Tag Archive: a

Nov 06 2016

Divorce (Finally)

Friday afternoon we finally reached a settlement agreement. The paperwork still needs to be drawn up and signed, but I’ll finally be able to put this whole chapter behind me sooner than later.

In the end, she’s getting off easier than she probably would have if the case had gone to trial. But the cost of going through with the deposition and trial that her side was pushing for would have canceled out much of the gain. The sad thing is, in the end we ended up only $700 below what I told her the low end would be when she left. So because she was unwilling to communicate at all (except through third parties…first her mom…then the attorneys), and even then unwilling to talk about any sort of settlement until the last week before the scheduled deposition, we both will have ended up spending at least a couple thousand extra dollars and probably 3 or 4 months on something we could have settled on our own.

As painful as this whole process has been, in the end it’ll end up being for the better. From her own words, she apparently had doubts even before we actually got married. The problem was she never said anything to me or anyone else about them. The marriage that I thought was built on strong rock because of the words she was telling me, was actually built on sand. The first storm that hit it damaged it beyond repair (even if it took a year for it to completely fall apart afterwards).

In the last six months I’ve done a lot of self-introspection. I’ve taken this time to really think about what is important to me in relationships. Where I’ve fallen short in the past (not just in the marriage, but prior relationships as well). The places where I gave up more than I should have. I will not distance myself from my family just because my partner feels awkward about being there. That communication is so important. If someone is unwilling to talk about the hard stuff…well then they probably aren’t really mature enough to be making the hard decisions (like getting married). I know I wasn’t perfect in the marriage. I know I acted in ways that contributed to the environment that led to our marriage falling apart. I tried to improve on those things when we went to couples counseling. But I fear, by the time we went to couples counseling it was already too late. Part of her had already made up her mind…she just needed the excuse to run from having difficult conversations herself. Nothing I could have done or said would have changed anything…at most it would have just adjusted the timing. I acknowledge and accept the role my actions played in our marriage ending. I’m not deflecting my personal responsibility on my mom, or her, or any others like she has. In the end, I know that I was faithful to my marriage vows until the end.

Despite how difficult this year has been, I really am in a better place than I was at the end of last year. I have a group of friends that have been a great support over the course of the year. The people I hang out with are a much healthier group of people than some of the people I had surrounded myself at the end of last year. I’ve got great housemates that have a positive outlook on things. Have I mentioned how great my friends have been the last six months? Because they have been…they helped me through my darkest times. They’ve been such a source of strength throughout everything and I’ll be eternally grateful.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/divorce-finally/

Sep 19 2016

its been awhile…

…since I’ve posted anything about what is going on with the divorce. Largely, that is because nothing much had happened on that front. Both A and her attorney seem to have been in no hurry to move the process along. They have both taken their time to respond to my attorney and turn over required information. However, finally things are starting to move forward again. Our initial settlement proposal was sent to her attorney on Friday afternoon. So at least the negotiations can now begin. There is also some sort of hearing date set finally (the end of Oct)…so hopefully we can get things settled before then and avoid needlessly going to court.

As for me personally, things are going ok. I’m embracing the beginning of my 40s and the opportunity for new beginnings and discoveries. I still have the occasional thought while doing things of “A. would love this right now,” which is still a little weird feeling. Divorce is still the most disorienting thing that has happened in my life.  I still wish she would have talked to me more about what she was thinking over the last year or so of our marriage. I wish she could have seen how hard I wanted her to be happy. Our relationship still may not have survived, but at least it could have been more amicable than duelling lawyers.

The biggest thing for me going forward is learning how to trust again. Not only other people, but myself and my instincts. I struggle with doubt about pretty much everything A told me over the last year or so of our marriage. Was she being honest with me (or to herself and then me)? Often much of it feels like a lie (even though logically I know it probably wasn’t at least completely). Like I’ve said before, I knew everything wasn’t perfect…but I didn’t know things were as far gone as they were.

As I begin to date again it’s probably going to take a special woman to get me in another serious relationship. Someone who has some patience as I figure out how to open myself up to them. It’s probably going to be someone who takes some initiative in the beginning. Someone willing to put themselves out there and say…hey I think you are cool and I’d like to get to know you better. I was thinking about this recently and my serious relationships have generally been like this (even A took the initiative for our relationship to be more than just friends). I’m not really sure how to do the dating thing these days. The online apps are weird and awkward to me. I spend a lot of time with folks in the Timbers Army, but so many people have a “no dating in the TA” policy (which I both understand and think is a little ridiculous). I’m in no rush to be in another relationship, but I do look forward to feeling some chemistry with someone again.

So that’s where things are at with the divorce. I’m mainly waiting for things to be negotiated by lawyers to a point where we can both sign off and be done. Where that final piece of closure can happen and our lives will move on in separate directions. I’m still grateful for the time we had together and how both the good and bad of our relationship has helped me grow to be a better man.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/its-been-awhile/

Jul 05 2016

perspective

The narratives we create based on our perspectives are interesting. How two people can view the same thing in very different ways. My divorce is one of those things. When we did couples counseling last summer and fall, I took a hard look at things I had done our relationship and tried to work on improving those things. As I look back on how I did in making those improvements, I know I didn’t fully succeed. It was hard knowing what was working and what was not working, because our communication wasn’t as good as it could have been or needed to be (and this is on both of us). Stagnant communication was a large part of why we stopped couples counseling in the fall (as we weren’t really communicating about anything serious even in that environment).

The narrative that I’ve seen from A is largely based on the fight we had the night she left. She does mention some of the things that I’ve pointed out in earlier posts where I failed in our marriage, but there is a lot of weight put on that one evening. Even then our perspective of that evening is quite different from each other. Personally, the weight put on that evening seems a bit disingenuous to me, as at least by appearances and actions, she had already decided to leave the marriage. Again, this is only my perspective on the subject, because I don’t feel like I got the completely honest story from her in the weeks leading up to her leaving. That fight doesn’t happen if she’s more honest with me in those preceding weeks (even if it had just been “I don’t want to be married anymore,” a question I had asked a version of a few weeks before). The words said that night didn’t break something that was fixable, it was already broken beyond repair (and yes A, if you ever do read this…I said words that night that came from a place of hurt and anger, and there is no excuse for that. I do take responsibility for those words and I don’t actually think they are true.)

I am in complete agreement though that the marriage needed to end. That it was over when she left the house on April 26th. There was most definitely no going back at that point (even if I wasn’t ready to admit that at the time). Our relationship had become something that was unhealthy for both of us. I could easily list off a bunch of perceived wrongs, but that really isn’t the point. It’s not going to do me any good to focus on things that are in the past. While I’d like to see some acknowledgement of her role in our marriage ending as part of her narrative, I know that’s something I’m not likely to see. Unfortunately the foundation we built our marriage on wasn’t a stable one and when the earth shook, the marriage couldn’t hold up to the shaking.

I wish things could have ended more amicably. That we could have actually had a discussion about how we could have parted ways in a way where there wouldn’t be the animosity that seems to be there now. That we could have processed our divorce paperwork and division of assets without having to spend a bunch of money to have attorneys do that for us. But this is what the circumstances of that last evening seem to have left us with. One lawyer talking to another lawyer, each talking to us, all the while billing us an hourly rate.

Thankfully, there isn’t any real difficult issues in our divorce case. The lawyers will put together a proposal and we’ll sign it and it’ll get submitted to the court. Once that happens, it’ll be 2-3 weeks and a judge will sign the paperwork and we’ll be officially divorced. It could even happen before we get to what would have been our 3 year anniversary.

With that a new perspective on the past eight years of my life will formed. Who I am will have changed.

I have a plan for the next few years, much of which was already planned before divorce became the reality.

I’m applying for new jobs (with better salaries)…and figuring out things that really excite me vocationally and hopefully finding myself in a position that meets both of those things.

I’ve got a plan to aggressively pay off my consumer debt that I allowed myself to fall into again. I was debt free (with the exception of student loans), when I moved back to Portland in 2012. Making better financial decisions and aggressively attacking the debt was something I dedicated myself to at the beginning of this year. At the time, I had different reasons driving that than I do know (wanting to relieve some of the financial stress on our marriage, getting ready to be in a better place to have kids, etc). Actually I suppose those reasons are still pretty similar to post-divorce goals as well. I want to be less financially stressed, so when I do have an opportunity to have a family again I won’t have to worry as much about the finances of it.

I’m working on continuing to nurture and improve my relationships (both personal and professional). My friends have been such a great source of support the past few months and I’ve tried to make sure they know how much I appreciate and cherish those friendships. I’ve been able to grow closer to my family again. I’ve seen a nephew in his first hour of life. I’ve formed new friendships with some amazing people. I’ve very much lucked into a great set of housemates, neighbors, and landlords.

I already feel healthier than I have since last summer. My stomach has settled down and I’ve lost some weight. My sleep schedule has returned to normal as well in the past month (after a few months of not sleeping well).

The future is wide open and it looks good!

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/perspective/

Jun 24 2016

two months after

Things are going well mostly. I still have some quite sad days…and some days where I’m mad at A. But there are fewer days like that now. Mostly those are idle days when I let my mind get away from me. The actual divorce is kind of in a waiting period now. My attorney is waiting for information from her attorney (and her), so the attorneys can begin discussing a final settlement of assets. Things could wrap up fairly quickly if an agreement can be reached and signed. (It should be fairly straight forward.) Then a few weeks after that when a judge signs the order…it’ll be over officially.

This whole process has left me with many questions. I have questions I know I’ll never get answers for (mainly because she’d have to answer them…and that doesn’t seem like something she’s ever going to be willing to do). Mostly though I’ve questioned myself. It has been a tough blow to my self-confidence to be so completely rejected by the person I loved and I thought still loved me. I’ve tried to focus on how I can improve myself though. I’ve tried to really make sure that my friends and family know how much I appreciate them and the time they’ve spent with me. I’m working on improving my career and financial situation (even though this is tough with the lower self-confidence). In general, each day is getting better. They all still have their moments, but I’m getting more comfortable in my new reality.

I do understand why divorced (and probably widowed) people are attracted to other divorced people. Even in just a platonic way, there is something comforting knowing that they have an understanding of the pain you’ve been (are going) through. Sure they have a different story and experience than you do…but they understand the struggle (whether that came from deciding to divorce…or being the divorcee).

Good things from the last two months: A new nephew! The new housemate is good, I haven’t seen much of her because of differing work hours and travel, but no issues so far there. I’ve also met and got to know better some amazing people over the last two months. I’ve been constantly amazed about the amazing community the Timbers Army is. Even though I already knew how amazing it was, it still is so wonderful how much they will rally for each other (despite the near constant Twitter drama of some sort or other). Have I mentioned the new nephew yet? My other nephew is pretty cute as well, traveling all over Europe (they currently live in Hungary) with my other sister and brother in-law. I love the barrage of Instagram photos when they get back from a trip (most recently Romania and the city in Hungary where the paprika is from).

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/two-months-after/

Jun 03 2016

Vulnicura

The title of Björk’s album (released at the beginning of 2015) is a mashup of two latin nouns (Vulnus + Cura) and roughly translates to “Cure for Wounds.” This album has been a constant in my musical rotation since I realized in April that my marriage was in real danger of failing (which it of course eventually did). The album was written during the breakup of her marriage and is devastating and beautiful all at the same time. Each of the first six tracks are accompanied by a timeline in the liner notes. Tracks 1 – 3 being before the breakup and 4 – 6 being after the break up. The last three tracks offer a sense of hope and healing…but it is not the Hollywood kind of ending. There is still an intense vulnerability in the healing presented in these tracks. These include older tracks but still very much fit in with the overall arc of the album.

Here is the track that really sticks with me at the moment:

At times, I think I’m here alongside her (this is “11 months after” and track 6). Other times its clear that I’m not there as well. I guess that’s to be expected. In reality its only 1 month after. There are probably still many more of the feelings in Black Lake that I’m still feeling (“2 months after” and track 4):

Last night I was overcome with sadness. I was thinking about the good times A and I had. The first times we hung out where I introduced her to Cafe Corsa and Skylight Books in LA (which she insisted were dates and I insisted were just friends meeting). I was thinking about all the fun road trips we have taken. Trips to Big Sur, the redwoods on the Northern California coast, camping at Wallowa Lake in NE Oregon, trips to Vancouver BC. It is these memories that I want to hold close to my heart and cherish. For all the things that ended up going wrong in our relationship, there was plenty of happy times. These are the memories I will keep with my heart.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/vulnicura/

Jun 01 2016

The Science of Happily Ever After

This article from the Atlantic popped up in my Facebook feed earlier this week: Masters of Love.

It covers some of the research by social scientists relating to the success of marriages in response to rising divorce rates beginning in the 70s. In the first section of the article, the research of Psychologists John Gottman and Robert Levenson is reviewed. In their study they brought newlyweds into the lab and observed how they interacted with each other. They also hooked the couples up to electrodes to measure and record the body’s response to their interactions. Six years later, they brought the couples back in to see who was still together.

From their data, they grouped the couples into two groups the masters and the disasters. The masters were still happily together after six years, while the disasters had either broken up or were chronically unhappy. In their observations of the disasters, the disasters looked cool and calm during the interviews, however the electrodes told a different story of what was going on physiologically. Their heart rates were quicker, sweat glands more active, and blood flow was faster. The data pointed to a conclusion that the more physiologically active a couple was, the quicker their relationship deteriorated. The masters had a lower physiological response and were able to maintain warm and affectionate behavior even when they fought. This helped create a climate of trust and intimacy that made both partners more emotionally and physically comfortable.

In a follow-up study, Gottman and Levenson set up a lab to look like a bed and breakfast retreat and invited 130 couples to spend a day at this retreat. In this study, they observed the couples go about what they would normally do on a vacation. In this study, an observation would come that be a key indicator on whether or not a relationship would thrive or languish. Throughout the day, partners would make “bids” for the others attention. “For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife—a sign of interest or support—hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.” In this scenario, the wife can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband. These interactions had a profound effect on marital well-being. The couples who had divorced by the six-year follow-up had “turn toward” bids only 33 percent of the time. Those that were still happily married had “turn toward” bids 87 percent of the time.


One of my goals as I move through the process of my divorce is looking at ways that I can improve myself and the way I will interact with a future partner. There was a time in my relationship/marriage with A that I was definitely in the “turning away” camp. There was at least one stretch of time in our marriage that it might have been pushing it to get up to the 33 percent of time for “turning towards.” In that time, the seed was planted that would eventually lead towards the pending divorce. While I did make an effort to improve my moments of “turning towards” during and after a period of couples counseling last summer and fall, it was perhaps already too late even at that point. The seed had been sown.


The article goes on to talk about the habits the masters have. How they are looking for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. In doing this they build a culture of respect and appreciation. Disasters end up looking for their partners mistakes. This behavior ends up building a culture of contempt and ends up being the biggest factor that tears partners apart. They give their partner the cold shoulder – deliberately ignoring or responding minimally – thereby damaging the relationship by making their partner feel worthless and not valued. This ends up not only killing the love in the relationship, it makes it harder for the partner to fight off physical ailments (such as viruses). In this culture of contempt we miss around 50 percent of the positive things our partner is doing and see negativity that isn’t there.


This paragraph reflects where I most contributed to the downfall of my marriage. I was guilty of this for far too long, creating an environment where…while love may have still been there…its hold was tenuous. I had killed enough of it that fighting for what remained became difficult. Stepping outside of comfort zones to have difficult discussions took more energy then it should have. It was easier to let the feelings of contempt to control our thoughts instead of the hard work of focusing on kindness and generosity.


So as I look to heal from the trauma of divorce and eventually to opening myself up to a new relationship it is important that I take lessons like this to heart. I need to focus on being someone who “turns toward” those bids for attention from romantic interests, friends, and really just people in general. I don’t want to be someone who’s heart is ruled by contempt. Kindness and generosity sound like a better way to live life.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/the-science-of-happily-ever-after/

May 23 2016

one month after

On Thursday, it’ll be a month since A left. It would still be another week before she officially said she was done with our marriage, but when she left on the night of April 26th it was already over. So where am I in this journey a month into it?

I can honestly say, I’m doing ok now. The initial shock and anger has waned. As I’ve said over multiple posts, I am still grieving the loss of the companionship, plans, and dreams we had; however I’m no longer grieving the loss of her. Really the most frustrating part of this process is that she seems unwilling to participate in it. I guess it makes sense though, she made a decision to cut and run from our problems, why should completing our divorce separation be any different? In the end its only going to make the divorce cost us both more money and emotional energy. For someone who wants out so bad, it seems like an odd way to handle things.

As for me, I continue to work on the things I was already working on before the events of the past two months surfaced. I’m continuing to see a counselor to work my way through the feelings resulting from the collapse of my marriage. I’m at a point now however, that I’ll finally be able to work with him for some of the reasons I originally chose him. I’m working on figuring out ways to improve my career opportunities and financial stability (one of the things my counselor specializes in). I’m continuing to work on improving my general health as well. As I re-learn planning and cooking for one, I’m trying to be conscious of what I’m eating (and how much). With the month of reduced appetite due to the relationship stress, my body has gotten used to smaller portion sizes, and that’s not a bad thing.

I’m looking forward to what life has in store for me after all this is done. There is still a lot of work to do to get there and it’s still stressful. I’m going to come out of this a better person though. I have faith that when the time is right, I will find a new partner and it will be even more amazing because of the things I’ve learned from this relationship (both the good and bad). One question people have asked me recently is “Do you regret marrying A?” Despite how everything turned out, I do not. Based what I knew then, I have no regrets and would do it again with the same information. I loved her with my whole heart and I still do have love for her. I really do wish the best for her. Yes, she broke my heart. Yes, she left without even trying to make things work. But I loved her until the end. I will cherish the memories we had together. My marriage has made me a better person and it will make my next marriage or partnership all the better as a result.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/one-month-after/

May 20 2016

letting go…

It’s a strange thing, learning how to emotionally detach from a person. It’s like those weeds, where if you don’t get all the roots, it’ll just come back. Except you don’t want to pull the roots out at the same time. That would be too painful for the soil that is your heart. That is what I find myself doing this week though. Learning how to let go. Pulling out those remaining roots that didn’t come out originally. Resisting the urge to try to find scraps of her new life online.

This week I’ve been letting go…of A…of anger…of partnered life. Some of it has been easier than others. Letting go of the anger and of her has been easier than letting go of partnered life. I struggled being alone at home this week (with the exception of last night, I was home this week). But I forced myself to live in it. I could have run over to a friend’s house one of those nights but I need to relearn how to be ok in that space. I’ve got a ways to go in that department. It’s tough to erase five years of shared space overnight.

I’ve been obsessively refreshing social media this week. Craving connections to try to fill the vacant space A once occupied. Looking for people to chat with on Hangouts or Facebook. Hoping to fill time with a friendly conversation or even just reading their tweets/posts/pictures. There are all these things that I want to share with someone. Stupid stuff mainly…stuff you only share with a partner. I hear things that my first instinct is “I can’t wait to tell A about this.” Those are roots that remain inside me. Those stubborn roots that just won’t let go. Those things I won’t share with anyone else and now not with her either.

One thing I really want is for friends to come over. For some of my closest friends, this is hard as they are tied to their own homes because of kids, pets, or lack of easy transportation. I understand this and I don’t have any negative feelings towards them about it. I just want to take back my house for me. Have folks over for a game night. Host a fancy cider tasting night (I’ve got a bunch of limited edition small batch ciders from a local cidery). Create memories that make this space mine (well along with my other housemates).

I worry (and get anxious) about being too needy for my friends (and other acquaintances) as I go through this process. They’ve been great, but I know it can be hard to have to listen to the same sad stuff all the time. I try to be mindful of that though. To make sure I’m engaging in what is going on in their lives (and I really do want to know what is going on in their lives) and not just focusing on my divorce and how I’m working through it. I’ve got friends who are out of work and struggling with their job searches. I’ve got a friend struggling with a recent move (and a job search). Its important for me to listen as well.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/letting-go/

May 18 2016

How To Be Alone

found via PostSecret FB:

 

This is something I’m having to figure out again. Eight years in a relationship. Five years of living together. Done in what seems like an instant. I was talking to my mom last night and I told her “in a way, its like A died, at least in regards to me.” Only it might be more difficult than if she had died, because she’s still around. I could easily run into her (especially since she moved somewhere right next to where I am often). I imagine she’ll do everything she can to avoid me if she sees me based on how she’s acted since she left, but the possibility is there nonetheless.

I’ve been alone before. Its ok to be alone. Its just something I have to get used to again for now.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/how-to-be-alone/

May 17 2016

the hardest part (at the moment)

Today I went to my attorney’s office and reviewed and signed the paperwork. That signature was harder than I thought it would be. This is really happening now. I know it is the right thing. I wouldn’t go back even if A knocked on my door and said she’d made a mistake. “Yes, you did make a mistake,” I’d say before closing the door. Officially filing the divorce papers makes it real though.

The hardest part of this process has been how quickly it happened. On April 25, while I knew we had some serious things to attempt to work through, I was still happy with our relationship (outside of those serious things). By April 27th, she was not only gone from the house, but no longer speaking to me. How it went from something where we talked pretty much every day for the past eight years, to her not speaking to me at all (unless absolutely necessary). Its those moments I’d rush to share with her that I’m no longer allowed to do. I also still care for her despite all the pain and heartache she’s caused. I want to know that she’s doing ok. I assume since she was the one who decided to leave and who already had someone else’s arms to fall into, that she is doing ok. But I can only assume…I can’t know anymore.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.rhinoblues.com/thoughts/2016/the-hardest-part-at-the-moment/

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