Decided not to write right away when I woke up. Power went out here so I wasn't sure I would get a chance. I thought about skipping today, but I know the days that really count are the ones where you feel like saying, screw this, I'm not going to do it today, but you pick yourself up and do it anyways. I had a regression today. My ex came over and I fell back into my old conversational habits. I can't remember what I saw in him anymore, but as my sister reminds me, my children are 50% him. He could have stopped by, picked them up and been on his way. Instead he sat in the kitchen arguing with me. Then he said he didn't enjoy arguing. I started crying even though I told myself I wasn't going to let him do that to me. It was just like someone had hit rewind and I was back in many of the conversations I've had before where he stonewalls and tries to put things back onto me. He wants the girls to spend the night with him and his girlfriend in a hotel room on Saturday night. The sex part aside, these girls have been through a lot this summer. I can't control what he does, but I did ask him to consider their emotional health and well being. It's one thing for him to be screwing her and quite another to flagrantly flaunt it in front of his children.

Today the girls and I watched part of The Princess Bride today. I'm reading a new book that is really good. It's called Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say. I consider this a good book because it's well written and by that I mean from the heart. I'm not very far, it's not an easy read as I have to think while I'm processing each word and idea. He sorts feminism into three categories and I really like his definitions. The first version is empowerment. The second is victim, and the third is competitive. Empowerment feminism encourages girls and women to be everything they can be. Victim is pretty much what it sounds like. Competitive is the interesting one to me. It says that not only are men responsible for treating women like second class citizens, men are responsible for oppressing women and women have it worse than men do. I haven't gotten much further than that so I can't elaborate, but I've heard this before and seen evidence of it. I think it gets murky because there are relationships and cultures where this is true and it does happen. When I look at my own marriage and the one my parents had before they got divorced, I can see that there were four people who were at fault. None of us were guilt free, and now that I'm older I can see the shared burden of a failed marriage that probably could have worked had my parents both done some changing and put a different kind of effort into the relationship.

The author's goal is fewer divorces and stronger relationships between men and women. He discusses how previously women were obligated to stay at home with the children and men were obligated to go out and work to make what money they could for the family. Today we have choices about who works and who stays home if anyone does. Today the girls did the dishes without being asked and that warmed my heart on a chilly and rainy day. My ex told me that he liked my hair. Things like that make me uncomfortable because I'd really just like to forget that I spent so many years trying to make myself more attractive for his benefit. We got into a fight about the bathroom and I was really annoyed when he said that I was doing that for my benefit. Having a second bathroom is a benefit to me, but it's also a benefit to him and I don't understand how he can't see that. He made it sound like alll that I did was call a contractor, to some extent that's true, but I also had to stick around and listen to the banging and noise and now I have to sit here and deal with the smell that accompanies open walls where rodents were living. There's a level of inconvenience in having strangers in your home and I didn't feel like that was being recognized or appreciated. Picking up the phone and calling is work too as is finding a reputable contractor who does good work. 

I'm going to keep reading this book and I'm going to go to the library and get more books even though I have quite a few here at home to choose from. I need to get out of the house more. I have been sitting around and that's not good for me. I didn't take a walk today or yesterday although I played some Frisbee out in the yard. It's like I need a job to get ahead, but before I get a job I want to have a better handle on some of my issues so I don't end back up in a job that takes advantage of me and turns me into an underpaid over achiever where I allow myself to be disrespected. I know I'll get there, I'm just upset by this temporary setback. I laid down today and tried to focus on my breathing which tends to be shallow instead of deeper. Update - I just sent him a text with a dollar amount for watching the girls on his days. I'm really nervous and scared right now. I hate feeling like this. I hate feeling like I have to devalue myself and my efforts and expertise in order to avoid him lashing out at me or taking his pound of flesh in other ways. It's on nights like this where I'm talking to him that my thoughts get really dark. I stood there wishing I just didn't exist, I'm not suicidal or anything, but I felt so trapped and powerless and infuriated that I felt like I had to suppress my anger. Things are more up than down, it was nice to have my family over for my brother's birthday although it was awkward when his dad and my mom were standing on my lawn talking to each other. 

I'm taking the steps I need to help myself be a stronger person with a better sense of self. I have to use the resources I have and I need to go out and meet some new people. I keep saying that, but I haven't made any real effort to do anything other than to call a couple of my friends last Friday. Friendships and relationships can be a lot of work, I guess I'm learning that I haven't always been the friend I could have been, but I'm also taking notice of who responds and who doesn't so I don't keep trying to keep people in my circle who don't belong there. I badly want to go to the store and get myself a treat, but I'm going to stay here and not waste my gas or my money. It will be better for my health and that's a major priority right now. I need vitamins, I need more exercise, and I need to be more disciplined. I need to create a reasonable routine and I need to stick to it. I'm listening to old school music tonight. The Pet Shop Boys and REM, it's been a fun trip down memory lane after I found an old mix tape collection of songs on YouTube. It's so cool that so many sites are free for us to use if we have computer access and a broadband connection. I take these things for granted and I really shouldn't. These feelings in my chest are scaring me, but I'm glad I stood up for myself even though it could have gone better. I can't expect to be amazing at something I don't have a lot of practice doing. I'm learning to negotiate and to state what I'm willing to do and won't accept and that's just totally awesome from a self help perspective. Go me. 

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