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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This is us

Feeling the pull to write a little about how things are in my life right now. Nothing groundbreaking, just a brief update, to spill it outside of the containment that is me these days.

As you all know, Roger and I are on track to physically split after I hand in my thesis in late July. This does not mean that we hate each other, or that life is unpleasant. We love each other, and work our hardest to be kind to and caring of each other. But I am aware that this is a very difficult time for Rog. He struggles. And I ain’t finding it a bunch of fluffies either.

The thing is, I don’t know how to trust anymore. Anyone. I haven’t been able to convince my brain to allow vulnerability. So, of course, after about five years of thinking I could trick me into trust and vulnerability with a very remorseful man who did a lot of things that ‘should’ have made it okay for me to trust again, I had to pull away. But he also, admitted later when he could see with clearer hindsight, did a couple of things that maybe made things a lot harder than they needed to be. I am speaking of his refusal to change his phone number (their affair was entirely enabled by text and phone calls alone, he was not on social media, and he never gave her his or our email address(es).) So, he was still getting texts, and occasionally replying, for two years after D-day. He admits that was stupid, and that I was right in pretty much begging him to change his number, as that would starve the maggot of oxygen. Huge regret of his. He also, as many of you know, fucked her again at the two year mark. We were separated, but yeah, if you read waay back, you know my feelings about that. He was single, and could. And whilst I understand that he was trying to figure out why he had thrown away his good life for a person he was pretty sure he didn’t even really like, it probably wasn’t helpful. To anyone. Even her. Yep. I loathe that woman, but even I don’t think fucking her again was a nice thing for him to do to her. But I do, nevertheless, understand his thought process. I know he went to her to ‘discuss’ the whys and wherefores, the sex, to me, was just his … patheticness … I guess. I now know how ruled he is by sex. I never really got it before all of this. We had a busy and fulfilling sex life together, so I never got the message that he feels incomplete without sex in his life. I think that is just sad. That you would prostrate yourself for bad sex – his words. He now understands this about himself, too. That he is needy, and it doesn’t make him feel very good about himself. But, in all of this, I have become sexless. And he says it’s better that being sexually needy. I beg to differ. I don’t think there is a winner here. I don’t think, in this sexualised world, that ANYONE ever feels good about themselves if they have become sexless. I wouldn’t admit this in real life, I would be judged, and made to feel a prude/boring/stuffy. I am none of those things, and I miss sex like crazy. But I just don’t feel sexy. In any way. Even self love, and I used to be good at that shit, lol! Bah, enough about my embarrassing ‘problem’ with sex.

Well, the latest thing that created some more distance between us is this. Roger used to like to come and sleep in my bed. I said this was fine, but that I am not a sexual being anymore, so that wasn’t to be the reason. He seemed to be coping with that. We would cuddle and talk, and that was that. One of the things we have discussed ad nauseum, is that I know he ‘needs’ emotional and sexual closeness, and that I can’t really provide that anymore. I hate it. It isn’t who I think I am at my core. But, I have worked damn hard to survive this, to be as intact as I can be after he blew the old me up, used and abused.  I had to build some walls, as the old me had none, and it nearly fucking killed me that he treated me the way he did, and made me physically and mentally ill. I don’t know how to dismantle these walls. I am torn. To let them down might mean I can feel something good again, but I was 100% vulnerable and loving and where did it get me? I don’t think I can survive this again. So, yeah, it sounds stupid, but I can’t let them down, or not for long.

I thought we had communication nailed now. That we are open and honest. We talk. Still a lot. About life, about the future, about us, about not us. And I made it clear that I understand he has needs, and that living in the same house makes that a difficult thing, in many ways, but that if he wants to date, or get laid, that he just has to be honest, and let me know. I don’t think that is abnormal, and I also don’t think it is a lot to ask, to discuss these things. It’s not like I am asking him to ask my permission. I just want to know if we need to change the living arrangements earlier that we plan to (and have worked out is the most financially viable for both of us.) So, I was doing a tax return the other day, and noted that he had a couple of credit card charges to a dating site. He had told me about a year ago that he had joined this site, and chatted with a couple of women. But that he decided it wasn’t for him (he had never done this kind of thing before) and so he had resigned from the site. Okay, I got that. We had another conversation about this, if he was feeling this lonely, that we needed to find another way of being. He said it was fine, that he was coping again, but that sometimes the sadness of losing me was just overwhelming. Promises were made to ensure communication was maintained. I don’t wanna know any details, unlike when I found out about his affair, and I thought we had a relationship to save. I just don’t wanna be piggy in the middle. I also don’t think it is fair to another woman, if she finds she likes him, to see me still living in this house! Back to the new credit card charges. I was angry. Not furious and filled with fire. Just sadly angry. He hadn’t talked to me, he had just paid twice, this dating site. Of course I approached him and said we needed to talk. The charges were from three and two months ago, and he said he had forgotten about them, and I could see he was a bit embarrassed. He hates being this pathetic, he sees the dating apps as a bit sad, too. I just calmly said that I thought it was really disrespectful, mostly of me, that he would sleep in my bed, and in all honesty, he still tries sometimes to see if I would be responsive to sex, when he was talking to any other women. I felt revolted and used, and I calmly expressed this. He seemed very sad and to understand.

I just don’t get it. Why would he even put me in that position when he knows the damage he has done? I know it is desperation. He does get very desperate about our situation, it isn’t a healthy one, I get it. But why, after all he has learned these past few years, would he not talk to me? Tell me we needed to find alternative accommodation? Sigh, it just felt like I was on a treadmill, and that we were back to teaching him about boundaries and other people’s feelings being just as important as his. Affair Lessons 101 stuff. Do some people, even those who seem to get it, seem to understand the damage, seem to want to change, never fully get it? All this stuff that is so innate to me? I mean, we have a quote pinned up in his maimai, one that he chose, about twenty-something years ago. One of the things in it is to be careful with other people’s hearts.

And yeah, the sleeping in my bed has been stopped. It isn’t fair to either of us. And yeah, we both miss it like hell. But you’ve gotta be realistic. He just can’t cope with the contact that is never enough. And I miss the old him, the one I adored, that lovely guy I had created in my head for those first decades, the one who obviously never existed.

FML.

I’m okay, much better than if I had let him back into my heart fully, but I just feel stupid again. That I somehow almost believed that he had learnt all he needed to about how to treat other people. This is not an inherently stupid, or callous man. I honestly felt he was the most emotionally intelligent man I had ever met, once upon a time. And in many ways he is. But there seems to be an override button, and he STILL has trouble not pressing it when under pressure.


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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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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!!!)


20 Comments

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)


33 Comments

100 Things I Like …

Hey all.

I was asked if I would participate in this, and to be honest, I haven’t been having the greatest of times this past month or so, and shied away from it.

The title is supposed to be 100 Things I Love. I first saw Totally Caroline’s post. It was MAGNIFICENT! And not to be a complete downer, but I seriously doubt that I feel love about anything anymore. At best, I get a, “meh, I don’t hate that” – great attitude, Paula, keep that shit up!

With that in mind, I am gonna try to find 100 Things I Like Enough to Write Them Down on a Blog Post to Try to Make Myself and My Friends Here Feel a Bit Happier; or Paula’s Mindfulness List:

  1. Living in a rural space
  2. Going to uni to re-organise my thinking
  3. That I finished my undergrad degree in just over two years
  4. My kids – they’re alright I guess 😉
  5. Wintery-days-in-front-of-the-fire-at-the-lake
  6. Sunny-days-on-the-farm-or-beach-or-lake
  7. Getting out of the sun
  8. Being pasty white and red haired
  9. Pineapple Lumps straight from the fridge (hey, if owlie can like culturally specific things like cwtches – hell, so can I!)
  10. Growing my own organic vegetables
  11. Creating simple meals out of No. 10
  12. Growing my own beef and lamb
  13. Ditto number 11 – about No. 12 …
  14. My stupid, notarealdog
  15. Spending time on the farm with the working dogs
  16. 80’s music
  17. 90’s music
  18. 00’s music
  19. Music
  20. Rare visits off the farm to galleries and the theatre – cultural capital in a totally rurally-starved reinterpretation of the concept!
  21. Me. Despite my severe fuckedupness, I wouldn’t want to be anyone else … see ya, see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya
  22. Roger. Despite everything, he is a hell of a fun guy, and he is so damn sorry and incredibly pissed off at himself, and mostly very understanding of how I ‘turned out’ (Meh.)
  23. Hogarth’s chocolate. Usually a small square of good quality, white chocolate was my only choc love, I don’t really like chocolate as a flavour, but discovered this little artisan chocolate roaster recently, their Madagascar is divine. Thin blocks of geographically specific beans, roasted and prepared to melt on your tongue…
  24. Fresh linen
  25. Images, still images, beautifully shot. Wish I had the patience. Too much of a point and shoot girl …
  26. The Internet. In that I would be a very lonely girl without it these days. My life changed into such a weird shape after infidelity, and the real life friends have fallen by the wayside. Thankfully I have a couple of lovelies here … And one or two that live overseas and don’t know about my situation, who are delicious!
  27. The incredibly supportive staff at my university department. Especially from my lead supervisor. I feel acceptance and understanding there that I don’t feel in many other spaces anymore
  28. My racehorse, Louis
  29. Sitting at my computer, tapping out ‘stuff’ – very seriously – and notarealdog all of a sudden going off at nothing outside – super guard dog, very scary! (And when a real person arrives, she runs in the opposite direction if she doesn’t know them! Fierce!)
  30. Highlighter powder. My eyes are too hooded to wear winged eyeliner anymore … dammit
  31. Lippy. In bright colours. Reds, fuschias, ORANGE, you get the picture
  32. Fresh hair colour
  33. World (brand.) Both their fashion, and their beauty lines – especially the hard-to-find fragrances they import.
  34. Booze. Champagne. Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Rogue Society Gin, Vodka, Good Rum. Yes, I think I might have a problem … what’s it to ya?
  35. SHOES! (How did shoes only get to be No. 35?)
  36. Potting flowers
  37. SEAFOOD! ALL OF IT. GIMMEE, GIMMEE, GIMMEE!!!
  38. My green eyes
  39. My kids’ gorgeous long, dark, thick, curly eyelashes
  40. My mother. All 16 years dead of her. But mostly the 32 years I had with her
  41. Movies, I like a good story
  42. Autumn colour, wish I lived in Central Otago like my little brother at that time of the year – however, see No. 25
  43. Mindfulness
  44. Great tits – on anyone – big, small, young, old – preferably natural
  45. A sexy arse, and great shoulders and chest
  46. Modesty, but with genuine self-confidence, and not fake, “oh, I’m not really,” modesty
  47. The Coromandel
  48. Clever Internet memes, not your standard stuff
  49. Sleep.  I remember sleep
  50. People who get off their arses and make a difference (note to self …)
  51. The smell of horse. Bury your face in that neck and just breathe in
  52. Speed, the kind where the wind blows through your hair, and just everywhere – not the kind where the world just flashes by, like in a closed vehicle – a (helmetless – shhh, don’t tell OSH) farm bike, a galloping horse …
  53. Glowworms
  54. Someone who does vintage or kitsch really, really well
  55. Swearing. Fuck yeah
  56. Passionfruit curd
  57. Goat curd
  58. Lemon curd
  59. Curd (WTF? I didn’t know this until now …)
  60. Taika Waititi
  61. Flight of the Conchords
  62. Faux animal heads – what’s up with that???
  63. Bruises. The colours, the beautiful colours
  64. Comedy. Just comedy, in most forms, ‘cept when it is at the expense of anyone who is oppressed. But then, that’s not comedy, just cruelty and more oppression.’Cos everyone needs to larf – and some of us need more prompting these days, so yeah, comedy is good
  65. My home work space – the view is of green, rolling hills and trees, year ’round
  66. My bright orange kitchen splashback – pressed tin, fake subway tile
  67. Live music with my kids
  68. Peeling off layers of clothing when you’ve been working on the farm all day in winter
  69. Today. The shortest day of the year
  70. The longest day
  71. BBQs. Just everything about the idea
  72. Baby animals. All of them. Gorgeousness
  73. The relief of submitting an assignment. Just one to go before my thesis
  74. Heterogeneity. The world is full of all kinds of people, places, things …
  75. NZ native bush. So cool, so lush, so green
  76. How a house is warmed in winter by the scent of a slow cooked meal
  77. Honesty. And that my kids have survived all my honesty! 🙂
  78. People who hug. I am not one. But I get it. I think I should have been. But life got in the way. I have a love-hate thing with huggers
  79. Awareness of privilege, all kinds of privilege, and tolerance (at the very least) for those who do not have any
  80. The Coen brothers (and Frances McDormand)
  81. How Fargo was so successfully made into a TV series – I was a doubter
  82. Bling. Silver bling, stars, glitter, you name it
  83. Junk jewellery, not the expensive stuff, the glittery, cheap stuff
  84. A really good cup of tea
  85. Organic milk (see No. 84)
  86. Cream, oh how I love thee!
  87. Cheese. Basically I should have just written, dairy, “I like it a lot” (said in a Jim Carrey/Lloyd Christmas voice)
  88. Stormy weather, thunder and lightning make me feel alive!
  89. Salted caramel
  90. Chipotle – scratch that – smoky flavours. Any smoky flavours
  91. Empaths. As long as they are not just wet saps!
  92. Getting absolutely drenched through in a rainstorm – as long as I can get warm and dry on the same day!
  93. Scented flowers, but also tulips. I like tulips
  94. Cows. A much maligned species!
  95. That we still have a largely unarmed police force in Aotearoa New Zealand
  96. Living in the South Pacific
  97. Warm toes
  98. That notarealdog continues to try to befriend thecatisabitch. Even though thecatisabitch has made her feelings on the matter crystal clear. Notarealdog is a chump?
  99. The smell of raw wool. The lanolin-rich, greasy, animalness of it
  100. That this was so damn hard! I know, do I like/love that? Probably not, but I knew it would be hard for me to produce a 100 Things I Love list these days, with so many of my “loves” gone from my life. Hot, sweaty sexathons, knowing I was truly loved, that “in love” feeling I had for a good couple of decades, that feeling you had for the first part of the relationship that I still felt with a sharpness often. Loving my curvy and baby-scarred body, real life friends, laugh-until-your-guts-ache belly laughs, etc. And when I read CrazyKat’s  gorgeous, flowing, easy, post on this, I realised that my No. 21 might not be so great after all. But I have known that for a long time. I am not one of those who has bounced back. And I am sad about that, but I also own it. This is who I am now. I have been changed by the betrayal in ways I really never fully predicted. It has been a surprise in many ways. But I accept it, nevertheless. And the most important part of all of it is to ensure you stay mindful, and that there are still many things in life that work xxx.

On that note, Namaste bitches!