Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A story from my book

Meeting with my friend James Ryle yesterday lead me to develop this new blog. James and I discussed a few things and laughed at a few things. I learned that "something beautiful is growing inside me" (an inside joke I will not be sharing) and that there are many others out there who struggle with the basic things we all do.
Just because someone has a few letters of the alphabet after their name or has a few books published or CD's recorded doesn't mean they aren't guys like the rest of us. They get underarm stains and creaky knees and bacon strips in their boxer shorts and hair growing where it isn't supposed to be growing.
We are all cut from the same Adamic cloth after all and so we might try foolishly to convince ourselves that we are different and our struggles are different but in reality we feel pretty much the same things as other men and we fear the same frightening things. The difference is we have developed intricate methods of camouflage and self deception.
Divorced men especially fall prey to this. Ask us how we are doing and you'll likely hear "I'm fine" and the topic will get changed to the sports news of the day.
But cut beneath the surface and you will find the same heart breaking in the same way. The difference is how we deal with it.
What follows is an excerpt from a chapter in my book. It tells a simple story of a simple task and how right in the middle of doing something as simple as grocery shopping, that mask I wore got torn off and I was reminded of what my life had become...

Flashbacks and Nightmares
One interesting lesson I’ve learned in the 8 years since my divorce, is how there is always something lurking around every corner to trigger memories. Maybe its memories of something you and your wife once did together, or just the sudden reminder during the day that you are, in fact, divorced.

Now I admit I am an emotional guy, so maybe these things are more easily triggered in me than in other men. But I don’t think I’m all that different. Memory prompts can’t be controlled sometimes. It’s silly really.
My favorite memory story? Okay…imagine this; I’m grocery shopping in Publix one day a few years ago and not paying much attention to whats going on around me. Suddenly I find myself listening to the background music playing over the loudspeakers. It's MUZAK for crying out loud! Who actually pays attention to Muzak?? But I did because I think I recognized the song. It’s Sting and Toby Keith singing “I’m so Happy That I Can’t Stop Crying” (Maybe the best song about men in divorce ever written) and I hear some of the words and I have to ditch my cart and hide my face because I am in tears. Now, I am 6’ 4” so hiding my huge sobbing frame isn't easy. I put my head down and acted like I had something in my eye and headed for the produce section where I had some room to escape the potential stares.
Listening to those two men singing about where I was right then was too much. I was thrust back to December 1, 1999, and I could see my wife in court, leaving without me. I felt all the same feelings again.

Seven weeks have passed now since she left me,
She shows her face to ask me how I am
She says the kids are fine and that they miss me
Maybe I could come and baby-sit sometime
She says, "Are you O.K.? I was worried about you.
Can you forgive me? I hope that you'll be happy."

I'm so happy that I can't stop crying
I'm so happy I'm laughing through my tears

I saw a friend of mine. He said,
"I was worried about you
I heard she had another man,
I wondered how you felt about it?"

I'm so happy that I can't stop crying
I'm so happy I'm laughing through my tears

Saw my lawyer, Mr. Good News
He got me joint custody and legal separation

I'm so happy that I can't stop crying
I'm laughing through my tears.
I'm laughing through my tears

I took a walk alone last night.
I looked up at the stars
To try and find an answer in my life
I chose a star for me. I chose a star for him
I chose two stars for my kids and one star for my wife
Something made me smile. Something seemed to ease the pain
Something about the universe and how it's all connected

The park is full of Sunday fathers and melted ice cream
We try to do the best within the given time
A kid should be with his mother,
Everybody knows that
What can a father do but baby-sit sometimes?
I saw that friend of mine, he said,
"You look different somehow."
I said, "Everybody's got to leave the darkness sometime."

I'm so happy that I can't stop crying
I'm laughing through my tears
I'm laughing through my tears
I'm so happy that I can't stop crying
I'm laughing through my tears
I'm laughing through my tears

I think it was the line about the park being full of “Sunday fathers” that broke my heart all over again. My thoughts ran to my little girl and to how much I missed her
. It took me a few minutes to regain my composure and finish my shopping. Then I took my groceries home to my empty house and put them away.

Well that's it. Part of a chapter. I have a new series of posts going up in the coming days. Something inspired by my conversation yesterday. I'll keep you posted.

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