Maybe it was me

I recently posted about the wedding I went to last weekend. You can check it out here if you missed it.

It was a bittersweet day, being the wedding of the woman who was a major factor in the disintegration of my marriage. While I blame my wife, not the friend, I find it difficult being around the two of them and I was really not looking forward to going. But knowing that my kids would all be there with their dates was exciting for me. Occasions when we are all together are rare and I savor them. All I needed to do was not get annoyed with my ex-wife as she fawned and obsessed over her friend, which proved to be difficult. I was surprised to learn that she would annoy me in an entirely different way that day.

It was an outdoor ceremony. The bride and groom were characteristically late and the crowd was settled restlessly on the row of chairs. I was sitting in the third row, next to my youngest daughter and behind my wife. We were making small talk with the kids and their dates and I was limiting conversation with the ex because that is how we get along best. She was making small talk with my oldest daughter and she blurted out, “Oh, remind me to tell you about my date the other night.”
I did a double take. Date?
I turned to my youngest and she gave me her best “Leave me out of it” look.
When my ex realized my reaction she changed the subject. I was floored.

Now, you may be thinking that I’m crazy, or just wrong to be annoyed. We’ve been divorced for a year, of course she can date. I just can’t believe she is. See, I was told when we divorced that she has no interest in a romantic relationship with anyone. That her friendship with Lisa was all that mattered to her. That made sense to me, after all she completely rejected me for Lisa.

If you think I’m joking, here’s a tidbit for you. Many years ago, when she still had a sex drive, we were getting busy on the sofa one afternoon when we were sans children. I was receiving ummm, oral gratification when the phone rang. It was the special ring tone designated for Lisa and when she heard it she spit me out and grabbed the phone. That’s when I knew it was over. And I was right, it was. To my knowledge, she spends every waking minute that she’s not working with Lisa. Any man that wanted to date her wouldn’t earn a time slot anyway. And with her obsessive issues, any man wouldn’t put up with that friendship any better than I did, it was indeed that bizarre

I was pretty upset most of the day. To my knowledge, she never shared her date story with the group. I kept it to myself but my youngest knew that I was upset and at the reception she and I talked. I reminded her that she once told me that if I was to date, she would be upset with me. So why isn’t she upset with her mother? She assured me that her mother doesn’t want a relationship. Hearing that, I again tried to figure out why it bothered me so much.

If you read the last post, I salvaged the day. I drank a couple of beers, I danced with my kids, I sang Karaoke with my buddies and had a decent time overall. I really enjoyed seeing my grown, wonderful children with their dates being the amazing kids that they are. It wasn’t until the ride home that I started thinking about it again.

It was so much easier when it wasn’t me. When it was only the inability to compete with an obsessive friendship. I have had to deal for the last 2 years with the recognition that I was rejected. It hurt like hell. I was a flawed husband, I did and said things that I regret. But I loved my wife and I would have stayed with her forever because I care deeply for her and feel obligated to care for her, to make good on my wedding vows. But again, I was rejected. The premise that it wasn’t me was small comfort. The fact that she is dating throws that premise to the wind.

Maybe it was me. I failed her. I lost her. I have managed to live without her but the idea of her with someone else disturbs me deeply. The woman who chased me since she was 16 years old, to win me over at 19, has moved on. And I, who thought I wanted a divorce way more than she did, have not.

We weren’t a great couple. But we were all I knew for 25 years of my life.

The Wedding

Saturday I went to the wedding of the woman who destroyed my marriage.

How’s that for an opening line?

I would like to say that I am overstating it. Maybe I am, but not by much. Lisa, the bride, is the best friend that my wife essentially abandoned me for, adopted as her support system and downgraded my role in her life to inferior paycheck and roommate.

It’s a hell of a story and surprisingly, I haven’t touched on it much in my blog. That is because it is a very complex scenario. First, it needs to be stated that it is not Lisa’s fault, she didn’t ask my wife to choose her for all of her emotional needs. I admire her as a person. It further complicates things that her new husband is an old, dear friend that I love like a brother. He has stood beside me all these years, equally perplexed at the bizarre relationship that developed between my wife and his and he has been very supportive of me.

When this longtime couple with 4 children and 3 grandchildren decided to get married for the noblest of reasons, to adopt a special needs baby that has been in their care, I couldn’t help but be happy for them. I tasked myself with sucking up my bitterness, reconciling the bizarre relationship I have with this couple and enjoy the day. I’m glad I approached it as such, because so many beautiful things occurred and some wonderful memories were formed.

The wedding was beautiful. Their grown son was the best man. Their oldest daughter became Certified Ordained in order to perform the service. All of the children and cousins had a role and it was very touching.

My children all had their significant others with them and they did not disappoint. My handsome boys had their beautiful girlfriends on their arm, my gorgeous daughters escorted by handsome and well dressed men. I was in awe of how my boys turned out to be such gentleman, seeking commitment over the player life. My daughters in turn are faithful, loving companions that respect themselves and demand nothing less from their men. It was a magical moment as a father watching my fine young adults laughing, dancing and canoodling with their dates.

At the beginning of the reception my youngest daughter asked me if I would dance with her should there be a Father/daughter dance. I hate dancing, and pictures, and anything that draws attention to me, but I promised her I would. As luck would have it, I was in the men’s room when it happened. My daughter was a bit peeved with me that I missed it, she told me that she wanted to get a preview of what it would be like to dance with me on her wedding day. As she walked away to join her boyfriend I was struck by a powerful realization.

Like it or not…I might not be around for her wedding.

It was at that moment that I decided that the time to be a non-smiling in pictures, hiding in the back of the room, non-dancing introvert was over. I asked myself how many moments like this did I, or anyone, actually have?

The first slow dance, I grabbed my daughter from her boyfriend’s arms and I danced with her. She teared up but smiled through it. She was so amazed and happy. I then requested a country song that the groom and his brother (another amazing friend) loved and dragged them both onto the center of the dance floor and we belted it out together to the joy of the room and the amazement of my family. When that song ended and the applause died down, a Motown classic started up and my kids surrounded me and I, for the first time ever, danced like no one was watching.

After, enjoying a cigar with my boys and friends, I was asked how many beers I had drank. I told them two, that alcohol was not a factor. I had just decided that it was time to show them all a side they had never seen before.

It was unanimous that everyone, including me, really enjoyed that side of me. The amazed looks from my wife pleased me as well.

It was a good day, with the exception of one comment that my wife made that had the potential to ruin my day…and almost did until I chased it off. It is still bothering me even as I write this but it is a topic for another blog entirely.

What an ass

How was your yesterday? I bet it was more fun than mine. I did a dialysis treatment and a Colon Blow on the same day.

I have spent most of the week dreading my Colonoscopy. It is a necessary evil because A)I’ve never had one and I’m about 3 years past the normal age to get one. B) It is the last test to complete to be approved for another Transplant.

Knowing that I needed it and that it is a necessary step wasn’t the issue, I was just dreading the prep.

Yesterday I woke knowing that this was the day that I had to start preparing. I had my jug of ready-mix diarrhea powder on the counter, just add water, and I had my instructions laid out on the table. I was going to be behind the 8 ball because I was supposed to begin chugging water first thing in the morning but that was a problem because I had dialysis until 4, and the last thing you can do is go to dialysis full of water. You’re heavy and you have to pee, both no-no’s.

My plan was to have water with me for the ride home. So as soon as I left the clinic I managed to slam down 2 water bottles on the way home. Then when I got home I mixed the “Ready-Blech” and chugged a 8 oz glass every ten minutes until I had consumed 3/4 of a gallon. Then the fun began.

All in all it wasn’t so bad, I was relatively dry because I have semi-fasted all week. I was disappointed that I didn’t see the GI Joe that I swallowed when I was 12 but all in all I got through it. I actually slept through the night. Which was a good thing because I had to get up at 5 to drink another quart of Ready-Blech.

I needed a ride home after so Mom joined me. It was an hour drive to the hospital and it was miserable. In hindsight (hind? no pun intended) I should have brought a cork to sit on. The morning dose was wreaking havoc on me and I nearly ran into the hospital in search of a bathroom when we got there.

Once that episode was over, I was immediately ushered into the staging area to undress, put on a very flattering assless “Johnny” and get my vitals and instructions. The nurses, male and female were very friendly and informative and managed to make a couple of Colonoscopy jokes. I cried foul.
“Here I am behaving, and believe me I got jokes, and you’re doing it.? I’m being good because you have probably heard them all.”
It’s true, you know. Everyone thinks they’re the first one to make the Dad jokes, like when meeting a Funeral Director and saying “how’s business…dead?”
Ba doom doom crash.
Their answer was that, occasionally they hear a new one. I laughed inside, I had yet to spring mine on them.

As I was in the process of succumbing to the anasthesia, they rolled me over onto my side. It was then that they noticed the “post it” note I had stuck to my ass that read…

Exit Only

When I came to in the recovery room I was greeted by a slew of nurses and technicians congratulating me on “the one they’ve never heard before.”

All joking aside, they removed a couple of polyps and I’m fine. Still an asshole, but fine.

Forgiveness

I sat there, asking myself if I really drove 2 hours to listen to this.

“Ugh, this picture is terrible. “
“Do I really look like this?”
“I can’t post this!”

My ex had just finished taking some pictures outside with my daughter and now she was engaging in two of the many obnoxious habits that remind me why we’re not married anymore…bitching incessantly and playing with her fucking phone.

“Just delete them and do them again. How hard can it be, it was ten minutes ago?”
“Did I ask for your fucking opinion?” she snapped at me and left the room.
Face palm
Happy fucking Easter.

My daughter came to the rescue.
“Dad, it’s a holiday. She’s always nuts on Holidays, remember? I’m still happy to see you.”
She wasn’t lying. She was. She’s the best. And soon my youngest boy will be back from his girlfriend’s house and soon after that we will meet my oldest daughter and her boyfriend at the restaurant. Despite my oldest boy not being able to make it, which I was bummed about, I will have plenty of people to distract me from her.

I really hoped that the fireworks were over with her but that would not be the case. The dinner conversation was mostly fine, I enjoyed seeing the kids and the meal was great. But she dropped a couple of cracks during dinner about me that stuck with me for the last week. The first one was when she claimed I didn’t love her and wasn’t attracted to her when she was heavy, early in our marriage. I was floored. First, I have no idea how that subject even came up, and I was further incensed that it wasn’t true.

The second comment came when my youngest daughter said that I was a nice guy. The ex made a face. When pressed by my oldest daughter as to the reason, she said “he is now, not so much when we were married.”

I was annoyed at the first one, I was downright pissed off at the second one. My appetite was gone and I wanted to go home. I didn’t, of course, and the rest of the day was ok. I had a cigar with the boys, the daughter’s joined us outside and enjoyed the weather with us, and I largely avoided the ex until it was time to leave.

I do my best thinking while driving, but that particular two hours was spent fuming.

With regards to the weight comment, I never had a problem with her weight. I always found her attractive. It’s she who was never happy with herself and always struggled with her self-image (the selfie thing is case in point). It got to the point where she was so critical of herself she shut off the sex spicket for good.

The nice guy (or not, as it were) thing? I will admit that I had my moments but it was never unprompted and in my recollection pretty warranted. We began fighting in the second year of our marriage and by the fourth child we were struggling maritally and financially. Money destroys marriages and ours was no exception. Add to the equation her complete hypocrisy as she bought whatever she wanted yet bitched about my career struggles and dropping income…yea I’m not going to be so nice.

But I was quick to apologize. I tried to learn from it and genuinely worked towards doing better. I accepted fault as graciously as I could.

Until I realized I was the only one.

Towards the end, I can honestly say that I gave up on us and my only focus was to salvage my relationship with my children. As for her and I, we tolerated each other. When we finally divorced, we were passive and civil. We went our own ways and it really seemed as if everything was cool. I set out to reconcile my anger and one day I decided to just forgive it. I forgave everything. It would be trite to say that I forgave her in particular, instead I did it for me. To unload the terrible baggage weighing on my shoulders. To sleep at night. To move towards a place of healing and to become the man I’ve always wanted to be, with the benefit of a fresh start.

Forgiveness is not as easy as it seems. Ole’ Superman thought that by snapping his fingers and taking a super breath, he could wash years of anger and frustration and be done with it. But it just isn’t that easy. Her bullshit comments of that day made me want to scream at her,

“Do you have any idea how much of your bullshit I let go!?”

But it wouldn’t have mattered. I was a fool to think that it was going to be that simple. Such a volatile, tumultuous relationship cannot just die out like an ocean storm, there has to be the inevitable ripple effects on the shoreline. I may have convinced myself that it is all good and forgiven, but it is not forgotten, despite my wanting more than anything for that to be true. 

I can’t just forget being screamed at and told to “go and die of kidney disease.”
I can’t just forget sleeping on the sofa for 15 years.
I can’t just forget being nagged constantly about money when I was doing everything that my skill set, physical limitations and increasing illness allowed.
I can’t just forget being replaced by her best friend as a support network.
I can’t just forget being in a loveless, sexless marriage and how I managed to stick it out for ten year after the fire was completely out and still remain faithful when no man ever would do so.

It’s not bad enough that I’m broken to the point where I will never find love again. I also have to shoulder the burden of so many painful memories and constantly asking myself a endless series of “why’s” and “what-ifs.” I have to remind myself that I chose to forgive everything for me, as my way of handling and coping. I can’t speak for her. It’s beyond my control and it is na├»ve to presume how she is to handle it on her end. I need to be, and I am, at peace with my efforts in this approach.

The big question then becomes… why do I even care?

Human

Insomnia is a bitch, and it apparently is a side effect of dialysis. Lack of sleep equals negativity for me. When I am awake, I am going strong and doing everything I can to feel good. At night, the gladiators of Insomnia climb the perimeter fence and invade my Fortress of Solitude. In my exhausted and weakened state, I am unable to fight as they bombard with me with arrows of negativity. I lose my resolve and find myself starting each new day with a whole new hill to climb just to start at zero.

I’m also tired of trying to be something I’m not.

My last post was very unlike me. I was “maudlin” to quote my dear Bella. To be fair, she’s right. My post was depressing, dim and entirely unlike me. But as Bella said, “Superman is human, after all.” She knows it, you know it. But I need to learn it.

This ties in directly to the name of this blog. Many years ago,I was married with four young children. I was struggling in my career and facing severe financial problems. To add the cherry on top, I was sick. To not worry my family, to keep my job, to keep my sanity I chose to keep most of what was going on with my health to myself. I was told it was denial, I just chose not to think about it, to not let it define me. My wife exploded on me one day for not being forthcoming about my health and shouted angrily, “OK Superman! Do what you want, apparently you’re bulletproof!”

I never claimed to be bulletproof, I just try to be strong.

It’s been my way forever. I want to be the best at everything. Not in a competitive sense and not in a quest for glory. I simply thrive on achievement. I wanted to be a great husband, a great father, a great worker, a great co-worker and a great citizen. I failed at one, but I crushed the rest.

Unfortunately, now my life has been reduced to being great at staying alive.

I tackled the role of being sick like I do anything else. I buckled down, sized up my opponent (in this case, death), learned a skill set and dove in. The end game is easy, stay healthy and hope for a transplant. I set out to be the best dialysis patient ever, with a goal of not ever acting or looking sick.

It’s not as easy as I thought. I’ve had some rough treatments lately, severe cramping, volatile and unpredictable blood pressure and the effects lingered long after each treatment, sometimes late into the night. I get up early each day after treatment with the goal of trying to do something, anything that I can call an accomplishment. I hit the treadmill, I swing and press my kettlebells. I do pushups until I collapse on my own face.

Then I have those days that I wake and I’m unable to do those things. I wake up stiff, feeling pain with no basis, painful headaches and no energy. And I get mad at myself. I tell myself that it is not OK.

I need to stop doing that.

I am a mere mortal. I am comprised of flesh and blood, like everyone else.

It’s ok to be human.

I may need to say it out loud a few times, but eventually I will get it.

My last post was an anomaly, a rarity that is unlikely to happen again. I have no plans to change my Blog name to Superman can’t find a Xanax anytime in the near future.

Tired

I’m tired.

Tired of being misunderstood.

Tired of being uninspired.

Tired of my routine.

Tired of acting ok when I’m not.

Tired of holding myself to an impossible standard.

Tired of believing, in my heart of hearts, that everything is going to be ok. I really have no way of controlling that.

Tired of being let down.

Tired of having nothing to do and nowhere to go.

Tired of harboring anger and resentment even though I convinced myself that I have forgiven it and moved on.

Tired of being tired all day, only to be awake all night, wishing for the morning when I can move about freely
Have my precious coffee
Keep myself busy
Immerse myself in noise
Distract myself from the pending night

where I will stare at my ceiling, with endless, deafeningly silent hours ahead of me, trying to deny just how fucking lonely I really am…

the power of music

A young man or woman goes to the music store.
Or the pawn shop.
They buy a beat up guitar.
A keyboard.
Some blank music sheets.
Or a note pad and a number 2 pencil.
They sit in their basement with their headphones. Fumbling to play along to their favorite artist.
Or, on the side of a lazy river, scribbling the lyrics to their someday breakout hit.

They dream.

Do they dream about fame? And fortune? Thousands of screaming fans clamoring for their attention, in desperate need to hear their favorite song? Isn’t that the goal, after all? I would imagine it is.

But I wonder if an aspiring artist knows that, despite their level of achieved success, they have the potential to make someone’s day, even change their life by sharing a piece of themselves with us.

Did Bruce Springsteen know that a 47 year old man would immediately go to his music while driving 2 hours on a cold December night, tears streaming down his face, to see his father before he draws his last breath?

Did Journey know that their music would make millions of 80’s kids remember sweaty fumblings in the back seat of sedans and slow dances with their High School Sweetheart?

Did Van Morrison know that Into the Mystic would always remind me of that one night, sitting oceanside, watching a thunderstorm in the distance, drinking bourbon in beach chairs with a dear friend that has since died?

Did Dawes know that in his song A little bit of everything he would perfectly illustrate, as if on a design board, how to approach life when you don’t know how many days you have to live?

Did Michael Franti know that he would inspire my blog when he sang Good to be alive today? The song that slapped me in the face and told me that it is so simple, and necessary that I spend each day trying to make the world a better place and just be glad to be ALIVE.

So many songs.
So many associations.
So many memories.
So many things to so many people.
So many powerful emotions. Smiles of nostalgia. Tears of angst. Pains of heartache, sadness and loss. Euphoria and joy. The urge to play air guitar or pound the steering wheel to your favorite drum solo. The feeling that you have been where the artist has.

I have listened to thousands of songs in my life. There are millions of songs that I still want to hear. Songs that I know could speak to me. That will make me feel something, experience something powerful. I can only hope that when I hear them, I have a takeaway. Something that I can relate to. A fresh perspective on a old subject, a new spark to light the candle of another fond yet dormant memory.

Here’s to the person out there, just getting started, setting out on your musical journey and hoping for all of the typical trappings of success. May they know that success can me measured in so many ways.

Always keep in the back of your mind that you may change just one life with your efforts.