Bag of Randomness for Monday, May 2, 2022

  • Saturday night was the happiest I’ve been in a long, long time. I was so happy, I actually felt full of joy. It was weird. I’m not even sure if I was this happy during any of my years of marriage. I think the last time I was that happy was before high school. It was a feeling of freedom and liberation. I know there will be tough times again, but I tried to savor it as much as possible and focused on just being grateful for feeling free and secure for a change. I suppose a series of events led to this.
    • First, the simple passage of time, allowing emotions to settle and being able to better process things.
    • Counseling and therapy.
    • Medication.
    • Support from friends, BoN readers, and church family.
    • I was having a great Wednesday, but when I picked up my son from school, I had a slight anxiety attack, something I’ve written about before when I get possession of my children. I meet with my counselor every Thursday and we talked it out, and when I picked my kids up on Thursday, everything was fine. Basically, there have been some traumatic events in my life which happened unexpectedly. For instance, my dad had a heart-attack three days before my high school graduation, my best-friend drowned exactly a week before I got married, my mother fell down the stairs the week before Thanksgiving and died from her injuries. Right when all seemed right in the world, my world is collapsing, and I’m scared it’s going to happen again. My wife abandoned me and alienated the kids from me unexpectedly. It was a very traumatic event, and a lot of things had to occur before I could start rebuilding. In short, I suffer from PTSD, and we are working on ways to cope with it.
    • As I’ve mentioned, the ex has never met with me post-separation to have a discussion about why she left, why the first step was divorce and not go to a single counseling session, and why did she choose this aggressive path to break apart our family and a covenant after 17 years of marriage. I understand and accept I won’t get those answers. She still refuses to meet with me and a third party to discuss unresolved issues and concerns I have about our children. She told the judge I was a manipulator, an emotional abuser, controlling, and a danger to our kids. That was all news to me, and I wanted to know what did she mean by that, why was that the first I’ve heard she felt that way, and what specific examples does she have? I understand and accept I won’t get all if any of those answers. And she still has a pending lawsuit against me to change the divorce decree. But, in an effort to make things easier to co-parent over the next nine years, I’d like to know what I can do not make her feel like she’s being manipulated, controlled, or emotionally abused. Sometimes it’s more efficient and effective to simply talk than go back and forth using her preferred method of short cryptic emails. I don’t want reconciliation any more, I just wanting healing for both sides and for our kids not to experience any undue stress.
      • She agreed to meet with me and a third party (of her choice) three different times, but cancelled each time the following day by a short, cryptic email. I’m assuming she talked to her mom, sister, or best friend, and they talked her out of it to protect her and keep from me from “conning” her.
      • Our daughter not only has trouble sleeping, has a terrible relationship with her ,mother, but talked about harming herself. Her pediatrician wanted to meet with us both after meeting separately with us. To my surprise, the ex agreed. I was totally expecting her mother or sister to show up as a sign of support, but that didn’t happen. In short, the pediatrician said we first need to talk to each other with a third party to hash unresolved issue and other things out, with the ultimate goal of mother, father, and daughter meeting with a counselor together. If we don’t, nothing will ever get better because of the lack of trust we have with each other. The ex seemed very reluctant to agree, but she did. I stated that since there’s a pending lawsuit against me, and I’ve been accused of being manipulative and controlling, the ex would have to take the lead setting things up because I don’t want to be accused of being either of those things and losing what little access I already have with our children. Based on her previous actions, I have already prepared and expect for her to not follow through. I’m managing my expectations.
      • They pleasantly surprised me I never got emotional or triggered. I was even keeled the whole time. The only thing that somewhat bothered me is when I told the pediatrician we’ve never spoken about any of as a family unit and the kids have many unanswered questions (the pediatrician also met with our daughter separately and stated she has a lot of unanswered questions) and that it was even my ex’s mother who told the kids we were getting a divorce. The ex said that was not true and I’m sure she’s accusing me of lying. However, I’m just going off what the kids have told me, and this is yet another reason why we need to hash things out so we can get on the same page. The kids said their mother started to talk, broke down, then grandmother stepped in and controlled the conversation. That, to me, means my ex-MIL told the kids we were getting a divorce.
      • At the end of the appointment, I asked the pediatrician if I could stay a bit longer alone with her to ask a few questions. I didn’t have any questions, I was just trying to protect myself. I feared the ex may try to accuse me of harassing her in the waiting room or parking lot.
    • Saturday morning, DaughterGeeding and I attended BoyGeeding’s soccer game. The ex was in Colorado for some unknown reason and missed his game, which actually bothered him. But with her not there, I had a great experience. I love to attend our children’s sporting events, but feel stressed when the ex is there. Even though we aren’t sitting next to each other (something the pediatrician has now encouraged us to do) I feel I can’t act like myself and withdrawn from others, otherwise I’d be accused of harassment, while she can continue interacting with her friends and other parents and act normal. With the ex gone, I felt relieved and had a blast interacting with other parents and cheering our son on. For the first time, I felt I wasn’t being scrutinized and didn’t have to go around being guarded. BoyGeeding had his best game of the year, even starting for the first time. I also worked on my old hobby of taking up-close action shots. I later shared my photos from the game (and two previous games) with the other parents and got a lot of compliments. I took a lot of photos of BoyGeeding’s teammates in action. The photos were an unexpected surprise for the parents, and it just felt good to do something nice. I felt I was fulfilling my old motto or life mission: to identify needs and fill them. Most parents know my ex fairly well. She’s loved and well-known because she’s a kindergarten teacher. But I’ve heard stories she’s told teachers and parents that I harmed her, so I feel like the parents have prejudged me. In a way, I feel like I’m working to earn their respect since none of them really knows me.
    • DaughterGeeding’s birthday is the last day of this new month and she wants a pair of Nike Air Force Ones. This made me giddy because I was a big shoe fan when I was her age and throughout college. Heck, I still remember my first pair of Nikes. They went mid-high and had a great blend of white, blue, and gray. My favorite were probably the Bo Jackson shoes that were orange and gray. Anyway, she and I bonded over why she wanted those particular shoes in all-white. I told her if I waited to give her the shoes on her birthday at the end of the month, she wouldn’t have much of a chance to show them off at school, so we’ll go ahead and get them today. She was stoked. If you aren’t aware, these shoes are very popular but hard to find, especially the all-white. We went to Stonebriar Centre (place of me and my ex’s first date), a mall. I parked at Dick’s Sporting Goods and we were planning on just finding a pair that fit, and we could order the all-white in her size online. Man, we were lucky. They didn’t have any all-white on display. The employee said he had only one pair in the back. Luckily, it was in her size. Luckily, they were the all-whites and fit great. She was ecstatic, couldn’t believe our luck and the easiness of our trip, and gave me a big hug.
    • While looking around a pair of Nike Air Force Ones for her, I saw a pair of Jordans that I was interested in. For the last decade or so, I’ve only bought light gray shoes, and I doubt I’ve spent more than $70 on a pair of sneakers. I’ve grown up and out of fashion. But my son and daughter asked me about them, and I told them when I was a kid, I always wanted a pair of Jordans, but Dad wouldn’t buy them because they were too expensive. And, I didn’t buy them myself since they were too expensive. Back then, the shoes cost around $150-$200 I think, and this pair I was looking at was $150. They both encouraged me to get a pair to try on since they were in my signature light gray. I kept saying no, but after DaughterGeeding found her pair, I went back to look at them. I remember my counselor and therapist telling me that it’s okay to treat myself, that I should do something for myself. But I’d comeback say there was nothing I wanted or liked doing. I liked doing home repair DIY stuff, but that’s been taken away from me. I’m not into video games, manicures, or massages. But now, here’s a chance to fulfill a childhood dream. I tried them on. I forgot what a well-built shoe felt like. These were much more comfortable than any sneaker I’ve worn in over a decade. Suddenly, I felt taller, faster, quicker, and younger. I was scared I couldn’t pull them off, that I look like some mid-life crisis guy trying to look cool and hip to fit in with the young crowd. My daughter said they looked great on me, that I totally could pull them off, that I was rocking them. Well, I can’t believe it, but I did it. So what if this is a midlife crises and I needed to tweet about it. I was so giddy I texted two of my childhood friends about it. At the food court, I couldn’t wait and put them on to walk around the mall. It felt like I was walking on clouds. The kids were so happy to see me happy. Both were grinning ear to ear saying they never seen me so happy. While we were at the mall, now looking for shoes for BoyGeeding, I caught myself dancing and singing. This time, I did so without reservation or caring what anyone thought. I didn’t have to worry that I was going to embarrass my wife. For a change, I was just being me. I can’t recall the last time I felt that way. I don’t think I ever felt that happy when I was married. There were several times I felt the need to text the ex because I’m used to sharing happy news with her, being at the place of our first date, but I knew that was no longer an option if I wanted to grow, so I abstained, and was better for it. When we got home, my son told me I needed to try them out. He tossed me a small ball and pointed to the Nerf basketball hoop on the pantry door. I did a “Jumpman” logo dunk to break them in and make it official. Then, I pulled up the Be Like Mike Gatorade commercial song on our big tv. The kids have never been exposed to it but they loved it.
    • After we found DaughterGeeding a pair of shoes, it was time to get BoyGeeding a new pair. I told DaughterGeeding that with her new socks, she can’t rock them without new socks, so I told her to go find some. She came back with Adidas socks. I told her to call up my best friend Jimi and ask him if it’s okay to wear Nike shoes with Adidas socks. He gave her a good talking to about this fashion faux pas and let her know there are certain standards we live by.
    • The ride home from the mall was great. I was telling the kids all sorts of stories and they were interested asking all sorts of questions. The rest of the night, I wish I could describe it, but I was full of joy. For the first time, I felt I could be happy without my ex. I don’t need her to make me feel happy. Sure, I told her I felt my purpose in life was to make her happy, but now I’m free of that obligation. I felt liberated. I now know it’s okay to be happy and not feel any guilt. I don’t need her to feel complete or whole. I am not a failure. I actually started to cry tears of joy. Oh, the relief. It’s so hard to explain, and the joy carried over to the next morning. BoyGeeding looked at me and told me he was happy because I was happy. DaughterGeeding was crying when I tried to describe my happiness.
    • At the mall, DaughterGeeding told me something the ex’s sister told her before their flight to Orlando last week. They both walked out of the restroom and the ex’s sister gave DaughterGeeding a big side hug. She then told her she wanted her to know that her dad (me) never hurt her mom, and that I was a nice guy. I teared up. You had no idea what that meant to me. You may recall, DaughterGeeding told me that the ex’s sister told her and her brother I physically hurt their mother. I asked the ex to clear up what I called a “miscommunication” but the ex’s only reply was, “I’m not required to.” That crushed me. I told her it’s important to me for the kids to know that their father isn’t a wife beater, but she never responded. Sure, I think that talk should have happened a long time ago, and BoyGeeding was never talked to it, but it made a huge difference to me and I was grateful. I don’t abuse women. I don’t hit women. My kids should never think I’m that kind of monster. I know some folks say they don’t care what others think of them. Well, I didn’t want anyone, especially my own children, to think I’m a wife beater. It was important for the record to be set straight. It’s a matter of integrity. Hearing about this was a relief and allowed me to feel joy.
    • Before bedtime, BoyGeeding and I were watching television. I was still crying tears of joy. BoyGeeding asked about it, and I asked him if he ever cried tears of joy. He said yes, only one time. It was several years ago when he was playing Minecraft and built something, and he came and got me to look at it, and I showed interest and complimented him on it. I had no idea that meant so much to him.
  • I don’t know how long this joy will last. I haven’t experienced joy in such a long time. But I’m taking it in and I’m grateful that I was able to experience it with my children. Thank you, God. Thank you friends. Thank you to my small family. Thank you to the strangers who were nice enough to make me feel valued.
  • Man, mental health sure is in the news lately. While my ex and her family may disagree, I feel they used my depression against me to keep our children away from me. They used it to say I’m a danger to myself and others. When I was at my greatest hour of need, calling the crises hotline, my wife left me. I thought about that when I heard Ashley Judd died. From this statement, I assume it was suicide, “Today we sisters experienced a tragedy. We lost our beautiful mother to the disease of mental illness.”
  • As someone who has battled end-of-life thoughts, here’s one suggestion. I hope no one takes offense to this and won’t feel guilty. But the last thing I wanted to hear was, “Do it for your son and daughter.” See, that’s the problem. Those of us with this problem want to find something we can live for. We already feel burdened by trying to live for others. We are seeking a reason to live for ourselves. If our only joy comes from living for someone else, doing things for another person, and that person leaves or dies, we still need a reason to keep on living and live for ourselves. So, instead, say we have purpose and say you will help them find their purpose and things that bring them joy because you love and care about them because of just who they are. Think more Mr. Rogers than Tony Robbins.
  • I don’t think the one who files for divorce grieves the same way, Bill – Bill Gates: ‘I’m grieving the same way Melinda is’
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