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The Christmas Post

…from the woman with the dead husband.

Not going to be happy and light, right?  Well, you just never know.

This is my 5th Xmas without my love. He was a Xmas maniac, loved everything about it. Our house was lovingly dubbed (by me) the Xmas whorehouse, since it was so covered in lights and knick-knacks and crap, it was amazing we could even live in it; but we did, and loved it. Each year my husband lovingly put together a CD of Xmas music that we used as our card/gift. He collected Xmas music, you see, and, the more awful it was, the better…he LOVED bad Xmas music as much as he loved good. We had a lot of talented friends, so each year we’d also include one cut on the CD that someone we knew sang. The year Tom died I made one, final CD. It had a few really fun cuts on it, it had to, but it was mostly sad, aching, and a tribute to Tom. I included 3 songs that he sang on it, and every year, including this one, it catches me up short to hear his beautiful voice. I decorate the house and the tree (way less whorishly) and listen to the CD’s and have my self a merry little sobfest, replete with alcoholic beverage of my choice and a box of Kleenex.

It’s very hard on our son too. I think this year has been a little better because he is working at something he loves, and is working a LOT of hours. When he gets home though, he tends to close himself in his room and play piano, mostly sad, indie dirges he either writes himself or has learned to play. It’s good, it’s how he handles his feelings.

He’s the one who actually puts up the tree and lights it. That used to be Tom’s job, and then I’d decorate. But now it’s fallen to the wonder-boy, and he bitches and moans all the way through the process; his own little sobfest.

I miss him.  I miss him so very much, more than I can express. He was my guy, and there is a vast, gaping hole where he was.

And so often I rail against the unfairness of it. It is so unfair that MY husband had to die! It is so shitty that MY kid has to live without a father, had to be a teen without a father. On and on and on…I could go on forever about the unfairness of it. About the goddamn WHY-ME-ness of it.

Lately, however, there has been this little, insistent-but-kind voice in my head asking me “why NOT you? What makes you so special that bad things aren’t supposed to happen in your life. Look around, look on this board you’re writing on, everyone on here has earned the right to SCREAM why me! Why are you not supposed to be going through this? Who of your friends would be a better choice?”  maybe it’s just insistent and not so kind, that asshole voice!)

And, I’ve gotta say, I’m starting to listen, at least a little bit. I’m trying to measure my bitterness by tsp vs. tbsp. I’m looking around and seeing that others have it bad too, maybe worse.

I am sad still…grief doesn’t go away, it just is. Xmas is a hard time for me, and then in January it’s the dead date, so… I miss him. I’d kill to have our old life back. That’s all the truth, and has been for the (almost) 5 years he’s been dead.

But the house looks beautiful, and my siblings and their kids will come over on Xmas Eve, as usual. And I have a wonderful son and a great present for wonder boy this year that I’m so excited to give him. I had the best husband and the greatest love that I could ever wish for…why not me for all of that too?

Because that little voice is also there to remind me of the good things, if I listen.

And that’s my Christmas post, and with it comes hugs and love and peace for everyone here on Band Back Together (another one of the good things I have to remember).

You Were My Friend

You had been my friend for 13 long years when you raped me.

You were my best friend’s husband, my son’s god-father.

You were someone I always trusted and could count on.

That one fateful night we were hanging out at Downtown Disney and I got drunk I told you I didn’t want any more, but you kept buying shots.  Looking back now, I see this was your plan. I passed out on the way home, only to wake up with you on top of me. I tried to push you off, screaming NO and fighting to push you off me, but you just covered my mouth and told me to shut the fuck up and that you knew I wanted it too.

I passed out again.

The next thing I knew, I woke up in the morning next to my husband. I knew what had happened the night before. I heard your wife out in the kitchen with your kids and my son.

I tried to forget, tried to pretend nothing happened. I tried to go on with my life, but my marriage fell apart for various reasons.

Years have gone by. Six to be exact.

Then I get a phone call from your wife. She is crying and upset. She fills me in on the past year, that you guys were having problems. Then she drops the bomb – you had killed yourself.

Now I feel like I can’t tell anyone what happened.  To tell your wife, one of my closest friends, would ruin her and tear apart our friendship.  It has been too long to tell anyone else.  So now I must live with this.

You have forever changed me.  I can’t trust people anymore, even those closest to me. I am glad you are gone. As selfish as it is, I am glad you are not a constant reminder of that bad moment in my life.

Have Faith In What Works For You

As I’ve been reading through a number of the posts and comments here on BBT, I’ve been struck by the number of people who use faith and religion as a source of healing and inspiration. I also sense there might be people struggling despite this quality.

I hope this message comes across with the simple, positive intention with which I write it.

It’s OK if you DON’T have faith.

I was born and raised/indoctrinated Roman Catholic. I had the simple, uncomplicated trust in the doctrine and the stories that any child has, because I–like all children–was incapable of taking them at anything but face value.

But my life experiences and my questioning nature have destroyed not only my belief in Catholicism, but in the existence of a God, as well.  The older I got, the more the placid off-the-shelf answers of the clergy rang hollow and hypocritical.  I found honesty in those who admitted to now knowing all the answers, rather than trying to rationalize why the real world doesn’t always follow dogma.  As comedian Julia Sweeney put it so elegantly, the universe functions exactly as you would expect if there were no God.

To some, this is a nihilistic statement, but to a skeptic, it is a positive affirmation in which we take strength. And–are you ready for this? Brace yourselves–I’m MORE at peace now than I was when I believed in God.

Now that I have left behind a belief system that did not work for me (and has failed countless others throughout the centuries), I now turn to means of self-healing that actually WORK.

I no longer see depression, self-loathing, and shame as the reaped harvest of sown sins. I see them as medical and psychological problems for which there is medicine and counseling available.  Whenever I do wrong to another person, I no longer seek the sanctity of the confessional; I seek that person’s forgiveness. It’s more satisfying.  I never did find comfort in prayer, especially Catholic prayer (every time I hear the word “rosary,” my eyes glaze over). Instead, I find great peace in the meditative and physiological healing of exercise, namely cycling and, more recently, running.  I no longer seek answers in an ancient text which cannot provide them. I seek comfort in my great friends.

The stories I have read on this site have moved me sincerely to tears. I admire the resiliency of those who have overcome trials that would have broken me. To those who are struggling, I have a simple plea: take comfort in good people. It is the most soothing formula I have ever found.


Not The Good Wife

I finally told you I wanted a divorce.

You forced me into this corner and I have no other way out. You cheated on me – again – with your daughter’s mother, and who knows who else. Just like all of the other times, you never came clean. I never got the full story. You apologize and expect me to move on, but I can’t do it anymore.

It’s never going to stop and I can’t be that woman – the woman who always looks the other way. It eats me up inside trying to figure out what was said, who you were with, and when you had time to do it. And why? Why would you do this to me? What did I do to deserve this? What is wrong with me that almost all of the men I have been with have cheated on me?

You seem surprised that the people in my life who care about me are mad at you. I’m not sure what you expect from everyone. These people actually care about me and my welfare. They know what you’ve done to me isn’t right. I know it’s not right either, but part of me just wants to try to forget about it. I am not emotionally detached. I still love you. I was still trying to make this marriage work.

One of the hardest things I will ever do is to leave you. You know I hate to be alone. I need to be around people all the time. I know I am going to be so lonely. You were my best friend and now I will have no one.

One of your “friends” called last night. I can’t believe that you don’t have enough respect for me to wait – wait until we are separated. I asked you to move out but you say you have no where to go. What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to live with you for the next couple of months when it is so obvious that you are already moving on? I cried myself to sleep last night, and you asked why I was crying. What do you think? That I am some kind of emotionless robot? That I would just move on since you have?

For the most part, I am holding it together for my kids. I don’t know how much longer I can do that.

I am hoping that going to counseling will help. This is eating me up inside so bad. Lord knows I don’t need any more stuff to make me depressed.

I do not want to go back to that place.

Hell Hath No Birthday Quite Like This One

Today is my birthday.  I have reached the ripe (but not spoiled) age of 47.  I am proud to be 47 today.  I am in a good place in my life.  I have two wonderful (yet challenging) children.  I think that it’s the challenging aspects of parenthood keep me young.  I have a husband that adores me, and the feeling is mutual.  I have great friends and family…and I don’t look 47.  I think that’s the best part of all.

I don’t know what the family is planning for my birthday; I just hope there is cake.  I love cake.  And wine.  And steak.

But the birthdays haven’t always been so joyful.  I am not too bothered by aging, so that part of my birthdays have always been fairly easy to handle.  I turned 40 and it was great.  I turned 30 and it was great.  Twenty-five was kind of tough.  I think the thought of being a quarter of a century old was kind of mind-blowing.  Which is kind of funny considering I will be half a century in three years.

One particular birthday was especially bad.  I refer to it as the “birthday from hell.”

I turned 26 that year and my ex, Tom and I were living in Minneapolis.  Since my birthday is twelve days before Christmas, the two have usually been mixed together, although my mother always wrapped my birthday presents in birthday paper, not Christmas. Tom’s nearly hated Christmas…all because he worked in retail and the Christmas frenzy started before Halloween.

The Birthday From Hell started the night before my birthday.  Tom had stayed in town late to shop for my birthday present and I was in bed before he got home.  The next morning when I woke up, I was filled with birthday anticipation and light.  The day headed downhill from there.  Tom didn’t talk to me all morning while we got dressed for work.  Not a word.  I kept wondering when a “Happy Birthday” would come out of his mouth.  He almost acted like he was angry with me.

The whole time I got dressed and during the drive to his bus stop, I kept wondering why he was so angry.  Tom and I never fought.  We had Silences.  So when he didn’t talk to me all morning, it became clear we were in a Silence.  When he jumped out of the car door at his stop, he grabbed his briefcase and said, “Have a nice day” in a sarcastic tone.  The second the car door slammed, I started to cry.  What had I done wrong?  Had he forgotten my birthday? The drive to work was spent pouring through the events of the night before:  What had I done?

I was so upset when I arrived at work that I sat in my cubicle and silently cried.  I was just drying my tears when my friends jumped over the cubicle wall with birthday well-wishes. That sent me into another crying jag.  How could these women whom I’d only know a short while remember my birthday while my husband did not?  I sat at my desk for an hour with an ache in my chest.

Finally, I decided to take action.  I picked up the phone and called the florist.  I ordered a bouquet of flowers to be delivered to his office with a card that said, “I don’t know what I did, but I’m sorry.”  I know, I know.  It was a lame-ass thing to do, but I wasn’t the person I am now.  I often walked on eggshells with Tom and always tried to keep peace no matter what cost.  The rest of the day was a blur. Not what one expects on their birthday.  The day should have been filled with happiness, not tears and self-doubt.

I went home with a heavy heart unsure what to expect.  When Tom came home, I tried to disappear; hiding how hurt I felt.  He was a different person than the one I had dropped off in the morning.  He was filled with contrition for his earlier behavior.  When I asked what I had done to trigger his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality switch, he said, “nothing.”

Nothing? Then what the hell happened? He told me he couldn’t find exactly the right gift to give me for my birthday.  He was pissed he couldn’t find what he was looking for.  Apparently, he decided to take his feelings out on me.  I think when he received my offering of flowers, he was ashamed.  He should have been.

For the next eight years that he was alive, I never knew if there would be a repeat performance.  I began to dread my birthday, although he never did anything like that to me again.  I often reminded him of his behavior in jest, but behind my humor was hurt and anger.

It has taken me years to get over my 26th birthday.  I told Colby the story after we started dating.  He keeps assuring me it will never happen again because he’s not Tom.  He is right, he is not Tom, and once more the joy, happiness, and anticipation for my birthday has been restored.

And I remain quite tickled that I still don’t look my age.