Divorced Parenting

I am working a traditional full time job for the first time in 15 years. I have mostly worked, at least part time, most of my children’s lives. But I have worked from home. I have worked from 9PM-Midnight. For 15 years, I have been the one who picked them up, drove them places, attended every event. I have a strong memory of watching my former husband arrive home one day from a business trip and receiving an enthusiastic welcome from the kids and I commented on the fact that I wish they would be so excited to see me when I come home. My oldest laughed and said, “Mom, you are always around…there’s no reason to miss you.”

True.

But not true anymore. I work full time now. I have joint custody so I don’t see them for two days sometimes. It’s weird. I think we are all getting used to it. Maybe. I guess we are.

Tonight my 13 year old son called around 4:40 while I was work and asked if I was coming to watch his band play at a fundraiser. I told him I probably wouldn’t make it in time.

“No one is coming to watch me?”

Um…shit.

My heart stopped and I grew instantly defensive.

“I don’t get off work until 5:00 honey, and I work downtown. I have to walk to my car and fight traffic. I won’t make it in time.” I wanted to say that it was his dad’s week and I was  going out of my way to pick him up. But I stopped myself. Another thing about divorced parenting, holding your tongue…a LOT.

He wasn’t happy. And my heart broke a little.

My boss had overheard the conversation and told me to leave. At this point it was too late to make it anyway but I rushed to my car and got on the freeway. And sat in traffic. And crept along. And hoped I would make it.

I arrived at the event at 5:30. I ran in high heels through the parking lot and walked in just as they began the first song. And I cried like an asshole. I actually cried. Because I made it.

They played beautifully. I took a video and pictures. I told the band instructor how good they sounded. Even though It was the 100th time I have heard them play, It was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard.

Working parents everywhere have been dealing with this shit forever. I have been lucky to be able to do a job that didn’t require so much time from me. I have been lucky to be married to someone who could support the family without my income making a big impact.

Those days are over. And I am ok with that it. It needed to happen. But it’s hard. Harder in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I can imagine them now. I am living them.

Parenting is tough.

Working and parenting is hard.

But working and parenting while divorced is really, really extra

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious hard.

(this blog post needed some humor so I threw that in)

You can never assess what’s happening with your kids again without it becoming about the divorce. If I weren’t divorced it would probably be something else but I am, so every bump in the road becomes about the divorce. A choice I made. My fault.

And then comes the guilt.

Parenting with guilt is incredibly ineffective and dangerous. It causes you to make choices that you definitely shouldn’t make. Buy shit you shouldn’t buy. Say yes to things you shouldn’t say yes to. Let kids get away with things you shouldn’t let them get away with. You know you shouldn’t feel that way, but you do.

It causes you pain. And you will never know whether you would have had the same problems with your kids that you have if you hadn’t gotten divorced. You can’t know. You can blame you. They can blame you. Hell, even society can blame you.

Divorced parenting is also exhausting. On my weeks with the kids I am in charge of everything. The day begins at 5:30 and doesn’t stop until 11PM when the teenager finally finishes her homework or pretends to. It’s you and only doing all the driving. Unless you ask for help from the other parent. And thank GOD I have his help. Thank GOD he’s a good man who wants to stay as involved as I want to stay. But he isn’t there all the time and I can’t say, “you deal with it…I am done.” It’s all you.

You don’t get to be done.

I think you just have to stay on top of the guilt feelings. You have to do the best you can. And when you suck at it, screw it up, say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, forget something important, get frustrated, yell, feel guilty…you just have to forgive yourself. You have to ask your kids to forgive you for being human.  And you have to love your kids and hope they can afford a really good therapist in a few years.

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It finds you.

You can run from grief, but eventually it finds you. I had several moments of grief today. They just snuck up on me, out of no where, unexpectedly.

Today is an anniversary of sorts. One year ago today, I knew the trajectory of my life was about to change. I knew I could no longer stay on the path I was on. I was sitting in a concert, September 22, 2012 and I looked over at my husband and I knew. It had to change. I wasn’t sure how or what or when but I knew it that moment that I was living a lie so gigantic that I could no longer contain it. The lie was killing me. 

I remember going to the bathroom. I have a habit of hiding in bathrooms. It’s good because I pee a lot, so hiding in bathrooms is convenient. I cried in the stall. I felt panic, sheer terror. I felt incredibly alone. 

The next day, which…because it’s after midnight, is one year ago today…I looked at this man again. A man I had loved for twenty years and I decided I was going to tell him. 

That I was gay.

I can feel that moment, deep inside me, the memory of that moment. I can actually play it in my head, like a movie. The memory is attached to pain, to grief.

It’s ok. I am completely ok with the emotion that is welling up inside me as the memory passes through me, reminding me. I don’t know why the anniversary of that painful memory is welling up in me today, but it is. And I am happy to feel it. 

I know there is more coming. 

September 23, I knew I would tell him.

October 2, I told him.

November 11, I told my kids.

November 17, I moved out. 

From September 22 until November 17 2012 is, without a doubt, the most terrifying and painful two months of my life. There were days when I didn’t think I would survive it. Looking back I am not sure how I did it. I had a good support network, thank god. Even the friends who thought I had gone completely insane were there, still loving me. 

I think the brain, the soul or spirit or whatever, protects you a little, from the full extent of the grief. And now, a year later, as I reflect and assess the damage, I can feel the trapped grief erupting around me.

The difference now is that I can handle it. I know I can. I can feel the pain and the sadness surrounded by the joy and hope for the life I have now and the life I intend to have. I know I am going to be fine. 

Yeah, I know it’s silly to say it…but I am practicing some serious self-love right now. (you dirty birds, not that kind of self-love). I am talking about feeling it without allowing the feeling to overwhelm me and take control. I am able to quietly observe the emotion without being carried away by it.

I can look at today’s date, remember, reflect, even cry, from a distance, almost as an observer. The pain doesn’t own me anymore. 

That’s progress. I have to admit that meditation is helping me with that…after years of scoffing at the absurdity of meditation. I can see the benefit of allowing my mind to quiet, to become an observer of the intensity of my emotions. To disconnect slightly. 

I can feel the pain and still feel all the good emotion that circles around with it, joy, hope, excitement…

I couldn’t imagine being where I am right now on September 23rd last year. I have a job I love. I am about to buy a house…all by myself. I feel independent and free and generally peaceful and happy. My former husband is moving on with his life. I think we will salvage a friendship. My kids seem to be adjusting…it’s not ideal but I think they are going to be ok. I have great friends, some wonderful family, I am filled with hope.

It’s been a hell of a year. 

So grief, bring it on…I’m ready. 

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Single

I am single. I have no idea how to be single.

My identity has been so wrapped up in the person I was with that it’s completely weird and also incredibly freeing to just be me, unattached to some other person. 

A good friend told me that he would encourage me to be single for two years.

Two years?

What?

That seems excessive but I see his point. Your soul needs time to heal and discover. When you jump from relationship to relationship you don’t give yourself time to really figure anything out. You don’t give yourself time to heal. Another relationship is a band aid to avoid dealing with the repercussions of the last relationship.

But two years? Dude, I will be 45 in two years.

And what about sex?

Ok, I digress. But really, two years with no sex? I don’t know if I can go that long.

His response was “You can still have sex if you need to, just don’t get involved with anyone.”

Hmmm…I am not sure lesbians do that. They seem to get attached pretty fast. 

What does the lesbian bring on a second date?

A U-haul. 

Bahahaha…no really, it’s true.

So single life it is for me now.

There is a lot of love about being single.

I come home and when my kids are with their dad…it’s my house. It’s so quiet which I love. It’s just me and my dogs. I can sit around in my underwear if I want to. I love that. I can eat when I feel like it, I can go anywhere I want to go, whenever I want to go there. No one else’s opinions or needs is figured into the equation.

And when I am with my kids, I can parent how I want to parent. I can make my parenting decisions based entirely on what I think is best or what works for me, for us, in that moment. When you parent with someone who has fundamental differences in philosophies, that’s a really great feeling.

I made an offer on a house the other day. When the real estate agent asked me what I wanted to do I realized I didn’t have to talk to anyone about it first. I could decide…all by myself. SO I did. And when they countered with something I wasn’t interested in, I decided to drop the offer. Cause I can do that too.

I’m totally single. It’s up to me. 

I can date who I want to, go places with anyone I want to, stay home, go out, watch TV, whatever I want to do, I can do. 

But tonight, I came home from a trip. My flight was delayed a little. I didn’t really care because there wasn’t anyone expecting me to get home. The kids are at their dad’s. My friend is staying at my house so I called her but otherwise, my arrival didn’t concern anyone. If my flight had been delayed more than a few minutes it wouldn’t have affected anyone. As I exited the terminal, no one was waiting for me. That’s weird. I didn’t like that too much. It was a little depressing.

But generally, I love being single. I am in no hurry to change that. I doubt I will be single for two years but I am definitely going to be single for a while. A long while. 

I love what I am learning about myself lately, my likes and dislikes. I love hearing my own voice inside my head, instead of someone else’s telling me what to think and feel. 

Single is good.

It turns out that my voice has a lot of answers and it’s entirely refreshing to discover that.

 

Airports

I like airports.

Let me rephrase that…I like being in airports alone.

For two reasons.

1) Being in an airport is about waiting. I generally hate waiting. I am an impatient person. But the purpose of being in an airport is to wait, helplessly for your flight to take off, your layover to be finished, your next flight to board, your bags to arrive. When I am with other people I get focused on worrying about them, whether they will be late or the flight will be delayed, whether they are happy or I feel like I should be entertaining my kids. But when I am in an airport alone there is no one to entertain, no house to clean or laundry to fold, no responsibilities to focus on. I just read. I read an entire book on my last flight…non-stop…I just read it. I was fully present.  The book was pretty mediocre. I left it on the second plane and started another one. But the act of reading it was lovely. I sat there without a care in the world and read a book from cover to cover.

2) I also really enjoy people watching and I think airports provide the very best people watching in the world. People from all over the world, in groups and traveling alone. People forget themselves in airports, they get very real…and I love observing them and trying to figure them out. I am not a chit chatter in airports. Nope, I rarely speak to anyone. But I watch. On my flight I observed:

The greasy haired beautiful girl: She was traveling alone. She was beautiful. A classic beauty. In great shape, strong bone structure. But she had the greasiest hair I have seen in a long time. It was blonde but the highlights had grown out by at least four inches and the roots were really black. And that hair was disgustingly greasy, I mean the kind of hair that hasn’t been washed in at least a week or more. Why was her hair so greasy? Why? I suppose it might have been strange if I had asked her. So I decided someone she loved had died recently or her heart had been broken and washing her hair just wasn’t a priority. She didn’t care about her hair. Suddenly, I didn’t care either. I liked her from a distance. I admired her nasty, greasy hair. I wished my hair was that greasy.

Just kidding. That’s gross.

I also observed:

The Flight Attendant on the Phone: She was in the same row as me during my first flight. She was wearing her uniform and when I got on the plane she was on her phone, intently having a very deep conversation. I could hear every word. Folks…when you are on the phone in a public place, your conversation is no longer private. And this gal…she was having a very private conversation. I kept wondering if she was aware that I could hear her. I kept trying to block out her voice. I tried to focus on my book but every so often the extremely private nature of her conversation would burst through my brain and I would think:

“Girl you should really keep that conversation on the down low. Cause you are wearing your Delta flight attendant name tag.”

I wondered if the person on the other end of the phone knew she was on a plane. I wonder if they would have cared. I would have.

For the record, she kept talking long after we were told to put all electronic devices away…right through the safety information. Then she hung up. And when we landed, she was right back on that conversation while we taxied to the gate. Wow…that very private conversation needed to be had. Right there, in front of me.

I’m still blushing from the ordeal.

Bet you wanna know what she was saying, huh?

During my layover I watched:

The business man who never stops working: There were actually lots of these folks…entire office spread out before them which really just consists of a laptop and cell phone, complete digital office. He shifted from laptop to phone to laptop to phone. He made calls, he checked emails. Then he called his wife, told her what time he would be home, said a seemingly heartfelt I love you and shifted right back into business man mode. I wondered what it would be like to be so important. It’s likely I won’t find out in this lifetime.

A business lady I ain’t.

(cause I say things like: A business lady I ain’t)

And finally I watched the older couple traveling to Copenhagen. Their passports were flagged for reinspection as I boarded my second flight. Actually only her passport was flagged. It took a really long time for her dig through her Vera Bradley carry on duffle to find it. He helped, the husband. That’s how I found out they were going to Copenhagen. They talked nervously as they searched for the right pocket that contained the passports. They were overwhelmed by being flagged but not angry about it. They were relaxed. They seemed happy. And I wondered if they had been married 40 years and had 6 grandkids. I felt slightly jealous that they had made it this far into life and still seemed happy together. I want that, love that lasts. I needed to be reminded that it can. I’ve forgotten that lately…in my love is stupid post divorce state of mind.

For all I know they met six months ago and had both gone through nasty divorces at some point in their lives. But I liked the idea that they had been married since high school and were still desperately in love….maybe not passionate but genuinely devoted to one another.

That’s the best part about people watching, you can invent whatever you want to about the people you observe.

I made it to my destination. It’s a very fast trip. I am headed home in a few hours. Back to the airport.

I can’t wait to read my second book, to watch more people.

And then to walk through the terminal exit and see all the happy reunions.

Like in the movie Love Actually, the hello’s and goodbye’s at airports are amazing to watch but I try not to stare.

Cause it’s so personal and a little creepy to interfere in those private moments.

I will just watch out of the corner of my eye as I walk to my car alone.

Teenagers

Don’t tell my teenagers I wrote this.

No, seriously…don’t tell them.

Have you ever seen an angry teenager?

Now multiply that times two. It could be really bad if they see this. I mean BAD.

I shudder to think of it.

I remember standing in an aisle at Target. I had a two week old and a two year old with me. My lady parts were still aching from the birth…I was still doing a bit of the straddle walk. My baby slept but only during the day so I hadn’t slept for more than an hour in weeks. My then husband had been out of town for weeks due to an unavoidable work crisis. And my two year old had just come down with “one of the worst cases I have ever seen” (doctor’s words) of something called Hand, Foot and Mouth disease. Who knew there was such a disease. I could have gone my entire life without knowing. She had blisters all over the bottoms of her feet, the palms of her hands and hundreds more inside her mouth. The doctor advised just to keep the baby away from the two year old, to which I replied through my tears, “How the fuck am I supposed to do that…I’m all alone here, asshole.” He gave me the name of several therapists. Thank you, doctor.

Suffice it to say, it was not a good day. Not a good day at all.

I was at Target to gather supplies for my toddlers horrific disease. She couldn’t eat much of anything and at two she weighed about 25 pounds. She was a tiny little thing and couldn’t afford to lose weight. I was sweaty and my head was swimming with fantasies of dropping both kids off at the nearest fire station. (I have heard you can do that, it’s totally legal.)

So I am standing there with bleeding mouth and her little brother sleeps all day and parties all night, trying to remember what I came there for. I may have been a little on edge. It’s possible I came across as slightly grouchy. A woman, about twenty years older, was nearby and she eyed my two little demons with glistening eyes and told me that I should enjoy this time with them.

“It’s so short. Enjoy every little moment.”

I may have replied rather curtly, “it better be fucking short.” It’s possible I used the F word. I wasn’t at my best that day.

She looked at me, shocked and said…

“You think it’s hard now, just wait until they are both teenagers. That’s when it gets hard.”

And with that she stormed off. I fought the urge to chase her down and punch her in the face. It was difficult but I managed it. I left the store, went home, survived that blip in the parenting radar and moved through all the other ones that followed.

Fast forward to now. Mr. Sleeps all day, Parties all night is 13. He still isn’t a big sleeper. He loves soccer and video games and school and his friends. He is incredibly passionate about things. The testosterone that flows through that kid on a daily basis is record breaking. I mean, he has some powerful boy energy. Get three or four like him in your car after soccer practice and you better bring some ear plugs and a big can of febreeze. It’s worse than a carload of giggling teenage girls.

Speaking of girls, little miss HAND, FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE is 15. She’s all woman now. At least her body is. Her mind hasn’t really connected yet to the powerful appeal of her fully developed body. Short shorts are in and she is clueless as to what message that booty hanging out can send into the world. My friends and I have discussed this period in our daughter’s lives. Bodies that have developed more quickly than the minds that inhabit them. It’s a dangerous time.

And Target lady who made me so mad that I wanted to punch her in the face I totally get it now. I hate that I get it, but I do. Those days were physically exhausting. These days are mentally and emotionally exhausting.

I plan a fun outing but my teens don’t want to go. When a teen doesn’t want to do something…good luck having any fun at all doing it. Force them to go and it will be miserable. Leave them at home and you feel guilty.

A teenager’s energy fills a room. If it’s negative energy and it often is (hello, hormonal changes) the ability to not be affected by it is pretty much impossible. I am working toward thicker skin but it’s a process. A very long process.

When they are mad at you….omg…it’s a lot to overcome. I remember hating my mother…hating her…the sight of her…the smell of her…her nagging, annoying voice. Not all the time, but some of the time, a lot of the time…from about 14-18.

That’s me now. I am that annoying, nagging, stinky, high pitched voice, mom.

My brain knows that’s my job. But my heart, my heart, my heart….it’s missing my sick little hand, foot and mouth toddler who practically suffocated me with her need to be close to me during that illness. Or my little newborn boy who could nurse for HOURS and smiled and laughed at 3AM while I watched Oprah for the second time that day. Anything to avoid the disapproving eyes of my teenagers.

Daughter: “Can you drop us off at the mall?”

Me: “what?”

Daughter: “The mall. Please?” (insert sweet smile)

Me: “But I had planned…” (seeing smile, the one I miss, the one I long for…her voice that I haven’t heard in three days because talking to your mom is totally lame and she is too busy texting or checking to see how many likes she has on her last instagram photo)  “yeah, sure”.

That’s my job. The nag, the driver, the tutor, the reminder, the annoying voice through the door.

I won’t even describe a conversation with my teenage son. Suffice it to say, he’s very intense. He enjoys challenging me…often. He gets under my skin like no one I have ever met. He is a lot like me. Full of fire and when that fire is directed at you, it’s tough not to get burned.

So yeah, teenagers suck.

But not all the time. Allow me to shift for a moment and say…

I love my teenagers. I do. I also like them, a lot of the time. I like watching them work through things in their minds. I like seeing them develop and discover and become. The are full humans now. Their energy is as big as an adults energy, perhaps even bigger. I can have real, deep conversations with them. They are beginning to understand the complexities of the world. We can discuss politics or gender stereotypes or sex. My daughter is learning to drive and that’s another source of anxiety and excitement. I can’t believe she will actually operate a motor vehicle and thank god she will because I can’t stand another year of spending three hours a day in a car driving them around. And my son is turning into a man, right before my very eyes and it is fascinating. He uses AXE body spray now. He enjoys chasing me around the house with a can of it, trying to spray me down. That little jokester.

SO don’t get the wrong idea from this anti-teenager rant. Generally, I think parenting is the hardest in whatever phase you are in and it’s also the most beautiful. I just happen to have two teenagers living in my house right now.

And it’s awful. And wonderful. And I hate it and I love it too.

That’s a pretty good description of parenting.

Lady at Target, I understand what you were saying and I get it. But I also think you were wrong. You were remembering things better than they actually were and we all do that. It’s always hardest when you are in it.

It’s easier to reflect and see the happy moments.

I look forward to reflecting on this house of teenager energy with rose colored glasses.

Besides, I still have a third child who wants to cuddle and tells me he loves me and will I play legos with him or swing him on the swing.

Thank God.

I like humans.

I am a bit of an introvert. When I say that to people who don’t know me very well they look at me like I am crazy. I appear to be outgoing, the life of the party. It’s the mask I wear in crowds. It is not my true nature.

I enjoy being alone. I am comfortable alone. Anxiety free.

One of my least favorite things is a networking event, with lots of people I don’t know and the desire to make a good first impression.

Or going to a gathering filled with the person I am with’s, friends. Yuck. The thought of it makes me want to run home and be by myself.

I read recently that a good frame of reference for an introvert is someone who would rather give a presentation to 500 people than mingle with those people afterwards. That’s me. I can seem fearless. I don’t mind speaking in front of crowds. I am an actress at heart.

But a lot of actresses are introverts. It’s quite common. Being someone else on stage is far easier than mingling with strangers.

In crowds, I am uncomfortable. But one on one or in small groups of people I am completely at ease. That’s my comfort zone.

I hate concerts, sporting events, large public gatherings of any kind. They make me anxious and I am always looking for the exit. I have a habit of hiding in bathrooms. I know…that’s weird.

Because I like humans. I really, really like getting to know new people. In real settings. Where no one is impressing anyone else. Or selling themselves or their business or their product. Just two or three or four people, face to face, talking. I love it.

Last night I had dinner with a 77-year-old man. English by birth. Married twice. His second wife passed away several years ago. He is a big supporter of the arts. I could have listened to him tell me stories about his life all day. My favorite thing that he said was he had spent his entire life hating gay people and now many of his closest friends are gay and he really regrets his previous belief that there was something wrong with being gay. I didn’t tell him that I am gay. I didn’t want to test his new-found openness. I wanted to take him at face value. And really, it’s no one’s business but my own. He didn’t tell me he was straight. So I didn’t feel obliged to tell him I was gay.

We could barely finish our dinner we were so busy talking and sharing our stories. It was a wonderful two hours. His attitude as an older man was consistent with my desire to live in the present moment. We talked about that for a really long time. Enjoying life, making the most of it, being grateful for today.

I just find something beautiful about humans. All of them. I can think of very few people I don’t like. I think there is something inherently beautiful in all of us. Maybe that makes me a sucker. I am always surprised when people act like an asshole or do mean or vindictive things. But I am not perfect, I have regrets. I can be mean. I can be self-centered, emotional, silly. So I expect other people to make mistakes and I forgive them pretty quickly. I don’t hold onto anger well.  I live by the mantra “learn to accept the apology you never received.” Anger is toxic. Loving people is easy.

While I may want to hide in a crowd, I cannot wait to sit face to face with a stranger and discover them.

I think that’s why I like reading other people’s blog posts. A tiny window into their minds, their hearts.

I find something worthy in nearly everyone I meet.

I like humans.

No, but for real.

Renee is gay.

It was written in my yearbook. 9th grade? 10th Grade? I don’t remember. But I remember the words. I remember how they stung. An insult. Someone I had presented my yearbook to for signing had taken the time to scrawl those words in my yearbook. I can picture them, written sideways, in the spine. I wonder who did it? I spent a lot of time trying to figure that out when it happened. Who would do such a thing? Stupid Bitches! Ha.

I didn’t think anything about being gay until another girl made a pass at me my senior year.  I will call her Christina. And we had “sex”. I guess you could call it that. We were sort of girlfriends for a while. I have to be honest, it’s a little vague in my memory now. I remember sexual activity. I remember trying to be her girlfriend. I hung out in a wild crowd back then so dating a chick was kind of cool. I didn’t think a lot about it.

Then I met, um…Jessica…yes, we will call her that. She had long brown hair and she was a real lesbian. I had a serious boyfriend at the time, someone I had dated off and on for years and was currently “shacking up with” according to my grandma. I was about 19. Jessica and I hung out for hours and hours and my boyfriend was insanely jealous but I considered us just friends. Then one night, I stayed at her house too late and ended up on her couch, making out for what felt like two days and was probably two hours. It was truly one of the most magical experiences of my then…very short…life. There were moments in the drama that ensued from that experience where I questioned my sexuality. But I didn’t linger on it. I decided I was bisexual and let it go. I dabbled in the “ladies” over the next few years but nothing serious and I mostly dated men. I met my husband when I was 22 and decided he was perfect, he had every quality I had ever imagined in a mate and I set my mind toward marrying him almost immediately. And I did, four years later, at age 26. By 27, I had my first child and my second at 29. I didn’t think too much about my continued attraction to some women. I noticed it but just decided it was simply bisexuality.

We moved across the country. I made new friends. I had another child. I drank a lot. There were some kisses, drunken kisses, with girlfriends over the years. I continued to claim bisexuality and wonder why I couldn’t connect sexually with my spouse the way I wanted to. I lived my life and always felt a sense of something not being quite right. I couldn’t feel happiness. There was always something missing and I filled that emptiness with alcohol and a steady stream of pot.

My husband and I argued over my continued experimenting with making out sessions with my drunk girlfriends. I told him he should loosen up. The other husband’s thought it was hot. Why couldn’t he? I tried to stop myself from doing it but a few glasses of wine and a willing participant and I would find myself smooching it up again. It never went further than that. The women weren’t gay, they were just being silly after a few drinks. All in good fun, right?

And then I got sober. That’s another story. Another blog. I committed to sobriety for a year. I didn’t know if I was truly an alcoholic but I knew I was messing up my kids with my partying ways, so I quit.

Boy reality is shocking when you first start living in it. I hadn’t been a daily drinker but near the end I was drinking a LOT. And smoking copious amounts of pot. When I quit I holed myself up in my house, I threw myself into projects, began writing about sobriety. I tried to stay busy and figure out what was really going on with me. It was during this time that I became friends with a lesbian. She was comfortable in her life, outgoing, friendly, likeable and 100% gay. I didn’t spend five minutes with her and instantly know I was gay too. It was more of an unfolding. I watched her. I studied her. I wondered what it would be like to be gay.  But I didn’t acknowledge being gay to her. I didn’t ask her if she thought I was gay. It didn’t cross my mind.

Until last summer…over a year ago. I was running with my non-gay friend and she made a casual comment in response to my announcing that I felt attracted to our mutual friend, the gay one. She said,

“Are you sure you aren’t gay?”

I responded with a scoff..

“I’m not gay. I am bisexual. You know that. But I feel lots of things toward her…lots of things.”

And then I blew it off. And off and off and off and off.

Sometime in August I settled on it. I was gay. I didn’t tell anyone. I just said it in my head.

“I think I might be gay. I think that might be my problem.”

And then when I knew it, I began to really know it. As in the knowledge took over ginormous pieces of my brain. I could think of nothing else.

GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY GAY

Suddenly I found myself incapable of being sexual with my husband. He became a stranger to me. I became increasingly withdrawn and made an appointment with a therapist. I told her I wanted to tell my husband I was gay.

She tried to slow me down but it became a huge mountain of information that I could no longer contain and pretending became very difficult. I can remember the moment I decided to tell him. He was in the kitchen, being silly, making jokes with one of the kids. I looked at him and I thought, “holy shit…I don’t love him the way I should and I never will. He is being cheated by this lie. I have to tell him.”

And so I did.

And the shit hit the fan.

I moved out.

I started to divorce a man I had rarely ever fought with…who I had generally had a pretty decent relationship with. You know we had our issues, mostly, in my opinion because I was pretending to be something I wasn’t. And he was pretending nothing weird was going on.

I told my kids.

And the shit hit the fan. I mean it really hit the fan.

So now I am divorced, trying to heal my kids, trying to learn independence.  Trying to learn how to be gay this late in life.

Well I have always been gay, for the record, but now I am ready to actually be it.

A single, 42 year old lesbian with three kids.

So that’s where I am right now.