Monday, October 25, 2010

What Dreams May Come

I rarely remember my dreams, at least for long. When I do, they rarely make sense, other than the occasional anxiety dream in which I am very obviously worried about (usually) work or money or both. I don't even have the recurring nightmares of my youth any longer.

Lately, however, my dreams have been speaking to me. I think my mind is preparing itself for the battle to come: I head back to therapy on Wednesday to work through some old, old issues.

A couple of them have been reassurance dreams, as I see them, much akin to the dream I had ten months ago in which I firmly and contentedly rejected The Ex despite being unattached, lonely, and (frankly) horny as hell. When I woke that morning, I woke with the realization that two important questions had been answered: no, I didn't want The Ex any longer in any way, and no, I wasn't going to go back to him just because of loneliness.

The other night I had a dream in which The Ex suddenly married his girlfriend. For some reason, MTL and I were at the house when they returned from the wedding. I helped the girlfriend/wife put items away, and as we worked side by side I saw that she was already upset and frustrated in her new role. And in my dream, I stood there with my hand covering a sympathetic (and slightly smug) smile and said, Oh dear. I know.

I know. A little passive-aggressive, that. But I woke with the clear understanding that if and when The Ex does remarry, I certainly won't feel hurt--but I might feel a little pity.

The dream that has me reeling still, however, is one that I will mention on Wednesday to my therapist, because it goes to the heart of so many of the issues I still have with insecurity and anger and fear of abandonment, fear of Not Measuring Up.

Saturday afternoon MTL and I lay down for a much needed nap, and I dreamed one of the most vivid dreams I've had in some time. In my dream, four women suddenly showed up at my door: my mother and three classmates from high school. They are all women with whom I have been close at some point in my life. I am still close with two of them (my mother being one, of course) and keep vague tabs on the other two through blogs and FaceBook. In my dream they came tumbling into my house, uninvited, and I felt myself retreating through the rooms as they advanced. They weren't there in a menacing way--rather, it was as if they were intent on simply having a good time in my presence--but I felt invaded and uncomfortable. They were chattering away about what music and concerts and such were the proper ones to attend--vivacious small talk, you see--and I realized that I didn't much like anything they mentioned. And as they rampaged through the rooms, I suddenly realized that this was not my house at all, but my mother's, and suddenly I didn't know where MY space was--the place that was truly mine rather than belonging to her.

I felt small and alone and very, very much on the fringes.

Then MTL woke me because it was time to get ready for the wedding we were attending that night, and as I stood in the shower mulling over the dream, I suddenly realized that these four women are all women whom I deeply respect but who also leave me feeling judged and insufficient on a regular basis. They all lead lives and have views and strong beliefs that vary considerably from mine, in various areas, for they are not by any means identical to each other. But because I do respect them, their opinion of me matters more than, perhaps, it should.

In my view, I don't battle demons. I battle dragons--thus the name of my other blog.

The other night, in yet another dream, MTL fought dragons at my side.

I have some work to do, some battles to fight. But I'm not alone.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Ex-Factor

We are very Civilized.

That's the word a coworker used when we were chatting about Halloween plans and I listed all the people who will be with us for that Event.

You see, MTL and I have, by blending our families, become the center of this trailing extended family involving Exes and others. And since we are amicable and try to focus on the children, we'll all be joining forces for certain events, such as Trick or Treating. On October 31st, our enormous group will consist of me and MTL, our five children/stepchildren, MTL's Ex and her husband and their daughter (MTL's kids' half-sister), and then The Ex and his girlfriend. The Ex's mother, with whom I am still close, may also join us. A massive group of six children and six or seven adults with a tangled web of connections.

Very Civilized.

And we are, honestly. To the best of our abilities, we get along and avoid conflict and try to keep the focus on the children. The Ex and I haven't fought about anything in ages and have become far better at communicating and working through occasional issues than we ever did when we were a couple. It's a level of teamwork that was markedly lacking in that marriage. As a close friend (who knew us when we were together and is still friends with us both) said to me yesterday, The Ex and I do much better when we don't have to take care of or worry about each other as individuals and spouses--we're quite decent co-parents instead.

Who would've thunk.

MTL and his Ex do fairly well that way too, though with different areas of trouble and ease than The Ex and I have. Of course. Their dynamic is different because they are different. But still, overall...Civilized. She and I get along quite well too. In fact, I even "rate" enough to get those annoying text forwards that are the new evolution of the email chain letters--you know, the ones about beautiful women and send this to the ten most beautiful women you know blah blah blah?  Yeah, those. JOY. It says something that we're at that level of amicability, though. And this weekend MTL and I have her daughter with us so that she and her husband can actually celebrate their anniversary.

It reminds me of the whole Bruce Willis/Demi Moore/Ashton Kutcher situation. With much the same responses from people who hear about it, really. And I'm grateful, because it means there's so much less drama and the kids aren't torn apart by parent conflict.

But here's the catch. As much as we all Get Along and, I'm sure, will get even better at Getting Along as time goes on, there's still an underlying sense of unease about the Exes. One time when MTL and I were chatting online (we were at work) about cooking and laughing a bit about our respective Exes' cooking problems, I wrote that The Ex did actually bake really good pumpkin pies. MTL said something snarky along the lines of There will be no complimenting of exes! Just trash talk. I agreed. I'm not interested in hearing compliments about her, either. Not total bashing--they're not evil, either of them--but certainly not praise.

There's something unsettling about the existence of another person with which the other has spent a significant part of their lives, with whom the other has children, with whom the other did Significant Other things including the intimate stuff. Neither of us likes to dwell on it.

And I'll admit this: when MTL's Ex calls, which she does frequently, to talk about the kids and work out transportation and all that sort of thing, I have to fight back a little surge of jealousy. There was this one day last week when MTL was talking to her and she said something and he laughed and called her a dork. That's an affectionate term in our family, and I hated that he called her that. Last night she called to check how her daughter was doing with us, and she said something funny and he laughed, and I hated that too.

It's silly. It's petty. I fight it and I don't make a fuss about it and I'm sure it will get easier with time. But it's there.

I'm sure there are ways he feels the same with The Ex, too. I know that months ago when The Ex and I met at a restaurant to go over some legal paperwork, MTL struggled with it. He knew it was silly, but the whole idea of my meeting The Ex for dinner, all by ourselves--it triggered the same sort of jealousy. And the other night when I had a long phone conversation with The Ex about the kids and DramaBoy's school and some behavioral things we've been seeing with them both and Halloween and all that sort of Co-Parenting Stuff, I noticed that MTL stayed close and listened in--much as I often do when he has similar phone conversations with his Ex.

I know that it's good that we all get along and cooperate and co-parent. It's healthier for the children. And that's why we do it: for the children. I know perfectly well that if there weren't children involved, neither of us would have much, if any, contact with the Exes at all.

I don't fear that he wants to be back with her. I know better. I don't fear that he doesn't love me. I know better. The whole thing has very little to do with logic.

That's the Ex-Factor, isn't it? And I--we--have to get more comfortable with it, because it's not going away. Not as long as we have children in common. It's just a part of our life.

But I don't have to like it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


This one? I think it speaks for itself.



conventional wisdom says
we should take it slow
don't rush into things
test the waters carefully
wait and
wait some more

conventional society says
we being crazy
insane fools
we should take a step back
think and
think some more

but i've never been one for conventionality
i'd rather be unique
and when i look in your eyes
hear your voice
feel the beat of your heart
i know
this is more real than
conventional can ever create

so even though we're crazy
leaping off this edge
trusting in an ephemeral future
i'd rather be a fool with you
than sane without

Thursday, October 7, 2010


The first time I hurt MTL's feelings--however unintentionally--I faced a new kind of reality. For the first time my emotional reaction and my apology were based not on fear of losing him (though I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a tinge of that--yay emotional baggage!) but on pain for having hurt him at all.

So this is what I wrote. He'd already accepted my apology, but this seemed to heal the hurt.



i hurt you
and in hurting you
hurt myself
because somehow
you became more than just
someone i know
this connection between us
links us in joy and pain alike

and even though you say
we're okay
the ache lingers like a bruise
and likely will
until i can look into your eyes
get lost in their cerulean depths
kiss your lips
feel your body beneath my hands
the thrum of your heart under my fingers
until i can whisper love in your ear
breath warm against your skin
and sink into the peace of You

until then
all i can do is send my love
and apologies
across the miles between us
fumbling with the words that must substitute
for the reality of how i feel

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


If you read my other blog, you know that I write and post poetry from time to time. There are a few poems that I wrote during the earlier days of my relationship with MTL that I never felt comfortable posting over on D and D. But as I look back at them, I think they may have a place here. I'll be posting them over the next few days.

This first one was the first poem I ever wrote for MTL--and the first poem he'd ever had written for him (that he knows of, at least). Less than a month after we first met, I already knew that he was Trouble for me, if I wanted to keep my heart unattached. Realistically? It was already too late.

Boy, am I glad.



you frighten me
to the core
your eyes see more
than i intend to show
strip away my defenses
peel back my armor
crumble the mortar of my walls
and all with such gentleness
that i scarcely feel it happen

i am naked
in more than body
and find myself yearning
to climb within your arms
rest against your chest
and let your heartbeat soothe my mind

i want to trust you
but hold back
unsure despite your words
for you are something new
and though what i've known
has failed me time and again
it's easier to stay with the familiar
i am uncertain
if i can take the risk of the unknown


when you look at me
i find myself opening
and i wonder
if perhaps i have the courage after all