Progress

23 May

Over the last 8 months, I have made significant progress on improving my life in important ways. With such a big change as the end of my marriage marking my life, it is amazing to look back and note the progress that has been made in 8 months.

Health: I no longer track my food daily, but I still log on to MyFitnessPal to check calorie counts occasionally or to mark my weight loss. I’m now down 28lbs in the past year!

20140523-153052-55852901.jpgI’ve dropped almost two clothing sizes and I hope I can continue this summer.

Career: I have now been accepted to present at two prestigious conferences (one this summer and one this fall) on my dissertation research. I have submitted another proposal and have 2 more due in the next week. I’ve applied for 2 fellowships and was nominated for a teaching award, so I’m hoping some of those things pan out. I’m in a place where I’m smart and organized and know what I need to be doing to be successful. This fall will be the big test when I go out on the job market, but I am confident that with adequate preparation it will go well. And without my failing marriage, I’m in a place for it to go well.

20140523-154926-56966322.jpgPersonal: the ex signed divorce papers yesterday. I’m meeting my lawyer to officially file next week. With the support of my parents, I’m moving in with them for 2 months so they can watch N and I can analyze my data and write. I’m SO looking forward to swimming lessons at my childhood pool with N, backpacking with my brother, cooking with my mom…. And just getting work done. I’ve done a really good job of getting things done this year, so I am optimistic about what I can get done.20140523-153708-56228523.jpg

Parenting: N has also made pretty amazing progress this year. 8 months ago, he spoke maybe 5 words, now he’s a chatterbox. Sure, few people understand what he says but he had begun to understand the importance of language. Today they re-did the speech/cognitive/social testing he did several time preciously and he no longer qualifies for help with cognitive or social skills. He’s a bit low in self-help, mostly because of potty training (which is happening as I write!!), so I’m confident he’ll catch up.

20140523-154340-56620430.jpg we haven’t gotten the results of his speech eval yet, but his therapist noted that a) he’s made great progress and b) he may not qualify anymore!

N is going to have a fun summer with his loving family, and in August when we return, he will be enrolled full-time in the preschool next door! It will make my life so much easier to have him in all-day preschool and I think he will thrive in a structured educational environment. Progress!

Little boy

18 May

Things with N are just getting better & better!

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Long overdue

18 May

As always, my life continues to be a soap opera. This post is a long time coming… And surreal to write because the drama is largely outside my daily life, but continues to impact me emotionally.

I forget now what I’ve written about the ex and I don’t have the energy to go back and read. But I’ll try to give a bit of play-by-play to get it out of my mind and onto a page so I can sleep tonight.

After the drama of late Jan and Feb, when I had to have the ex removed and banned from my apartment by university police, he began staying ‘on the couch’ of the friend(s) who offered to help him out when he came back from Ukraine. The girl, who is a photographer, seemed to be truly trying to help out (though I always questioned why she would invite drama into her life). She started with the God angle, but it has become clear that she is also crazy-manipulative.

She and her husband decided to take a break in Jan after ongoing problems. She got a studio apartment and S (the ex) began staying there. She has two kids, so she’d stay at home with them when her husband was working (he is a train engineer and will be out on a train for a few days at a time). When he comes back, she goes to the apartment.

At some point, she and S ‘fell in love’ and apparently began sleeping together. I’ve stayed neutral about all of S’s choices because I’m no longer invested in them. But her husband called me in the middle of the night in March to tell me. He found their text messages & confronted her and apparently she loves S.

In April, I got a message from the husband that S bought a gun (to protect himself, the woman, and her daughters from the husband). I don’t know them at all so I have no idea what their personalities are like so I trust no one. However, because of the craziness over there (and S’s own instability) I will not allow N to go over there. I won’t go over there. I want nothing to do with that den of depravity. And I have recorded this in my own divorce proceedings.

In mi-April, S took his new girlfriend to Ukraine, a place on the brink of civil war, to see (meet) his family. The family that has never met HIS SON. It just doesn’t compute.

After they got back, the husband served her with divorce papers and now, according to the husband, S has been threatening him with the gun via text message (and maybe other ways–I’m unsure. I really don’t ask because I just don’t need to know). Because of these threats, the husband has gotten a restraining order against S.

In April, I found some vile messages on Skype from S’s parents to me. I don’t know what lies he’s feeding them, but I will have nothing to so with them. I just won’t take any more abuse.

Just before S left for Ukraine, he left me some of the most hurtful voicemails I’ve ever heard. Telling me how disgusting I am–the weight loss I’ve had makes me look like I have cancer–skinny body with a big fat ugly head. That no one (but him) will ever love me…. Absolutely the most irrational filth I’ve ever heard. 4 minutes of vile words.

And so I’ve resolved to limit my contact with him and severely limit N’s contact with him. I am strong, I can take what I need to to wrap up this chapter of my life. But I Never.Ever.Ever want N to ever feel the way S makes me feel. I will protect my son from that.

So right now, I’m being cold but kind to S, knowing that all this is going on in the background, because our divorce docs should be ready early next week and I need him to sign.

I am currently doing my best to juggle everything–raising my increasingly boy-like toddler, wrap up my data collection for my dissertation, write shockingly amazing conference proposals so I can win over the world, write theoretically deep and insightful articles for publication, wrap up a few wedding edits so I don’t get sued…. And sleep and, well, deal with the loneliness of doing it all on my own.

My victory in all of this will be getting a job and getting the f-outta here and I can taste it. But I still have a lot to do. I have an amazingly supportive family and I’m building a great network of friends. But it is sad and lonely during the day-to-day and there are some nights like tonight when I just have to turn off all the obligations, watch some TV and feel it all. And it sucks.

I can’t wait to start over in a new place with a career, prestige, money, childcare, a new phone number…. I’m about ready for this nightmare to be over, but that’s still a long ways away.

Happy!

9 Apr

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There are a lot of things going really well for us right now (as well as continual drama), and I think it is important to remember the little happinesses that occur every day. So here’s some of the things that are really, really good around here:

N is learning at a rapid rate–every day is a new adventure with him! He’s learning new words and new things (like his alphabet) and he’s always curious!

I’m not teaching this quarter!!! And yet I’m being paid for it :) This is the great benefit of teaching a double load last quarter. My key task for the next 2 1/2 months is to collect data for my dissertation (an instructor focus group, student survey, student focus groups, follow-up individual interviews, and analyze the curricular materials and some essays from the course i’m studying). No biggie.

I really like my dissertation topic. It’s concrete yet connects to many of the important debates in my field right now. It’s easy to talk about and I think the things I’m studying and talking about are readily applicable to virtually all classrooms. This is a great thing for when I go on the job hunt (the “market”) this fall.

Can you believe it? I’m going on the market this fall?! I’ve had a lot of anxiety about it (Because of the lack of publications, lack of much on my resume for the past year or so while my personal life melted down) but after settling into a new pace (and getting some new things on my resume), I’m feeling excited about it. Which brings me to my next point…

In March I went to 2 conferences and it was a GREAT experience! The first I got a grant to attend, but didn’t have to present anything, so it was a stress-free way to learn about my field. It’s the main conference for what I do, so it was really wonderful to make connections across the field and prepare for next year when I really do need to be contributing. It was also fun to fly to Indianapolis and see a new city (not amazingly impressive, but what city is from the perspective of a conference hotel?).

One of the key things I learned is that I’m one of a few people who does what I do. In fact, one of the top research universities in the US was looking to hire someone just like me last year and couldn’t fill the spot (because they’re waiting for me, I’m sure). So now I have a target in mind and I’m already beginning to work on my job materials for this fall.

Sunshine and spring weather is here – we’ve had weather in the 60s and sunshine, which warms my soul. Today, N started “developmental preschool” which will include his speech therapy and also some special education which should help him get caught up on some of the skills where he’s a bit behind and work through some of the emotional stuff related to his dad. It was new to him so there were some rough moments with the new place and new expectations, but he had a blast playing in their indoor gym. He’s kind of a daredevil–when he first learned to go down the slide, he went head first. Well, today, he learned how to swing on a little trapeze and LOVED it!

We also went to the zoo today. I renewed my membership so we can go weekly while my schedule is open and flexible. I’ve quickly realized that its really difficult to entertain him all day for days on end. He’s SO energetic and he hasn’t even been napping well recently. We both do better if either a) he goes to preschool or b) we have a busy day of fun plans. So I really need to plan outings into our schedule. We need to enjoy this time because, fingers crossed, in just over a year I’ll have a full-time real job!

I’ve been cooking a lot again and I started running! I ran with N in the stroller on Sunday morning and it went ok – I can run 3-4 min straight before my heart rate goes up and I can’t exactly breathe. So I’d run, then walk, then run, then walk so that I can slowly build up my endurance. Although we walk a lot, it’s amazing the muscles you use if you run–my thighs were sore, my back was sore.. . . so hopefully this will help me burn more fat and tone my body more. It’s nice to build up my my physical strength. Tonight was a shorter run, but even short runs are important for building endurance :)

So, many things to keep me busy and happy! After 6 months on our own, we are thriving :)
And, now some pics from today:
Preschool

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Zoo!

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2.5

7 Apr

IMG_0213N is now two and a half, and I can’t let this milestone pass without an update. He’s made so much progress with speech in the last 6 months. He is growing up to be the sweetest boy, shy and observant in new places, wily and gregarious at home. March also marked 6 months as a family of two, and although the drama is ongoing, we’ve settled into a happy little life together.

I’m gonna be posting a lot tonight (mostly because posting happens in fits-and-starts) but it’s better to get things written than leave them ignored since this is the chronicle of a childhood.

So, N at 2 1/2!IMG_0370IMG_0247Nicknames: Angel, Muffin, buddy

Temperament: We’ve reached a nice balance between tantrum-land and not really speaking up at all. N has opinions and he vocalizes them, but he’s getting much better at using words and gestures to communicate. Even his preschool has commented on how sweet he is and how much he’s grown in the past 6 months. He really is growing up! Running, climbing, and wrestling are still his favorite games. By far, he prefers to be outside and doing something. We LOVE the wildlife area right by our apartment where we can walk and look at birds and water. Despite this physicality, N is getting better at playing with cars and trains quietly by himself. As usual, when he’s fussy or cranky, there’s a reason behind it.IMG_0174IMG_0153What we’re eating: I’ve been trying to sit down and eat dinner with N every day because I think it’s a good routine and model of healthy habits, how to use utensils, etc. BUT N doesn’t really like real food :) He still prefers carbs and proteins to fruits and veggies. He is getting more curious, so he’ll try some new foods sometimes. Likes sweet potatoes, blueberries, bagels, waffles (fa-fa!), eggs, chicken (sometimes), veggie burgers, raisins, cereal, graham crackers. .. anything with peanut butter & jelly or nutella.

What N’s Saying: Happily, the word list is getting longer and longer! He mimics a lot and he’s picking up more complex words. He’s also putting multiple words together for meaning (awa-off means “water off” – which to us, means that the fountain he really likes to visit is turned off right now). Tonight, we learned ice cream (aye -ee). He now says hi to people we pass on the street, bye at stores to strangers, and points out airplanes, birds, tractors, etc. He often drops the beginning or end of words (awa, not water) and doesn’t pronounce a lot of consonants. But he’s getting the idea of speech and we have our own little language :)

He spent the last few weeks with grandma and grandpa and he does so well with them! I think he just loves being the center of their attention :) He always picks up a lot of words when he’s with them–and they understand him too, so that’s a good thing!IMG_0335Playing with his kitty!IMG_0233Meeting “Dubs” our university mascot

Things I Could Do Without: 8am wake-ups? Now that I’m not teaching this quarter (in order to work on my data collection), I’d love to sleep in just a bit. Maybe in a few weeks we’ll settle into a later routine. More than that, N is SO energetic, but it’s taxing to be moving at his pace all day. Right now he’s obsessed with playing outside at all times, and he loves to play outside the apartment. But we’re right next to a parking lot, next to a busy street, so I have to constantly monitor what he’s doing so it’s difficult to get anything done. He is going-going-going all the time and is even taking shorter naps, so I find that I’m using all my energy just to keep up with him, never mind cooking, cleaning, or getting my own work done. Tomorrow’s a preschool day, so it’ll be a nice break.

Things I Love the Most Right Now: N is my little buddy, my little shadow. I love his personality, and now that we can communicate better we do fun little things together–like going out for ice cream before bed, hiking, chasing ducks, climbing trees…IMG_0283IMG_0282Item/Toy N Loves The Most: Choo-choos! He currently really loves trains: we watch Thomas on Hulu, play with train sets, and my mom even found my brother’s old train sets to play with while visiting. He has a choo-choo blanket he sleeps under and enjoys sleeping with his trains. Or airplane. Or car. IMG_0408IMG_0365Silly uncle Mike!

The past couple months have been busy. We went to a protest in support of Ukraine together & Mama was on TV speaking about Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. IMG_0142 IMG_0141Little patriot! 

We drove out to visit the grandparents, exploring practically every rest area along the way. Every day is an adventure!IMG_0328Hiking in my hometown. At Christmas we made it only a short hike. This time we went with Uncle Mike, and although N went most of the way on my back, he definitely enjoyed playing in “Devil’s kitchen” at the end.IMG_0450 IMG_0449 We have many more adventures planned: Wednesday we’re starting developmental preschool through his speech therapy school. Since our schedule is more flexible, there’s no harm in getting a little bit more support (and another activity on the calendar–for free). I’m also going to renew our zoo membership so we have another place to go as the weather gets nice. I’m considering swimming lessons, but I’m not sure if the logistics will work out. I’ve started running with N in the stroller, and we plan to run/walk a 10k with my bro & daddy-o in June, so we’ll be spending plenty of time outside.

I want to model a healthy, active, adventurous lifestyle for my son. Not just say it, but do it every day. I’m not perfect–most of Feb and March I ate quick freezer meals and N lived on “fa-fa” (waffles), but bit by bit, we are living better and living happier. And with the drama that still flitters in and out of our lives, that in itself is a victory :)

Celebrate!

4 Mar

I have a lot to celebrate this week – over the past week or so, I’ve gotten a lot of academic work done: I’ve finished my dissertation prospectus (research proposal), submitted proposal to a major theoretical conference in my field, completed an application for a TA-ship in a different–related–program for next year, and co-wrote a fellowship proposal with a faculty mentor.

Over the weekend, I got an email confirming that I have a spot teaching an annual month-long (very well paid) awesome course (that also happens to be the site of my dissertation research), and not only will I be teaching, I will be a lead instructor. Hooray! I’m finally being recognized for being capable and smart!

Today, I successfully “defended” my research proposal to my committee. It wasn’t so much a defense but a fun meeting with 4 of my favorite people/mentors talking about the academic work I will soon be undertaking. I’m left with new ideas to ponder (and the realization that now I have to actually DO the research. Ugh).

So I have a lot to celebrate! I’m on the brink of finally doing my dissertation research! I have a really exiting project that my mentors say is really offering something to the field! I’m getting my confidence back in my academic abilities and I’m really on a roll–connecting to a national conversation. And I love that my proposals are GOOD – not the half-assed crap I’ve put together in the past because I can’t get my act together (or I have life-drama intervening). It is so nice to be able to work and focus.

BUT

Despite the fact that I hit a major milestone today (over a year in the making!), I’m sad that I don’t really get to celebrate it. My family is happy for me, but they’re far away. N was so tired from a full day in preschool that he took a ‘nap’ at 6pm and hasn’t woken up. We went to the store, thinking I’d grab some treat or yummy food but nothing sounded good/was worth the money/calories. It was actually nice to acknowledge that I don’t need to celebrate with food, but it’s really sad to not be able to mark the occasion. Pop some bubbly, right? So that’s the slightly depressing take-away.

So, instead, I caught up on Ukraine drama, re-heated some yummy salmon & spaghetti squash, graded some papers, and soon I’ll curl up with my book on Stalin. But before I end the night wallowing in misery, some pictures of the fun we’ve been having over the past couple weeks:

IMG_9880 IMG_9891 IMG_9913 Valentine’s PartyIMG_9906 Cute kissing, umm, tropical animal. I forgot what it is, but it’s sure cute :)IMG_9926 Teaching N the culinary delight of french fries in ice creamIMG_9963 IMG_9975 IMG_9992 IMG_0001 IMG_0011 IMG_0098

In the Silence

7 Feb

The past few weeks have been pretty dramatic around here… Not really by my choice, but by the ex doing his usual manipulation and preying on my good will. After returning from Montana over Christmas (which I still haven’t blogged! Gotta get on that!), the he wormed his way back in to my apartment/life by slowly staying longer, making excuses, and well, by being nice. I had a pretty sweet deal: he washed dishes, bought food, and watched N when I needed to run errands. He got to work in peace during the day where all his equipment was stored (and not have to haul it around) and occasionally sleep on my pink couch.

But, in very short order it became clear that he was back for good–pretty much moved in to the center of my living room with no plan to get out. Any money he had was blown on alcohol, cigarettes, gas for his f’ing car, clothing and fancy food products. Meanwhile I’m paying his car insurance, car loan, and putting a roof over his head? To make matters worse, he started to cycle back into the abusive behavior. First, the friends he was “staying” with decided to divorce so he appeared at my door one night at 3am ‘lost’ and feeling awkward. So thats how he got back in. Then he told stories of how crazy they are–impulsive plans, crazy parents, the wife wanting him, playing her off me, etc. and then when I told him he ended to start paying for his expenses (not to mention rent) he started the yelling. Honestly, I don’t remember what triggered it, but last a couple weeks ago I kicked him out.

That didn’t go well–he finally packed his things and was out by 8pm. I had a glorious evening by myself (I cleaned. Everything around him turns to shit, including my housekeeping, but that’s because he’s an inconsiderate slob AND he sucks up any peaceful time when I might actually be in the mood to clean). And then, at 1:30am he was back. This process continued for another week. He’d be nice, I’d kick him out, he’d be back. Finally, after one rough night when he was back to his old self (berating me for hours on end for perceived evils – like a chihuaha – yip! yip! yip!), I had enough. I got up the next morning and told him I wanted him to leave that afternoon, forever, so start packing. I went to campus for a meeting and ran into a friend/mentor and when she asked how I was doing, I cracked. I spilled everything.

She took one look at me, brought me back to her office and instructed me to get him out now. To get family housing on the line and have them help me. To contact my university’s police department to back me up if he doesn’t comply. So I cancelled my meetings and headed home. I told him to pack and he did. At that point, he didn’t know that I had backup, but he still went willingly. After he left, I talked with our community advisor and with the PD to explain the situation.

He was gone for almost a week, when, after a week of building up lies about how crappy his friend’s couch was, he decided to show up here again in the early morning. I guess he was crazy all night (bitching to the friend) and packed his things at 6am. She texted me to say he was coming, and he knocked right around 8am.

I ignored him and he went away. At 8:40, when he knew we’d be up and heading out for school, he knocked again and N immediately ran to the door. I had to let him in, but I immediately informed him that he couldn’t stay. He said he wanted to stay for a couple weeks. ‘Till he had some money. ‘Till he could get his own apartment. I said no. He beat on doors and yelled at me. N started throwing things. It was not good. Somehow I managed to get N dressed for school and out the door, while the ex followed us and helped put N in the car. When I drove away, the ex was standing next to his car and was on the phone.

I was shaken and mad, but I had a plan: that day I had a meeting with the victim’s advocate with the PD to discuss options, so I just had to get thru one class then I could deal with the situation. When I arrived at daycare, I saw that it was closed due to lack of heat in the cold building. Frustrated and out of options, I cancelled class and drove down to the PD to get this sorted out.

I was able to immediately meet with the victim’s advocate and we got an officer to head to my apartment to see if he was there. I figured he’d be in the parking lot, but come to find out, he was inside. Even though he doesn’t have a key, he unlocked the door as he followed us out. He had made himself right at home, bringing bags in and making himself tea.

The officer kicked him out and I had to go back, with the advocate, to check that he hadn’t stolen anything. I will forever hold the image in my mind of the man I married standing in the middle of the parking lot with two police cars and 4-5 cops surrounding him. I guess he was compliant. I didn’t talk with him. I confirmed that nothing was missing and left.

I haven’t seen him since.

After this incident, he seems to have gotten the message that I am serious: we are divorcing, I won’t put up with his treatment of me, and I am no longer supporting him. He has been banned from the family housing territory (as in if he shows up, he will be arrested). So far it seems like enough, but if he has even one misstep, I’ll get a domestic violence protection order through the courts.

We have had some correspondence via email and he has talked with N. Tomorrow we’re meeting him near his place (with a friend) so he can spend some time with N and wrap up some business details.

But back to the title of my post: In the silence…

Without him, things are silent. Even more silent than when he was abroad (because he still harassed me from there). In the peace and quiet, I am getting so much work done. I have almost completed my dissertation proposal and it is exciting work! I have hired a lawyer (well, legal intern via my student legal services) to represent me in the divorce. I’m making arrangements for N to start a preschool at his Early Intervention center (we think with everything going on, he could use more support for speech and development). I’m almost done filing taxes (the last time ever with his self-employed bullshit!). I have a proposal out for a fellowship. I have made travel plans for two conferences (Oregon! Indiana!) and am working on proposals for others. I am making my career happen and it feels good.

In the silence, I dream. I have always aimed high, always having a plan A, plan B, plan C. I have been incredibly fortunate in this life, but a lot of my fortune and adventure come back to the fact that I’m always reaching out and pursing opportunities. This bad marriage shut down my dreams, and it is really wonderful to get this part of me back. In the silence I can think. I can dream. I can take care of myself.

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