Wednesday, May 22, 2013

And Sometimes, The Bad Guys Win...

Do you remember the first time the world became a dark and scary place? The first time you realized that there are shadows around the corner, and people aren't always what they seem? I do. Today, the bad guys won.

Dear Virtual Diary:

OK, let's face it: this blog has been hijacked by the divorce and sundry proceedings. And you know what? I'mma go with it, because god knows I need a place to vent.

If you read back a few posts, you know how and when things went deeply, utterly south. South with a capital "S." Let me tell you what it's like to be in this deeply f*cked up situation, because it is truly bizarre and wrenching. I got into an argument with my husband, and he was so angry he said words that can't be taken back. Words that can't be forgiven or forgotten. Because words hurt, and sometimes words are a statement of intent. This person was the center of my universe, the man on which I hung the moon, which makes this situation so much worse and hurtful.

Today, I was served with affadavits from friends supporting my husband in this action. Boy, let me tell you, that hurt. A lot. Especially one of the names on that list, someone I trusted with my inner most fears and hurts. When a woman or man is in a domestic violence situation, they are unfortunately victimized over and over and over again. It never ends. It starts with the initial action. Next comes the call to the police where you explain the initial action and hope that the police listen to you and see your fears. Next up is a trip to the local Superior Court, where you stand in front of a judge and state what happened and hope your fear is enough to keep you safe. You hope a stranger will see your fear and agree to help you. Then comes the day you have to go back to court and defend your actions and explain your gut-level sense of fear to more strangers, and hope that they, too, will see your fear. Will they understand that you've changed how you live your life on a day to day basis? Will they see how you look over your shoulder and flinch when someone drives by in that same make and model of car? Will they see you, or will they listen to a funhouse mirror version of yourself, one that doesn't show you, or your fears? Because my life is now rooted in fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the future. Fear of what other people will think of you and what you did. Did you do the right thing? Should you have done something differently? And then your friends start to question your actions, and ask you if you didn't just overreact? Didn't you just get spooked? Doesn't everyone's significant other threaten them at least once? (That one was my favorite - I thought, "Jesus, I hope not!")

And so you continue to be victimized. And stigmatized. Because you broke that code. You spoke up. You said "NO!" And for that, you learn, people will shun you. I've never felt so isolated and alone in my life than I do now. Thankfully, I have a handful of good, true friends that have made it abundantly clear that they are my support system. That small handful helps balance the majority who either turned their heads away or told me to shut up and let it go.

It's my birthday this week, and I'm not celebrating. Not a lot to celebrate this year. But if you'd like to toast the Soctopus, please raise a glass this Thursday for all the men and women who won't back down, all the men and women who stand up for what's right. Please toast those men and women who fight on, in the face of adversity and scorn, because the Soctopus is one of 'em, and will always fight for what's right.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

An Open Letter To My Husband, or...How The Muppets Make Everything OK

Dear Mr. Soctopus -

It's been awhile since we talked. 28 days, to be exact. Three days until we meet again, in front of a judge. It didn't have to be like this. In fact, I never, ever, EVER wanted it to be like this. After 19 years together, it shouldn't have ended with court, judges, and lawyers sucking each of us dry. It should have ended like it started: with the Muppets.

19 years ago, we had our first real "date," and we rented "The Muppet Movie" to watch at your house. The movie starts with a rainbow in the sky and hope, just like our relationship started. There were hard times in the middle, and things got weird, but everything worked out in the end, even if not quite how everyone expected. We could have (should have) ended this same way.

I know that Wednesday will be the last time I see you. No matter what happens, know that I loved you wholeheartedly, fully, and completely. You will always be the love of my life. That won't ever change. I don't wish you ill, I only wish you the best, and I hope you want the same for me. I hope you find someone who can give you all the things I couldn't.

Even after everything, I still think about you, in the dark of night, and I wonder - do you ever think of me? My heart is healing, slowly, but the days are better. I'm starting to think about finding someone else to meet and have fun with, something that was unthinkable not so very long ago. I want to thank you for all that you gave me during our relationship, including helping me to get my education. But now it's time to walk away.

Why am I writing this? Because circumstances have made it impossible for us talk, and I want you to know how I feel. So, like the little green frog, I'm sitting on a log singing you a song. I wish you well. No matter what happens this Wednesday, you were loved.

the Soctopus

Monday, May 13, 2013

Taking A Stand...Finally.

Whelp. Time to catch you all up. Things continue to drag on the divorce front, and I'm counting down the days. Literally. Counting. But a few things have happened that have changed how I view the people in my life. Let me bring you up to speed...

As you all know, my husband and I were together for a very, very long time. This means that most of our friends were/are "mutual" friends. From day one of the separation, I've bent over backwards to tell people that I'm not asking anyone to take sides, or choose me or Mr. Soctopus. I've told people I encourage them to keep their friendships with the Mr., and have simply asked people to come to me with questions or concerns. And then the "incident" happened, and things changed. Drastically. I have a very good friend who went through a similar divorce, minus the threats, a year or so ago. She warned me that people would start to show their true colors and I would find out who my true friends were. I knew this academically, but it didn't hit home until the first person I considered a friend took a side.

When the Terrible Night happened, I called three close friends, one for immediate support, two for advice and a shoulder to cry on. All of these three people I considered my closest friends. One of them broke my heart. About a week after the Terrible Night, I called this friend again to catch up and talk. She proceeded to tell me that she felt I was overreacting, and needed to consider Mr. Soctopus and how hard I was making his life. She spoke at length about how hard my divorce was on her. When I expressed my hurt and shock at her attitude, she apologized for upsetting me, and proceeded to tell me that it was "the end of an era," and it was so hard for her to get over our separation. I told her I thought we needed some distance, as I couldn't be around anyone that could tell me I was overreacting to the threats Mr. Soctopus made. She apologized again, and we made plans for coffee in a few days. Those plans fell through due to life.

Fast forward to this Saturday, when I'm browsing the FB and realize, "hey, I haven't seen anything from Person X in a while, I'll check and see how she's doing." Except, whoops, nothing shows up when I try to go to her page. So I go to her boyfriend's page, since he's also a close friend. Same result - nothing. And it hits me - they've defriended and blocked me. Ouch. No notice, no warning, just - nothing. This hurt me, as these people were good friends of mine, until the break-up.

I've given this a lot of thought, and came to a conclusion: people will generally take the path of least resistance and do whatever causes the least amount of stress to themselves. In this case, that means keeping silent about what Mr. Soctopus did, and continuing to support him, even if that means cutting me loose. Because in my former social circle, the Mr. isn't the one who did a bad thing, even by threatening me - *I* did the bad thing, by reporting it. By calling the police and involving the authorities, I broke "the code."

I've heard every version of the following statements: "I don't want to get involved," "it's not my business," "that's between you and Mr. Soctopus," etc. forever. And I listened, and when he threatened me, I kept my mouth shut and told very, very few people, because I didn't want to make people uncomfortable or choose sides. So it finally hit me - I've been bending over backwards to make my divorce easier for everyone else!

Why? Why have I been doing this? At the end of the day, if someone tells me they will keep Mr. Soctopus in their lives, or that what he did is between us, I will now tell them, "fine, that means you're not in my life anymore." Because this is an issue that is black and white - what Mr. Soctopus did is wrong. Period. End of story. There is no excuse. There is no good reason. No man should EVER threaten his significant other, male or female, because it's wrong. If you tell me there's another side to the story, you're telling me that you aren't willing to stand up for what's right. If you can't understand that what he did is fundamentally wrong, then you and I shouldn't be friends.

I have two male friends who have come forward to tell me that what Mr. Soctopus did is wrong, and no real man would threaten his partner. I'm thankful for the reminder that there are men who will stand up for what's right, no matter the cost, because the majority of men I know have gone the other direction. So what's changed? I'm done making other peoples' lives easier by accepting the status quo. I'm stepping away from a subculture that I've been a part of since I was a teenager. Because I need to take care of myself and my own mental health, and that means it's time for me to take my hat out of the ring and quietly walk off the stage. As this door closes, new doors will open for me, and I will make new, different friends. I'll mourn the loss of a few friendships, but at the end of the day, I don't want or need anyone in my life that brings me down.

The sun is shining, the world is wide open, and it's time for me to walk outside the narrow box I've inhabited and find out what's out there for me. Goodbye, Mr. Soctopus. Goodbye, old friends and acquaintances. It's time for this Soctopus to embrace the new and move on.