Sunday, February 20, 2011

So many questions

I am finding that I have very little tolerance for people who are not self-aware. I'm not saying I'm the most enlightened person around, but I think in the scheme of things I see myself pretty clearly. Lately I have noticed a couple of people specifically who I don't even want to talk to because they are so delusional about themselves. And it irritates the hell out of me. I realize that the only ways to not be irritated by it are:

1. Be more tolerant and evolved (which I'm not)
2. Don't spend time with them (which I've been pretty successful at)
3. ... I have no idea...

One of them has told me that he thinks he is a king, that he is smarter, more important, more interesting, more enlightened than almost everyone he's ever met. Yet he is in a relationship where his partner treats him like a second class citizen and he is so happy for every tiny little bone that gets thrown his way. Something doesn't add up there is all I'm saying.

Things on this end have been very emotional and busy. I was subpoenaed the other night. Interesting experience. I knew I would have to testify at a trial, but for some reason I didn't expect the subpoena. And to have a detective knocking on my door to deliver it was something new for me. Not a terrible experience, just not something I ever thought would happen to me. But the last year and a half has pretty much fallen into that category...

I have had some huge decisions to make. And lots of them impact other people. Where do I send A to kindergarten? Is public school as good as private school? Should I move to a different neighborhood to be in a certain school's catchment? Should I start Z in a nursery program? Would he be ok in a less structured program for another year? I mean, he's only going to be 3, he has lots of years of structured school ahead of him. Do I allow x's parents to take the kids to a different city for a few days? Do I trust them? How much am I willing to give up in the separation agreement? What is really worth fighting over? Don't I just want it to be over already? (Yes!) Do I trust myself enough to follow my dreams even though it's not a straight path and I could fail dismally? So many questions and really I'm the only one who can answer them.

I need more information and I am getting it. Some online research, some soul searching, some question asking. For some I have to look as far ahead as I can to see where different paths could potentially lead me. I have to say though, that in my experience there is absolutely No Way to see where a path can lead. My last year and a half is testament to that. So I'm doing the best I can, trying to peek around corners to see what may be lurking. Unfortunately most of the corners are completely blind but apparently that's the way the cookie crumbles. (Mmmmmmm... cookies)

So that's where I'm at: thinking, researching, and making decisions. We'll see where it takes me.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's all about Perspective

It's been a while since I've had the wherewithal to sit down at the computer for any reason. I guess it's part of losing my job, I don't have to be on the computer anymore, so I don't. But I forgot that I actually like sitting down to write my blog. I forgot the computer has a whole other side to it's personality, it's not just work. It's like when you find out that the guy in the office you thought was really stuffy turns out to be a hip hop kind of guy. That's the side I'm re-discovering of my computer...

Today I asked A to do something and she said: Yes, your majesty. Hilarious, because this morning she said: Don't you dare even think about closing my window. I told her that isn't a very nice way of asking me to do something, that it was a really bossy way and she isn't a bossy girl, so could she please say it in a nicer way next time. And as I was telling her that I realized that I must talk to her that way sometimes. I hear so much of what I say repeated back to me through her, I  know I've mentioned that. It's worth mentioning twice because it's an incredible door into how I speak to my kids and I am lucky that I am aware enough to take advantage of it to change my behaviour. I don't want to be a bossy girl either...

I need to make being at home more fun for me and the kids. Not just the being at home part, we have been doing way more fun stuff since work ended. We bake in A's easy bake oven. They make them look like microwaves now instead of the original oven. Which is just stupid because who bakes a cake in a microwave? But it's that original blue/green colour. I would describe it exactly but I'm a bit colour stupid. I'm just not educated enough in colours to do it.

We also make collages, play blocks, play house with A's stuffed animals. She has these two pink stuffed animals. Pinky Pig and Pinky Puppy. And I capitalize them because they have pretty strong personalities. Pinky Puppy is pretty easy, she does her own thing, hangs out in her kennel a lot. Pinky Pig sucks. She is the most demanding, time consuming, irritating pig, kid, baby, stuffed animal...whatever the hell she is. She's A's daughter, and I'm her Baba. I had to put an end to Baba doing things for Pinky. I don't mind playing along to a point but I am not getting up in the middle of dinner to burp her or check on her or give her a bath. Seriously?! I don't do that for my kids, I'm not doing it for a hot pink stuffed pig.

But my point is that I haven't made keeping a clean and neat home fun for us. I have to make it something we can all do together. They love cleaning, they would wash the floors, the windows, sweep, dust, and have a great time doing it. I'll put on some music, we'll make it a game and when we're done, I'll give them each money for their piggybanks so they learn that  there is a reward when the job is finished. I'm hoping it will help teach them how important it is to finish what you start. I think that's a really important lesson.

I was at my mom's the other day and I was pretty emotional about an uncomfortable situation I'd had to deal with and she said: I think you need to start being more positive. Really?! I must have said something or looked at her incredulously because then she said: I guess I need to remember that people are who they are. More positive?  I am going through an absolute hell of a time in my life and am still able to laugh and am aware of the good things in my life. I think I'm doing all right in the positivity department. Yes, I do talk about it openly because I see no reason not to. As someone put it recently, I'm living a life that helps other people put theirs into perspective. Not my first choice, but certainly more interesting than the life I would have led as a suburban housewife in Winnipeg. Thank god I got out of that. I hate how it happened, but am so happy to be free of x and be myself again.

I've been doing a little thinking about dating and how I want it to go when I'm ready for it again. I want the dating part to be really fun things that we can do a lot of at home. Because then we are playing at home so it's not a far stretch to do that on a regular basis. x and I always went out for dates, we didn't hang at home very much. And our ways of hanging at home didn't mesh. I think if we had cooked dinners together in a fun way, it wouldn't have been a chore, it would have been a great way to spend time together. Everything was a chore. x relaxed by watching video games and two tv shows. I like to read, listen to music, cook, dance, sing, basically do fun stuff. Fun to me, I guess. And I'm sure to someone else out there with whom I can do those things one day. Perhaps.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I'm an idiot?!

I work with this guy who thinks I'm an idiot. He is a complete waste of space, so I don't care what he thinks of me. It's interesting, if a stranger on the street talked to me the way he does, I would probably get pretty upset. But because I have no respect for him, his opinion doesn't matter to me.

I work for one of my brother's companies. To be fair, when I was hired (to do pretty simply customer service work), no one I worked with had any idea of my work history, qualifications, intelligence level, anything. All they knew was that I was M's sister. The actual job I was hired to do is fairly simple. Data base updating, excel spreadsheets, some basic Internet research, things like that.

Slowly the people I work for started giving me some other things to do and as I did them (and did them well), they started to see what my capabilities are and gave me more challenging work to do. Which is great. I mean, don't get me wrong, there is something to be said for mindless work but I have a brain and I like to use it. It is also the only validating thing I really have going for me these days.

OK - I started this post last week and since then I have been 'let go'. Which is a really nice way of saying fired. And it's not because of anything I did or didn't do that was under my control. It was because I just couldn't make the hours that they needed from me. They wanted 20-25 and the best I was able to do was about 15-17. It sounds weird to not be able to have 20 hours a week to dedicate to work, but by the time I drove the kids where they needed to go, took them and myself to appointments, missed work because of one or more of us being sick, I just couldn't do it. So I guess being the boss's sister will only get you so far...

I had just spent a whole bunch of time and effort getting my daycare subsidy renewed and at that point was waiting to hear if I was approved. And I was! For the entire year, which is awesome. But I called to tell them I lost my job and because I'm not working, I lose my subsidy too. Which I'm fine with. Now that I am not working, I will have lots of time to spend with the kids and I would really rather be doing that anyway. Working was a great idea in theory, and it showed me that I still do have marketable skills, and that the socialization of it is wonderful, but that right now, at this point in my life, I don't have time to work and be a good parent at the same time. So parenting it is! Until the kids are at school full time, and then I will have the opportunity to work again. I look forward to that time but will do my best to enjoy the kids while they are young. I even did a craft with them today!

I really think that without the stress of trying to get hours in for work, I will be able to enjoy my time with A and Z more than I did, and live in the moment with them instead of always worrying. Now if only x would start paying support again, maybe I could relax a bit...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Does Everything Happen for a Reason?

Here's a questions to ponder: If I was really unhappy, but didn't know I was unhappy, then is that such a bad life to be living? I know that my denial would not have lasted forever, that's not realistic for me. Although I am not as self-aware as some people may be, I do have enough awareness that the reality of a situation does become apparent to me at some point. Especially an abusive one. Unfortunately the awareness does not hit me early enough to avoid being in abusive relationships, but eventually my eyes do open up to what's going on.

This thought process comes from a conversation I had with a friend the other night. We were on the phone hanging out. Sounds strange but we both have little kids, don't get out much, and although we talk almost every day, we don't actually get to hang out without having a bunch of kids yelling, screaming, fighting, cuddling, hugging, wanting. Because whether it be good things or bad, kids usually want a piece of their mom when she is around. And since we're both moms, we don't get much talking in but on that evening we did!

So my friend, we'll call her R, said that she doesn't really believe that everything happens for a reason. She thinks that in a lot of cases people say that because it's the only way they can justify terrible things happening. You know, like if I said that I needed x to do what he did because going through all of the legalities, and the being a single parent, and worrying about money, and all of those things were necessary for me to become a better person. Or to fulfill what my soul needs to this time around. Or because I was an awful person the last time around and this is payback. Or whatever the reasons are.

I told her that I don't really believe that. I do for some things, like that the universe needed Z and A to be born with the genes they were born with and that's why I had kids with x. But even that is stretching things for me. I told her that I don't believe I needed to go through all this. That I was good. I was already a reasonably good person, I've lived through being poor, worrying about money, I've been through loss of friends: to death, to brain damage, to being a lousy friend (on both sides of the coin). I didn't need to live through Z being abused, having my entire world ripped out from under me, becoming a single parent, losing almost all my faith in my own judgment of character. I was doing just fine.

I told my friend L in Toronto about this and she disagreed. She said that when she and I had a conversation about this several months ago I said that I needed something extreme to happen because otherwise I would have stayed in my marriage that I was very unhappy in. I said that I didn't know I was unhappy. And if you don't know you aren't happy, then how bad is it, really? And if my marriage did have to break down in an extreme way, then couldn't he have had an affair? Likely not since he had a lot of issues in the sex department. I could have had an affair, but I know how it is when a parent has an affair. I have seen how that affects a family with young kids and I couldn't do that to my children. I also couldn't do it to x because at that time I still thought he was a person, not the monster I know him to be now.

So what do you all think about it? Does everything happen for a reason? Is that something we tell ourselves just like we created god? So we don't have to take responsibility for our own actions? What about "let go and let god"? My biggest issue in dealing with a higher power that ultimately controls what goes on, is that I feel like it's a big cop out.

Speaking of cop outs (I wonder what the origin of that term is), I was thinking about x doing what he did. More to the point, I was thinking about his pleading not guilty to the child abuse charges. And I thought: what did I do to make him do what he did? Maybe I wasn't a good enough wife. I didn't cook dinner every night. I didn't put out after a while because the sex was So Bad. It was all about him, nothing about me, and no matter how many times I asked, talked, counseled, about it, I just wasn't a priority sexually. Once he got off, that's all there was to it. And believe me, it took A Lot to get him off. People complain about how tough it is to get a woman to orgasm - not just women! He is either gay or has Major sexual issues. Whatever - I don't have to care anymore.

Just for the record: Sex is super important. It isn't the only important thing in a relationship but if you are going to be in a long term relationship (or be stupid/brave enough to sign a lifetime contract), you'd better make sure you have similar sex drives and can meet each others' needs. If you don't, then be aware of it, talk about it, and make some kind of arrangement so each partner can get their needs fulfilled without endangering the rest of the relationship. Just saying.

But I digress...

My point is that even if I was a terrible wife, didn't grocery shop, clean, cook, put out, take care of the kids, had affairs, spent all of our money, and whatever other things I might have managed to do (BTW I did not do all those things, not even most of them), Nothing justifies what he did. If he was unhappy, and obviously he was, he could have done any number of 'normal' things to change things. Like talk to me about it. I tried to talk to him. I took him to counseling. I asked him on a regular basis what we needed to change or work on.

Now I know that only a sick monster could do what he did and abuse a baby on a regular basis from infancy until he got caught. And I now know (and it's taken me a while to get here) that what he did has nothing to do with what I did or didn't do. And if he thinks it does in any way, shape or form, then he is wrong. I am certainly not perfect, but Nothing In The Entire Universe justifies what he did and I certainly hope the courts see it that way. If they don't then there are some serious issues in our system and you can be damn sure that I will spend the rest of my life making sure that the only person who can be blamed for being an abuser, is the abuser.

I really believe that a lot of what makes us who we are and what we do has to do with our upbringings. But at some point we have to take responsibility. Maybe I was a fat kid/teenager because my mom helped give me lots of food issues and didn't teach me healthier ways to cope. But as I grew up, it was up to me to find those ways. And if I didn't know how, then to ask for help. So, whether or not he was abused, the fact remains that he didn't ask for help. And to me, knowing that you have it in you to do something abominable, and doing it rather than asking for help is what makes the difference between a victim and a predator.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Customer Service?!

Since I moved into this apartment from my house two things have been missing. They are both battery chargers: one for my toothbrush and the other for the batteries in my camera. Unfortunately neither of these things can be charged using anything other than the chargers they came with. So, in the seven months that I have lived here I have not taken any pictures and I have not brushed my teeth. Just kidding. I have taken pictures...

I have been brushing my teeth. How gross would not brushing for seven months be?! I've been doing it the old fashioned way and although I always thought there wasn't much of a difference, I'm finding that there is. My teeth don't feel as clean as they did when I was using the electric. So I finally got it together enough to contact the company so I can order a new charger. I went to the Philips Sonicare website, found my version of their toothbrush, and can't find a way to order parts online. They give me a list of stores I can contact to see if they have what I need so I guess that will be my next step.

A really good service would be that I could email them to tell them what I need and they could then email me back and tell me where to get it. Or better yet, could take my credit card number and then send it directly to me. Personally I think that's pretty basic service. And any large company should offer it. Especially when the product they sell is expensive. Make it easier for me to spend more money with you instead of pissing me off and making me want to go out and buy a cheaper brand. Which is basically where I'm at after spending way too long on their lame website.

I was also going to go online to find a charger for my little Cannon camera but now I can't find the camera either, so I guess the charger isn't really going to do me much good...

Why is it that there are some very basic customer service issues that aren't rote?
1. People should never have to wait to pay.
If someone is Giving You Money, for any reason at all, you should make it as easy and as fast as possible for them to do that. Seems like a no-brainer to me.
2. Replacement parts should be available for anything electronic (unless it's cheaper to just buy the whole thing again).
Why should I have to go searching for replacement parts for things? A carafe for my coffee maker, a seal for my blender, a charger for specialty battery packs, the removable cup holder from my car that 'removed' itself by sticking to a cup and was thrown in the garbage with said cup. The list goes on...
3. If you have a website, make emailing a question an easy option.
Lots of people don't have the time, patience, or inclination to have a 'live chat' with a service rep. I just want my question answered and there should be an 'email us' link on every single page of that site.
4. If you need me to enter my product code that is alpha-numeric, show me an example of what it should look like. That will make it much easier for me to find it. Especially if it is just the first 6 characters of a looooong number.
5. Customer service reps taking the calls/emails should know more about the product than I do.
6. If you make a kitchen product, say... a Kitchen Aid Mixer. Every part of that mixer, other than the base of course, should be dishwasher safe. And they aren't. When I put the shiny paddle through my dishwasher it turned a really dark grey colour. I had to actively rub all this weird graphite-like stuff off of it and it didn't come off easily. How stupid is that? Especially since it's a $300 mixer!

I have thought about going through every single thing in my apartment again (because I have done it once) to find the chargers. There is only one feasible explanation I can think of: They took off together. They went on a road trip or something and just never came back. It could happen - look at some Tom Robbins novels. After reading some of those you realize that almost Anything can happen.

The last thing I have to say tonight is this: watch out for manipulators. They come in all forms, but remember that the worst ones are the ones who are closest to you and are looking out for their own best interest and not yours. One thing I'm learning coming out of having been in an extremely controlling relationship is that if people are looking out for themselves, and not for you, on a regular basis (especially if getting what they want means Taking Away from you) then run like the hounds of hell are chasing you. Because if you let them keep on doing it, that's where you'll end up: in hell.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Morning After...

After I blogged last night I decided to have a smoke, hope it relaxed me enough to go to sleep. I did fall asleep. Yay!! For about 40 minutes. Then A woke up with a nightmare so I sat with her for a few minutes, brought her to my bed to sleep with me. She kicked me so much that I went to sleep in her bed. When Z woke up (still the middle of the night) and saw me in A's bed he freaked out. So I moved him into my bed as well because he wanted to be with her. But then they wanted me to stay with them. I didn't end up getting much sleep at all.

So basically what I'm saying is that I needed to sleep so badly last night and although I had the opportunity to sleep right after the kids went to bed, it was not to be. So here I am, still tired, but having learned a few very important things:
1. I need to train myself to sleep at any opportunity
2. I can't get complacent about my kids sleeping through the night
3. The more time I have to think about the quality of my life here in Winnipeg, one recurring theme is my lack of quality friends. (This is not to say that I don't have some wonderful people here, because I most certainly do, it's just that there are way too many not-so-great ones who are big parts of my life)
4. As important realizations come to me in my thinking time, I need to acknowledge, respect, and start to take action to improve the quality of my life. 

This all goes back to my 'Screw the Guilt!' Post. I guess I need to read that one and start living it. Sometimes the hardest changes to make are the most important ones. Most often, actually, not just sometimes. I am only a little over a year into my new life as a single mom, as an independent woman again, as a person who is no longer being oppressed and controlled. And I am learning, step by step, how to build my life in a sustainable, enjoyable way. So here I am, working through it in my blog. And here you are, reading through it in my blog entries. Slowly, slowly, it will come together. The teeny tiny steps I am making myself take will add up to something that will resemble the kind of life I will be happy to be living, having relationships that I can be proud of and enjoy.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

You call this a friendship?!

I got sick a few days ago. I was feeling fine, then my throat and ears felt a bit itchy and then about half an hour later I felt like I was swallowing razor blades and that my ears were going to explode. Or implode, I'm not certain which. I went to the walk-in the next day (because of course this happened in the evening of a day that I had already spent at a walk-in because the plagues are now affecting my children, not just me) and they gave me meds that actually worked rather quickly. The next day the razor blades had dulled and as long as I was taking pain meds every few hours I didn't feel like shoving a knitting needle into my ears to get to the itch.

It's been a few days since it all began and I do feel much better. But I am so tired. And not just tired, but exhausted. You know what I mean, the kind of exhaustion that settles deep in your bones. That ache, that awful fatigue that makes you need to just lie down and sleep. Well unfortunately I can't sleep when I want, I have the kids. And I had to work. I've been feeling really crappy about the fact that I got sick right after vacation and couldn't go into work. I did work from home though. More than I should have probably but I needed to do it. I like my job and just wish I had more time to do it. I look forward to the day that I can work more hours and actually do brain involved work.

Today I had a couple of hours between picking A up from school and needing to get Z from daycare so we came home. A said she wanted to have a nap and I was so excited that we were on the same wavelength because I knew that if I didn't fall into a bed and close my eyes for a while that there was no way I was making it through the rest of the day without being a completely cranky bitch. But the nap was not to be. Although A said she wanted to nap, she really wanted to bug me. Which is because she misses me and wants me to spend more time with her. Which I do - when I'm not sick. So I didn't get my nap, proceeded to pick up Z, then met my mom at costco and went shopping with the kids. Thank god my mom was there - I wouldn't have made it through without her. Actually, I just wouldn't have gone without her. At one point I looked at the time because I was so tired that I was sure it was at least 7:30. It was 4:30. I was not impressed.

We finally got home, got the groceries unpacked, gave the kids dinner, and got them to bed. At this point I was so tired that I could hardly think, walk, talk, anything. I fell into bed and prepared to dive into a deep sleep so my body could get the rest it has been begging for. But again - not to be! But this time it is because my mind won't shut the hell up. There is so much running through it that I can't sleep. I'm tempted to take a sleeping pill just to get some rest but I don't take them when I have the kids because I'm worried I won't wake up if they need me. So there I was, tossing, turning, moaning and groaning to myself because I couldn't turn off the voices in my head. I finally realized that I was getting no where and got out of bed, put on some music (Romi Mayes: Achin in Yer Bones) and here I am.

These are some of the things running through my head:
Why is it that when someone does something that I think it really insensitive I don't want to confront them about it because I don't want to deal with the craziness that will inevitably come from it, but that this same person (and I am writing of a specific person) has no qualms about confronting me left right and centre with mostly imagined and sometimes (rarely) real issues? It makes me think that it's just time to clean house and stop hanging with people who I can't have an honest relationship with. Really - this person is negative, bitchy, self centred, and not very understanding. I have no idea why we are friends because when I look at the relationship honestly, I really don't get anything out of it. I don't get understanding or supportive comments, I don't get companionship, time spent with me and my kids, this person acts as though hanging with my kids is an awful thing to do, yet proclaims to love my kids. What the fuck is that?! When I complain, this person brushes it under the rug like my concerns are not valid. I just figured out what it is - this relationship is another area of my life where I feel invalidated. Good for me finding another relationship like that... big pat on the back for that one! What is wrong with me?!

I have so few people here who I can be myself with, who I can do something nice for and they say thank you instead of pointing out how I could have done it better. Or faster. Or smarter. Or anythinger. Where are the real people in this stupid city? The ones who have more goals in life than meeting a 'partner' and settling down. Who spend time reading books, talking about what makes things wonderful instead of ripping it apart to find where it doesn't work. I need people who are reasonably whole, have a sense of humour (especially about themselves) and understand when I have to cancel plans because my daughter has some crazy skin disease that I was scared was impetigo or something weird like that. People who don't poo-poo my fears, my worries, my problems, but who talk to me about them, listen to me about them, help me understand where I'm coming from and what steps I need to take to conquer the fears and worries.

Since I was in Toronto and surrounded my so much love and friendship, so much support and understanding, I realize how much I miss that being here. I live in Winnipeg for my kids, and my kids only. It certainly is not for me. I have nothing here. Even people who claim to support me and love me seem to disappoint me, take me for granted. I don't think that asking for friends who love me, flaws and all, is such a huge request. I'm pretty likeable. I'm funny, smart, interesting, I tell a good joke or story, I have a great ear for listening and I give really supportive, insightful and thoughtful advice when asked. But I feel like none of that matters here. I seem to have surrounded myself with selfish people who don't give a damn about me. Or who string me along. Or use me as a dart board when they are unhappy about their own lives. What the hell is wrong with me? More to the point, what the hell is wrong with these people? Where are the real people who give a damn - who would cross the street to help me instead of watching the train wreck happen and then criticize how I dealt with it?

I need a good cry, and a good sleep. And I obviously needed to get this out too. So - good night. I sure hope this got enough demons out of me to get some much needed sleep so I can be a reasonable person tomorrow. My kids certainly deserve a well-rested mommy who is quick to laugh and be silly. And all I need to do to be that person right now is get some sleep. Wish me luck and send sleep dust fairies my way.