Tag Archives: Divorce

Breaking Point: #13

After reading this hopeful post, the words of the poet Wallace Stevens came to me:

Only this evening I saw it again,

At the beginning of winter, and I walked and talked

Again, and lived and was again, and breathed again

And moved again and flashed again, time flashed again.

May we all flash again with the coming of Spring.  yrs. Laura

 

Submitted by:  Robin Dake, whose ebook is available here.

Painting My Nails

I painted my toenails last week. At one time, I kept red polish on my toes – bright red, happy red. I had tried other colors, but kept coming back to red. At one time, I sparkled. But somehow, in this last year, as my 18-year marriage crumbled, cleaved, then ended, I lost my sparkle and I stopped painting my toes.

At first, it was just putting off the repair. I noticed a few chips on the edges and thought, ‘I need to fix that,’ but never got to it. The chips got bigger and my toes now needed a full-out re-do. They needed to be stripped down to bareness, filed smooth, then lovingly repainted. By summer, the nails themselves were raggedy, but I didn’t have the energy to lift an emery board, much less gather the polish remover, lotion and cotton balls.

In yoga class – the class I joined to learn to breathe in the year there was no breath – my chipped and sad toes mocked me. They shouted that I must be a failure because I couldn’t even keep my toes neat and presentable. I couldn’t hear it then, but
there was another voice speaking softly, saying, ‘it’s okay, love your raggedy toes now and know you will be okay.’

As the months went by that voice did get louder and I was able to accept that I was a girl whose toes were no longer painted red. I could do downward dog without trying to avert my eyes from my toes and I found myself looking at polish colors in the drugstore aisle. In October, I unearthed the toenail clipper and neatened things up. I stripped away the last of the red and left it at that. I wore patent leather shoes to court that day, but underneath the shine, my toes remained unfiled and naked.

The cold that came in during the last part of November made me keep socks on my feet almost all the time. They were thick, fleece socks – blue with polka dots – that muffled the cold snaking around my toes. I only caught a glimpse of them as I showered and dressed before I sought out that fleecy warmth and protection again.

A friend gave me perfumed lotion for Christmas, and after a moment of listening to the inner voice that loves me, I slathered it on my feet and ankles, enjoying the luxury and softness. And finally, I dug out the polish. I gently filed and smoothed those nails, then put that polish on stroke by stroke.  My toes wiggled with contentment.

The polish is not fire engine red, but instead a soft, pearled pink.  It doesn’t sparkle, but it does glow. Today, I breathe again.

I may not make it back to fire engine red, but I suspect one day, I may just try purple.

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Breaking Point: #11

We are rounding the bend toward Spring.  Each year at this time, I remember what gratitude is…in tiny things like being able to see the driveway again.  The call of the red-winged blackbird in the marsh behind my house that tells me we’re still worth returning to.  Open windows that blow out my Winter dormancy and wake me up with a wind that feels balmy, even at 45 degrees.  Each year at this time, I  feel myself losing that Winter brace against the cold.  And I re-learn that gratitude can’t be felt without a willingness to receive.  As we finish this Winter, I invite us all to actively receive the newness and hope of Spring.  We have another week or so of this Breaking Point series.  I am so grateful to all of you who have participated.  I’ve closed submissions due to time constraints, as with the first day of Spring (March 20th) I would like us to move out of whatever pain we’re in, and step into healing.  Or, you could look at it like this:  we can choose to use our pain to create emotional freedom by breathing deeper into it past fear and ideas of wrong and bad…and in-so-doing…let it go.  However we choose to view pain– teacher, guide, enemy…I want us to feel the power of the present moment with all its promise and abundance.  In other words, I want us to dance in the rain.  Thank you for sharing your stories and thank you for reading them.  We are all in this together.  yrs. Laura  

Today’s Breaking Point is from: Kat Holland at thebreakupguide.com.  (This link goes to a guest blog piece I wrote for them.) 

To go to their main page click here.

The “M” Visions

Intuition is the one thing we are blessed with – never ignore what you know inside.

My belongings are packed in a 10×10 storage unit and I’ve left my job and my community behind. As I wait for my plane to take off, I wonder what happened to my life. I had it all – a cabin in the mountains, a husband, a dream PR job and loyal friends. Why didn’t I see my life crashing…or did I?

I married a New Zealand man with disheveled sandy blond hair and a slender athletic build. He looked like Jude Law, only hotter. He was a great cook, charming and smart…or more like…a smart ass. He was a lawyer turned bartender because he wanted to live out every man’s dream of being a ski bum. You know…the kind of guy who wakes up, smokes a bowl, hits the powder in the winter, frequents the golf course in the summer, then attends his very part-time job. His profession didn’t bother me, as long as we were both happy. I loved and supported him and looked forward to growing old with him. I accepted his drug habits and his carefree lifestyle. He was my husband, the man I chose to spend the rest of my life with – I adored him and he adored me.

We had been together for 10 years, but in February 2006, my life suddenly spun out of control. I thought I had vertigo– my head whirled as if caught in a tornado’s vortex. It was my first anxiety attack. I was 38. Then, insomnia interrupted my shut eye, and when I did sleep, my pleasant dreams turned into nightmares. They were vivid and sexual. I questioned whether or not I was getting enough sex, which I wasn’t.  I witnessed my husband kissing and then thrusting himself into another woman and it became a re-occurring dream. It was never the same woman – she was faceless, and the sex appeared methodical and meaningless.

Hanging from above a cloud, I watched them in disbelief. When he saw me, he continued thrusting into her with a shit-eating grin on his face. Then I lunged forward like a tiger and bit his cheeks. My teeth sunk into his flesh and I chomped down as if gnawing on a rubber band. I hoped that I had caused him great pain but soon realized that the opposite was happening – he was mocking me. What I thought would hurt him, gave him immense pleasure. He looked me straight in the eye and laughed. The more he laughed, the harder I chewed, until I woke up.

When I emerged from the dream, I saw visions of an “M, but the name was never clear. The “M” appeared in all my dreams. It was an unusual “M” name, almost like a Mona, or Monique, though I never grasped the name completely. The dreams of my husband having sex with another woman were frequent, at least once a month. I began wondering whether or not I was losing my mind. In my heart, I couldn’t fathom that he was having an affair. He wouldn’t be unfaithful, would he? He confirmed that he loved me daily and boasted “I was his Heidi Klum.”

One day I woke up from the nightmare and confronted him. “Are you having an affair?” I explained all the details.

“No, of course not,” he said calmly.

“But, I keep having these dreams that seem so real. Are you sure you’re not having an affair?”

“Absolutely not,” he said adamantly. “You probably miss Marley.”

Marley was our 18 year-old black cat who had died a few months before. I adopted her from my best friend. She was a feisty cat and if you blew air near her face, she would jump up and bite you. We weren’t exactly sure why, but we believe smoke was blown into her face as a dorm kitty.

“You’re right, I miss Marley.”

Eight months later, my husband announced that he had been having an affair since February. I was furious because he betrayed our trust and I didn’t follow my intuition. The dreams now made sense, because the “M” was the first letter of the name of his mistress.

At the time, I knew my spirit guide (which I like to think was my cat), was yelling at me to wake the hell up and live a more conscious life. I was so caught up in being an overachiever, that nothing about me was awake. Not my spirit. Nor my soul. Nor my mind. And my identity had disappeared.

Now, as I sit here on the plane, I’m grateful to embark on a solo adventure around the world and discover a new ME. After months of being buried in the rubble and crying my eyes out, I’m in gratitude and I have found a new sense of balance. Life has thrown me a twist of fate, a new beginning. It’s a daunting journey because the “we” has vanished, but I’m about to discover who I am, what I love, and why I’m here.

After Kat’s travels, she created TheBreakupGuide.com, a blog that enriches, empowers and restores people’s lives after a break-up.

 

 

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Breaking Point: #8

I am hosting an end-of-winter series featuring stories from the trenches of pain.  My hope is that in sharing these breaking points, we will feel less alone.  Thank you all for your bravery.  You are helping the world to heal.  To participate and for more info go here.

yrs. Laura

Submitted by: Anonymous

I thought I had everything. I had the man I loved, two great kids, we just bought and remodeled a house I finally considered mine and was in love with.  Everything was wonderful…until about a week after our 13th wedding anniversary when he walked in and informed me he didn’t love me and didn’t want to be married anymore.  I begged for counseling, asked for a trial period, begged him to think about the kids.

His mind was made up, it was done. He took a loan out on a car, gave me $3000 to “get started”.  Since the house was only in his name and he wouldn’t be able to pay enough to me to make the payment, he was keeping it and I had to move.  Since the truck payment was too expensive, he would be keeping that too, so I needed to go get a car.  I could take what I wanted from the house.

Oh, how I wish I had the soundness of mind then, but to have all your dreams and then have someone tell you they were no longer yours, by his decisions and not your own, and feeling unable to control anything in your life at that moment, well… you tend not to think clearly.  I went through the home and took pictures of the kids to take with, but everything else had a memory attached, our bed, our furniture, our artwork. Everything reminded me of our life together, so I went to yard sales and got “new” furniture, new things for my own house, and with the kids moved into a 2 bedroom apartment behind a gas station.

I was blessed to make a great friend in my wonderful new neighbor, but honestly, I was embarrassed of where I was.  I gradually started letting old friends in on my situation.  Though I have to say that none of my friends still know the full details of what I have been through, I have come to rely on and appreciate them so much.

About a year or so ago one of my closest friends recommended a book to me…written by a personal acquaintance of hers…here in our little Montana town.  As I started reading it, I felt as if she had lived my life word for word. Oh, how I wished I had her insight and soundness of thinking.  Or I wish I at least had the book for reference as I was going through this.

There were times it was too intense to read…the parts where it was affecting the children was hitting a little too close to home and I would have to put it down for a few days and pick it up later.  It was a tremendous help.  But apparently I hadn’t reached my “breaking point.”

Last year, after a long period of unemployment, my ex got a job in law enforcement.  This meant he went out of town to the academy for a three month period of time.  Me, being the Supportive Sally I always had been, readily agreed to help out and take care of the kids while he was gone. I never received a single cent in financial help even though he was getting paid twice as much as I made to go to school. I took care of the kids, made sure they made it to track and softball and volleyball.  I took care of it.  So when his graduation time came, he asked me to come to the graduation.  He said it would mean a lot to him, he couldn’t have done it without my support, it was so important to him, so of course, I went.

So I packed up the kids and drove to the capital, spent the weekend with my ex and my ex-in-laws, completely uncomfortable, but making it through.  At the final graduation ceremony, the “MVP” of the class got up and gave a speech.  He was an Iraq war vet, had been in the service 20+ years, then came back and got involved in law enforcement.  He talked about how through everything, the good days, the bad days, the scary days, the most important lesson he learned was that he had support at home.  He always knew his wife would be there to listen and support.  It was then I realized that yes, I was that person for my ex, but even though I was the one that was worrying about him, scared for him, taking care of him, at the end of the day, he went home to someone else, and not even the same someone else, depending on the week or month.  It was then I realized I had to free myself of the dependency and responsibility.  I had to be done with the guilt and the hope things were different.  It was up to me to make my life what I wanted it at this point.

I thought, “I would love to have someone get up and give a speech like that about me,” but that was not my life at that point and maybe some day would be, but not if I kept the path I was on.

So after years of being a doormat, I can honestly say I am feeling strong…looking forward…hoping for the best.  I still cry myself to sleep at times, but those are getting farther and farther apart. It is still a struggle every single day and I still feel guilt for my kids and the life they have been dealt by someone else’s decision, but we are doing our best. We will make it.

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Breaking Point: #5

I am hosting an end-of-winter series featuring stories from the trenches of pain.  My hope is that in sharing these breaking points, we will feel less alone.  Thank you all for your bravery.  You are helping the world to heal.  To participate and for more info go here.

yrs. Laura

Today we have two stories, one of breaking, one of healing.

Breaking Point

Submitted by: Anonymous

In life we all have what we may consider to be broken moments, and certainly when we look back through our lives, we see times which, whilst we didn’t realise it at the time, appear to have been devastatingly painful.  I look back at the last three years of my father’s life and wonder why on earth I wasn’t there to support my parents when they were going through the most difficult of times.  But those times were their broken moments and during those times, I had left home, started my career, married life and a new family.  I lived some two hundred miles away and, I know that isn’t too far, but we get caught up trying to follow our own paths.

My own broken moment which sent me reeling into what felt like myriad broken moments which would never stop breaking me down, happened on Friday 20th May 2011.  My husband of almost twenty-one years told me on that day at about 2pm in the afternoon that our marriage was over.

We were at work, in his office, we work in the same school, he is a teacher, I’m one of the librarians.  He told me that we couldn’t carry on being married, his feelings for another were too strong for him to ignore and that he would leave me and our two daughters as soon as he could find somewhere else to stay.  He had intimated to me a couple of weeks beforehand that he had started to have feelings for this third party but had sworn there and then, seeing my reaction of fear, loss and desperation, that we could try and work out what went wrong between us, that he would be completely committed to trying to find a journey that we could take together in the future and look after our girls.  That commitment lasted for about a week and then, when he saw the object of his desire, he knew that he didn’t want me.  It tookhim a further four or five days to tell me that it was the end.

After this devastating revelation, I was distraught and he took me home.  I was anxious about telling the children and my family what was happening.  The girls, unsurprisingly, took the news extremely badly and we are still very wary of thinking too much about the future and what it brings.  They are trying to rebuild their friendship with their Dad, as well as trust and confidence in him.  They are twelve and sixteen years of age.  It’s difficult to be faced with this situation at any time of life but with one entering puberty and the other about to sit some important exams, it’s been exceedingly hard for them.  Just when we, or rather I (the girls had long since established this fact), had finally accepted that he wasn’t going to return and had established his new life, he was admitted to a psychiatric ward about forty miles away as the doctor was worried he may commit suicide.  What he’d done finally hit home and, realizing that his children no longer wanted to see him or have him in their lives, was too unbearable for him.  I think he also realized what he’d done to me.  He survived this experience and we are currently trying to find a way forward, either together or separately.  We are all still here, thankful for sunny days and trying to enjoy moments which are not broken but fulfilling and peaceful.

 

“Healing in Relationships”

Submitted by: Don Stifler

All of a sudden we find ourselves in a broken relationship. It could be broken for any number of reasons. We may have caused it or we could be just the recipients of someone else’s issues. Regardless of who initiated this failure, we experience many feelings such as:

Anger

Hurt

Betrayal

Guilt

Loss of Self Esteem

A need for revenge

And too many more to list.

 

Forgiveness is confusing to many of us. What makes it confusing is we think that we need to condone the actions of others in order to forgive. Nothing is further from the truth. Forgiveness rarely addresses condoning the transgression. In fact the person or persons we may be forgiving
rarely understand our ability to forgive. Forgiveness is for the forgiver. We cannot really forgive another unless we can forgive ourselves.

Forgiving ourselves can be difficult if we feel we are the victim and have done nothing wrong.

Christ says “Forgive your Neighbor as you Forgive Yourself.” Boy, this is hard if you feel you have been wronged.

Think about this, “Life is a Participation Sport” It takes two to dance, there must be two to separate. Rarely can you slice a piece of bread so thin that there are not two sides to it.

Looking within can be a good place to start our recovery. Whether we feel we had a part in the failure of the relationship or not we muststart the process of forgiving ourselves. It all starts here with us. It does not involve the other party. We must address what we control and nothing else.

Every minute of every day God is there to love us and forgive, even if we really blew it. Should we do any less? In our humanity we make errors. Even if on purpose, we are allowed to ask for forgiveness. Therefore, this becomes the first KEY to Healing in Relationships.

The ability to forgive ourselves. It is not an option, it is a must. Christ did not say 7 times, He said 7 times 70. It becomes a time to remove our ego and ask for forgiveness of our own deeds known or unknown. A short prayer will start the process.

“Dear Lord, I ask your forgiveness for all that is known and unknown about my situation. Help to open my eyes and my heart to myself and to your love and forgiveness. Help me to accept responsibility for whatever actions or lack thereof that could have cause this riff and give me the strength to move forward in a more compassionate way with integrity and purpose and forgiveness of myself to allow me to offer forgiveness to others. Amen”

Joseph Girzone, the author, of the book “Joshua” and “Never Alone” described a process to help with forgiving. “If you can put yourself in the position of the one who is hurting you and realize the anguish they are going thru in their life at that moment, you can allow Anger to be replaced by Compassion, and with compassion can come forgiveness.

As stated above, when we forgive the person it does not mean we must condone their actions; it just means we forgive for forgiveness sake alone. Forgiveness is really a personal act to allow us to be free. When we forgive we do it for our reasons not the other persons. Often times they do not even understand our act of forgiveness and sometimes if they do it blows their mind.

My brother mentioned this when I was going through a divorce. He said Don do you want to be free. I said yes and he said the only way to be free is to forgive my spouse and her lover, my best friend. I chewed on this and worked through the forgiveness process. I was hurt, angry, felt betrayed. At that point it was not about me and all about them. But I wanted to be free and move on. So I sent each a letter stating my wish to forgive them and in fact I was forgiving them. I wasn’t condoning what had happened but I was forgiving them for what happened and at the same time was forgiving myself for any participation I had in creating this situation. Of course at the time, I felt blameless, but it sounded good. So in reality I had not done the whole job, because I held myself outside the situation.

This played on my mind. As I pondered this forgiveness thing I came to face my responsibility as a party to this situation, simply by not being stronger in developing my own relationship with my spouse. Once I realized this, I could truly forgive. My brother was right it blew their minds but I did not cause that or wish that.

I realized that nice people could make mistakes. These had nothing to do with me personally. They felt bad and guilty. I learned the value of compassion rather than anger. I did not have to take this as a personal attack on me. In effect I did not walk in their shoes.

I learned we do not control another soul. That the only way we have something is to be able to let it go. We can only be a magnet that attracts not one that hold and smothers.

By opening up to the prospect of forgiveness and compassion in any situation allows one to be very free. People want to be around me because I respect their freedom and space. This process was not without pain, sorrow, loss, but it was with tremendous growth and allows me to be the person I am supposed to be. Healed, loving and happy. I am a better person today. I learn from life and grow. The world of would of, could of or should of does not exist in my life. This is the moment. Learn from the past don’t live in the past.

Finally, my relationship with a loving god has made this all possible. I would not pretend to be able to do this alone

DJS

 

 

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The Breaking Point: An invitiation to share your stories


When you record your pain on the page and people read it…something happens. You tap into something that is bigger than your pain. Bigger than pain itself. You are in total truth and by being there…you actually begin a conversation with healing. You invite it to happen. You invite other people to heal by being totally unattached to their healing. You are simply telling your story and your story has power. Your truth has power. Healing power.

I was once at a funeral. A boy had died suddenly in our community, and we were all rocked by it. Most of us had never dealt with death. Maybe a grandfather. But not a peer. Not someone that everybody adored, who was right in the middle of his happy childhood. A family member got up to speak and just held his breath until he coughed tears. The minister went to him, put his hands on his shoulders, and said, “Thank you. You give us all permission.” The whole congregation wept then. I looked around at all those faces of my youth: teachers, schoolmates, store owners, mothers, fathers…everybody was weeping. We needed to weep. And we needed to weep together.

At the end of winter, I invite us to weep a little here. It will be a gathering of scenes from our most broken moments. What they felt like, smelled like, tasted like, looked like from the inside out. 400-600 words. You can include your name and any website link info if you want. Or you can be anonymous. Your truth might be another person’s relief, knowing that we are in this beautiful and heartbreaking life together. Your broken open moment might be another person’s permission to weep. And heal.

Send your stories to Laura@lauramunsonauthor.com and I’ll post according to your request to be named or not. This invitation will last until the first day of Spring. Aptly.
Yrs.
Laura

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Emotions Are Our Choice!

A year after my book release, I am more and more clear just what my book’s message is and what people appreciate about it.  I wrote an essay for the Divorce section of the Huffington Post today that I think really nails it.  Pass it on if the spirit moves you.  yrs. Laura

Here’s the link!

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The "Loaded" Dishwasher

Part of this wonderful journey of being a published author, is the generosity from other writers.  Gail Maria Forrest is a clever, quick-witted, honesty-mongering, woman who writes the wildly entertaining and insightful blog gonepausal .  It’s my great pleasure to welcome her to THESE HERE HILLS, and to share her essay with you…about when to draw the line in a relationship that just ISN’T working.  Some relationships are meant to end, and this one clearly was one of them.  Thanks for writing from the trenches, Gail.  Please feel free to comment here.  Gail will be around to respond…yrs. Laura

p.s.  If you are no longer receiving my blog posts in your email in box, try re-subscribing.  Thanks!

The Dishwasher : This was not the story it was supposed to be.
I am not a domestic diva.  My Mother always thought my inability or refusal to learn how to set the table would prevent me from getting married.  She also mentioned my messy table manners. “Mom,” I would whine, leave me alone, that has nothing to do with a man liking me or not.”  Was Mom psychic?

I had two husbands, I showed Mom.  Neither one of them ever mentioned my lack of domestic skills.  They had better things to do than monitor my household acumen; we also had a cleaning woman which took the pressure off.  For reasons other than table setting and manners those marriages fizzled into divorce.  Call them bad timing for this girl who was still seeking independence and couldn’t figure out how to combine that with marriage.  In hindsight I would marry them both again.  Don’t tell my Mom or she would never stop saying “I told you so.”

When I met Jake I had been a private art dealer for 18 years.  The first 15 were very successful and I loved the freedom of working for myself along with making lots of money.  I could afford cleaning help so I never did have to fine tune my domestic skills.  It is important to know that I never turned on my dishwasher because I never loaded it.  After my son went off to college it was just me, my take-out food, and a few dishes.  I had zillions of them after two marriages but truthfully just used a plate, a coffee mug, and a wine glass.  I ate and washed them by hand.  It was quick and easy.  I never gave a dishwasher another thought.

I swear on a stack of bibles you do not really know about someone until you live with them.   Heed this advice or forever cease bitching and moaning about how he/she changed.  No one changes. Ha!  When I moved in my business had been dropping off due to 9/11 and the demise of the economy.  I was unfortunately  in a weakened financial position so living with him was certainly going to help me out.  I could save or at least not bleed money.  This was not a good plan.  If I had thought I could make the drinks at Starbucks I would have been better off saying “Welcome to Starbucks may I take your twisted and unnecessarily complicated order?”  I had every intention of making our relationship work however.  It was time and I was ready. Nothing could stand in my way.

“Gail,” Jake said sternly as we stood side by side in front of the dishwasher one afternoon. He had summoned me to the kitchen.  He opened the door and slowly pulled out the racks.  I had no idea what was on his mind but thought  the dishes looked  clean.  He pointed to the silverware.  Oh no, oh no I hoped he wasn’t going to ask me to set the table; I was doomed. The placement of the fork, spoon, knife and napkin raced through my head and I couldn’t remember which side was for which utensil.  Curses!

“Gail, he repeated as I stood there a little antsy and bored.  Do you know there is a correct way to load the dishes and silverware?”  Huh? is the bubble over my head   “ I wasn’t going to say anything to you, but time after time I go to unload the dishes and can’t believe what you’ve done.”  I wanted to burst out laughing but saw how serious he was.   “Do you know what happens when you haphazardly put  things in it?”  Uh oh, a pop quiz.  Damn, I hated those.

“No, I don’t know exactly what happens, but  I know I put the dishes in the dishwasher to clean them.”  That had to be the right answer.

“No, there happens to be a right way to place them.  Haven’t you noticed how I do it?”  I shook my head in response to his question and in disbelief that he actually asked the question.

“YOU, put all the silverware in the front, and when you do that it doesn’t get clean.  You have to spread it to the back holders, that way the machine works more efficiently.  And the wine glasses can’t just go in anywhere.  They need to be up here.”  As he continued to re-arrange the dishwasher I stopped listening.   What was this high school home ec class?   I wanted to yell “big fucking deal” but didn’t.  He had a bad temper and I had a failing business.  Against every voice in my head I kept quiet.

There are straws that break the backs of even the strongest camels.  I always thought of myself as a big brave Dromedary yet I was weakening with every chore and appliance.  Each lecture whether in front of the dryer where I was reprimanded for not cleaning the lint filter after each load.

“Do you realize you could set the house on fire?”

To the utensil drawer,

“Why are you putting the shorter forks with the longer ones?  That’s not how they go.  Why can’t you care about this and pay attention when you put them away?”

Onward to the sink,

“There are two different  sponges to wipe off the counter Gail, you’re using the wrong one again!”

I had been re-defined and re-evaluated by appliances.  I failed “Dishwasher 101 and Intro to Chores.”  Ironically another relationship was down the drain.  He was right I didn’t care about the sponges, forks, lint filters, or ill placed wine glasses.  I’m proudly not a domestic diva and maybe Mom was prophetic- one man didn’t like me as a result.  I can’t set a table or load a dishwasher correctly but thankfully I remembered how to pack my clothes.  I am happily much more than the sum of my domestic skills.

Now where’s my plate?

About Gail:
I’m cheap, hate to shop (see above photo– that’s me being pushed into a store) and have anxiety about driving more than 100 miles alone. None of these traits are genetic; I developed them all by myself. I can’t order a $10 glass of wine without getting a small rash. Unfortunately it is becoming increasing difficult to find a nice Sauvignon Blanc for less, which makes me sad and I’m afraid I’ll have to switch to beer. I love to ride horses, except when the jumps get too big, but now in my older years I just burst into tears and beg my trainer to make them lower. I’m a runner but can’t take one step without music, so I always carry extra batteries for my walkman….no, I don’t have an iPod….remember I’m cheap. I love my beefy boy Yellow Lab “Elliot” aka “Potato” although this is slightly hard on my ego as he is far more attractive than I am and gets all the attention everywhere we go. I also complain a lot about the weather which is why every winter I leave freezing cold Chicago where I live and head for Palm Springs, CA to warm up and rip off my North Face Parka.
I started www.gonepausal.com four years ago as a way to rant and rave. I noticed all of my girlfriends were doing the same thing. We were “testy, snarky, and no longer took direction well. Our tolerance levels were dropping as fast as our hormone levels. No thoughts were sacred or private as we blurted out tales of our diminishing sex drive. Desiring sex came right after laundry, cleaning the bathroom and eating ice cream out of the container. I couldn’t resist the urge to write about our new peri and menopausal lives. I am also pleased to be a woman’s web-site that has allotted a section for men to bitch and moan about their menopausal women called “The Men’s Room.” Yes, I’m an equal opportunity pausal employer. Along with gonepausal I now am on a new internet radio show called “YAK” www.herewomentalk.com the Zeuss Radio Network. It’s a weekly show about “everything” that comes to mind which runs the gamut from stripping as exercise to my disastrous internet dates. In the end I want to thank my Mother for telling me I should write a blog when she didn’t even know what that meant. Thanks Mom for www.gonepausal.com !

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Great List of Books for Married and Divorced Folks and Parents

The kind people over at stylesubstancesoul.com have honored me by choosing This Is Not The Story You Think It Is for their list of helpful books in the fields of marriage and parenthood. It’s in good company, that’s for sure. Check out these inspiring books and this inspiring website here And feel free to leave a comment. yrs. Laura

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A Nice Article in Newsweek, March 29, 2010

When Divorce Isn’t the Only Choice

A Montana writer’s husband said he was leaving, but she saw another way out.
By Barbara Kantrowitz and Pat Wingert | Newsweek Web Exclusive
Mar 29, 2010

Her husband’s words hit Laura Munson “like a sucker punch.” And yet, she says, she was able to duck. After two decades together, he came to her on a summer day and told her: “I don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever did. I’m moving out. The kids will understand. They’ll want me to be happy.” His plan was to leave Munson, their two young children, and the life they had built together in a farmhouse on 20 acres in rural Montana.

What happened next? The usual script calls for battling divorce lawyers, years in court, and lingering anger for the rest of their lives. Instead, Munson kept telling her husband, “I don’t buy it.” She saw another reason for his despair: his work wasn’t going well, and he was miserable because of it. She knew he was worried that he wouldn’t be able to support their famil, and that was devastating to him.

So she held her anger in check and asked, “What can we do to give you the distance you need without hurting the family?” It took immense discipline and patience, as Munson recounts in her new book, “This Is Not the Story You Think It Is.” But it’s a story that resonates as many other couples face unexpected tensions at home in an uncertain economy.

According to a 2009 report from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, divorce rates have been slowly dropping during this recession, from 17.3 divorces per 1,000 married women in 2005 to 16.9 in 2008. Part of the reason is the high cost of breaking up; many couples just can’t afford it. A recent story in The Washington Post quoted divorce lawyers with file drawers full of unresolved cases and estranged couples who say they’re separated but continue living together to save money.

But tough times also foster a kind of solidarity, says W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project. Marriage is not just roses and romance; it’s also an economic partnership. And two potential wage earners in a family are better than one in what has been called the “mancession” (more than 75 percent of job losses have been among men). That’s especially true for educated couples like the Munsons, who met at college.

Munson said she was particularly sensitive to the source of her husband’s pain because shortly before his meltdown, she’d had one of her own. “This was definitely a crisis of self and soul in my husband that I recognized,” she says. Her ambition was to be a published novelist, but instead of counting royalties, she was counting a stack of more than a dozen rejected manuscripts. An editor had encouraged her to revise a novel, and it seemed like this might be the one. Then, in a very short period, that revision was also rejected and her father died. She lost not only her hope of a big break, but also the support of a beloved parent.

Eventually she moved on from that rough time . And she hoped her husband could also move on from his job disappointments if she gave him time and space. But she wasn’t just thinking about him. She also wanted to learn from the experience and grow herself. From the very first day, she started writing about it. What started as a journal turned into the book. Even before it was published, she knew she had struck a nerve. An excerpt published last summer in The New York Times’s Modern Love column drew so many comments (most of them sympathetic to her) that the paper had to temporarily shut down the comments section. It remained the top-searched piece on the site for many weeks afterwards. “I heard from a lot of married people who said, ‘This is what is going on in my marriage’ and spilling their guts,” she said.

Her story also impressed people who study marriage like Virginia Rutter, a sociologist at Framingham State College in Massachusetts. “What I love about her story is that she could look at her situation and say, ‘He feels this way today, but that doesn’t change my commitment to him and this relationship.’ ” Because Munson understood the root of her husband’s unhappiness, she was able to continue nurturing her family while he worked on it—even though there were many nights when she didn’t know where he was or when he would come home. “Munson makes a cultural intervention,” Rutter says. “She’s offering a model of being able to say, ‘I’m going to stay committed to my relationship. Maybe not forever, but I’m going to give this time. I’m going to test it out.’ She understood that this was a different type of crisis. Sometimes the issue is a personal problem and she allows him the space to do something about his personal problem.”

Of course, sticking together isn’t always the answer. Even Munson says she didn’t know what the outcome would be when she made the decision to let her husband work things out for a while. The issue of when to call it quits is a controversial one for marriage researchers; one recent study indicated that many people who get divorced are no happier after the breakup. But sometimes it is indeed the right choice. No one questions the need to separate when there is violence involved. That’s a matter of safety. And in other cases, long-troubled marriages can reach an irrevocable breaking point when economic tensions are added to the mix.

Cases like Munson and her husband’s are the difficult ones to call. Stephanie Coontz, who teaches history and family studies at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., says there is a big difference between marriages that have been corrosive for a long time and those where all of a sudden one of the partners announces that there is a crisis. Part of the problem, says Coontz, author of “Marriage, A History,” “is that we expect so much of our happiness to come from our marriages, and if we’re unhappy, we may blame our marriage even if the unhappiness is coming from a completely different source.”

As for Munson, she has no regrets. They spent most of the last six months apart and struggling with how they could ever come back together. But eventually, her husband realized that they could be happy in the marriage and that he did need to rethink how much he had let his professional situation define him. She says he encouraged her to write about the experience. Last week, they both took their kids for a vacation in Mexico, a much-needed break from Montana where, she says, “we get 75 days of sunshine a year.” Her husband is starting a new business that excites him and she’s thrilled to finally have a book published. On the first night in Mexico, she says, “We had a nice hug on the beach and were feeling proud of ourselves for getting through a hard time.” They both know that’s no guarantee of happily ever after but it’s a pretty good place to be for now.

© 2010

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