Saturday, August 14, 2010


Last summer, a friend who was moving lent me (and eventually told me to keep) his copy of The Essential Rumi. I was interested enough to figure I would read it one day. There's a pattern in my relationship with books: I acquire or become aware of one, and let it sit. One day it occurs to me to read the book.

The longest time between purchase and reading, so far, is about 10 years. I had bought Beat Not the Bones, by Charlotte Jay, from the Quality Paperback Book club. It had the combined lure of being a mystery, and being about an anthrolopologist. My first attempt found it too dry, and it survived four home moves in a box before I rediscovered it. And loved it.

Wise, interesting friends have posted snippets of Rumi, on Twitter and on other sites that I frequent. Finally, today, I pulled the book off the shelf and began to read. As is so often the case, the book came into my hand precisely when I was ready for it. Rumi wrote on "the howling necessity" and finally I understand, this tendency to do what needs to be done but to bitch and moan the whole way (as a very loving friend has put it).

Cry out! Don't be stolid and silent
with your pain. Lament! And let the milk
of loving flow into you.
This year, the past few years, I have been on a journey of loving. Committed to one form of love, in which I have worked at a friendship with my exhusband, for the benefit of our children and for his growth as well as my own. I have loved someone else, too, who is not part of my life - loved enough to be willing to learn to love myself better. I have changed because of this love, regardless of its outcome, so it is real. That simple statement comes of many months of struggling with blaming myself for things not going as I'd hoped, living with the tendency I've had all my life to mock myself for imagining something good would come. I am come through that darkness to a place where I can see how much I have grown.

God picks up the reed-flute world and blows.
Each note is a need coming
through one of us,
a passion, a longing-pain.
Remember the lips
where the wind-breath originated,
and let your note be clear.
Don't try to end it.
Be your note.
I'll show you how it's enough.

[Rumi, from "Each Note"]

It happens far too often to be a coincidence, that a book I finally read is exactly on topic for the personal journey I have been taking. I don't know if some phrase from the cover blurb hides out in the subconscious and prompts the mind at just the right time, or if it is a prompting of the Holy Spirit (reading Marianne Williamson's reflections on A Course in Miracles has given me a much higher comfort level with speaking of the Spirit). The Tao puts it simply, "When the student is ready, the teacher appears."

E.M. Forster wrote, "I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little further down our particular path than we have gone ourselves." Rumi seems to have taken my paths much further, but comes back along them through his writing, to renew my hope and to point me to joy.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Thanks to Twitter's #haikuwordgame, I wrote a poem today. It's the first in quite some time. Energies seem to have been going to the daily grind, securing a new job (starts in ten days), doing the work of another group in the series at Women in Transition. The words for the word game today are brilliance, night and fragile. I attempted a haiku, then tried gogyohka and finally realized that the combination of words called up something I have finally processed through to its end and needed more room.

Writing through something is always healing. Maybe for a time I didn't want to be healed, I just clung stubbornly to a vision I had. In sharing this draft, I am also posting to this blog for the first time in five months. I would say that I'm ashamed, but I am not. Post-divorce changes, work, parenting and exploring writing in different forms all take time and energy. I commit, however, to posting regularly or to making the decision to close this blog.

Here is the draft (work property of the author):


At last, one night I spilled it all,
and your lips speaking what I spoke
and that kiss, they shocked me.
The brilliance stopped my breath.

You were aware of that, the sudden
suck of air and the fierce joy as you
paused, listening. And I wonder if it was
my intense response that turned you.

The months that followed have
served their own shock, your silence
a ban that speaks shame
into my mouth, where lips met, where

tongue greeted your gentle, testing
tongue, where a sigh took voice
as it rose. Maybe it was too much.
Maybe too much of me repels.

Months of self-delusion have turned me
from myself, as I found one memory
more real than the silence, less fragile
than your arm's grip of my hips. At last

I am able to remember myself without
an assumption of you. Less jubilant
but centered. No memory matters
more than this moment.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Sometimes I think that the past year plus a few months, since a separated from my exhusband, have been a long period of letting the dust settle. I picture it more like mud settling in water, slowly allowing the water to become transparent. "Slowly" is the part I hate. All my life I have been able to grasp concepts quickly, and anything I have to absorb or process slowly makes me crazy (crazier?).

I have used the time to ... well, in large part just recover. It took time to stop thinking a thousand thoughts a minute, trying to make sense of insanity, trying to keep up with everyone's needs. It took time to realize that the only person whose thoughts and judgements need to concern me are my own. In short, it took time to catch my breath and be able to think again.

For a long time, I have known that I want to work on this house, to get it organized and begin to work on painting and other projects. It is hard to imagine that it has taken so long to be able to step back and see what needs to be done and how much of it I can do. It was therapeutic to start working in the old, incredibly dingy bathroom. The day I told my ex that I was filing for divorce, my sister came over to help me start pulling down the weird half-wall covering under the wallpaper. It was a long project, but when I was most unable to think, it was a tangible process assuring me that things really were changing.

Months later, I purchased with new bedding for my room. That was important. A friend has helped me start cleaning. Next will be paint: a job that was looming over me, inconceivable. It seemed there was a sudden break, that I could pick up paint booklets and start to look at color samples on the walls.

The frustrating thing has been accepting that nothing I could do or can do would speed the process. Stamping my foot, trying to be ahead of where I am, tackling projects that I wasn't yet able to see clearly - all just muddied the waters over again. I have gone through small jobs in spurts, like really cleaning out my room then not doing anything for weeks or months (anything apart from daily survival - work, feeding and clothing the kids, getting them to school, still participating in an abuse survivors group, etc.).

Wisdom has been learning to know when to just let it be, and not telling myself or believing anyone else who seemed to think I should be doing more. No one else has had to be me and do the things I need to do. The waters are so clear now, finally calm. I can envision the next things to do in the house and make a plan. I am getting both kids the different supports they need, and myself, too. I have recognized that what I really want to do at this point is not go to graduate school for writing (though maybe at some time in the future), it is to train to do life coaching. I am not certain how I can get that plan funded but at the moment, I am content with the clarity of my vision. Once I can see it, I know that sooner or later I can make it happen.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What Do I Know?

Most of the writing that I have been doing lately has been on Twitter. It is amazing how much you can find yourself saying, in chunks of 140 characters (or less), especially when you are supposed to be processing invoices for employee benefits. Oops.

Someone had reTweeted information about The Coffee Klatch, a morning chat among moms of kids with special needs. Each day there is a specific topic, most often with a guest expert. Recent topics have included managing playdates for kids with special needs, nutrition for our kids and for ourselves, and relaxation techniques. I started hanging around for the chat, picking up some great experience from amazing women. There have been several topics that relate to raising kids with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, such as my son’s Asperger’s Syndrome, and I have found myself speaking up in the group.

Still, I usually expect to lurk. It surprises me when I have something to contribute. For example, when Lori Lite was recently the guest, the discussion focused on calming strategies for our kids. Many kids, not just with ASD, have issues with getting to sleep or staying asleep, or both. I mentioned that one thing that helps my Peanut is the use of a weighted blanket, and I was asked to explain a little about that. Kids on the spectrum often have some form of Sensory Processing Disorder, or SPD (which still makes me think of Power Rangers, though my kids have been past Power Rangers for a few years).

My son is one who craves very high amounts of sensory input. When he is especially sensory-seeking, he tends to fidget so that he bumps into people or thumps his chair around, sometimes deliberately crashing into the floor – not to hurt himself but for the constant input from objects around him. At bedtime, he likes to curl up against my side but also likes the sensation of being covered with some weight. If you are one of those people who must have some sort of cover on you to sleep, no matter how warm the weather, imagine taking that need up several notches.

In the discussion, I summarized weighted gear as therapy for kids with sensory differences, and listed the website where I found good products at reasonable prices ( And people found it helpful. Which is amazing. Amazing because this is what I want to do. Share what I have learned through writing about my experience, not as a pedantic expert but as a fellow traveler. I just didn’t think I knew enough about anything. So it is at once humbling and exalting to realize that there are things that I can write about, somewhat knowledgeably. I may know more than I had thought.

In writing what I know, I keep wanting to right more about the journey I've taken through an abusive marriage. To do that, I am in the process of setting up a new, more anonymous blog at Wordpress (so it doesn't link to the profile on this site). When it is ready, I will find a way to let you know where to find it. Thanks for reading.

Pertinent Links:

Lori Lite, creator of Stress Free Kids. @StressFreeKids on Twitter. Also

@TheCoffeeKlatch on Twitter. There is also a Facebook page, which includes useful links related to the topics of discussion. Website based on one of my favorite books on the subject, Raising a Sensory Smart Child by Lindsay Biel and Nancy Peske. The foreword to the most recent edition is written by Dr. Temple Grandin. SPD was previously referred to as Sensory Integration Disorder.

Special Mom Talk: and@specialmomtalk on Twitter

Friday, February 12, 2010

Station - a poem. Finally.


Pitted blue glass windows
line the church aisles.
Centered in each window
a square panel depicts
one Station of the Cross:
gilt figures on black slate.

Sundays after Mass, her
Grandmother walked through
the Stations, rosary
looped over her hands,
the skin silk-smooth, loose
on the bones. The kids
would all wait in the car,
impatient for the ritual’s end.

One station: Jesus carries His Cross.
Another, He falls the first time.
He meets His mother. A murmur
accompanied the beads’ clicking.

On Fridays in Lent the upper
grades attended observance
of the Stations together.
The censer would swing gently
on its chain. Wisps of incense rose
with the priest’s thin voice:
eloi, eloi, lama sabachtani

Someone might faint
or pretend to in
the close hungry afternoon.

The priest and the altar boy attendants
moved on to the next one: Jesus dies.
He is laid in the tomb.

Between panels, the light streams in.

She tries again to repent

wonders whether peace
would come if she made
confession, if she knelt down on
marble at the communion rail
or shed penitent’s tears.
She waits in the shadow of
the great crucifix above her.

She would pray: Jesus
how You suffered,
make me good.
With thorns or a whip
or with nails
make me forget
this longing.

Monday, February 8, 2010


It is so ingrained in me that gratitude is the solution to feeling crappy that in response to my really depressing post about depression, I have to think of things for which I am grateful.

1) I work with some really cool women, including my boss who will cut me a little slack when I am struggling.
2) The Bloggess, who makes me laugh.
3) Her commenters, who keep the laugh going.
4) My kids who are smart, funny, loving and generally awesome.
5) Shoveling snow with the sun shining. It’s weird but I like it.
6) A couple of good friends who are real and who let me be real, and who even love me for this.
7) Mystery novels like Beverly Connor’s Dressed to Die (Lindsay Chamberlain series): I can’t get interested in stories like usual, but the detection process occupies my attention and gives me a reprieve from feeling crappy.
8) I have writing as an outlet.
9) I remind myself of this when nothing else is going right: I AM divorced. I did make that happen. I dealt with unhealthy dynamics and changed my life.
10) Things really aren’t as bad as they seem to me right now.

It's Ba-ack...

Damn. Today I realized that I am having a bout of depression. The clues have been there for several days: I get through the most necessary tasks like feeding the kids, washing enough dishes and clothing to keep everyone fed and dressed and I get to work. Apart from those basics, I spend most of my time in bed. I’m not sleeping, not crying, not usually reading, just lying there. Sometimes I am daydreaming. Mostly, I’m hoping to work up enough energy to do the next thing. When I do something else, like shoveling snow in the sunshine, I do feel better while I am doing it but then it is back to inertia.

This year I have learned that another clue, or symptom to watch for, is how I think of myself. I mean, to listen for the tone of the mind-chatter, the way we address ourselves fairly unconsciously through the day. This week it’s become mean and ugly (“of course I left that glass by the edge, so it would fall over. How stupid can I get?”), where I have worked to keep it fairly kind or at least neutral most of the time. It sounds like a string of verbal self-abuse, and when I recognize it, I cringe. It is both a symptom of a depression and an irritant though it was not a cause. The antidote for me is to remember my counselor asking, “if this were your best friend telling you she feels this way, what would you say to her?” Then I have to extend that loving, accepting attitude toward myself.

I hate feeling this way. I hate that I can be doing dishes or folding clothes and suddenly have tears streaming down my face. I am determined not to let the kids see it, because there has been enough upheaval, enough depression in their lives already. I hate feeling no interest, no energy, no point to doing anything. I hate experiencing life this way. But I realized that I’ve been automatically resisting it, as if I can pretend it’s not happening and it will go away, or as if by telling myself that I’m pathetic, I will snap out of it.

One morning last week I was walking in the hallway to the elevator at work when my heel slipped on the slick floor. My hands being full, I had the presence of mind to just let myself fall, so I landed pretty evenly on my rear and my left leg. I had realized that I was going to fall and that jerking around was just going to make it more jarring. In a similar way I had to identify the depression and that it might just help to accept it. Years of experience helps. It is like trying to tell yourself you’re not really getting sick with a bad cold or a flu: to a point, the positive outlook might help work through it, if it’s not a bad case. If it is bad, though, sooner or later the only thing for it is to accept it and treat it.

If I let on that I am having depression symptoms, there are people who will ask, “Are you taking your meds?” Yes, I am taking my meds. “Do you think you need different meds?” Not at this point, no. Believe it or not, sometimes an episode of depression is an appropriate response to significant stress. Significant stress for me right now includes going to a new group in which I process the specific emotional and sexual abuse of my (former) marriage. It includes having apparently imagined a connection with someone, a friend, who is not interested in me and whom I have alienated, and the shame and loss I feel over that, though it has been a year. It includes an autumn in which my younger son who has Asperger’s Syndrome, was struggling more and more with schoolwork and with appropriate behavior at school until he was getting sent home by mid-day a couple of days a week, and needed a partial hospitalization program (on an anti-depressant himself, he is doing much better now, thank God). It includes the day-to-day maintaining boundaries with the ex-husband so our children can enjoy a relationship with him, as well as getting kids to school on time, working, parenting, homework and household stuff. It includes living hand-to-mouth, as most people are doing these days. It includes my older son’s weight issues, which have progressed to insulin resistance and may be diagnosed as Type II diabetes. It includes finding a neighbor of eight years has used deception to go into my home, into my bedroom and to take things that belong to me and then lied to my face about it, because she apparently has developed a drug problem. It is as though the only things I can see are the many areas of my life that scream "Fail!" It takes intention and practice to remember there are things I am doing well, I just can't see them at the moment.

I am not asking for pity. This is just part of my journey and right now it is hard. If it doesn’t lift in a week or so, then I need to see a doctor. In the meantime, the only way out is through. I get up every day in spite of feeling weighed down. I go through the motions even though it feels like there’s no point to trying. I remember that it will pass. I try to have patience when I can’t focus on details, and when I can’t do everything that others expect from me. I am not doing things well because I barely feel up to doing them at all, like trying to function with the flu.

Most important at this time, I choose carefully the people with whom I reveal the feelings of helplessness. Sometimes the people who most want to offer a hand are hoping you will keep holding on and pull them through their own mess.

The up side of depression is that it I usually write more, in part because I don’t have the energy for the things that often distract me from writing. Housework? Who cares? Visiting people? In this frame of mind? It is awful to see the downer effect I can have on others. It is better to write. In fact I worry about upping medication because if I never feel like this at all I am afraid I will lose touch with part of myself, and it is the part that creates the most. There has to be a balance of controlling symptoms so I can function with allowing for some difficulty so I can be who I am.

The best friends to have around when I have an episode of depression are the ones who acknowledge it with a little compassion and let it be. These are the friends who accept me, with and without the weepies. Even on the bad days there are moments that I can laugh. I go to The Bloggess regularly to see what she has to say because she is always hysterical. Then I send a link or copy an excerpt in an email to my office friends to make them laugh, too. Somehow I can make funny comments in my emails, but not on the site. That’s something to work on once I’m feeling better.

The people who are hardest to have around, though I know they mean well, are the ones who say in so many words “cheer up.” They don’t realize that it is already difficult not to hate myself when I feel so lazy and worthless, or that I am trying to breathe through an impending panic attack because I just can’t handle picking up the papers I dropped on the floor. I can’t will away a depression any more than one could will away a migraine or high blood pressure. Some people just won’t believe that until they’ve had the experience themselves. On occasion I feel the urge (to use an expression of The Bloggess) to stab them in the face. Ok, not really. There isn’t enough energy for that, and then I would just feel worse. But thinking it almost made me laugh.

I can’t control this but I will get through it. The caveat is that sometimes depression doesn’t go away and the person suffering it can’t see it very clearly. Someone who is showing signs of depression for longer than two weeks or who feels like it would be easier to die is someone who needs help: talk to the person and to a mental health professional if you think it is necessary. I hope I am never that person, but I could be. Today I just want this episode to be over. Preferably right now, but I can work with ‘soon.’

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snow Day

Although it is the weekend, so there is no school to get cancelled, there is still something magical about all this snow. It was a good morning to sleep in. The accumulation outside reminded me of winters in the house where I grew up in Bucks County, PA. With this much snow, all eight of us would be expected (whatever our ages) to suit up and help Dad with the driveway. It is only as an adult that I realized not everyone had an enormous box of winter boots to root through to find a pair that fit. I cannot imagine how all the hats and gloves were tracked, since I can hardly keep track of the things belonging to my two boys.

Here the shoveling is not nearly such a job as we had as kids: I have a row house in Philly with a dozen or so steps and my patch of sidewalk. Really, it is just enough to stretch and get some air. Even better, a neighbor from across the street and two of his friends pitched in. Apart from that I have napped, done laundry and roasted a chicken for the kids' dinner, with which I will make soup and chicken salad tomorrow. All very homey things that I feel good doing.

The rest day, as the boys and I call it, was badly needed. I realized by the end of the week that I was on overload: Thursday and Friday I used my lunch time to close my office door, turn out the light and lie flat on the floor just to let my thoughts go. It's the recent burglary in my house and subsequent dealing with the police, my son's health, hormones and memories associated with the time of year, all sapping energy and demanding my attention. Too much! Too much! my head is telling me. It takes so much stillness for me to process things, time that would appear to be wasted when there is so much that needs doing. The house is a frightening mess, with which I can only cope in tiny steps. I seem to do everything in tiny steps.

With all the things needing my attention, the writing slips down the priority list again, until it is noticeably affecting my emotional health. I have accepted that I need to be writing to be well. There is so much I am afraid to say, or more afraid that I can't say well. Then I read some of what others are doing, for example one of the blogs on yesterday's Five Star Friday: Leap and the Net Will Appear.

There is so much to shared by just telling the truth about our lives. Even when I think I am sharing, I realize I am still, after months and even after a year, taking deep breath first. A long deep breath, and sometimes I open my mouth and nothing comes out yet or I say something unimportant and unrelated to what I want to say. I might say it's a snow day and I remember snow days from my childhood. I might say I'm struggling with a few things. Soon, after taking these tiny steps, I will be able to tell the story that is determined to find its way out into the world.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Place at the Table

Yesterday on TV I saw a movie based on the book Heidi, by Johanna Spyri. I haven't thought about Heidi in years, but it was, of course, one of the favorite books of my childhood. Here was a girl with whom I could identify, happy wandering outside with one friend, the mountains and the animals. There was the requisite (for a fairytale) rich relative, the cross child whose heart is won over by Heidi's pure heart, and of course the daunting Grandfather who is won over before long.

Naturally, I settled in to watch it. I don't remember this from the book, and I don't know if it was there or simply added for the film (1968, with Jean Simmons, Maximilian Schell and Michael Redgrave), but Heidi says that all she wants is her own place. She wants there to be a place at the table that everyone knows is hers, and would say "that's Heidi's place." This is where the tears started.

It's becoming clear to me that I never saw myself as having my own place, my own life. I saw myself always as a sort of addendum. When I was younger, I blamed this on my parents for a while, as we tend to do. Now I suspect some of it was just my personality, some of it was being the baby sister of several older siblings, so I rode along to their games, their practices, their lessons, their field trips... it was just an idea that I formed and absorbed. In some ways I am more comfortable in the background, observing, getting the whole story, but I saw myself as being part of the background. There's no blame, it was just an inaccurate interpretation.

Now, each time that I take a step toward claiming my space, there's the most uncomfortable kickback. It's taking responsibility for my life, getting to know myself and what I want, which I had for so long thought would be unspeakably selfish, and just not ME (but who is ME?). I pick out something for the house just because I like it, and feel an involuntary guilt reaction. I stand my ground, establishing my boundaries in relationships and have at times felt dizzy from the strangeness of it. But it's getting easier.

Even with my children, I realized that when I set out dinner, I clear enough untidiness from the table to set their places, but go back and forth from the kitchen and I usually don't sit down at all. I have had no space, because I never make one for myself. If I don't, even my kids won't see that I have one. It's time to make that change, to clear the whole table and sit down. My life is in this home, with my children, and that's my place and the foundation for every place I make for myself.

The Right Thing

Once a very dear friend told me that what she loves about me is that I always do the right thing. I make no claims to this statement being accurate, but that is what she says. And she goes on, "You may bitch and moan the whole way, but you do the right thing." [emphasis hers] Not especially flattering, in that light, but she is fairly accurate about the bitching and moaning. Sometimes I would go so far as to say kicking and screaming.

This came to mind today because I was thinking of the plans I've made to go out next weekend, spending the night with a girlfriend so I don't have to worry about getting home at a reasonable hour for mom-responsibilities. At this point in time, my ex doesn't have an established place of his own and doesn't take the kids overnight, ever. This is not a terrible thing, but every now and then it is nice to have the whole night off. So a younger, also single friend suggested I come out with her and stay over at her place. Awesome.

It's been a tremendous year, as you will know if you've read previous posts, which might be viewed as my outlet for the bitching and moaning. I feel rebellious, sick of everything, and earned a couple of shocked looks from friends at church when I suggested I might be up for almost anything when I get out next week. Of course, I know that by next week my usual sense will return and it will be much calmer than what I'm picturing now. Damn. Having kids, for whom I am responsible (and I take that seriously), makes it difficult to go out spontaneously when the urge strikes. That's probably a good thing.

I'm as likely as anyone else to be mistaken, to be biased by my own fears and desires into a distorted view of what's best. Occasionally I defy conscience on purpose (the mood I'm in now), but never get far before it's just too painful. Note that I'm not going into specifics, because what I know is not the best thing for me is a judgement based on me, my life and where I am in this life at this moment; I am not out to argue for what's moral or not for anyone else.

My story is that I'm stepping up to yet another level of moving past the past. I am never satisfied with the pace at which I am progressing, and certainly not that the efforts I make are recreating the life that I want. Like any thwarted child, I am ready to stamp my foot, and yell "then I don't care! I'll just...." whatever ... drink, shop, hook up. The thought is cathartic. But I did finally outgrow that. Oh, yeah. With or without the kids, I'm responsible for this life.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Okay, so I realize it wasn't really a poem, "Super," which was my last post. It may be part of a poem, or just a crafted sentence to slip into a story some day. It was an awareness that had crept up on me and I had to write it down.

A prose writer gets tired of writing prose, and wants to be a poet. So he begins every line with a capital letter, and keeps on writing prose. -Samuel McChord Crothers

I hope that's not all I was doing. I don't think so; poetry comes more naturally to me than most other writing. But I haven't written creatively in a while, no new poems or stories and it worries me. Granted, I have been in a sort of emotional cocoon. I am almost constantly in motion, from work to getting the kids to school, though I don't seem to accomplish much. The Christmas tree still needs to be undecorated, the ornaments put away for next year and the tree put out to recycling.

Honestly? I'm afraid to stop. For more than a year, I have been hard at work at changing the way I think (no victims live here anymore!), changing my relationships, changing my life. Having experienced at least periods of major depression for most of life, controlled now by meds, I have the fear that if I am still for too long, I won't even be able to get out of bed. There have been times when I was close, but never quite that bad. I can't have that, now, not with kids who depend on me.

I don't believe I'm close to that, not quite. Only, I'm so tired. All I really want is to regroup, but life keeps going, so I have to keep going, too. Maybe that's exactly what keeps the complete paralysis at bay. got used to it - to being everlastingly tightened up to face things, you see.
- Harriet Vane Wimsey, in Busman's Honeymoon (Dorothy L. Sayers)
The point to everything has been to create a life to live, not merely to bear. I think I'm getting there. In the meantime, I realized I never post poems or stories, or fragments of them. It was time to make that change; better to post things that aren't so good and get better than to hold off and never get there.

Friday, January 8, 2010


After the eleven or
twelve years together,
the end exposed a power
each had used
to hold on so long:
she to imagine
and he to pretend.

the second shortest poem I've ever written,
work property of the author

Friday, January 1, 2010

"I Wish You Were Still Married"

Today, as I dabbed on a little makeup in the bathroom and my 9-year-old Peanut sat in the tub, he pointed out to me that his dad loves me. "I wish you were still married," he told me.

"Why do you wish that?" I asked, as neutrally as possible.

"Because he doesn't live with us anymore, and we used to do stuff together and it was fun." Peanut started. Really? I thought, is that how you remember it? By the last year we were together, it seemed to me that when Dad was off the couch and not stoned on pain meds, we were arguing. Or, I was taking the kids out to do things on my own. Granted, my own recollection might be biased, just like the Peanut's is biased, just in the opposite direction.

"Besides," he added, "you told him about the divorce on a Sunday. You could have at least waited until Monday or something."

"Why would that be better?" I asked him.

"Because it was in church, where people get married."

Wow. That is a touch of irony that had not occurred to me, and I am surprised that Peanut thought of it. I explained that at church, where I had told my exhusband I wanted the divorce, the pastor and other people were there to offer friendship and support to him. Clearly I was not the person to offer anything.

What I did not tell our son is that at the time, given the mood swings and tension that were commonplace, I deliberately chose church as the setting, as a safe place. I anticipated yelling, probably throwing things, possibly even striking. I didn't really expect it to go that badly, but was prepared for the possibility. It was better all around to talk somewhere with people around, though we used the library for some privacy.

It caught me off guard when Peanut brought it up today. I hope I succeeded in acknowledging his feelings as valid and important. It was more difficult than I had ever imagined, not spelling out why the marriage ended, why I used a public place to protect myself from the yelling, belittling, dramatic outbursts that had become common. Let it be hard for him to understand, I thought, rather than understand too much. My life is healing, and the Peanut needs time for his idea of life and of family to recover.