Saturday, August 27, 2011

Oh, to be a lizard

Sometimes I wish I were a lizard.

Well, not really. I'd actually prefer something larger, sleeker and powerful like an orca or a tiger, but I like being a human, most of the time.

Emotions can be a bitch.

You see, lizards aren't emotional. I mean, they do experience fear when they see a predator, but the predator is usually very stealthy, so the poor lizard usually doesn't see the predator, so the end is quick. And without fear.

Now, I'm not going to be all morose and hope my end is near, for I have begun to live again and am to meet the Man Across the Bridge. But, the lizard doesn't worry. The lizard knows the Universe will provide for it.

Since I know the Universe has someone for me, I also have to trust the Universe will provide for me. The lizard doesn't have a mortgage to pay for, or three aging animals with vet bills, or fuel to buy to get to work, or school supplies, or... You get the picture.

Letting go of my ex wasn't as easy as I thought, but I'm well on my way. I am still processing the toxic waste, and feeling greater every day. :) But, letting go enough to trust the Universe to take care of my finances is another matter. It's very difficult to surrender and trust. It was a problem for me when I was a practicing Christian during my teen years. Let go, Let God was a familiar chant from the others in my churches. It wasn't easy, especially for someone whose life had been very unstable as a young child. I needed the stability of knowing what I wanted would be provided.

In my early gay adulthood, I stumbled across a group for gay evangelical Christians. I joined and made some friends. I also fell in love with someone who had been a good friend, but seemed to be hesitant to begin anything with me as he was just coming out. I was deeply in love with him, and decided to wait until he fell in love with me. Why? I had seen a calendar in another friend's apartment and one month's heading said "God's Delays are not God's Denials." I had been praying for him to love me and believed he would in time. He did end up loving me, but as a friend. I guess I wasn't specific enough.

I have a spare room for rent, and an ad placed with an agency, and after two weeks, there have been three text message inquiries. So, maybe it's not the right time for me to have a roommate, or the right way to find one. Yet, it's difficult not to worry about finances. The rest of the world worries; stock markets and commodity markets react wildly to world events, so why shouldn't I, a single gay man, worry about my situation? I do. But I have survived this first year post-divorce okay with some adjustments. There have been some small surprise windfalls along the way to keep me afloat which gives me the courage to begin to trust a little more.

I just have to go back to my mantra, 'Everything happens for a reason at the time it's supposed to.'

Maybe the Universe will tell me when to buy a Lottery Ticket. (just kidding)

[still, it couldn't hurt]

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Toxic Waste

Last week, I decided to take all the toxic waste in my garage to the S.A.F.E. Center nearest my house. These are the items that don't go in the regular trash bin ultimately to a landfill; worn out and expired batteries, burnt out light bulbs, broken electronics, empty plant food and insecticide containers and surplus paint.

Ironically, most of the paint was left from when my ex decided to paint his office. And I get to take it to the dump. Wait, would it be ironic or symbolic, as it coincided with the anniversary of the email? Maybe it was ironic that the paint had been his, and symbolic of the timing I chose to get rid of it then. Or, vice versa? Idk. Moving on.

As I collected the items, a blog started forming in my head about the toxic waste in my life. But then I wondered if I was confusing it with the clutter I had already been going through. As I sat for a day or two and contemplated the difference, little bits and pieces started coming to me. It's more the effects of the two that made the difference for me. Clutter sits on my desk in my office upstairs until I deal with it; junk mail goes into recycling; bills and the payment receipts need to be filed (Note to self; dummy, you have a recycling container downstairs, junk mail should never come upstairs, and file the bills/receipts immediately!) So, clutter is like the litter collecting along the freeways until the crews come along and clean it up. Toxic waste, if not disposed of properly, can seep into the ground water creating an unhealthy environment for all in the vicinity.

Emotionally, I saw the clutter in my life as those 'little situations' that needed to be dealt with; the apology I needed to give but didn't; or the "I was upset when you..." talk. Or, even the positives I didn't recognize, but felt I should, "Honey, thank you for taking out the trash. I appreciate it." These smaller situations can get in the way of emotional progress if allowed to pile up. The toxic situations are the heavier ones; the ones that seep into every pore of your being and just weigh you down and have the potential to keep you there.

I was challenged this past week. Someone who barely knows me let me know in no uncertain terms I still have issues with my ex. Well, duh, I wasn't denying it, but unfortunately, I was having difficulty identifying what the issues were. Whenever I see his name in my text message window, I would break out into expletives (sort of like hives, but verbal) and would wonder what in the *#*$@! he wanted now. As we have shared custody of the two dogs, it was usually related to them. But not always. For example, this last time he wanted to know if a particular store carried the type of carpet cleaning machine we used when the 'boys' had accidents in the house. (He was taking the dogs for the first weekend after his new carpet had been installed and wanted to be prepared.)  Ok, so it was kind of related to the dogs but my first thought was,"How in the #$%^&#@ would I know this?" And next, "Why can't you just call or go by to find out? Are you that lazy?"

My reply was simply, "idk."

Anyway, the messaging went on from there where he offered to share his cleaner with me being as mine is broken, but as I have the dogs 95% of the month, it didn't make sense. But I saw what he was doing. He is hoping to keep the friendship alive even if the romance is dead. After all, he had said that was the most difficult part of breaking up with me; facing the possibility of living without me in his life as a friend, if not as a husband.

I'm not interested. I know many gay men and women hang on to their exes as friends.  In fact, there is a joke out there: Bob and Ted are a couple: Bob has three exes, and Ted has four. How many best friends to Bob and Ted have? Seven. Ok, you get it. I'm not Bob or Ted, I'm me. And I don't collect exes.

But, why am I letting him get to me? What is this toxicity that is poisoning me and sets me into expletives whenever I see his name? (I don't normally use expletives, I am a school teacher and have to set an example. Yeah, like I hang around with my students....But, still, it's not who I am.)

It's the pain. The hurt. That's getting to me, but which pain:

The pain that he ended our marriage? No. I'm better off  now, both emotionally and spiritually. I know this for a fact. I feel it. It feels right to be moving forward.

The pain of how he ended it? Yes. By email, for gods' sake? From the sofa to the dining room table? What happened to the trust? What happened to talking, to communication? Evidently it wasn't there to begin with.

I have come to terms with his explanation. He needed to collect his ideas first, put them down on paper, be organized. I'm a writer and a teacher, I understand that. When I get a story idea, I sketch it out, get an idea of where I see it going. When I plan a lesson, I write it up, but I deliver it to my students. I don't post it on the whiteboard and stand back. I may have accepted it, but I don't have to like his reason.

The pain of why he ended it? No, I've moved past it. I've come to accept it wasn't working for us any longer and actually give him the courage for recognizing it. 

So, it all boils down to the email. But, no. It's more than that. Trust. It's the trust that he couldn't talk to me personally.  After 15 years, he couldn't trust me to listen to his concerns. And therefore, I don't think I can trust him, as a friend, not just yet. That's the hurt, and trust is so hard to recover especially after 15 years.

So, this is the toxic waste I need to eliminate from my system before it contaminates me and potentially gets in the way of my future relationship. And now that I've identified it, I can send it to the processing plant for disposal.

Perhaps I can start processing it, by being more open with him about where I am in my recovery and new life, being more cordial rather than outright friendly.

Because letting go of someone after that long is harder than I thought.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Today, Aug. 15, marks an interesting anniversary of sorts.

It is one year ago today I received a certain email from a certain someone.

He wanted to end our marriage a year and ten months after we were legally married, which, ironically, was also his idea. Is there anger? Yes and no. There is anger at being left with three senior animals and the responsibilities that accompany them, aging or not. There is anger at being left with a mortgage and struggling financially on a single paycheck. There is anger in the way he chose to disclose his decision. I have come to accept his reason for doing so, but that doesn't make it right, in my eyes.

There is no more anger at his leaving, not now anyway. I have let that anger go for I have become a better person:

I am relieved. I am relieved of not having to take care of someone else. I don't mean as one spouse would care for an ailing spouse, but having to be the adult to the child.

I am hopeful. I am hopeful for a better future. No, that implies I'm waiting for it to happen instead of taking steps to make it happen in as much as the Universe allows me to make things happen. I am sensing a better future is in store.

I am strong. I have uncovered inner strength that had been lying dormant a lot of the time because things were good. Sort of. But things are better now.

I am happy. I am happy with the direction my life is going. I know I will have another relationship, I can sense it. And it will be with someone who can take care of me, we can be adults or children together, or one to the other, and it will be ok. 

I am proud. I am proud of who I have become. My inner Christian says, "Wait. Pride is a sin" and "It comes before a fall." But, that is about boastful pride and I don't feel boastful about where I am now. I feel reflective. 

But touching on my inner Christian reminded me of a little figurine I had: It was of a man's head coming out of a large rock all on a pedestal. The inscription read "Please be patient, God is not finished with me, yet!" My figurine today would be of me emerging, perhaps out of a cocoon, or something similar, with the inscription, "Please be patient, I am not finished with myself, yet!"

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


We all have clutter in our lives; junk mail, receipts, bills, etc. Things that don't quite get into their correct place and eventually pile up. I never did really catch the lesson my stepfather tried to teach us, "A place for everything and everything in its place." The trouble is I have too many things and not enough places. And I don't always take the time to file papers in their proper place. During this summer vacation, I have been trying to tackle the clutter in my home, as it is preventing me from feeling productive and organized. I'm trying to sell collectibles I have and no longer want, donating things I can't sell, and tossing things I haven't looked at in at least a year. I know I have been productive, mainly with this blog but not as much with my other writing as I would have liked. Maybe that's what's blocking me.

We also have emotional clutter; unresolved feelings, unexpressed anger/hurt/regret at someone; things left unsaid, never telling someone you loved him; unanswered questions, why did she really leave? All of these  leave emotional clutter in our lives. I have been coming across a lot of clutter on this journey. And it all could get in the way when I meet the Man Across the Bridge. For me, this emotional clutter has been in the area of unresolved relationships. And I don't necessarily mean romantic ones.

As an example, my post "Entrances and Exits" dealt with the friend who had stepped (or, more precisely, was pushed) aside for my happiness and my wanting to make amends. I mailed the card to be there just before her birthday. I merely signed the card, "Happy Birthday, Jeff." But, I also included a note explaining that I just found out the truth; that I had blamed the wrong person, and wanted to restart where we left off.  I included my home and cell numbers, and hastily wrote in my email address at the last minute. I waited on pins and needles for a response. About a week after I mailed the card, I got an email from her. She thanked me for remembering her birthday and promised to call me soon. And now I wait, again.

Recently, I have also been concerned with another relationship, a family one. I'm not sure if it was a misunderstanding, or what exactly, but there has been no communication with this individual for over a year. I had made a few attempts to contact this person, but there was no reply. So, I gave up. I mean, how long must I try before I get a reply? At  least a year went by. I did leave a message that I was getting divorced and wanted to break the news personally instead of leaving it to the family gossip mill. Recently, there have been recent gestures of reaching out. So, I sent a message describing my understandings and recollections of what may have happened to affect the communication between us. And now I wait. It's up to the Universe to guide this one. I've done my part. And now I wait.

And there is a third relationship I am wondering about. She had been a good friend, one of those who enter and exit and you pick up right where you left off. But, I thought she was the one coming between Birthday Girl and me. And now, I understand she was there for Birthday Girl. Still, I'm not sure I'm ready to settle this one, and I don't know why. But, if I am to clean up the clutter in my emotional life, maybe I should. Or, maybe it's just the right thing to do.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Little Boy

Meet the little boy.

Two and a half years after this picture was taken, his parents divorced. They moved in with the soon-to-be stepfather, who was soon transferred to another job in Las Vegas, Nevada. They were living in Northern California at the time. Shortly after that, his mother and the soon-to-be stepfather were married, and the stepfather wanted to take his new family to meet his old family, so off they moved to yet another state. This time it was South Dakota. And all of this was by the end of first grade.

The little boy spent the next two years in Sioux Falls before returning to California. In all this time even though he heard little from his father, his mother never once said an unkind word about his father. In fact, she often encouraged her sons (she had two boys with this man) to write him. Sometimes his father wrote back. The little boy didn't get to see his father again until they returned to California when the little boy was in fourth grade. From then on it was infrequent visits, letters, phone calls, any communication. (Remember, this was back before first graders had their own cell phones!)

Once back in California, the  moving continued. The little boy didn't have two continuous years in the same school until he went from sixth grade to seventh; but after four years of stability in one community, the moving started again and continued through his high school years, with the little boy attending three high schools in two states, California to Colorado and back to California.

The little boy had very fond memories of his father and carried a torch for him. The stepfather just couldn't fill his father's shoes. But the absence of communication began to take its toll. The torch was flickering.

The stepfather did the best he could in raising the family, and the little boy truly believed it. The stepfather said he loved the family, and the little boy believed him as a little boy would. The stepfather was not the most nurturing individual and the little boy never grew to like the stepfather. And, when a young child realizes that some of an adult's ideas are just plain wrong, then something is wrong. The stepfather was racist and sexist. Never in a violent shouting way, he just expressed his ideas quietly, clearly and directly. Every year, on the first day of school, he would ask the same question. "How many black students are in your class? How many Mexicans?" The family usually lived in a predominately white area, so there were usually one or two of either group, if even that many. The little boy never understood what difference it made but always answered. 

The stepfather also believed he was the voice of the family. His opinions were the opinions of the family and actually said so. The little boy let him think what he wanted, but had his own opinions, always contradictory to the stepfather's, but the little boy kept them to himself out of fear of the stepfather's anger. He never struck the children, for now there were three, but the little boy could sense the possibility of it.

Behind the scenes, the mother told her children not to pay any attention to the stepfather's ideas, she was not raised that way, and she wanted her children to believe that all people were equal.

What happened to the little boy? He grew up. He grew up to become a man who believes all people are created equal. He grew up to become a man who realizes circumstances are not always what they seem. For he later found out, his mother was not the quickest in always letting his father know where the family was. The little boy grew up to become a man who realizes pain is a part of growth and with growth there is strength. The little boy grew up to become a man who realizes that people do leave; and if they do, it will hurt, but in time the little boy will heal and make new friends. The little boy grew up to become a man who realizes that some people don't choose to leave the little boy, but to leave this world. And it is natural, but it still hurts. The little boy grew up to become a man who realizes that if people choose to leave the little boy, it is not because of something the little boy did. There is nothing wrong with the little boy.

The little boy grew up to write this blog.