A visualization that helps get me through rough days is the image that emotions are like clouds in the sky. Some days will be gray and foggy, others will be dark and stormy, but eventually, the sun will shine again.
One of my first memories was when I was four. My mother was crying on her bed after a fight she had with my Dad.
“Don’t worry Mommy,” I replied as I rested my hand on her shoulder. “The sun will shine again.”
On the Road Again
A couple of days ago I was driving to Los Angeles from Palm Springs. It was pouring rain, but in my heart and in my soul, the sun was shining. I was blasting music in the car, singing at the top of my lungs (I didn’t have my girls to critique me and bugging me to stop). I had some great conversations with Rafiki and Solomon. Even when I found out my flight was canceled and I had to make other arrangements to get home, it didn’t bother me. I was happy and content.
“I need gas. But, holy cow it’s expensive. $3.75. What the fuck? Seriously?”
“Are you in the middle of nowhere?” Rafiki asked.
“Yeah. I ain’t paying that price for gas. I know there’ll be other places.”
“Maybe you can find a casino on the way?”
Now why would I want to go to a casino? Seriously? I don’t want to gamble; I need to catch my flight. But Rafiki never leads me astray.
Ten miles later I see a casino. I make a last-minute veer into the right lane and take the exit. I call Rafiki as I’m pulling into the casino gas station. “Check it out! You were right. $2.45 a gallon. In ten miles, that’s a $1.30 difference.”
Rafiki responded, “You’re in a new country. You don’t have to pay for federal taxes so gas is cheaper.”
What a cool thought! I’m in the United States, but not really. I’m in another country, but not really. Not only am I having a great day, but I am visiting other countries along the way. I gassed up and off I go singing enthusiastically.
It’s amazing how when I have an internal sunshine, things don’t bother me as much. Getting stuck in traffic for an extra hour. Getting lost trying to find the car rental return. Having to take a different flight and getting home later than planned. I am grateful and can see the beauty in everything.
But the Storm is Brewing.
I don’t see it in the forecast. I know there’s a possibility of rain, but since my internal sun was shining so bright yesterday, I don’t grab a raincoat or umbrella. I don’t prepare myself for the unexpected.
Since our divorce has not yet been finalized, my ex and I need to jointly fill out our taxes. I requested that we do this via email instead of in person.
I know the effect my ex has over me and how it affects me afterwards; I long for our marriage, the pain of loss seeps back in only after I spend a short period of time with her.
She doesn’t get it. She’s already let go of any possibility of us. It’s just daily routine for her.
For me, it brings me back to hope, longing, desire, followed by sadness, pain, and grief. Really, it would be easier for me to get the tax info through emails.
My ex didn’t like that idea. She explained in an email that we still have “adulting” to do. In other words, “suck it up bucko” and “put on your big boy pants on.”
I’m not running away from being an adult.
As an adult, I need to learn how to maintain boundaries. These boundaries I need to learn how to keep for my own sanity. Unfortunately, they are still permeable.
When I spend time with my ex I hope. I hope that this time things may change. I know what I need to do for me, but that inner child screams for joy because we get to spend time with her. It’s the inner child that ends up winning…then losing. Little Phoenix gets hurt once again.
The next morning, my ex had a slight change of plans. Her car was scheduled for an oil change and she’s not quite ready to go over taxes yet. When she finds out that I’m running errands, she asks if she could join me so she wasn’t sitting for a couple of hours. She has a book, so it doesn’t matter to her if I agree or not.
I don’t want to say no. I never want to say no. I want to hang out. Of course I’m not going to say no. Although, there’s a part of me that is nagging at me to keep a boundary and not to give in.
Long story short, we have a wonderful day together. We hadn’t talked much for almost two weeks. Like good friends, we pick up where we left off.
Years ago, I believed that to feel connected with my ex I needed sex. I believed I needed physical touch. I used to sit in the car with my hand outstretched waiting to see how long it took for her to put her hand in mine. She’d let me sit that way for a long time; it became a battle of wills. She’d eventually give in because I’d eventually start whining and complaining.
On top of all that, I needed to be validated constantly.
These days it’s different. At least I think so…
I didn’t have the need, or urge for that matter, to have to touch her. And sex was the farthest thing from my mind. I enjoyed her company. I enjoyed our conversations. I was at peace. I was content. Later that night, after I dropped the kids off and played with puppies, I was heading home on cloud nine. I went to bed with a smile on my face.
But, deep down, I knew it would only be time…
I Hear the Thunder in the Distance
One, one thousand. Two, one thousand. Three, one thousand. CRASH!
One, one thousand. Two, one thousand. Thr….CRASH!!
It’s starts off with that nagging feeling in my gut as I take an early bus on the two-hour drive to the airport. This continues with a longing to text, to call, to want to talk to her. But I need to remember to keep space. Not only does she not want that, but it annoys her.
Later that night I see an email from her and get excited and respond. I send an email about my ideas for Spring Vacation that we had talked about doing with the girls.
A course I had just signed up for has some rules for posting that I believe are just as important in any relationship; especially a man like me who has trouble listening and always wants to fix things.
- Just Sharing – “I am just sharing with you and I am not looking for comments, advice, or feedback. Comments are off limits.”
- Advice Welcome – “I want to hear feedback, advice, suggestions, recommendations, and insights.”
- Just Support – “I don’t want advice, I don’t want you to figure out how to solve a problem, I just want to know I’ve been heard.”
What great advice! I need to learn to ask those three questions. And, if my ex would be willing to preface what she needs from me, I can provide for her what she’s needs without accidentally giving her what she doesn’t want (something I’m notorious for).
Excited to find a way for us to communicate better, I send this email.
In the time span of an hour and a half, I sent three emails. Three hours later I send one more.
This one is so important, that I must share it for everyone.
Glennon, thank you for your courage by being vulnerable, open, and writing the Love Warrior. I have learned so much about how my sex addiction affected my ex from your perspective. Thank you!
Here’s the blog entry that stirred my soul: Don’t Be Pretty – Be Beautiful
I emailed this link to my ex to share with our girls and to remind them that to me, they are the three most beautiful women in the world.
I also believed Glennon’s post about beauty would sound better coming from Mom, then from Dad.
I had sent those four emails last night.
Today, it’s an early morning at work and I later read another Glennon Melton post. This one knocked me on my ass. It was so unexpected and yet, something I needed to hear.
The storm had arrived and once again, I saw my ex in a different light. I had more compassion and love for her. I had more acceptance about my divorce (although I’m not 100% there – don’t know if I’ll ever be). I had admiration for my ex’s strength and courage.
I wanted to share this blog with her and let her know I understand (or at least that I’m still trying hard to). I texted her this link.
But her response caught me off guard. I had overwhelmed her with four emails with attachments and a text with an attachment. “Please no more,” was the response.
Things Have Changed
Where we used to share life, experiences, and insights on the phone, we now catch up occasionally every other week or so. We used to keep in contact with text, but now it’s only about co-parenting. Where she used to be excited to hear from me, it feels like all I do is bother her.
It’s times like this I want to run away. Like if I run away, it will make the pain disappear. NOT!
I will never do that to my girls. It’s just that after I’ve been with her I miss her. I miss us. I miss the four of us.
Tonight, the family is over at her male friend’s house watching a movie and once again I have that uncomfortable feeling of being replaced.
But tonight, I’m fighting the tiger in the roaring rapids.
I look back at my blog entries and notice it was seven days ago that I was last struggling with acceptance.
Will I get it? I know I will. Eventually. I need to!
It’s not nearly as overwhelming as it used to be. But it’s still painful.
Change the Story
As I write this, I see a story that I may have missed.
If my ex was busy last night, she may not have seen any emails till this morning. And this morning she may have gotten all emails and my text at the same time.
I can see how that would be overwhelming. I can see how that’s annoying. Our timelines are off. For me, it had been evening and morning. For her, it was slammed all at once.
I take a deep breath. Changing the story helps. Blogging to all of you helps.
I am healing. It just won’t happen overnight.
I grab my umbrella. It may be pouring today, but spring is around the corner. We need the rain so our flowers will bloom. Beauty is not far away. The sun will shine again.
And look…a rainbow!
The Rainbow Connection
-Kermit the Frog
PS: The next morning I leave my hotel to walk over to the gas station for a cup of coffee. It’s raining outside. The person at the front counter asks if I want an umbrella. My first thought is, “it’s just sprinkling outside, I don’t need an umbrella.”
Instead, I reply, “Sure. What a great idea. Thanks.” As I walk to the coffee shop, I’m reminded of the irony of what I had written the night before.
It’s easy to accept the sprinkles that eventually will cause you to be soaked to the bone, but it’s better to be protected by the rain and stay dry.
When you’re in the storm, but protected, there’s a beauty that you wouldn’t be able to enjoy if you were drenched in the torrential downpour.
What a beautiful day, even though I’m walking in the rain! The sun is shining inside my heart once again.