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Archive for November, 2010

I Missed a Family

When I was a kid I used to hear the usual stories from other little kids centered around the scorn they had for someone in their family. “I don’t like my sister”, “My Dad is making me help him” or “My parents are making me go with them to visit my grandmother”. Emphatic declarations common from the mouths of children at one time or another.

I’d smile and nod in agreement just because they were friends and we were all supposed to have these shared experiences that we either loved or hated. But the truth was, even at 9 or 14 or 21, I’d be swearing at them in my mind. They were in the position of always having been surrounded by something that they had never been without and it was imprinted in them just as solidly as their own fingerprints. They never realized how fiercely jealous I was and how bitter I was when I heard them utter those seemingly innocuous statement.

I grew up in a series of foster homes and adoption agencies.

My brothers and sisters and I were separated when we were very young. I was the oldest at 6 or 7, and my four siblings were all younger. From the day we were ‘put out’ as it was called, I didn’t see my sisters again until I was about 18. I lived with my brothers for a while, but we were later separated. The ‘siblings’ I knew were not my own brothers or sisters – and where I grew up, they let me know it. The only contact I ever had with my real family was the occasional Social Worker visit (while wearing my best clothes of course) where they would ask me how I was doing and then they’d tell me that my brothers, sisters and Mother were fine.

Once, in a very great while, I’d be at a playground, and I’d hear a voice shout out my name.

Someone at the playground would get my attention and point to a random car where my name was being called from. I’d come closer and see that it was my Mother. I would be at the sidewalk side of a car door while she sat inside and she’d be in tears, reach out, pat my hair and tell me how much she missed me. I remember that my heart would be running so rapidly that at times I almost felt as if I’d faint. She’d tell me that she would be coming for me soon, very soon, and that she was saving money to get a house so that we would all be together again. I’d stand there, thunderstruck at the visit while she talked and I mainly answered in stunned, nervous mono-syllables. She’d ask me to lean in so she could kiss me, and then she would drive off. Again. A few more years would pass and then it would happen. Again.

Growing up without a family from 6 or 7 until you become an adult made it very difficult, I realize in retrospect, to deeply connect with anyone. When I did connect, it was age appropriate to connect with a friend. Then it would be disconnected when a sudden move to another foster home occurred. A different set of rules, a different set of siblings and another set of friends. And another set of miles from any former ‘family’ stability I knew. More importantly, another step away from what I could remember about my own ‘family’.

Growing up this way forced a hard and frightening reality upon me as a young adult on my own – now that I was older, and had not grown up with my brothers and sisters, I no longer had any family at all! We had become strangers in one another’s company. Years apart had created a hard, crusted distance between us. We became those friends that I had when I was very young, and when we were shown to one another we could barely recall each other. We had no common memories of playing together, no memories of rivalries, no snapshots to show that we share a bond, no pictures of a house we lived in together, no remembrances of holiday gifts given to one another, no family meals together, no shared time together and inevidably, no sentences that would ever start with “Remember the time …..?”

I was never given the chance to engage in a conversation that included “I don’t like my sister”, “My Dad is making me work with him” or “My parents are making me go with them to visit my grandmother”.

And to this moment as I place fingers to keyboard, I miss the family that I never had.

More, after the Break

Post Holiday

The Thanksgiving was great.

Kids actually helped! The oldest, much to my shock, peeled and chopped and sautéed vegetables. The middle and youngest found great fun in peeling potatoes. I even made home-made gravy. The daughter took a picture of each full plate, thanks were offered and everybody was filled. I later even put out two pies – an apple and a butterscotch. After, my middle and I passed time by tossing around the football in the local park. A great day.

But, my mind began to panic when I got the call that the ex was outside and ready to pick up the kids. I whispered into each of their ears how much I loved them and how proud I was of them. Then, at about 6 PM, they drove away.

Coming back into the apartment isn’t joyful for me as I’ve written about before. But I was trying to help myself by being busy and ultimately failed at that. I kept staring at the mess they made knowing that it needed to be tended to. But it was their mess. It reminded me of them. It kept them near me in an illogical way. Looking at the dirty dishes, the unwrapped food, the stains on the tablecloth and the unfinished drinks kept their spirit with me.

I sat at the table, gazed at nothing outside for a while in the total silence, prayed to God and then fell asleep with my head on the table.

I’ll update in a few hours …………

More, after the Break

Isolated Oasis Found

Usually, I have a specific need to write something down before I come here to blog. Today is a day where I find myself so full of new thoughts – on a precipice between despair and hope that I can’t quite fill into a theme, a title, of where I am and what I feel right now.

Granted, I’ve been a total ‘downer’ since I’ve started writing. I’ve gushed and droned about my misfortunes, my ugly situation and the tar-black feeling I have about my life and indeed, about myself. I been entwined in thick silt made up of guilt, sadness, my life, my divorce, unemployment and my children.

However, call it by grace of God, call it happenstance, call it whatever you will, but in the last few days I’ve stumbled on blogs that, though not close enough to my situation to have me relate totally to them, the few that I’ve read (including their past historical posts) have helped to (dare I say) inspire me to pick up a foot and tenuously place it in front of me believing that it will turn out alright.

Most are blogs concerning moving forward after divorce written by women. Some are just plain happy, uplifting and brimming with confidence. Though there are blogs written by post-divorce men, most of them don’t seem to be able to reach beyond the ‘macho-hype’ that we’re all so used to as males – at least the few that I’ve seen so far. Although, I’m sure that it could be that I’m needing more soul-comfort than gender specific comfort, the woman who write post-divorce blogs have more of the emotional latitude and gut feelings that I need to feel for right now.

But, then again, of those blogs that I’ve stumbled on that are written by women, none seem to be close to my circumstance or age – I’m older. But, like it is when you randomly spill your guts to a stranger, I’ll take comfort where it is found. There are a few in particular that I’ve been reading recently. These are the ‘logs in the water’ that I’ve clung to right away. I’m sure I’ll find many more as I hop from link to link.

As I said, they seem to be mostly women, younger, with or without children, and a smattering of blogs from men writing about divorce.

 Though it’s been two years since my own divorce, I realize that I still have multiple, unresolved issues revolving around guilt, anger, letting go, children and moving forward toward a life filled with quality, fulfillment and joy. The posts from these blogs at least had material that caught my eye, engaged my intellect and held a few of life’s similarities to my own. However narrow the situation to mine, I have found a small oasis amid myself.

For giving sight to the blind – no matter how different I am from them, I am giving profound thanks.

All nudges to links that you feel I may enjoy are also gratefully appreciated. Any suggestions?

Thanks

I have my angels until Friday at 5:00 PM.

Although life would be more sustainable with them as inspiration if I were with them 24 hours a day, I will try today to imagine – suspend reality, that this is just what I have. Intercede their constant bickering with a gentle reminder of the joy of being with one another. Accept the nano-syllables or silence of my oldest when I talk to him, ignore the smart-aleck under the breath comments from my middle one and politely ask my daughter to put down her game player and interact with us.

I didn’t have a family growing up.

I shuffled foster home to foster home until I was old enough to be on my own. I sorely see the result of never acquiring the wisdom that comes from guidance, someone to steer me away from bad decisions and the pain of suffering in silent, solitary, mental confinement while others always had someone to help ground them. My experiences have always been as an individual apart – not with a relative, even a distant one, to help steer me one way or another. So, I’ve the proclivity to self-isolate. To live through joy or pain alone.

But my children, the only family I have ever known, are with me today.

They have each other and I hope that they need me. I see it as a twinkle ever so often, but sometimes I have the overpowering sinking feeling that because of divorce, they are quite used to, and adept at, being without me. Someone they must shuffle to from time to time. You can see how my past has affected my present.

But, today, I will endeavor to induce a chuckle, try to get them to watch part of a parade on TV, see if I can entice them to put away the games for a short while, try to play a board game with them, prod them to come outdoors and toss a football, help in preparing the turkey and fixings and make it a goal to capture a smile on film.

On this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for my children and the opportunity to teach them how monumentally important it is to have family. A lesson that nobody was able to teach me.

God help us, everyone.

A Quiet Breath Above The Foam

The way I figure – what else can go wrong?

Nothing.

Thus, my timid resolve, after reading a lot of positive blogs, to move ahead. Inspiration? Surely the many single mom’s who get it done. A good fact? That my speciality is still hiring – have to get out and look, but something will come up. A healthy word or two? Someone that I’ve re-contacted and who, for some glorious reason, came back without hesitation.

It’s out to a rumored opening to fill out an application, then to the former employer to tender my resignation (so I can get my very small severance pay that I badly need), over to unemployment to fill out the paperwork and then to try to gather a little money to buy food for the Thanksgiving feast that I will have with my three angels tomorrow.

More good news will come. It must and I demand it!

I have faith that God is with me.

—————————————

Well, I did apply for that position but no one was able to meet with me. It’s an application among applications.

I tendered my resignation at my now former employer – everything is very amicable actually and they gave me several leads.

I walked over to the unemployment office and everything is in the computer.

I prayed a quiet rosary while driving around.

I have to begin thinking about my list of food for Thanksgiving and prepare for my angels to be dropped off. I can do this, can’t I?

Officially, the new book is now being written.

My Forced March into Madness

I had such a bout of panic and anxiety yesterday, that at times I seemed to have been surgically spliced and lightly lifted out of my own body. I was terrified.

I couldn’t find my professional license. I need to prove that I am able to work in my field, and that proof is my professional license. I looked in my small safe that I keep in the closet that holds other important papers that I need to keep, and it is also the most logical location for where the license would be kept. I was wide-eyed and stilted after I opened the safe only to find that it was missing!

I rifled through my tall bureau where there’s a shelf that I use to keep other important documents such as the divorce agreement, my bank checks and assorted papers. It wasn’t there! I then quickly tore at my nightstand where I keep various saved papers from the kids’ schoolwork that they’ve given me from time to time, allowing me occasional cool comfort and the slightest of illusion that I am an involved parent within their presence in school. Nothing there! I looked in my kitchen ‘junk’ drawer, I ripped through the drawer in the small table that used to be my nightstand when I was married, but is now the catch-all at my apartment door. Nothing in either!

I felt the panic as a dizzy menace spreading as quickly as though it were colored dye spreading through my mind – filling my head, narrowing my thoughts, trembling my fingers, my heart overextending to accept blood and forcefully plunging closed – the center of my life was clawing through piles of scattered documents, circulars, magazines and miscellaneous opened and unopened mail that now lied in a wide circle around me as I knelt, centered amid the paper debris. I rapidly and savagely reopened envelope after envelope where it might have been, separating contents from their proper container without rejoining them for later use and throwing them aside, tossing them even further away from me and creating an even larger circle of print matter that in the end had me perfectly centered, fully surrounded and piled on all sides, mocking me for my inept ability in keeping something so important within easy grasp.

I placed my forehead down on the floor as if I might do for eastern meditation as I began to cry silently in raging frustration and blinding panic, As I raised my head to breath, I happened to glance under my bed. There, I could see boxes of storage items – photo albums of relatives I never knew, a box of glasses that I won at a work raffle last Christmas, a old colorful basket, and a plastic shopping bag filled with papers. I reached shoulder-length under the bed and pulled quickly as if I were saving the bag from harm under the bed. More of the same filtered out – old bills, old magazines, circulars from last year and articles that I never read. But, somewhere near the middle of the plastic bag was an envelope with my handwriting on it. I opened it, and there, nestled between my social security card and three small wallet sized pictures, was my professional license.

My overpowering relief was met, at that very same exact instance, with a rapidly ballooning despair. The three pictures were the pictures taken of my children at the hospital the day they were born – their newborn pictures! I found myself holding in my left hand my most precious, most treasured above all lost past, and in my right, my needy, bleak and uncertain future.

My thoughts couldn’t distill my elation for finding my professional license from the jarring jolt of electricity that thundered through me at seeing my babies as newborns, and I continued kneeling, sitting on my heels in the ring of torn, mismatched, scattered papers, sweating through my shirt, hands twitching, barely sane and exquisitely solitary.

Much later, last night at about 8:00 PM, I received a call from a realtor – my house is being put up for ‘short sale’.

This morning I found out via email, that I am not eligable for financial assistance if I want to go to school this coming year.

I am out of work, my home where my children live is to be taken, I am not able to receive assistance to better myself in school and, again, I am alone.

Is there anybody out there?

Reaching Up to Zero

The worst happened – I lost my job.

Though my bosses both told me that they knew that the multiple charges against me were trumped up, to fight back against them – all of them, would be futile. There are just too many of them to isolate one at a time and defend. There are just too many, and the long, drawn out attempt to take on line item upon line item would only weaken my integrity, ability to lead others and bring into question my character. I’m given the choice of either trying to fight or willfully resign.

We hugged, she shed a quiet tear and told me that she knew that it was bullshit, but there it was. We left on good terms. But, the reality of it comes down to money.

If I resign – signing a letter saying so, I get my built up vacation pay. Without it, I will have had no income for two weeks. However, I received bad news about resigning: resigning will not allow me to collect unemployment. Unemployment will give me a sort of safety net if I can’t find a job right away, which, obviously, I desperatly need.

I must get out immediately and find another job. Now. Though the pain and desperation cling to me as a wet and cold sheet – I don’t know … but, I need to get out there today. Thanksgiving week.

I had my children this past weekend and told them. They, as children, took it well and didn’t have any questions after I told them. What I didn’t tell them is that Daddy will only have enough money to cover December’s rent and possibly even January’s rent. This doesn’t take into account phone, cable, electricity, gas … and food.

This is Thanksgiving and I have them this year for Thanksgiving. I need to spend money for turkey and all the fixings. Each time that I’ve spent even two dollars, I receive a sinking feeling that I’m two dollars closer to living on the streets.

And, I know I couldn’t survive that.

I did go to church yesterday and my youngest son wanted to go with me! He watched me well up as I sat there in the pew and recited my rosary. I felt weak, vulnerable and pathetic knowing he saw me. But, seeing all the couples with their young children brough back such torturous memories of us going to church when we were together that I couldn’t hold back the remorse or the begging to God to turn back the clock.

These are not the boisterous thoughts that I thought I would have at my age.

Is there anybody out there?

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