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Just checking in with the whole Lent thing. Remember that I gave up sweet stuff for Lent – even though I’m no religion but my own? Well, hey, how long is this Lent thing anyway? It feels like it’s been going on forever. Surely 40 days have passed….right?
I have not yet succumbed to temptation, and I must say that I am very proud of the discipline that I have displayed, especially with the challenging things that have been happening in my life. It’s times like these when I’m most inclined to turn to the sweet solace of chocolate. And I haven’t. Yea me!
Yesterday was particularly challenging. Muffins at the AED training yesterday morning were tempting. The building management brought treats to celebrate our second anniversary of tenancy - brownie bites, little lemon tartlets, other squares of unidentifiable deliciousness. My co-worker had her baby shower, replete with chocolate cupcakes with white buttercream frosting. And at the end of the day, there were leftovers of all these things in the kitchen, so not only did I have to pass them up once, I had to pass them up twice. A hard temptation, successfully avoided. Of course, it didn’t help that when I finally got home last night, Kelsea’s friend offered me pie. Sigh.
However, I press on. I am proud of myself that I have resisted the urge, proud of my self-discipline, and that I am faithful to the committment that I have made. Even when the world is putting delectable little lemon tartlets in my path.
That said, can we be done soon? There’s hazelnut milk chocolate out there with my name on it. And yes, probably a lemon tartlet or two.
Ex-Pat remains in the hospital, and as I discussed yesterday, I have started the clean-up process in my old house.
It is terrifying.
I don’t understand how someone can let things get this dirty. I chided Kelsea about it last night (nice welcome home, huh?) and she said that she never touched half of the stuff in the house – which sounds just like her Dad. My response? Whether you touch it or not, you still live here. So there.
I won’t gross you out with all the details, but suffice it to say that when you have two dogs and two cats, love to cook, and live by a creek and across the street from a cow pasture, you just have to realize that hair, dust, and grease can transform some things into creations worthy of Salvador Dali if you don’t stay on top of it. I’m so far under it in this clean-up process that it’s hard to breathe.
But progress was made last night. Several surfaces were cleaned and shined. One carpet, while not salvageable, was at least improved. Walls and ceilings were partially de-cobwebed. A load of laundry was done. The freezer was cleaned. The kitchen table is 90 percent excavated. I have made some decisions about some of my things – what to take to my house, what to leave here, and what to throw away.
This cleaning process became more amenable for me when I realized that this is another stage of leaving my old life behind. When I moved out in 2008, I took things willy-nilly, at random, because I was shocked at what I was doing. I was actually leaving him. I would grab a random stacking file here, a cookbook there, but there was no real packing. Some of my clothes are still in his closet. Which is beneficial when I housesit, but perhaps not helpful for either of us in making a full-fledged parting. Although he has been passive-aggresively letting the cats pee on my clothes that find their way to the closet floor. Grumph.
I talked to him today, and told him what I was doing,and he said not to go crazy on the cleaning. Since the house is half mine, and in the state it is in, I am disregarding that and doing what I think is right. He may be coming home soon – depends on his fever and blood cultures - and will have a home health nurse coming periodically to help him through six weeks of IV antibiotics through a picc line. It’s my opinion that cleanliness is critical at this time. Dog hair +picc line = back to the hospital.
Kelsea, meanwhile, is embracing the cleaning with all the enthusiasm a teenager on spring break can muster for such an activity. Get what I’m saying? Yippee.
But as dear Ceciliag commented on yesterday’s post, this cleansing will be good for all of us.
Assuming we survive it.
I have been having water dreams lately. Lots and lots of water dreams for weeks, I think. Water dreams are strange things for me. They have always been portents of huge and significant changes. And generally not good changes. They are always similar in character. I am by the ocean and the waves are huge, engulfing everything, and I am trying to survive, to push through them, to stave them off. Doesn’t take a Jungian dream analyst to figure that one out, does it? What I know for sure is that they are certain predictors of something big happening. Generally, how I am able to survive in the dream indicates the level of intimacy with which the change will affect me, but not always. Sometimes, there are people I know with me in the dream, and they are usually impacted in real life whenever the change comes.
So, another water dream last night, coming on the heels of yesterday. Yesterday sucked. I won’t really go into why yesterday sucked. Suffice it to say that it did. BIG TIME. I am hoping today will be better. Hope springs eternal.
Ex-Pat has endocarditis and septicemia. He will be in hospital at least until Friday. According to my readings on the Internet, this is scary stuff. Really scary stuff.
The Internet can be your trusted friend or that devious individual on the street corner hissing to you that the world will end soon and he will take care of your pets when the rapture comes. When too much information on one topic is available, it is easy and hard at the same time to pick what you are going to believe. I read that septicemia is the same as sepsis, and that the odds of survival are about even. I read that it wasn’t, and that the survival odds are about 90 percent. I read that endocarditis can cause strokes, and that he’d have about six months to live even after recovery. I didn’t read anywhere that he would pop out of his hospital bed on Friday and start romping with the lambs. And what I heard him say last night, when I pointed out to him that without getting treatment he would have died and pretty darn quick at that, was that maybe that would have been better, as his daughter is the only thing he has to live for. (Which to me is a huge reason to keep living.) But he’s lost his will. He’s in too much pain to walk, and they don’t know why. Things are looking bleak, to say the least.
I think I will try to talk to his doctor to get the full scoop, as he is too doped up to tell me much. Then at least I can share what is real with Kelsea, who comes home today.
On the other hand, I am still at his house, and it is filthy. Filthy. Just disgusting. Even though I said it is not my job to clean this place, and I know it isn’t, I am going to do so, enlisting Kelsea to help, so she can see what clean is, and how to make things that way. I can’t let her live in a place that is like this. In clearing off the kitchen table, I found receipts from 2009. And that was probably the most pleasant of my finds. I remember he was always mad at me because of all the paperwork in the house that I never went through. Now that he’s having to deal with his own mail, and receipts, and crap, I suspect he understands, but he would never own up to it.
I may even tear up all the rugs and try to find replacements at ReStore. They will never be clean, ever, no matter what I do. I will get the handyman to come in and get the holes in the walls patched. I will try to rebuild my own sense of love and trust. I will do two jobs and manage two houses. And then I will sprout wings and a horn out of my head and become a human unicorn.
I’m being realistic.
I spent last night sleeping in Kelsea’s bed in my old house. Sleeping in her bed helped me understand her better. How odd does that sound? All I’m saying is that it is a truly magical bed. It’s one of a pair of twin beds from my grandmother’s house, one I used to sleep in some 45 years ago. (It’s mate was lost in an unfortunate accident when I was moving out of Ex-Pat’s house – que lastima.) I don’t know if its history is part of its magic but I suspect so. Anyway, I slept amazingly well, had amazing dreams, and had a visitation from my Mother in the Hour of the Wolf. Her scent preceded her, and we had a lovely conversation. I have missed her so. I had no idea she was hanging out in Kelsea’s room, keeping watch over her, but it totally makes sense, given how much she loved her and how alike they are. As I was drifting back to sleep, I checked again, and her scent was still there. She was sitting with me. What peaceful comfort.
I’m sure that sounds a little crazy, but hey, the women in my family have the shine.
Moving on, the shower is always a great place for me to come up with creative ideas, work through technical problems, and have epiphanies. I suspect it’s that eternal connection between me and moving water. When I was in the shower, and thinking about how “enmeshed” (to use MKL’s term) I am with Ex-Pat, I realized one very important thing – and this is something MKL said to me yesterday: Ex-Pat’s problems are not my problems any more.
Yes, I can help, because he is my daughter’s father. Yes, I can help, because I love the dogs, even though they are his dogs now. Yes, I can help, because the house is half mine on paper. But I am not his wife any more. I have moved on. He hasn’t. That does not mean that he gets to turn to me as if I am still his wife. Which is what he is doing. As Pam said in comments on yesterday’s post, I am a good human being and take care of people, and while that is indeed an admirable quality, in some situations, like this one, the boundary issues must be acknowledged in order to take care of myself and my life. I am not going to screw up my relationship with MKL because I am feeling guilty about Ex-Pat being alone (and hence, spending my time to take care of his needs). Ex-Pat has made his own choices here. And as singlecell reinforced in her comment, he has made his choices. His choices have left him without a support network. That does not mean it is automatically my job to be his support network. I am not the get-out-of-jail-free card anymore.
It’s a habit, a pattern of many years, that is hard to break, but must be broken.
He HAS to take responsibility for getting things taken care of. And doing so does not just mean asking me, and me saying yes. I think, in the shower, I finally realized that I can say no. Just like I finally realized that, even though he has a kitchen full of dirty dishes, it is not my job to clean up the house to make it easier upon his release from the hospital. If he can’t pick up after himself, he can ask another (less enmeshed) friend to help. If he hasn’t got those, then that’s not my problem. And on my way to work, I told him he would have to find other resources and couldn’t just rely on me. He clearly wasn’t happy about it. But it felt right.
The rest of today however, has gone horribly wrong, and I am totally discouraged.
I have an unusual divorce. In many ways, it is good. Ex-Pat and I get along pretty well most of the time, as we are committed to our 15-year old daughter. The first year was tough – he was angry, I was sad, it was awful at times. But now, when it gets awful, I can leave, or hang up, or whatever. I don’t have to put up with being berated or belittled. And we do help each other out with things from time to time. We’re better unmarried than married.
He has not moved forward in his life. I have. He is very supportive of my relationship with MKL. He wants me to be happy. But he has done nothing in his life. He hasn’t learned anything from our divorce, hasn’t grown, pursued another relationship, devoted himself to a job or a dream. He has just bowled and spent money and alienated nearly every one of his friends. His support system – on which he calls rarely – consists of me and Kelsea. That’s not good.
He got a sore neck about 45 days ago. It became excruciating. He had horrible back pain. He could barely move. He was miserable, and miserable to be around. He went to the doctor at th VA twice, and they didn’t diagnose him, just gave him painkillers, which didn’t help much. I finally insisted he go to the doctor again, and that I go with him to advocate for him. I couldn’t stand how he was being around Kelsea and I was worried. He’d lost 15 pounds in a month, and reminded me of how my mother suddenly lost a lot of weight before her final cancer diagnosis.
So on Friday morning, we went to the VA. And while I’m glad it’s there to help veterans, it was about the most depressing place I’ve ever seen. To give you an idea of how poorly Ex-Pat was doing, a fellow veteran in the waiting room mistook him for a World War II veteran, which gave me quite a giggle.
The appointment with the doctor was okay. I insisted that he come clean about his excessive drinking, and the amount of over-the-counter painkillers he was taking.The doctors listened, looked at x-rays previously taken, and said he had some arthritis in his neck that might have just finally started causing the pain. Hmmm. I was suspicious, but the doctors agreed to get him to a primary care doctor for more visits, and to schedule an MRI to see if there is any soft-tissue issue.
But as we were wrapping things up, Ex-Pat got woozy. He thought he was going to faint. They took his blood pressure: 87 over 51. And off we went to the Emergency Room. That was Friday. They decided to keep him overnight because his blood pressure wasn’t coming up. They said he either wasn’t producing blood or he was bleeding “somewhere”. Overnight, he spiked a fever. They ruled out leukemia. On Saturday, his fever was down, but his blood pressure was way high. They kept him in another night. He had an MRI, which was fairly normal. But they discovered bacteria in his blood, so he went onto massive antibiotics. This morning when I talked to him, he said they were keeping him another day. Now I can’t remember why, but I think they’re trying to figure out if it’s related to his long-term mitral valve prolapse. He’s on fab painkillers, so he’s happier. But they still won’t let him go.
So I’m at his house, to tend to the animals. (Roscoe is back to his old self, by the way.) I can’t sleep in our old bed, because it’s covered with laundry. There’s no food in the house, and a counter full of dirty dishes. And I’m in tender shape. I help people who need help. It’s who I am and what I do But I feel like we are crossing boundaries that our divorce should have solidified. It is disturbing to me. It is disturbing to MKL, and I can understand that. I am still half owner of this house (that he has let fall into as much disrepair as he has let himself fall) and the animals, and Ex-Pat is still my daughter’s father. (She, by the way, is in the mountains with a friend for spring break.)
And it is upsetting. When they mentioned cancer during his exam, I got nauseated. Seeing him degenerate like this has brought back all those feelings about when my Mom got sick, and I cared for her, and she died. And when the Captain got sick, and I lost him. Which were both around the same time. I find myself holding back tears and saying out loud to myself, “You’re all right. You’re ok.” And this makes me feel stupid. None of this is happening to me. It’s happening to Ex-Pat. I am fine. Inconvenienced. Worried. But fine.
I guess I still have some work to do.
These seabirds shared a stone in the shallow waters of the bonefish flats in Anegada, waiting for something small and delicious to swim into view. Not a stitch of greenery or colorful flower in sight, but a glimpse of the sea feels as appropriate as a gently blown kiss to the beginning of the spring.
Saltheap Point, Anegada.
Quote of the day: “I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of the imagination.” – unknown
The Market on Larimer Street
The compliments on my white cowboy boots today
Laughter and tears
My dear friend Pam
That Nancy was born today
Happy Spring, everyone!! We’re not out of the woods yet, but this spire is, reaching for the skies through the greenery of Bald Head Island, where Kelsea and I had a series of misadventures last summer that you can read about here, if you weren’t tuning in back then. This shot was taken from the top of Old Baldy, the island’s lighthouse.
Bald Head Island, North Carolina.
Quote of the day: “Even if you stumble, you’re still moving forward.” — unknown. (For Pam, with love.)
The woman with the glowing halo of hair on the street this morning
Finding my necklace
My playful house spirits
No, it’s not Texas (are you listening, idiot?). It’s Portland. And it’s another shot in our “C’mon, Spring!!” series.
Quote of the day: “Every spring is the only spring — a perpetual astonishment.” — Ellis Peters
Swearing at the gas pump
My orange cover-up
Being able to support my kindred spirits
I think my spring flowers are truly encouraging spring…it’s been absolutely gorgeous here. So I’m going to keep them coming for just a while longer. (Though I owe Beth Ann a picture of my new elephant teapot!)
San Francisco, California.
Quote of the day: “It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” – Mark Twain
Warm days and sunshine
Never leaving a room empty-handed (it keeps the house tidier)
Even though we’ve had amazing tank-top almost-summer weather, I am reminded of the road signs coming down I-70 from the mountains that say things like “Truckers! Don’t be fooled! You are not down yet!” I feel like we may still be in for some cold and etcetera. After all, March is typically Colorado’s snowiest month. So I am not done with posting floral inspirations for spring – not yet. The good news is that there is a little grass in my yard, and a few violet leaves, and shoots of the unknown plant are pushing though the soil. I hope to turn over the garden beds this week.
Quote of the day: “Once in the midst of a seemingly endless winter, I discovered within myself an invincible spring.” – Franz Kafka
Planning the garden
Chartreuse roses from my love