Sunday, April 24, 2011

When the hurricane stops

I'm fascinated by my view from my window in the apartment.  I love to sit where I can lift my eyes periodically and take it in.  If you look hard at the 'Yesterday' shot, left of the bridge the arc isn't a cloud, but Mt. St. Helens with some cloud shadows obscuring the base.
A clearer picture of Mt. St. Helens
We're finishing up month the fourth of our marital separation.  It was such a slow grind getting here and I'm not even sure how we managed to accomplish it.  Next month will mark the first anniversary of ending my eleven years as an at-home mom and returning to my profession.

I was talking about the particulars of this with a friend; what it's like to finally be doing it.  He'd had a major rough patch in his marriage himself during a time of extended unemployment.  Things were said.  Things were done.  He is employed now and things seemingly back to normal.

I wondered at some of the things that were done.  Had this been my marriage the fissures revealed would  be cause for some major questions, because they seemed to go to some issues that were beyond the strain of prolonged unemployment.  They seemed to reveal some cracks in core foundational assumptions.

I figured once the crisis was past he would do his best to forget those things.  He'd tell himself to 'forgive and forget' and set his intentions on forgetting.  He would resolve to start over with a blank slate.  From what I knew of him, this seemed like a safe prediction.

So he was asking me about my marriage, more specifically about the separation from my marriage.  I was doing my best to answer him in the face of not really knowing.  Four months really isn't that long, and I think it's still too new to draw any conclusions.  The data isn't in, and the questions are open (am I doing the right thing?  Am I harming our sons?  Does separation from me for a week at a time harm them more than being free of the toxic atmosphere Gary and I create benefits them?  Will I find this was merely a lateral move--miserable there, miserable here?)

He surprised me.  He said on a television program a main character, when asked if she was happy said, "Am I happy?  Or is it just relief that the hurricane has stopped?"  In my life I've experienced something like this, where a chance phrase I read or hear somewhere suddenly sheds light and understanding on a question I didn't know I had.  It's like reading a passage online and suddenly a link is highlighted.  I was delighted that he had experiences like that too.  Furthermore, we weren't talking about my marriage any more.  We were talking about his.  

He said that things seemed better with him and his wife.  He said it was great to have a steady income again, with insurance benefits for him and his family.  He hesitated a moment, and said that he wasn't sure if he was really happy, or if he was just in the relief of the hurricane being over.  He said that right now, he doesn't want to disturb his relief by probing, rocking the boat.  He's unsure if he ever will.  He's poised between further evaluation or resolutely determining that bygones will be bygones.

I think someone making the decision to rock a boat creates a ripple effect.  It sets precedent, and nudges awake decisions once thought settled and asleep.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

One Quarter In

view from 16th floor

On sunny days (we can't seem to muster two in a row yet this spring) there's a view of Mt. St. Helens, Mt Rainier (I think that's what the wild double-peak is I see behind Mt. St. Helen's right shoulder) (when it's clear) and Mt. Adams .

We're three months into implementation of Major Life Change.  I spent an extraordinarily long time getting to this point.  I spent several years blogging my decision (please forgive any repetitiveness; my life's changes have meant distance from the blogging world, and I may have already said this stuff and forgotten).  Sometime in 2009 I decided, then got a job in 2010 (May 26 to be exact.  It's not even been a year since I left my 11 year gig as an at-home mother).  Notice--I decided in 2009; I got a job in 2010, and not until 2011 did we do the roll-out.  Am I a deliberate decider or what.  You can't accuse me of being impulsive.

So now I blog the experience of a separated woman, working in the professional world and raising two young sons.  I blog the experience of living in two places: the house in a rural part of the city; the apartment, which is about as urban as you can get.  I blog the attempt to partner in separation/divorce with a man I couldn't partner with in marriage, in order to keep home as stable as possible for the boys.  To that end he and I do the moving back and forth from one domicile to the other, taking turns at either the house, or the apartment.  I'm at the apartment now, til Monday after I pick up Scott from school.

Gary has his office at the house, so we see each other daily.  Even on my days at the apartment I continue to transport Scott, though it's a little suspenseful; I have to have finished my final patient and then be at his school by 3:00.  Sometimes I have a needy patient who needs extra time.  Sometimes I've made bad guesses and I'm running late.  Sometimes I'm caught in traffic.  My job is with a small home health agency that I suspect gets the dregs of patients discharged from hospitals.  That is, the uncomplicated close-in patients I think are sucked up by the large organizations, leaving marginal patients on the margins of the city.  In other words, I'm often driving major mileage.

Anyway, we're only 3 months into this new way of living.  On the 18th we'll have been married 19 years, and we were together nearly 3 years before we got married.  So, though there's been a big shift and pivot, I am nowhere near out from under the penumbra of the momentum of 22 years of life.

I honestly have to say I don't really feel much of anything.  I guess the description is "flat".  It's not really sorrow, more a kind of dutifulness.  

It's way too early to say whether or not this was a good move.  No... I wouldn't put it that way.  I think it's more accurate to say that it's way too early to expect my emotional affect to reflect that this was a good move.  (It has to be a good move, because it's preferable to how I was living.  I can't imagine going back, not without some major changes that I've accepted aren't likely to happen.)  It's odd how in so many ways I've already moved on to a point where I don't realize that when people ask how I am, they're meaning the separation, not just the general pleasantry.  When I took the boys to visit my parents over President's Day, the subject didn't even come up.  Later my brother was concerned that I'd thought it was because they didn't care.  Which surprised me.  As far as I was concerned it hadn't come up in the way that the subject of our marriage wouldn't have come up years ago.  It's a done deal and not any more a topic of conversation than the air that we breathe.  Apparently I've moved on...they haven't.  I appreciate that they're being respectful of my privacy, but it's really the last thing on my mind.  Someone I hadn't seen for a while asked me how the boys were getting along, and it was only later that I realized that he meant with the separation.  I thought he was asking how they were getting along with each other.  So I went into a long story about how they treat each other.  Funny.

So really, I'm just living with each day of this New Life, and putting one foot in front of the other, with no idea what the future holds.  If I were an ant on a jigsaw puzzle right now, I'd be on one of those maddening transitional pieces, where a shadow is giving way to something else, where the shades of difference are subtle.  I've got to give this at least a year.