This week has been busy in a non-stressful way. I’ve had to take daughters to see the dentist. I had a lunch that I will discuss later in this post. And I had a coffee morning with a friend I have known since shortly after moving here. She is a widow and didn’t date when her boys were young. I was pleased to learn that she now has a boyfriend because it removed any possible misunderstandings about intentions on either part for our occasional meet-ups. One thing I like very much about her is that she is just so easy to talk to. Conversations wander and time flies, and that’s a a good sign when talking to any friend.
Next week, I will be back at work again. My heart really isn’t in it and I could do with more time off, but if I don’t show up, I will lose my job.
A tiny part of me would like that. I’ve never been unwillingly without employment since I turned 16 and started working part-time at my local grocery store. While I was studying for my degree, and after moving countries with or for a loved one, I took up to 6 weeks off work before starting a new job. But that’s it. I’ve been here 10 years now (almost to the day) and worked for the same company the whole time. It started with a 3-month consulting assignment and it has been extended and extended since then. I’ve worked on different projects and with different teams, I’ve led some of the teams and run a small part of the company for a few years. Somehow unemployment has eluded me. *sigh*
Next week I doubt I will be enthusiastic. Yesterday I was updating my calendar to show all the drop-off and pick-up times for my two school-aged daughters for their various Band practices. Just that alone had me worried; where will I find the time to be ‘me’ with the time commitment it takes to support the kids. Perhaps one solution will be to work hard and play hard: to do the hard work but to find the time to go away more with the girls and find some time for me to get away by myself or with friends.
My runaway wife has been the subject of some questions as I have not mentioned her recently.
I rarely see her, but since I have ‘fallen down’ she has been supportive and has called a couple of times. She even asked me if it was her fault that I stopped working and took time off for this short breakdown.
She only sees the girls occasionally and they never stay overnight with her, just an hour or two at a time. When we have crossed paths and she has seen the girls, she has been smiles and hugs, but is quite stiff with me. Sometimes I wonder if she misses them when she’s alone at night, or if she only realizes she misses them when she sees them face-to-face, or whether she doesn’t really miss them at all. Everyone, without exception, focuses on this specific issue, when my situation comes up. It’s a very reasonable thing to focus on as it’s so unusual.
I don’t see any chance at all for things improving between us over time. It’s been 6 months now since she ended things and nothing significant has changed. Maybe the gentlest outcome is to find a way to make a separation into a quiet divorce when the time is right.
Yesterday, I saw a divorce lawyer for an initial consultation to understand what my rights and options are. I did this partly because so many people asked me why I hadn’t done this already. They were right; there are some important questions to which I needed some answers and guidance.
I wanted to understand how custody arrangements work. What happens, for example, if I want to or need to leave here with the girls for somewhere else in the USA, Canada, or Europe? I wanted to understand whether or not my wife could force the sale of the house to extract her equity from it. I wanted to understand whether I would be required to pay her spousal support (alimony) and what might her obligations be in terms of child support. I wanted to know if my oldest college-age daughter figures in the equations or not.
I did my online research in advance to frame the kinds of questions I needed to focus on. In a single visit, I found out almost everything I needed to know. As I am not the only person to have gone down this route (no surprise to anyone here), there are procedures and guidelines for everything, and a formula for each question about money.
The surprising thing that came out of the discussion with the lawyer is that I have been wrong to not spend much time worrying about whether or not she has been involved with another man. If another man was even partly responsible for this break-up, in Virginia this changes everything.
Earlier this week, I met with a different friend for lunch.
She has been divorced for a while now and is dating. She is very open with me. She was married for a long time, unhappy for a long time, and I gather her needs weren’t met with her ex-husband. This is double TMI: I know him and see him occasionally, and I don’t want to know about her needs. She has also opened my eyes onto a world I am not interested in. I assume that I unconsciously stared a lot when she was telling me these things.
I learned that some of the small wine bars in this area are places where ‘active’ local singles get together to organize a get-together, if you see what I mean. I learned that some local doctors provide a “Verified” certificate or badge of some kind that indicates a disease-free, virus-free body ready for mingling (which grosses me out at one level, while I see the practical reason for it at another). I learned that some single people I know around here are regular attendees. Ohhh.
I won’t be joining them. Not only am I not interested in playing the short-term game, I’m fairly sure that one day a new long-term relationship will not come from going after what I might *want* but will come from understanding what I *need* (and can offer in return). I hope the distinction is clear. I think that many people approach relationships quite differently and are surprised at the outcome.