Pretty Place

I am here. Right now. I’m sitting just to right of the cross. Feeling the sun warm me as it darts in between the clouds. A cool breeze blows my hair across my cheek.

I think I’ll sit awhile longer and allow myself to feel everything.

He broke up with me this morning.

Cold

It’s cold this morning. He’s long since left the bed, taking with him his warmth. Even under three blankets, I’m shivering.

I’d like to buy some new running shoes, though I am not a good runner. There was a time when I ran often. I completed a handful of 5Ks and even a half-marathon. Completed, not won.

I completed one 5K while 6 months pregnant with my youngest. The temperature was 18-degrees when we crossed the starting line. My hands were numb at the finish. My half-marathon was finished by pure will. I had undertrained, under prepared, under hydrated. When I crossed the finish line, my hands were so swollen I could barely text my husband to coordinate a rendezvous.

I remember long weekend runs–never more than a walk/jog–along the riverbank in the city my kids now call home. And along the roadside at sunset. Always worried about judgements from others as I bounced and jiggled and struggled down the path.

And now, just the desire to buy a new pair of running shoes elicits from within shadows of shame and whispers of embarrassment.

I am not a good runner.

My thick thighs are not thick with muscle.

I can already feel the burn in my chest as I draw in an exerted breath.

In many ways, I hate running.

That’s not exactly fair.

I hate how running makes me feel. Tired. Sore. Out of breath. Fat.

It’s hard to ignore thick thighs as they bounce, wobble, and sway as you’re plodding down the road.

However, idleness does not beget improvement.

I need that stitched on a pillow, I think. So I can bury my face in it when I can’t jog for 10 minutes straight. For when I horrifically imagine passing motorists’ judgmental looks. For when these thick thighs stubbornly fail to unthicken.

I’m getting distracted.


Wednesday’s meditation was about self-care.

What strikes me though is not the permissive tone, but the discussion of self-care within a relationship.

We’re learning to take care of ourselves, instead of obsessively focusing on another person. We’re learning self-responsibility, instead of feeling excessively responsible for others. Self-care also means tending to our true responsibilities to others.

Our true responsibilities to others. 

When I first read this phrase, I latched onto it.  I delighted in it.  If there are true responsibilities to others, I contemplated, the opposite must be true, too:  Surely, some of my self-assigned responsibilities to others are not true responsibilities.

For two days, I silently wrestled with this.  I know I’m not responsible for another’s happiness.  Does this mean I’m not responsible for their unhappiness as well? 

I’ve often assigned myself responsibility for both his happiness and unhappiness.  If I don’t make him happy, I reasoned, I’m making him unhappy.

By making his happiness as well as his unhappiness my responsibilities to him–my true responsibilities to him–I perpetuated the lie I’d built my post-divorce life on: that I could control him.

But more importantly, if I could control him–his happiness, his unhappiness, his sexual desires, his attention, his time–I could control the outcome.  Wedded, committed, envy-of-all bliss, here I come.

And then my trust was shattered: not by him, but by a close friend.

Within an hour of realizing that most of our recent interactions included her putting me down through humor and sarcasm, I came to learn that this same person shared intimate details of my story and her opinion of it in my absence and in my safe place.

My boundary was crossed.

My trust was broken.

If I wasn’t yet brave enough to reaffirm my boundaries with my boyfriend, here was my Higher Power’s not-so-gentle nudge to step off the Ledge of Silence.

And I did.

And she cried.

And she fell back to self-deprecation.

And I did not rescue.

And at the end, the atmosphere was not light and happy.  It was dusty, but grounded.

I was reminded of Ketut Liyer’s advice in Eat, Pray, Love:

To find the balance you want, this what you must become.  You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it’s like you have four legs instead of two.

I walked away from my first boundary-affirming conversation feeling as if I’d just grown two extra legs.

Perhaps some of my true responsibilities to others is staying grounded, setting and affirming my boundaries, and speaking my truth.  But choosing not to rescue her was also a true responsibility.  And one from a place of love.  I own my journey, and she must own hers.  It’s my responsibility to honor that.  It’s my true responsibility to let go.

As I spoke with my sponsor after my friend and I parted ways, I paraphrased one of the promises of CoDA: This is life changing stuff, I said.

Yes it is, she replied.  And this moment will dramatically change the trajectory of your life. I guarantee it. 

And for once, I believe her.

 

 

 

Best Boy

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My best boy, my only boy, turns six today.

Shortly after my divorce, I dropped the kids off at their house.  Four of them blew kisses and ran inside.  My son lingered.  He wanted more time.

We did not say much.  I held him.  He snuggled into me.  We took some pictures.  I told him I loved him and always would.  I knew our time was ending.  Within a week, he’d be leaving for his new home 3,000 miles away.

Recently, I’ve found myself in conversations where the topic of parents leaving their children arises.  While I do not openly share that I left my marriage and gave custody to my ex-husband, my heart still seizes when I hear the stereotypes perpetuated: Selfish. Cruel. They’re breaking their children. They’re messing them up. The worst kind of parent. 

Not necessarily, I reply.  While it may not make sense to you, I believe they were doing their best with what they had. 

You do?

Yes.

Oh. 

At the end of my marriage, there were days I could not function.  I was broken.  But that does not make me a bad mother.  I was shouldering immense pain without help and with five small kids depending on me.  Those final months were spent in such a deep depression, most of my memories took place in my bedroom.  I lingered there for hours with the blinds closed.

It was in that dimly lit room that I hugged on my babies, we made silly videos, we read together, we talked, they brought me coffee, they sat with me as I cried.

It is tempting to replay these moments and only these moments.  But somewhere there are thousands of pictures that tell a different story.  Because I took them.  Because I wanted to remember.

And I do.

And today, I remember my son.

How two men in my life told me to abort him, and I said no.   How I decorated his room with bright colors, and prints of antique cars.  How excited I was to see the blue rocker placed in his nursery.  How when he was born, he would not stop crying until I gave him my finger and he wrapped his own tightly around it.  How I finished knitting his baby blanket as I nursed him.  How his hair used to be a big mop of curls.  How he fought with his younger sister for my lap at story time.  How he hated to take naps.  How he loved Thomas the Train.

And sweets.

And me.

And I him.

And how we still do.

I love that though he’s getting older, he still loves to crawl into my lap and nestle against my chest.  How he likes to finger my locket that contains each of their initials.  How matter-of-fact he is.  How he laughs when I tickle him.  How he voices his opinion without hesitation.  And rolls his eyes at his sisters–a lot.

I love that boy.

My heart is tender today.  I cried last night.  I danced to his favorite song.  I bought ice cream.  I shared with a friend how much I miss him.

I found a picture made when he was just six months old, his wide drooly grin captivating under a blue stocking cap I knit for him.

I smiled.

 

 

 

 

Good At

I am drawing another early morning bath.

The lavender in the bath salts will look like mouse droppings in the water. I will pinch my soft belly as I soak and wrinkle my nose.

The high that’s held me aloft for the past 48 hours has begun to melt away.


Hello, Sunshine!

I wish you could have saw your face last night, from across the room, from my view.

There you were, you were smiling, you looked peaceful. You looked like you were home.

There was a confidence, bravery, and a knowing you were exactly where you needed to be, in that moment.

Your life is changing in front of my eyes. You were surrounded by your people and you looked confident, that you were on the right path.

It’s such a beautiful gift to be by your side in your journey.

My sponsor, ever an early riser, sent me this message well before dawn yesterday.

She was right, I had been glowing. In our weekly CoDA meeting, I once again organically shared the heart of me. My energy was joy. My energy was love. And I felt it reflected tenfold.


Our home is uniquely empty. Our one house guest left yesterday for a week up north, and I didn’t realize how liberating it would be. We slept with our bedroom door open. We had sex without concern about how loud we or the girl in the porn we watched was. He lounged in his shirt and underwear. I shuffled to the coffee maker this morning half dressed.

It feels like we’re on vacation, I told him.


And then, this morning.

He received his annual bonus.

Finally, I’m not broke, he announced.

It was bigger than expected: $10,000 to be exact.

I’m paying off all my credit cards. $1,000 of it went into my 401K. I’ll still have money leftover.

I had been preparing for this.

You’re so bitter, you’re never happy for me, he’s said.

So I was.

That’s great! I’m happy for you! You deserve it!

I am tempted here to defend him and by defending him, I mean throw myself under the bus. I am tempted to laud him for his transparency with how big his bonus was when I kept secret that I’m getting a tax refund this year. I am tempted to laud his generosity last night at the taco truck, covering most of our tab when I had only four $1 bills, and several $50s and $100s hidden away (note to self: dentist appointment Monday).

But then there was also the conversation about our annual trip to ride ATVs in the hills of West Virginia for his birthday, which I have paid for the past two years.

Do we want to go again this year? If so, we should start saving, I commented.

I don’t know. Not while I’m in debt. I wouldn’t feel right about it, he replied.

But then, there was my footing his airfare and lodging and half our meals during our recent visit West. For which I sent him a hefty sum to repay him for the rental cars, for which his USAA membership secured us a better discount than I had access to. Over $900 sent to him hours before his company dropped $10,000 into the same account.

The balance on my credit card looms at $5,000, and that’s after the nearly $700 payment I made this morning.

I admit: I am jealous.

I admit: I am feeling like a failure.

I admit: I am feeling triggered.

I admit: I’m feeling alone, vulnerable.

I admit, I’m asking myself: What am I good at, if anything?


I am good at me, is what the wiser inner voice whispers back.

And when it comes to me, I am rapidly approaching Level Expert.

Black Belt Ninja of Self-Awareness in the making.

Penthouse of Recovery Hall-of-Fame, next stop.

P.S., my inner voice adds, maybe you should watch “Eat, Pray, Love” again.


I hear my sponsor’s voice telling me I’m a “recovery bad ass.”

I watch a video sent to me by a friend in which she tells me that she loves me, that she thinks I’m pretty awesome.

I think about how my boss trusts me with his business, with his money, with his private concerns.

I think about how my daughter glowed during our video call two days ago as she gave me plot updates from the book I bought her during my last visit. The girl who’s repeating second grade because she’s struggled with reading is reading. I tell her how proud I am of her. She beams.

I think about how a CoDA friend encouraged me to call her when needed late at night, and I was filled with joy because that’s exactly what I’ve been wanting to do. Because, as I tell her, I think she’s amazing and I want to get to know her more. I’ve been thinking the same about you, she says.

I think about a sponsee sister who shared her experience learning to pay attention to opportunities from her Higher Power. And how her experience helped me recognize my own “second chance.”


It is ok to have feelings, I tell myself.

It is ok to feel jealous.

You do not have to justify, analyze, defend, or explain.

Nor do you have to listen to negative messages you’re so used to telling yourself.

What is the next healthy choice?

God, I love this question.

What can I do in this moment to move forward my goal of a healthy me?

The answer is not exciting, but nonetheless: Finish my bath and get ready for work. And don’t forget to wear boots–it’s raining.

Not Responsible For

In a discussion about boundary setting, my sponsor tried to coach me through wording I might use to assertively and healthfully state to him that which was important to me: You can always approach the conversation by saying, “Honey, I love your kids and our time together, however…”

My throat tightened and my heart sank.

The truth is, I don’t love his kids.

The truth is, there are many days when I don’t like them at all.

During our affair, my opportunity to interact with his kids was very different. I first met them while his wife was out of town attending a funeral. I brought them dinner and while it cooked, I played with the kids. After dinner, I helped him cleanup the kitchen and read a bedtime story to the kids, tucking his youngest into the bed he shared with her.

Our kids played together after each church service, and we often ate Sunday lunch together. We attended a couple of his kids’ birthday parties, bringing gifts and conversations. At one point, his eldest gave me a broach with a quote about friendship etched into it, and expressed: I wish you could be our second mom.

And then, very suddenly, that was over.

When his wife discovered our affair, she forbade me from being around them. And then her attorney sealed the deal with a paramour clause. In court, the judge stressed to him: if your paramour has any contact with the kids, there will be a restraining order issued.

And so I didn’t. If they visited our home, I needed to be elsewhere. He’d take our only vehicle to spend the day with them at the beach, at the arcade, visiting his family. I sat at home and crumbled.

His kids were kept at a distance. Even after his divorce was final, he would not advocate for bringing me back into their lives. These were his kids, he stressed. He was going to make the decisions. And no, it wasn’t the right time.

When I pushed him on when the right time would be, he didn’t know.

And so I waited. And I hate waiting.

In the meantime, I became his right hand to send weekly care packages to his kids. Many weeks, I shopped for toys, books, and candy, packaged them, addressed them, and raced to the post office to ensure delivery by Wednesday of every week.

Initially, I was so afraid of the paramour clause, I refused to address the packages in my own handwriting. I handed the postal worker a paper with the names and addresses scrawled on it and asked him to write the information on the box. Eventually, I let go of that fear, but often wondered what his wife would think when the weekly package arrived addressed by not him, but me. I felt somewhat ashamed. I felt somewhat the doormat as his involvement in these weekly deliveries became less and less. Our weeks revolved around them. Did you mail it? It needs to go out today. They’re expecting it. They’ll be disappointed if it’s not there.

Meanwhile, for a short time, my kids were still here. They came to our home a handful of times. We took them out. They knew him. And then, they were gone, too.

In one year, I lost 10 kids from my life.

What followed was codependent crisis ad nauseum. It was only until I sought counseling from our rector who, in turn, encouraged him to advocate for his kids and my reunion that anything changed. And he resented me for it.

After 18 months of separation, they were strangers to me and I to them. They eyed me curiously.

Are we allowed to be around her, they asked him.

I was still grieving the loss of my children. And here were five more, unfamiliar to me and skeptical. I did what I felt a good partner should do. I threw myself into making plans for our time together. I cooked elaborate holiday meals. And every time they rejected or criticized, I personally felt it.

One time, I spent all day making a special stew. He and I both loved it, but the kids did not. They each took a few bites, pushed their bowls aside, and then dumped the uneaten portions into the garbage.

I was furious. I worked hard. The ingredients were expensive and our budget was tight.

He and I argued.

They didn’t like it, he would tell me. I asked them what they thought of it and they stuck out their tongues.

I stopped going to great lengths to cook for them after that. We agreed that he’d provide snacks for them during their visits, maybe have a few kid-approved meals at the ready.

As time passed, their visits became irregular for a while. They think you’re bipolar, he’d tell me once.

Eventually, visits from all five became rare. Now, it was mostly groupings of two or three. And these visits, I enjoyed.

I enjoyed watching he and his sons do “boy” things. And I enjoyed doing his daughter’s hair before her school dance.

I enjoyed being in a movie his son made. And hearing them excitedly knock on our door Christmas morning. For several weeks, I picked up his girls from school and we enjoyed going to Starbucks or ice cream or getting our brows waxed.

And yet, there were several times when he cancelled plans with me to pick up plans with them. Our weekly date night became kid-centered. When we had a fight, he took his daughters out for shopping and dinner. Even now, I cringe when his sons are yelling at each other over a computer game while a paying house guest is trying to sleep.

I equate their visits to our home with loss, I told my sponsor. Loss of time with him. Loss of peace in our home. Loss of food. Loss of organization. Loss of cleanliness.

Loss of…my own voice.

When they are here, I have no voice. It is not my job to parent them, and setting boundaries with them is the best way to uncover his shortest fuse.

They’re my kids. I will make the decisions. Don’t you see what a hard spot I’m in?

He’s gotten better at giving them alternatives. She bought those brownies, he’ll say as they hungrily eye them over half-eaten dinners, why don’t you have one of these donuts I just bought?

And now, one of his daughters wants to move in to our home next school year. She wants to live with us during the week and live with her mom on the weekends. And before he spoke with me about it, he told her he thought it was possible.

Thank God I’m not responsible for my first thought–my always codependent thought.

Fuuuuuuuuuuck, no.

And then my second thought came: This isn’t happening today. We can discuss it later.

Can we talk about this first?, I asked him.

Yes.

I wrestled with my thoughts, chastised myself for asking his permission to talk about it, felt the flames of my codependency threatening to build, and then I went to sleep.

Because it’s not happening now.

Because the next healthy choice was to rest.

Because my sponsor wasn’t available until morning.

Believing

Sometimes, codependency is like living in a fantasy world. A world of suspended disbelief. It’s a circus. A madhouse. A roller coaster from Hell.

And yet, it’s predictable and stimulating.

We fall in love with the myths, and perform high-wire acts to confirm them.

We thrive on applause, and feel ever more the clown when our efforts are reviewed as foolish, dangerous, and disgusting.

But the curtain rises again. And we’re compelled by forces beyond our control to go faster, higher…everything bigger, better, more.


But for as death-defying as codependency feels, recovery is much harder. It’s closing the curtain, removing the makeup, and letting the applause fall silent. Show over.

It’s lonely.

It’s scary.

It, too, is painful.

Because there are a million more circuses out there. The audience you lose will find another. Or start their own. The show must go on–somewhere.

All the world is a stage, after all. And it’s a mad, mad world indeed.


This week, I’m supposed to work on Step 2.

We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Sanity is defined as the ability to see the truth. If Step 1 was about letting go of our unmanageable lives, Step 2 is about finding solutions to the insanity.

But first, we must believe that those solutions exist, and not within ourselves.

Believing is a choice. Believing is a tentative place. It’s a place to begin, even without convictions. I think the greatest difficulty we have with believing is that we want something with more certainty to start with; we want more assurance.

Hell, yes, I want more assurance.

I want to know that I won’t lose my audience. And that audience is him.

And yet, those other circuses. Those millions of circuses. And they’re colorful and bright and beckoning.

They’re women on Facebook who point the camera at their cleavage. The blondes who post how horny they are. The 20-somethings who insist they love much older men as they drop their nipples into the willing mouth of their first date. Into his mouth.


I spoke to a friend last night who shared that she, too, struggled with Step 2.

I read it and instinctually felt they were calling me insane, she said.

Restore us to sanity does sound like a tongue-in-cheek way of saying: You’re crazy.

But in many ways, Step 2 is bringing forth in me a lot of resentment. The codependency glasses are off, and the world looks different.

The movie “Constantinecomes to mind in which one of the characters insists in seeing the otherworldly: angels and demons. She’s warned that her decision cannot be undone. And yet she insists. She becomes horrified.

Our Step booklet, I once texted to my sponsor, should come with a similar warning.

Ignorance is bliss. Recovery is not.

I cannot not see the truth anymore.

As my friend listened to my Step 2 woes, she shared something shared with her: We must allow others the dignity of choice, and we must similarly allow others the dignity of the consequences those choices bring.

Living in ignorance is a choice. As is living in guilt and shame. As is not setting boundaries. As is seeking external validation and shifting blame.

So when he’d spent three out of five days with his kids last week, and texted me that he was considering cancelling our plans for the evening because he feels he just doesn’t have time for the kids anymore, I laughed.

Somewhat hysterically.

And when I shared this with another CoDA friend an hour later, I laughed again.

Somewhat hysterically.

Living in guilt and shame is a choice. And I need to allow him the dignity of that choice. As well as it’s consequences.

When I got home, he told me he and his 11-year old son had decided that on the weeks he has commitments that prevent him from taking the kids skating on their regular Monday night, they’ll do something else on Tuesday.

Whatever the kids want to do, we’ll do it. All in one evening.

My first reaction was: But what about me? What about our time together?

My second: My God, he’s committed to living in guilt.

And then I feel the resentment lapping at my feet. And throat. Burning the back of my eyes. Because I. Can’t. Say. Anything.

I must own my own journey. I must allow him the dignity of his own.

Damn Step 2.

Damn being restored back to sanity.

Damn recovery.

The glasses have fallen and I can see the truth. My truths. His truths. And the only truths I’m responsible for are my own.

It’s not unlike seeing a toddler wearing their shoes on the wrong feet and knowing they will surely stumble and fall if it’s not corrected. You can point it out: Honey, your shoes are on the wrong feet. But at some point, you need to let them make their own decision about it, and let them incur the consequences of their choice.

And yet, this isn’t a toddler. This is him. My boyfriend. My partner. The man I begin and end each day with.

I can do nothing but allow him his dignity. He’s a grown man, he’s told me. These are his kids. He’s can make his own decisions.

And he does. Out of guilt and shame. Out of a constant need for external validation.

For all the times I wept to a confidante about why he didn’t love me anymore, why he was cruel, why he wouldn’t make me a priority–they all said: this is him, not you.

And finally, I see that they were right.

And it’s maddening. It’s horrifying. It makes me want to scream.

Because he cannot see it. Will not.

Because he is comfortable in his ignorance.

Because his insecurity is bolstered by Facebook likes.

Because extending himself physically, mentally, and financially to keep the kids happy convinces him that they’ll love him more, and gives him more Facebook fodder to keep those likes coming.

Because being affectionate toward me when I need it would be letting go of his need to control everything around him, especially me.

Because openly and flagrantly keeping a close eye on those other circuses may not make me fully reopen my codependent show, but it does mean I’m ever tempted to keep the high wire act in a box in the back…just in case.

And I do.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s why I’m struggling so much with Step 2.

Step 2 means not just seeing the truth, but committing to it without the reassurances my codependent self so desperately wants.

And committing to it does not mean I have a just in case.

Step 2 is the belief in the truth. Belief that though the truth may be ugly and difficult, it’s far better to live in the truth than with one foot on a just in case.

Now that’s terrifying.

Hard

It started simply enough: a call from a CoDA friend.

I had contacted her earlier in the day asking for advice. As I stared at my-less than-cooperative coif in the morning mirror, I remembered she was a hairstylist. Perhaps she had advice on how to tame my locks.

When we connected several hours later, the exchange of small talk turned quickly personal.

She was a long-distance mom, who had given up custody of her kids as I had. But after over a year away, she left her and her husband’s home out West to return here, to them.

Her day had been great. For the first time in years, she picked up her girls from school. As she recounted her six-year old’s retelling of a praise she’d received from her teacher, I couldn’t help but picture my six-year old’s face.

Tears stung my eyes.

And then my friend turned the conversation toward me: how are you handling being so far from your kids?

Meanwhile, on my end of the phone, a quiet, peaceful evening had been upended.

When I felt myself triggered during an earlier conversation at the kitchen table, I politely excused myself to read in the bedroom. While sprawled across the bed, immersed in the final pages of my book, he came to join me.

He silently laid his legs across mine and tried to read himself, but quickly dozed off.

As I read, I heard our house guest’s phone ringing, unattended. I heard another shuffle through the kitchen. I thought she was leaving this morning. I heard the neighbors screaming at each other in the yard.

Then my friend called. And as soon as our conversation started, his daughter appeared at our bedroom door followed by one of the neighbor girls. We were not expecting a visit. And these two girls never hang out together alone. It was an odd pairing. It was even more odd that while I had the phone to my ear, they came into our bedroom animatedly talking to him, who had woken.

I continued my phone conversation and brushed past the girls. My house guest was already into his nightly FaceTime call with his wife in the open office at the middle of the house. They were just as animated as the girls.

I found some quiet in the darkened living room nearby, at the end of the couch.

And just as quickly as my friend asked the question that made my eyes burn with emotion, he and the girls came walking through the room on their way to the kitchen.

I wanted privacy. As I moved toward the front door, I peaked my head in the kitchen. He was getting down puzzles from atop our china cabinet. Do you mind if the girls start one of these, he asked.

I said sure and moved outside.

But the porch would not be a refuge either–a guest had her windows open just feet away, so I paced the sidewalk in front of our home.

I miss them so much, I told my friend.

After some time, I moved inside. Again, I peaked my head in the kitchen. I was hungry and while there had been talk earlier of cooking dinner together, neither of us had made a move toward it. Are we going to eat tonight, I asked him. He asked the girls if they were hungry. They said no. He asked if I was going to cook the chicken. I shook my head no, the phone still on my ear. He said he was good then. No dinner. Again.

I walked upstairs and sat in a rocking chair.

With little pause, my friend is telling me her story of giving up custody of her kids and the intense “mommy guilt” that led her back to their side. Then she turns to me again with an emotional voice: I know the pain I felt and I see you without your kids and I want to tell you, no, no, no, no! No! No! No! No! Go get your kids!

Then she apologizes for her words. Then she speaks of her faith and implores me to seek favor from God, to have His will revealed to me. She apologizes again for the highly charged words.

At some point, she asks the name of my boyfriend. When I tell her, she asks, Is that the douchebag? I’ve never called him this but she’s remembering my very emotional share two weeks ago at a meeting when I talked about how small his words sometimes made me feel.

Before I can answer, she apologizes again.

I wanted to escape the conversation. It was too emotional, to raw, hitting too many nerves. But the noise from downstairs filters upward. My stomach gnaws with hunger.

It’s all too much.

I frantically look for my car keys while I’m on the phone still.

I walk into the kitchen, toward the back door, and see him and the girls now playing card games. For some reason, I’m offended.

He saw me with my purse on one arm, the phone still pressed to my ear, and my keys in hand. Are you going out?

Yes.

He smiles supportively and nods.

I drive. I’m upset at this point, teary. I’m hungry, too. My friend and I talk about meeting. By the time I reach the interstate, I pull over. I’m tired. I’m starving.

He texts me: Do you want me to cook the chicken?

Yes, please. Or pick up a pizza.

Ok.

Then: Can [his daughter] make the cookies?

Sure.

The cookies are a specialty mix I brought back from our recent trip. I am a little disgruntled, but let it go.

Eventually, I end the phone call. I’m too tired. I’m not in the right headspace.

I drive home. The kitchen smells like burnt cookies. There is no chicken yet. I want to scream, to crawl up a wall. The neighbor girl is feeling ignored by me, which is fair–I do not like her. She insists on getting some attention. I engage in a terse back and forth as I quickly pass through the kitchen. They invite me to play a board game. No, thank you. I draw a bath.

I hate being here.

I text my friend as much.

That’s because it’s not your home, she responds.

I want to crawl out of my skin. I want to go unconscious.

Toward the end of my bath and nearly bedtime, he brings in food for me. He sets it outside the bathroom and leaves to continue entertaining the girls.

I resent him for it.

The meal is very small. He’s doled a meal for two among four–the girls who were not hungry and made cookies apparently got hungry again. I’m still hungry and walk to the kitchen to ask if there’s any more. There’s not. Soon, he’s walking into the bedroom asking about chocolate. He wants to give the girls something else to eat.

Because cookies, dinner, and chips were not enough. They need chocolate, too.

My boss’s girlfriend calls. She needs to vent. I calmly tell her she can only control herself. Do what you need to do for the next 45 minutes and then take some time for you.

He comes to bed late and gets on FB. He shares things with me that he finds funny. I go to sleep. It’s late, I’m upset.


I dreamt all last night of my family and the kids. Of frantically holding on to a baby while precariously sliding down a metal staircase, twisted and broken. Of missing trains. Of losing the baby and finding it taking refuge under a bush.

I’m still upset when I wake.

Nevertheless, this is my shit to own and process. We have a decent conversation over coffee and then he kisses me before leaving.


I feel like I’m going crazy.

I feel like I recognized triggers early into my evening and did the right thing, but was confronted–battered–by more. I felt I couldn’t escape, and became silently frantic.

I thought briefly about quitting my recovery journey. Of blocking everyone in my phone list from CoDA. Of going silent.

Of going something.

I need my sponsor.