Goals and Creating my life Part 1: Hitting Rock Bottom

How I got Here:

This has been a year of turmoil. 

As I write this I'm two days away from the 5 year anniversary of the day Lyndsay came into my life.  More importantly, if I were to jump back in time 1 year (Oct 2016) to what I thought was my life direction in at this time last year it would have looked like this:

1) I was working for Sentient, and that was going to be my last job ever, I would retire from there

2) I was going to buy a house in the bay area with a guest house or mother-in-law apartment to give my daughter stability and the freedom to seek the life she wants while not being in my home and under my thumb

3) I was building a future for the woman I love who I was spending the rest of my life with

3a) That future included some vacations and travel, maybe some cruises

3b) That future maybe included a boat and sailing to exotic places

3c) That future included working Ren Fairs together with my wife and daughter as fire breathers

I was very secure in these thoughts and beliefs. I made good money, I had a loving wife, my daughter seemed a little adrift but who isn't at that age, and I was sure my wife and job were loyal to me as I was to them. 

But, as most of you know who are reading this about this time last year my daughter started dropping hints and saying things that said she wanted out, she wanted to leave, maybe go back to MN, maybe somewhere else, just get out. Sure, ok, again, teens seek independence, but after my whole last nearly two decades of my life being all about making sure she was safe, happy, and healthy it felt like a betrayal that she would leave me. I intellectually understood it but emotionally, every little dream or thought she had in these lines was a dagger to my heart.

I'd like to take this moment to pause and talk about "Social Anchors." Basically, it means I was basing every choice in my life on 3 things: My Daughter, My Wife, and My Job, and I believed these were good things. They gave me stability and purpose. I believed this made me a good Father, Husband, and Employee. In essence a good person. I was wrong (feel free to pause and read the wiki linked above).

So, if I were a ship in a harbor with turbulent waves and my Daughter was one of the three anchors holding me in place so I'd not be thrown against the rocks every time she day dreamed out loud about going off to have her own life it was like cracks in the chain that was holding her anchor and it was slowly eroding. I could feel it slipping. I started bracing myself to lose her. Again, I'd like to iterate, she wasn't doing anything that wasn't natural for a person her age, I just hadn't prepared for losing her.

At the same time my marriage was slipping, we were failing, I could feel it, I could see it in broke promises and resentments. Unlike with my kid I wasn't willing to just accept that instead I figured I could save it. Some how I decided that my bonus that pulled me out of crippling debt should pay for a real vacation for me and my wife because THAT would fix it. We'd fall back in love and fix everything. The last actual vacation I'd taken for the sake of vacation was when my daughter was 4 and we went to Disney. I'd read over and over that down time was healthy and I thought if we could have fun I could relax and down from work a little where I'd been killing myself AND we could rekindle the things that were slipping. Maybe if she loved me more she wouldn't break her word to me so much. Maybe if we could rekindle our love in Mexico we could find balance and I wouldn't resent her behaviors so much.

So, instead of putting the money I had just received into a backup account to cover my life for emergencies that were sure to come, I kept myself in that place of living paycheck to paycheck and justified it because I was saving my marriage by taking my wife to Mexico (Nov 2016). I further justified it based on the idea that I'd been pretty stressed at work as of late and had blown up a couple too many times at cow-orkers and even ripped my boss apart in a pretty scathing email that I'd cced to the head of HR.

This vacation ended up being a band-aid on our relationship, it was fun, it was relaxing, it and we really did enjoy ourselves and we were slightly better when we got back, but a month after our vacation she went to spend Christmas with her family while the kid was with her mother and I sat home, got drunk, watched Air Wolf on Netflix and wrote code. During that time all those feelings of Resentment, anger, and loneliness came back. I was less tolerant of her when she came home.

I returned to blaming her for not keeping her promises related to financial obligations, I returned to blaming her for making bad financial decisions and trying to hide them from me because she was embarrassed by them, I returned to judging every time the house wasn't perfectly clean when I came home, or being frustrated because she didn't have dinner set like a perfect 50's house wife when her dutiful husband came home from work. Luckily for me today I have a good friend who recently recommended the book "Leadership and Self Deception" where I am on chapter 9 as of this writing and learning that these thoughts and behaviors don't make me a bad person, they are natural. So, I'm trying not to beat myself up for them right now as I do an autopsy on my marriage.

In Feb of this year (2017) I lost the job that I believed was the last job I'd ever have, the one that was going to be where I retired from. Unlike the chain on the my other two social anchors that were eroding slowly this was a sudden shatter. Specially since I'd braced myself for losing my job when I sent that scathing email back in the beginning of November and had come away from that experience that the company really did have my back, that something that should of have been a firing offense was met with understanding and I really could trust them to be there for me. This was the last thing I expected, it was devastating. But, I'm a big boy, I put on a good face and carefully protected the contributions I'd made to this company over the last two years by transitioning nicely with good documentation and training for those I left behind even answer questions after I'd left.

I could do this, I still had Lyndsay, one Anchor that while the chain was strained it was still holding, because I know that no matter what our problems she loves me and I'm the most important person in her life. We weren't perfect but as one of my mentors used to say "We were like two drunks walking out of a bar holding each other up".

During the next month as our finances started depleting because we had barely any savings (really, we were living on my severance) she met Max. Keep in mind, ours was not a Monogamous relationship, I've never believed that any one person could meet all of any other's emotional needs, so instead we were Poly with rules and hierarchy. We were what's called "Primaries" which for us meant that each other were the most important relationship in the other's life AND we had limited veto power over other relationships. This veto power was limited to we would evaluate the other person's potential relationship early on before it became an emotional attachment and decide if we were ok with it then.

I hated Max instantly. I thought she was out of his league. He was fat, he was vapid, he had been unemployed and living in his father's garage for the last two years, he had no goals or purpose in life, and I told her so. I told her knowing she had rejected many of my options over the last couple years and I'd taken it and expected her to do the same. 

Her response was not what I expected based on the agreement I felt we had. She instead vanished for several days with him only to come back from her time gone to say she was now emotionally invested and I no longer had a right to veto him. This felt like a betrayal. 

As I look back on that time I know now that this event had a multi-factored causes: I'd been treating her with resentment for a very long time, I'd tried to resolve the things I'd felt were her short comings with controlling behaviors... I just wasn't being good to her. Meanwhile, he treated her like she hung the moon, like she could do no wrong, he'd grown up in the bay area so he knew lots of people, he'd get free tickets to punk shows and the like. He smoked and he encouraged her to start smoking again (she'd quit for me) and helped her see that my asking her to quit smoking was it's own control and she should do it because she enjoyed it. He was fun, I was not. Combine all that with the fact that her meds had just been changed (and I didn't know it) and so she was in an uncontrolled spiral into Mania to add fuel to the fire and we have a perfect set of circumstances to drive the destruction of my 3rd anchor culminating in her telling me that she never loved me and wanted out of the relationship. 

I'm not saying she is blameless in throwing me away like a piece of trash, I'm saying it's a complicated situation that had me pushing her away, her pulling away, and him pulling her towards him with medical lubrications.

As I write this post she now lives in Colorado with her mother, Our divorce is near complete (the 6th month cool down required by CA law ends the first week in Dec), we are talking again, she feels sorry for the things she's done and wants us to be healthy but I'm still driving towards completing the divorce but not exiling her from my life just changing our dynamic. I work for a new company and I'm really loving it and I'm creating a new picture of my future life with an intention of my anchors being concepts instead of things and people. My daughter and I have found our relationship again without Lyndsay between us and I'm starting to see the world clearly.

I'm trying to keep my ship steady in the storm with it's own motors instead of with anchors. In the next post I'll talk about how I'm doing that....


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