Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm a lizard

I guess this happens to everyone to an extent, but maybe I am worse affected since I have moved countries 3 times since I was 25 and I got divorced. Here is my problem.. I keep leaving large chunks of my life behind. Usually quickly and under traumatic circumstances. Like a lizard losing its tail. For all I know they keep on twitching after I leave them, like the those perfectly nice circles of friends, those groaning bookshelves, a couple of decades shared with my husband. Those severed parts can twitch all they like. Me I just walk away.

Photo credit:

But look, my beautiful tail, it grew back, but not like before. Something is lost, something is changed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I've been away

I'm sorry, I've been away. I'm not gone. Actually I got a little sporting injury and now I have some metal in my leg. Time consuming. But whilst resting up I have had time to set my blogging agenda (always keeps me on case) and do a lot of reading. So here is what's coming up in the next month:

(1) I'm a lizard
(2) Celibacy and Anorexia
(3) The world according to my ovaries

I watched a lot of Jane Austen and developed a special affection for Elinor Dashwood. She will appear in (2). But how could I be disappointed to discover I am actually Elizabeth Bennett?

You Scored as Elizabeth Bennet

As one of Austen's most beloved characters, Elizabeth Bennet represents what most women would like to become: strong, independent, and loyal. Of course, she has her faults including a stubborn will of iron and a clinging to first impressions. Overall, Lizzie is bright and lovable...something to admire and aspire to.

...and read a most disturbing book, disturbing because I found myself in it. Myself of the last post in fact.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Things that kept me awake last night

I have come to the conclusion that I am a weak person. I didn't used to be - as I have explored on this blog before. My parents sent me out into the world with a work ethic, a moral code and an inner happiness that I rode along on more or less comfortably until I was 40.

Now I question everything.

Which may be a good thing.

My new partner blew away my concept of marriage. I weakly accept (in the face of his evidence) that most marriages are not monogamous - despite the fact that I was in one myself for 16 years, and my parents set a sterling example for 40 years.

So I reset my moral compass. Downward. In disappointment, in disillusionment, to my own detriment.

I wasn't the kind of kid to be drawn into the wrong crowd. I wasn't easily swayed. I didn't smoke behind the bike sheds...

What I did do was accept my parents' moral code lock stock and barrel. Which Neil would call a Mc Moral Code. I didn't question it, and it worked well for me. Until I met him. This to him is abhorent. As thinking adults we should make our own decisions about everything in life - right and wrong, politics, who we sleep with, the death penalty, what we eat....

And here's just one funny thing about him..he thinks nothing of having unprotected sex with >100 women, but he would never eat an out of date yoghurt.

Is it good for parents to hammer a moral code (e.g christianity) home to a child? How can I find an alternative acceptable approach for my son?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Vote on my future now

I have to make a decision it seems, which is always hard for me. Of course my natural instinct is "No change" accept the status quo. In this case I am not even sure what the decision is. However I press on...

My partner, Neil, has accepted a job overseas, and my child's father is in the same country as me. I know my partner will eventually come back. In the short term I need to decide whether to go with him. The cost is high. There will be a court battle, I will risk losing my job. If we loved each other wholeheartedly this would be a no brainer - I would go and particularly if we had a child together (which had always been the plan). But with my survival mantra - "My self, my child, my health, my work" in mind I can't find it in my heart to risk my job and my child's happiness in exchange for a half-love.

There is another dimension to this. The country in which he is working is my home country. Near to my folks, and my child's grandparents. The last sentence there seems redundant. Perhaps after all this is not going to be too much of a risk to my child - he will be back with his Dad in a year or two and in the meantime he has his extended family. Dad could visit, if he could afford it. Or move even. He has the passport. If I had more self esteem, perhaps I would care less about holding onto this particular job.

But now we come to the nub of the issue. All this obfuscates one fact. If I turn to my only working decision making tool, my gut*, I get the following answer. DO NOT GO. DO NOT FOLLOW THIS MAN. LEAVE HIM. BREAK FREE. And following this, should I take this course of action, some questions

(1) How will I cope with the smug self-satisfaction of my ex and his new partner? (Not having my own partner will doubtless create a power vacuum in which Simon will move in, metaphorically, and try to control my life)
(2) How will I manage to discipline/manage/parent my child? and who will support me in this emotionally? (this is a place where Neil takes a role)
(3) What will happen if I get sick, who will care for me and my son? (In the short term I have health and income insurance - I fondly imagine Neil would take care of me, but in reality he could not, with his job responsibilities, and he never takes care of Connor in that hands-on, bathing, story-reading, sport taking kind of a way)
(4) Where will I live? (this is probably the most emotive part. I love my house. I have waited 20 years to have my own home, I have put more cash into it than Neil - and there would be a court battle to try to retrieve that)
(5) What will I do for sex?
(6) What about my aging parents? will I ultimately opt to re-patriate to be with them?

If I go, I should go for me (because I have a good job opportunity, I want to be near my folks), if I don't go I should realise that I am in a holding pattern where I can live separate for him for some time, but eventually it will only tear us apart and the questions above will have to be addressed. Not going and not even taking extended leave over there saves me from court-battles. If I go semi permenantly I have to lose my job and fight connor's dad for custody. If I follow my gut, do not go (at least not with Neil) use this as a chance to sever ties. I have to have a court battle over the house .

Here it seems are my options

(1) Move No Action: Stay here. Remain in relationship. Avoid all court battles.
(2) Explore the boundaries: Stay here. Remain in relationship. Plan extended leave over there and minor court battle with Connor's dad
(3) Gut Instinct: Stay here. Get out of relationship. Have financial settlement battle. No attempt at custody in near future, although reserve right to go and live near folks when connor is old enough to make his own mind up. Put myself at risk of domination/interference by my ex.
(4) Armageddon: Drop job - follow Neil (my SA partner) - have full on custody battle, leave my job and tenure, go an be near my folks with no plan to come back - this would give me a power base. Neil will want to come back but having made the move I would have family support.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Musings on codependence

It dawned on my rather depressingly this week that, if we believe such a thing exists as codependency, I have it. Apart from the control patterns of codependency (which I don't have), I have a good handful out of each of the other lists. Where did this come from? I have no idea. I did not grow up in a dysfunctional home. But as I look back on my life, from the discomfort of my mid-life crisis. I realise that for no good reason that I can discernm, I have been living my life for other people. And what have I got to show for it? Nothing. No, sorry, very little....

(1) A very unhappy disatisfied mentally ill ex-husband.

I rearranged my life to be with him. I changed countries, left the family I loved. Accompanied him on all his hair-brained adventures, never once saying NO, THAT DOES NOT INTEREST ME, GET STUFFED. I held off on buying a house, having a baby, all the things that meant so much to me, because he was not ready. I cooked the food he liked, shopped where he liked and carefully packed it in the in environmentally friendly bags that he liked, I went on holiday where he wanted to go, did the sports he wanted to do, often to the point of physical exhaustion.

The only thing I have to show for this is my beautiful son, who was a result of my only act of rebellion when I got to 35 and refused to wait anymore, and he was the catalyst for the breakdown of my marriage.

(2) A disrepectful, unfaithful, sex-addicted partner

I do all the household work, and I never argue with his opinions, it is not worth it. This suits him just fine. I feed his addiction by saying "I don't care" and allowing him to be out all day and night and not provide me with any support, and allowing him to objectify me, and to progress his career at the expense of mine. Worse still I have no idea whether or not I do, in fact, care. I remain with him when he has offended every moral value in my soul, and stepped over more marks than I can count, and I have no idea why.

It occurs to me that if I persist in this pattern of self-sacrifice around no-good men, I will not only totally lose myself, but I will have nothing to show for all the hard work such blind devotion entails.

So here's the punchline. If I can't shake myself out of it I may as well put my self-sacrifice to good use and volunteer or give back to society in some way, rather than hitching my wagon to their capricious stars and being dragged heaven knows where.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

No smoke without fire...again

Well as you know my SA partner went into recovery for about 3 months (almost two years ago), declared himself healed, and defied me to discuss it with him, because I was too angry and it was not helping. I went on bearing a grudge and being quite angry and sad about it for about a year. Then I realised I could let go. Unfortunately I "threw the baby out with the bathwater" and stopped loving him as selflessly and freely as I could. And this laid the foundation for my own slip.

I resolved not to snoop on him, and that the evidence would come to me. So now it is coming in, and I still ignore it.

The browser history shows craigslist - I have never visited it. The phone bill has two receipts for an online adult chatline - when we were away - all of us. I find receipts in my car for fastfood and car parks, late at night in suburbs far away when I thought he was at work, and finally...he accidentally leaves himself logged in to his email, and so help me I take a look. Half a dozen flirty emails to women I don't know with among the seemingly light friendly banter words like "lick you" "pinch you".

And on the way home in the car, he sighs, tells me he is so sorry he is just not interested in sex... even cites a well known male problem.

So I replied - oh no doubt it would all be fine given the right conditions, and looked at his face in the half light - Dead Pan.

Funny thing is...I feel nothing...this is not a marriage....

Thursday Haiku

Were my hopes founded
On a moment of folly
Or twenty one years?

You introduced me
To the girl I used to be
then led her astray

My phone is silent
A weapon of destruction
it lies here inert

And I am still here
The passion has subsided
but still I need you

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The olympics make me feel old

Everytime some olympic veteran looks close to triumph, and the commentator says "This is wrinkly podgesome's 4th olympics, and what a story, what a triumph, what a competitor, at 33 she is quite the veteran, quite the seasoned athlete..." I think hmm 33 that's old... about my age...then realise I am almost a full decade older... and feel my olympic dreams fade. I remember not so long ago when the only ones of my age were the para-pubescent gymnasts such as Nadia komenich or Olga Korbet did I take my eyes of the road??? how did I get to be so old????

Monday, August 18, 2008

Needs Meme

An old one from MamaMPJ

The rules: Google your first name with the word "needs" behind it and post the first 10 results.

1. Fiona needs loving home
Yes, one where it's not me doing all the loving

2. Fiona needs clothes
My work colleagues would undoubtedly agree

3. Fiona Needs | Facebook
Like a hole in the head

4. Fiona needs star treatment
Oh, go on then

5. Fiona needs some foster family help ...
OK take me in

6. Fiona needs sangria
yes Yes YES

7. Fiona needs a Cowboy
yes yes Yes Yes YES YES

8. Fiona needs cash for mercy mission
Mission impossible

9. Fiona needs a boyfriend
Like a fish needs a bicycle

10. Fiona needs a caption.
Because no man is the isle of Iona

Monday, August 11, 2008

Does my ass look guilty in this?

Since my last post a number of sequels have come into my mind. I usually don't put pen to paper until I have the thoughts well formed in my mind, but I think I need to take the taste of the spectacular misbehaviour away!! I got less comments than I expected. An ominous silence. Anyway here are the three possible sequels:

(1) Why I never need a counsellor again, and have reached serenity in my life
(2) How infidelity looks now I have tried it on for size
(3) Vote on my next step (in which I put up a reader poll and you tell me what to do)

So I will opt for number (2) with the others coming up shortly

My higher power, in their wisdom has brought me two pieces of reading material this weekend. The first was from a british newspaper. Why I cheated, inside the mind of an adulterer which tells the story of an affair from a man's point of view. The line that really was a wake up call for me came near the end where he describes the reaction when they were found out.
"Emma was stigmatized as a cheating spouse and a disloyal friend. People reacted less violently to my betrayal. The fact that I was a man seemed to make it easier to understand. But the societal condemnation of Emma, the woman, was brutal. It was too much for her. She went back to her husband"
He thought, as a man might, that he could have it all. Love his wife, and indulge his passion for her friend. The second was about sex and the dems by Michael Wolff in vanity fair in which he asserts that
"Men in public positions who have sneaky sex are weak. The very fact that they would risk their public positions for sex (just sex) is a sign of their weakness. "

It is clear to me sadly that when I move aside from the quasi-romance of being with someone from 20 years ago, and dreams of what may have been. The risk of being found out is too high. Apart from the damage to our small children. I am the one who has most to lose. I would be stigmatized and hated, he would at worst be considered "weak".

Friday, August 01, 2008

A spectacular piece of misbehaviour

About a month ago the second of my decamped ex-boyfriends arranged to meet up with me as he was in the town where I work. I decided not to make the mistake of telling Neil this time because he has nothing to fear. Right.

I notice woman.anonymous7 has been toying with "getting back at her husband" through infidelity. There is, as you will see, and element of this. It is more about me, than revenge however, I never intend anyone to find out (that's why I'm publishing it on the web). We fell into each other's arms in a way that was, as my friend Dan once described overwhelming and for about a month after there were passionate exchanges and declarations.

Since then however things are starting to return to normal. The messages are dying down. I can package the night away, as a happy and memorable one. Twenty years elapsed between out trysts. And whilst I may cherish a hope that sometime in the future we will be together, I fear that time is actually in the past. He represents the life I may have had if circumstances had been different.

This is the first time I have ever cheated on anyone, but somewhere in there, there is catharsis.

Two things I do know:

(1) I can now instantly forgive my (formerly) sex addicted partner
(2) Things felt so right, so connected, and there was so much chemistry, I know things here are wrong.

But part (2) is corny. How could Neil possibly compete with a pheromone charged evening of lust with someone who I not only have a shared history and affection with, but also subconsciously believe is still 23!!!!????

Monday, July 28, 2008

Understanding Me

As with so many of my insights, this one occurred as I was driving home, rushing, as it turns out because I was late for the childminder after a long and stressful day at work and a manic dash round to food store.

Why is it that the last person I understand is ME, and I am the last person to understand me?

After my divorce I met Neil who lavished attention and love on me, and seemed ready to fast-forward me into a life long commitment of shared love and respect. At the time for whatever reason this appealed to me perfectly. I had longed to own my own home, I had longed for another baby, I had longed to have a shared vision of the future with a man who loved me, and somewhere in there I hoped that stability for my son would eventuate. He offered all this. We moved in together, started round after exhausting round of unsuccessful IVF, bought a house, and suddenly CRASH he's a sex addict. He has been sleeping with other women throughout our short passionate courtship. Darghh!!! What to do???? He asked me to marry him.

So this is what I did. I said yes. I put my head down. I reasoned that the proposal marked the end of his philandering ways. I pronounced that I had forgiven him - although on reflection I had not. I was full of resentment, and distracted to the point of obsession with visions of him with other women. There were jealous rages by me - possibly hormone driven, though possibly not. At this point I believe I still loved him.

I was not ready to give away the dreams I had held for so long of a home, children and a happy marriage.

So began the steady process of "letting go" I consulted COSA who reasoned against snooping. I stopped snooping, in fact I took it a stage further I decided I didn't care. He could do what he liked, I just had to worry about keeping ME sane. Incidentally about this time and maybe as a result of his 'recovery' our sex life went to custard.

Then this year, 1.5 years after disclosure but somewhat longer since my first suspicions my OB/GYN tells me at my age I only have 2% chance of a take home baby through IVF, and suddenly something gives. That important piece of the puzzle - If I can't have babies with him and don't love him properly why am I wasting his time? I am living a lie, and I now know 100% for sure that I do not want to marry him. All that is left is the lifestyle, and stability for my son. We may as well be room mates.

Enter the agent of change that is the subject of my next post...

Long Silence

I know I've been away. A long silence. None of you seemed to like the picture I painted in my last post, or have any comment at least. I plan to address the reason for the long silence (aside from being on the other side of the world) in two posts. The first explaining myself to myself, and the second telling what has happened.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Paint Me a Picture

Sometimes I think my life is the wrong size for me. It just doesn't fit. But as long as I keep my head down and focus on my child, my work and myself I can survive. I yearn for a richer way of being. A radio show I listened to lately suggested to be happy we need to live in the right place, have the right job and be married to the right partner. I have also read in another source that we are often happier doing what we enjoyed as a child. My third inspiration William Wharton's answer to his daughter's question What is Love? was: “It is passion, admiration and respect,” he told her. “If you have two, you have enough. If you have three, you don’t have to die to go to heaven.”

And for the third inspiration, this is what I think he meant. Respect is engendered by trust, equality, love, forgiveness, integrity and mutual liking. Admiration is engendered by personal attributes that will vary according to the admirer but in my case cleverness, resourcefulness, resiliance and acheivement. Passion is engendered by; love, sex, chemistry and shared enjoyment of food, music, sport....

So here is my ideal life

I would live near to my family. I love them, I love their company and I would simply adore being included in all the family events. As for the actual geographic location. My home in the mountains is pretty nice, but I think I am deep down more suited to an urban setting. I have always wanted to live in France, mainly because I was rather good at the language at school. A loft apartment in Paris maybe, or just somewhere English speaking, Melbourne, London, New York. Definitely a small manageable home, in amongst the hussle and bussle, with a lively local community that I could connect with. As for my job, I would like something creative, that involved creating a usable artifact. As a child I loved to run, sing, play the piano and make clothes. Software development does fulfil this to a degree, but what I would really like to be is an Architect, fashioning the lived environment. Finally the most difficult part, to describe my ideal partner. Despite a life time searching and a good deal of compromise, I have never met my soulmate. My ideal partner would be someone with a similar level of interests and accomplishments as myself. A trained professional, who could earn their own living, active in sport and a good amateur on a musical instrument, or voice, with enough knowledge or love of culture and arts to be able to talk about it happily and freely and maybe participate at some level - draw paint sculpt who is internally tough and does not need to be babied, but at the same time someone who I am sexually compatible with who's body soul and very being I long to be near to.

I faint at how lost I am to myself

How odd that when I translate my own attributes into those I look for in a man, I automatically feel I am asking too much, and that such a person would be too good for me? how low I aim!

I am frankly horrified by the man I live with, who recreates by lying on the sofa, farting loudly and listening to offcolor racist sexist humour downloaded off the internet, or porn. I can't believe this is my life choice. I do not seek to change him, I know this is impossible, cha·cun à son goût, but sadly neither do I seek to marry him.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Which Book are you?

Taking my lead from MamaPJ. I decided to try the which book are you quiz. Oddly I was rather pleased with the result. This is somewhat how I see myself. Must read it.

You're The Things They Carried!

by Tim O'Brien

Harsh and bitter, you tell it like it is. This usually comes in short,
dramatic spurts of spilling your guts in various ways. You carry a heavy load, and this
has weighed you down with all the horrors that humanity has to offer. Having seen and
done a great deal that you aren't proud of, you have no choice but to walk forward,
trudging slowly through ongoing mud. In the next life, you will come back as a water

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


One coping mechanism I have evolved is to just not care about anything.
(1) I don't care if you shag other women, because I don't love you that much
(2)I don't care if my ex does not answer my requests about my child, because my opinion doesn't matter
(3) I don't care if I'm not promoted, because I don't deserve it.

And so on which eventually leads to a loss of self...
I think I may be in a dark place at the moment, but I am too busy coping to even try to get out of it.

Monday, May 05, 2008


I really hate to post about sex addiction, because it is one of the darker and more private parts of my relationship with my partner. And if anyone recognised me here, it would be something I would not want to share with my friends and family. But here I go...

I generally prefer to think of his (self diagnosed) sex addiction, as just an affair or final fling before he settled down with me. However, recently I read some stuff about alcohol addiction and how the addict lies and justifies their behaviour, and one particular style of justification that I had all but accepted from him has taken on a new light. Here is the argument which I have almost been forced to accept.

Women are equal to men. If they say they are happy to have a relationship that is "just sex" then who is the man to "nanny them" and probe further. If they are lying to themselves, and actually want a relationship, why should the man try to second guess them? this is an insult to their intelligence and personal autonomy.

However, when it is also obvious to said man that the woman's feelings have changed and he goes on treating her like a f**k buddy, perhaps it is time to look at himself, is it possible that this logical and quite elegant (feminist almost) argument is a justifying cover up for an addictive behaviour?

More generally, I think in this post-feminist era it is becoming obvious that casual sex has more to offer men than it does women, but I could be a prude.

I should also add that I am stressing about some behaviour in my partner that took place before I met him (with one exception I know about) see here

I would appreciate some general moral/philosophical/ethical direction on that one.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bride or Bored

I've been looking for a picture that adequately describes the way I feel about re-marrying, but there really is nothing that does. I have felt this post coming on for a few days now. Not and old yet happy bride, more a dishevelled bride giving the finger. I have definitely crossed a boundary lately.

For the first 30 years of my life I was a romantic. I was excited about the prospect of meeting someone, falling in love, having a family, and living happily ever after. At 24 I launched into it all with the wrong guy, had a rollercoaster of a 16 year marriage struggled against his will, and then my ovaries to have a child, and was spat out at the other end... Forty, with no sense of personal autonomy, fertile years drawing to their close, and utterly utterly bemused.

Neil, who has never been married, and has apparently put his philandering ways behind him, wants to marry me....but why, now, would I want to do it all again?

There is precious little chance of being a parent again, I have no desire to outsource the management of my life to someone else (been there, trying not to do that again), I don't want to make any more promises I can't keep and I have so much more to live for.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Life Curve

Listening to some music from my teenage years, I was suffering a wistful moment about all that lost potential and how my parents had given me such a good start in life and I had squandered it, when it occurred to me that this is really just all part of anyone's normal lifecycle (and they will admit it to greater or lesser extents) and some have more luck than others. Basically we start out, as babies, all potential, and then a number of things happen and we either reach it or we don't. But at some point (mid life) things switch from breath taking anticipation of what might be - who will I marry, where will I live, will I be successful, to a measure (come on admit it) of wistful regret. if only I'd tried harder I could've been an olympic athlete, world class musician...oh my god I wish I'd never married him. Wistful regret can also accompany glib satisfaction. I'm pretty successful, I may have a few wrinkles but I know a lot about the world, and gratitude. Gratitude for me is the predominant emotion when I think about my friends who have died young and yet contributed so much to the world in their short lives. Thank god, I've got an extension!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Esteem and Self-Esteem

My ex-husband often meets me on the opposite side of a footbridge from where I work to hand over Connor. He never crosses it. Today for the first time I crossed it on a different day without Connor and looked into the oily waters below. That is where my husband tried to commit suicide 4 years ago, by walking into the shallow, slow flowing water. Maybe that is why he never wants to cross, and see the water below. Or maybe he just wants me to do the walking, who's to tell?

Anyway today for the first time it affected me. I realised I never asked him, or I Don't recall asking him, WHY???? Why did he want to commit suicide? things must've been very bad. He would've felt hopeless, helpless, worthless. Yet to look at his situation you never would've guessed. We had been trying to have a baby for 5 years and had just been successful via IVF. Money was not tight, I was going back to work after paid maternity leave and we had a great bunch of supportive friends. He had gained a law degree as a mature student and was working on a high profile case. His career as a lawyer appeared to mean a lot to him, and to be an integral part of his identity. He'd say "I'm a commercial litigator, that's what I do" and our friends would look up to him and value his advice.

This whole suicide thing is eating at me today, and there is nobody I can ask really, my peace of mind (the ex-wife) will never be a priority.

I don't remember him ever saying "I felt desparate, lonely, unloved". Just before he tried to drown himself I was telling him about a friend of mine who had given up her job because she couldn't cope with the stress of small kids and working, and he said "If anyone's going to have a nervous breakdown around here, it's me" thereby reserving his right to a breakdown.

At the time of his suicide attempt. I had just had the happiest year of my life. I was off work for 9 months with my beautiful, longed for baby. Our marriage was not unhappy, we did a lot together and had a good sex life, although we did not communicate well. After the suicide attempt he begged me to check him into a secure facility, and from there on in I became the enemy. I had just gone back to work full time and was quite stressed about childcare arrangements. He discussed his problems only in hushed tones with his psychiatrist, and I was not allowed in on the underlying problems, just reassured that it was a deep biological depression. So I took to researching the problem. Whenever I asked him what the problem was he would say, it is a chemical imbalance in my brain, I kept on delivering my child to childcare, working all day and visiting my husband in the evening before taking connor home, putting him to bed and doing it all again the next day. On the outside all the psych talked about were his control issues, which were real. I had definitely been a victim of those and I still am. I really had no idea what was going on.

In short I don't think I took it seriously. I remember saying to Simon "All I want is a functional husband" which on reflection was not the most sympathetic thing. His pre-emptive remark reserving the breakdown, the difficult method of suicide that he chose (if he had meant it wouldn't he have tied something to his legs and jumped into deep water?) and the refusal to discuss all but the medical details added to the objective fact that his life was not so bad, added to the extraordinarily busy life I was leading myself made me just assume it was a "cry for help" or had, as he himself said, some sort of brain-chemical abberation which would be fixed presently with drugs. His psych likened it to a heart attack, it comes on suddenly and requires a long recovery and a change in habits. We did not have an extraordinarily combative or unhappy marriage so I can only blame the job.

Anyway he gave up the marriage and the job whilst still apparently in a deep biological depression - not a time to be making life changing decisions I would've thought. He also courted and moved in with someone new - if he had low self esteem he hid it very well - behind a blustering self-confidence. Which brings me to the point of this post.

If I was feeling desparate, out of control and suicidal I would not ponce around proclaiming my expertise, I would keep a low profile. I suspect this might be a male thing. I feel dreadfully out of my depth in my job a lot of the time. I ask advice, I tell my seniors honestly what I think I am capable of. I confide in my girlfriends if I can't cope and I ask for help. I certainly don't lie and cover up until it comes to crisis point.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

This (Autistic) Life

I have vowed never to capitalize on my brother's disability. I am in no way entitled. I hope I do not offend anyone with this post, particularly my references to "normal" which we all know is a nebulous concept. But I was driving to work the other day, and thinking about how my Autistic brother has made me who I am today, and I found tears streaming down my face. I have recently met a new friend with an Autistic son, it is lovely to know her, and to perhaps see what my mum went through when I was too young to remember. My first memories of my brother was that he was a beautiful child. I went out on an image search to try to find a picture as beautiful as he was, but noone came near, and then I remembered the little boy in the movie Kolya who was impossibly sweet and innocent. He was like that.

I am three years older than him, so I remember waiting for him to learn to talk. We waited and waited. I remember him saying a few little words/phrases, but they disappeared somehow. People kept on telling us about children they knew who didn't talk until they were 3,4,5... By this time I was old enough to be on my parents journey too. I kept on hoping, along with them, as each milestone passed, that he would soon make a developmental leap.

I think he taught me to be in for the long haul, and somehow to cope with disappointment. Hoping and praying will not make it happen.

Soon we realised this was not going to happen, then my focus shifted, he became my project I was determined that he would be as normal as possible. I took him around with my friends. I made sure he never wore dorky clothes or got a dorky haircut, or had greasy hair. I stood up for him when people teased him. I taught him to swim, to ride a bicycle...

Through it all though, he threw me into sharp contrast. When he was being naughty, I was super-good. When he failed, I succeeded spectacularly.

I think subconciously both my older brother and I had to make it up to our parents somehow.

And then I moved out of the project phase. For a while I think I forgot about him. My life got interesting. I met my first boyfriend, I left home to go to University, and so did my brother. This must've been a sad time for him.

He left home too, and has since then lived in a very lovely sheltered community.

Having opined in an earlier post that I have been looking for my father in the men I hook up with, another possibility has often occured to me. That I am actually looking for a younger brother. I have never been out with anyone older than me, and my partners are often, at some level projects they are little, defenceless, inadequate, and

I am the archetypal older sister out to defend, protect and heal them.

Recently he has had health difficulties having at 36 the first ever seisure of his life. Suddenly I am his big sister again, wanting to rush to his side, defend him, deny there is anything wrong, to make him normal

I never dared to stop and think what it would've been like to have a normal younger brother. Imagine, handsome, successful, intelligent, with a family of his own. Someone who would visit me, maybe overtly look up to me in some way (rather than tacitly). What a gift it would be. Maybe finally I am mourning the loss of that man. Maybe that was what the tears were about.

But the man that he is has made me the woman I am today, maybe more compassionate, maybe more succesful but perhaps most importantly able to love people who give almost nothing back.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Sum of True Love

I am almost certain I have never know true love, but maybe if you put together all the crushes, first kisses, close friendships with men, the great sex, the marriage proposals, cathartic moments of understanding, companionship, adventure... maybe just maybe all together it would add up to true love.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Lure of Pre-History

I'm not sure if this is a side effect of turning 40, the internet, globalisation, facebook, or what, but old boyfriends are crawling out of the woodwork. Two of my more serious ex-boyfriends from my 20's appear to have emigrated across the world too, worse still they are happy, successful, godamn pillars of society.

One of my ex's (NOT the one that got away) emailed me last year to say he would be in town and would I like to meet up. Sure! why not? it's been 20 years surely enough water under the bridge for any acrimony to have subsided, and surely all remnants of lust will be gone, surely?

Neil saw this differently. He did not want me to see this fellow. He was adamant that no good could come of it, he said once a man has slept with a woman he feels confident to, if not entitled to, do it again. The more he became angry the more determined I became to meet this man, I was curious. The reason I told Neil that this old boyfriend had got in touch, was not to seek his approval, but in the interests of honesty and transparency. There is a subplot here, in that Neil was in fact sleeping with his own ex at the time, which makes his outrage hilarious in retrospect.

I did meet the ex, during the day, for coffee, in a public place, it was good to catch up on him and his family that I had once known to well. But there was something else, it was comforting to be with someone who had known me so well, so long ago. And yes, he was still and attractive man, and I suspect he saw the same in me. We do occaisionally email, on birthdays and Christmas, but we keep it to a minimum, an unspoken but I suspect conscious rule on both sides.

So NO all remnants of lust were not gone, Neil was right in a way. Dan had a similar experience with an ex-girlfriend. He was in a vulnerable place having just been separated, they were both away from home. When they met, he describes the feelings between them as overwhelming. I can fully understand this I think it was a love is worth the wait moment as described by Mir. She also describes how well they know each other (below), which I think is likely to be true of your college boyfriend. Perhaps even, far from visualising the pre-pregnancy body, they actually do not see the post-pregnancy body.

"Otto and I have known each other for coming up on 18 years. I am neither surprised nor particularly bothered by his penchant for lousy jokes. He seems fairly tolerant of my melodramatic streak, and if he can clearly visualize my pre-pregnancy body he’s bright enough not to mention it. Our view of one another is realistic, I think."
I have just read a bit of chick-lit on the same theme pillow talk by freya north. If the timing is right and you are lucky enough to encounter "the one that got away" when you are both free I say go for it, but at 40 the "both free" part is pretty much a contradiction in terms. For me, I will meet them, enjoy the frissant of pre-history and leave it at that.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Divorce challenges self image

Dan's marriage, as I hinted in my last post, has broken down.

As we left the meeting we had this cathartic conversation. He, like me had emigrated to be with his wife. He understood the challenges to self image that divorce brings especially when you are not in your home country.

"I am not the sort of person to get divorced"
"I am not the sort of person who emigrates"

I often liken it to being a small boat that was towed out to sea and abandoned (next to a hostile oil rig). My husband was the tug boat, and now he is holed up on that oil rig.

Like me there are children on Dan's boat, so even if he could brave the storm and get the boat home, he would be taking the children away from what they know. There is no choice but to stay nearby and weather the storm.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Changing partners in the 5th Age

Last month I met an old friend Dan at a work function. The last time I'd seen him he was happily married with teenage kids. I, on the other hand, was going through my divorce. I was jealous of his seemingly perfect life.

Around that time, A mutual friend and colleague of ours, Terry, had left his wife of 35 years for a younger woman. Terry exchanged a long stable marriage for a high maintenance wife who had been single for a long time herself, she has many idiosyncrasies of her own. Worse she appears to expect Terry to worship her whilst seemingly loving her cats more than him.

Last month Dan and I were making light of all this. Having moved in with a new partner myself in the interim period since we last met, and, as you know dear bloggy friends, having had all sorts of horrible dramas and wake up calls, I felt emboldened.

"Terry" I said "should watch out. Changing partners in late mid life is a dangerous thing to do"

"It's is like moving house" I continued "You keep walking into doors, you don't know where the light switches are"

Dan is very funny, quick as a flash he replied "Yes, and in Terry's case its a haunted house".

My experience is also confusing. Although I don't think my house is haunted, there are trip wires and I never know when I am going to set something off.

I wouldn't say don't do it. What I would say is if possible check out the house before you move in. Look for something comfortable, and modern and easy to maintain.

The seven ages of woman

About 15 years ago when I was a graduate student, I was privileged to be invited to a consortium where we would get expert help and advice some from big names in academia. To my delight one of these mentors was a woman. She was very glamourous, tall, fashionable - she had big chunky jewellry, she was edgy, and sooo intelligent. Quite frankly I was in awe.

Years passed, I graduated, crossed the world and, in a quite separate existence, found myself at an academic conference. At some point this sweet little old lady sidled up to me. After peering at her for some time I recognised her as my old mentor. But what had happened? My idol was smaller, gentler, softer.

Maybe the first time I saw her she was a young 45, and now she was 60, but what I really think had happened was that I had gained in stature, emotionally and academically if not physically. She, for her part, had abandoned the killer heels, she had nothing to prove anymore, she was undeniably successful and an expert in her field. None the less it was a peculiar (to me) and vivid illustration of how short life is, and how we pass through these definite phases.

Shakespeare identified the seven ages of man in as you like it.

Fifteen years ago she was the soldier, Full of strange oaths, Jealous in honour,... sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation. Now it was me.