Attack, Defense, Stamina

9/15/19 Sunday

I have to take responsibility for my part of the failure of my marriage. I say have to because I don’t want to. It’s easy to blame someone else, it’s also justified. But to deny my part would be a reckless injustice to truth. There’s a ton of little stuff, but one thing keeps coming back to haunt me – I let it happen. When things got uncomfortable I brushed them aside. Issues that went unchecked did not go away. My friend has a saying that he got from his dad, who retired after a long career with the Army’s 160th division of the 101st Airborne – the special forces of the Screaming Eagles. “The slow blade penetrates the shield.” Our marriage collapsed from within, slowly, imperceptibly, one half truth at a time, one sideways comment, one misunderstanding, one cold shoulder, one resentment at a time. Too many work trips, too much silence. We were in trouble long ago and didn’t do anything about it. Maybe we tried, maybe we just didn’t have the skills to work it out. We should have sought help sooner. I should have sought help sooner. I also should have stood up, drawn boundaries sooner, called things out when they were over the line and looked for solutions sooner. Instead I ignored problems, got frustrated at her behavior, got angry when my behavior was called into question. Arguments got worse, bitterness dug in, one became two, two grew apart.

Day likes racing, dinosaurs, ninjas, chickens, legos, and bey blades. Beys are toys that are about the size of your palm, they spin by way of a “launcher”, and battle each other when spun at the same time in a stadium designed for that purpose. The concept is from a popular Japanese anime style cartoon, Bey Blade Burst Turbo. The kids in the cartoon test their beys with their friends, and against their enemies. They can use different strategies like attack, defense, and stamina mode. The kids “resonate” with their beys and are able to unlock their powerful spirits, which help them spin faster and deal devastating blows to defeat the opponent. On Saturday Day must have checked the mailbox 10 times to see if his latest bey had arrived in the mail. We had ordered it from Amazon, and could tell from the tracking info that it was out for delivery. He had been so excited. I went with him to the mailbox each time, cringing the first 9 or so times to see an empty mailbox, and to see how ecstatic he was the 10th time, his face glowing as he held the small package in his hand. Back inside he tore into the package as I washed dishes. I would look over once in a while though and see concern. A few minutes later I could hear the low mutterings of frustration. I asked him what was wrong and he said, “everything”. I didn’t ask what everything meant but took a break from the dishes and went over to sit with him on the couch. He was starting to cry. I gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek, said let’s stop this crying business and see what we can do about the problem. There were actually 3 separate problems and we worked through each one until the bey worked as designed, crushing most of his other beys. Day was so pleased and we had many epic battles together that afternoon.

Today we watched American Ninja Warrior, played racquetball and went swimming. At 4pm I dropped him off at Sara’s. I wrote her an alimony check. She asked me how she was supposed to pay for a washing machine repair. As we both sat at the kitchen table, while she asked me questions and Day was playing with his beys, it occurred to me that Sara and I battle like the beys battle, spinning around our daily lives, coming together once in a while to clash, sometimes in attack mode, sometimes defense, sometimes stamina. Today I’m in stamina mode, deflecting Sara’s loaded questions, coming back to an empty house and fighting back the tears. I fix myself dinner, watch a sailing documentary about Mike Plant, wash dishes again, write again. I wish someone were here to tell me to stop this crying business and to help me work through my problems. I try not to think too much, do my stretches and get ready for bed. / Walking down the dock in Coupeville, Whidbey Island

2/20 – I miss two calls from Sara as I’m getting Day off to school. She sounds upset on her voicemail, she doesn’t trust the medications she is supposed to take. She thinks the nurses have been outside her room talking about her. She is still on unit restriction but I hope that will change later today. I call her back, and she tells me about certain songs where I need to look up the lyrics. I call back around noon trying to get a hold of her assigned social worker but my call goes to voicemail. I speak with Sara again, no visitation today. But she’s been taken off suicide watch, so no more room checks every 5 minutes. She’s told the restriction should end the following day. I ask to speak to the social worker again, and someone picks up the phone this time, but it’s the wrong social worker. It’s frustrating that I am getting no information on Sara’s condition, her diagnosis, her prognosis, or even a concrete date when we can see each other. Later that evening we’re able to talk again, and she gets to say hi to Day. I can tell they’re having a good conversation and it makes me feel good to see Day’s face light up. He knows she is in the hospital, and I tell him it’s because she got very worn out from her trip to see her family, and is extra sad because her dad died. He’s good with this explanation, and wants to see his mom. I talk with her again, she sounds very good, we all wish each other a good night.

Author: Rainey What started out as chicken scratch notes on the back pages of my boat’s logbook has now grown into a blog. These words and images help me cope with a loved one struggling with mental illness, and they help guide me through divorce, and the process of moving on. Thanks for reading along as I learn about life the hard way, do the best I can for my son in my new role as a single dad, and find weird similarities between restoring an old blue water sailboat and putting the pieces of my own life back together. Come check out my story and feel free to say hi!

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