Thursday, April 14, 2016

The REAL Reason

Written 24 April 2015

I was challenged by my (then) wife about the "real reason" I wanted a divorce. I realized years ago it did no good to respond to these accusations with honesty, as honest answers are complicated, take a lot of time, and usually weren't listened to/believed anyway. So I wrote this in response for my own edification/exploration
* * * * *
The real reason is that I am a flawed and broken person. There are so many things I have failed at, so many things I want (especially from you) that I don't know how to get, so much I've screwed up, so many times I've hurt people, especially you... And this has been unacceptable. You haven't approved of who I am in all these years. Sure, you tell me how attractive I am and how much you love me, but when it matters most, when I am at my lowest, you don't want me the way I am really am, you would rather have a version of me that will never exist. Not that I haven't struggled and beat myself up our entire marriage to become that man... But I never will. And what I've learned over 20 years of trying is that I am okay the way I am. But you won't take me this way, and it's unfair and unreasonable for me to expect you to change, and you really do deserve that man you've been looking for (regrettably, in me) all these years. And that is the real reason.

On Bullies

Written 21 August 2015, in response to a friend's Facebook video posting. I love this man dearly, but he's a tough guy: from a rough neighborhood, minority, now a United States Marine. I know the culture that teaches the best way for someone downtrodden is to get tough and push their way out, but it's not always that answer. I did not post this response to his video, but I wouldn't hesitate to tell him this over a beer in his Bronx neighborhood.
* * * * *
Its not this simple, and it never will be. If you've never been bullied, you can't possibly know this. Bullying is about abuse of power, plain and simple. Bullying is not ever going to be solved by making some kids tougher, because for bullied kids it's not only about size or strength. It's also about confidence and what they believe themselves capable of. For kids, both those factors have a lot to do with family and social environment. I knew plenty of kids who were capable of flattening their bullies with one swipe, but for them, power wasn't about size. I knew other kids who were scrawny the bullies never once would have considered picking on because of that kid's projected self image. If you simply make every kid able to defend him/herself without addressing the issues of power abuse, you will just make more bullies who can do more damage.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


I glance out the window of my mind and see

Grandmother's Eulogy

19 May 2013

Good morning. I'd like to tell you about my Grama, Minnie Mae Hobgood.

Whether you called her Friend, Sister, Mother, Aunt Minnie, Grama Hobgood, or any of those things with a Great- (or Great-Great) in front of them, everyone here knows what a special lady she was in her lifetime.

To me, she was Grama. She brought me to church as far back as I can remember. She was an amazing combination of patience and urgency whenever Chuck and I would be talking during sermon and she'd look back at us. Even twenty pews away, she was NOT to be ignored. Like many of us cousins, I practically grew up in her back yard, and I actually believed in the much talked about 'ugly stick' until I was about fourteen. Not to say Grama was a mean lady--she just had so many of us lambs to mind. My most enduring memory of those days are of a woman feared as and rumored to be strict and stern, who did occasionally show it, but was never angry more than a moment, always forgiving, and constantly filled with the kind of love that still forms the core of my religious beliefs, and still cements my faith when it falters.

That's just been my own personal experience, and between 4 siblings, 1 spouse, 7 children, 26 grandchildren, and 65 great grandchildren, it represents literally less than 1% of what kind of person she actually was.

She meant something special to each of us. How many of us have slept in her house because we had nowhere safer to go? How many of us have eaten only because we knew she'd offer freely without judgment? How many of us found love and sanctuary in her care when they were needed most? And then, once we were helped gently back onto our feet, how many people in our own lives have benefited because we were nourished and comforted by her unprejudiced kindness?

She touched so many in such countless ways; the amount of Good she did in this world can never be measured, but I know if God is keeping score, He called home a winner this week.

What I ultimately learned from her is that life is an open system based on love, and it is not self-sustaining. We need to feed into it by taking care of each other, and being responsible for who and what we bring into this sometimes cruel world. Through her example, I learned that the greatest help we can sometimes offer another human being is remaining true to that person we've grown into ourselves, and directing our own lives not away from, but toward those we love. This is how she touched me; this was the gift I received.

What gifts did she give you?

Of course, after a while, I wasn't a very good grandchild. Like everyone eventually does, I became an adult focused on myself: my stuff, my work, and eventually my family. I formed my own bubble and floated away, seemingly having forgotten Grama's lessons. Now I do know that that's how it's supposed to work--of all people, Grama would know this after raising seven children. I know I'm not alone in having drifted away, and I doubt I'm alone in having been reminded by her declining health how important our family bonds are. As we slowly gathered at her bedside, or included her in our prayers, we tried to return the favors of love and kindness we'd all been given for so long. In this way, she gave us one more gift.

If you loved Minnie Mae Hobgood, honor her last gift by continuing her legacy. Continue her work to make the world better through unsolicited acts of kindness. Hold dear the connections you share with those who sit here today to remember her. Today it's easier than ever to send a message or text, or even a simple Facebook poke, just to let others know you're there, and you care about them. Whether blood kin or a friend, Minnie made us all Family through her love. Let's make sure she is always remembered by never letting that go.

Adult Lives

10 July 2014

My whole life, I've watched adults, living their adult lives. Even after I was grown, I watched as adults... not just adults, /other/ adults... did things with their lives I had never imagined I'd do: start businesses, educate themselves, date casually, drink responsibly (and otherwise, without being judged for it), initiate and end intimate relationships, tell uncomfortable truths because they believed in themselves despite their bad decisions, make investments, have disagreements but not fights, express anger without yelling, disapprove of another's actions without disapproving of the person himself, make hard choices with money and live happily anyway. And other healthy adult things.

I had occasionally seen these behaviours on TV, but not often, and with too little information to learn them. Given my literature choices, a select few of these were demonstrated, and of course only under ideal and/or unrealistic circumstances. More often than not, however, with my media influences and adult role models, these commonplace adult actions were completely foreign to me, even as I grew into physical adulthood myself. And as that happened, and my youth (even adult youth) slowly became less and less of an excuse for my irresponsible behaviours and bad habits, I became more and more confused.

(emotional immaturity)

And if you haven't experienced this yourself, let me assure you: being a physically grown yet emotionally immature adult in a healthy (or at least functioning) adult world is terrifying. Going into a coffee shop and watching two people discuss business, I wonder at the idea that neither of them depends on an employer for their livlihood, and how that can not paralyze them with fear. Trying to finish school, I watch as young 20-somethings make their way confidently from class to class to (minimum wage) job to (sometimes their own) homes without trying to pad their daily existence with the approval of other people that so often depends on frivolously spending time and money. Being nerdy made engaging in hobbies like gaming easier, but I wondered how so many young men, some married professionals, could engage in twelve-hour long sessions of anything without somehow alleviating their wives' or girlfriends' (when they had them) disapproval.


Anniversary Card 2012

12 November 2012

To My Dear Wife,

Today, our 18th wedding anniversary, will very likely come and go just like most of the other 6,500+ days we've been married: we'll go to work and meet our responsibilities to others and try to find time to remember how important each other is.

Every year on our anniversary

We have been through so much together. I have days when I am amazed at our resilience, days when I truly never want to even imagine a life without you, and of course other kinds of days too.

The truth is wherever you and I end up in our lives, w

and that we both have a lot of learning to do about our own selves,

Even after all we've been through, and despite our worst fears, t

I am an imperfect husband, and you've always deserved better than I could provide. You've shown a divine grace in your acceptance of my faults and forgiveness of my missteps. I have spent most of my adult life wishing to be the man of your dreams, and I still hope I can get there one day.

I know we have uncertain times ahead, but I believe we can make it. Just like 1 Corinthians says, love is patient, and kind, and other stuff, but in our case it is also stubborn. We have lasted 18 years because parts of each of us refuse to give up. I'm counting on those parts to see us through.

There hasn't been a moment in the last twenty years that I haven't loved you, and no matter what happens there will never be a day for as long as I live that I won't keep loving you with my whole heart and soul.

Eighteen years ago today, we said our vows and lit those candles, and they went out, and we lit them again... and again. We have a bond that can never be broken, no matter what our hearts or heads may say, no matter how far we may grow from one another. You will always be my forever partner.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Depressed Thoughts

  • I waste people's time, especially my kids'
  • Even if I am good at my job, I don't do it well or fast enough. I fall hopelessly behind and put myself at risk of losing my livelihood despite any job skills I may have.
  • Although I like a clean space, the energy required to pick up is too much for the work required
  • It doesn't matter if I'm prompt in doing financial and other business because I don't deserve the prosperity that would result

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


"Reflections at Timmys" edited, written 29 March 2014

So now I am near the end of  the first leg of that journey begun so many long months ago. How much has happened since then? How much will happen now? It's not just my education I've been working on.

That, in fact, is the only thing over which I truly feel control. That, and my career, which is directly dependent on my education to a large extent. I know I will finish whatever degree(s) I set out for. I know I will push forward in my profession(s) to eventually get what I think I deserve. It will only be a matter of time and perseverance, and human limitations aside, I have those things in abundance.

The real question is what I am doing with my life--my marriage and my family life. I have allowed these things to become my life. That's how it's supposed to work, right? I chose a life partner; we made a family; that's supposed to be the end of it. But of course it isn't the end of anything.

I had hoped it would at least become a beginning. Indeed, it has, but I am not satisfied with the progress of this life. The early denial of affection in marriage resulted in my bad choices to seek it elsewhere. That destroyed trust never came back on either side, and has crept into every other aspect of the relationship, slowly poisoning not only both of us, but our children.

I know I know the right thing, for now, is to be alone, and heal. I need to rediscover myself, redefine who I am, what kind of man I want to be and what that will take. I can not do this without hurting people I dearly love. TV common sense tells me if they love me, they will also want the best for me, but deep in my broken core, I am too afraid their pain will overcome their love, for they are broken too. And so I am once again paralyzed.

I am not impressed with the man I am. I have lied and been unfaithful. If I am completely truthful, I stand to lose the privilege of watching my children grow up the way I really want to--the way they really need me. I am only now starting to see see the effect my brokenness has had on them; what if, in an effort to heal myself, I inflict on them even more damage? Which decision makes me least selfish: new honesty or continued deceit?

And so I float in this Purgatory, on the edge of a blade, never knowing which side to lean toward, never sure where lies Paradise or Inferno. It is a painful reality to wake up to each morning, to retire to each night. Every smile of my children almost hurts me: they believe in the reality I show them, they rely on it. It breaks my heart to know that reality is laced not with a history of fierce protection and providence, but of desperation and deceit. It tears me to fucking pieces.

And so I am no further forward than I was 20 years ago, except that now I carry the baggage and guilt of the last 20 years on my shoulders. I know I am wiser, but I must dig out that wisdom and sort it from the bitterness I still surely feel. And then apply it to some as yet unmade plan.

Divorce Announcement

Written 10 July 2014.

Last night I told Nx I wanted out of the marriage. We had the talk with the kids. It was shitty.

I am more scared now than I have been at any other time in my life. I know this intellectually, but do not feel it. In fact, I feel like almost nothing's changed; I feel the same as I did every day I woke up unhappy and unresolved about how to change my life. I thought a weight would be off my chest, but I still feel just as burdened as I did yesterday and a hundred days before this.

I also feel guilty, not about Nx but the kids. Sx was devastated, heartbroken. I fear I've ruined her for the rest of her life. I worry, too, about the boys: of course they'll deal with this differently. They didn't really respond appropriately at all, which worries me more than Sx's response. They will have to deal with this, just like they dealt with all the silent bullshit for years before this, but I know (both intellectually and emotionally) that they will be better off after this has settled, and real happiness comes into view. (At least for me.) I also feel guilty about not feeling guilty about Nx.

I have fucked this marriage up, it's true, and it's on me to end it. I have not fucked it up alone: I bear no more or less than 50% responsibility for its slow, agonizing demise. Nx knows this in her heart, but has never accepted that it needed to end. She may never. What I did yesterday was nothing more than pointing to the situation as a whole and calling it what it is, what it has been for a long time.

Today's Facebook status should be: "Looking forward to living without pain."

And to think this all started with a really productive day at work. I had a fire under my ass about unfinished business. (unfinished)

FFF-55 draft: Disappointment

(Written 23 March 2011.)

I made up my mind a long time ago. I resolved to set expectations for myself that were higher than everyone else's. That way, I'd at least satisfy most people, probably impress some, and hardly ever disappoint anyone but myself.

So far, it hasn't really gone as planned. At least, not from what she says.

* * * * *


There are times in the life when the soul says, "ET, go home, I don't like it here, it's a terrible squalor nasty place, and I wanna go back to Heaven...I wanna go back to the Garden of Eden, and merge back into the Whole, and  God's eternal grace." But I can only have that I if I die, but I wanna live, so I choose not to do that. At that point we begin to look for something in this world of reality to take the place of connecting with GOD.


(Written 17 October 2011. Notes to myself from the trenches. Time to publish.)

Now you're being punished. Now you have to finally be a good man.

What makes a good man:

A married man honors his vows.

A father protects and provides for his children.

But before and after than,
 - a good man is strong enough to protect the weak
 - a good man develops himself equally for its own sake and also to provide for the people he loves

What are a man's responsibilities to himself alone?

Be honest with yourself. Speak your mind and ask for what you want. Expect what is reasonable. Express opinions and make a difference. If ashamed of something, decide why, and either abandon that behaviour or embrace it.

Be tactfully honest with others. Be the guy everyone can count on for the truth, and from whom it will come gently, even if it's harsh.

Do not remain in a situation that is unhealthy. Determine what needs to be done and see to it, or speak out as to why it's unhealthy and make an exit.

A good man makes mistakes and then admits them. A good man does not hold others' mistakes against them.

 - find and attend a 12 step group at least once a month.
 - speak to Rev. Kxxxxxn regularly
 - journal and write at least every other day
 - run, walk, or bike 30 minutes a day
 - focus on Nxxxxx and the marriage. Spend some time with her every day. Journal it.
 - try to stay positive. HALT when necessary. Do not dwell on the negative, but do not forget it. Laugh every day.
 - get more, closer male friends
 - share writing with Nancy to better expose the other side


MENTAL: Stay in school. Get good at your job. Read and act and think critically to stay mentally fit.
SPIRITUAL: Find God. Again.
PHYSICAL: Become strong. Use physical development as an outlet to frustration, and as a medium to concentration. Try to get off the hypertension meds.
EMOTIONAL: Solidify. Pay the bills, mind the business. Stay on top of your depression. Then reevaluate.

Because THIS, the guilt, and humility, is only temporary, but these are the only feelings that hard-focus on what is wrong, and what needs to be done.

But I am already a good man. But I am a flawed man. Who isn't flawed? Nobody, but few are flawed in the ways you've become, and these ways hurt those around you. That is unacceptable. But my flaws don't negate the ways in which I've stayed a good man? No, they will be your anchors, and your refuge when necessary. These are the places you will go when in doubt. When in doubt.

55: Days and Nights

(Written 14 December 2012. Time to publish.)

There are days
I can’t see it coming,
Days of laughter and smiles.

There are nights
I wonder why it’s taking so long,
Nights of tight-clenched teeth and hushed arguments.

And the times in between
I just don’t know what’s happening.
Maybe nothing. Maybe that’s why it needs to end.

But what if I’m wrong?

* * * * *

Christmas Tree 2014

(Written 8 December 2014. Time to publish.)

7 Dec 2014: "I had a really nice time picking out a tree with you today. We are a really good couple. Please don't throw everything away. I love you and want to have our marriage work."

Well, I love you too, and would prefer if our marriage worked as well. Unfortunately, it doesn't. You'll accuse me of looking to the past for justification, and rightly so. But in addition to being aware of our struggles six months ago or six years ago, I am also thinking of the past week, the past month, or sometimes even yesterday. What's taken me so long to reach this conclusion is the realization that all that arguing, all that conflict, is connected, and evidence that our marriage is broken, and every effort we've made to repair it has failed.

Our experience yesterday picking out a Christmas tree does not represent a potential for resolution of all those years of conflict. It does not show a glimmer of hope beneath years of dysfunction. It holds no answers to our inability to see eye to eye on financial issues, or form a sexual bond. However, I won't deny it was a positive experience. It does (to me) represent the very best we can be: friends and coparents. No part of the Christmas tree experience crossed a line of conflict or touched a point of sensitivity. It did not require an intimacy we've never had, or a major decision regarding our children or money. In this way, I definitely agree with you: I also had a really nice time picking out a tree with you today.

As for "throw[ing] everything away," I am certainly not doing that. I am choosing to live without you, my spouse, and our marriage, true. But I am taking every day of our twenty years with me. I will not discard it. I will remain the father of our children and your partner in raising them. I will, if you're willing, remain your friend, and do things for/with you that friends do together. Maybe we can, after all, enjoy a concert together, but won't it be a relief when it's time to go home and I'm horny and excitable from the show and all you want to do is go to bed? Won't it be freeing to drop all the baggage built up for so long and actually enjoy each other's company without the expectations that have soured our relationship for so long?

That's really what I'm looking forward to most with you: the ability to just be in each other's presence and emotional space without all the defensiveness, the guarding of information for fear of criticism, the sensitivity to the past, and the disapproval. This mistrust has killed our marriage.

So that brings me to question your first statement: we are a really good couple. Why? Because I disagree: We don't touch each other; even before I moved out of our bedroom, while I was still trying to make things work, you didn't lay a hand on me unless we were in public. We argue in the open because it's the most civil arena; arguing in private always breaks down to hurt feelings and accusations. We have little in common when it comes to how we spend our leisure time, what sparks our brains, and how we respond to emotional stimuli. These are just the public aspects of our couplehood. I don't think it necessary to get into detail about differences in our sexual appetites and interests, but this has been the single most challenging part of our marriage, and ultimately what I'm looking forward to changing the most.


(Written 12/7/14. It's time to publish.)

So here's the long and the short of it: I'm ending my marriage.

The reasons are myriad, convoluted. Here are some of them:

- Sex/Intimacy
- Inability to resolve conflict
- Differences in parenting priorities
- Differences in financial priorities
- Failure to resolve differences after 3+ years of therapy

None of this means I don't love my wife. It's just not that simple. In fact, part of the reason I need to divorce her is because I love her. I need out of the marriage because I can't love her the way she deserves to be loved; I can't give her the love she's earned after a marriage of twenty years. I feel this is two-sided: I no longer think she's capable of giving me the love I deserve or have earned after everything we've been through. For my own part, I have recognized this latter fact over and over again for years, and it's slowly broken my heart. Or perhaps hardened it, but at this point there is no hope for my situation either way.

None of it, in fact, is simple. We have three kids together. I can't imagine a life without seeing them every day, hugging them before bed every night, hearing about their days at school every time we sit down for dinner. Also, I provide the main income for the household and my wife can't make a living on her own salary. I am unsure about the ability for either of us to support a home and shared custody on what I make after it's split between us. Even our dogs complicate this mess. Frankly, this whole thing scares the shit out of me.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Marital Aide

Written 18 October 2013

It hurt, to be sure, but I had to say it. Within seconds, years of waning hope turned into anticipation of months of mutual agony and bitterness. We both knew it was coming, of course, but denial is a powerful marital aide.

Movement is good. When you’re at the south pole, every direction is north.