Monday, July 18, 2016

Ten Years After (or Here's Where the Story Ends)

On this day in 2006, I published my first post on this blog.  For the first two years, I churned out a lot of content, as I chronicled and digested the latter days of my marriage to X.  The legal dissolution of that union was finalized over six years ago.  As the xkcd Timeghost would put it, "The end of your marriage is clooooser to the first day of the post of your blog than it is noooow."

I almost let the 10-year mark pass by unnoticed.  I hopped onto Feedly this morning to check the RSS feeds for blogs I followed when this blog was much more active.  The only public blogs that continue to publish periodically are The Drunken Housewife, The Edge of Vanilla, and I am Doing the Best I Can.  On the private side, Anais continues to publish on Dancing with Myself.

I was surprised to see that Phyllis RenĂ©e of the Diggersphere had resurfaced after a long hiatus.  In her June 21, 2016 post, she noted that she had gone through a divorce, and that prompted me to go to my own blog and check the date of the first post.  Sure enough, the first post was dated July 17, 2006.  Then I looked to see when my last post was... mid-June 2015!  Over a year of blogging silence.

Over the years, I've tried to envision how I would bring this blog to a close.  Back in 2007, when I was contemplating moving to the Bay Area after the collapse of my marriage and the realization that my employer at the time was teetering on the abyss, I thought I would wrap up the blog, and move on to a new chapter in a separate blog, maybe 3 am Eternal, but that never happened.

I continued to use the blog to give updates to followers as I tried to chart a new course for my life.  I grew a lot, both emotionally and professionally.  I also passed through some very dark phases of loneliness.  I had some relationships along the lines of Sam Phillips' "Stay with Me," craving intimacy and companionship, but not willing to develop a deep romantic bond.

I met someone in mid 2011, someone a few years older than I.  We happened to be only a couple miles apart from one another, and we had much in common.  The relationship blossomed, with our attentions focused almost solely on one another on the weekends we didn't have our kids.  Eventually I would get introduced to her family, and we got along very well.  The loneliness that had haunted me both in marriage and on my own finally seemed to dissipate.

At the end of 2012, I bid my employer, Company Line, farewell, and set off on a new path, working for the state's largest college.  I liked the people at my new job, but I hated the commute because it was 20 miles away, and not feasible by bus.  The job meant a good sized pay cut, and my house started to have troubles with the roof and drain.  Plans to blend households got put on the back burner.

Also complicating things was my love's ex, who was becoming less reliable.  That meant that a lot of our kid-free weekends got the kibosh because the ex had too much month at the end of the money, so he wasn't able to do things like feed his son.  The daughter, going into her high school years, started to refuse to go to her dad's and became increasingly jealous of the time my love and I spent together.

2014 was a hard year, and I fell into deep depression.  I started to see the cancelled weekends as my love putting distance between us.  My insecurities about being unlovable kicked into high gear.  Still, I wasn't so overcome with my emotions that I could see that I needed help.  I took advantage of my employer's EAP to get some counseling to sort things out.

With 2015, things got a little better as we started to have overnights even when her daughter decided to stay.   I went on medication.  I looked for a higher paying job, but wound up staying with my current employer after getting a promotion to something that aligned better with my career goals.  By this time, I had grown tired of web application development and wanted to make the transition into data science.

 While I still miss our weekends of complete togetherness, I've reached a place where I can talk with her about how we can share time together, even when the kids are around.  We have a weekly night where we have dinner together at her house.  We go to church together on Sundays.  We keep connected with texts during the day and we talk on the phone nightly when we don't see each other in person.  We make it a point to get out and see live music together by ourselves on a regular basis, because this is one thing that touches us on a deep level.

Do I wish we had greater physical intimacy?  Yes, but I don't feel the hurting like I did with X.  My love and I remind each other in some subtle ways that we crave each other, and when we do get alone time, it is wonderful.  The difference is that I feel desired for who I am, just as I desire her for whom she is.  We share our lives as much as we can, given our circumstances, and we continue to plan for a day where we will be under one roof and sharing the same bed.

Outside my relationship, life continues to be busy.  My daughters are now 13 and 11.  I'm very much a part of their lives.  Both are active in dancing and learning piano.  The older one is more athletic and runs both distance and track events.  My younger daughter loves the creative arts.  She takes lots of art classes and works on crafts on her own volition.  She also has inherited my propensity for anxiety, which challenges her mother and gives me pause to reflect on how I would have liked my parents to have helped me manage my own anxiety.  We'll be going on a vacation with my love's family in the week to come.  They get along with them very well.

I have become increasingly involved in the church where my love grew up.  It's a struggling congregation.  It served an area that was once more middle class 40 - 50 years ago.  The loss of major employers in the area in the 70s and 80s meant that some of those folks moved away, or their kids moved on as they grew up because opportunities were elsewhere.  Others left as the congregation took a more progressive direction on matters of sexuality.

I like the pastor because she is very honest about her own humanity.  Although it is the same denomination as the church I grew up in, this church takes a less literal view on scripture, emphasizing the importance of being agents of God's love rather than God's wrath.  Over the past year, we have come to realize that if we don't develop a stronger connection of service to our neighbors, the congregation will die out, so we've been hard at work trying to examine where we do need to change, and I have been active in helping to chart that course.

My father passed away two and a half months ago, after almost 15 years of physical deterioration from a stroke.  His own challenges have haunted me over the years.  The stroke hit him early into his early retirement years, at the age of 51.  On one level, I was relieved to see the end of his suffering, but I also grieved over the moments where his aliments limited what he could do with the grand kids and me.  My mother is still alive and in mostly good health.  She lives up in the northeast suburbs now with two rescued St. Bernards as companions.

Anyway, I'm making my way through life, accompanied by the ones I love.  I've become more grateful for what I have.  I'll probably still have flirtations with existential dread, but I'll do my best to use them as passages of growth.  With this post, I am hereby freezing this blog, with no future posts to follow.  I'll still be reachable at the e-mail address in the sidebar.  If I know you well enough, I'll give you my Twitter account handle so you can follow the day-in and day-out stream of my consciousness.

As surely as this Sunday has come to an end, so does this blog.  But it will remain here to serve as a guide post for others who may have found themselves in a similar situation.  I leave you with one last late night listen.