Posted by: lolalately | September 7, 2012

Disclaimer (the fine print)

Disclaimer

 

All images, unless otherwise noted, were taken from the Internet and are assumed to be in the public domain.

These images are not presented as my own work, unless I note it under the specific post.

Copyright still belongs to the owner / creator of each work.

In the event that there is still a problem or error with copyrighted material,

the break of said copyright is neither intentional and not for profit in any way.

The material in question will be removed at once upon provision of proof.

Advertisements
Posted by: lolalately | April 23, 2013

City of light and love

Despite doubts and fears, I boarded a jet last week and together with my sister, flew to Europe leaving my husband to his own devices as he himself headed to Asia. I had two choices; stay home being miserable and sad and disappointed that the trip I’d spent a year planning and dreaming of had been trashed by my friend and then my husband, or pack my bag, grab my camera and head out with an open mind. In the end, I chose to go … and I’m actually quite happy that I did.

As our plane taxi’d out from New York, for a fleeting moment I was seized by a sudden sense of panic as I wondered what my husband was up to his hotel room, knowing I would soon be out of range. And then, just as suddenly, I silently told myself I had to let it go. Then I turned to my sister, raised my glass of Chablis and toasted to her and our upcoming week in Paris.

Six hours later, we landed at Charles DeGaulle airport a bit bleary-eyed, but excited to be there. After meeting our driver and checking into our hotel, we tidied up, slipped into less stuffy attire, and hit the ground running. We’ve each been to Paris before – though not together – so we wanted to make the most of our week. By sunset we were exhausted, so I hailed a taxi and we returned to our hotel neighborhood, where we picked up cheese, a baguette, some salami, a couple of cans of iced tea and walked a short block to our hotel for an impromptu picnic, followed by a much deserved nights sleep.

The following morning I awoke just before dawn to the ringing of my cellphone. It was my husband calling to say goodbye before his flight departed for Southeast Asia. He sounded restless, said he hadn’t slept well the night before, and that he wished he’d come with me. Too little, too late I thought to myself. I told him to have a safe flight, and to let me know when he was safely in country. Then we said our goodbyes, and I quietly walked out onto our hotel room balcony to watch a beautiful Parisian sunrise in peace.

Most of that day was passed with my sister and I sightseeing and shopping, peppered with stops for people watching and lunch at two of my favorite cafe’s. There’s something really relaxing about sitting at a little table in a Paris cafe sipping Cappucino, and just watching people going about their day. You don’t even need a lot of conversation. I mean, what is there to say really? I guess we could comment on how chic Parisian women are, or how well behaved French children seem to be, but neither my sister nor I felt the need for chatter. I think we were both just happy to be sitting there, thousands of miles away from our “real” lives, spending quality time together.

And as I sat there watching the city of light and love pass by, I wondered if I’d have felt this relaxed if either best gal pal or my husband had come with me. I probably would’ve had a nice time with either of them, but the truth is; I had one hell of a great time with my sister. She’s easy going, totally flexible and open to anything. If we started out headed to the Louvre and suddenly decided to detour to Galleries Lafayette, she was cool with it. If I said I really felt like Gelato instead of lunch, she was okay with that too. She’s like that, and I love that about her.

In the end, we visited every spot I’d wanted to visit, and a few I’d not really planned on but in the end was delighted we’d stopped at. We had lazy breakfasts and relaxing lunches, we had numerous coffee’s in pretty little cafe’s, and cocktails in fancy hotels. We had a picnic at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, and ate chocolate filled croissants in the rain while walking back to our hotel. If it wasn’t the trip I’d originally planned, in the end, it was better. It was exactly what I needed and better than I could have imagined. I can honestly say I’m thankful things worked out the way they did. My sister and I have decided to make traveling together to somewhere new an anual event, and we’re both looking forward to the next trip.

If I took anything away from my trip to the city of light and love it’s this reminder (paraphrasing a quote from Joseph Campbell); Sometimes we have to let go of the life we’ve planned, to have the life that’s waiting for us.  

Going forward, I’m going to try to be more open to embracing what life has waiting for me instead of planning everything out. I’ve wasted way too much time planning only to have someone else f*ck up my plans. I think it’s time to adopt my sister’s “whatever” attitude and see what life has in store for me. At least that’s my plan. 😉  

Lola 

Posted by: lolalately | April 7, 2013

Even when you can … you won’t

For nearly a year I have been planning a trip to my favorite European city as a celebration of my new-found health. Friends and family alike knew that this trip was important to me. It was initially to be a trip shared with my best gal pal, but she bailed on me at the start of the year. I still intended to go, even if it meant going alone. But when she cancelled on me, my husband suddenly announced he’d go with me. I was surprised.

Given that his career involves living in airplanes and sleeping in hotels, and that no matter how I’ve tried, I cannot convince the man to take a “real vacation” with me, here he was suddenly willing to spend 5 days in Europe. My excitement grew.

We’d been getting along well for some time. I’d seen no evidence of him returning to his old and hurtful past behaviors, so when he expressed a desire to make the journey with me, I saw the celebration in richer colors; my improved health, our improved marriage.

About a month into revising the itinerary I’d planned as a girlfriends getaway into a couples trip, he sprang on me that he was “concerned about the timing” of our trip. It would mean leaving the US the day after he returned from China, and following our return home, he’d have just one day of rest before returning to the sky once more. He felt that he might just be so tired that he’d drag me down and keep me from enjoying the trip I’d been looking forward to for nearly a year.

Despite my disappointment at yet another person bailing on me, I coould not argue with his reasoning. I know that as a pilot, his time home is precious to him and I also know how tired he gets. I couldn’t honestly blame him for his concerns, even as my insides sank again, and I was riddled with the thought that even when you can travel with me … you won’t.  

And just as quickly as he’d bowed out, he recommended a replacement he was certain would not leave me hanging; my sister. My sister lives a state away and had recently lost her job. Broke and depressed and in dire need of a diversion, my husband was confidant that sis would jump at the chance to excape to excitement … especially as I was picking up 100% of the tab. I phoned her immediately and put the offer before her. She snapped it up like a hungry cat snatches a tin of tuna. Once again my excitement peaked out from behind the dark curtain where for the second time it had gone to lick its wounds. Time to revise my plan once again. For the next two weeks or so, there were countless phone and emails shot back and forth between my sister and me. I think she was even more excited than I was about our upcoming travels, and her excitement was infectious.  

My husband encouraged me to spare no expense.  I’d booked a luxury hotel (not the most expensive, but certainly not a cheap one) in the heart of the city, private car transfers at our destination, and we’d be flying in business class instead of coach. He felt this way we were more likely to arrive rested and refreshed and wouldn’t lose a day of our trip to being tired. I was touched by his concern and truthfully, quite pleased with his generocity and largesse.

But as so often has happened in my nearly dozen years with my husband, my happy mood and excitement was short-lived. Cut dead by finding an email in which he sought the services of a Craigslist escort while he was away from home. Of course, he insisted he hadn’t sent the email, and did his usual “deny and deflect” act.  I’m not a total fool. I see reality where he continues to hope I’ll not see beyond his smoke and mirrors. Despite the fact that there was no visible response from the whore, no monies removed from his credit or debit cards, and no record of any phone calls either from his cell phone or the hotel he was in, that one email was damning enough.

Suddenly his “my wife doesn’t need to fly coach or stay in a cheap hotel” was making sense. It was clear to me that his open wallet was more about his open trousers than an open heart.  And I said as much to him. His denials persisted, as did his indignance, and for what must be the umpteenth time in our marriage, I thought how much better off I’d be if I could just leave him. But nothing is ever that simple.

For reasons that I will not expound on here, I will likely never leave this marriage. I will simply continue to accept that life is about trade-offs and acceptance. I know that my husband loves me on some level, and even though it’s not the love I’d hoped to have in my life, it’s really all he’s capable of.  My husband doesn’t have to make his cheating so obvious. He could cover his tracks much, much better. But even when he can … he won’t.

Posted by: lolalately | March 19, 2013

When just enough becomes too much

I haven’t written in awhile. A long while. There’s just been too much on my plate to add one more thing. But you know how life is; one more thing does get added, then one more, then one more, then one more. There’s no stopping the onslaught. We tend not to say “enough”, refusing to take on more until enough finally and really becomes too much. And that’s where I found myself a couple of weeks ago. Feeling buried. Suffocated. Drowned in life. And I finally meant it when I screamed “ENOUGH”.

So I took a break, and took some time just to sit, to relax, to breathe, to be. And ya know what I figured out? That sometimes I am my own worst enemy. I say “yes” when I really want to say “no”, I say “sure I can” when what’s sitting just behind the smile is; “HELL NO I CAN’T”! Sadly for the poor sap who tried to add the last straw, I blew up, like a volcano. But the lava has stopped pouring out, and the embers have died down, and the heat’s no longer visible above the hardened flow. I’m calm. Well, more calm than I was.

Why do we do that to ourselves? Why do we take on so much? Why do we tell others they need to slow down, take it easy, enjoy life, cut themselves some slack, but we deny the same courtesy to ourselves? Why is it so easy to respect others and so hard to respect ourselves?

When was the last time you took an entire day for yourself? Not to catch up on work around the house, not to clean out your closets, not to finish the stack of books piling up beside your bed … but just to breathe and relax and BE? I know before this latest blow-up I hadn’t taken time for me in months, and months, and months. In fact, the last time I’d taken any time just for myself was the enforced rest I took in the days following my April 2012 surgery, when all I could do was “be”.

In the year since that surgery I’ve been in Super Woman mode nearly 24/7 and it’s taken its toll. I’m tired, and edgy, and irritable. My shoulders hurt, my migraines are back with a vengence, and I’m thinking about food all the time. I find no pleasure in tv, or the internet, or even talking to friends. And sex? Well, it was just another chore on the list.

So what’s it going to take for me, for you, to finally “get” that life is short? No one laying on their deathbed ever called out; “Damn, if only I’d gotten to clean out just one more closet or run one more errand for yet one more demanding family member.” When are we going to truly understand and accept that life ends but the chores and demands never do, so fuck the chores and demands – start living!!!

I’m supposed to travel to France next month. A trip a year in the making. I was supposed to be going with my best gal pal. But she bailed on me. In fact, she bailed on me in more ways than just that trip, but hey, that’s life. Anyway, I asked my husband to go with me instead. The trip is to celebrate my “new life” since my life-saving surgery last April. Having that surgery was such a BIG deal for me, and I really wanted to celebrate the past year with a trip to someplace meaningful. For me, that place is Paris France. My bff knew that. My husband knows that.

So I dreamed, and I planned and I talked about it. A lot. And when it came time to book the plane tickets, my bff chose that moment to say she couldn’t go. In reality, I don’t think she ever truly intended to go. But my husband seemed eager to take her place, so all seemed well, and planning resumed. Until the past couple of days when even HE doesn’t seem keen to go. Lots of blah, blah, blah about his schedule, and how to “get everything done”, and the usual bull shit of life.

And ya know what? I have decided that whether or not my friend or my spouse decides to join me on this adventure, I AM GOING TO PARIS. I am going to sit in beautiful gardens, and drink strong coffee in sidewalk cafe’s, and wander through old shops, and pick through weekend flea market stalls and eat buttery croissants. I AM GOING TO PARIS to reward myself for surviving the past year. I am going to live whatever is left of my life the way I SEE FIT, on MY SCHEDULE, fulfilling MY DREAMS and MY NEEDS and the rest of the world can take a flying leap. ENOUGH IS INDEED ENOUGH.

PARIS HERE I COME!

Posted by: lolalately | January 18, 2013

December in my rearview mirror

The holidays are over, the decorations are put away, the thank you cards have all gone out. It’s time to reflect on December.

I generally hate December, well, at least as far back as I can remember. With my birthday so close to Christmas, growing up I always felt cheated, as if my parents believed it was perfectly acceptable for me to settle for less than my siblings got because of the accident of a birth date. As a teen and young adult, it was my parents annual winter marital battles (begun just before or on Thanksgiving day and running until New Year’s Eve day) that took center stage, forcing any thought of a happy birthday and merry Christmas right out of my mind. They even managed to completely forget my 16th birthday until my little sister mentioned it at dinner a week later. No apologies were made.

By the time I was old enough to make my own decisions and plans about December, I knew I’d be far better off to be as far from my parents as possible, at least over my birthday. So for years and years, I passed the day quietly and alone in some random city, often times outside of the US.

When the hubs and I decided to marry, I thought a December wedding might at last cast a brighter light on the dismal month. I was wrong. Not only was our wedding a wretched letdown fraught with worry and regret, but anniversary after anniversary was spent trying unsuccessfully to distance myself from those painful memories.

Of course, it didn’t help that my husband complained often and loudly about the excessive spending he “had to do” each December, what with our anniversary followed closely by my birthday and then Christmas. The result being that in addition to dreading memories of December’s past, I again felt as guilty as an adult as I did as a child because of my unfortunate December arrival.

This year I made the momentous decision that I would not accept as my fate that every December would find me sad and depressed and with no expectation of even minor happiness. On the contrary, I had come to the realization that I have every right to expect a happy anniversary, followed by a joyous birthday, followed by a very Merry Christmas. And by damn … I would have all three and settle for nothing less!

I told my husband early in September what my expectations and desires were, and by November I’d even told him what I wanted for each of the three December “holidays” we would celebrate. And I did mean to celebrate!

I wanted him to choose something spontaneously romantic for our anniversary, something he’d given some thought to. He gifted me with a lovely pair of earrings to match a pendant he’d given me several years before. For my birthday I wanted a tattoo (my first … so far) and gift cards to two clothing stores I frequent (I got exactly as I’d wanted). I also wanted to throw myself a birthday tea (ladies only), which though I did, is a story better saved for another day.

For Christmas, I was VERY specific. I wanted a diamond ring. Not just any ring, but a totally stunning halo-mounted double banded setting with the best possible center stone (diamond) we could reasonably afford without plundering our savings. It was something I’d seen at a local jewelers, and had fallen in love with. And he came through for me! He came gloriously through!! The ring is everything I’d hoped it would be, and then some.

December was shaping up to be my best ever, and yet, despite my best intentions and well-laid plans, somehow there still managed to be a couple of little annoying dark clouds hanging over the month. One came in the form of step-children behaving badly, and the more troublesome one; someone I’d until then thought of as my bff. A belief I’m now re-thinking.

Not only did she cast a silent but sour look on me as I revealed my new tattoo (inside wrist, small but meaningful) at my birthday tea, but she took it upon herself to spoil (well, try anyway) my Christmas by revealing to me what my husband was giving me because SHE felt the ring was “inappropriate and would never be what I’d choose for myself”. She couldn’t have been more wrong, and her actions have served only to cause me to re-think our entire friendship, and it’s future. If there even is one, which at this point I have serious doubts of.

All in all, this past December was a huge relief and a happy success for me. By refusing to settle for anything less than butterflies (thank you SJP) and making my “I won’t settle” position known, I avoided having history repeat itself, and perhaps even changed the course of history going forward. This good December has also done one more thing for me; it’s secured in my mind the knowledge that I can have happiness if I make others aware that I will not tolerate their stealing it and stick to my guns.

The December in my rear view mirror looks pretty good to me … step-children, surly friend and all.

Posted by: lolalately | December 23, 2012

Where do we go from here?

It’s been more than a month since my last post. I could tell you that I’ve just been so busy with the holidays, family and business comittments that I simply haven’t had time to blog. I could tell you that December is just not a good month for me in general (never has been) and so I find little motivation beyond getting my ass out of bed most days. I could say that we had a wedding anniversary, I had a birthday, I’ve had to deal with difficult step children, I’m still mourning the loss of my friend and mother-in-law. And all of it would be true. But none of those “reasons” is the real reason I haven’t blogged.

The truth is I’ve been trying to deny the very subject I most need to write about; how to know if a friendship has run its course, and if it has … what’s next?

In an earlier post I wrote about a female friend, someone I’ve known just a couple of years, but who I got to know very, very well, very quickly. This is the same friend who’s been quite judgemental of me this year. And though I’ve made peace with that, and in fact cleared the air with her, something else has happened to make me question the very value of continuing this friendship.

As I said, I had a birthday this month. I also hosted a luncheon for several girlfriends, which the lady in question attended. Yesterday morning during a casual chat, she shared the following story with me; shortly after she arrived at the luncheon, I excused myself for a few moments and my husband apparently took my friend aside to show her a Christmas gift he’d bought for me. Now, him buying me a Christmas gift isn’t unusual by any means. In fact, he’s quite good about remembering our anniversary, my birthday, Christmas, even Valentine’s Day. It’s also a well known fact that my husband has a great need for approval – specifically the approval of my best friend – and he sometimes goes about obtaining this in a less than desirable way. He also brags far too much, which he knows irritates me.

But back to the point. He showed her the gift and apparently wasted no time in telling her the cost as well. She was mortified. Not just at the supposed cost, but the mere fact that he’d bought me this particular gift; a diamond ring. A supposedly quite large diamond ring. A diamond ring like one would give the woman he’s proposing marriage to. Only, we’re already married, and have been for many years.

My friend was in such distress about the ring, that she said she had to phone her husband to share it with him, and to ask his advice about telling me. His advice was to keep her mouth shut and let me  receive my gift and draw my own conclusions. She chose not to do that.

Instead, she gave me a complete play-by-play of her encounter with my husband, a full description of the (gawdy, over-the-top, way too expensive … all her words) ring, and the cost. I confess that I was surprised he’d bought me a diamond ring. I confess I was surprised at the amount of money he’s alleged to have spent. But as I told her; it’s his money, he inherited it from his late mother and how he spends it is his business, not mine. The fact that he’s apparently chosen to spend some on a gift from me, is also his business, not mine.

So now, here I sit, two days before Christmas, listening to the excitement in my husband’s voice as he repeatedly says he’s hoping I’ll like my Christmas gift as much as he liked buying it for me. And I’m wondering to myself; how do I fake being surprised and pleased about this gift when I open it? And what if my friend’s right and it is gawdy? She’s convinced I’ll hate it, she says it’s the “wrong stone” for me, and that I’m going to feel very uncomfortable even trying it on.

But what if she’s wrong? What if I love the ring? What if it’s perfect? What if it looks grand on my hand? What if I really am thrilled with it? Will she be angry or disappointed with me? Will she think even less of my husband? Is that even possible? And beyond those questions is this; what the hell was she thinking even mentioning it to me to begin with? Why did she so badly need to unburden herself that she felt it was okay to ruin a Christmas surprise? Who does that? And what’s next? What else would she be willing to do just because she believes it’s necessary, even if it’s going to hurt me? ANd by whose authority was she accorded the responsibility to do that?

I cannot imaging that her rational for telling me has anything whatsoever to do with her being jealous of me receiving such a gift. She and her husband have enough money to buy and sell me a dozen times over.  She’s never given a fig about jewelry and rarely even wears her wedding band. On the flip side, she knows I like jewelry, I enjoy wearing the few pieces I own, and when my husband and I got married, he certainly couldn’t afford an elaborate, expensive diamond engagement ring. Hell, we could barely afford a wedding and cake reception. What if his reason for giving me this gift was to make up for not having been able to give me such a ring years ago? What if he just happened to be walking by the store window, saw the ring and thought to himself that his wife would be tickled pink to receive it? What if he just wanted to do something nice for me for Christmas and now that he can afford to … he just did it?

Why can’t this friend just be happy for me? Even if the ring isn’t to her liking, why assume it won’t be to mine? I get that I’m guilty of sharing what I now realize was too much info with her about the state of our marriage. I get that she, like me, doesn’t know if this marriage can survive. So what? Does that mean that until I’m 100% sure of this marriage (if that’s even possible) I shouldn’t accept any gifts from my spouse?

I’m hurt, I’m confused, I’m troubled, I’m worried. Has our friendship run the course and she’s looking for a way out, and sees this as the best way to facilitate her exit? Is there possibly more to it than this? Does she know something I don’t know? I asked her casually if my husband had ever made a pass at her and she swiflty and curtly said “no”, but what if he did? Is that why she hates him so much? Because she’s made it crystal clear that she despises my husband. And it cannot just be that I’ve shared his philandering with her. Hell, her own husband did exactly the same thing – and then some – before pulling his head out of his ass 18 months ago and realizing he was about to lose her and everything else he valued. So what the hell is bee in her bonnet that’s got her all hyped up about this Christmas gift? And where do we go from here?

Posted by: lolalately | November 26, 2012

Every ending has a beginning

The month of November began as most months do; with the juggling of work schedules with visitation, and the usual assortment of appointments and activities filling my calendar pages. There were reminders about mailing birthday packages, parent/teacher conferences, and updating my will. And of course there was the upcoming holiday to consider and shop for, not to mention a family wedding mid-month that if I wasn’t exactly dreading … I sure as hell wasn’t anticipating. Just your typical month in Lolaland.

My husband likes to joke that if I ever lost my cellphone, I’d truly be lost. For it’s my cellphone calendar that holds the daily reminders of our lives, and the Taskmaster app that serves to coordinate it all. I’ve always been an orderly, organized person. My therapist says it’s the result of a childhood lived in chaos, Makes sense to me.

But schedules and reminders take a back seat when something rocks your world, as happened to me the morning of October 27th. It began as a typical Saturday morning; I drove to the local farmers market to pick up some fresh produce, and after returning home to sort it, decided to take a portion to my mother-in-law so that she could enjoy it too.

I’ve always been close with my mother-in-law, calling her “mom” long before hubby and I even began the dance of “should we or shouldn’t we talk marriage”. She was friend, confidant, cheerleader, rowdy Scrabble partner, and dream mother all rolled into one. Whenever I heard friends speaking disparagingly about their mothers-in-law, I’d think how blessed I was to have mine; a woman of few words, great wisdom, and incredible generous love.

When I phoned mom around 7:30 that Saturday morning, I wasn’t totally shocked to find her line busy. Popular in the neighborhood, it wasn’t unusual for her to be up and out of the house by 6am, and perhaps she’d run into someone on her morning walk and decided to follow-up with a call. But when 30 minutes later her line was still busy, something in my gut said; “check”.

I loaded up the fruit and veg, along with a couple of books I’d purchased for her (an avid reader like myself), grabbed a bottle of water for myself and a Red Bull for the husband I was to pick up at the airport at 9:15am, and I headed to mom’s, a short drive from our house.

Arriving at her front door, I rang the bell, No answer. I noticed that her front blinds were still drawn. Odd, because my mother-in-law was as I said, an early riser, and one of her first activities each day was to open her living room blinds. Sort of a signal to her neighbors that she was up and about and ready to receive visitors. Yet here it was, nearly 8am, and those blinds were not open. I knocked on the door several times, and rang the doorbell again, but again there was no answer. By now I was beginning to feel as though something wasn’t “right”, so I withdrew my cellphone from my pocket and dialed her number again. Another busy signal! How could that be? How could her phone ring busy, but she wasn’t answering her door? Something had to be wrong.

Should I run back to our house and grab my husband’s key to his mother’s house? Or would it be just as efficient to call the local police and ask them to do a welfare check? Mom had one of those locking boxes on her front door that many seniors have; it allows the fire department to access your home in case of an emergency. I first called the fire department, but got no answer. It’s just a small volunteer fire department, and when they’re out on a call, the phone often goes unanswered.

As I got back into my car to drive to the airport, I phoned the local police department and explained the situation to them. Thankfully, they happened to have a car nearby and were only too happy to look in on mom, and yes, they’d call me back to let me know what (if anything) they found.

As I tried to focus on the traffic, and not imagine the worst, my cellphone rang again. It was the police officer now inside my mother-in-law’s house with a team from the fire department. Mom was in fact inside the house, in her soiled bed, semi-conscious and suffering from a massive stroke. Suddenly I was cold with fear and wracked with guilt. Could I have helped her if I’d rushed back home to get that key? Would it have made any difference? And when did she have a stroke? I’d just spoken with her the Thursday before, and she sounded great … like her old self.

In fact, we talked for quite some time about what a great month October had been for her. She’d attended the family wedding just the week before, a wedding which saw every single one of her 20 decendants all gathered together (and getting along peacefully, I might add) in one place at the same time. She’d followed that up with a visit two days later to see a dear old friend from her childhood. Mom was the happiest she’d been in a long, long time.

But during that same call, she’d also been intent upon discussing a subject not unknown to me, but one I tried mostly to avoid; her eventual death. Not the dying part of it per se, but rather what was to happen with her body and her belongings upon her death. Like me, my mother-in-law is a pretty organized woman. She long ago made her own final arrangements, and for some reason I couldn’t get in what now has become our last call, she really wanted to go over it with me. So despite my repeated attempts to move her onto a lighter topic, mom reminded me in great detail of her wishes; no funeral, body gets donated to science, and God help the person who wastes money sending flowers!

Thankfully, we talked of sweeter things; like the family wedding, and how good it was to see so many familiar faces. How nice the bride looked (despite being a bit long in the tooth – not to mention being a four-pete – to be wearing white) and how well behaved all the little ones were. Mom called that day her “best ever”, and I do believe she meant it.

And as odd as it seems now, mom also seemed to be seeking some sort of assurance from me that my husband and I were okay. That we were working on our marriage. That I was safe.  My safety was always in her mind, even as she prepared her will years ago, my dear mother-in-law took steps to protect me from greedy stepchildren should my husband pre-decease me. God love her, that woman was so much more than “just a mother-in-law”. 

As strokes so often do, mom’s took a great toll. She was completely paralyzed on her left side, her speech was incomprehensible, and she mostly slept. At 90 years old, she’d lived a good and rich life, but she was ready for the ride to end. She’d said so nearly every time we saw her over the past several years, more so the past several months. And now it appeared the ride was indeed coming to its end.

The following week, abiding by her own written instructions, we ordered that a feeding tube not be inserted, and we moved my dear mother to hospice for end-of-life care. The words seem cold, they look cold as I type them. But there’s really nothing cold about hospice care. In fact, I dare say, it’s more “caring” than most of us will ever receive in a traditional medical facility.

When the end of mom’s life came at 2am three days later, my husband and I were by her side, each of us holding one of her hands, speaking softly to her – letting her know it was okay to go. And as she took her final breaths, I had the strangest feeling of peace. Every ending has a beginning … and this was the beginning of mom’s final journey.

I miss my mother-in-law more than words can express. Last week was the first time in 10 years that my husband was away, and I couldn’t just pick up a phone and chat with or pop in for tea with mom. It’s shocking how sad that thought makes me even now. I have shed more tears for the loss of this great lady than I ever did my own mothers death 4 years ago. Maybe because my mother-in-law was more of a “mom” to me than my own mother had ever tried to be. Maybe because without my mother-in-law in my world, I wonder if my marriage can truly survive, or if it’s held together these past few horrible years because my husband hadn’t wanted to disappoint her.

With the death of my mother-in-law there’s also the loss of a buffer, a safety I’d long been comforted by. Every ending has a beginning … and I suppose that in losing mom, I now must begin to be my own safety. Maybe the best legacy she left me is that I AM my own safety. I got this mom. You’ve earned that rest. Enjoy sweet lady, I’ll love you and cherish my time with you all the days of my life. Thanks for loving me.

Lola

 

Posted by: lolalately | October 25, 2012

Perfect, just perfect

As I looked around the house this morning, my eyes fell upon a kitchen sink full of yesterday’s dishes, a kitchen counter littered with this week’s mail, an assortment of magazines, the local grocery ads, tomato’s that still hadn’t made it out of the plastic produce bag and into the fruit and veg basket, one bottle of Elmer’s School Glue, and a small half decorated pumpkin. The dining room table didn’t look any better; there’s the box of boring white snowman ornaments I plan to “frost” with Epsom salts, my husband’s stack of magazines that arrived this week (he must get a dozen a month), two pair of his Levi’s folded and hanging off one of the dining room chairs, and the Vegan cookbook a friend gave me two days ago.

Entering the living room I’m greeted by a basket of laundry that could have been folded yesterday. And then there’s that bag of bra’s on the coffee table that I’ve been meaning to donate to “Free The Girls”, but haven’t quite gotten around to. And don’t even get me started on the end table between the sofa and my husband’s favorite chair. More of the same.

The point of all this revelation? That I’m decidedly NOT Susie Homemaker. Especially when my husband is out of town, as he is through Saturday. In fact, most of the time when he’s gone, the house looks like a hurricane whipped through and turned the entire place upside down. Pretty much like the sight that greeted me this morning.

By the time my husband waltzes in, the house will at least be tidy, if not spotless. The laundry will be folded and put in its rightful place. The sinks will be empty, but perhaps not scrubbed sparkly white,  the kitchen counter, coffee, and end tables will be cleared of excess reading material and whatnot, and I will be wearing something other than the rather ratty, old comfies I pulled on the day he left and haven’t yet managed to drag myself out of.

The truth is, I spent years trying to be superwoman; the perfect mix of whore in the bedroom, master chef in the kitchen, and the perfect immitation of susie homemaker in the rest of the house. It took everything out of me, and none of it was appreciated much less rewarded. And it didn’t garner me the perfect marriage either. In fact, it was often the topic of choice during my many years of therapy

Before I retired, I worked a full-time (nearly 70 hours a week) job in corporate America on top of my quest for all this perfection. It didn’t matter that my paycheck filled the fridge and pantry with extravagent goodies or dinners out, it didn’t matter that I dropped everything to drive my husband to and from the airport regardless of the time of day … or night. It didn’t matter that he never had to pack his own suitcase, or take his uniforms to the cleaners … superwife can fit it into her schedule! Somewhere along the path I had developed the notion that if I kept a perfect house, cooked perfect meals, mixed a perfect Martini, and was the perfect always-willing sex partner, my husband would be appreciative, loving and faithful. Not so.

No matter how hard I tried to keep all the balls in the air, inevitably one would drop and I’d feel like a failure, wracked with guilt. If we had to dine out more than once I week because I got home from the office late and dinner wasn’t ready to serve, I’d feel guilty. If my husband didn’t have his favorite shirts to wear on a trip, I’d feel guilty. If I was too tired for sex, I’d feel guilty. And while I was feeling all that guilt, my husband was happily living his life, flying all over hell’s half acre, not a care in the world. It wasn’t that he demanded all that perfection, I was the one demanding it of myself because I’d truly convinced myself that the perfect woman would never suffer the pain and indignity of being lied to or cheated on or used.

When at last I realized that no matter how perfect I tried to be I would never attain perfection, and that in fact perfection is an illusion, I also realized that my idea of the “perfect marriage” was terribly skewed. Marriages aren’t perfect because people aren’t perfect. We are all flawed human beings. That’s not an excuse for being an asshole, it’s just a statement of fact. There is no such thing as perfect.

He will never be the husband I dreamed of, and I’m not going to be the wife I imagined I had to be. And the house certainly isn’t going to be on the cover of House Beautiful magazine. And ya know what? I no longer give a flaming, flying fuck. In fact, I’m going to spend the rest of the day right here on the sofa, feet propped up, wearing my comfies, drinking coffee, and probably surfing the web. The perfect day if you ask me.

Posted by: lolalately | October 15, 2012

The fine lines of friendship

A recent email from a woman I consider to be my best female friend has me thinking about the fine lines of friendship … and what happens when those lines are crossed.

As women frequently do, I’ve vented to my bff about my issues with my marriage. I’ve shared with her my concerns and suspicions about my husband cheating, and my concerns about remaining married to him. I confided in her because we share a similar past of childhood sexual abuse, we’re both married to men in the same industry, and because we have husband’s who’ve been unwilling or unable to remain faithful to us. Although her husband seems to have had some epiphany that’s lead him to the straight and narrow path, mine has not, and I’ve continued to share my worries and frustrations.  

In addition to my angst over my husband’s infidelities, I’ve also engaged in general bitching and complaining – as we women do – over things ranging from the relatively minor offense of leaving mail and magazines all over the dining room table to his selfishness in the bedroom. Of course she bitches as well; about her husband being married to his little airplane, about his mother, about his siblings, about wanting a new house (I’m right there with her on this one). If I haven’t painted a clear enough picture of the situation; I call us “sisters-in-bitching” we’re so seemingly alike.

Where we’re not alike is in how we respond to each others’ bitching. I tend to listen and say; “oh no”, “really, he said THAT?”, “I’m so sorry you’re going through that”, and the ever popular; “THAT SUCKS!”  Her responses however are generally along these lines; “you need to kick that piece of smoking shit to the curb” and “your marriage is over … O.V.E.R. and you need to see that” . And more and more I find myself so ruffled by her comments, that I’ve either refrained from venting at all – or I’ve whitewashed things to appear we’re just hunky-dorry. All of which has left me feeling like a piece of smoking shit myself. Until two days ago that is.

Two days ago my bff emailed me in response to an email I’d sent her. My email was the result of ongoing litigation between my husband and his ex-wife over issues related to their child. In my email, my bff read where the judge whacked said ex-wife, handing my husband a profound victory. Only my bff didn’t see it as much of a victory since it will in fact result in more on my plate (increased visitation) and the ex most likely continuing her campaign of hate towards husband and me. Be that as it may, I was simply informing my friend of the outcome of the court battle. It wasn’t even venting. I expected my husband to win, and he did. Period. But my friend apparently saw red as she read that email and she absolutely unloaded and unleashed all her anger and disgust towards my husband. In writing. And she didn’t hold anything back.

While it’s been clear to me for quite some time that my best female friend has absolutely zero affection for my husband, I guess I didn’t really realize how deep her hatred of him is. She’s now made that abundantly clear. And I feel responsible for that. If I hadn’t vented to her, if I hadn’t shared my hurt, disappointment, anger and fears with her, would she feel as she does? No, of course not. But if you can’t vent to your best girlfriend without fear of her wanting to chuck a spear into your man’s heart, what’s the world of friendship come to?

My friend knows I’ve toyed with the idea of divorce. She also knows why I’m still in this marriage, though I’ve often sensed her disapproval of my reasons. But it wasn’t long ago that she casually commented that I might decide to remain married “after all” and would learn to live with the status quo. Does she mean her friendship not withstanding?

Her recent email really made me wonder, so yesterday I finally confronted the issue head on. I acknowledged my role in the whole episode saying that clearly I had caused her to feel such animosity towards my husband by sharing all that I have. But I also said that I’m now concerned that our friendhsip hinges on whether or not I remain married to this man she so dislikes. I’d like to have her friendship, but I cannot and will not allow the friendship of one person to determine how I live my life. I can see that I need to choose what I share with her more wisely, but the damage of what I have already shared has been done. I needed to know if she could (would) get past it, and not allow it to continue to color our friendship as I believe it has.

And believe it or not … she apologised. She said she had no idea how I’d been feeling, and was sorry she’d made me feel badly. I love this woman like a sister, and I would be devastated to lose her friendship. Now more than ever. This entire episode has really made me understand and appreciate female friendships so much more. There are fine lines in frienships, and we should be able to cross them without losing either our friends or ourselves. It just takes talking and time and truth. Oh if marriages were only so easy to “fix”!

 

 

Posted by: lolalately | September 15, 2012

Taking comfort where we find it

One of the commenter’s on my “Floating” post used the word “comfort” in her comments, and it got me thinking about what comfort is to me, and where I find it in this harried and often hurting life.

As I went about my chores yesterday, folding laundry, dusting tables, filling the dishwasher, I paused to watch my cats. I suppose I could become one of “those” women with lots of cats, but I actually do know my limits and my limit is four. At a time. All four are adopted; two from the local Humane Society, one from someone we know who lost their job and home, and one was simply dumped in our garden just a few weeks old. Even the neighbors know I am the one who won’t turn her back on a stray. I find great comfort in my cats. Their silly antics, their rivalries, their vying for my attention – especially when the treat jar comes out. When I’m sick, it’s my cats who surround me and watch over me. When I’m emotional, it’s my cats that seek me out and curl into me purring, as if to remind me that life goes on. They are a source of great amusement and great comfort, not to mention that I’ve been told that petting a cat can lower ones blood pressure. So they’re healthy too!

For most of my life books have been a comfort to me. As a child of abuse, I often grabbed a book as I fled from my abuser to hide in my bedroom closet or under my bed. That book wasn’t a weapon, it was a tool by which I mentally escaped from my life. Books swept me up into the mountains of Switzerland and over sand dunes into the wilds of Africa. Books introduced me to the characters who would become my friends, my confidants, my loyal sidekicks through the treacherous days of my childhood. As long as I could escape into the pages and wild bramble of Frances Hodges Burnet’s Secret Garden, my abuser could not harm me. I was safe and comforted in the pages of a book. Today, in my mid-50’s I still find great comfort between the covers of books. I become absorbed in the story, enmeshed in the lives playing out on the pages. Though I have an e-reader, a welcome gift years ago, I still love the feeling of a hardbound book in my hands, the smell of the pages comfort me in a way that even a mug of steaming hot chocolate cannot.

Some people in my life are a chore, some a comfort. One dear friend in particular almost always knows the right thing to say to comfort me, and often without my having to say a single word. Her experiences with marital betrayal have paved the way for me to understand many of my own trials with betrayal. And her words of encouragement have been a balm for my aching heart, soothing and reassuring and yes, comforting.

Comfort comes in so many sizes and shapes and colors. Comfort may be one’s bed, an old blanket, a cherished memory of a loved one long gone from this earth. Comfort for you might be watching a child sleeping peacefully in a house filled with strife, or it could be that dog at your feet when you finally sit down at the end of a busy day.

Someone may ask; “what about your marriage, do you not find comfort there”? I do, but not in the ways I thought I would or could. My husband and I have our moments, times when we’re connected, playing on the same team, communicating openly and honestly, and in those moments I do take comfort in my marriage. But as I’ve said in a previous post, I live in a house that is not my home, filled with memories that are not my own. I find no comfort in this house, and that affects my marriage as much as his behavior does.

Instead, I seek my comfort where I can find it, where I know there are no strings attached, where I know I don’t have to keep earning it again and again. It is of great comfort to be able to share my thoughts in this blog, and to know that someone may read my writing, and my words just might resonate with them. We must all take comfort wherever we can find it. Life is short, and to have to waste precious minutes searching for comfort seems almost criminal. Look around you, where do you take comfort? Mine just curled up beside me here on the sofa and is purring away. Have a comforting day my friends.

~ Lola

Posted by: lolalately | September 8, 2012

What will YOU do?

What will you do today?

What will you do today?

I read this on Twisted Lola’s blog Take chances this morning, and it really got me thinking,  I say “yes” far more than I want to, I deny myself my hearts desires, and I am guilty of putting everyone and everything before myself, despite constantly reminding myself to knock it the hell off.  And even though I’m obviously not alone in this, it’s time to re-make my comittment to me and really apply myself to the task. Starting here, starting now, moving forward.

Tell the truth. I’ve spent far too many hours kicking myself for sparing the feelings of others by keeping my truth to myself. That stops now.  In fact, just moments ago my husband phoned (his plane had just landed) and calmly asked if I was in a better mood today. (read yesterday’s post if you want the back story on that one) I told him that his lack of personal organization had made for two very anxiety-filled days for me this week, anxiety I don’t need.  I told him that he either needs to get organized or stop looking to me to bail him out of his messes, because I’ve done it for the last time. Ohhh that felt so good!

Date someone totally wrong for you.  I’ve done that … like another Twisted Lola follower, I too am married to a man who needs to do much better at loving me, and I too believe in fighting for my marriage and my happiness with every ounce of love and strength that I have in me. That said, I’ve also made up my mind that should I ever find myself single again, I’m done dating.

Say no. My morning began with an over-the-top request from a stepchild, a request to which I said “NO”.  It’s not that I couldn’t have agreed to his request, but it would have been extremely inconvenient to me, as well as time consuming and expensive. It’s true that “the old me” would’ve just sucked it up and done whatever was asked, then cursed under my breath at having been such a door mat. But the new me is done playing door mat to family and friends, and the word NO rolled off my tongue with such ease, you’d think I’d been saying it all my life!

Spend all your cash. That’s the plan!  The furkids need treats and I want some new shampoo, so as soon as I finish here I’m headed to Target for both. And if there’s any cash left after that, I’m goin to Starbucks!!!

Get to know someone random. Hmmm, I’ll have to work on this one. While I’ve been known to strike up conversation while in line at the grocery store, or sitting in the cafe at my local Barnes and Noble, it’s never been more than the casual subjects and I’m not sure that qualifies as “getting to know” someone. Yes, this one will take a bit of effort. We’ll see how it goes.

Be random.  Oh honey, I’m always that! I don’t even put the towels in the same spot in the closet two times in a row. Confuses the hell out of the kids. 😉

Say I love you. I’m pretty darned good at this already, telling my husband, stepkids and furkids that I love them all the time. Even though sometimes I think my husband says ILY by rote, and my stepkids never, ever say it (not that I have ever expected it) and well, my furkids? I know they love me. I’m the one who buys the treats, remember?

Sing out loud. I used to do this in the car ALL THE TIME. I’d even get the odd look from motorists stopped at a light, and still I’d sing. But I have to admit that for better than a year now I turn the music completely off when I’m in my car and I drive in silence. Maybe it’s because the noise in my head is so loud that I can’t concentrate on either if the radio’s on as well. But Twisted Lola is right, it’s time to sing again. In the shower, in the car, while I’m cleaning the house. It’s time.

Laugh at stupid jokes. You got it. Bring on the stupid jokes, my laugh is all ready for ya!

Cry. I did a lot of that yesterday, so I might be a little low on tears today.

Apologize. I do my best not to hurt others, but when I do, I’m good about apologizing. I only wish other people in my life were so good about it.

Tell someone how much they mean to you. That may have to wait until later today when my husband comes home, or tomorrow morning when my always moody teenage stepdaughter arrives for visitation. I remind her often that I love her, even if I don’t like something she’s said or done. Same goes for the hubs.

Tell a jerk what you think. I don’t have a lot of time or energy for jerks, and I try my best to avoid them.  When my husband was being a jerk yesterday, I wasted no time telling him so.

Laugh until your stomach hurts. This hasn’t happened for awhile, but I’m open to it.

Live life. I’m doing my best, as I do each and every day. Some days life’s a breeze, some days I feel like a salmon swimming upstream.

Regret nothing. Up until two years ago I lived with nothing but regret. Thanks to two years of intensive personal therapy (and an awesome therapist) I can honestly say I’m over that. I live each day to the fullest of my abilities and I work hard to live in such a way as to regret nothing. I’ve learned that life is easier this way, and I can sleep better each night knowing I’m not harboring the pain of regret in my heart. I wish the same for everyone.

So, what will I do tomorrow? Start all over again! How about you???

Lola

Older Posts »

Categories