rise above it and become a better person for it. It actually motivates me, as odd as that sounds. I will NOT become a bitter divorcee who hates and distrusts men. I won't resort to hate, because nothing good ever came of hate. Nothing good comes out of that kind of negativity. I know I have to work through it and experience it in order to come out of this as the kind of person I really want to be. So I am faced with the reality that I am going to feel like shit and out of control and prone to these awful feelings of hatred and rage.

That is a sobering reality. More on that later.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The High Road

This one is going to be a little disjointed..... and it starts with Oprah, of all things.

I like Oprah. I'm not a superfan by any stretch of the imagination and I probably catch her show a half dozen times a year, usually when I'm sick or I happened to catch the repeats at night. That said, I once saw a show where she said (probably related to weight management) that discipline was not "doing it every day" but rather "doing it when you would rather do anything but." That catchy bit of wisdom resonated with me and, although I don't believe I am a model of discipline, I think there is truth in that sentiment.

Segue to the high road. I think there is a corollary to the whole discipline mantra. I haven't fully developed this theory, as I really, really understand the desire to take a cruise on lower grounds. Rage and revenge are powerful emotions that give a person a false sense of control. When you feel as though you have been betrayed and discarded and wronged, feelings of rage and revenge can make you feel like you are reclaiming the situation on your terms.

However, I do think it is a false sense of control. Getting angry or even isn't going to make you whole. That doesn't get you back what you (think you) lost. It doesn't move you forward, it doesn't help you heal. It gives you something really negative to focus on to take your attention and energy away from the pain and hurt you need to experience, deal with, and move past and move on. But make no mistake about it, rage and revenge are very tempting friends.

B asked me today about some of our personal effects, including artwork, wanting to know "which ones I wanted." It was on the telephone, which, at the moment, is a vulnerable medium for me. I told him to tell me what he wanted and he asked me the same thing. In a hurry to get off the phone, I told him I would take an inventory tonight and check off what I wanted. That was me trying to stay on the high road. When I hung up, my brain shouted "fuck you and your unmitigated gall on even assuming that you are entitled to any of our things. How dare you even think about it!" I felt that way for a few hours, then went for a very long walk.

When I came home, I looked around, specifically at the artwork. Most of it has serious sentimental value, some of it I just plain love, and other pieces I could do without. All of it is from "then" -- that time when I had an abiding trust and faith in our relationship, no matter the obstacles and pitfalls. It would probably be healthy for me to let some of those go, and, as crazy as this seems, my lawyer side always leans towards fairness and equity. Yes, I am shattered and wrecked, but we acquired all of these pieces because of B. I didn't pick a thing out -- B was the collector. Yes, they enrich my home, but, notwithstanding all of the hurt and anger, I want to be fair. I need to be fair and reasonable. I won't win any prizes for it and I really doubt B will ever fully appreciate it (especially given the circumstances), but I don't want to be the kind of person that exacts her revenge and pain by being punitive. I don't gain anything from that, not even in the short term.

I have decided that I am going to email him (this is my preferred means of communication with him right now) and tell him that I am not in the right state of mind to make this decision. I am going to do an inventory of the artwork and tell him that if there is something he has to have right now, I'll probably agree, but in actuality, I don't want to give anything up right now. I can list a few things that I can part with, but the majority of it? Not ready to make that decision. I know that when the worst of this is over, I will probably give him anything he wants, aside from a few pieces. But for now? I think it is fair for me to say that unless there is something he can't live without, assume that it is all mine. And he has reason to believe in my character and my word when I say that when this is all over, I won't be an asshole for asshole's sake.

Even if it is the thing I want to be the most.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Top 10 Assumptions for Communication in the Near Term


I know that during this separation, I was remarkably available and amicable with you, always believing that we would eventually work it out and ride off into the sunset. I believed this for reasons I still don't understand, aside from a profound overestimation in your character. I'm seeing a clearer picture now, but still strive to have one of those "civil" divorces that pepper urban mythology. To that end, I strongly suggest you adopt the following assumptions during our upcoming "pre-decree" dealings, as failure to do so will resort in an unnecessarily ugly divorce:

1) Assume that I know of every transgression you made during our marriage, both before and after separation. It is a very safe assumption, even if you think I didn't know about it at the time. Truth is, I let entirely too much shit slide, again, owing to that whole "overestimation of your character" thing, together with some really unhealthy denial, largely owing to the same. Take specific notice of the time period shortly before the separation and today, as I have learned a lot from you about playing dirty and gaining information.

2) Further to #1, assume that I did what you would have done, had you wondered about my intentions and dedications to this relationship. Consider that carefully. Very carefully. How would you have investigated certain things? That's how I did it. B-style.

3) Assume that anything approximating friendship is gone. Fin. You destroyed that possibility with your complete disregard of our relationship. At the moment, the only emotions I feel towards you are profound sadness, pain and rage.

4) As you well know, I don't make decisions based on emotional states of mind. Assume that if you don't further bullshit, disrespect or humiliate me, I won't publicly grind my axe. That is, your secrets are safe with me, so long as you don't exacerbate an already horrible situation.

5) Assume that I don't want to hear from you for casual conversation and general "checking in." If you have specific questions about the terms of our marital dissolution, I'll try to answer them in a straightforward manner. I am only interested in moving forward with the divorce, not rehashing the reasons it came to this. Lord knows, I can (and routinely) do that on my own time. I don't consider you a friend at all -- quite the contrary -- and hearing from you only serves to provoke me emotionally. Get a divorce attorney, who will tell you that I am being cool like Fonzie right now. Seriously. Spend the money, even for this "uncontested" divorce.

6) Assume that I know everything. Bears worth repeating, even if you think you were utterly discreet and secretive. Don't try to play innocent or blameless. I know. About a lot of things.

7) Assume that you can have anything you want from our personal property (with a few exceptions). I do not intent to profit from this marriage, despite the advice of the best divorce attorneys in town. As vindictive as I feel right now, I am trying very hard not to resort to that.

8) Assume that I am smarter and more perceptive than you ever gave me credit for. Again, my abiding faith in your ultimate character led me astray. I also learned a lot from you. Sadly, you are now not half the man I married twelve years ago, despite being twelve years older.

9) Assume that I am not the "happy go lucky" person you were married to for 12 years. Right now, I have wildly contrasting emotions and am prone to bursting into tears or punching a wall. Rage is an emotion that right now? I am wholly comfortable and familiar with. You would be well advised not to provoke these sentiments, which are bubbling at the surface. You had the advantage for most of our married life -- you could always get madder and meaner. That advantage no longer exists. I promise you that I can get madder and meaner now than you could ever imagine getting.

10) Assume that my abiding refrain is fuck you. Fuck you for discarding and disrespecting a love and friendship that spanned 14 years. I am so filled with self-hate for all of the things I did in your support. I was a true partner to you and you disregarded all of that and never tried to reciprocate. Hell, you never even tried to apologize for anything and perform any act of contrition. I forgave you because I thought it would move us forward, but that was a huge mistake. Hell, you didn't even ask for forgiveness -- I just gave i to you, foolishly believing that you were on the same page as me. You wanted a divorce, not forgiveness. I'm finally giving that (divorce, not forgiveness) to you now. Sorry for the delay, I believed your half-hearted bullshit.

You changed from the man I married -- that man was fantastic. You are a shell of that man. I didn't make a mistake by marrying you -- I just should have realized that that man died a slow death. I bear enormous responsibility in that, and for that, I sincerely apologize. I owed this relationship more -- just always thought you would always be the man and person I thought you were. That was a fucked up assumption.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I am filing for divorce this week.

I never really thought it would come to this, even after this long separation. I am finally ready to confront a world where I am not part of a duo. I am finally ready to accept that love doesn't conquer all, and that sometimes? You can believe the best and that however fucked up the journey, it will alll work itself out.

I love my husband. I always will. But this marriage cannot be saved without dedicated efforts by both parties and a willingness and desire to do anything to keep it together. My husband is a great man in many ways and an almost impossible standard to meet. But he hasn't done any of the work to keep this marriage together and, in fact, I feel like he would pretty much throw his efforts anywhere but here. He seems to think I'm going to be ready, willing and able to put in back together whenever he can pencil it in, but the truth is, I'm not. He wore me down by attrition.

He wanted a divorce two years ago, even if he can't admit it. Fuck, he can't admit it now. I held on, thinking that there would be some magical moment or some grand gesture that evidenced his committment to us and keeping this 14 year relationship together. It didn't happen and now, it is, in the words of someone else, too late. Now, it looks like I'll get a decree of divorce just in time for the holidays.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Let us test

God help me, I've started a blog.