Saturday, June 30, 2012

Better Living Through Chemistry

I spent the Christmas holidays in in a state of disbelief. I bought already prepared food for Christmas Eve. My son and his girlfriend cooked lasagna on Christmas Day. There was no tree. I put up a few decorations in a half-hearted attempt to make the house look somewhat festive. We had dinner, just the four of us, Josh, Hilary, Jocelyn and myself. Lots of people invited us to join their celebrations. But how could I inflict myself on anyone else's holiday merriment? The only normal thing I could manage to do was make the Christmas angels. I had been making them for years as breakfast on Christmas Day. But this Christmas I didn't care about traditions. All of our usual traditions were about to change.

I was panicked about being alone. How was I going to run a house? I hadn't paid a bill in thirty
years. Not only did I have my bills to worry about but my sister's as well. I was still not really eating or sleeping. I carried my cell phone around constantly, always worried the hospital would need to talk to me. I was anxious and sad about my future.

Therapy was helping but now I was considering the fact that I might need some pharmacological help. My therapist agreed, but she does not prescribe medication. I called my internist and told him the story over the phone. I asked him for something for anxiety. "I think you might need an anti-depressant," was his reply. I was shocked! I didn't like to take pills at all. I held out for years before he finally convinced me I needed to be on cholesterol and high blood pressure medication. When I hesitated he said he would prescribe them and I could decide when and if to take them. He prescribed the lowest dose possible. Finally, I made the decision that I did need them. I call them my "crazy" pills. In fact I refer to that whole period of time as "when I was crazy." I know that is not politically correct, but it's so true. It is the only way I can describe how I was feeling. Sometimes I take medicine to help me sleep. It allows me to rest and keeps me from thinking of all the things that could come up that I feel unable to handle alone.

Eventually the black mood lifted. I was able to empathize with the problems of others and not focus so much on my own. I was still incredibly sad but there were moments when I actually smiled. I don't know for sure if it was just time or the medication but I don't care. I remember the first time I laughed at work. I was behind the nurses station and someone said something funny. I actually laughed out loud. Something I hadn't done in three months. Mary said, " I think the old Lu is coming back." All of a sudden I started to see the humor in things again. The old Lu wasn't back but someone who very much resembled her was starting to emerge.

Do what you need to do to get yourself past the initial hurdle. Don't be hesitant about therapy or medication. It will help. Don't worry about what others may think or say. Do what feels right to you. Many people will offer advice and opinions. You need to follow your instincts.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"What Really Happened"

June 26, 2012

I was going to write about my friends and family today. About their incredible love and support. But I have gotten sidetracked by the Rielle Hunter story. She has been on every time I turn on the TV. I saw her this morning on Good Morning America. I wanted to watch the news at noon and she was on the end of The View. She is promoting her book, "What Really Happened." First of all why does anyone care? Most people already know what happened. She pursued and slept with a famous married man. And apparently she hasn't heard about birth control.

Did you know that adultery is not taken into consideration when it is time to discuss alimony? I'm sure most married women don't know that. I certainly didn't. It can be argued that your marriage was already broken down before any affairs. How convenient for the cheating spouse. Some day I will have to research that concept of the law. I wonder if it was enacted by a man or a woman.

Anyway, back to the John Edwards/Rielle Hunter saga. How sordid and sad for all concerned, but especially for the children. Doesn't anyone have any morals? How do seemingly intelligent people behave in a way they know will ultimately hurt so many people. How does the vice presidential candidate put so many people in jeopardy? In my case how did the Regional Manager for Cancer Services and a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner walk into motels, pay cash for the room and wait for my husband to arrive at lunch time? I guess she did not consider that to be an assault on me or my family.

I am tired of seeing Rielle Hunter on TV. I am tired of her justification of their affair. Everyone makes mistakes but this goes beyond a small indiscretion. When families and lives are destroyed it is hard to accept excuses. She is a low life and John Edwards is a low life with money. I have worked as a nurse for over 30 years. I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt money does not buy class. I have taken care of some of the poorest people in the community and many of them have dignity and class that is beyond reproach.

I will not be watching TV again today. I will spend the rest of the day cleaning, reading and going out to dinner with my daughter!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Divorce is Like a Death

Those first few months after he left are a blur. I was devastated beyond belief. Unable to concentrate, sleep or eat. I had always joked that I could eat for any reason... happy, sad, depressed, celebratory, the reason didn't matter. But I was wrong. There was no food in the world that appealed to me. I lost twenty pounds that first month. My friend Annie would call me several times a day..."eat half an English muffin"...." have some cheese"...."are you drinking water?" My son came to stay with me. He and his girlfriend cooked Christmas dinner and he took me out to eat. My daughter did the food shopping.

I walked around in a daze. I wouldn't have left the house or my bed except for the fact that my sister had a stroke and I went to Yale New Haven Hospital every day for the six weeks she was there. I was her next of kin and had to make medical decisions regarding her treatment. I felt like a zombie, surreal, like I was outside looking in at some pathetic woman. I had always been a strong person but I was afraid I would not survive. I had counted on Dave for love, support and guidance almost my whole life. I knew my family, friends and coworkers were worried but I couldn't seem to snap out of my despair. Even more frightening to me, I didn't WANT to snap out of it. I was wallowing in self-pity but I didn't care. I cried constantly and uncontrollably.

I checked our credit cards and bank account obsessively. Everyday I found evidence of his affair. Buying her jewelry, taking her to "our" restaurants and movie theaters. Finally I was informed by one of the doctors I traveled with on medical missions that he was taking her on a mission to Africa. He had been gone less than 2 weeks, still claiming to be thinking of coming home. I was stunned and humiliated. I knew everyone on that team. Even though I knew it was more of a reflection of her character than mine,I couldn't face anyone. Eventually  I had to take a leave of absence from my job.

I called the therapist we had seen as a couple and started individual therapy. She told me divorce is like a death and follows the stages of grieving. But it is NOT like a death. Death would have been preferable. His, not mine. Death is final but this was torture. I was getting hurt by new revelations every day but I couldn't stop looking at the scene of the accident.

Apparently this is almost a universal reaction to divorce. In the back of my mind it was comforting to know I wasn't losing my mind. Although when I refer to that period of time I always preface it with "that's when I was crazy."

I am happy to say the cliche "time heals all wounds" is true. My depression has lifted due to time , family, friends and therapy.  I will never be the trusting person I was in the past but I will survive.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I knew it would hurt you....

June 23, 2012

If anyone says " I knew it would hurt you if you found out but I did it anyway" that's the time to call it quits.

Three years ago, as my mother lay dying, Dave was busy calling his lesbian friend, Anita, several times a day. Sometimes several times an hour. When I confronted her she said, " I'm gay Lucille. In a committed relationship. You don't have to worry about me. We're just friends."
I couldn't believe Dave would deliberately hurt me. But here he was admitting that he knowingly did something that would devastate me. Why did I put up with that sort of treatment?

We were a family. People make mistakes. I wanted to forgive him. I was hurt beyond belief especially by the cavalier  remarks he made about my mom while she was dying. My mother had given us so much... the down payment on our house, car loans and gifts. Mostly she gave of her time, taking care of our children while I worked, cooking us meals and cleaning the house. In thirty year his mother gave us a gas grill and came to visit us expecting to be entertained. I couldn't believe he was making light of her death to a complete stranger.

In retrospect I should have told him to leave then. But I truly wanted our marriage to work. I didn't want to break up our family or hurt our children. I didn't want them to come from a "broken home" no matter what their age. He always said he wanted the same thing. And I loved him. We had a bond that couldn't be broken or so I thought.  But he was secretly building a life away from me. When he had someone to run to so he wouldn't "be alone" he accused me of all sorts of shortcomings. I didn't say "I love you " enough, I picked out wallpaper he didn't like, I worried too much about the kids, etc. Things I didn't even remember. It's funny how much was wrong with me that he didn't reveal for thirty years until he met the wh_ _ _. I can't bring myself to call her Anita. I probably will refer to her as the big W.

So my first important bit of advice ladies is do the bills!!  He wouldn't have been able to wine and dine her if I knew where the money was going. I trusted him implicitly, never questioning anything. Signing papers without reading them. BIG MISTAKE. Although others friends have told me it is  possible to do the finances and still be fooled I know I would have had a better handle on our situation if I had been controlling the money. Don't be so trusting. Even if you don't directly pay the bills always look over the finances.

One last thought for today. If he can look you in the eyes and tell you he doesn't care how much you are hurting, if he can knowingly stick a knife in your heart, RUN. I wish I had.

Friday, June 22, 2012

My journey past divorce

My divorce is final today. Just one month short of my 31st wedding anniversary. I bet you thought from the title this would be funny. Maybe filled with recipes. Some of it is funny but much of it is heart wrenching. I think a lot of it will be helpful to other women going through an unwanted divorce at age 55.

My husband left me for a lesbian. Excuse me, I meant to say "former lesbian". There, that's funny, isn't it? It was two days after Thanksgiving ( my favorite holiday ). We had been going to couples counseling for seven months because Dave was "unhappy" in our marriage. He choose to inform me of this in our driveway as we were leaving for Easter weekend in Manhattan. You can see he has a thing for holidays. Although he claimed "it was a long time coming" I was completely taken aback. He insisted there was no one else. "I'm just not happy." And I believed him! This IS starting to sound humorous.

Anyway he agreed to commit 100% to therapy. I thought things were going well. Until of course the day before his birthday in July (see what I mean about special occasions?) He told me he was going to Home Depot. He called to tell me he wasn't coming home. We were planning to go out that night to celebrate his birthday and the fact that our daughter had received her nursing license that week. I begged him to come home. I didn't want to tell my daughter that he had left. I desperately wanted to spare her the pain of rejection that I knew she would feel. That I was feeling. He hung up the phone and didn't answer or come home for four days. I believed him when he said he was in Fire Island with gay friends form work. Staying at their house and walking the beach, "thinking about us."

This same drama happened several times that summer. Each time I believed he needed "time alone." How naive. We continued therapy. He insisted there was "no other woman." I finally found a credit card statement with proof of his infidelity. While I was gone on a medical mission to Columbia he took his lover to see Rent on Broadway. Rent was one of my favorite plays. We had seen the original many times together. He also took her to a restaurant we had been to several times. The week I came back he met with her in a motel in Long Island where she lives and works. He eventually admitted to many motel trysts, most of them while I was at work. I thought that was the lowest they would stoop but I was wrong. There were many more levels of pain for me to experience.

So today, instead of planning something special for my anniversary I left Superior Court a divorcee. Not a word I would ever have thought I would use in reference to myself in a million years. I hope some of my experiences can help others who are coping with the same indescribable pain.
Not a word I would ever have thought I would use in reference to myself in a million years. I hope some of my experiences can help others who are coping with the same indescribable pain.