Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Where are you and where are you going?
suomalainen
Posts: 725
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

The River

Post by suomalainen »

Thanks to all for their well-wishes.

I closed on a 2-bedroom condo purchase just as my state's covid lockdown started. Since New Year's, I've been staying in an airbnb-ish fully furnished studio apartment a few miles from the house. I've seen the kids almost daily, except for racquetball nights and my off-weekends. On my on-weekends, we've been going snowboarding, which was planned long before the separation blew everything apart. The new condo is a 7 minute walk from the house, meaning it's been easy for the kids and me to walk back and forth. So far, the ex and I are working pretty well together and our interactions are perfectly civil so long as we don't talk about "us", at which point one or the other of us starts to make assumptions or misunderstand or bristle. Such is life. From the time I left the house to the time I closed on my condo was 5 months, during which time I hoped every. single. day. for us to reconcile. The "big picture" of "we'll never do [a trip or something] again" has been really sad, but every daily interaction has been exactly what I wanted it to be - I like not being tangled with my ex in every aspect of our lives. In other words, I was only sad about the whole thing when I stepped back to look at the whole thing, but not when the day-to-day took up the whole of my vision. I have enjoyed my space and I think it has been good for me. and for her. as individuals. As a couple...well, here's a text I recently sent some friends:
I'm closing on my condo on Monday. Setting up a wire for [a large amount of money] really focuses the mind. I'm faced with the daunting reality that I have to let go of [ex] - of the hope that things could change, that we could somehow make it work. I've been holding on to that hope for the last five months (and for years before that), but I just don't know how it could happen if I also 'hold on to myself' (phrase from a book called Passionate Marriage). But letting go, fully and finally, is so sad.
I cried a few times that day, grieving the loss of what will never be, and I felt more at peace.

Just before I moved into the new condo (during an off-weekend), the ex invited me to hike with her and the kids (she probably felt sorry for me since I've been working from home due to covid-19 and haven't seen any human faces other than hers, the kids and a couple of folks at Target at 7am one day). The trail was packed and at one point she and the kids broke off on a shorter loop since the kids were bitching and wanted to cut it short, and I continued on a longer loop alone. I sat by a river alone for a good long while and listened to the river. I was reminded of the ferryman in Siddhartha that spoke about the river speaking to him and of learning from the river. Watching, and listening, I understood that the river takes the path of least resistance, flowing around obstacles instead of insisting on pushing them out of the way, but once the path is chosen, the river cuts deep. This is how I want to be. I want to flow and be flexible, gently pushing on people and situations to try to improve them, but then yielding to any resistance and just going on my way, unconcerned. But where a person or situation yields to me, I want to cut deep.

As an example and one that's been continuous in my life for a few years now, I'm working hard on deepening friendships and connections with those who are receptive to me and to whom I am receptive. A more recent example is my somewhat forced asceticism arising from the separation/living out of a suitcase. This situation has only been exacerbated by the forced work-from-home directive from my company for the last few weeks and the state stay-at-home order layered on top of that. I found myself wanting a supply of food to last me a good long while should the supply chain become brutally disrupted, so I opted for simple, bland, long shelf-life foods - i.e., rice and beans (I also bought a bunch of frozen stuff so I can have bland one meal a day and like a hotpocket for another meal). So, every day now, I've been cooking, eating less, and eating more blandly than I have in a very, very long time, and hand-washing and drying and putting away my dishes. And I feel a certain sense of...not pride really, but of...life. Like I'm really living - pruning back my marital relationship, my work relationships, my food relationships... has left me feeling... natural, like a river. I can adjust to anything that life throws at me because I have no need to maintain these fixed relationships. As a last example, the store closures and germophobia whenever I leave the house have left my new condo in decidedly spare conditions. Although it has been a little challenging to find comfort in an echo-y apartment, it has grown on me. I do still want a few more things to make working from home and hosting my three kids a little more workable and comfortable, but many of these things are pieces that I'm taking from my sister's surplus of furniture, so my start-up costs have so far consisted of some basic kitchen and office supplies. I bought 2 queen beds, bedding, a kitchen table and 4 chairs from the prior owner, all for $300! which has made a world of difference, along with some bean bags, an air mattress, a tv and the old video game consoles from the house.

Put it all together, and what do you have? Separation, moving, my cat died, forced work from home, forced social isolation, new relationships with my kids coming to my new condo (they never came to my rented studio) has meant a lot of change for me. Like a river, constantly moving, constantly changing. Embracing this change, going with the flow, not resisting, allowing things to slowly develop has brought me a sense of purpose and peace such that I have not shrunk from these most recent challenges. Nor have I fully "taken them head on" to try to "solve them". I'm just existing day by day, allowing things to be. Like a river, constantly moving, constantly evolving.

May everyone stay safe in these truly extraordinary times.

Jason
Posts: 2759
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: The River

Post by Jason »

suomalainen wrote:
Thu Apr 02, 2020 4:47 pm
my cat died
Suicide?

classical_Liberal
Posts: 1672
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:05 am

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by classical_Liberal »

Great to hear from you Suo! Sounds like you're transitioning as well as anyone could expect given your personal situation and the madness in the world right now. Keep going, it'll be worth it!

Hristo Botev
Posts: 326
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Hristo Botev »

Just saw that you'd posted Suo; good to hear from you and to get the update.

SavingWithBabies
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Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2015 2:50 pm
Location: Midwest, USA

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by SavingWithBabies »

Glad to hear things are stabilizing. I can somewhat imagine what you've gone through but to actually live that is quite something else. Best wishes.

Smashter
Posts: 359
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2016 8:05 am

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Smashter »

Glad that you're through the worst of it!

How are your kids taking everything? Like I mentioned in a comment in this journal before, I wish my parents had divorced before waiting until we were all 18.

Fish
Posts: 555
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:09 am

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Fish »

Very pleased to read that you are doing about as well as can be expected during these extraordinary and uncertain times. It’s remarkable how you lost a spouse, and ~50% of everything else including your time with kids and your joint assets from marriage. Yet you don’t really seem too fazed by it whereas the Suo of the past seemed easily irritable. There seems to be some kind of inner strength or internal compass that keeps you grounded despite the changing circumstances in your life.

Past-Suo was bugged by a constant feeling of having lost some indeterminate thing of great value while Present-Suo doesn’t have the same problem despite experiencing tangible losses of significant value. I would be curious to get your perspective on what changed to make you more resilient.

Fish
Posts: 555
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:09 am

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Fish »

@Augustus - From the very limited information provided it sounds like it could be a situation where Kegan2 mom is unable to relate to Kegan1 child. Or maybe her higher functioning is overwhelmed by childcare demands. I hope you are able to resolve this without resorting to the nuclear option.

Add: Could also be cultural factors which would be more difficult to reconcile. I’m not sure this is helpful so I’ll be quiet now. Best wishes getting through this.

suomalainen
Posts: 725
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen »

@jace - Actually, I really, seriously wonder if it wasn't covid. Vet thought it might be heart disease, but tests came back negative. He was old, and he died having a very very hard time breathing. And the timing was mid-March, so... who knows?

@Augustus - so sorry to hear that, man. I don't have anything to really say about a situation like that. My father hit me when I was a child and my mom was effectively powerless to stop it until I threatened to murder him or kill myself or both at which point she finally shook her fist at my dad and told him to never do it again. She'd never stood up to him before that. Divorce is hard enough with two people who are trying to do it with kindness; I can't imagine it with hostility or abuse thrown into the mix. If you have specific questions or just want to talk, PM me and we can talk offline.

@smashter - The timeline w/r/t kids is something like this (kids are 10, 12 and 15 at the start of this):

-November 1 - sit kids down and explain that dad is leaving because mom and dad need space. We love them, none of this is their fault, they should feel free to feel however they feel and to express themselves to us freely, this isn't mom's fault, it's dad choice, etc. The 10 year old is oblivious, the 12 year old cries, the 15 year old is maybe (maybe) a little teary.

- Through November - I go over to the house after work every day and every weekend. I leave at 9 to go sleep somewhere else. Effectively, they see me the same amount and in the same place and at the same times as before. Nothing's changed from their perspective. We play more games with each other and they hug me more deliberately when I say good night to them. I'm at airbnbs.

- Through December - same as November except I'm house-sitting for a friend and we start alternating weekends because it's too hard to be in each other's face all the time. I go skiing with the kids on my weekends.

- Through January, February and March - same as December. I move into a furnished studio apartment. We talk to the kids every now and again and ask them directly how they're doing with all of it. They don't seem to care at all. The oldest says about half of his friends' parents are divorced - half of those are nice to each other and the other half are not. He says "So long as you guys continue to like each other, I don't really care."

- April - I close on a condo a 7-minute walk from the house. The kids come over to my empty condo for their first non-ski weekend. They don't really seem to care, but I do. I don't want Dad's house to feel like a shithole or a prison, nor do I want it to feel like "fun time". Both houses should feel basically the same - some fun and some boredom. I get some furniture from my sister and the place starts to feel a little more homey. I ask the kids if it's weird for them, and they don't really care. Their lives are the same here or there - they just want to play video games and watch TV, so whether they do it here or there is basically irrelevant to them. We spend at least a little bit of time walking outside. Since they are now distance-learning, they come to my place Tuesday and Thursday nights and I go over to theirs Mondays and Wednesdays. We still alternate weekends. We have "family dinner" once a week, rotating between my place and her place.

From the ex standpoint - we tried couples counseling in Nov/Dec, which went nowhere given our differences and the different ways we view them. In Jan, Feb and March, she was distant and icy. One day in early April, we ended up having a really nice conversation and we both said that we wanted to remain friends and perhaps we're better as friends. That conversation threw both of us for a little bit of a loop, wondering "holy fuck, what does this mean?" But it doesn't mean anything. It was one nice conversation. No need to extrapolate anything from it. So that's where we are now. We're both in covid hell and we're trying to be the people we want to be, which means we want to be friends or at least friendly to each other. We need each other now, frankly, and It's been nice to get my friend back.

@fish
Fish wrote:
Thu Apr 16, 2020 10:55 am
Past-Suo was bugged by a constant feeling of having lost some indeterminate thing of great value while Present-Suo doesn’t have the same problem despite experiencing tangible losses of significant value. I would be curious to get your perspective on what changed to make you more resilient.
What changed? This is actually an extremely easy question - I stopped trying to solve the wrong problem. Back in September/October, I had an experience that showed me what was really going on with me. It wasn't that I needed a new home or a new job or a new wife or no job or more free time or any of that shit, about which I wrote extensively here in this journal and in other threads. My problem was simply this: I wasn't being myself. To put a finer point on it, I was in a marriage where (1) if she was being herself, I wasn't happy and (2) if I was being myself, she wasn't happy. There was no intersection of both of us being ourselves and both of us being happy. Which is all fine and good in a normal relationship - the relationship just stalls out wherever it stalls out. But in a marriage, it's super tough because when you are in a relationship that can't give you what you need yet prohibits you from getting what you need outside of the marriage - you die inside. This is one place where compromise is not just hard - it's unwise.

So, I started to see my marriage for what it was and to accept it for what it was. Gaining that critical insight freed me from worrying about shit that I didn't really care about. So, now I "hold onto myself" much more fiercely and I accept that me being me will have some benefits and some costs, but because those benefits are congruent with me, they taste much sweeter and because those costs are congruent with me, they feel much more worthwhile. So, all the money I've "lost" in this divorce? Meh. I don't need it anyway. The divorce isn't official, but I'm paying the ex a big chunk of money every month. She thought I was sending her less than 50% and I sat down with her and showed her my paystubs and showed her how I was sending her something like 70% of every paycheck and keeping only 30% to myself. "Can you live on that?" she asked. "Yeah, I don't need much." I replied.

I'm happy, and I'm at peace, because I'm finally suffering for being me. In the past, I was unhappy and agitated because I was suffering for being someone I'm not.

Jason
Posts: 2759
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason »

Sorry about Covid Cat.

Glad you are at peace.

You're smarter than me, but I'll say it anyways- Beware the condo chicks and their common area snares.

suomalainen
Posts: 725
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

If only

Post by suomalainen »

Things have settled down. The kids seem to have gotten used to this arrangement (dad's T/Th evenings and sleeping over every other weekend). I'm not sure I've gotten used to it. I still can't get over how weird my life is. I walk around my condo all the time mumbling to myself "THIS is my life" and shaking my head.

Sometimes I think about what it might take to go back to my wife. As far as she's indicated, she wouldn't take me back now. I burned too many bridges, I suppose, by not "trying to reconcile" or "not showing any interest - every step you take is away from us" or "you're dating". I mean, sure, "dating" in this covid world. I suppose my chatting with chicks via text or sometimes phone or sometimes facetime is "dating" in this brave new world, but whatever. Often, I think what happened is that I'm on a certain wavelength, transmitting and receiving constantly while she's on a totally different wavelength (like not even same neighborhood - AM vs FM) constantly transmitting and receving... and our signals just cross like two ships in the night. Man, like all the time I look at her and I'm like "if you just..." or "if only you could..." and things would be great. I bet she thinks exactly the same thing.

But "if only" is no way to live. "If only" is fantasy. It doesn't exist. "If only she would just..." is the same as "if only I had a million dollars..." Why is one so obviously a fantasy while the other is so incredibly hard to let go? I don't know. In any event, put away the "if only" and what's left is that I'm exactly where I want to be. I'm perfectly okay with myself and by myself each day. I'm not sure there's a single thing I would change on any given day. I talk with chicks (i.e., "date" them) because maybe it leads to something interesting, but not because I "need" them. Maybe at some point that changes, but for now, I'm fine riding my bike every other day, seeing my kids every-other-day-ish, working from home and just living my plain little ordinary life.

If, at some point, I could find someone who brings joy into my life without my needing to "fill in the gaps" with some bit of imagination, then I could see myself in a long-term relationship again. If only...

Jason
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Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason »

suomalainen wrote:
Sat May 16, 2020 6:58 pm
If, at some point, I could find someone who brings joy into my life without my needing to "fill in the gaps" with some bit of imagination, then I could see myself in a long-term relationship again. If only...
You're talking new cat, right?

7Wannabe5
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Location: Clinton River Watershed

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

When you really start interacting with other women, you will likely discover a good many problems you hadn’t imagined. For instance, maybe you will date somebody who only eats white food or somebody who still runs a dojo with her ex or somebody who is so extroverted she is on the phone making plans for brunch Sunday morning before you even have a chance to pull out.

ertyu
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by ertyu »

I’m not sure it’s possible to find a human being that leaves no “gaps.” We’re all slightly fucked up. Instead of trying to imagine the gaps away, focus on finding out where they are and figuring out whether you can jump over them without falling in the hole imo. But also, cat. Cats are always good.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Mister Imperceptible »

Hold out for someone who treats you like gold.

Jason
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Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Jason »

Like buying into him as a safe haven when she feels there are no better options? Sounds kind of like his ex-wife.

suomalainen
Posts: 725
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen »

ertyu wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 7:39 am
I’m not sure it’s possible to find a human being that leaves no “gaps.” We’re all slightly fucked up. Instead of trying to imagine the gaps away, focus on finding out where they are and figuring out whether you can jump over them without falling in the hole imo. But also, cat. Cats are always good.
Yes, this was assumed in my thinking, but I should have been explicit. There are must-haves and there are nice-to-haves. A must-have that sort of dovetails into @MI's point and even @jace's point (generously assuming he has one), is that I want to be with someone who doesn't see my core personality as faulty - who doesn't "if only" my core personality. I know who I am now and I know when another person sees me and when they don't. I'm done trying to fill in the gap in situations where my basic suo-ness either isn't seen or, if seen, isn't really liked.

And to head off perhaps another reaction - it's not like I want to find "my one person who is my everything". Yes, I want a romantic relationship that is more rather than less, but I work hard on getting what I need from myself for those things that only I can give to me, and I work hard on friendships that give me what I need with respect to those things that only others can give to me (and in turn, I work hard to give to them also). But I do want one person in this life with whom I can share sufficient levels of emotional, mental AND sexual intimacy. I think it would make for a rather enjoyable addition to my already decent life.

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