To Whom it May Concern:
Is anyone still out there? Are you wondering why I stopped the blog? Before I tell you all about my plans for next year, which I will do in a blog tomorrow or Tuesday, I thought I’d get to the real reason I stopped writing the advice column.
I don’t think I have anything to say anymore about relationships. I’ve nothing to add to the noise out there: the multitude of advice-givers (some funny and some not) are clamoring for a space that is small and largely inconsequential. The blog never really took off as I had hoped, perhaps because just as it was growing large numbers, I had to stop. I won’t spill the details here, as you will read all about them soon when my book is published (more on that in tomorrow’s blog as well), but suffice to say when you are left without a dime, forced out of your home, taking care of a child and two pets to whom you thought your partner was committed, and sued without the benefit of representation (see: left without a dime), your focus changes.
Anyone reading this knows I am a non-religious zealot. If your worshipping habits don’t infringe upon the rights of others I’ve got no issue with you, but don’t try to convert me, because I’ve seen enough to believe that belief is unbelievable. However, my difficult times brought me some extraordinary angels who saved my life, figuratively and literally.
There was the friend who jumped right in with both feet and helped me navigate the treacherous waters in which I found myself swimming after my life went from relatively happy and bucolic to suddenly terrifying. Brilliant and tactical, his advice was paramount to my landing on my feet.
There was the client who trusted me to handle the biggest divorce in the state, despite that my main experience in the realm of family law was critiquing the system and the DICKs (Divorce Industrial Complex Kingpins) within it. He trusted me (little old me!) to represent him against multiple lawyers from the most notorious firm in Oregon. He gave me confidence at a time I needed it most. I felt like fungible garbage: abandoned, replaced, and forgotten, all at exactly the same time. My client and friend helped me combat those insecurities and inner voices of doubt.
Whenever I would question myself, or suggest he should hire someone more experienced, he would remind me who I am and of what I am capable. His texts were little electronic cheerleaders.
”Great work, Robin!”
“You got this!”
And I did. I did “got this.” I’ve got a 36-point scoreboard with a list of every battle in which I prevailed against the Evil Empire. As I fought my own personal hellish war with the man I believed would be my husband forever, I fought another war on another front for my client, even as we tried repeatedly to calm the waters, tone down the rhetoric, and find a peaceful resolution. If that man had not given me a chance, Jake and I would have ended up homeless. This is not hyperbole – it’s simple truth. And then the new clients started coming, and they were my angels, too.
There was the landlord who made an exception to his own rules when I was notified Jake and I were about to be forced out of our home, and he let us rent his. He did not prefer a self-employed woman with two dogs, but I knew him from a long time ago, and when he heard our story, he said he considered us the best of all the 13 applicants. Of course, we all know how that went…
There was the friend of my ex who, when he heard that my ex had known I was about to move in next door to his mistress but chose not tell me (so I could cancel the lease) because that would shed light on the relationship, told me a story about the ex I knew so well, and not at all, that made me laugh for ten minutes straight. The same man, upon later hearing that my ex had the unmitigated gall to move in next door to Jake, me, Margot, and Archie, offered to pay for our move.
I respectfully declined.
I paid for it myself.
I paid for it myself when I had to leave that first rental I loved and move into a much more expensive house. When you are self-employed and have two dogs, finding a place is extremely difficult and expensive. And I paid for it myself when the owners decided to sell that house, and I had to move again.
There was the family member who, knowing I am trying to relocate to DC (see tomorrow’s blog), offered to adopt Archie after I told her I had begged my ex to honor his adoption commitment and take in the dog when I leave next year. In the email to Mr. Impatient and Not-at-all-Understanding, I beseeched him to be Archie’s dad again, and told him Margot is dying and would not be making it to my departure date. When he did not respond, I asked him again, and said, “please do not ignore this question.”
But he did, and I realized that trying to make this man do the right thing was like expecting Donald Trump to become empathetic, wise, and handsome. That wasn’t going to happen, so my mom offered to take the little drunken Chihuahua if I could not move him with me. I’ve decided I am going to make Archie part of my relocation. We will take this jump together, and see what happens.
Was it surprising Margot’s former dad did not express emotion, empathy, or words of concern or condolences that she was dying? Yes. For about a minute. Then I remembered that when my stepmother died, I didn’t hear a word from the guy.
No wonder she never liked him.
There was someone else, who taught me first that there is a perfect lid for every pot, and second, that you don’t always get to keep it.
There were my old friends from high school: Christi, Liz, and Andrea, who came last night for dinner and stayed for a sleepover. We decided to hike in the woods this morning with Margot, Archie, and Andrea’s dog, Lazlo. Before we left, I told Liz, “We are going to see them. I can feel it.” I always get the same premonition when I run into them. Every. Single. Time. (Too bad I couldn’t see a bullet to be dodged all those years ago, as well as I saw once again running into the ex with his replacement lady and replacement dogs. Archie lunged and barked at his former dad and his new dog, which was…interesting.) Those women have had my back, and I theirs, for 35 years. We have all helped each other through a lifetime of misery, joy, relationships, jobs, setbacks, successes, and interesting haircuts.
There was my new friend Elizabeth, who was never too busy to take a tearful phone call or meet for a drink.
There was my dad, who talked me out of walking in front of a truck on what was the worst day of my life. And my sister, too. That was a two-person job that day. There was my brother, who was nice enough to not mock me for being left by someone practically old enough to be my dad, a man who could barely walk nine holes of a golf course anymore. He wanted to go there – I know he did. But he didn’t.
So, what’s it all about, Alfie? Why don’t I write the blog anymore? Put simply: I have come to a point in my life where I have no belief in romantic relationships anymore. Zero. None. Not for me, anyway, and if that’s the case, how can I give advice in that area? That’s like asking me, an atheist, to deliver a sermon to a group of Christians on a Sunday morning. Part of my cynicism was borne from watching someone I thought I knew behave in a manner totally contrary to the person I believed he was, and who he held himself out to be. After I discovered he let me move in next door to his New Friend, I actually asked him to see a neurologist, because I was so sure he had a brain tumor.
Part of my cynicism results because I have any number of married men coming at me all the time, telling me their woes, how their wives don’t understand them, and how they wish they could get a divorce, as if they are birds captured in a cage. I listen to them, and send them away. I’m not interested in being the catalyst for someone else’s despair.
I know many women who are cheating as well, as they maintain the façade of the perfect marriage, one in particular whose husband is going to get a very nasty surprise as soon as their youngest goes to college. I feel bad for the guy, but I tried to warn him. Oh well, at least he won’t have to be humiliated by her constant public put-downs any longer.
That was cynicism. That wasn’t nice. An advice writer should be nice. I should have deep empathy and compassion for him. I should hope he writes to me for help, and instead of saying “I told you so,” and asking “Where did you think she was getting all those designer clothes from,” I’ll give him a reason for hope and optimism about the future. But I can’t. Instead, I think that maybe he’ll get over it, someday fall in love with someone else, and then either he will break her heart, or she will break his. Welcome to Divorce Number Two, or as I like to call it, “You’re in Loser Territory Now!”
When I told a friend I didn’t think I could do the advice blog any longer, he said, “Don’t stop! You’re so good at it!” I blithely replied, “I’m pretty good at ________* too, but I don’t want to do that every day, and it doesn’t pay that well.”
So, what’s all this about? I don’t know. I felt sad and angry today for a little while, and then I remembered that even when we think we are healed, scars can break open and bleed.
• My work brings me into contact with some of the most despicable lawyers you can imagine.
• I am going through peri-menopause, which fucks with your emotions and overall health like crazy.
• My little girl Margot is dying.
• Archie is unfortunately quite healthy.
• My bird Jake is leaving our nest.
That is the most difficult thing of all. My sweet, empathetic, whip-smart kiddo is leaving. My most angelic of my angels. My son: the antithesis of all the reasons I don’t believe in love anymore and of the man who led me there. Maybe that is a reason to believe in love, after all. If there can be lightness along with the dark, can that be enough to try again?
This was rambling, and I am sorry for that. I will update everyone tomorrow on my goals for relocation. When Jake and I visited DC last month for a college tour (his first choice is NYU and his odds are great!), I felt a calling. Twitter and Facebook and blog rants aren’t going to change the world. But maybe, just maybe, I can take all this angst and energy and turn it into positive action.
Be kind to each other, OK?
*My parents are reading this. Use your imagination.