boundaries

October 6, 2010

I met a boy.  We liked each other.  And yesterday, I told him to go away.

I met him back in January, at a coffeeshop,  right before I left to move in with granma, and I enjoyed his company so well that I invited him to my Going Away Party at the bowling alley.  We kept in touch a bit over texting and Facebook, and when I got back into town last month, I happened to see him the very next day at the coffeeshop.  The day after that, he asked me out.

I didn’t realize what had happened at first.  I said to a friend, “Hey, I’m going to such-and-such with Nice Boy!”

My friend frowned at me.  “I thought you weren’t dating yet.”

“Uhh… is this a date?”

See, I’d made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t date for a year after getting divorced.  And, as it turns out, when a Nice Boy calls and invites me somewhere, it is a date.  Don’t laugh.  I learned something new.

So I called Nice Boy back.  “Uhh, hi.  This is going to be awkward.  I can’t go with you because I like you, and I’m not allowed to like anyone yet.”  I didn’t want to just start telling this guy “no” out of the blue without explaining myself somewhat, and I figured that if I had to tell someone to back off, it should be with a combination of wry humor, honesty, and flattery.

Once we established the time limit (three more months), whether or not he can see me at all (yes, with groups), and who can invite whom (I can invite him, but not the other way around), we had a deal and hung up.  Texting and Facebook communication continued as before, and I invited him to join me at a few group things.

Then he invited me to his birthday party.

At first, I said, “Sure, if you come to my party!”  (A few weeks later.)  Great.  Deal.  But then I started feeling uncomfortable– just a little.  He wasn’t supposed to invite me places.  I mean sure, it was a party and he invited everyone, later, over Facebook… but he texted me, invited me, and didn’t invite my roommates to come along with me.  It felt just a little bit not-right.  So I asked myself: am I overreacting?  And I realized there was a little Alice in the back of my mind, screaming, “NO YOU ARE NOT OVERREACTING!  You asked him not to do something, he said he wouldn’t, but then he did.  THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.”

The thing to remember about overreacting is hey– at least I am reacting.  I am setting boundaries and expecting others to keep them.  My ex-husband did not let me have any boundaries, so now I am going to have to be extra-careful with new people I meet– not just males who ask me out.  I think this Nice Boy is a good bet– I’m gonna call him someday– but I had to do this for myself.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

I know where this guy hangs out– remember coffeeshop?  So I went over there before AA last night.  I found Nice Boy.  And I told him that because he’s invited me somewhere, I have a problem… I won’t see him on his birthday, and please don’t contact me– that I would call him.  He didn’t exactly argue, he said he understands, and I really think he does.  He did say that it was like using a shotgun to kill a fly (lawyers…), and I said that a shotgun is all I have.  I have to take whatever measures are necessary so that I’m not the person who married my ex.  The look on his face was a little bit “fuck! how do I get out of this?” and mostly resignation because I kindof got him on a technicality.  Plus the fact that I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t like him probably helped. 

I felt bad.  This poor guy didn’t do much more than have really bad timing.  Not only am I flailing about trying to deal with the simple pain and sadness of divorce and the last ten years of my life, I am trying to get my head on straight and trying to figure out what my damages are so I can fix them.  Nice Boy wasn’t the first person to get an overreaction out of me because something reminded me of my ex, and he won’t be the last.  I wish I had just said “don’t call me, I’ll call you” from the start, because that made this more confusing than necessary.  This wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t done it wrong– tried to have my cake and eat it too.

Of course I am also sad.  I enjoy Nice Boy and I will miss him.  He is fun and intelligent and a little bit crazy.  I would go so far to say he inspired me.  I am sure we will be good friends one day.  He told me to call him when I am ready.  So once I get myself in some order, recognize and set my boundaries… I will.

But I also feel good.  I made a rule about my world and I expected people around me to follow it.  I am making myself stronger, I am making decisions about my world and what’s going to be in it.  My life is a countdown, my time is limited, and I choose who deserves my time.

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and I’m an alcoholic

September 28, 2010

I went to my second AA meeting today.  And I’ll spare you my reservations about whether or not I am technically an alcoholic, because I don’t want to be the kind of person who goes to AA and starts off with “well I am not really a loser alcoholic like the rest of you”.  My name is Alice and I am an alcoholic.  Let’s get on with the self improvement.

I will say, however, that I have to put up with way too much god-talk at meetings.  I get that god is just a word for the source of strength for these people; I get that your  power can be the group, or reason, or whatever.  It’s just that whenever people in AA talk about god, it is a He.  And in a women’s group, that disturbs me.  More about this later, perhaps.

When I introduced myself, I said I started drinking [regularly] to piss off my ex-husband.  This was an odd thing for me to say because I had never thought about it that way before.  But I that was why I started drinking.  He was a teetotaler, and I drank very rarely myself, mostly for lack of opportunity, but also because it was Very Important To Him and I was  Respectful Wife.  Then later, we had friends who would bring over a 6pack when they came over for boardgame night, and my ex was mildly shocked that Christians drink!  But he didn’t make a fuss.  So that was a nice opportunity for me.

I should pause to explain here that for my ex, we had to do everything together.  This included decisions– as in, anything decided upon by one (i.e., him) must be agreed upon and also executed by the other.  So when he decided he was never going to let a drop of alcohol touch his lips, that meant I had to do the same.  If he had an interest in video games, I did.  If I wanted to fix up the yard, we both had to.  I realize now that this was manipulation on his part, to limit my access to the world without his direction and control.  I had two opportunities in our entire marriage to go out drinking/dancing with The Girls, and he took those opportunities to demonstrate his generosity, that he Let Me go even though he didn’t want me to.

Seriously.  It amazes me how controlling he was.  Most of the stories you hear about controlling and abusive husbands are of the violent or verbally abusive type.  My ex never yelled or hit.  I guess that’s why I didn’t notice for so long.  But once I started noticing, I started carving out areas of my life that I could be free of him.

It was hard.  I was really interested in local foods, gardening, and native plants.  My ex would go on and on (in public and private) about how Supportive he was of me, and how he wanted me to follow my interests.  But somehow, in some weird way, everything was complicated.  Either he would stick his nose in and take over something and do it his way (“helping”), he would offer to help and then fall through, or he would do nothing until it came time to really get to work, and then he’d distract me.

He started being a dick about “our” cell phone, so I got my own.  I password protected it and did not tell him the password— he asked me many times, and when that didn’t work, he peeked to see it. 

Shortly before leaving him, I told him I wanted to have separate bank accounts in addition to the shared one. 

And I started drinking.  I bought this wonderful green tea liquor and had a shot on ice when I got home from work.  I enjoyed his discomfort.  Besides, the stress in our relationship had increased so drastically, and his sexual abuse had become worse, so I had trouble going to bed with him, much less was able to fall asleep when I got there.  Alcohol helped there.

Then after I really left him, I spent a few months or so buzzed– not drunk off my ass or even drunk, but still.

And now I have a rule that I only drink when I am already happy.  But I have been slipping.  Hence the AA.  I’d rather do the 12 steps before I have to go through rehab, you know?

moving

September 13, 2010

I’ve stopped after only an hour of packing to wonder why I want to stop packing.  I am moving tomorrow– if I can get everything in my hatchback, that is.  I have my doubts.  My lizard’s terrarium and my guitar take up a good amount of awkward space, but hopefully I can also fit in two garbage bags of clothes, Indian spices, books, and of course the dog in her travel-box.  Books and desktop computer are going in last just in case it don’t all fit.

The worst part of leaving NorCal is leaving my mom.  Everything else, I think I can handle.  I am moving back in with my old housemates, and this is giving me pause.  I really really REALLY want to be independent right now, but without a job that is pretty much impossible.  I want to live alone and answer to nobody.  I love to be surrounded by friends, but I require privacy.  But the thing is, I am so totally fucked up from being married to a con artist– I don’t even know the extent of the damage yet.  I completely appreciate good advice and guidance, but it is difficult to be gracious about it when what I really want is to just go go go how I want to.  I don’t want to be using my friends and then just take off when I get the job and everything settled.  But of course, that is also exactly what I want on some level– I can’t live on the generosity of my friends forever.

When it comes down to it, I don’t know how healthy relationships are supposed to work.  If a friend needs help and a place to stay, and you can provide it, what does the friend owe you?  Is that a favor?  Is that simply what friends do?  It feels like a debt; how will I repay it? 

I conclude that I need to have a talk with my friends.

since you asked

September 6, 2010

Just a quick catchup for anyone who’s still reading… and for myself, because I really need to write more.

Granma died two weeks ago.  I am still living in her house, supposedly sticking around to help my dad out.  He doesn’t ask me to really do anything, though.  So I have mostly been staring out the window feeling sad, watching Cooking Channel, cooking my Indian food, hiding photos and other family paraphernalia (to make the house a little more neutral– it’s kindof weird to be alone in my grandparents’ house), or throwing granma’s knickknacks out (don’t tell dad– I’m doing him a goddamn favor, considering all the shit gma had, but he’s got a bit of a be-in-charge-of-everything problem).

I inherited granma’s dog.  She is an awesome little friend but doesn’t know how to be a dog.  Working on that.

Still recovering from divorce.  More on that later.

Still recovering from losing my faith.  Much more on that later.

My family is kindof insane right now.  Hard to trust them.  My dad and one sister are addicts (alcohol and pot, and meth), my mom is a classic enabler, one sister is doing fine but in a pretty solid partying phase, and my brother liked my ex-husband a lot and doesn’t want to know why I left, so I don’t exactly trust him right now.  I am trying to focus on supporting my mom and helping her feel ready to escape the place.

And, I am preparing to move back to Southern California.

Gotta get my life together.  I think I am ready now.  Or, I am ready to be ready… somewhere in there.

the upside to depression

April 5, 2010

I’ve been experiencing a relapse in my depression.  Nothing to commit myself over, just hopeless, lonely, bored, exhausted, want to cry, angry… whatever.  It’s about as bad as it’s ever been, as I recall.  But there are upsides. 

1: No husband around telling me that I am depressed because I don’t have a god any more, and if I just started believing in one again– one in particular, of course– I would be as happy as a woodland sprite and twice as cute.

2: Related to 1– Nobody else trying to guilt trip me because how dare a Christian be depressed when God Him Self came and died for your sins so you don’t have to burn for eternity, you ungrateful little shit.  How dare you.

But gods.  It sucks.  If I remember right, the last time this happened I felt mostly numb and sad and hopeless.  Now, I am getting rage.  And more crying.  I feel like this is a breakthrough because I am learning how to feel.  So now… to deal with that.  Without beer and/or Vicoden.

But do I distract myself?  Sit and cry and try to get it out?  Call someone?  Specifically not call someone for the sole purpose of getting through it on my own?

Do I use more italics when I am depressed?

Must be feeling better.

Must be the writing it out.  Will remember this.

I think it helps, too, to try to reason myself out of my sad feelings.  I mean, sometimes there’s really something to be sad about.  I have a few of those somethings.  But still: feeling trapped: yes, a bad feeling, and basically true.  But look where you’re trapped.  I’m stuck with my family who cares about me, in the town I grew up in, with food, my own room, hot water, and cable TV.

Then, the only danger is to beat myself up with guilt for feeling sad over nothing.  There’s actually very little risk of that.  Guilt never worked on me and I never got into the habit of doing it to myself.

Reading over what I just wrote, I realize there’s one thing I’m really struggling over.  Friendship.  I don’t know how it works.  I think I might be okay at being there for someone who needs me.  But I don’t know how to ask for help when I need it.  The few times I’ve done it, it’s gone horribly wrong.  The worst was last year when I did get some support for my divorce– some necessary support that I would not have survived without– but when I was truly desperate, I leaned on a friend hard and he let me fall.  Hard.  Nobody picked me up.  It took me weeks, if not months, to recover.  I don’t think I know how to trust, when to trust, when to need, when asking for help is appropriate and who to ask from…  I don’t know what else I don’t know, but I suspect it is a lot.  I know my inner resources are somewhat limited, but when they are exhausted, they are exhausted, and I would have thought that’s what friends are for.  Maybe I had it right the whole time but I just had the bad luck to lean on the wrong friend at the wrong time.  I don’t know.

So… in a way, it’s good that I’m here with little support.  I mean, I have my parents and a few others, but I’m scared to trust them with anything very major.  But that just means I have to get through it on my own.  Hopefully, then the next time I scramble for resources, I might find everything I need within me. 

I know it sounds cheesy.  I could write a Disney musical number right about now.

Fuck, I just realized I’m starting my period soon.  Fucking PMS.  You know, I was on the pill for ten years, didn’t have PMS.  Then I got a Death Star (aka “IUD”– copper, not hormonal) and my uterus started directing the hormonal chorus again.  Totally forgot what it felt like!

Well, good thing there’s Daily Squee.

work!

March 29, 2010

Taking care of grandma is work– no doubt about that.  But it’s not intellectually challenging work, or hard physical labor.  It’s emotionally draining work.  She’s got terminal cancer, is in pain all the time, and suffers from anxiety.  At least she is fairly well-medicated on the anxiety front.  The anxiety attacks and temper tantrums are in the past, and everything is more or less even-keel.  I sometimes check to see if she’s breathing during her naps, but she’s in pretty good shape, considering.

For myself, on the other hand, I’m mixed.  I don’t mean to be ungrateful for having a safe place, and an income, and being near to my family.  Oh yeah, and I certainly have my health.  But besides my days off– 48 hours off each week, separated into two shifts off– I’m here all the fucking time unless I’m driving grandma to an AA meeting or doing errands, and sometimes I get away for a brief jog.  She sleeps decently at night, at least, but I am technically working during that time, too, which mainly consists of helping her out of bed for the bathroom and medicating her once or twice.

I’ve been slowing down.  I don’t read much and don’t write.  I do sudoku, at least, while I’m half-watching court TV with her.  We watch NCIS, Star Trek TNG, and Stargate Universe.

I laugh at commercials.  (And totally have a crush on the Progressive Insurance Lady, Flo.)  (Fuck me!  I know her goddamn name!)

I didn’t realize how I’d changed until last week, when I met with an old friend for tea.  He was a housemate and I consider him a brother; we were close and he is dear to me.  He hadn’t really changed since two years ago when I saw him last.  But me?  I was stuttering, nervous, hiding my face behind my cup… and generally just not with it.  I didn’t get it when he teased me.  At least I didn’t cry.  And finally he teased me again, and I felt myself just… stall, for lack of a better explanation.  I tried to shift into Joking Around With Friends Mode and just couldn’t.  He finally noticed, and said, “Wow, you look so uncomfortable right now.”

Well, I told him, guess what.  I’ve been sitting with granma for two months, and before that I was a mess from divorcing.  “Exciting” for me these days is bringing a Cadbury Egg home, clucking like the Easter Bunny, and dropping it into granma’s lap.  (Actually was pretty funny, if I may say so.)  Let me warm up a little before you start treating me like a young member of the human race.

I did get up to speed eventually.  We went to hang out at his place, watched videos on youtube, guitarred and sang together, and I settled into myself again.

Then I got home.  And the next day I felt pretty weird.  Had to dial myself back down to 2 and not think about what kind of person I’m going to be when this is all over.  I do not want to be a boring person.  I do not want to be depressed.  I want to have a lively social life, go out dancing, cook my wierd ethnic food, have a dumb simple little job that gives me time to garden like a motherfucker, I want to have my alone time, I want to sleep all night.

I want to have interests that I can pursue.  And I’m not sure what “pursuing” is going to look ike when I don’t really leave the house.

So.

Reading and writing.  The point being, giving myself something to think about and then articulating my thoughts.

Watching must-see movies.

And figuring out what strategies I am lacking in sudoku.  Fuckin game.

Well, time to go start dealing with dinner.  Luckily, tonight grandma wants Clam Chowder from The Fish Market, so either I’m going to pick that up to go or we’re going to eat it there.

Why I don’t have to obey the Ten Commandments

March 21, 2010

Besides the obvious reason of there being no gods, I mean.

File this one under deconversion, and, /facepalm

I think I have mentioned this before, but I just love the simplicity of it.

 First, a little trip to the Tanakh.  Deuteronomy 5, the Ten Commandments.

5:7: You will have no other gods before me.

Oh, wait.  I missed a good part. 

5:6 I am Yahweh, your god, who brought you out of Egypt.

By the way, humans, my name is Yahweh.  Nice to meet you.  Let me tell you what you’ve gotten yourselves into.  First, a few rules…

Doesn’t this story sound familiar?  “Sure, I’ll help.  Just sign here… that’s right…”  And then a few months later, out comes the fine print, all these rules! and your children are under the same contract!  Why is Satan the one playing this role in traditional Christian folklore?  It was Yahweh the whole time!

But don’t worry, Alice.  If your ancestors were not brought out of slavery in Egypt, you don’t even have to read any further.

If on the off-chance your ancestors were Jewish, well, guess what.  The text does say these rules are for the people who were actually brought out of slavery in Egypt.  So everyone on the planet now living is totally off the hook.

Wow, the Bible.  Good times.

regrets

March 14, 2010

I hate to have regrets, but I also hate not being honest with myself.  So I’m gonna call it what it is and hope I can get over it more quickly that way.

I forget if I have mentioned this in a previous post, but sometimes I get this feeling of anxious rage (mainly rage– the anxious part is because of the huge feeling overpowering me that I can’t control).  Sounds extreme, but there it is.  And I had it today, while watching some crime-solver-cop TV show with grandma.  It showed a little flashback for two characters, when they were in dating in high school and fooling around on the couch.  And I regreted that I missed that phase of growing up.  And I don’t simply regret it, like, oh, I carefully decided then, but I wish I had chosen differently.  I was so ignorant, so scared, so Christian, that I had not made an informed choice. 

So I tell myself, “Alice, if you’d done the standard amount of fooling around on couches, you’d probably have regrets about that.”  And I know it is true.  I calm down a little when I think that.  But I still can’t help feeling so cheated.  I’m scrambling around, almost 30 years old, trying to act my age instead of like a desperate divorced woman trying to make up for lost time.  The problem is that I never acted like I was 16 when I could get away with it.  I never had my 20s, my wild years, time to live alone, to get to know myself.  I did what was expected and what was easy all my life and now I’m paying for it.  I’m not even a Christian any more, so it’s not like I get points with Jesus for being a good girl. 

I know, I know– I’m disease-free, I’m child-free, I’m even paying-alimony-free.  Calm down, woman, Jesus Christ.

I’m starting a relationship with someone a bit older than me, so he’s giving me all this good advice, but I can’t help thinking, “I will not lose my 30’s too!”  But what the hell do I even want my 30s to look like?  Here I am getting into another relationship when first off, everyone knows you’re not supposed to do that right after a divorce, and second, I want to be my own goddamn person and screw up and make mistakes like everyone else does– not just follow advice and be safe and do what’s best all the time!

Gods, that sounds stupid.  But there it is.  Guess the 16-year-old Alice is still in there, after all. 

I’m going to my room.

change

March 5, 2010

I don’t really feel like reading any more, these days.  I’ve loved reading all my life, going so far as to take my undergraduate degree in English.  I just haven’t wanted to.  Books still interest me, but I just don’t enjoy reading like I used to.  I’m not sure what this signifies. 

If that wasn’t odd enough, I don’t want to write any more, either.  I used to enjoy writing about my day, trying to be witty and funny, expressing myself.  I still feel the urge to write.  But I just don’t want to any more.  I’m barely getting this post out.  I’d call it writer’s block, but combined with my disinterest in reading, I don’t know if that’s all it is.

Maybe I’m just changing.  It’s disorienting– to know myself and what I like, then to realize that I don’t like it any more.  I realize this is a symptom of depression– to lack interest in the activities that used to interest me.  But if that’s the case, what is the depression a symptom of?  If reading and writing don’t make me happy any more, then yeah, I lack happiness, resulting in sadness, or at least blah-ness.  So what makes me happy?  What do I want?

Fuck if I know.

sleeping

February 23, 2010

I have learned something new, and very important.

If you can’t sleep with whom you want, it’s almost as nice to sleep how you want.

I’m not sure if that sounds wierd– let me explain.  My ex and I had a really nice bed.  After a few years of sleeping on a double futon (first with the mattress on the floor, then on a futon frame, then on a cheapass Ikea frame), we splurged on one of those California-King pillow-top magical beds where you just melt right into it at night and kindof slide off in the morning.  Despite that, I suppose it doesn’t need to be said again that I didn’t enjoy sleeping with him, but I’ll say it again.  I didn’t enjoy sleeping with him.  Not in the literal nor in the euphemistic sense; and of course since going to bed also means “going to bed”, it was getting harder and harder for me to get a good night’s sleep since I was just laying there waiting for him to make a move.  But that’s not exactly what this post is about.  Let’s move on.

When I left my husband, I left the bed behind, perhaps obviously.  The sofa I slept on, and the bed that I eventually slept on more permanently, were so. comfy.  And I’m sure a lot of that was due to finally feeling safe.  Now, living with grandma, I’ve got a double bed, with nice sheets, a blanket, a comforter, and a quilt (made by my great-great-whoever).  At some point in the past few weeks, I remembered the covers I had with my husband: just a comforter or blanket (that we did not share, since I am a highly skilled and supremely evil blanket stealer in my sleep).  And you know, I really hated that.  I wanted the sheet.  You can wash a sheet, you can’t wash a Cal-King comforter without a trip to the laundromat, which we only did once or twice in the entire marriage.  Ten years.  Okay, we probably only had the comforter for five years.  But Jesus Christ on a bike, that thing was never washed!  Gross!  At least put a sheet under it, right?  The ex didn’t want sheets.  Anyways, I think I’m ranting… I guess you get the point.

This whole thing is just another example of finally having relief from all the little things that bothered me over the years.  It’s not that important in the scheme of things to have Proper Bedclothes (as I define it), but fuck me if I’m not thankful and relieved to have it now.  Because when you’re happy and being treated well, you don’t mind little things.  So the clothes are on the floor next to the hamper– so what!  But when you’re unhappy and being treated poorly, and when you’re trying to convince yourself that everything’s really okay… those little things are all cuts and bruises.

Anyways.  Hooray for clean sheets.