Closed Doors

Closed Doors

Closing a chapter on your life sometimes means accepting your own mistakes.  Perhaps this is what makes it so damn hard to push the door closed and leave something in the past where it belongs.  In some situations it’s just easier keep the door partly ajar, holding onto a small hope that one day something magic will happen that will allow you to walk back through that door and erase your mistakes.  In reality, all it’s doing is keeping the wounds from healing, exposing a rawness of emotion every time you glance back at the door and realize that it is not yet closed.  It serves as a constant reminder of something that you have not resolved, causing turmoil as your memories wrestle with your conscience.

My husband and I married much too quickly.  We were high on the newness of love, and thought that would be enough to carry us through any struggle we may encounter.  We went into it with our hearts wide open, and our eyes tightly shut.  Soon after we were married our house of cards began to crumble.  We tried digging in our heels and fighting for our marriage countless times.  But no matter how hard we tried, we just didn’t have the glue to keep it together.  We did not build a solid foundation within our relationship before getting married, and therefore had nothing to stand on when the whirlwind of life in a blended family started tearing through our home.  We moved into separate homes almost a year ago, tried counseling and spending time together, but the damage had already been done.

I met with him today for the first time in months.  I had been avoiding his attempts to reach out to me until I felt that I was strong enough to handle it.  Today was the day he finally had enough. His patience had grown thin, so he showed up on my doorstep and it was time to face the music.  He looked ragged, tired and sad.  His appearance brought back the old feelings of guilt that had so plagued me during our marriage, but I took a deep breath and offered him a seat at my dining room table.  We attempted to make small talk, but it felt out of place in the air between us so I dove right in.  I asked him why he wanted to save our marriage so badly.  For a brief moment, I felt a surge of hope that he would somehow say just the right words to break through to my heart and lead me back to him.  But rather quickly I realized that he didn’t know why he wanted to save us.  He said what came to mind, but there was nothing behind it.  He has only spent time on the surface, lingering only on the need to save our marriage but no time in figuring out why.  I have spent time trying to figure out why, and painfully realize that there is no reason to hold on any longer.  He wanted to know why I always have to make sense out of everything, and I wanted to know why he just leaps in based on what he is feeling at the moment with no thought to what will happen tomorrow.

He promised me that he has changed, that this time would be different.  I wanted so bad to just give in, tell him I would give it another chance. But even in the midst of the pain and sadness of seeing him I knew in my heart that we are just not compatible.  Neither one of us are bad people, neither one of us has truly failed.  He needs a wife, a confidant, a lover.  He needs someone who is completely dedicated to his needs and wants, and flourishes on flowers and compliments.  I need to be on my own, focusing on nourishing a healthy self-love and figuring out what paths I need to take that will give meaning to my life.

In sitting across the table from him on this rainy Sunday morning, I realized that I need to finally close the door on our marriage.  As hard as it was to see him cry, to hear him say he doesn’t want to give up, I had to walk away.  I came back home, and pulled out our wedding photo.  I laid in bed and stared at the picture of us on the day we promised to love each other forever.  I guess I was hoping that I would have some gut wrenching reaction, something to convince me that shutting the door was the wrong decision.  But the tears never came.  I stared at our faces, so happy and filled with hope.  I concentrated on reaching down to the depths of my heart hoping to feel the love I had for him that day.  But it never resurfaced.  Perhaps that was because underneath it all, it was never there.  Even as I sit here writing this, I am not sad about saying goodbye.  I am only sad to know he is hurting, hurting because he only stayed on the surface and hasn’t accepted the fact that I am not the wife he wants and needs. I wish him peace and rest, but I cannot keep the door open any longer.  I must accept my own mistakes, promise to forgive myself, and move on.

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That’s So Gross!

That’s So Gross!

Featured imageIt was Saturday night, and my kids’ marching band had just taken 1st place overall in a competition.  As is the tradition in our band program, we stopped at a McDonalds to let the kids eat and hang out before heading home.  The parents usually arrive first to place the orders for our kids and get our meals before the 65 overly stimulated high school students arrive in the bus.  It was pretty cold out, so I was in a bit of a rush to get inside and warm up.  As I tore open the door to the restaurant, I half-noticed a person huddled by the door with a cardboard sign, then continued on my way inside to complete my mission to order chicken nuggets and coffee.  After placing my order, I followed the unspoken rule of courtesy and stepped to the side to wait for my number to be called.  My fingertips were numb from the cold, so started rubbing my hands together, and that’s when it really registered.  I paused to make sure I had some cash, and put my wallet back in my bag.

Order 256!  “That’s me” I proclaim as I take my tray from the cashier and made my way to join the other moms at the table.  “Did you see that outside”? one of the other parents asked as I took my seat. My curiosity was peaked as I wondered how these church-going, volunteering, opinionated women were going to act when nobody important was listening. “Yeah, I saw it” one of the other moms replied.  Just then the bus pulled up, and the conversation was cut short as the parents all started watching out for the kids to come in.  Within seconds there was a huge line at the cashier, and the restaurant exploded in noise.

After my kids came to get their food, and everyone had settled into eating and talking about the trophies we were bringing home with us, I pulled some money out of my wallet and snuck away from the table.  It’s not that I was trying to hide my decision to give the gentleman outside some money, because I wasn’t.  It is my money and I can do what I want with it.  It’s just that I generally make it a point to practice acts of kindness with no fan fair.  I believe that the karmic return in giving is multiplied when it is done anonymously and since I am indeed a sinner in need of as much good karma as I can get, I have adopted this principle as thoroughly as I am able.  Anyway, I slipped outside to give the man what I had to give, and was pleased to see several of our children out there showing a giving heart as well.  I slipped back inside, and took my place back at the table with other the other moms.  My oldest daughter had joined them and was sitting across from me.  She whispered “mom, did you see the man outside?  We should help him out.”  My heart was proud, and I winked at her, which told her that I already had.  She smiled, kissed me on the cheek and went back to join her friends.

A few moments later, standing right outside the window where we sat was the gentleman from outside and several of our band students, taking a selfie together.  Everyone was smiling, kids, grown up, everyone.  I said “Oh look, they are taking a selfie”.  “Oh my God, that’s just gross!” said one of the other moms, who had just been saying how they planned on going to church in the morning since it was an early night for us. “Why?”  I asked out of pure curiosity.  The mom ignored the question of why, but went on to say “It’s like I tell my kids.  Most of those people have more money than we do.  That’s why we don’t ever give them anything”.  Mind blown.  I mean really?  You really think that that guy has more money than we do, and that he just chooses to sit outside in the mulch at the McDonalds in 30 degree weather with barely any coat and holes in his shoes, begging for spare change?  It amazes me what people tell themselves in order to disguise hypocrisy.  Another mom piped in “We don’t give homeless people money because they are just going to buy drugs or alcohol with it anyway.  If they want to do that stuff, they should get a job”.  Mind blown again.  It became very obvious to me that these women have always been fortunate enough to live a sheltered life, free from any pain or suffering.  Obviously they have never experienced trauma so deep and awful that it causes them to spiral into the depths of addiction.  That guy could be a soldier suffering from PTSD. He could be a man who lost his wife and children in an accident.  He could have mental health issues that have gone untreated for so long that he has forgotten what hope looks like.  Whatever his situation is really isn’t any of our business, and it is certainly not our place to cast judgment.

I spoke.  “So what if he has an addiction?  If a few dollars keeps him warm tonight, makes him forget his pain for a while, what harm is that really doing?”  The topic of conversation was instantly changed, onto talks of Halloween, the upcoming trip to Memphis, whatever.  I began to notice that I was being slightly excluded from the group for the rest of our time at McDonalds. My comments weren’t being acknowledged, nobody was laughing at my hilariously witty comebacks.  It kind of pissed me off that they reacted that way simply because I spoke my mind.  I could have made it much worse.  I could have stood up, made a big scene, lectured the table on how they are really no better than the man sitting in the landscaping outside.  But in the end, I chose to just ignore their behavior.  It is their choice to live the rest of their lives thinking that homeless people are really rich people in disguise, or to feel that that addicts don’t deserve kindness.  I just hope they never have to depend on strangers for a dollar.

Tunnel Tuba Magic

Tunnel Tuba Magic

I was driving down Thompson Lane in Nashville the other day, completely absorbed by thoughts of being too early for my meeting and anxious about driving on unfamiliar roads.  Traffic was barely moving, leaving me free to take in my surroundings and let my mind wander through my mental checklist of everything I need to get done.  As I approached a bridge that supports a railroad overpass I could see that traffic was even worse up ahead.  I let out a deep sigh, lit a cigarette, and muttered a few choice cuss words, which in my opinion neatly summed up my feelings about sitting bumper to bumper during rush hour.  My fellow commuters and I inched along like tourists in line for a ride a Disney, little by little, toward our independent destinations.  I was just about to turn on my radio to break up the monotony, but before I could hit the button, the sound of tuba music filled the little underpass.  I looked around to see which car was jamming out to a little Michel Godard, and that’s when the magic happened.  Standing under the bridge was an older man with long gray hair, rocking a tie dye t-shirt and playing the hell out of a tuba.  He had a gallon jug with the top cut off taped to his instrument, and would stop playing and run over to a car should the offer of a donation present itself. Then he would go back up on the sidewalk and start wailing on the tuba once again.  He kind of jiggled while he played, dancing around as best he could with a 30 +/- pound instrument wrapped around his torso.  I’m not going to pretend that he sounded like a concert tuba player, but he sure as hell played better than I ever could.  He offered a little bit of absurdity and entertainment in an otherwise frustrating and mundane commute, which is awesome all by itself.  On top of that, I started noticing the look on people’s faces in neighboring cars.  Everywhere I looked people were smiling!  Smiling commuters during rush hour?  Hard to believe, right?  And as if that wasn’t enough, I was actually disappointed when the traffic starting moving again.  Now if that ain’t magic I don’t know what is.

Addicted to First Dates

Addicted to First Dates

I have a confession to make.   I am hopelessly addicted to the first stages of dating someone new.  I love the excitement of a first date, wondering what to wear, spending hours getting ready, and the look of appreciation on my date’s face when we first see each other.  I get lost in the endless conversations, sharing favorite stories the other person hasn’t heard yet, getting to know one another.  I like to play the cards in my deck, flirting, meeting his tone, laughing at each other’s jokes.  I thoroughly enjoy the intense interest in everything I say and do, and I eat up his compliments like chocolate chips.  I long for the butterflies in my stomach with anxious anticipation, and crave the tingling of my skin as he brushes his hand against mine.  I even welcome the feeling of disappointment when the evening ends.  I like the spontaneity that comes along with the beginning stages of dating, experiencing new things with someone new.  These are the great things about dating.  But, just like any other addiction, there is a price to pay for indulging.  The men that I attract seem to get on the hook so quick. It starts with calls and texts, asking what my plans are, attempting to invade all of my free time.  They want to go from first date to wedding day in a blink of an eye, which inevitably leads to heartbreak or anger.  So, any time someone asks me to dinner or feeds me a line, I try to remember the fact that I am in emotional rehab, and I am focusing on me.  So I say no.  And then I go home, eat ice cream, and try to pretend that I am not lonely.