Thursday, October 3, 2013

Turning on and tuning in to technology

"Life's full of flaws, who knows the cause, living in the memory of a love that never was."

October is many things, including Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I'm thinking pink.

Tomorrow is Technology Day, as declared by Neil. We are getting a smart TV. I hope it knows how to make coffee.

I'm a little stupid about technology, in some respects, especially TV respects. I don't watch TV much, except PBS. I'm subjected to TV if I sit with Neil, as he flips from channel to channel. I'm not missing much.

We still have a VCR and I still watch videotapes. Our library has a cart of tapes that people donate, I think, and they cost 50 cents apiece. I usually pick up a few when I go, and I have a collection of favorites that date back to pre-DVD history.

Due to some glitch in our antiquated tape and tube technology, we can't watch one thing and tape another. We can only tape what's on. We, or at least Neil, can program the VCR to tape while we're away, as long as the cable box is set to the channel we want to tape. Yes, we have cable. More channels, more commercials, still mostly nothing to watch.

I've figured out how to watch old TV shows on my iPad, thanks to my Amazon Prime membership, and we want to have that capability on our new smart TV. DVR is another must. Plasma or LCD, high-definition modes, refresh rates, who knows.

I love my iPhone and I'd marry my iPad, but sometimes I miss the days when it was exciting to get home and catch up on email. I know I don't have to check my email every time my phone and tablet chime, almost, but not quite, in unison. But somehow that chime stores itself in my head and I have that subliminal sense that there's something I'm forgetting to do until I check my messages.

I'm not always good about answering my cell phone. Neil would say that he gets me about one time in ten. He sometimes acts annoyed about it, but I don't think being accessible 24/7 is an obligation. I still look at my cell phone as something I have in case my car breaks down or I need to order pizza on the way home. (I made that last one up, I never order pizza, much less on the way home.) If you text me, I might not see it for half a day because I don't live and die by my phone.

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful we live in an era of cellular communications. I might not have survived raising my daughters if we didn't. When they started going out with their friends, without me, I bought them cell phones. I told them, your phone will be charged, with you, and you will answer it when I call, or I'm taking it away from you. I tried to limit my calls to times when they weren't home by the time I expected them, and they were good about answering or calling back quickly. Just knowing I could contact them (and they could contact me) eased a lot of anxiety.

These days, my devices stay turned on and I stay tuned in, but every now and then I think it would be nice to drop out for a little while.

Twelve years ago, on an early October Sunday morning, after seeing my personal ad profile back online, Marty wrote me a short playful note.

Without hesitation I picked up the phone and dialed his number.

He answered, and I said, Marty, and he said, Liz. It was the first time we'd spoken since August 1.

It was both wonderful and heartbreaking to speak with him again.

He told me that the situation with Mary was as unresolved as ever, and that they were not speaking again at the moment. But he also said that he hadn't gotten over her, and what they once shared, in his heart, and he couldn't be in another relationship because of that.

He claimed that the feelings he had for me were real, that he never meant to hurt me, and that he didn't realize how fragile I was. He said that he'd forgiven me for my instant messenger conversation about him with Robin.

But he also said that it was mostly about Mary. And with her doing the pull and push away thing (sending the letters, holding out hope of reconciliation, and pushing him away again) it left him feeling very bitter and unready for another relationship commitment.

So in a way, we were in the same boat.

In a letter to my mom, I wrote.
I can't explain how much it means to me that we could talk to each other again, even if I don't expect you will understand that.
My kids had been staying with their father for a couple of weeks. I was ready for them to come home. My younger daughter was ready too, but my older daughter was balking.
She came home with the intention of going back to her dad's (she even left her things there). She said she really didn't know what she wanted - she looked so sad.

We talked for a long time and she decided to try staying with me for now, with the option of going back to her dad's if she wants to. She said she was happier there. I don't blame her. It's not fun being around a parent who is grieving most of the time and angry the rest of the time about the condition of the house.

I said that maybe we both had things we could work on to improve. But my heart was breaking. I told her I wanted her with me but I'd support her and love her whatever she decided. I don't want to make her stay out of guilt, but I couldn't stop crying. It just felt like one more person was leaving me, one more failed relationship.

Still she went and got her stuff and has been home three nights now and things have been OK and I have been making a big effort to spend time with my children, not stay in my room, not cry in front of them and not gripe about the mess.

I just didn't think my life could get darker.
I was writing to my mom every few days.
Work has been taking a lot out of me and what is left I am trying to use to be a more present mother to my kids than I have been for a while. I find work to be a much greater effort than I once did. I am amazed that so far no one has noticed.

I feel pulled in so many directions. I am trying to fulfill commitments I made when I thought I'd be feeling better by now.

Then there is always the ongoing wash and the groceries to buy and the meals to cook and clean up and the bills to pay and the paperwork to file and constant small repairs around the house.

None of that matters as long as I can keep my job. I am taking one day at a time. I don't think I can be fired for having depression but if there are layoffs or if the company is sold, all bets are off. I can't begin to imagine job hunting in the state of mind I am in, and at that point I have no idea how I'd afford medical or psychological help.

But if I let myself worry past today, I get into a panic, so I focus on getting through this day - or sometimes this hour.
October was passing but my desperation was hanging on like grim death.
I can't believe that this won't turn around one of these days. It has never been so bad or gone on for so long, but surely something will help me soon.
My mom invited me to come for a visit.
Wow - what a wonderful offer. It brought tears to my eyes. The idea of a week surrounded by care and love.
My brother tried to be there for me too.
Philip called last night, even though we'd spoken over the weekend. I think when you told him the kids were staying with their dad, it finally sunk in how serious this is. He was very supportive and told me he loved me. It made me cry, but what else is new. I am so lucky to have people who care.
Robin continued to provide a constant shoulder.
Having him to talk to has been a such a great help to me. But I also think it is time for me to stop leaning on him. I'm grieving for Robin too. If I hadn't started seeing Marty, Robin would never have started seeing Sue.

Robin offered me unconditional love and would never have left me. Now I have to accept that loss too. I can't keep depending on him. I know he still cares about me and loves me as a friend and wants to be there for me. But I know it can't go on forever. I feel like such a burden to him, as it is.
During all this time when the weight of the ocean was crushing the breath out of me, I was trying to go on living and that meant going out with people. Dating. I know, I can't believe it either.

The same weekend that I met Marty, I met a man named Thomas, a pilot, flight instructor and skilled cabinet maker. He was a very nice man but the chemistry just wasn't there for me. We had stayed in touch, and after Marty left, I started going out with him, as a friend. I knew he wanted more than a friendship but he wasn't pushing me and I needed someone just to be there.

One night, after he'd taken me and my kids and my daughter's boyfriend to dinner, I said something (thoughtless) that hurt his feelings and he left, angry at me.
I want to call him and beg him not to abandon me, but I know I can't feel anything more than friendship for him and it isn't fair to keep using him. If I hurt him, I don't deserve even his friendship.

I feel so ashamed. I can't seem to do anything right. And again, I have to accept the consequences of my actions, just like when I sent the chat log to Marty and there was no way to take it back.
I went on a date with a man named Rob.
I met Rob for ice cream and he seems like a nice man but I just can't sustain the pretense that everything is all right with me right now. He called me this morning and I had a hard time just getting through the conversation. I am going to have to let him go. I can't begin a relationship while I am so sad and scared.

I took my profile off the Internet and I am going to stop pressuring myself to find another lover. I have to finish the grieving, no matter how long it takes, no matter if someone else or most people would be over it by now.
I floundered about some more in my bleak little spot on the bottom of the deep blue sea.
The kids are going to their dad's tonight and I have to say I feel some relief that I don't have to go home and put on an act or fix dinner or pick up dinner or even eat dinner if I don't feel like it.

Rob called me again this morning. I didn't tell him not to call any more, but I did tell him that I had felt very blue yesterday. Might as well give him a clue that things are not so great with me.
I called Thomas to try to make amends.
He is one of the only people here who knows how unwell I am. Part of me says I should cut him loose and let him move on, part of me needs to know there is one person I can talk to who isn't 1,000 miles away.

I did explain again that what I really needed was just friendship without any hidden agendas, and that I am fond of him as a friend, which is true, for the most part. He seemed to accept that.
I wasn't fooling anyone though, least of all myself.

It was the end of October. My sorrow about the breakup had now lasted longer than the entirety of my relationship with Marty.

Grief has no timetable though.

I couldn't will myself over Marty. God knows if I could have I would have.

All I could do was live my life, nanosecond by nanosecond.
I am anxiously waiting for the day I can just say I am feeling better. But the heaviness and sadness are still very bad. Tonight, after my daughter went to bed, I went to bed and cried. She was coughing and couldn't sleep so she came in and I got up to fix her some tea with honey and we were sitting on the sofa and my tears wouldn't stop - they were actually splashing on her. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever finish crying.

"Love will abide, take things in stride
Sounds like good advice but there's no one at my side
And time washes clean love's wounds unseen
That's what someone told me but I don't know what it means

'Cause I've done everything I know
To try and make you mine
And I think I'm gonna love you
For a long, long time

Wait for the day, you'll go away
Knowing that you warned me, of the price I'd have to pay
And life's full of flaws, who knows the cause
Living in the memory of a love that never was

'Cause I've done everything I know
To try and change your mind
And I think I'm gonna miss you
For a long, long time."

(Gary White)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz