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A Letter To My Exes That I Can’t Send

We all have letters we’d like to send, but know that we can’t. A letter to someone we no longer have a relationship with, a letter to a family member or friend who has died, a letter to reclaim our power or our voice from an abuser. Letters where actual contact is just not possible for whatever reason.

Hello Ex #1. You were wonderful. You were kind, thoughtful, loving, attentive. You were there for me through a very rough time when my parents were divorcing. You were loved by all of my family. You were an amazing first boyfriend and I loved you with all my heart. Thank you for being such a wonderful first.

Hello Ex #2. You were revenge on my parents for splitting up and “ruining everything”. You were MANY years older than me. You were fun because you provided everything I needed to escape my shitty teenage reality. I drank and did drugs. You became a heroin addict. I became pregnant. I made an incredibly difficult decision to abort and then a really smart decision to leave you. Please stop trying to “friend” me on Facebook. I am never going to accept the request. You are in the past. Stay there.

Hello Ex #3. You were my self-punishment for the abortion. You were incredibly gorgeous and charming. Then you weren’t. You picked fights over everything. I could never give you enough of my time and energy. I let you isolate me from my friends and family. I hated myself. You hit me. I only ended it because my friend would have killed me (figuratively speaking) if I went back to you. After all, she got a black eye when she stepped in front of me to protect me from your swing. You suck. I was stupid.

Hello Ex #4. You were very charming, sweet and funny. We had so much in common. Eventually I moved in with you. Then you stopped working. I supported us (and your friend) for two years. I kept giving you chance after chance to make something of yourself. How could I leave you high and dry? You had no job. You’d be kicked out of the apartment. Where would you go? What the hell was I thinking? When I finally left, I did it all wrong, but you were just fine. You found someone else to take care of you. I pity her. I was proud of me for thinking more of myself and wanting more for myself than what you were giving.

Hello Husband. It took these exes and so many more for me to grow up and learn self-respect; to learn how to love someone else correctly. And to learn to be loved the right way. Yes, sometimes we argue, but you know what? Those arguments are healthy. It took me a lot of years to learn how to argue healthily. We communicate, we share our feelings and our points (sometimes loudly, but always respectfully), we compromise where it’s appropriate, and give in sometimes, too. We work together to make us work. You always think of me, my needs and how things will affect me before you make decisions. I’ve learned to do that, too. You love me so much. I love you equally. We have a beautiful life and three beautiful girls. We have had some REALLY hard times in the nine years we’ve been married. But we work through them together and we are stronger for it. My love for you grows and my respect for you grows. You have my trust.

Thank you for growing with me.

Ask The Band: Is Donor Insemination The Right Thing To Do?

Can I do it alone?

I have a son. He’ll be four in a few weeks – a sweet, smart, active little boy with a big heart. However, his father and I split up over a year ago, largely because I wanted more kids. While we had agreed upon it previously, he later decided that one was enough. He loves our son, of that I have no doubt, but he refused to have another child.

I’d had enough.

The breakup was nasty but I agreed to shared custody. Leaving was the hardest thing I have ever done – not leaving him, but sleeping under a different roof than my son. However, our custody arrangement is such that I see my son pretty much every day, and most nights. At least it’s bearable.

My son keeps asking me to bring home a baby for him (which is just so darn cute), but I wish it were that simple. I want another child. My biological clock is ticking louder every day. In a few months I turn 40. Somehow that number has always seemed the age I should be finished having kids.

For the past nine months (irony, anyone?), I’ve been actively searching for Mr. Right. Someone intelligent, attractive, single, honest, interesting, gentle, kind and creative, who likes kids and wants to settle down – and who hasn’t had a vasectomy. There isn’t anyone like that in my regular life so I’ve tried four different internet dating sites. So far I’ve met 18 local men and, well, short version: no luck.

So I have a choice.

I can take the risk and wait, or I can cut out the middleman (pun intended) and just do it myself with the help of a local fertility clinic.

I can afford the procedures and they’ve accepted me as a client. I’m lucky to have a job that will pay me almost my full salary for a full year of maternity leave, and a great health plan that covers most costs. I make enough money to be able to support another child. What more do I need, right? Case closed! Decision made! Sign me up and show me the stirrups!

Then the doubts set in.

If I get pregnant this fall, my son would be five by the time the baby was born. Is it fair to him? Will I have the energy to do all the things he needs me to do for him? Will I be able to get him to school on time – help him with his homework? Will he resent sharing his bedroom? Will he resent sharing me? Will his father think that he can steal our son away from me because I have another child? I wouldn’t put it past him.

Is it fair to deprive a child from knowing his father? Will the baby wonder? Will this baby resent that my firstborn son gets to spend time with his father but he or she can’t?

I remember those first months (and first years) of having a baby. It’s exhausting. Not enough sleep, constantly on call, never a moment of privacy – and that’s what it was like when the father was there to help out.

What happens if I’m on my own? No one is going to make me a sandwich. No one is going to vacuum for me or unload the dishwasher. No one will change a diaper once in a while to give me a break. No will bounce a teething infant for an hour or two in the middle of the night so I can sleep. No one will pick up groceries from time to time.

I will have no one to rely on but myself.

I don’t have family around, and all of my friends are leaving town one by one – it’s their careers, I always knew they’d be going sometime. Could I hire a doula for the first few months? A nanny? How much would that cost? Can I afford it? How do I find one? Would she expect to live here in my tiny house? Where would I put her?

What would it really mean to have a child on my own? Can I do it alone? The only single moms I know had a hell of a time, and they had friends and family around to help. What if I have twins? How the hell would I handle that on my own? My mother was a twin.

Am I strong enough to handle it?

Donor insemination.

It’s the right thing to do.

Right? Tell me I’m right.

Please.

Dose of Happy: The View From Up Here

Recently, Sunshine and I went to the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex to visit a friend of ours. Normally, when we go visit our friend, we stay at our friend’s house. This time, when we texted our friend that we were getting near, he texted back an address and told us to meet him there. We got there, and it was a hotel. See, our friend’s house was on the market, staged and ready for an open house early the next morning and he didn’t want us to have to feel rushed to leave, so he put us up in a hotel.

Now, our friend is one of those “go big or go home” kind of people. Well, maybe “live life out loud” or “live life at high speed” or something would be more like it, but whatever–the point is, our friend believes in living life to the fullest. And because he knows that we live in a tiny house on wheels, he couldn’t just get us a hotel room. He had to go and get us a suite, with a living room, a bedroom, and a bathroom that on its own was bigger than our whole living room, kitchen and dining area combined. The living room and bedroom each had one entire wall made up of windows overlooking the city to the south, and to a city girl like me, the view was stunning.

Sunshine, our dog Mollie, and our friend took off to do whatever it is they do when they hang out–probably fossil hunting or some other grand adventure. I went shopping, as my ass has grown too big for my pants or my pants have shrunken too small for my backside, and there are just so many good stores in the DFW metroplex.

I got done shopping (in a surprisingly short amount of time) and returned to the hotel. After taking my purchases out of their bags and packing them in my luggage, I surveyed the living room area of our suite. There was this cute little armchair right in front of the window, but it was facing the wrong way, so I turned it around and plopped my ass down facing that wall of windows, and I watched the world go by from my perch on the eighth floor of this hotel.

There has always been something so soothing to me about watching the world from high up in a building in the middle of a large city. Maybe it’s because I can watch the city go by without being affected by the hustle and bustle and mad rush and overwhelming NOISE of it all. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a large city and somehow wound up in a swamp and miss the hell out of city life. Maybe it’s a little of both with some unknown factors thrown in for good measure.

Whatever the reason, I sat there in that room and watched the world go by out that window and listened to the sound of the air whooshing through the vents of the air-conditioning system and the faint sound of the water in the fountain eight stories below me splashing on the concrete.

I sat there in that silence and watched the world go by, and felt such a deep peace.

That may not sound like much out of the ordinary to some of you, but to an addict like me, to sit alone and just watch the world out a window and enjoy the silence–well, that’s a miracle.

There were many years when I couldn’t be alone. There were many years when I couldn’t stand silence. There were many years when I always had somewhere to go and something to do and somebody to be.

I was able to sit there in that chair and watch the world go by and be content with just sitting still. I was happy to know that, unlike all of those people in all of those cars rushing by below me–I had nowhere to be, no pressures, no deadlines, no expectations to meet. I had only to sit and reflect in the silence.

I was able to sit there in the silence, with nothing to distract me from myself, and not want to crawl out of my skin.

After my addiction, failed marriages, prison time, and all of the other horrors that go along with addiction, it’s a miracle it is for me to be able to sit in silence and watch the world go by. It’s a miracle for me to sit high up in a hotel and watch humanity pass by without worrying that life is passing me by.

So my dose of happy this Monday is being able to enjoy the silence, to be comfortable in my own skin. I hope each and every one of you can find a few moments this week to enjoy some silence, and just be.

The Choice

I was in kindergarten and kissed a pudgy little boy beside me on the playground. My little friends pointed and laughed. I wanted to die. I did not, because I made a choice.

I was in the fifth grade and my classmates noticed I had boobs. My friends pointed and laughed. I wanted to die. I did not, because I made a choice.

I was in high school and suffered through the angst of a breakup. His friends pointed and laughed. I wanted to die. I did not, because I made a choice.

I had a huge fight with my parents and disappointed them. I wanted to die. I did not, because I made a choice.
The choice? Tomorrow would be a better day if I lived.

My husband of twelve years stuck a gun in his mouth and made a different choice. He left behind three daughters under five years of age. He died because, to him, there was no other choice.

We were finally ending a long divorce – a divorce spawned from years of domestic abuse due to his mental illness. For almost 12 years – 365 days and nights of tears, I woke up and thought tomorrow would be a better day if I lived.

Often times, I felt it was his “grace” that allowed me to live. Every now and then, in the grips of pain from a fist or a kick, I wanted to die. Still, I always made a choice to live.

For weeks after he left this earth, I asked, “Why?”

I needed an explanation – a resolution – for his choice.

Most of us have had those moments in which we think we don’t want to live through the day. We think for a split-second, “What would it matter if I was gone?”

We think we don’t matter. We wonder if we’d be missed. I wish that, before he ended his life, I could’ve answered these questions for him.

Since I cannot, I will do it here:

“What would it matter if I was gone?”

Regardless of our marital state, you helped me create three daughters.

Before the first one goes to school, I will have to explain that her father is dead. Before she learns to write her name, she will understand what a grave is.

The two youngest daughters will not have a decent memory of their father to carry through their adult lives. They will look back and only know your face because there is a picture. They will only know stories – not through their own recollection – but because I will fill in the blanks.

They will never be able to take their father to a “Daddy/Daughter” dance. They will not have the man who helped give them life give them away on their wedding days. Father’s Day will always leave their hearts heavy. They will, one day, know that you didn’t consider living for them, loving them, that they were not enough for you.

“Would I be missed?”

A few days after your death, I had to sit down on the bed and explain to the children that their father would never come back. Ever. The day has not come yet that they haven’t cried for you in some fashion. The oldest has a picture of you in her room on her nightstand. She talks to you when she has something important to say. She tells you about her birthday, her missing tooth, her new puppy, and when Mommy has made her mad. When she is frightened, she screams for you to help her, because Daddies are big and strong.

The man who didn’t feel like he had a choice went into a rage that day. He broke things, he screamed, and he broke down. He walked into the room filled with all the children’s things and did not see any of them. All he saw was that he didn’t have another choice, that he didn’t matter, that he wouldn’t be missed.

In front of a rack of his children’s clothes, ranging from size 18 months to 5T, standing before a toddler bed and dozens of smiling stuffed animals on the floor, he thought that the only thing that mattered was taking himself out of everyone’s life.

Ceasing to exist.

Becoming a memory and nothing more.

Later, I stood in a funeral home to pick out a casket for my husband. I wanted to die. I did not.

I made a choice to live. Sitting in the living room looking at the Christmas tree, stockings lined up bearing the children’s names and a dozen smiling stuffed animals on the floor, I see the only thing that matters: making memories and so much more.

Tomorrow will be a better day because I live.

I make that choice.

Why I Left A “Good” Marriage

I believe in love. I believe in forever.

But I chose to walk away.

Unlike many other stories here on The Band, my ex-husband didn’t beat me or abuse me, but I during my marriage, I started to lose my sense of self.

I went to a therapist a few years into our marriage for some issues that were mine, and in therapy, I came to realize that he had some issues, too. I had some issues with depression which I worked through with medication and my therapist.

My ex used to give me grief for going and working out – complaining that I “never spent any time with him,” although he spent hours a day glued to online computer games. He also had anxiety and some Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, but never wanted to admit it.

When our son was born, I did more than 95% of the parenting. I was a single parent who happened to be married.

He installed the security system for our son’s daycare, and, three weeks later, it was broken into. So he was called in the middle of the night to go to the daycare and make a DVD copy of the security video for the cops. This event apparently triggered flashbacks of the trauma that occurred several years earlier, when he walked in on someone burglarizing our house.

A month after the daycare break-in, he had a huge breakdown. We’d gotten a baby sitter and gone out to have a few drinks – nothing really crazy. That night was spent with him curled in a ball on the bathroom floor as I tried to calm him down. Eventually, he agreed to allow me take him to the emergency room for help. He was agitated, irritated, and anxious. They sent us home, advising us it was a panic attack, and told him to see his regular doctor.

He promised he would see the regular doctor and he did…but he refused all types of treatment – no drugs or therapist for him. He told me he knew his triggers – he had it under control. But I began to notice his behaviors getting worse – he didn’t like being out at night. He didn’t sleep well. He didn’t like being home at night when I wasn’t there, if I had a work function to attend.

He complained that we didn’t have sex enough. I worked a full-time stressful job outside of the home and came home every night to perform the majority of childcare and the house.

He liked the money I made, but never let me vent about my job, like a partner is supposed to do. I spoke to my OB/GYN about medication to help to increase my sex drive. My OB told me that I also needed to have consistent time to myself every week to recharge – just an hour or two would do. So I told him that. He told me our schedules didn’t allow for that, even though for years he had gone to a foreign language class once a week and, at one time, also had two evenings each week to himself to play online games.

That was the last straw for me.

I began to sleep more. I stopped taking care of myself. So I called my OB and resumed my medication. I told my friends what I needed to do and they hashed through all the good, bad, and ugly issues with me, strengthening my purpose and resolve.

We tried marriage counseling, and the counselor affirmed my concerns regarding his anxiety issues. She helped give me the courage to walk away.

I did not want to be a statistic. I got married believing it was forever. I loathed the thought of letting go of that dream,  breaking up my family. However, I knew that my son deserved to know his mom was happy and healthy.

And I am. I’m off my medications for anxiety or depression, though I wouldn’t hesitate to call someone if I needed it. I have a great support network of family and friends who all helped me through the rough transition.

My divorce was final on December 14. I walked down those steps outside the courthouse and wasn’t sure how to feel. It wasn’t exactly something to celebrate, and part of me mourns what I lost, but I know that I can move forward now.

Ask The Band: How Do I Help My Husband?

My husband hasn’t been himself lately. He’s seemed down. Distant. Very grumpy. He gets angry a lot. Things have been very unpleasant. Finally, after putting our daughter to bed the other night, I broached the subject.

“Honey, is there something that’s been eating at you lately? You don’t seem very happy…”

“I’ve been grumpy, haven’t I?”

“Well, yes, you have. And it’s not like you. I’m concerned.”

I desperately wanted him to tell me my instincts were wrong. Reassure me. Say I had misconstrued the situation, and there was nothing going on. Instead, he sat down and let out a long, heavy sigh. His shoulders sank, and his body language told me something big was coming. I was terrified of what I was about to hear.

Then he used the words I don’t think a wife ever does want to hear: mid-life crisis.

We talked for a couple of hours, during which he outlined all the things about his life he is unhappy about:

  • The status of his career and the lack of opportunity for advancement with his company.
  • A feeling he has not accomplished enough (particularly in comparision to others).
  • The lack of other job options.
  • The fact that having a child later in life means he will not be able to retire anytime soon.
  • Our financial status since we decided I would quit working and care for our child full-time until she starts school.
  • The things he can’t do because of the above.
  • His physical state – the signs of aging he is noticing.
  • Our lack of a social life.
  • All the issues we are dealing with concerning our own parents. And how much worse things are going to get. Soon.

I was relieved to not hear him listing our relationship or family life. He said those are the things that keep him going and bring him the only happiness he has. Although he is not able to enjoy them as he once did.

He is not enjoying much of anything these days.

I calmly pointed out that some of the issues concerning him are under his control, and some are not. I asked what he thought he could do to change or improve the former, and how he could learn to let go of or accept the latter. Furthermore, what could he do to invest in himself? Carve out time just for him, to engage in something that will truly make him happy? He has a number of hobbies he loves, but he hasn’t been devoting any time to them recently.

It was a good conversation. He seemed relieved to be able to get it all out and that I accepted his concerns without judgment. He hadn’t thought about some of the things I brought up and seemed somewhat encouraged.

Since then, however, he continues to sink deeper. Grow more distant. I fear he is becoming severely depressed.

I’ve been through a major life transition myself. In fact, I’m just coming out of my own period of discontent. The transition to motherhood was not an easy one for me, but I am finally in a good place. I’ve made changes and taken control of my own happiness, which has made all the difference. I have a better outlook on my life – our life. But have I been so focused on myself I haven’t given him enough? Or could my recent experience help me help my husband through his difficult time?

What was most noticeable and concerning to me during our conversation was the tone of his voice and the pained expression on his face as he talked. He was a man deflated. I hurt for him.
I’m going to admit I had a selfish reaction as well. What does this mean for ME? My marriage? Will it survive? I want to support him, do everything I can to help him, but I also feel a strong desire to protect myself and my daughter in the event this ends badly.

I fear there is a storm coming, and I don’t know what to do. I am so scared. I want to help my husband get through this. Most importantly, I want US to get through this.

Please, The Band, help.