Saturday, February 7, 2009


If you were to sit back and take a long objective look at your life, is there one moment, just one, perhaps a choice you made, that you would change? Or that you would recognize for it’s significance and be proud of it, wanting to leave it exactly the way it was?
I know exactly what my moment was. I was 16, and I didn’t know it at the time, but I was battling my first major instance of depression. I had lost interest in everything around me, including and especially school. I withdrew for nearly all of my friends, except my boyfriend, who I spent every possible minute with. Even then, I just couldn’t shake the overwhelming indifference to everything around me. I was a junior in high school, and he was a college freshman. He used to pick me up every morning and drive me to school, and one day I asked him to take me with him to the college instead. He tried to talk me out of it, but I insisted I could just sit in the cafeteria and read a book while he was in class. In all fairness, he really did try to talk me out of it, and wasn’t overly thrilled about it, but I finally wore him down and he took me with him. And so I made him take me every day for 2 weeks.
About that same time, rumors got back to one of my favorite teachers that I had been contemplating suicide. I wasn’t really serious about it, but I had made a few half-ass attempts at cutting, and one of my friends, worried that I hadn’t been at school, had said something to the teacher. The teacher called my dad. She never said anything about me missing school, but she told him about the suicidal thoughts. He was waiting for me when I came home that night, which was really rare - most days I didn’t see him until he stumbled home about 8 or 9, from the bar. He told me he had gotten a call from the school that day, and asked me if I wanted to talk about it. So I spilled everything. I told him about how unhappy I was, and how I had just stopped going to school. I told him I had been spending the days with Romeo, but it wasn’t his fault, I had begged him to take me. And I blubbered all over him for about an hour before I realized he was really, REALLY angry. That was when it occurred to me to ask what the school had said. That was the first time I learned the all important lesson to always get the full accusation before you start confessing. My dad called my mom. She was even madder than he was. She had been looking for an excuse, any excuse to yank me back to Colorado with her, so she informed him that she would be calling the school herself and getting it all straightened out. Well, according to my dad, the school district only allows you 10 consecutive absences per semester, or you are essentially expelled. And since that day had marked my 11th absence, the only way to save my grades for the year was to transfer me out. And so Mom got me a plane ticket, and I had 2 days to say goodbye to everyone.
I can’t say how Romeo felt. He had a small circle of friends that we essentially did everything with. They were all pretty upset, and one of them in particular wanted me to run away. He said he and Romeo could hide me, and would take care of me. I thought at the time Romeo was as devastated as I was, and while he was a rebel in many ways, there were just some lines he wouldn’t cross. He wasn’t happy about me skipping school, and he was even more unhappy with the thought of me running away. He promised me he would do everything he could to get me back to Alaska the day I turned 18, or even sooner if my mom would let me leave as soon as I graduated (I didn’t turn 18 until 6 months after graduation). He went with me and my dad to the airport, and he held my hand the whole time. He told me he loved me, and that he would get me back as soon as he could. I cried all the way to Colorado.
My mom was so disgusted with me when she picked me up, she just looked at me and told me if I screwed up one more time, I was on my own, and I wouldn’t be welcome around her any more. She didn’t hug me, or tell me she had missed me over the last 2 years I had spent 3000 miles away from her. My depression went from bad to worse. I went from just occasionally thinking about suicide to planning it out, researching various ways to do it. I cut my arms constantly, trying to get used to the feel, trying to work up the courage to go deeper. I talked to Kevin occasionally, when Mom would let me. And then came the day that broke my poor little 16 year old heart. Kevin told me he had spent the night with his ex-girlfriend. He said he wasn’t interested in her, that he loved me, but that “a guy has needs” and he just couldn’t wait for me for 2 years without having sex with SOMEONE.
I was absolutely devastated. I don’t even remember most of the next few weeks. I can’t even remember what I said in response. I’d like to think I told him to go to hell, but I think it was something more along the lines of, whatever you think is best, and then I just never called him again. He never had been a big talker, especially not on the phone, so I don’t think he ever called me after that.
At that point, I went through a phase where I just didn’t care about anything. I showed up for classes, did the minimum to get by. I let my old friends introduce me to new people, and I floated along, not the center of attention, but part of the picture at least. And then I met The Jerk. He was the absolute antithesis of anyone else I knew - he did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted. He didn’t go to school. He stayed up all night and slept all day. His parents gave him pretty much whatever he asked for. He had a car. And he wanted me. And even though I thought he was kind of a jerk, and that he was controlling, and something about him just didn’t really mesh with anyone around me (friends, family, etc.), I went along for the ride, because I just didn’t care. I wonder now if I didn’t have some idea just what kind of devastation he would wreak on my life, and I embraced it because of it. I think I knew I didn’t have what it took to kill myself, so I looked for destruction any other way I could find it. And boy did he ever fit the bill.
My life pretty much went downhill from there, skipping school, running away from home, staying out late at night, stealing money from my mom, and just generally being a nuisance. I’ve mentioned before some of the places life took me after I met The Jerk. There’s more, but even the highlight reel is pretty massive, so we’ll just leave it at that. Every now and then, though, I would stop and think of Romeo. I would wonder, what if I had given it a chance? I knew 18 year old guys only thought with one brain, and really, at that age, it’s hard to wrap your head around the idea of monogamy, especially when in order to achieve it you have to abstain for 2 YEARS. I’m not trying to make excuses, because, yes I know there are some guys out there who would have done it. But the reality is, those guys are few and far between. A long distance relationship is difficult for adults to handle - for a couple of teenagers, I’d have to say it would be impossible, especially under those circumstances. I certainly don’t blame him for what he did, any more than I blame myself for what I did. I just have wondered, often, what would have happened if things had been different.
Shortly after my divorce, I called Romeo, just for the hell of it. I don’t know what I wanted or expected, but I was surprised to learn he had moved to Colorado. His mom passed my message along to him though, and he called me a couple days later. We talked for a long time, catching up. I was just about to turn 21, and Princess was almost 2. My dad had moved to Texas, and he drove up for the weekend to visit me for my birthday. Then one night, a couple days after talking to Romeo, I get a knock on my door, and there he is. He had driven down from Colorado to see me. Talk about a shock. My dad was there, and recognized him instantly. I had just started dating a guy I worked with, and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. Romeo had told me he was actually still with his ex-girlfriend, living with her in Denver. I’m not sure what either of us expected at that meeting, but I know it was incredibly awkward. My dad told me I was an adult and I could make my own decisions, but if Romeo slashed his tires again, he’d kill him (the friend that had wanted to hide me from my parents? He slashed my dad’s tires twice after I left. Dad always blamed Romeo for it, because he didn’t know the other guys in our circle.) Dad stayed in his camper most of the time that Romeo was there. Romeo slept in the bed with me that night, because I didn’t have a spare. We didn’t do anything, just talked a little. He left the next day, and that was that. I broke up with the guy at work shortly after that, and a couple weeks later I met John.
And all through these 9 years I’ve been with John, I have thought about Romeo. I don’t know why. I don’t know if every girl does that with her first love, or first sexual partner. He was both for me. I don’t know if it’s because there was so much left undone and unresolved between us. I don’t know if it’s because I’m still in love with him after all this time, or if it’s just that I’m in love with the idea of escape from whatever current situation I find myself in. I do know that every time I think of him, I get that shivery, happy, heart-racing feeling. I felt that at one time for John, but not since the first 3 months we were together. I don’t know if it would go away if I was to find myself in a relationship with Romeo or not. I know I miss him, miss talking to him, spending time around him. I miss working on that old beat up Ford of his, and surprising him by remembering how to put the parts back in when he and his friend forgot. I miss watching him play the guitar, knowing he preferred his electric guitar, but he would play his acoustic just for me every now and then. I miss that stupid mouse of his that would run on it’s squeaky wheel all damn night. I miss his parents, who always treated me like I was a part of the family, who never acted like I was a burden to them, even though I know I must have been. I miss eating pancakes with him in the kitchen, and discovering that peanut butter on pancakes is the best thing ever. I miss being a part of his life, every aspect of it, good, bad, and indifferent. And I wonder constantly what would happen if I just walked away from my life, and put myself back in his.
When I moved back to Alaska, I knew there would be the possibility of seeing him again. I found one of our friends on MySpace, and talked to him every once in a while. He told me Romeo was in a relationship with someone(not married), and had 2 kids with her. He said he was living back with his parents. He said he didn’t have email or anything, but told me over and over to call him. For me, email would have been easier. I have changed a lot in 14 years. Mostly, in weight. That, and most of the time I just don’t really give a damn how I look, so I haven’t really made much of an effort to keep myself looking young or pretty or anything. I don’t use fancy moisturizers or have complicated beauty rituals. One the rare occasion that I even wear make-up, it takes me less than 10 minutes to apply and run out the door. My hair is starting to go gray, and I am 50-75 lbs over weigh. I have glasses I wear mostly full-time, and while I don’t have a lot of wrinkles or anything, I just look tired all the time. I’m embarrassed to be seen by anyone who knew me back then. Someone who I was in love with and who I might think about starting a relationship with again? No way in hell do I want them to see me like this. Not to mention, if he was in a relationship, I don’t want to do anything to mess that up. I know from LOTS of experience that it’s one thing for an old girlfriend, or even girl FRIEND, to pop up and leave a comment on MySpace. It’s a whole other matter for that same person to start calling your house. Not knowing anything about this girl, or about his current situation with her, I didn’t want to take the chance. Just because I think about him all the time and wonder what if, doesn’t mean I want him unhappy. And if he’s content in his relationship, I am content to leave it the hell alone. So I didn’t call. I didn’t try to contact him in any way, other than to tell his friend that if he wanted to give Romeo my number, he could, and that I would gladly take his call, anytime.
A couple weeks ago, I went to pay my insurance bill. I always deal with the owner of the company, but by some fluke, her other agent was in the office that day and available. And who should it be but Romeo’s mother. Who recognized me. And we proceeded to chat for over 45 minutes about Romeo and his brother, and just catching up in general. Come to find out, the girlfriend is no more. (And I got the distinct impression from Mom that she wasn’t very pleased with her son’s choice.) It was a weird vibe, overall. It almost felt like she was saying she wished he had stayed with me, but I might have just been over thinking and projecting again. She told me he was working out of town, 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off. She gave me his cell phone number, saying that it didn’t work while he was out of town, but he would be back in a week. And then she dropped the bomb - she told me he was coming back just long enough to back and head back to Colorado, that he was seriously thinking of moving there and that he was going down there to basically get everything set up and figured out so he could move. So knowing this might be the last chance I had to talk to him again for a long time, I went ahead and called. I caught him just as he was getting on the plane, but we’ve been texting each other all day every day since. He is cutting his trip down to just a week and flying back in a couple days. (I think he gets some pretty good travel deals - he works for an airline.) He wants to see me, and I want to see him. And therein lies the problem.
First of all, the body image hasn’t changed. I’m still seriously uncomfortable with seeing him, looking the way I do now. I also know that it shouldn’t matter, because I am married. I don’t know why it would matter in the least that he finds me attractive, because the most important part of the problem is I have a husband, and a relatively strong, committed relationship. I just bought a house, I have 3 kids, and I’m currently actively trying for another. So Romeo being attracted to me should be really really low on my priority list. But it’s not. Because I’m running through various scenarios in which I leave my husband and start a new life where I left off with Romeo. And I think I might be losing my mind a little.
It’s not much of a secret that I have been unhappy in my marriage for quite some time. It’s not that we fight much, or that he’s abusive, or controlling, or anything bad. It’s just that I don’t feel like I love him any more. I feel trapped all the time. I hate having to defer to anyone else in any decision. But more than that, I hate the thought of divorce. I know what happened to me the last time I went through one. I am not really capable of taking care of myself. I have horrible money management skills, and when I spiral into a depression, I really start to lose it. I don’t want to go through another custody battle. I don’t want to have to split my kids in half. I don’t want to lose my home. I don’t want to have to fight over all those little details, the stupid and the mundane, and the complicated and important. And there are times when I wonder if I even really have an understanding of what love is supposed to be - maybe it’s supposed to be like this, after time. And there’s no guarantee that it will be any different if I find someone new. Then I wonder if I’m just settling. And I go back and forth, around and around until I’m sick and dizzy, and I just give up and accept.
I might feel differently if I could pinpoint just what was so wrong with our relationship, but I can’t. With The Jerk, it was easy. He controlled everything I did, from the clothes I wore to the friends I was allowed to have. He wouldn’t even let me get a driver’s license, I had to go behind his back to learn how to drive at 20 years old. He was abusive, mostly in the earlier stages of our marriage, and when I found out he was being abusive to our daughter, I left. Simple as that. And no one has ever told me I was wrong, and that I just misunderstood, or that I didn’t try hard enough. But with John it’s not like that. He’s good to me, he really is. Just because I wish he was more romantic sometimes, or that he wasn’t so rigid with the kids, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with him, or our relationship. It’s just that every day, the little stuff weighs heavier. And I constantly question myself about whether I’m doing the right thing. And I think that’s what angers me so much about our marriage - I don’t know where I stand in it. It’s a constant battle within me to just decide if I’m happy or not with what is. I know some of that is the depression talking, but not all of it.
It scares me, because I don’t want to think about throwing away what might be the best thing in my life for nothing. I’ve done it once. If I had known more about depression then, and sought real help for it, I wonder if I would just gone to school, instead of skipping. If I had understood what was happening to me, would I have thrown everything away like I did back then? And I wonder if I’m strong enough now to make the right decision, not knowing what the answer is. I am so afraid to let the depression win again, but I don’t know which side it’s playing from. And that terrifies me, to the point I can’t sleep at night sometimes. I have learned from past mistakes that just ignoring the issue and hoping it will resolve itself just makes it worse, but how can I make a move if I don’t know what’s real and what’s depression-induced fantasy? I don’t know if I should be fighting to save my marriage, or if I should be fighting harder to end it.
All I know at this point is I’m going to meet Romeo for lunch a few times, talk to him in person, catch up on each other’s lives, and see if the puppy love feeling is still there. And then I don’t know where to go from there, but I guess I’ll figure it out as it comes.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's not so bad...

Really. I'm shocked, but this whole college thing? Not bad at all. Granted, I've only had 2 classes. But so far, I'm wayyyy ahead of the game, and I like it that way. I like both of my real life teachers, which for me is a major bonus. I am NOT AT ALL an auditory learner. I have a hard time with normal conversation, because after about 30 seconds, my eyes glaze over and my ears shut down and it all sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher. I have such a hard time absorbing information that way. Both of my teachers are very high-energy, and both have a fantastic sense of humor, which really helps to keep me engaged. And since both of my classes are largely lecture-based, well, anything that helps keep me paying attention is fantastic.

And I accomplished something I'm pretty proud of - I managed to test out of one of my online classes. So, I replaced Computer Essentials with the Impact of Mass Media. I have no idea how I'm going to do with that one, but what the heck, we'll give it a shot. I have discovered though that the online classes are not what I expected. I thought they would be more of a work at your own pace, self directed thing. Instead, you have to log on every week to get your assignments, and part of your grade is participating in the discussion groups with the rest of the class. I had really planned to just go in, and work my way through as quickly as possible, so that I could take a ten week class and have it all done in 5 weeks or so, but with the way these are set up, I won't be able to do that. It's kind of disappointing, but there's nothing much I can do about it now. I think next quarter I might take more live classes though, instead of the online ones.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Global Warming, go AWAY!

The weather is so bizarre here right now. I am in Alaska, the frozen tundra, etc. It should not ever under any circumstances be 41 degrees in the middle of January. We are experiencing rain, which is a wonderful combination with the ice that was uncovered recently under all the snow blown away by the 80 mph winds. I couldn't leave my house today. Even with 4 wheel drive and studded tires, I couldn't get off my street. The wind was so bad that as I was at a complete stop at the bottom of the hill, trying to figure out how to either get all the way up it and out of my subdivision, or halfway back up it and into my driveway, I felt myself creeping to the side and the wind literally pushed my truck along. Schools were closed today due to the icy conditions, portions of the highway were shut down, even the city busses were cancelled. It's insanity, I tell you.

Monday, January 12, 2009

But I refuse to wear a plaid skirt

I have an announcement to make. Drum roll please.....

I am 30 years old, and I am going back to school. And I think I may have just lost my mind.

Once you hear all the details, you're REALLY going to think I'm crazy.

For starters, have I mentioned lately just how much I hate having my mother in law be my children's nanny? Hmm, well if I haven't, let me just reiterate it. I SERIOUSLY hate it. She drives me crazy. Our new house would have been a huge improvement over our old one, but it still would have been hard (before, she had the second master bedroom, now, she would have the tiny guest cabin in the backyard). After the latest argument between her and John, she hasn't spoken to any of us in a couple of months. So we decided to see about finding a new nanny.

I have had very few people in my life that I could call close friends. My best friend is no longer speaking to me because of the way we bought our house, but even before then, there was a pretty big gulf between us. My other other friend here comes around a lot when she needs something, but I am never the one she calls to go hang out with, or go party with, or pretty much do anything social with. They come over to our house for holidays, and we have their kids over at our house all the time, but I rarely see them socially any more. I seem to have issues with holding on to friendships. I don't know if I become too clingy, or too distanced. Nonetheless, there are a few people that I do remain in infrequent contact with. One of them, Sue, worked with me at the company I worked at in Tulsa. We became friends in our training class, and although we never really hung out much outside of work, we have kept in contact, mostly over MySpace. She was one of the few people who really stuck by me when Garrett died. She was totally supportive of our move to Alaska, in a way very few people were. Over the three years since we have been here, we have kept in touch, and we have discussed how much she and her parents have always wanted to visit Alaska. I offered my home and any assistance I could give as tour guide whenever they wanted to come, and for the past several months, we have been eagerly planning her trip up this summer with her daughter. A few weeks ago, she was telling me unhappy she was with life in general right now. Crappy job, yet another roommate screwed her over so she was living at home with mom again, and just generally not really moving AHEAD with life. So John and I discussed it, and we offered her the nanny position for the summer.

On the one hand, it felt really weird to offer a friend a job, in my home. One the other hand, we look at it more as offering her an opportunity. Neither John or I can explain it, but since moving here, our lives have done a complete 180. Our credit is improving almost daily. We both have good jobs that we really like. We are paid well, and neither one of us has a really outrageous commute to work. We have a LOT of time to just spend at home, being with our kids, and each other. Just a couple months ago, we were able to buy our first home, which is something neither one of us thought we would be able to do for years to come. We have enough money left over to pay for our "toys," and especially during the summer, we take frequent trips to nearby (and some not so nearby) parks and rivers to ride our machines and fish, or just play around in the mud. Last year, we went clamming for the first time, and had such a blast, we have already planned this summer's trip too. By the time you offset the upgrade in pay with the higher living expenses, you would really think there wasn't any difference between the way we live here and the way we lived there. And there shouldn't be, but there is. I don't know if it's because we are more relaxed, our kids are healthier, or we just feel more like we belong here than we did there, but moving here was the best thing that ever happened to any of us. And we would like nothing more than to offer that to our friends and family. Which we tried to do with John's mother, and had it slapped back in our face, repeatedly. And so we are trying again, with Sue, and her daughter, Diva. What we have discussed with her, is that essentially, we are offering her a paid vacation. It doesn't pay extraordinarily well, but it does include room and board. And she will have all three of our heathens in tow all day. But the rest of the time is all hers. She can explore, hunt, fish, camp, play, and enjoy her daughter all she wants, all summer long. And if she likes it here, come fall when John is laid off again and stays home with the kids himself, then she's welcome to stay as long as she wants (although, to keep things professional between us, once we aren't paying her to be a nanny, we will charge her a nominal rent fee for the cabin, or help her find a different house if she prefers). We will help her get a job, and we'll help her enroll Diva in Peanut's school (they will both be in kindergarten this fall). We'll help her establish residency so she can qualify for the PFD, and we'll do whatever else we can for her. We won't hand her the moon, but we will help her climb towards it in any way we can. And I'm thrilled that she wants to do it.

Now I bet you're wondering what all this has to do with me going back to school, aren't you? Well, it seems that in an attempt to get her life moving in a better direction, she decided to go back to school in Tulsa. Had everything all set up to start this fall. So to help her continue with that goal, I started looking into colleges up here, trying to find one that had the program she wanted. What I found was a small community college that offers classes in Accounting, my major of choice. And more than anything, since the day I quit high school, I have always regretted that I never went to college. I was supposed to be the first one in my family to go. And I failed, miserably. And while I was sitting there in that office, listening to all the options available to my friend, I suddenly asked myself, "Why can't I do it too?" So I signed up, right then and there. I still have some paperwork to finish, and some financial aid to figure out, but classes start at the end of this month.

It's going to be so hard. 2 nights a week, after work, I will be going to 4-hour classes. I'll leave the house in the morning before the kids get up, and not get home until after they are in bed. That hurts me more than anything. And at least two other nights a week, I will be taking online classes, so even though I'm there, I can't really focus on them. But, if all goes well, 14 months from now, I WILL have a degree in my hand. And 7 months after that, I'll have another. I decided to take two majors, so that I have the accounting degree that I've always wanted, with the hope of moving into a more formal accounting position in the future, preferably closer to home, or with more flexible hours, and also medical billing and coding, so that I can have a second, part time, work from home career, that eventually I'm hoping will move into something more permanent. My goal is to work entirely from home, or barring that, work from home at least 50% of the time. That could translate into any combination of billing and accounting, but since they do tend to go hand in hand, I'm hoping for something like a small doctor's officer that just needs someone to handle their books and insurance billings. Preferably one that already has a receptionist/office clerk, that will allow me to have limited contact with the public, and maximum flexibility. Is it too much to ask for? Yeah, probably. But you've got to have goals, right?