The rumor mill

urlJust when I think that my divorce is behind me (relatively speaking since we’re looking at court yet again), my son tells me something that cripples me.

Apparently there were rumors flying around town, rumors that my poor children had to hear, that I had cheated, more than once, on him.

I was embarrassingly faithful. Loyal in the face of his ridicule and contempt. I had married, had taken the ’till death do us part vows, had taken them very seriously.

I would never in a million years put my children through the pain and shame of being the mother who had an affair(s). I would not be that careless

Mentally I couldn’t have handled the secrecy, the deceit.

I am honest to a fault.

I loved this man. As f-ed as our marriage was, I was determined that love would conquer all. Every day I woke up and reminded myself of the good and tried to hang on to those thoughts through the bad.

Then I wonder how the rumors began – was it him? Did he tell people that I cheated? Now, seeing what he is capable of, I wouldn’t be surprised if he did, but back then, he was in such a hurry to leave that I don’t think he wouldn’t have taken the time to stop to gossip.

I feel betrayed by my community. It really hurt to hear this – even though it was years ago. I wonder if the gossipers paused to think about what it would do to my children to hear this trash in the middle of their lives imploding.

I question if folks finally realized that it wasn’t true, or if they still believe it but have moved on.

I feel sullied.

But really, the ironic thing about it all is that he left me for another woman.

Friendship

Years ago, I had a friend, J, who was totally sucking me dry. We’d been friends for 100 years, but our friendship had deteriorated and it felt like a chore to spend time with her – even if it was just on the phone.

This was in the days before email – that might have made things manageable.

Every conversation was all about her: her problems, her feelings, her sadness, her anger, her life.

I had small children and an abusive husband (although I was still in denial about that) and was exhausted and miserable most of the time. I looked to my friendships to bring me joy and laughter. I wanted support and to support. Friendships at that point were about camaraderie and shared experiences.

They were supposed to be two-way.

Ours always had been, but they no longer were.

For years, I believed that I just needed to “be there” for her; to listen to her, to accept her self-centeredness and anger – even when it was inappropriately directed at me. I believed that it was a phase – that this wasn’t who she really was, and that likely, at some point, our roles would be reversed and I would need her as much as she currently needed me.

She had already propped me up a million times.

But I came to resent that she never even asked about my life, my kids, my shitty husband, my happiness or discontent. I would begin a sentence with “I” and she would follow with “I” and I would disappear.

I was talking to another friend about it who said, “We’ve come to a point in our lives where we don’t have time for friendships that don’t feed us.”

I believed her and yet felt that J was too old of a friend, we’d been through too much together and she was hurting badly enough that I couldn’t let go – that would make me a horrible and selfish person.

And yet, I slowly and then quickly, began to back out. And I honestly felt more free – I no longer dreaded answering the phone.

This was also in the time before Caller ID, so answering the phone was a total crapshoot.

I missed her, for sure, but I told myself that what I missed no longer existed. I thought, “If I met J now, we wouldn’t be friends.”

We still talked once in a while, but no longer made any honest effort to see each other. I knew that she harbored some anger towards me, and I understood and accepted that.

The deterioration of our friendship made me sad and I always hoped that one day, we could reestablish our connection.

And yet…I definitely felt like I had done the right thing – for me.

The opportunity to reconnect will never happen. J is dead. She died a few years after I withdrew.

At her funereal someone actually said, “Yeah, she was angry with you. She didn’t feel like you were a friend to her any longer.”

A crushing blow – although I’m not sure why. I totally expected and deserved that.

And now that she’s gone, of course I have regrets. And I am envious of those who maintained their connections with her – I feel like I missed out.

In some ways. And some ways, not.

Obviously I still think about it. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be writing about it on this sunny Sunday morning.

Did I do the right thing? Was I selfish? Did I bail on a friend or am I pretending that she was really a friend at that point?

It sure didn’t feel like it.

I miss her, miss what we had had for so many years. But then again I don’t miss, at all, what it had turned into.

Would it have turned around again?

Who knows.

Does the possibility of shift make it okay to stick around when someone is completely sucking you dry?

Is it okay to say, “This really isn’t working for me,”?

Or is that being equally as selfish and self-serving?

If I had the chance for a do-over, what would I choose?

Unforgivable????

I did something today that I could never have imagined doing.

I am a keeper of strays – always have been. Love the underdog.

I’ve had cats and dogs from shelters, the Walmart parking lot, a burlap bag in the river, under my trailer/office, the Farmers’ Market, and the reservation.

I’ve even taken in a stray child or two and can never turn down a stray plant.

Given my history, I completely went against every thread of my being and did an abominable thing…

…I took a cat to the shelter.

And left him.

And lied and said he was a stray because I was too ashamed to admit that I was actually just giving up one of my pets to whom I’d committed a lifetime of love and protection.

It was the Walmart parking lot kitty – the one who has slowly gone a little bit nutty, ultimately pushing me way over the edge last night.

It’s been building. He suffers from anxiety and it has been impacting the quality of his (and our) daily life.

He has become skittish, unpredictable, and a yowler.

Where other cats Meow, this one wails; long, mournful, agonizing, howls of angst that no amount of screaming or ignoring can stop.

Not all the time – I’ll give him that.  He has moments where is is actually kind of cute. Those moments are what have made it impossible to do what I did.

Until today.

He spent half the night outside our bedroom door singing his mournful tune. I finally got up at 3:00 am to see what was wrong.

Apparently nothing.

Then, when I let another cat inside, he ran out. We have a cardinal rule in our house; the misfit does not get to go outside at night because he can’t handle it. He’s okay for about 30 minutes and then he positions himself below our bedroom window, which is also below our neighbors’, and the yowling begins.  It is incessant – he doesn’t even stop to breathe – until I let him back in.

Sometimes I don’t want to get out of bed to open the door.

Once, I tried to ignore him. A neighbor threw a rock at my house.

So, he’s outside, the wailing is fingernails on the chalkboard, and MCB snores away.

Later that morning (5:00 am) I’m crabby ass and bitchy from my shit night and next thing I know, MCB and I are having an uncomfortable conversation about screaming cats, getting a dog, pet responsibility, etc.

I got in the shower and thought, “I am miserable, I have no affection for this cat, the last thing any of the children said to him was ‘go away’, and he is now impacting my relationship.”

“I’m done.”

MCB and I talked, we both felt cruel, irresponsible and cold-hearted. MCB is a little bit attached to this one and not at all to the others (go figure). But we finally came to the conclusion that this really isn’t working.

I had to do it immediately, without thought or feeling.  If I hesitated for even a split second, I would be spending another 100 nights bitching in the middle of the night.

I left work, went home and the second I walked in the door, he hid. Found him, got the bejesus clawed out of my arms and right leg, but finally got him into the favored form of transport: the pillowcase.

I put him in the way-back of the truck and listened to him yowl all the way to the shelter. I could hear it over the sound of the motor, the wind, and the radio.

After I got to the shelter and lied about the “stray” in the back of my truck, the gal and I went out to get him.  He had shredded the pillowcase. My brain said, “Good riddance,” my heart said, “Oh, poor baby.”

Brain won out over heart.

I drove away, did a bit of retail therapy (got a fabulous purple dress) and went for a run.

“I’m fine” I thought.

I am actually not fine, but trying hard to get there.

When I got home, I knew the kids wouldn’t notice that he wasn’t around, probably wouldn’t for another week.  So I thought that it would be better for me to just tell them.

“Are you kidding, Mom? That’s so mean.”

“Really?  I actually liked him – he was part of the family.”

“Why did you only get rid of one?”

That was Bobby – he wants a husky.

So now, of course, I am second guessing myself. I am wondering how much this event will cost in therapy for my children later in life, and thinking that everyone in the household is afraid of being the next victim of my sociopathic cruelty.

 

 

TBI

Stands for Traumatic Brain Injury.

Translation: Concussion.

Cause: Helmet to Helmet hit on the football field.

Necessary Action: Go to the Doctor.

Treatment: Time off the Line.

Reaction: “It’s all your fault, Mom.”

Yep. I’m the one who insisted on him playing football, even though he begged to sing in the choir instead.  I am also the one who told him he was a puss and needed to hit a whole lot harder. I refused to listen to his complaints about having a headache for over a week. Oh wait, he didn’t complain because I told him to lie about the headache and deny that he had one. I also stubbornly didn’t agree with him that he knows more than the ER Doc and doesn’t have a concussion. And I am definitely the driving force behind the national movement to save athletes from long-term brain damage by implementing more rigid protocols for allowing those athletes back on the field after a hard knock.

Obviously, All. My. Fault.

After yesterday’s second doctor appointment for the head, the appointment wherein the doctor said, “Yes, it is a concussion. No, you shouldn’t have been playing last week. Yes, you should have told your mother and coach about the headaches. No, you’re not going back in this week. And, yes, TBIs are very serious,” we walked out to the car in a torrential rainstorm, the silence between us thickening with each falling drop.

I unlocked my door and got in the car.  He pressed his face against the window saying “Are you serious?” as I decided if I would let him in or not.

I begrudgingly did.

As we drove home I said, “Now is the time to say, thank you, Mom, for caring so much about my well-being. I am sorry, Mom, that I yelled at you and accused you of ruining everything for me…”

Then, “…repeat after me, ‘I. Was. Wrong.'”

“I can’t say those words, Mom. Not in my lexicon.”

‘Wrong’ isn’t, but ‘lexicon’ is?

I rolled down the window on his side (Love power windows.  Also love the child-lock.) I figured a good dousing would at least make me feel better.

It did.

He laughed.

He still can’t utter the word ‘wrong’, but I think he gets the message.