Weekend Coffee Share, Clearing the Stage for the Next Act

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Welcome to my Weekend Coffee Share and a little slice of my life and dreams, where I am the writer, the producer, the stage hand, and the main character.  It has been quite a week!  Pull up a chair and a brisk coffee or a relaxing tea, whichever works for you.  I am lingering over my V8 and coffee, having slept in and missed the pilates class I was considering taking.  I suppose I needed a relaxing day!

I think I have mentioned before that, after working on and completing physical therapy for my back and shoulder pain (which may or may not have been due to arthritis), I am now going to work on the mind.  Mind you, I’m still keeping up with the body work on my own; today is arm/shoulder day!  Along with my aches and pains,  I need to work on my anxiety and OCD or slight perfectionism, and I have been doing so.  One of the things I’m doing is using an app called Curable that has a lot of writing exercises, meditations, and factual information on the mind/body connection regarding chronic pain. I have particularly benefited from the visualization meditation, while the writing exercises have me digging into my past and things that sparked anxiety for me.  I believe the goal is to identify the stressers you have or had and deal with them, confront them.  So, this week I was talking with my practitioner about my ex-husband.  She asked what the last straw was that broke the proverbial camel’s back.  So, I told the story.  It made me feel so tired to conjure up the setting, the actors, the events, picturing myself back in the house I lived in with my then husband.  I felt sad, scared, and angry as well.  I hadn’t told the story in quite a while.  Still, having done so, I felt more better equipped to deal with my present and future.  I went home tired, though.

I lay down at some point in the evening to relax, and in my mind, I recalled events of the day and the story I had brought up again.  I pictured hands reaching in and moving/removing stage props, my old house, furniture, the garage, the backdrop of trees.  Maybe this was demonstrated on a movie or something, I don’t know, but it popped into my mind and I observed all these things being removed and leaving an empty stage.  It made me feel triumphant!  I had brought up the images, the story, and the actors and processed them, and now they could be put away.  I could move on and create the next act.  Of course, it is never good to dwell on the past, but if you must process it, and if doing so lets you move on, then, eureka!  Something works!  I think we are all different.  But the mind/body work through the app does emphasize acknowledging the stressers from your life/past and that your way of dealing with them may have hurt you, i.e. caused chronic pain, digestive issues, or migraines, etc.  I stuffed so many negative emotions down since childhood that they were bound to hurt me inside.

So, perhaps the stage is my mindset/focus.  I know one should not focus on the past, but it comes up whenever I see the doctor and we discuss what tests I should have done; for instance, I had been tested for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, both negative, thank God!  I was plagued with pain for a while when I was so busy tending to my son in his rough patch of his youth, and now that he is moving along and doing fairly well, it is time to tend to me, to learn and unlearn my anxious reactions to his rough spells, to deal with the physical trauma of having been worried and trapped in hospitals or ERs several times.  Parenting a son on your own is nothing to shake a stick at.  Now, he is choosing a life, an honest, hard-working life and not that of a hitch-hiker (one of my past worries, silly me! :))

So, the stage is cleared and waiting.  What will the next set be?  Who will be the actors there with me? I have some great people and a support network as it is.  Will I explore a meditation group? A writer’s group?  Improv comedy? Will I continue my teaching career until retirement or find another way to approach my ‘golden’ years?  The stage is waiting for me.  The backdrop looks pretty magical, especially when fear and distrust have exited stage left!

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*Am I truly done with fear, distrust, and anxiety?  They are getting better.  I can be brave for others and at times, for myself.  I’ve been working on this.  Being of a certain age, I can get hot flashes and brain fog as well as anxious moments, but they’ve improved with my recent mind/body work which I plan to continue.  We’ll see what comes, but I am much better equipped to deal with it now!

Have a great week, my friends! I have Spring break and no travel plans, so this little fellow will have some play time with me, I’ll be writing/editing, and I’ll be getting some mundane appointments taken care of as well as relaxing and sleeping in some more!

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**The Weekend Coffee Share is currently hosted by Allison at Eclectic Alli. Give her site a visit and say hello!

Not for Me, the Wives’ Social Circle

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*Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Have you ever felt like a caged bird?  I’ve even felt that way in the midst of several other people.  They didn’t seem to be caged.  At times, I was just accustomed to it, and I made do, laughing and enjoying myself.  Though I must admit, there was always an underlying feeling of being trapped, and perhaps, a knowledge that I chose this trap myself.  This entry is not about marriage being horrible, and it is not to rant about the atrocities of my marriage, nor is it to slam the wives I was acquainted with while married.  It is just my experience, brought up by a thought that popped in my head after eighteen years, “Where are they today?”

This social circle of wives was something that formed whenever our husbands all went out together, or when there were celebrations, such as my son’s second birthday, or someone moving to a new house.   We bonded when our husbands made long treks to refill on beer or liquor so the party could go on. It made sense, though.  Most of our husbands had worked together in the Navy.  Many of them got out in their early twenties to pursue education, a job, a life in one place.  This was the age when we were getting engaged and married, and then pregnancies and babies came along.  We were all around the same age.  I was cut off from my high school friends.  Part of it is how shy I was in high school, another is, I never really attempted to keep in touch with any but maybe two close friends.  I can gladly say I’ve gotten better about that, though.

I started thinking about our little group of wives lately.  I just wondered about “The Millers,” whose baby was born weeks after I took my toddler with me and left my husband.  I even spoke to Mrs. “Miller” after leaving him, trying to be friendly by phone, explaining my side of the story since my husband was incredulous as to why I’d want to leave our marriage.  She gave advice.  Lots of advice, that mentioned seeing my husband, dating him, but living separate.  I was not interested in seeing him or dating him; I was interested in piecing my identity back together without him.  He was not to be trusted with my deepest thoughts; it seemed he would always twist them and use them against me.  I spoke to one other wife, “Mrs. Smith,” whose husband left her a few months after I left mine, and it was mentioned that they were partying together, hinting that maybe my husband’s newfound freedom looked good to him and influenced him to leave.  They also had a child, a one year old, at home.  Now, all of these friends drank heavily.  I am not implying that Navy men are heavy drinkers.  There are some who are not.  My ex-husband simply did not seek them out as friends.  I think I heard him refer to them as nerds, or too straight arrow.

It is not surprising that Mrs. Miller would encourage me to stay with my then husband; her own husband had already put her through all kinds of financial hell, and she stayed, for whatever reason, and that’s her own business.   Not surprising either that Mrs. Smith hinted at my ex-husband’s influence in her husband leaving her.  You see, it came out that she never trusted my husband.  She mentioned his “beady eyes,” and that when he came around (before we met), she knew that he and her husband were going to get drunk and rowdy.  What must she have thought of me?  Did they all think that?  Poor Pam, quiet, patient, she has to put up with all this.  Why does she put up with all this?  She must not feel she deserves any better.  I was a part of a circle of wives who looked down on me.  Who could blame them?  I sure didn’t choose my own friends.  There were many times I felt fear and desperation that I could share with no one, but my mother.  She herself worried that I had no one to really confide in.  At least, toward the end of our marriage, I was chummy with a young woman at work, and a man, who was married and I had no intention of fooling around with, yet it buoyed my spirit being his friend, and feeling I had an identity out of what my husband would choose for me.  Yes, I told my husband about these friends.  Needless to say, they were never invited over for dinner.  He tried to make me feel guilty for having a male friend, and to convince me the young woman must be too wild, because she hangs out at a certain country bar.

So, it is apparent that the wives’ club was in existence for convenience.  Throwing a party meant my husband’s friends and their wives were coming over. It was nice to have gals to talk to that were in similar experiences as mine as far as house buying, family planning, new parenthood.  But when I left my husband, it became apparent that they did NOT see me as a person separate from him.  I could not befriend them.  He would always be a fixture in our conversations.  When my best friend from high school moved back into town, as her husband’s job took them all over the Northeast for years, we’d get together and talk about what a loser my ex was, and yes, hers too. (He eventually became her ex).  We’d talk about what we wanted in a man, without any guilt.  We’d share book recommendations of women standing up for themselves and starting new lives.  That is what a true friend does.  When you envision ill-fortune befalling your ex, it’s so good to tell someone, and have her laugh with you, and say, I get it.  You are not judged; you are encouraged to share.  One good, understanding friend; that is better than belonging to any group of women.

It is only with a small hint of sadness that I think of them, and where their children are now.  College?  Marriage?  Good lives?  Hopefully not trouble?  I don’t pick up the phone or try to contact them on Facebook.  I am a different person now.  I will leave that life behind.  If I should run into them, I will smile and ask all the details about their children; I will truly wish them well.  After eighteen years divorced, I have developed my own circle of friends, through work, church,  former employment, even some high school friends with the help of Facebook.  That, again, is better than belonging to a circle of wives.  I may or may not be a wife again, and there’s nothing negative I imply about being a wife.  The point is, what I want to be is a loving person, a friend, a writer, a lover of life, dog lover, poet, and maybe the best I can be as a teacher.  That’s it; it is all I need to be part of, and I meet many lovely people in my life, several that I would call friends!

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