April 15, 2012

Nothing but a Stem.

Posted in Life Lessons, My Five tagged , , , , at 4:11 pm by openendedcomment

As we age, we learn.  This is not news.

As it was in school; some lessons are harder than others and some take longer to sink in.  The difference in the lessons of today is the inability to avoid them…back in high-school, when I didn’t want to attend a class (geometry) I would simply skip out, head to the library and read until the class had ended.  Yes, I was a nerd.  So what.  The point is that back then, I had the ability to avoid the unpleasant lessons life was attempting to force on me and opt for more enjoyable ways to spend my time. There were no real consequences aside from my lack of knowledge regarding obtuse/right angles…or whatever Mr. Swenson was trying to say.  I seriously have no clue.

These days, the lessons of life are harder to avoid.  To avoid is to incur real consequence.  That, combined with my older, wiser (I hope wiser) self that actually cares about doing the “right thing” makes it harder for me to avoid the unpleasantness of difficult moments.

I had one last night.

Glitter’s anniversary.  She was, as I had predicted, lovely and radiant with adoration of and from her husband.  Her mother was warm and funny.  Her Virgo sister teared up and still managed to look perfectly poised. Two more women I knew in childhood are expecting children of their own.  All was as I had thought it would be.  Well, almost.  I wished I could have stayed and celebrated with her longer, but to do so would be to allow my husband to be hurt further and though I love her dearly, I love him more.  That’s just the way it is and I hope she understood.

He was ambushed, or rather we were ambushed.  I could take it as I had many other friends there, him, not so much.  It was my group, not his.   For reasons unknown to me; a woman I used to know (yesterday’s Rockstar, today’s sad remains) found it necessary to be as hateful as a person can be.  I will not write what she said and I will not call her by name.  Suffice to say that the worst case scenario I could have come up with in my head regarding her possible behavior was vastly surpassed.  Stunning.  Her viciousness and lowliness was stunning.  I should be hurt…I should be sad.  But I’m not.  In order to feel those things I would have to care.  I thought I did, only yesterday I was certain I did.  It dawned on me…as I saw the anger and the pain in the eyes of the man I love caused by someone I had called friend…that woman no longer exists.  I cared about someone who had ceased to be…like holding onto a stem after all of the petals had dropped and still insisting on calling it a flower…it’s not a flower anymore…all of the good and beautiful parts that made it a flower have dropped away, one by one, leaving nothing but a barren stem, a sad reminder of what it once was.

For me, that was where the lesson lay, in the recognition that as we grow and as we change, not everyone changes for the better.  Some bloom and other wither and the wisdom lies in being able to see clearly enough to recognize the difference and have the strength of self-preservation to walk away from what used to be instead of trying to resurrect something that will never bloom again.

And that’s OK.  That is necessary.

I feel no need for vengeance; there is nothing to say.  There is no damage I could do that she has not done or is not in the process of doing to herself.

Is it sad? Sure it is.  But is it a tragedy? No.  The tragedy would be in convincing myself that a new bloom can come from an old stem and being disappointed when those petals never appear.  Life moves on.  Some people we move on with and others without and in the end, if we can look back and smile on what we had in the years before; regrets don’t factor in.

We’ve all had friends like that, the people who let us down time and time again.  For me, though the lesson was drilled into me repeatedly, it took seeing my husband attacked to finally get the damn point.  It’s time to let go of any hope of her ever being a good person.  Or healthy.   I don’t have to and nor should I put myself or those I love in the line of fire again.  She is now no more than someone who I used to know.

I still believe that some people and some friendships are worth fighting for…but now I also know that others, no matter the history, are not.  If she were to ever find herself at peace again and come around…maybe.  I’m not the type to close a door forever, but for now the handle is secure.

Oh, and if you’re wondering,  my husband and I had a great night after all.  We walked to a cute little place near the party.  We talked it out and ended up laughing and sharing more than we had in months.  We took other lessons from last night, too.  We made the best of it.  We are lucky people.  As some move out of our lives, others move further in.  Our friends that our children spent the evening with are a great example of that.  I know in them my trust is never misplaced.  My husband loves them.  As we fell asleep in each others arms he told me he was, despite it all, glad we had come.  This morning he told me he hopes that I feel for him what Glitter feels for her husband…and that he understands why she means so much to me.  I could not ask for more.

April 14, 2012

3521 Days…

Posted in Life Lessons, My Five, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 3:35 pm by openendedcomment

Ten years ago yesterday; Glitter got married.  Tonight is her anniversary party.  She has asked that those of us that were a part of her wedding wear our original dresses (if we have them and if we can still fit into them,)  Even though I regularly purge my closet, this is a dress I happen to still own…and, shockingly enough, still fit into.  Sort of.  Ihavn’t worn it in a decade and it still has the original cake stains inside of the bodice…memories of a bridesmaid and me having far too much fun supported by a liberal amount of wine.  Glitter claims to have pictures of this and has hinted at them being part of a slide-show.  Shit.  I mean, awesome.

For some reason, or rather for an obvious reason, I find myself nostalgic today.  And a bit stunned.  In the grand scheme of things, ten yeaars isn’t all that much time…yet I’m amazed at what has happened and how we’ve all changed this past decade.

I’m wearing the same dress; but I have a different date.  I had my youngest son 8 months and three weeks after that wedding.  I met my husband the following July.  We will have been married seven years this June.  One of the original bridesmaids (my ex-step-sister…long story) has gone AWOL and another that met her husband at the rehersal dinner is currently in divorce proceedings.

Rockstar (the cake fight counter-part), also an original bridesmaid, has since been married and had two children.  As has the maid of honor; the sister of the bride.  At her wedding my now-husband then-boyfriend was accosted by the mother-of-the-bride and told he had better put up or shut-up when it came to me and his intentions towards our future.  He proposed within the year.  Note to self: buy that woman a drink tonight.

My 25 year old self had a blast that night.  I loved these girls.  They were my family before I went and created one all on my own.

Looking back, I took it for granted.  I still love them, God knows I’m thankful for each of them,  but I’ve done a piss-poor job of showing it.

Glitter and I are good, though we’ve had our moments of not good.  Thankfully, all has been repaired and I can’t wait to see her and her wonderful husband re-commit to what they’ve built over the past decade.

Rockstar and I also had our moments.  We grew closer than ever through these last ten years and intermittently further apart.  Right now we are in the middle of an apart moment.

I’m not a fan.

Not a fan of what’s happened and even more so not a fan of where we are as friends.  Thing is…I don’t know how to repair this.  I don’t know the right or appropriate way to make that call or send that email.. Would it simply be ignored?  Would she snap back as opposed to ignoring resulting in things getting even worse?  Rockstar is not her real name (duh) but it’s a fitting one.  She is one of those women that when you look up the word “intense” in the dictionary…you expect to see her smiling face…either waving at you or flicking you off.  It depends on where you’re at.  It’s actually a positive trait.  That woman can have more fun in the most random of ways and make you have more fun than anyone else I know or have known.  She’s intensely loyal and intensely fun and intensely…intimidating.  At least to someone like me.  Now, I’m not a scared little mouse, far from, but I do admittedly suck at personal conflict. The closer I am to someone or the more that I care the harder it is for me to talk to them when there’s a problem. I know, I have it all bass-ackwards, but there it is.  The bad thing about this intensity of Rockstar’s is it makes reaching out kind of difficult. The good thing about Rockstar, actually the great thing about her (among many others) is that you always know where you stand.  There is no ambiguity.  I’m not standing in a great place.

I’ve been thinking about her and about our friendship a great deal as of late.  She’s been an important part of my life and of  the lives of my family.  She’s helped me thorugh serious problems (those occur more than anyone likes in the decade of 25-35) and she’s laughed me through some (I thought)  utterly unlaughable moments.  She is great like that.

I’ve spoken about my “five”…and she is one of them.  Even though we aren’t close at the moment, she’s one of those few people that know me…and I’m afraid that is exactly why we aren’t speaking.

We didn’t have a fight.  She saw me at my worst, one of the low points of that lost year from a few posts back, and after that, we just didn’t speak.  I didn’t call.  She didn’t call.  Neither of us wrote.  I was certain that after seeing me in that state she’d never want to speak to me again.  It appears I was right.

I played it off to the select few that knew we’d had a falling out as “we’ve just grown apart…I’m not at all mad, I hope all is well with her”…like it didn’t really bother me.  Total lie.

It bugs the shit out of me.

I miss her and I love her and I have no clue how to fix this.

In the initial few weeks I wanted to call…I even wrote about a dozen emails…but I didn’t send them.  I didn’t send them because she didn’t send them.  I was afraid of the rejection.  Now, I ask you, how pathetic is that?  Here I am, a 35 year old mother of four who is strong and independent and able to handle royally difficult relationships in business without batting an eye…but in my personal life…with someone I should feel comfortable saying anything to…I was unable to make a damn phone call?  The longer it had been the harder it became.

We’ll see each other tonight.  I’m both thrilled and petrified.  Rockstar, being Rockstar, will be working the room and having the time of her life.  I hope that somewhere in the middle of it, I can find some vodka courage and start with something simple…like “Hi”…when really, I’d love more than anything to warp back to 2002, hit the dance floor like a maniac, drink copious of wine, whip some cake her way and fall into a hug while laughing at each other the way only the dearest of friends can.

At any rate, and however this evening turns out, tonight isn’t about me.  I’m privileged and thrilled to know that despite the challenges of all our growing pains we are all going to be together.  Glitter will be gorgeous; madly in love.  Her sister will make sure everything is organized before hand and then cry, because that’s what Virgos do. Her Mother will make us all feel like we’re in high school again and my husband will dance exactly one dance.

It’s going to be lovely.  What better, after ten years of marriages, children, homes, divorce, funerals, careers found, lost and changed, than to remind ourselves that some things, the best things…like love…love between a husband and a wife and the love between girlfriends..that love like that, despite the challenges faced and storms weathered…is worth fighting for?

Thanks again, Glitter…for the umpteenth time since I’ve known you…you managed to point something out to me that I should have seen all along.  Some things matter, other things don’t.  Hold onto and celebrate the ones that do.

Happy Anniversary to one of my five.  Love.

April 7, 2012

Black Cadillac.

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 2:26 pm by openendedcomment

I am a fighter.  Not physically, in fact, I’ve never hit another person in my life.  Ever.  I wouldn’t know what to do if the situation arose.  I am a fighter in that I will not allow myself or anyone I love to be hurt.  I won’t.  I literally can’t.  I’m writing this blog…this post of this blog…to attempt to explain why I feel the need to say something.  To speak up when I know someone is being hurt…to right wrongs.

I wasn’t always this way. Twelve years ago that all changed.   It took me this/that long to finally put the pieces together.  The reason I am the way I am.  I suppose to most this will seem obvious once the story is told but sometimes it is that which is closest to you which is the hardest to see.

Twelve years ago I was in an abusive marriage.

Most people don’t know about this.  I kept it quiet.  Not as much out of shame (at least not once it was over) but more so protect my daughter from knowing the truth of her biological father.  No child needs to  know such things.  Thanks to my mother-in-law telling my husband’s ex girlfriend all about it (follow that?)and her disregard for privacy and my children’s well-being, she now knows.  I had to tell her the truth a few months ago.  I was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  In doing so, though, I learned.

I married him when I was twenty-two.  He was thirty.  There were tulips everywhere and my family was happy.  There were no signs before-hand.  None.  No controlling behavior, no loud and angry outbursts.  Nothing.  I knew nothing.

It wasn’t until after my daughter was born that he changed.  My parents don’t even know the whole story.  No one but my husband does…the man I am married to now.  The man who I love.  It began with a few louder-than-normal arguments…some periods of wanting to know who I was with/when/why/for how long.  A grab of my wrist here; a pushing against a wall there.  Then one morning; he snapped.   He threw a glass at my head.  Iced caramel coffee.  I remember the scent and the taste of it as it splashed over me.  The feel of the glass as it hit my temple.  He lunged at me…he was so fast.  He was/is a big man and his quickness caught me off guard.  I was under him; pinned on a chair; his hands around my neck…his eyes were dark; like a shark.  Still.  I looked up into them as he squeezed…that was the last thing I saw.  I felt total fear.  I tried to call out my daughter’s name.  No noise came out…his hands were too strong.

I woke up.  The phones were all removed from the house.  I found one, packed in a box and I called my Mother to take my darling girl…so I could go to work.  Which I did.  Turtleneck on and marks hidden.  I denied the severity.  I couldn’t deal with it.  Not then.  Mom didn’t know the whole story.  Not at first.

He didn’t come back for a week.  Florida, with friends.  I said it was a business trip.

He called and he wrote letters.  I forgave him.  I let him come back.  I didn’t want to divorce; I didn’t want to believe that was really him…I didn’t want to raise my daughter alone…I was afraid of so very much.

For a month, he was good.  We were good.  We even talked about it.  I thought we could move past it…that it wasn’t who he really was.  I even told him about the shark thing, how I had felt when I looked at him.  He apologized so well.  So very, very well.  He cried.  He held me.  He vowed to never hurt me again.  I was so damned naiive.  It started again.  A few more times; not as bad.  That is what I will never forgive myself for.  The times that followed.  For being too weak.  I will never be OK with that.  I wasn’t strong enough to fight.

The last time…the last time there were scissors.   My Mother knew.  She called the police.  I cooperated.  I wanted to.  I wanted someone to stand up for me.  I didn’t know how to do it for myself.  Me, the woman who could and did stand up for causes and friends and life…I couldn’t do it for myself.  He went to jail.  I tried to get him out afer a few weeks…not to be back with me…but to be out of there.  I still don’t know why.  I still wasn’t ready to fight. I still wasn’t capable.  I divorced him.  After much reflection and many long conversations with my priest, I served him papers.  Yes, I know.  How was that even a discussion?  How after the first time was this not obvious?  Intellectually I know and knew all of this…but I just wasn’t capable.  I don’t know how else to explain it.

He didn’t show up to the hearing.  He sent me emails.  From an account named MinnesotaShark@  He broke into my car.  He left a tulip.   I said nothing.  I wanted it to end.  I needed it to end.  He moved on.  He remarried.  He hasn’t seen my daughter in a decade. I got stronger. I am free.  Almost.

Today, I am more than capable.  Since that time my sensitivity to the people I love being victimized in any way is hyper-aware.  I am always ready and willing and compelled to ensure that those I love are never, ever hurt.  Vigilant.  I am vigilant about this.

I am also less forgiving of other “victims”,  of people who either a) have been hurt and will not/can not get over it or b) the worst: people who lie about being hurt.  On the first group, I realize this isn’t “right”.  I do understand that not everyone can move on.  I also understand, better than most, that moving on is necessary.  That to remain a victim is to remain weak.  I will not be weak.  I do not understand nor do I tolerate that kind of weakness.  Not a decade later.  Get. Over. It.  Get over what happened, deal with the reality of it, find a way to cope and move through it.  You have to.  Just like you have to wake up every day.  Life is hard.  Living strong is hard…wallowing in your own self-pity is easy.  I don’t like people who take the easy way out.  It’ll always be there…that goes without saying…it’s ok to be sad or to feel scared sometimes…but it doesn’t have to be who you are.  On the second group, the ones that lie about abuse: horrible.  Terrible.  Pathetic.  ‘Nuff said.

And with all of that being said… I get it now.  I get why I can’t stand idly by and not help.  Not speak up.  I can’t forgive myself for not doing it before…and I will spend my life ensuring that I never, ever feel that way again…like I should have said something.  I should have been strong.  I should have been braver.  Louder.  Like I needed to fight.  For myself.  For her . I will never let us down again.  This can make my life difficult at times.  At times I pipe up when perhaps the smart thing to do is remain quiet.  But I’ve learned a lesson that not everyone else has…that to stay quiet in the face of danger, be it physical or emotional, is the most dangerous thing of all.

I almost died. It took me close to ten years to be able to admit that.  How close it was.  How close he came.  I spent many years acting like it was no big deal.  I had to face the reality when I re-read the police report.  How do you block something like that out?  The human mind is amazing.   I was six inches of blade from leaving my daughter without a Mother.  I see that moment still.  We don’t have scissors like that in our home.  We never will.  I have a physical reaction to them.  To caramel lattes.  To black Cadillacs and to hands anywhere near my neck.  It pisses me off that I do…I hide it and try to ignore it…but it’s there.  I’m afraid it always will be.   I don’t want that for them.  I will do anything and everything in my power to keep them…all five of them…from ever knowing anything even close to it.  It is my job.  It is who I am.  Who I have become.

I am strong.  I am protective.  I will never let it touch them.  And now I know why.

April 6, 2012

Love and Marriage.

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 11:08 pm by openendedcomment

For some reason whenever I think of a wedding, despite the many, many I have attended in all of their varied loveliness, the first thing that comes to mind is the scene in “The Princess Bride” when the priest is speaking of “Wove…trew wove”

I can’t help it.  Maybe that speaks to some deep-rooted issue with my psyche preventing me from taking the whole ceremony seriously.  I don’t know.  If there are any psychologists reading this; feel free to chime in.  Or not.  I’m actually kind of afraid of the answer.

Now marriage; marriage I take seriously.  Weddings not so much.  Weddings aren’t a marriage and weddings don’t really mean (to me) all that people expect/hype/pay for them to mean.  Marriage, on the other hand,  means everything.  Marriage means faith.  Not in God (though that’s good, too) but in each other.  The kind of faith that only comes through intense, intimate trust born from that love…true love…that as insanely school-girlish as this may sound, to me, is magic. Real magic regardless of the science heavy beliefs I hold…I know it is magic.  How else do you explain couples being together, in love, for sixty years?  How do you explain the ability to feel each other’s thoughts and to, after a time, feel the joy and the pain that your spouse is feeling?  Not to simply empathize or to sympathize…but feel it?  There is no scientific explanation for this…it is spiritual.  It is freeing.  It is the most powerful thing in the world.

And some assholes think it can be stopped…and here’s where I get up on my big ‘ol soap-box

These same assholes think that their love is somehow different or more deserving than the love that others share.  Now, how can that be?  I ask you…in all seriousness…how can that be?  How is it that love between a man of one color and a woman of another is lesser than the love of a couple that share the same heritage?  How is that right or even sane?  Why should a couple that looks perhaps a bit different from your wedding picture or my wedding picture be told that because they don’t look the same…they shouldn’t be allowed to experience the deepest and truest commitment known to human-kind?

At this point I’m sure you think I have lost my marbles and have forgotten that it is 2012, not 1912.  I haven’t.  Mostly.  In some countries this is still illegal.  In some countries women aren’t allowed to choose who they may or not marry.  Sound ridiculous?  Disgusting?  Immoral?  Of course it is.  Outraged?  Of course you are. That doesn’t happen in America.  Anymore.

BUT…here, in the good ol’ USA, where we are evolved enough in our social consciousness to decry this racial and sexist degradation as something we won’t tolerate…here…where those of you reading this are disgusted at the thought of it being illegal for an inter-racial couple to marry…here…we are doing the same damn thing.

It’s OK for a same-sex couple to have a joining ceremony.  They can have the wedding…but oh, no, they may not have a marriage.  It’s allowed to have a legal partnership with contracts and powers of attorney and even joint property…but marriage?  No, that is reserved for a special group.  A group that decides for the rest of the population who they may and may not marry. Re-read that last sentence.  We are deciding who other people may and may not spend their lives with.  How in the Hell is that OK?  How in the Hell is that even legal?  Newsflash:  it isn’t.

Church and state, in the US, are separate.  If a religion does not want to recognize or approve of same-sex marriage that is their prerogative and the government can’t make them do it.  FINE.  That is fine and that is legal.  I am divorced.  The Catholic church said that I couldn’t marry my husband (the man I adore and will love till the day I die) in the Catholic church because of this.  Now, if I had been willing to annul my marriage to my ex-husband (henceforth to be refered to as douchebag…another story…trust me, that moniker is me being nice…but I digress)  IF I had been willing to do that, then I could have married my husband in a Catholic church.  But I didn’t and I wasn’t.  Never mind that my Priest is the one who told me to get out of the offending marriage…but whatever.  We can discuss the hypocrisy of my religion another day.  Point is that my perfectly gorgeous wedding on a river performed by a judge in front of our family and friends was and is legal in every state in the US and in every country in the world.  Except maybe the Vatican.  Not sure what the rules are with that.

So…follow me here.  MY marriage, which my own religion chooses not to acknowledge as it offends their doctrine, is legal.  I am legally married because my husband and I are two consenting adults who decided to enter into a legal contract.  I am not married in the eyes of the Catholic church because they don’t agree with my decisions.  The state of Minnesota and the Country of the United States of America don’t care or even know that a religious group doesn’t approve…because church and state are separate.

So…with laws being laws and religion being religion…what in the fu*k is all the fuss about with same-sex marriage?

Why on earth is this an issue for any other loving couple in this or any other state?  Why is it that when many, many states had laws on the books preventing inter-racial marriage the rest of the country stood up and said that we would not tolerate bigotry but the federal government is doing nothing about this egregious offense to not only the moral conscience of many but to the damned constitution?

Another Newsflash (I’m big on those):  You can’t stop love.  You can illegalize it, decry it and even demoralize…but you can’t stop love.  Let me repeat that.  You. Can’t. Stop. Love. You can’t “decide” not to love someone.  You can’t tell me or anyone else on this planet that they can’t love someone.  You may ask them not to…but you can’t actually stop it.

Love is magical.  Like rainbows.  And sunsets.  And Faith.  And God.  At least the God I know.  You can’t see Him…but you know he’s there.  You can’t feel it…but it doesn’t make it any less real…love and faith…you just feel it.  You just know.  It just is.  And no different from every failed attempt in human history to legislate faith…each and every attempt to legislate love will also fail.  Preferably sooner rather than later.

On a purely practical note, while I’m not a huge fan of wedding ceremonies but rather of the marriages that follow (most of them anyway)…I AM a huge fan of bettering the economy. Practically speaking, what better for the economy than a few hundred thousand same-sex couples getting hitched?  I mean, have you ever been to a party thrown by a gay couple?  Much less a gay wedding?  Let me just tell you, they know how to throw a party…we’re talking serious economic stimulus in the wedding business.  Liza (and every good Liza impersonator) would be booked for life.  Epic run on orchids and fine bourban…and mad-men-esque tuxedos.  Swoon.

But back on track and seriously, people…

At no time in the history of our country have we been better for holding back progress…or faith…or especially love.  At no time has history shown those that have held this back as the victors…they have been the despots…the evil-doers…the ones we look back on in shame.  There is no shame in love…there is no shame in allowing love…there is no shame in your beliefs, the beliefs of a Mormon, a Catholic, a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Jew or in mine…the shame lies only in imposing them on others.

PS…CW , ML & TB…this one’s for you…love.

April 3, 2012

100 Pounds.

Posted in Life Lessons, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:28 pm by openendedcomment

Yesterday morning, my husband woke up, got ready and left for work.

It was a defining moment.

Christmas Day, 2010, my husband was fired.  By his step-father.  For personal reasons.  Yes, this is a personal blog and yes, in order to tell this story I have to mention some personal things.  If you don’t want to know, don’t read it.  It’s that simple.  I’m not going to shy away from the truth and I’m also not going to delve into anything that doesn’t apply to this exact topic…that being a career, a marriage and the journey to finding yourself after devastating personal loss.  Now, with that out-of-the-way:  I think it’s fairly obvious that there was a great deal more to it than “just” losing his job.  He lost his family, too.  That is a shame and that is terrible.  That is also a story for another time…perhaps…it is still too raw.  His brothers, his Mother, some aunts and uncles…all lost and all at once.  You see, there are two parts to this story…the job loss and the family loss.

The job loss is this tale.

There were financial losses, too.  He was the main bread-winner in our home.  He had the benefits…our eldest has special needs…and $1500 in monthly medical expenses to go  along with those needs.  Unemployment didn’t even cover the COBRA…much less the deductible, which was large.  We didn’t qualify for MNCare or any other medical assistance program as I earned “too much” but I am a contract employee and have no benefits.  Self insuring was going to run, at a minimum, $900 a month…with a four thousand deductible.  Per person.  But there was no choice so pay we would.  On top of firing him and stripping their grandchildren of medical coverage; they also denied his unemployment.  Initially.  He won the appeals…they did this twice.   After a few months of zero income from his end while we were dealing with that; we figured other minor things, like mortgages and prescriptions, out.  I worked harder.  I budgeted like a champ and proceeded to work some more.  He did anything and everything possible to make things work while looking for a new position. We made it through.  And I digress.

This post is about the JOBNot the money and not the people who stripped it from him. The blessed, needed and long-awaited JOB.  Which, incidentally, if you’ve ever been without you know is not “just” a job. My husband, like many men and women, found and finds much more than an income in his career.  It is a part of a person’s identity. For my husband, It. Was. His. Identity.  Who he was.  What he stood for.  What he had built.  His source of pride and his place of belonging.  He helped to build the company…literally, he helped to design and then put the building up.  Brick by brick.  He designed the products.  He hired the staff.  He chose the equipment.  Cultivated the clients.  Knew every single detail of every single order, person, issue…you name it.  He had been there since he was fourteen.  He began under his grandfather.  Whom he adored.  Who was, after losing his Dad at a young age, the closest thing to a “real” Dad my husband had from age twelve on.  The JOB was not a job…it was his tie to the man he loved, admired and respected above all others.  Even after his passing several years ago.  Each day when my husband walked through those doors he saw his grandfather’s name on the building and it filled him with pride.

When he lost that, he lost almost everything.  He wasn’t himself.  He couldn’t breathe for the first few weeks…he didn’t eat for two…sleep came, finally, at week six.  I had to remind him to do simple things…he just wasn’t tracking.  He felt as though he had failed everyone and everything.  There were no words I could utter that would have changed it or that could help. Eventually, as with all things, with time, he got better.  By Spring of 2011 he was starting to find himself again…to learn for the first time who he was/is without that integral part of him.   Spring was difficult but far preferable to the Hell that was his Winter; Summer was better still. By Summer he was able to go on interviews with his head up. By Summer, I was pushing him.  I was, to be honest, nagging.  I was tired…stressed…carrying the weight of all of us on my shoulders and trying to find a way to get him to share the load.  He wasn’t ready.  He lost weight.  Alot of weight.  I backed off.   By Fall, he had identified what he could bring to the table and why a company would want him.  He was learning his worth.  He has so much.  By Winter he was frustrated but focused.  Positions in manufacturing in Minnesota are hard to come by these days.  Especially C-Level ones.  He lowered his sights…it was about more than a title or pride by that point…it was about survival.  Our survival.  Pushing resumed.  With force.  He had road-blocks and I was going to make damn sure he plowed right through them.  It was the only way.  No references?  Fine.  We’ll handle it. (Yes, a 25 year career with no references…difficult at best to explain away but equally impossible to give given the situation.)  We were getting him hired come Hell or high-water. I applied him to hundreds of positions.  I am not exaggerating.  Hundreds.  At first because he couldn’t bring himself to admit what had and was happening and later because we established a sort of routine.  Other families that have fought through job loss know what I’m talking about here.   He went on interview after interview.  I hated it for him…the look on his face when he got the rejection letter…the look when I tried to blow it off with “Honey, it’s OK…there are so many applicants these days.”…he knew the reasons just as I did.  We didn’t speak of them.  No references.  No history.  He kept going.  He kept going and I kept pushing.  Full steam ahead.

Perhaps in all of this there weren’t my best moments or my most perfect of all actions as a wife…but I was tired.  I needed help and I needed him. Fifteen months of me carrying it all.  Them all.  Fifteen months of budgeting and scrambling.  Fifteen months of reassuring him and supporting him through all of the hurt, the doubt and questions.  Fifteen months of keeping it from touching our children…or trying to.  Fifteen months of chin up in public…and private…acting like it was all OK…when it wasn’t.  Even.  Close. Fifteen months of trying to find a way to keep us moving forward without sacrificing the medical care, tutoring and sports for my children.  Fifteen months of saying to everyone that asked  “Oh, everything’s fine.”   “Yes, I’m sure you’re right.  Something will turn up.” Or, my favorite “Yes, I know.  Just like you, we will be so much better off because of this.” When really, all I could think of at those moments was how on earth I could ever articulate the immense pressure I was feeling…that no, we were NOT better off.  That no, it is and was not “the same thing”  that happened to you or to your brother-in-law.  That they had lost a JOB…my husband lost most of his life.  The people, the places, the who and the what of his very self…all of it…all gone and all with no warning and little reason.  That he wasn’t “just” looking for a JOB…that he had to come back to me.  To us. That for fifteen months all I had was the hope of him…the prayer that someday, somehow this would work out…that he would return…the him I love and missed desperately.  I lost friends during this…I’m not the type to speak about what is bothering me while it is bothering me…after is fine, but not during.  This made any real connection next to impossible.  I had and have regrets about that…but at the time it was all I could do to handle this issue…others had to be set aside.  Some I may never have a chance to repair.  Casualties of our lost year.   Never had I been so lonely with someone at my side.  My husband.  My children’s father.  My friend.  Not the man who brought home a check…I have and did do that myself.  (It is of course better to have us both working…but that wasn’t the point.)  The point…the need…was and is to have him look at me again.  The man who is sure of himself.  The man with pride.  The man who I married.

God I missed him.  God I hated what they did to him.  God I wanted him back.  Anything.  Please, anything to have him back…I would have given and done anything to see him again…the way he was.  The way I knew he could still be…the him that was buried under all of that pain and rejection; not from a paycheck that no longer arrived but from a life he no longer led.

Two weeks ago Friday, he had two offers.  Two. Great. Offers.  No “Setting lower sights” offers, either…really, really great offers that really were better than what he had had before.  Places he wanted to be and jobs he wanted to do.  Was thrilled the have the opportunity to do.

Last night, at 6:12 PM, He walked through our kitchen door.  He hugged me.  He came home.

And in that moment, as I pressed against him and felt his arms actually holding me…100 pounds lifted from my shoulders.  I’m not on my own.  I never was. I don’t have to do this alone anymore.  No matter what happens or if, God forbid, one of us may ever find ourselves without a job again; we know that we can make it through.  We proved that.  We damn well proved that.  He and we will always know that our worth is found in ourselves and each other…not in where and for whom we work.   He will always know he can survive and he will always be assured that he can come back from any adversity.  As many times as it takes.  He came home.