Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30th

On the 15th of March, I had only smoked one cigarette.  The following 15 days were filled with nervousness, anxiousness, pacing, walks and a general sense that something was missing as I dealt with nicotine leaving my system.

This was not my first experience with quitting smoking.  This time around I was smoking 5 packs a week.  I cut down to 1 cigarette a day. 

One.  Some days I didn't have any.

I had to select the time of day very carefully. If I indulged in the morning with my coffee, it was enjoyable, but then I had the rest of the day to think about not smoking.  If I told myself I could have one before bed, I could likely get through without having any nicotine at all. 

I felt that if I could get myself off the American Spirits there were many other things that would fall into place for me.  Whether this was true or if it would be self fulfilling prophecy, I didn't know.  Did it really matter? 

As I was going through withdrawals, I wasn't sleeping particularly well.  When I did sleep I had bad dreams.  By Friday the 27th, I was exhausted.  I cut my visit short with my kids that night and went home to rest.  I was unbelievably grateful that I was able to get a nap. 

The following Sunday, I took them to the last day of the local renaissance faire.  My children were 3rd generation faire goers and this was our 3rd trek to this particular one.  These trips were bittersweet for me.  Scott and I had gone to a lot of faires a lot of time with a lot of friends and I had a lot of good memories. 

Riding on the big swing with my friends Stephanie, Kathye and Susi, kicking our feet and holding our arms up, turning my face up to the sun and feeling the breeze in my hair while I laughed with my friends.  Scott and I smooching on the kissing bridge. Discovering new artists and collecting their work each year. Getting drunk by noon and then laying down in the deep shade by the big pond for a nap.  Playing tug of war with thirty other people, no one having any investment in winning.  Untying my bodice before getting in the car to go home and taking in a huge breath for the first time in hours.  The wonderful feeling of showering off the layer of dust and sweat upon arriving home.  Doing it all again the next weekend. 

Zoe and Will loved the faire.  The one we attended was fairly small, with a large number of stages.  This venue was very clear about the fact that they were a family friendly event.  This was not a place to get sloppy drunk and publicly make out.  (Although that did happen and I found it wonderfully amusing when it did.) They had their favorite shows and performers.  They both ended up on stage in at least one show each time we attended.  I took photos and posted them to Facebook.  The performers thanked me for coming and I'd become Facebook friends with a few of them. 

It made me very happy that it was something I could do with them, a place where we could make memories.  We always drove through Starbucks before driving there and stopped at Sonic on the way back.  They each had their favorite things to do.  Zoe liked to throw tomatoes at the insulter.  Will liked to run through the kids maze while I timed him.  (I did have to put a limit on how many times we could do this since it cost $2 for each run.) 

Then it came time to go to the car, get our Sonic snack on and drive them home.  Then it was time for me to say goodbye to them again. 

I still thought "I'm walking out on my kids."  every single time I told them goodbye.

And I went home to get ready to start a new week.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

March 21st

The previous week had gone by somewhat uneventfully.  I rose early.  I went to work.  I saw my children in the afternoons. I went to my place to sleep.

I started on a new painting using bright orange and blues.  A tree was taking form.  I was pleased with the progress.

On the 20th, I collected my kids and took them to my house to sleep over for the first time.  Since my new home was an upstairs unit, I was somewhat paranoid about how heavily we stepped.

A good friend of mine had lived in a situation where her downstairs neighbors would run upstairs and scream obscenities for any type of sound from their footsteps.  My oversensitivity made me caution my son and daughter to take it easy on the floor, to not stomp or jump off the beds.  My floors were wood and I wondered how loudly it was echoing down below.  I really did try to relax and not worry about it.  It wasn't like we were doing high impact aerobics, we were just walking around. 

We went to the grocery store for provisions and then tried to decide what to do at my house.

I didn't have computers for them to play on.  I did have an Xbox 360 that would play DVDs and games.  My son had brought some games and proceeded to get himself involved in defeating enemies while I got some frozen pizza into the oven.  My daughter drew pictures.

We all ate the table and then tried to watch a movie together.  My son was having a difficult time with the split.  At least it seemed to me that he was doing some acting out.  It appeared that he and his sister were fighting a lot more than they usually did.

As I was an only child, I had no idea how much fighting was normal, let alone in this situation.  He called her names.  She bossed him around and found fault with everything he did.

We DID watch a movie together, but I was tense trying to keep them from each other and worrying about how loud we were being.  While we were viewing, I helped my son make various things out of aluminum foil.  He really wanted a foil submarine, but neither his sister or I could figure out how to make it sink.  Finally, about 10 o'clock, I said it was time to go to bed. 

Surprisingly, we all slept fine.  My son said he put a dream in his head and went right to sleep.  About an hour after we got up, he started to say he wanted to go home.  It was only 9 o'clock and I was quite certain their dad wasn't up yet. 

I made the suggestion that we all go to a movie at 11 and then he could go home.

And that's what we did.  There was a part of me that wanted to tell him that it was the weekend he was supposed to stay with me.  But, he needed to know that he could go to either house whenever he wanted to.  Or, I was overthinking it and he was bored and wanted to play World of Warcraft.  At any rate, my son went back to the house he lived in with his dad and my daughter stayed on with me for another night.

We went shopping for small things I needed.  We had some dinner, watched a couple of movies and played a game of Life.  We didn't have the instructions so we made it up as we went along.  I found that to be particularly appropriate.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

March 15th

Ten days had passed somewhat uneventfully.  My dad and I had spent time with the kids. 

The weekend Scott was gone, my dad dealt with some repairs and deliveries at my place and I took the kids to the nearby renaissance faire.  Scott and I had gone to faire a LOT in the early 90s.  We had a huge group of friends we went with and I got in a moderate amount of trouble with my excellent friend Kathye.  We drank too much, attracted a great deal of attention and generally had a fine old time.

Going with my kids was different, but just as satisfying.  The faire we attended was small, which made it easy to do everything in a day.  The kids favorite things to do were watch shows involving animals and magic and to throw tomatoes at the man who shouted insults while you tried to hit him in the face with fruit. 

We caught the trained dog act, tossed some 'maters, ate some food and set off to wander.  

My son had decided he wanted to go steampunk.  We'd put in some time and money to get his outfit ready.  A couple hours into our day, he decided he felt stupid wearing it and wanted something different.  He would not let up on the subject.  All he would talk about was what he wanted to wear next time.  He kept up a running monologue about how he didn't want to wear steampunk, he felt stupid and he wanted a shirt and a hat with a feather in it. 

I told him I was not going to make him a new costume and stop talking about it.  He kept talking about it.  I finally sat down in a pile of leaves I was so frustrated.  Then he started to cry because I was upset and then I started to cry and my poor daughter sat there trying to make everyone feel better.

We finally wiped our faces and went off to find something to do.  Our day ended up being very good, but our drama in the middle of it made me cranky.

The next day was wet and rainy.  Since the dryer at the kids' house didn't work I took all of our laundry to my place.  As the washer and dryer were doing their thing, I was surprised at how much I liked being alone.  I liked the quiet.  I liked how uncluttered it was.  I missed my kids and kept expecting them to walk around the corner, but I was enjoying my time solo.

It did surprise me.  I thought I'd be sitting around feeling sorry for myself, but it was okay.  It was more than okay.

Scott came home.  My dad went back to California.  I went back to my house.  I took my pattern back up of going to work early in the morning, seeing the kids in the afternoon and coming back to my place after I'd gotten them dinner. 

I stocked my refrigerator with fruit, cheese, bread and Topo Chico waters.  I made myself coffee in the mornings.  I listened to a lot of music.  I picked up after myself. 

On the 15th, I took the day to myself.  I slept in.  I had bread and goat cheese with fruit for breakfast.  I took a nap.  I got my laundry and chores done.  I started on a new painting.  I went to a movie with my good friend Chris. 

It looked like I was going to be okay. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

March 4th and 5th

March 4th.

My dad had offered to come visit while Scott was out of town to help me with the kids.  I took him up on this.  It meant he could get the kids to and from school, meaning I could work my regular hours instead of abbreviating them.  It meant they wouldn't have to be on their own after school for any amount of time.

It also meant my dad could meet the plumber at the new place to get a few things looked at that needed attention.  I was grateful he was coming to lend a hand. 

The kids and I picked him up at the airport the night of the 4th.  It was a VERY good thing he had come to visit when he did.  The weather had turned very cold and icy rain was predicted that night.  The school district had already cancelled school the next day.

 He collected his luggage and as he and I were putting it in the back of my car I turned to him.

"Daddy?"  I said.

"Yeah honey?"

"I'm really, really sorry."  and I burst into tears.

And my dad hugged me.  I stopped crying and we went home.

March 5th

I was able to drive to work without any issue.  The anticipated precipitation hadn't happened, so the streets weren't frozen.  I'd started to experience work as something of an escape.  I was good at my job.  I was a good prep chef.  I liked my job and the woman I worked for.  I liked my coworkers, who continued to surprise me with small gestures of goodwill.

When I had stayed home with Will, one of the women I worked with came up to me the next day.

"Oh, there you are!  I was asking yesterday 'Where is Amanda?'  It's good to have you back."

Another woman, who didn't speak English very well, but it was better than my Spanish, would give me little pats on the back every now and then.  One of the cashiers regularly asked how I was doing with everything going on.  It was a nice thing, to know they were giving me good vibes.

I worked my normal hours, 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  I liked this schedule because I was done in time to visit with the kids and get their dinner together while I got a solid 40 hours a week, if not a little overtime.

Scott was in San Francisco attending the Game Developers Conference, but was getting ready to go to another hotel in San Jose to attend a music convention. He and I had gone to these together until we had kids.  In the last 13 years I had been to fewer than 5, while he still attended 2 or 3 a year. 
When he and I had separated in 2013 it became clear that the friends we had made through these gatherings were going to be his friends and not mine anymore.  I knew that there was a division of friends when couples split, but it didn't make me feel any better when I realized there were people I loved I wouldn't speak to again. 

At some point, his friend had started to tag along to the conventions and was now his regular traveling companion to these things.  And, frankly, he hadn't wanted me to go along with him for years. 

So, Scott was gone for a week with the woman that was effectively his girlfriend. The same one that paid for all these trips they took together.  I had no idea how to refer to her.  Friend?  Girlfriend?  I didn't know.  

Probably girlfriend.  Part of me wanted to put that label on it and part of me didn't want to make assumptions.

But, the photo he'd posted of himself with her kissing the side of his face slammed me in the heart like I'd been punched.  Slammed me in a way I didn't want it to. 

I didn't want to be hurt.  I didn't want it to sting. I didn't want to feel dumb because I'd finally realized they'd been involved for a long time.  I didn't want to feel stupid for telling myself they'd just been friends all the years there was evidence to the contrary in front of my face.   I didn't want to feel jealous that he had a companion all ready to go and I was just by myself. I didn't want to be resentful that she took him for weekends out of town, had been taking him for weekends out of town for half a decade.

But I was.  I was all of those things. 

Then my brain went into the dark place it likes to go. 

I started thinking about how he'd be having fun with people I didn't get to be friends with anymore. 
 I wondered what he'd say to them about me and how this was all my fault. I wondered how they'd nod vehemently and agree. I worried about how that would get filtered and passed around and filtered and passed around again. 

I convinced myself that everyone would tell him "I'm so glad you got away from that bitch."

I sat there and cried about everything I didn't have.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March 2nd.

I spent the day with my son at his house.  Scott had left that morning for a week long trip to California.  The first half would be spent attending a video game industry convention, job searching.  The rest would be spent at a music convention, where he would be releasing his new album.

I spent most of the day dealing with depression that threatened to crush my soul.  All the old resentments and jealously about the trips that Scott got to take, that his friend paid for, were sitting on my chest like a horrible, heavy snake.

No one, except my parents, had ever paid for me to go anywhere.  Scott took upwards of 5 trips a year, all funded by his friend.  I stayed home.  I stayed home and felt angry, jealous, resentful and trying to talk myself out of feeling angry, jealous and resentful. 

I kept thinking about what a bad wife I'd been.  And now I was the person who was breaking up my children's home.  Being in the house where I didn't live anymore made me horrifically sad. 

My father was going to be arriving on the 4th to help me with the kids.  The house was in no shape for guests, but I couldn't gather the energy to even pick up.  The most I could manage was to unload and reload the dishwasher.

I sat on the couch, watching television with my son and counting the minutes until I could go to bed and sleep.

That's all I wanted to do.  Sleep. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

February 24th through March 1st

The first week of my being on my own was pleasing, frightening, frustrating, depressing and any number of other emotions that were globbed together.

I suspected I was denying quite a few of these feelings, that I was numbing myself out.  I imagined there was a very big, very unsatisfying cry in my future. 

The actual move went smoothly.  I did most of it by myself.  I had been able to purchase a table and chairs and a coffee table at garage sales.  My good friend, Chris, helped me move a desk I planned to use as a vanity.  My other good friend, Joe, helped me move the loveseat. 

When he came to help me move my biggest piece of furniture, my son was in distress as his sister had been pushing his buttons for half an hour.  He was tired.  At one point he'd curled up on the couch and put his thumb in his mouth.  Based on the research I'd done, his behavior was normal but that didn't make it any easier to deal with.

Again, when I left to go to my home, I thought "I'm walking out on my kids again." 

The first week of visiting the kids after I was done with work was awkward and strange.  It was made stranger by the fact that Scott's best friend, female, was in the house at the same time.  She was changing beds, making home improvements and generally taking care of the house.  While I knew she had my children's best interests at heart and wouldn't say bad things about me to them, it still made me uncomfortable.  I later asked Scott that when I was visiting she not be there.  I wanted my time with my kids to myself.  He agreed to do everything he could to accommodate my request, which made me very grateful.

When I wasn't spending time with the kids, I was battling depression.  A friend of mine told me the first couple of months would be very lonely, but it got easier with time.  All I wanted to do was sleep or read, generally falling asleep reading.

I was waiting for the new appliances to be delivered.  I didn't have a refrigerator, so I had fruit and chocolate in the house. I ate at work and snacked at home. 

There were some definitive differences in my day to day.  I still rose early to be at work by 6:30.  But, I was taking a shower every evening.  I was picking up after myself.  This was a much easier task since it was just me and I wasn't doing any cooking. 

I was also struggling trying to get a plumber out to look at the washing machine, which wasn't working.  It wasn't an issue since there was a laundromat close by and my laundry needs weren't huge.

Then there was dealing with the benefits department of the company where I worked.  Trying to get everyone enrolled was a chore.  Not only did I have to call the benefits line twice to get the necessary paperwork emailed to me, I had to call to verify it had been received and ask that it be forwarded on to the next department.  Then I had to wait for contact from the company that would need documentation that my dependents were actually my dependents.  Then there was calling to verify that paperwork was received and finally calling the insurance company to be sure the benefits had been activated.  After all of that, an additional 100 dollars was deducted from my paycheck than what I had been quoted.  Apparently, the activation date was the 1st of February.  As that fee had not been paid, 1 and 1/2 times that amount would have to come out of my pay, spread out over 2 checks.  This was a chunk of change for me.  None of this had been disclosed to me.  I complained that I was being charged for benefits I had not been able to access.  I had specifically NOT used any medical services because I didn't have insurance.  I had filled prescriptions, paying a huge amount out of pocket.  The pharmacy told me I'd go through my company to be reimbursed for the difference and my company told me I would go through the pharmacy.  I saw that money flying away.

This finally drove me to tears.  I took out my frustration on the poor woman who explained all this to me.

Starting on the 2nd, Scott was leaving town for a week and I would be parenting full time.  This meant massaging my work hours so I could get the kids off to school.  It also eliminated any possibility of extra hours.  Even an hour of overtime was a big help to my budget.

Then, Sunday the 1st, my son started to throw up.  He couldn't go to school the next day.  He had to be nausea free for 24 hours before he could go back in the building.  Since he dad was leaving the morning of the 2nd, I had to take a day off work to stay home with him.

This distressed me as I desperately needed my job.  I didn't want any concerns of any kind in my boss's brain.  With my new situation, I was somewhat paranoid. 

And so, the second week of my new life started.