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.

Muscle memory

7 Feb

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This week has been crazy and eventful and I need to blog it for a lot of reasons. But for now, just a fleeting thought.

Today I had to go to campus for a couple errands and the sun was shining on a very cold day. I thought it would be fun to get some fresh air, so I loaded N onto my back, tossed my book-bag w/laptop across my chest and set out. It’s a quick 10-min walk down a road, across a huge parking lot and up a ton of stairs to get to my building on the top of a hill. It was amazing to move my body, breathe in the crisp winter air and to feel the snuggles of my baby on my back.

And that’s when the memory hit–I felt the burn in my legs and the dull ache between my shoulder blades of a pack a bit too heavy. As I juggled the straps of a backpack with a cross-body book-bag: this felt like life 10 years ago when I was free and traveling across Europe. First Western Europe (and Australia) as I studied in The UK for a year, then Eastern Europe as I did the Peace Corps. It felt the same way as when I was young and free and had all my worldly possessions on my back.

Instead of bringing me down and reminding me of all the problems of this week/month/year, this realization, this muscle memory, reminded me that it will all be ok. Today, too, I had all my world on my back and even now, I am FREE!

Peace and Quiet

31 Jan

Since December, life has been crazy. It’s been a combination of fun-crazy (Christmas in MT with the fam), busy-crazy (teaching 2 writing classes and doing dissertation stuff) and crazy-crazy (the ex.).

I don’t want to go into the play-by-play of it all, but I’m finally settling back into a calm, peaceful routine. I *think* I’ve worked everything out with the ex where he respects my space/boundaries while also being in N’s life. I have built enough structure into my classes so that when life gets a little crazy, I don’t look crazy and unorganized to my students (case in point – my fall teaching evals were some of my best yet and my life was falling apart). We’ve had a stomach bug roll through and a cold that is verging on bronchitis (for me), yet we’re still doing ok. Professionally, things are going really well. Really, really well. I feel like the end is in sight, even if it’s still a year and a half away, I can see how to reach graduation, job, etc. Boy, am I going to celebrate!

I also found out about legal services at my university where law students give legal advice for cheap, so I’m most likely going to go that route to actually get divorce filed. It’s hanging over this relationship where the ex still hangs on because nothing is official. . .yet I’m so done that I’ve actually been on a couple dates. Once it’s filed, I think he’ll finally ‘get’ it and I can truly start moving on.

I’ve been thinking a lot about moving on. It was fun to go on a couple dates (though both were duds). It was good to a) see that there are other fish in the sea b) see that I’m desirable and c) talk to other human beings, who aren’t toddlers or crazy. I also realized that I have a lot of stuff to work out before I go back out to date for real. The amount I talked about the ex was atrocious, so I need to learn to talk about myself and relationships without talking about him. I wear my heart far too much on my sleeve and I think I need to figure out boundaries. . . that is, I open up too much and then I’m a total bitch when I shut down. I need to learn how to equalize my openness and my emotions so that it’s not one or the other. Luckily, it’s pretty much pointless to date over the next year since I need to work overtime to finish my PhD, find an amazing job, and get the hell outta here and build a new, amazing life wherever it is that i’ll be working (Academia is so weird that way…). Once I know what that life will look like, I can think about finding someone else to share it with.

For now, more than anything, I am so thankful for peace and quiet. N thrives in routine and kind love. My academic work comes from calm thought. The ex and I are toxic together and it has been a really difficult process for him and me to get him out (both in September and more recently, after he returned back and figuring out where boundaries needed to be set). So for now, I am savoring the calm and hoping that this balance keeps.

N at 28 months

17 Jan

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My little boy has been so delightful lately – he seems like such a little grown-up with so much personality – that I can’t help but post an update for posterity (and for his next baby book).

Nicknames: Snuggle-bug, snuggle-puppy, muffin, angel

Temperament: Alternates between being a really sweet, curious boy and being a cranky frustrated boy. As he develops his own mind about things, it is becoming clear that N is really easygoing and happy, but he has strong opinions about things. Sometimes he just wants things a certain way, and if you don’t do it (or know what he wants) he’ll scream, cry, or best of all, throw himself on the ground. He’s also very physical in his feelings: when he’s excited he’ll run up to you with open arms (or if you’re holding him, he’ll hit you in the face or bonk his head in joy. It’s great he’s so excited but can be painful) or if he’s mad he’ll thrown himself on the ground, biting the thing that offended him. He also takes his anger out on mama, by grabbing my hair or sticking his fingers in my mouth. When he’s really mad, he’ll knock chairs over or throw the toy that frustrated him. Such big emotions for such a little boy!20140117-230811.jpg

But these things are few and far between. Most of all, N is a happy delight! And when he is frustrated, I usually come to figure out that there’s a reason behind it: he’s not feeling well, he wanted something I couldn’t figure out, he was hungry, etc. And once I figure it out, he’s back to being my little sweet angel.

What Baby’s Eating: He loves bagels, raisins, cheese!, waffles (with syrup), graham crackers, blueberries, spaghetti, sometimes chicken & other meats, chocolate milk, and sweets. He likes one specific kind of veggie burger so I keep that in the meal rotation quite often. He also likes sweet potato tater tots and meatballs. Loves Chicken McNuggets, is so-so on other chicken nuggets. He also likes Thai noodles and Indian dishes (as long as they’re not TOO spicy. His instincts are definitely not towards the most varied and healthy diet, but I think I do an ok job of keeping it varied and healthy.

What Baby’s Saying: As I posted previously, we’re finally getting our language explosion! Hooray! Most of his sounds are related to ba and sha. He has great intonation: he says baby and bye-bye perfectly. He says bath-time as kind of a ba-sha that rhymes perfectly. Open is ba-ba but it rhymes with open. Hard to explain (or decipher) without knowing, but once you hear it, you know exactly what he’s saying.

Since he’s raised with Russian, I think his great sounding fricatives (sh, fa, j) come from that exposure. He definitely needs more sound diversity, but we’ll get what we can take 🙂 He also still prefers function words (doesn’t say a lot of nouns, more verbs and prepositions) but he’s kind of an all-business kind of guy.

Things I Could Do Without: The mysterious crankiness and tantrums. It’s hard to be 2! But as I said before, they’re usually caused by something–tiredness, hunger, thirst or a communication breakdown.

Item/Toy You Love The Most: Hmm, this is tough. For the first time in your life, you have too many toys 🙂 I say this in the best possible way – we’ve always limited toys because you have always been happy with a few simple things. But now that you’re getting into pretend play, I want to have more toys to support that.

You love driving cars around, especially this old, broken hand-me-down car that makes noises. You love driving that, and other cars, around the house, under-foot. In the bath, you love pouring water from cup to bucket to watering can. You also love driving cars in the bath (with a small bath ‘shelf’ used as a ramp).

You love your stuffed animals, especially a duck puppet, a fox mom and baby, a stuffed sock monkey and your baby. And your seahorse that plays music and glows. You’ll often wake up in the morning or from nap with your arms full of your babies.

Things I’m Loving Most Right Now: Your personality! You’ve really grown into a person. I think I see it so clearly now that your dad is around again. Since he hadn’t seen you in 3 1/2 months, he knew you as someone else. I can really see your growth reflected in his eyes.

I think what stands out the most is your independence and your sweetness. You climb steps on your own. You know who you want to play with and when (And if it’s not your turn he’ll say bye-bye and walk you out of the room). You love kisses and I’ve seen you kissing animals on TV and at the store. When you said goodbye to grandma and grandpa after our Christmas visit, you gave them lots of kisses all on your own. When you saw your papa after missing him for over 3 months, you immediately said “hi” and kissed him. You are so deeply, genuinely sweet and your independence only makes it sweeter. 

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Talking

30 Dec

IMG_9551At just over 27 months (2 yrs, 3 mo), N is finally having a speech explosion. He can now say:

Ma – call for mama

Ba-pa (Grandpa)

Bye-bye

See-ya

Hish (thanks)

aye (hi)

Sasha (his dad’s name)

Daa (Dog)

Bii (Bird)

Baa (ball)

buh (more)

baby

sha-sha (wash)

Cheese

Da (Down, with finger pointing down)

Ba-ba (open, rhymes perfectly)

Fish

meow

oink-oink (not cute like it’s spelled, but like the animal)

Rawr (for a lion or a bear or any ferocious animal)

kitty-kitty

shoes

fa (five – as in “give me five”)

Big Sky Christmas

22 Dec

With the way the calendar falls this year, I was able to take a long vacation to my hometown for the Christmas break. After leaving N with his grandparents for a week after Thanksgiving and then driving back on my own, we’ve had plenty of time to just hang out and enjoy a Big Sky Christmas.IMG_8772 IMG_8932when he first put on this hat, he wouldn’t wear it. When Grandma put it on him and showed him how cute he is in the mirror, he wouldn’t take it off (for over 3 days, day and night)!IMG_8959 IMG_8960 IMG_9006My first time building a gingerbread house – it was pretty fun (and took several hours of my afternoon). Built a graham cracker house for N. to enjoy, too! IMG_9027He had to try on all the stockings to make sure they were ok 🙂IMG_9100We had a fun morning at a local children’s exploration museum. He loved the shopping carts in the toddler play area!IMG_9138 Snow in my backyardIMG_9137Can’t wait for Christmas to finally come next week!!

December Update

21 Dec

IMG_8757On the drive

December has been a busy month so I’ve hardly had time to update. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from making N’s annual photo album, it is essential to keep this updated. So here’s a quick update before I blog some N & holiday updates.

The beginning of the month, I flew back home without my snuggle-bug. I ended up staying one week without him, wrapping up teaching, turning in my human subjects review board application for my dissertation research. It was lonely without him, but nice to get things done.

Also that week, the soon-to-be ex hubs flew back to the US. I have made it my mission to be neutral about the whole thing. He has citizenship and as long as he doesn’t bother me, he has every right to be here. He mad a friend online (a photographer we know from weddings) and she and her husband are letting him stay with them while he gets onto his feet. They picked him up at the airport and that evening, the 4 of us met for sushi. It was weird–he was trying to be super friendly (hugging me, cracking inside jokes, etc) but the husband pulled him aside later and told him to chill. I guess these friends have had their own problems so they are sympathetic to our situation. A couple days later, I told the photographer friend (the wife) about why we’re divorcing and she totally understood. It sounds like her mission is to try and help hubs out and allow our little family to make memories that are positive.

Since then, we have been texting and talking a bit as we finish wedding edits so I can leave the business while still making our clients happy. If he gets pissy, I dis-connect, and he IS making an effort to apologize when he is a jerk. I have made it clear to him (and anyone in the world who cares) that even if he is a perfect angel, the divorce is still happening. This past year has forced me to re-examine all that I want in a relationship, companionship, and in a future for myself and my son and he cannot provide that. It is scary to go out into the dating world again, but I will find someone who will truly be my partner–or I’ll be stronger on my own.

I drove back to my parents’ house on the 10th/11th. It took 2 days because of the weather. Since then, I’ve been grading, editing, wrapping presents, and hanging out. It is nice to have many people to watch and play with N. He is loved!

Of course, being home isn’t all roses and sunshine. I feel guilty when I don’t do enough–when I’m on my own, I do everything and when I’m here I do nothing (and my mom does it all). I’m trying to strike a balance and attempt to clean up after myself, cook dinner for the family, still go on little adventures with N, and generally help out where I can. I also don’t want to disrupt my mom’s way of doing things. and I can always do better.

My uncle also had a re-occurrence of brain cancer. Six years ago, they found a large brain tumor. It was the most aggressive kind and his was stage 4. They operated, did radiation and chemotherapy and he radically changed his diet. He went into remission, but maybe a year ago something showed up on scans. They did a cyberknife procedure to cut it out. Later scans still showed something and so they biopsied it and the cancer is definitely back. He’s had some mini-strokes ( I think — or seizures. I’m not sure). Earlier this week he had a new operation and he’s getting out of the hospital today. He’ll get chemotherapy this time (no radiation due to scar tissue) and he needs physical therapy to work out the problems from the mini-strokes. It’s scary – and strange for him to be going through this. My family’s not that close, but he’s definitely the closest relative. He’s a great guy and I am scared for his family. But all information and emotions are filtered through my dad (his brother) and I have never built an adult relationship with him or his family. There’s a distance with my cousins (his sons). . .even though one cousin has a son N’s age, there still just isn’t anything to talk about. So this is something that occupies my mind but I’m not sure what to think about it.

I’m very much looking forward to Christmas. My baby bro will be in town and we have our set Christmas Even and Christmas day traditions. I’m excited to give some good gifts this year and to have some quality time with my family (secure in the knowledge that there’s not going to be any drama or drunken craziness going on). A boring, traditional holiday is just my kind of holiday.

My bro will be staying for at least a few days after Christmas, so we’ll be able to get out and have some fun. I really want to go snowshoeing and maybe hiking (depending on how much snow we have!) and just enjoy my hometown the best I can.

I’m not chomping at the bit to see my old high school friends. After going to college and everyone going their separate ways, it’s hard to re-connect. I think there was a lot of silly judgement that occurred relating to everyone’s choices in our 20s and I’m just not dying to defend myself, talk about divorce, or small talk with people who don’t get my life. So far, I’ve run into 1 whole person around town.

So that’s the update. I’m going to try and post fun pics and N updates soon. I have some good ones 🙂