Tag Archives: divorce

Facebook F***ups: Episode I, Gen-X

Standard

fbcheatI’d love to know how many lives Facebook has ruined since 2004.

With over a billion current users, what percentage has managed to do something so stupid, so utterly brainless they have completely screwed up everything they hold dear? Could it be a million? One tenth of one percent is not too bad is it? Given Facebook is the greatest thing since Big League Chew bubble gum, after all; who cares if a paltry sum of non-hackers (as in screw ups, not computer espionage experts) screw the pooch and end up in a royal mess they have no chance of extricating themselves from? It’s progress, and we all know nothing stops progress. What’s so fascinating about the animal called social media in general and the particular species of Facebook is the myriad number of ways a person can come to ruin while never leaving the friendly confines of his or her living room.

My generation — Gen Xers — have one particular pitfall I’ve seen so many friends succumb to — adultery. Yep, even though our enlightened and elevated society frowns on any notion of infringement on personal freedoms, married people — at least ONE spouse anyway — tend to be somewhat backward thinking in the area of personal sexual freedom. Still, Facebook is proving a tremendous way to wreck a marriage. I say “my generation” because younger folk have a different expectation of privacy and decorum than we old farts.

The song always starts with the same melody. A late thirty / early fortysomething signs up for a Facebook account just “to see who’s out there.” If she’s like me, maybe she’s looking for a meager handful of friends from days gone by. Maybe he just wants to “reconnect” with some of the guys on the team that went to State back in ’89. Sure enough, he finds some classmates from the college days and even his very best friend from high school sends him a friend request or a poke. Just like that, 25 years fall away and she’s reminiscing with some of the old gang about their exploits in the days before cell phones when lying to our parents was so much simpler.

It’s all innocent fun. Just a bunch of girls catching up on old times before stretch marks and sagging boobs; a bunch of guys reliving the glory days when all the mass around their waists was up in their chests and they had more hair on their heads than their backs. Then it happens. He logs on one evening and a new friend request is waiting for him. He clicks on the notice, a picture pops up, and he flushes hot . . . it’s HER! His mind goes back to summer days at the pool, dances after football games, and . . . well, increasingly less awkward fumbling sex wherever they could get mostly horizontal.

https://i0.wp.com/i.imgur.com/t6PpHoI.pngAt that point, a pang twinges in his head. He’s been married for years. He’s got three kids, a mortgage, and an IRA. Even as he laughs off his foolish worries, he knows it would be better to let this sleeping dog lie . . . but he doesn’t. He accepts the request and she happens to be online! Three hours flash by just like when they were two teenagers talking on the new portable phone for half the night. His wife — the mother of his children, the one who stood beside him when he lost his job in the disaster of ’08 — has already gone to sleep. She’s got a full day of shuttling kids, cleaning, shopping, and cooking to do. He stretches out beside her wondering why his conscience itches so, but he pushes the thought aside as he drifts off to a dream of yesterday.

Three towns over, she’s having a bedtime glass of wine. It felt so good talking to him tonight. She’d been wondering whatever happened to him. They used to have such great times together. Sure was easier back then. Lately, the rat race was dragging her down. Little Johnny brought home a frowny face on his Monday Memo . . . AGAIN, Suzy had just stomped off to bed with the dreaded preteen attitude . . . AGAIN! The van was in the shop . . . AGAIN! Then, tonight at supper her husband says the company is downsizing . . . AGAIN! She poured herself one last glass of Chardonnay and let her mind drift back to when she was captain of the cheer squad. That warm feeling had to be the wine.

For the longest time, everything stays innocent and above board. They two old flames chat on Facebook and exchange pictures of their families. Then he gives her his cell number and they text every now and then . . . nothing salacious. After all, they are both married. They both have obligations. Still, what can it hurt to talk to someone who was present during the first episode of the stories they both tell? The texting gets a little more flirtatious, then a LOT more flirtatious. Finally, she asks him if he’d like to meet for coffee at this little place she knows in the town between theirs.

At that point he thinks, “What the Hell!” He’s got comp time accumulated and with all the stress he’s been under, it’d be nice to see a friendly face from back when. So they meet up. The conversation is a little awkward at first because they both have the feeling this PROBABLY isn’t the best idea in the world. He’s feeling especially guilty because his men’s group just completed a series on guarding our marriages. Still, her smile hadn’t changed at all in the intervening years and he noticed she hadn’t completely let herself go. As for her, she can see the rascal she had loved so long ago peeking out from the businessman.

And so it goes . . .

Do I need to finish the sordid tale? Do we need to know how many lunch dates — of course they weren’t DATES — it took before they started wondering if the connection they felt might extend a little further? Do you want the name of the motel that began taking the place of the coffee shop? How long did it take before his precious wife noticed something different? Women know. Her husband starts out clueless . . . he’s got too much going to notice — at first. Y’all know how this ends. It’s just like an episode of Gilmore Girls only these aren’t actors and no one gets to live happily ever after in this story.

When the shit hits the fan — and it ALWAYS does — both “partners” get to deal with lots of tears and yelling. It’s a fine, fantastic mess they’ve gotten themselves in. The funniest thing, however, is what both of them tell a friend or a pastor or maybe a divorce lawyer . . . “I never meant for it to go this far! I never meant for it to get so out of hand!”

But it did, didn’t it? A simple friend request and human nature takes it from there, over and over again as Gen-Xers fall victim to Facebook fascination that leads to frustration that leads to flirtation that leads to fornication . . . that leads to an end no one ordered, but everyone gets to pay for.

Love y’all. Keep those feet clean.

Advertisements

For Such a Time as This?

Standard

My little buddy’s biography!

The mighty Sea Lions came away with a hard-won victory today in our Upward Soccer match. Our scrappy little bunch played hard even though we were short-handed. Turns out my little home-schooled “right fielder” decided soccer just wasn’t for her so she’s done for the year. {Just a note, if you don’t know what a “right fielder” is when used as a yard stick for an athlete’s skill, you never played t-ball or coach’s pitch; if you must have some other analogy, the proper football one would be a kid who is “end, guard, and tackle.”}

But I digress.

In addition to my little star-gazer, we also missed Tru this morning. His mom sent Coach Thomas an email earlier in the week letting us know they had a family vacation planned and wouldn’t be at the game today, but I still missed him, mostly because of last week. I felt like he and I bonded during our trouncing by the vicious Otters.

To really understand this story, first, you have to know this — Tru HATES soccer. I think he’d rather slide down a jagged envelope and put the resulting paper cut into a vat of vinegar rather than play. All you have to know is his mom had to CARRY him from the car to the field for the first game. He’s done a little better since then, but he still has pretty much zero interest in the game. In our first game, we could barely keep him on the field because he kept wanting to go sit in his mom’s lap. Even when he’s on the field, he’s not crazy about sticking his leg into the cleated, shin-guarded blender that is the scrum for the ball in this level of soccer. Most of the time, he’ll be at the opposite end of the field from the action picking dandelions or looking at the clouds. If you’ve ever read the marvelous children’s book Ferdinand the Bull by Munro Leaf, you have a COMPLETELY accurate picture of my little Tru.

Last week though, he seemed more Ferdinandesque than usual. He seemed downright sad. When it was his turn to sit out a segment, I sat down next to him on the tarp / bench. He was picking at a scab on his knee just as any little boy would, but I could tell something was serious so I leaned in to him and said, “Tru, dude, what’s wrong with you today?”

I guess this is how we looked to everyone else.

Now I was expecting a typical “Tru” answer along the lines of “I hate being out here” or “Can I go sit with my grandparents?” Instead, I got a blurting, sprawling answer that hit me like a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick. Tru said, “I just don’t feel right, Coach Shannon. I feel weird.” Not surprisingly, Tru didn’t know the word he was hunting was “depressed.” How could a little boy know such a huge word?

He continued, “I just moved up here from a place called Lexington. My mommy and daddy aren’t living together anymore and now I’ve got a new daddy and he’s okay, but he’s not my real daddy and all my friends are back there and I want mommy and daddy to get back together and I want my old room back but mommy says that’s never going to happen so I just want to go back to Grammy’s and sit in my room and play with my toys ’cause I don’t want to be around anyone but daddy is going to come get me this afternoon and Mommy seems sad about that.” He never cried. Never broke. Never even whined. Just stated the facts with all the emotion and vocabulary at his 5.5 year old disposal.

But this is pretty much how it felt.

For a long few seconds, I didn’t say anything. I didn’t trust my voice because as I sat on that paint-smeared blue tarp with a gorgeous blue sky overhead and a fresh breeze in my face, I went back. I literally saw the years melt away in some parody of a Hollywood flashback sequence. The decades fell away until it was no longer a 5.5 year old little boy and a 41 year old coach sitting side by side; it was a 5.5 year old little boy and a just barely turned 6 little boy who reached out and put a hand on Tru’s shoulder. The six-year-old was once again watching a spray painted sky blue Chevy pickup truck with two bags of clothes in the bed pulled out of the gravel driveway of a little single-wide trailer as HIS daddy drove away and began the upheaval that would define the next 30+ years of that little boy’s life.

Then just as quickly as it happened, it was over and I was “there” again. I looked at Tru and dared my voice to crack as I talked to him. I said, “Buddy, if anyone on this field right now knows what you mean, I do.”

He looked up at me and he looked so small, “My mommy and daddy split apart when I was just a tiny bit older than you. It was awful and I cried and cried for days.” He looked even sadder, “Tru, it’s never going to be ‘okay’ again. I can’t lie to you and you are way to little to understand what all I wish I could tell you, but I can tell you this . . . your mommy loves you, your daddy STILL loves you and your second daddy loves you as well and that is ALL that matters. Right now you are sad and hurting because the world has fallen apart and no one bothered to ask you what you think about any of it, they just dragged you along ’cause they’re bigger than you.”

At that, Tru looked up at me an nodded knowingly, “But Tru, even though it’ll never be ‘okay’ you will be okay. You’ll get through this. It feels like the end of the world and it’s probably the worst thing you will ever go through for a long, long time, but it will get better. It’ll never make sense until you are too old for it to matter anymore. In fact, it’ll probably NEVER make sense, but IT WILL GET EASIER. Just hang on. Love your mommy and keep loving your daddy. It’ll be okay.”

By that time, the game was over and everyone was shaking hands and giving out “effort stars” so I didn’t get to say much more to the little fellow and to be honest, I’m not sure he’ll come back to soccer anymore — he hates it that badly. Still, for those ten minutes, for the first time and the only time in the last 36 years, all the agony, all the anger, and all the pent-up angst FINALLY seemed to have a purpose. I have no idea why I would have to endure all I’ve endured since Mama and Daddy divorced so long ago. It seems as though any chance at being happy drove away in that sky blue truck.

Hang tough, little bro, hang tough.

BUT, for ten minutes, all that misery allowed me to DIRECTLY connect with a little boy who is just setting out on the path I’ve walked for as long as I have clear memories. It is a lonely path and a dark path and when I started my journey, I didn’t know of anyone walking ahead or behind. Maybe THIS little act; this ten minutes of absolute understanding of another human being. Maybe I went through it all for just such a time. I didn’t have a guide, but at least for Tru I could call back across the years to say, “It’s hard, but you can make it. It’s a sad time, but it’ll get better, kid, you just have to keep walking. Keep on walking.”

For such a time as this.

Sorry for such a long piece. I try to keep them under 1000 words, but I got carried away on this one. Love y’all and keep those feet clean.

What I Want for Christmas

Standard

Today is Christmas and everyone who survived the rush and crush of people are gathered around trees or tables with friends and family swapping stories, opening presents, eating, drinking, and generally making merry. It’s been a common custom for people to exchange lists of gifts they would like to get from their significant others while children practice their penmanship on those all important letters to Santa. I thought that, in the spirit of the season, I’d like to make out a list of what I want for Christmas this year. Just for fun and variety.

I want to eat Christmas dinner at Papa and Granny Wham’s. I want Papa Wham to say the blessing — his blessing — the same one I can still recite in my head: “Father, pardon us of all our sins; we thank you for these and all other blessing, in Jesus’ name, Amen.” I want to eat Granny Wham’s bone dry turkey and her dressing that she never put onions in because she knew I hated onions. I want Granny Hughes’ English pea dumplings as a side dish. I want one of Aunt Nell’s cakes.

I want us all sitting around a huge table. I want Papa Wham at one end and Papa John at the other. I want Granny Wham to sit down and not walk around with the tea pitcher asking to fill everyone’s glass for the twentieth time. I want Budge next to me and Mama and Rob, Mama Lowe and Jessie, Travis and Dani, and Chloe stretching down from Budge’s side. I want Chloe to have a bottle of cereal held in two good hands. I want Daddy and Teresa, Nick, Keri, and Mason on my other side stretching up the table. I want Daddy to be holding Mason and genuinely happy, smiling and at ease instead of on a ragged emotional edge because of Vietnam rooted PTSD.

I’d say I want Mama and Daddy still together, but even my wildest fantasies have their limits. Also, wishing carelessly can reduce happiness as much as expand it. For instance, had Mama and Daddy not divorced, MAYBE some things in my life would have been better. Maybe not. However, no divorce would then mean no Rob. No Rob; no Baby Huey; no Baby Huey; no Dani and without them both I wouldn’t have my beautiful baby niece, Chloe. It would be the same story on my other side as well. No Teresa would mean no Nicholas; no Nick would mean no Sissy; no Nick and no Sissy would mean no precious baby Mason.

Unfortunately, Mason and Chloe don’t completely erase the pain, anger, and frustration of a busted up family and all the excess arrangements and holiday misery such a lifestyle brings with it — memory is a killing thing in that regard, but they DO give the pain, anger, and frustration new and happier context. They’ve given meaning to the madness. Having those two bright eyed centers of the universe giggling and laughing at the table make the tears worthwhile.

Then I want Aunt Judy and the family she’d have sitting next to Aunt Cathy and Uncle Larry and Blake and Zack and Ashley. I want them all sitting right across from me. I want Granny Wham sitting next to Papa Wham and Aunt Mary and Uncle Carroll sitting — happily — side-by-side next to Granny.  I want Aunt Polly, Aunt Nell, and Aunt Mot — The Three Sisters — sitting together. I want Shane and Ashleigh sitting together nearby. I want little curly-locked Gabriel sitting on his all-grown-up Uncle Scott’s lap.

I want Dad and Sandy nearby — and quiet for a change. I want Missy and Charles and Jackson and Harry somewhere close by. I want Richard, bright-eyed, unhaunted, happy and sober, sitting next to Ki-Ki with Ryken on his lap. I want my beloved Kayla with her mom and stepdad, PJ and O.J,. there with the boys and Celeste, calmly smiling, eating and talking instead of screaming and fighting. This is another case of wishing for wholeness would mean wishing away much happiness. In some convoluted “perfect world” Rich and PJ wouldn’t have divorced and Kayla would have grown up in a stable family, made excellent grades, and gone to a fantastic college on a soccer scholarship. However, if that were true, Budge and I wouldn’t have Ki-Ki and Ryken in our lives, so — as painful as the road my be — I’ll take the demonic with the divine and keep on keeping on.

I want Laura and Rachel and Jen and the rest of Budge and my Florida family sitting with us around the table. I want to sit next to Grandma Sims and ask her if Dad was always as stubborn and hard-headed as he is now!

I want Papa John to read the Christmas story out of Luke from Papa Hurley’s huge family Bible. I want Uncle Claude to pray for us all after the meal. I want Aunt Mildred sitting with him, calm and well. I want Aunt Betty and Uncle Raymond and Rhonda next to Granny Hughes. I want Mama singing Christmas carols (instead of hacking and coughing) with Aunt Lib and Big Granny while Papa John plays his guitar and Aunt Margie plays the piano. I want Jenny there with Bubba and Diane. I want Bluford and Chad, Connie and Gen all sitting together. I want Aunt Margaret passing around her biscuits with one hand while holding Uncle Leroy’s hand with the other.

I want Brooke and Smallwood, Daniel and the Sledzianowski Brothers, Angela and Christian, and of course, my buddy Tina all sitting near me. I want Coach Candler and Mrs. McCuen and all the rest of my Woodmont family sitting around the table and tree with us. I want Maureen and her 3 boys and Dr. O and his three girls with Lance and my District 56 family with them too. I want my “sister” Laura sitting with Cameron and Jacob, smiling and not worried about paying bills or being alone anymore. I want Erica sitting hand in hand with David, happy and satisfied.

I want us all together and happy one more time.

That’s what I want for Christmas.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Hug and kiss the ones you love today. Next Christmas might be too late.

Clarification of Terms

Standard

Um, yes, you DID leave me.

Sometimes I hear people using terms and phrases and, as Inigo Montoya puts it so aptly in The Princess Bride, “you keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Today’s post is an effort to clarify one such phrase. The phrase that needs clarification is “I left your mother (or your father), but I didn’t leave you.” Now, I’ve heard this little chestnut all my life and it’s always used for one parent to justify the crushed soul of his or her child following a divorce. Please allow me to clarify this term.

“I didn’t leave you” is a baldfaced lie. It’s quite simple and children understand even when adults do not. As a child, if I am sleeping in MY bed and Mommy (or Daddy) is sleeping in her bed and you are sleeping in some other person’s bed then, by definition, you have left me. If two people are in the same location and you walk, drive, fly, or camelback ride away from that location, you leave them both. You cannot leave one without the other.

Now, I realize that you might be feeling guilty and have some inner need to assuage the guilt you have accumulated by ignoring your marriage vows or, in the case of the new unmarried “modern arrangements”, ignoring your parental responsibility, but please don’t confuse a five year old by saying, “I’m not leaving you, I’m leaving X.”

Children aren’t stupid. If you aren’t here and they are, YOU LEFT THEM, and they are very unlikely to ever forget it and it is going to color their experiences throughout life, especially their relationships with the opposite sex, FOREVER. Now, if you can live with that, fine. If not, find some other way to explain away your extramarital dalliance to your children.

Sorry to be so harsh, beloved. Must be the pollen. Yes, that’s it . . . pollen.

So wash those green toes and remember who loves y’all.