Tearing at the Fabric

Of the space-time continuum


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The end of the story

I don’t even know how to start this post. I wasn’t going to blog about it, because I am still processing, and the pain is very fresh again.

Firstly, Roger’s affair notwithstanding, I have made some terrible mistakes on this journey since D-day. I know I am not the only one, and I mostly understand and forgive myself for being human, traumatised and trying to get help to negotiate the stormy waters of intensely emotional times. It has been over eight years. It has been very tough. Way tougher than even I imagined when I read those words on my phone that shifted my whole world on its axis.

As I said, I am not sure about the order that this will spill out of me. But, I will try to get it out here.

As I was finishing up, pushing for the finish line for my Masters thesis, it was hard. Harder than I expected. The intensity of the emotions that I was researching, the place-based emotionality of my participants, I started to notice a change in me. I wasn’t sure about it, I was feeling very stressed as I rubbed up against the submission date, and was not quite happy with what I had written – I had to go a week over – which is allowed, with no penalty, as long as you apply in time. But, the Type A personality I am, I was disappointed. But, I got it in two weeks before the extension deadline. Phew!!! And, I slowly started to understand the feeling. It wasn’t euphoria, it wasn’t relief, I started to come to the realisation that is was healing. The process of researching home as a place of heartbreak and rebirth had been cathartic! Still, I didn’t trust myself fully. So, I took myself off to Wellington, to spend a few days with my eldest daughter. International Film Festival time. We spoiled ourselves, ate out, and saw several beautiful films. Then, I came home, knowing that the talk I have talked for the past two or three years – that I was strong, and was never going to stay with a cheater – was largely bravado. I loved this man. I had written these words in my thesis acknowledgements, in the last week before I submitted it, knowing that I still loved him as deeply as I ever had, that we had been through the fire, and with hope (HOPE!!!! FINALLY!!!) that we could go forward together, and that I was finally ready to put the past where it was healthiest, to the side, not front and centre every day:

“To Roger, my love of 29 years, for the decades of intense love before and despite huge challenge, and a very difficult recent journey, you are the love of my life, and I totally adore you.”

I arrived back from Wellington a fortnight ago. It was early afternoon, and Rog was home. I made us a cup of tea, and asked him if he had a minute to talk. He said, yes, of course. We sat at the dining table, and I looked directly at him, nervous as all hell. I said, “I have made a HUGE mistake. I totally adore you, love you truly, madly, deeply, always have, and now know I have the desire and enough information to fully re-commit to us. I don’t want us to split up.”

After years and years of him pursuing me relentlessly, I guess I had assumed that this would be the moment. The music would swell, and we would be carried off on a cloud of passion and forgiveness! (DJ scratches the record….) He looked sadly at me, and said, “I’ve met someone else.”

My heart broke again folks. Loudly and completely. I thought I could never feel the pain I felt after D-day. I was wrong. The thing is, I do not blame myself here, I needed eight years, an undergraduate degree and to spend 18 months of my life learning and researching, in a totally navel-gazing manner, to heal my wounds. And I missed the timing. By three weeks. I did not fit Roger’s timeline – and I know that is crappy of him.

You see, the thing is, I did push him away. For the greater part of three years I have been holding him at arm’s length, determined to protect myself, maybe to teach him a lesson? But mostly to try to release him from the pain that was ruining MY life, and by osmosis, not doing him a huge favour, either. I thought it was best to let him go. I always knew I still loved him though, and I did tell him this. The other thing is this – we had agreed not to involve a third party until we physically separated, and this would be hard on the person who was not involved – the non-loved up one. (Oh shit, I can feel the pain seeping from my feet upwards right now, as I type this out.) I even said to him, on several occasions, please let me know if you think this is not gonna work for you – literally grab me by the shoulders and say it to my face – as I am pretty distracted and encompassed by this research. He says he did. He did not. I found two charges this year on his credit card for dating sites since February this year. I immediately asked him if he wasn’t coping, and did we need to find alternative living arrangements. He said that he got lonely, but that the sites were awful, and he had cancelled his subscription quickly both times. He lied. Not that he had cancelled, but he has been chatting to women for most of this year. I asked to be informed about this, and he did not tell me. I was naive, and I took him at his word – he was lonely. I could see that. But he never said, “I am talking to other women, and I think we are over.” Instead, I asked him to PLEASE wait until my Masters was done, and we could reassess where we were at, and start to make some permanent decisions, kindly and mutually.

My deadline was the 23rd of July. I handed in in on the 31st. I have now gone through his phone records – remember “my” technophobe partner, the one who never had a social media presence, and didn’t use his phone for much except business? Well, I knew he had opened a Facebook account relatively recently – we are friends there – it made sense, he has three young adult children, he communicates with them via Messenger. Well, he finally got a 51 year old widowed mother of three to give him her phone number. He sent her 1256 text messages between 8th July and 10th August. And I know they mostly communicate via Messenger now. The thing that gets me is, I have talked to this woman, she seems very nice. A suburban mum, whose husband was an unrepentant serial cheater, and died 5 years ago of prostate cancer. So, WTF is she doing with a man who admitted that he had cheated, and was still living with his partner??? I had some communication with her, she lives about four hours drive from here. She seems lovely. A kind and sweet woman. But WTF lady??? I know what is happening here. He is doing his usual – love bombing her, rescuing a woman who has never really known love and kindness, and she has NEVER had someone give her their full attention – this is flattery at its finest. He has met with her five times since the 8th of July, and Thursdays are now their designated “date nights.” He was to drive down there last week, but she got cold feet at the last minute. They apparently have not yet had sex – as she has been (rightly!) cautious. But, tomorrow is the night, folks! Hold onto your horses, lol. She has admitted to him that she has only had one sexual experience since her husband died – and that it was a disaster, she got all nervous and dry mouthed. Again, WTF? Roger is a highly sexual man. So, let’s just see how this pans out. Probably really well, he doesn’t have to beat much, and he is seriously good in bed! She won’t know what hit her 😉

My point is this. I am still living here, on the advice of my lawyer (and I did look at rental properties, and felt incredibly depressed about the worn and sad nature of what I could afford – actually I couldn’t even afford those!) I like my home. I am warm, safe, and myself here. And I have let him go. Or am certainly in the process of doing so. I can see that he never really fully did the work required on himself, to heal the needy little boy. We had agreed to have some single time if we were done – to not try to Band-Aid over the hurts with another body. He could not do it. He is getting all the highs of a long-distance relationship, all the ego stroking, all the warm fuzzies. I can see him messaging her via Messenger – it is all day long, and half into the night. We get on well, and I am strong. I got some anti-anxiety meds from my doc, and they have helped me deal with this. I have a few weeks to gather myself before I start back at work fulltime. I am out running and walking every day – doing a lot in the bush, and feeling better about my body. I have planned to do a four day walk in the South Island next month, and that is good motivation to get fit again. I haven’t eaten more than about five bites in a fortnight, but feel strong, and I think my appetite is slowly returning. Tonight, I have my first mindfulness and guided meditation meeting, the group meets fortnightly (thank you BE and CK!) I KNOW that I need to move on, away from this man. But fuck, my mind is a LONG way ahead of my heart here. I am ashamed (but not really, I knew what I was doing) to admit that we have had sex five times – after promising each other that we ABSOLUTELY wouldn’t! I even promised K – the OW – that I wouldn’t. I fucking lied, but I meant it at the time – an insight into the mind of a cheater?  The sex was unbelievably amazing, I came and came and came – wetly and profusely. Probably hysterical bonding, but I am BACKKKKK baby! OMG am I back? My libido is through the roof – yep, definitely hysterical bonding, but I am so glad that my sexuality is not dead, no way, I have ordered new toys, and am going to enjoy myself – by myself.

I guess my fucked up point here is that I know that I have made mistakes – I tried to push him away for him, and should have concentrated on my own healing, I have had sex with a man who is not good for me, and I had sex with him again, And again. And again, And it won’t happen again! I tried to point out, gently, without begging (gah, I am NOT that fucking desperate) that I had healed, finally, had my moment of clarity, and he was now willing to throw away what has been a truly wonderful partnership – we are so compatible in so many ways. We both love music, travel, adventure, the arts, the outdoors, SEX, oh my God, GREAT FUCKING LOUD IN YOUR FACE SEX, we are both a bit quirky, have an ‘off’ sense of humour. We have a lifetime of love and yes, truly terrible heartache. We had three children and four miscarriages together, wonderful home births, with beautiful babymoons, worked side-by-side, in love, enjoying each other. We LOVE the smell of each other. He says he hasn’t noticed her fragrance, or her natural scent – that is off for me, this man loves to deeply inhale me. So, he prefers the high of a new fling, with a lovely-but-boring suburban mum, whose scintillating online dating profile  – yeah, I looked her up – used her star sign as her username (groan), and outlines that she likes the simple things; to go for coffee and maybe a movie (in her mum jeans  – she has not yet dressed up for any of their dates, including a dinner out at a nice restaurant, where I ironed his shirt, cut his hair, bought him my favourite fragrance and tucked condoms into his pocket – I didn’t have to, but this is who I am, and who “we” have been.) ‘We’ have since found out that she is scared of flying, has admitted she is worried about sex, told him she will need a few wines on board before she can contemplate it, and is honestly fairly plain looking (not that that matters a jot.) He has “known” her for six weeks now. So, if it is that easy to be cast aside, I am not going to (nor am I able to!) compete – I don’t play that game. But, all my knowledge and self-esteem aside, this hurts like a MOTHERFUCKER! Why, oh why, did I do all that work on myself, to FINALLY decide that I could recommit to him? FAAAAARRRRRRKKKKKK!

The thing is now, I have had my solicitor draw up a separation agreement. I got the first draft yesterday, and although I have been mostly positive and accepting, I did plunge a little low when I got it. I am painting my bedroom, and ensuite, and keeping as chipper as possible. But, as I pointed out kindly to Rog last night, we are separating, and it is incredibly, incredibly painful. But, he has the support and loved-upness of his new “thing” making him feel amazing, and I am alone. No family, and very little in the way of support. I do have two friends who I can verbally vomit on, and they are wonderful, but one lives in Sydney, the other is closer, and I went to hers the other night for cups of herbal tea. My previous lifetime BFF, J, whom I have mentioned before on this blog, knows – including that I had got to the place of acceptance and felt good about moving forward together with a previous cheater – and has not said one, single comforting word to me. Instead, she sent Roger a supportive message, basically high-fiving him for finding new love. He was truly disgusted at her disloyalty, and has not replied. I know I have to keep walking – away – from this. But, it will take my emotions a while to catch up fully again.

Oh – and this – apparently I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone about K – I asked why? Why are you ashamed? He said he didn’t want to look like he was cheating again. Oh, um, then don’t cheat. I told our kids, kindly, and my eldest daughter is pretty flabbergasted. Can’t believe his lack of introspection. If you are in a relationship you are ashamed of, you shouldn’t be in it. My mother’s first rule of dating.

I know this tale is pathetic. I know my telling doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense – why did I buy back in – too late? But, this is my Greek tragedy of a life, playing out in HD somewhere near me – at least I think I am me? Who fucking knows anymore?

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Our words still swirl around

CAUTION: SWEARY, RANTY, VENTY POST AHEAD!

At this time of the year, it is inevitable that those of us who are still pretty unsettled about their lives battle those swirling thoughts. I am (dripping with sarcasm) SO surprised that I fit into this demographic.

So, in order to try to put them down for a bit, and get on with my transcription work for both my own thesis, and my supervisor’s research, I thought I might try to dump some stuff here, this darling little receptacle for such annoyances.

I am constantly told that I am doing everything wrong. Constantly. And the thing that really pisses me off about it is that although I am a pretty strong person, a lifetime-feminist, latterly-scholar, and know my own mind, it gets to me. Being told you are doing life wrong is shit. The worst offender is Roger. He always tells me, not in an overtly unkind way, that I am continuing to make poor choices. Yep. He actually says that. Because he’s such a great decision maker, right?

You see, that’s the fucking point. He has been, historically. He makes good decisions, a lot. And me, not so much, quite often. So, yeah, self doubt occurs. And it pisses me off, because I am so aware of the power shit going on here. I know that unconsciously, he is using all he has always known, all our past, to try to convince me that I am wrong. That my brain is wrong. To listen to my heart. We had words the other night. Over our eldest daughter and something she was messaging me about. It was a mechanical issue with her car, and she was about to drive up here for the Christmas/New Year break. She did not message her father, who admittedly has more mechanical knowledge than I do. However, I did my best (I am a farmer, and a practical kind of person) to guide her, to advise her, and he let loose on me afterwards, telling me how wrong I was/am. I tried to point out to him that there was a parenting style difference here, I was trying to guide her, and provide her with information to make her own decisions, and he was trying to dictate what she should do. Maybe, in this case, he might have been right, it was an urgent problem. But hey, at least try to see what I was doing, and note that although we may be ‘mere females,’ we can problem solve, and at least let us try! He thinks I am ‘using’ gender as a trope. But he has never lived a female life. He doesn’t understand that we need to show our independence, that our learned shit from societal attitudes needs to be mindfully overcome. And yeah, in doing so, sometimes, horror of horrors, we make mistakes! He. Just. Shut. Me Down.

Then, he made me feel terrible for not agreeing to go to his sister’s for Christmas. One of his sisters who has never given a crap about me, with his parents, who have also never given a crap about me, and play nice, for the kids. I talked to the kids, didn’t make any big deal about it, just said that I was pleased they were being able to reconnect with their cousins and family – we used to be very close – or so I thought! But, that I wasn’t a part of that family anymore. I did not go into the facts, for example, that they tried to sue us, engaging one of the top barristers in our country. Or that they tried to get us to pay for their children’s private educations (whilst we could only afford to send our own kids to the local, very average state school, when their state options were of a very high standard, ugh.) Or any of the other degrading and vindictive things that they did out of spite and jealousy, back when we were really happy. I am no longer prepared to push my own feelings down to make other people comfortable. But I was ‘wrong’ there, too. I was being petty. And not helping myself heal, and … well, you get the picture. Besides, WE ARE NOT A COUPLE ANYMORE!!! I don’t have to compromise my life for his feelings anymore.

But the problem is, I don’t feel any better living this way. I feel sad, and quite bloody lost. Quite a fucking lot. So, his words – and those of so many others around me -telling me I am doing everything wrong do sting. I see images of happy people and wonder why I can’t get there? Should I have just sucked it all up and carried on with the remorseful man? I feel I tried that, but felt resentful and weak, at the end of the day. I could manage for periods, but then would drop into the depths of despair, that I had let this arsehole treat me like shit, infect me with lifelong diseases, and he was getting a ‘better’ version of me than ever, in some respects. It pissed me off.

Maybe I should just re-title this post, Life Pisses Me Off!

And all this thinking just ties me in knots. I can’t seem to put it all down and get on with life. It sends me down rabbit holes like this one:

wedding

Was I wrong, all along? Should I have agreed to marry him, to show public love? I thought it was a private thing, something special, and sacred for us to cherish and protect. But was I wrong? Did he need to put it in writing, to have a big party, to see people see us being quite intimate? I didn’t need that, and he SAID he didn’t either. But Leanne bought a fucking wedding dress for God’s sake! I mean, WTF??? He says that shocked him, that he told her he didn’t love her, and that even if he did, he wasn’t going to marry her. But what the fuck do I know? Nothing. I only hear what he tells me, so who knows what the truth in life really is?

And yeah, maybe I need to get off Facebook, too. I thought I was able to dismiss the bullshit, etc. However, this one got to me this week. There is a couple we know, the wife of whom had a long and deep affair with a client of her own business mentoring company a few years ago now. She left her husband and two young sons, and he left his wife and four young children (including a baby) and they galloped off, so-in-love, into the sunset. Only to have his parents reject her entirely when he tried to introduce her to them. She ran back to hubby and two very confused and hurt little boys that she had said she didn’t want anything to do with. Yeah, he took her back. They then built a huge new house, he bought her a flash new car, they have overseas holidays constantly. They are “super happy and in love.” And my former BFF tells me that she tried to talk to the wife – a good friend of hers – and suggested some counselling to help them both (but mostly the husband, who BFF and her husband were supporting for the two months she was gone) to come to terms with WTF had happened, and to learn to grow their love and be kind to each other. Wife answered, “we don’t need that, we are really in love.” Oh God. Face palm. They are currently holidaying in the States (again, they were also there earlier in the year) for three months, and posting “loved up” photos. With their friends commenting about ‘young love at its best’ – they’re late 40s and early 50s now – and how loved up they are, and how proud everyone is of them. Instead of feeling pleased for them, I just feel absolutely sick. I mean, how high does this guy have to jump now??? This marriage itself came out of a cheating episode (which EVERYONE has conveniently forgotten, as marriage somehow legitimises their selfish crap!) He had a long-term (seven years living together) partner, and she ‘stole’ him off her – yeah, some prize, I know. And she is a selfish bitch (was going to use the word I prefer, which starts with ‘c’ – but know my American friends would be super offended! I have developed an even filthier mouth since cheating marred my life!) Always has been, a real gold digger/social climber, with no real empathy – hell, she was happy to walk away from her two little boys, because they were an inconvenience to her happiness!

And, if I can’t be happy (at least sometimes) in this ‘new life,’ the one I am trying, labouring, to build, then WTF is all this struggle for? Maybe I should just try to ‘settle’ with a remorseful cheater, who promises it was a breakdown, and he has learned so much, feels so awful, and would never make me feel less again. Yeah, right. Because I feel less every fucking day, either way.

I look at that image above, and it looks like us. It looks like how I danced with him under the fairy-lit trees in our garden, hand-made fire blazing, barefoot and blissed out, in a summery dress, to the band who stayed all night, until milking time the next morning – when I went and milked alone for him, so he could get some sleep – on the night of his 40th birthday. It looks like how I always felt when I looked at him, when he would look across a crowded room, and everyone would just blur into the background, it was just me and him, and he might wink, or not. But, we would be instantly melded together, and he would later tell me I was beautiful and that I made him so happy. What a total crock of shit! Why did I believe his lying, whore-flavoured lips?! Argh!

There, there is some of it. The honest thoughts. The thoughts I struggle to push away every minute of every day, in order to try to live authentically with myself. And, honestly? The way that Roger is so adept at twisting the story to suit his purposes, to make me feel like an uncompromising bitch! I know he doesn’t mean to, that he is trying to get the best outcome for all of us, but he is good at this, he has been doing it to/for/with me for 29 years.

And yeah, there are huge doubts. All. The. Time. I just don’t think I can be truly at peace, or joyful-even-a-little, since he cheated and made me sick. The struggle is exhausting, and disabling. I just want a whole new fucking brain!

 

 


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Endings

This title is perhaps not so PC. Today is my youngest child’s last ever day of school. Nineteen continuous years of primary and secondary schooling have drawn to a close for me, thirteen for her. That rhythm. That routine. And that is okay, I was looking forward to it. But sadly, yesterday a young man, two years her junior, was killed in a freak car accident involving four young men who were working together to raise money for a school rugby trip to Argentina next year. The driver failed to safely take a corner on a no exit, rural road, during the middle of the day. I get to say, “last day of school” for my baby, and that young man’s parents will never get that privilege.

bad-things-good-people

It is always sobering when you contemplate a death. A young person’s one always has you reviewing your own, and holding your own children that little bit closer, at least for a while.

We had another shock death earlier in the week, the mother of one of my son’s childhood friends died 48 hours after being admitted to hospital with end stage breast cancer that she had not told anyone, including her children, (maybe her husband knew, it sounded like that may have been likely in the wording of her obituary) had returned. She can’t have been even 50 years old?  I can’t quite work that out, did she want to spare herself the pity of others? Her children the worry of losing her? Or what else was the motivation to not let her family say goodbye properly? The younger of her two young adult children is my son’s friend. She is not doing well, she has just turned 20 years old, and the closest woman in her short life has disappeared.  I try not to judge other people’s choices, when it comes to their own bodies, etc, but I am a bit sad that this lovely young woman is left wondering what the fuck just happened, and why her mother did not trust her enough. So yeah, I must admit, I don’t agree with her decision here, just quietly. I think it was such a wasted opportunity to impart some final worldly love, compassion and support to those she had to leave here.

So, while I looked forward to celebrating the last day of school, ever, we are all doing so at the school very sombrely. The kids feel there have been too many young losses in the past two years. My son’s small year lost three in twelve months, the last not long before they finished school, also in a car crash. It is not a large community, nor school.

So, what has that got to do with my usual blog material? Nothing. Not really. Except that I so often feel that life has taken a dark turn. I can’t decide whether I just notice more of the darkness, or whether it really has. Loss and grief seem to follow me, and I can’t quite work out how to shake it off. I did laugh, as I had a hair appointment this morning, and my hairdresser shared how her mother, whom she loves very much, can be draining. She has let life’s sadnesses get her down. I have a father who does the same, and have always been so conscious that I have 50% of his DNA, and worked hard to emulate my much sunnier mother’s attitude. She had more to be sad about than many, but rarely let life get her down. I know I naturally tend more to the dark, but felt I had a good balance, was very self aware, and could steer the ship back to calmer waters when required. I managed the shittier parts of life pretty well. Until the bloody affair! And on the surface, by life’s measuring wall, it is in no way the worst thing that has happened to me. Do the setbacks stockpile? Is there really a camel with an aching back, ready to crack? For all of us?

Or is it just me? Did my supply of resilience run short? I need more directions to the store so I can restock today.


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Shit. Just. Got. Real.

So, as you can see from my recent self-absorbed posts, I am starting on my Masters research. Friday was the last date for submission for research applications to my uni’s human research ethics committee. I got there.

Shit. Just. Got. Real.

I really am writing an academic thesis linked closely with this awful journey I have been on the past few years.

And my thesis was again somewhat changed along this journey. My supervisors and myself discussed what we called the “vanilla-isation” of the project (on the surface.) I was concentrating on the effects of infidelity on home spaces, but they gently started to prod me to look at ‘break ups’ and their effect on same. I was happy to take this on board, as it is only a year, and I need to be able to gain enough local participants. But I really wanted to include those who had relationships that ‘survived’ infidelity – as from personal experience, my home spaces have been changed irrecoverably by this, even though we did not break up – for years. So, the new working title, the one I submitted to the committee is this: “‘Home is where the heart is broken?’: examining the impact of intimate relationship challenges on meanings of home.”

broken-home

At first, I was worried that it wasn’t going to be easy to get people to think their relationship ‘challenge’ was ‘enough’ to feel they could be involved. I was worried that cheating was the major way that people got challenged in their feelings about their home spaces, I know because the affair happened in and on my properties, that I have very intense feelings about space(s). My more senior supervisor said to consider that I will still get a lot of respondents who have been challenged by infidelity, but that this casts the net a little wider, and offers a perspective that suggests that infidelity isn’t the only stressor to the construct of home. I agree. I invite all genders, all sexualities, ethnicities, etc, to be involved in this. So, the longer I sat with this idea, the more focused I became about what I am interested in. I want to know what happens to people’s thoughts and feelings about the material and spatial aspects of their ‘homes’ – and what home/homelessness even means/meant to people with regards to fucked up/broken/healing/better/different-to-they-were-before/etc, relationships. There is a bit of literature about love and homes, and home-making, but not a lot on what happens to place when things fall (apart) outside of dominant discourses about monogamous relationships in a Western context. I especially want to explore the fluidity of feelings about home – I know I can love it one minute, and loathe it the next. And this has spilled over into all spaces – I can be very uncomfortable, very quickly (anxiety) in some really weird and totally unrelated spaces (on the surface) to the affair – and that never happened to me prior to my world being torn asunder. My experience with betrayal has made for permanently shifting sands.

So, I now have to wait to hear what the committee says, whether I have covered enough bases (sensitive research is always doubly scrutinised) and I certainly do not expect approval on the first submission – this is quite rare. I submitted three times for my last project, and you really think you have it sorted by the time you have agonised over it for a month or two. In the meantime, I can make some progress by assembling more literature, and organising some themes and possible theoretical frameworks.

Best of all, I am assisting one of my supervisors with her post-doctoral research on a rural group of people, and I am really enjoying it. (Well, the transcription, not so much!) But we had a really good chat about it on Friday, and she noted that we have been very careful with this as it is a sensitive area – animal welfare and human stress are two of the things we are very aware of, especially when conducting on-farm interviews – and she mentioned that when she applied to the ethics committee that no one mentioned anything about any of the things we have both identified (separately) as touchy. We are both rural people, with rural upbringings, and we were quite surprised at the lack of any thoughts about this by an academically trained, normally sharp critical thinking, probably mostly urban, committee. And we talked about how she will address this in her findings. The research is funded to the end of this calendar year, and she has a journal article about to go to print on methodological challenges and workings. I am really enjoying working with her, and she gives me very encouraging feedback. She said the other day that she would have struggled with this with a younger, non-rural grad student as she trusts me to understand the nuances and sensitivity of going on farm walks with our participants – not to mention that I have drummed up about half of the research participants through my rural contacts! She was struggling with support, as people are wary of talking to academics – especially social scientists – about their farming businesses and practices – let alone their FEELINGS! We have found our participants to be mostly a little wary, but once we have gained their trust (we are not on a crusade to bring down farming) they have been warm and shared valuable insights and perspectives.

Add to all of that the fact that one of my dearest friends in the world messaged me from our biggest city yesterday, in an absolute panic because she had just walked into the same shop as Leanne was in! And, I laughed. Yep, I am this far out, I laughed. This friend used to share a house with Leanne thirty years ago. They were once very close. I said to sidle up to her and say, “hey! Long time, no see. Fuck the love of anyone else’s life lately?” She laughed and ran out of the shop without Leanne seeing her. And said that if she had to ever speak to her, that it would NOT be even that ‘friendly! She then said that “I simply can’t abide women who go after other women’s men – period! And ones that do so under their roofs are even more despicable!”  Not gonna lie, I cried. I have not had one ‘friend’ be that loyal to me in this whole mess. Most still speak to Leanne, they play nice. One of my oldest and I thought dearest, friends, sits and drinks wine with her at their ski club lodge. Because not to do so would be rude, right? So, this friend saying these things to me, telling me that her heart was pounding and the blood was boiling as she spied her in the homewares store made me love her even more than ever.

Let the eight hours of interviews transcription, this time around, begin! (SHIT!!!)


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Metamorphmagus

… or something like that.

My thesis topic is melding into something a bit different. I chose the original topic, because I was a little afraid. Afraid of carving too deep, too close to my own bone. I thought if I could keep it about a ‘different’ set of circumstances to my own – albeit that I did experience cheating by a gay dad (now identifying as bi – not quite sure of the reasons for the change in his own labelling system 30 years on, but not my place to police another’s sexuality) on my straight mum – so had a degree of separation. Now the title is this:

‘Home is where the heart is broken’: examining the impact of infidelity-prompted relationship disruption on home and sexual subjectivities.

Hmmm. Now, the main reason I was afraid wasn’t really too much about exposure. I have been exposed, and I am over it. There was nowhere to hide when the affair was announced from the town square to all and sundry! I did try to keep my personal situation away from my academic life, but that didn’t work either. So, here I am. Embarking on an academic examination of home, and challenging dominant discourses (yet again) about ‘home’ as a safe, loving, nurturing environment. Nothing is new here. We have known forever that the pretty picture is often a facade, and not something that occurs in reality for a lot of people. Homes are also where abuse happens, where mistrust, anger, hidden sexual desires and sexualities, etc, etc, etc, lurk. Where the very image of home is turned on its head.

home-upside-down

 

When I briefly mentioned that I was a bit concerned at this being “too” personal, my supervisors were quick to reassure me that they want to keep me safe. Both emotionally, and of course, physically. And they have been very sure to keep me focused on the GEOGRAPHIES of this topic. This is a GEOGRAPHY thesis. NOT a psych one. It is my experience that my homes and my whole sense of place – including every part of my environment, indoors and outdoors – has been severely disrupted. Home has fluid and contrasting meanings to me now. Where it was once a place of sanctuary, a bit of pride, and definitely of love, nurturing and warmth, it teeters away from that towards an abject place of loathing, and place that was desecrated, etc, to back again. My sense of all spaces is now exceptionally fluid. I don’t have a love for or loathing of certain places, they all swing wildly about on the scale, and I can never predict what my reaction will be at any given time. I still have (far less, thankfully) moments in the car when I weep, torn by the betrayal, still. This is the same in my holiday home, local town, in our nation’s largest city, at racecourses around the country, on my farm – you starting to get the picture? To explore and give voice to a group who are so often ignored, or are made to feel that their perceptions of space and place are wrong. To get over it and ‘be normal’. Okay?

It helps. Oh lord, does it help!

So, I am still in the ethics phase of this, and doing well, justification, objectives, research methods, potential risk to participants, conflicts of interest, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah, check. Until I got to the design of a semi-structured interview schedule. When I realised I was asking ‘the wrong’ questions, in ‘the wrong’ context and with ‘the wrong’ perspective. NOT PSYCHOLOGY, PAULA!!! I am re-working this, and sweet baby cheeses, it is HARD. Predominantly open questions, with the right focus, and avoiding ridiculous ‘how does it feel’ as a leading and psych kind of leaning. Also, the recruitment of local participants <shiver>! Designing a poster to whip up interest, without pushing any ‘agenda’ aaaaargh.

Along with all of this going on, I am also an assistant to one of my supervisors with her current research. I am really enjoying it. It is an interesting topic, but one we are really struggling to recruit participants for, having spoken to about half the number she originally hoped for. I am at the leading edge of this, as the target group is one I am close to, and feeling a little pressure to produce these people. My supervisor is not putting this pressure on me, it is all myself. Dumbass that I am! Work has also ramped up, with the breeding season upon us. I interviewed seven people yesterday from a shortlist I compiled to share my job – from an inundation of applicants that we did not anticipate – while my boss was overseas last month. The worst part about that was that she came in early in the day, and let me know that a former colleague of hers, a terribly capable person, has let her know that she is interested in the job, that part time works for her. So, the time I spent with these candidates (and there were some great ones) was wasted. My time, and theirs. And I still haven’t got the August accounts out to clients. Luckily, the job applicants do not know this. But, yeah, I hope my boss’s old colleague works out!

Not quite sure why I shared that last paragraph. Maybe I am just doing my usual drainage of the brain. And the tears that still fall at times are related to protecting my heart, letting off that pressure valve. I never used to cry much. I was a tough farm girl. Yeah, I felt stuff, and there were times when the tears fell, but not like this. I think of this blog more and more as that space – the pressure valve. And I know that I have made progress in recent times, because I use it far less than I once did. Or I manage the pain levels far better than I once did. I think it is a little of both.

pressure-valve

 

Whatever the reason, I am glad I made this space, even if it was probably far too late to save what was once a beautiful life, with a beautiful man, that I was beautifully happy with.

And that pretty inane wisdom folks, is all for now.


16 Comments

“So, what is your thesis on?”

Well, hmmm.

Yes, this semester has seen me embark on my Masters thesis. I went to a workshop the other day to help prepare for a possible tilt at my uni’s heats of the Masters version of 3MT (3 Minute Thesis – a competition that has traditionally been run for PhD candidates.) I can’t compete, because I am taking D (youngest daughter) and Frenchie (exchange student living with us) to Wellington for a long weekend, and the heats are one of the days I am away. To say I am relieved is a bit of an understatement! I am not good at public speaking, and as you all know, I am also not good at keeping things brief! But, I thought I would go along to learn a bit more about it, and push my boundaries. I will need to hone these skills as I progress through my thesis, and beyond. First question as I sat beside a Masters candidate (in German) was, “so, what faculty and department are you from?” And second question was, “so, what is your thesis topic?” Hmmm. I don’t have a title. And I barely have a long synopsis. So, I stuttered through a brief outline, and the reply, “how is THAT Geography?”

PMSL.

It is a common reaction. I am a human geographer, and even fellow grad students, from the same faculty don’t get it. But I will try to outline it here.

pray the gay

I am interested in what happens when we label people. And people don’t fit in those boxes. Or do for a while, then outgrow them. Or someone tries to “re-pot” them in another box that is uncomfortable, and is a bad fit.

That kind of thing.

So, my original proposal was to do with what happens when plural, or fluid sexualities unfold in a previously imagined “hetero” monogamous long-term relationship? Kind of a bit autobiographical (my parents) as in, a look at betrayal, and hegemonic ideas about what marriage and monogamy look like in Western contexts. I wanted to see what happens when we look further down the line from some of the literature on “falling in love and committing to one person of the opposite sex.” And the spatial and material arrangements of that. As in, does it mean automatic separation, or can the space be (re)configured somehow? What about when there IS separation, and children are perhaps involved, and the experience of both them and either one or the other, or both parents confronting “matter out of place” in a sense – in that maybe some familiar objects are relocated, maybe in mum’s new house, and it feels disconcerting (or whatever?) This seemed like a way of unpacking what society says about romantic relationships, and challenging it in a bounded framework of sexuality. I then thought, geographically, about space and place, and thought, “yay, I can use some of my existing online networks, to drum up interest in participation.”

Go me!

But last Friday, I had a meeting – only my second, I am only in my third week of this – with my senior supervisor (I have two, and love them both!) She has pointed me in a slightly different direction. She now has me reading the literature and unpacking spaces of home, love, intimacy and kinship. And here’s the kicker. She wants me to ground it (as after all, it is a one year project, not a PhD) in a specific geographical context, eg, my local region.

At first, I was a little taken aback. Oh no! How will I recruit participants? This is a little personally exposing, a bit “close to home” – good ol’ geography! But, I am open to it, I get what she is suggesting, and I agree. Start at the beginning. Start at how we conceptualise love. Then watch it implode, lol.

So, in order to try to make sense of how to approach this, I am reading like a madwoman, and I thought a brief post here might help me start to play with the working title, and start to arrange some order of approach. At the moment, it is all swirling around in there in a big tornado of thought, with no sequence. I am not a particularly orderly person, so it’s like herding cats. And I know my working title is nowhere near what I want it to be, and it needs to be far snappier, but I will record it here to put a peg in the ground. A marker of the origins of this thesis. I do it very nervously, as it is so far from what I need it to be yet, and I am struggling with the idea of a “fixed” sexual identity versus a fluid one – and how to incorporate that properly in the title without contradicting myself with, “okay, so one of these people has a static sexual identity, but that is not the case for everyone….”

sigh

Queering long-term ‘heterosexual’ romantic relationships: querying the effects of a romantic partner’s fluid sexualities on constructions of monogamous love in (insert geographical region(s) here.)

Aaaargh, I HATE it!

(Press publish, ewwwwwwwwww)


22 Comments

Moods

It’s been a very quiet weekend. The youngest flew to the city her brother is at university at yesterday. The uni has its Open Day tomorrow, and she and a friend went together to check it out. So, Mother’s Day weekend has been spent doing my final two interviews and transcribing them. I have a bloody sore typing wrist! So, I will try to keep it brief.

crying-depressed-depression-fake-favim-com-1832803

I guess, from what I have posted on this funny little piece of online real estate, I looked like I had a blissfully unaware, spoilt rotten life prior to the affair? Right? Well, not quite.

I had fairly brief periods over the years when my mood would be pretty low. I think it was probably mild depression that would hit from nowhere. It would be years apart, and usually I could shake it off within a month or two. It hit particularly badly when my eldest was about eight months old, and I ended up in tears in my GPs surgery, with his older practice nurse being SOOO amazing, and saying that she had suffered with post natal depression, and had some numbers of good counsellors. They prescribed meds for me. I never filled the prescription, and battled away until around the eighteen month mark, when it seemed to lift. I have no idea why? I had stopped breastfeeding her a couple of months earlier, and I mostly enjoyed that. I think just talking in the doctor’s office that day helped ease the burden a bit. I think it may have had something to do with the fact that I was a bit isolated, in a way. I was only 25 when I had her, and none of my friends were partnered up, let alone mothers yet. I think I felt I had failed a little at life, a two time university dropout, had to return early from her OE due to a unplanned for baby on the way. Bit of a lemon really. I knew I wasn’t, that those narratives were in my head, and that I loved and was loved. And I made a huge effort. If I had to be a mother, I was going to be the BEST damn mother I could be. I had a great role model in my own mother, but I hadn’t ever really thought too hard about parenthood. I assumed the urge, if it ever came – and to be honest, I hoped it wouldn’t – would hit somewhere in my 30s. My girl short circuited all of that. And I have no real regrets. Motherhood was the making of me in many ways. And don’t get me wrong, I adore my kids. Totally.

A couple more times in the next couple of decades, I recall some lowish moments. The worst was when I started to have suicidal ideations, or basically, I went and sorted out how to make the practicalities of a car gassing work. That was absolutely (by far and away) the worst I ever got, and I never went through with any attempts. It seems almost surreal to tell the story now. Like only crazy and terribly messed up people get that low, right? (Answer: of course not!)

I recall a friend having a real struggle in dealing with her teenage step-daughter being diagnosed with depression. Like it was pretty stigmatic (to her.) I remember asking a few questions, like is she getting help, is the ‘help’ actually helping, etc. Then I made a remark that may seem flippant here. I said, “well, you do remember that it is a teenager’s job to be depressed, right?” I didn’t mean it to sound as harsh and as dismissive as it no doubt did. The friend looked at me like I had taken a dump on her white carpet! “What the hell are you talking about?” I answered, “well, we’ve all listened to too much sad music and taken it to heart, felt completely heart broken and misunderstood as teenagers, haven’t we?” She was sure I had dropped from another planet. “NO!!! I never felt like that.” Boy, did I feel like a weirdo, and I realised, for the first time, that maybe not everyone DID feel like that a lot in their teens? I mean, I had a great childhood, there was plenty to do, see, eat, play, etc. I was pretty privileged, but never over-indulged. It floored me. Did I do my teenage years all wrong? I thought her step-daughter (who is my god-daughter, I was good friends with her mother before their divorce) was just having a tough, but pretty ‘normal’ time of those late teen years. She was, but did require some medical help for a while, maybe she still does, she’s 25 now, and it matters not, as long as she is okay. But maybe it isn’t always like that? A revelation. And not a pretty one. I was somehow a ‘deficient’ model off the assembly line. Damn! I LOVED all that emotional music. As an 80s child, I LOVED listening to Morrissey speak my truths. Michael Stipe, Robert Smith, yes, Prince, Bowie, Siouxsie Sioux, Billy Bragg, so, so many more, all of my musical loves, they KNEW how it felt to be me, to not fit the round hole as this square peg. And she was telling me I was wrong.

I figure that I was given an incredible capacity to feel. Mostly is has been an amazing gift. I loved, I laughed, I empathised, I supported, and I mourned with those I care about. But, the flipside of that special coin, is that you feel pain (and anger!) more intensely than most. You are usually a loyal and fierce person. You will FIGHT anyone who hurts ANYONE you care about. It might not be physical, but you will form whatever barriers you can. I would bloody well near die for you if I love you! Even if you were nice to me once, lol! I spent a great deal of my younger life learning to rein the anger, and indignation at injustice in – to a societally acceptable level. I met a very calm and loving man, and he helped me in this endeavour. Interestingly, he sort of understood it, even though he rarely feels the heights and depths that I always have. He knows it dwells in him, having watched his father, who is not a bad man in any way, shape or form, instead is a pretty sweet and caring man, but who had an explosive temper – never directed at animals or humans. I have been checked twice to see if I fit a bipolar profile. Apparently not, but I believe I may sail pretty close to that ley line at times. And I knew it. I recognised my passions were possibly a bit more intense than many.

So, a friend posted about a song that moved her as it always reminded her of a family member who lived with the torment of addiction, and who, sadly, eventually took his own life. It set off some triggers, but not in that heart-stopping, awful way of the immediate period of post D-day. More just led me down this rabbit hole. I have blogged earlier about my affinity with music, and the themes and lyrics that give me goosebumps, and plumb the depths of my soul. I know I am not alone in that. And it reminded me that I didn’t have a picture perfect life before the affair (ha! I already knew that, but…) that I had had a moment where I really did contemplate ending my life, because I was not coping with the pain of … life. I know I am susceptible to depression, but have never really had a severe episode of prolonged, deep depression, more my – self-diagnosed, I admit – dysthymia, where I just can’t feel content. And this is what has set in after the affair, and after the first years of being pretty sure we would manage to climb out of the shitty place he put us in. Dysthymia, it’s a shit of a place to live, and I can’t seem to raise a mortgage to get out of it!

All that said, it has been a productive weekend, but I need to exercise. I have the last two interviews completed for my dissertation paper done this weekend, but yet to transcribe, and I was hoping I would have made a start on the coding and writing by now. The joys of what seems like permanent studenthood!

So, (not a real) dog, WALKIES!!!