“I’m Raiding” has Replaced “Bring Me a Beer”

So on my 7 year old daughter’s birthday (She turned 7 this Halloween), my ex ended our 10 year relationship. At first, I was devastated. I gave the guy 10 years of fidelity and honest effort. I’m told that women are led by their emotions and men are the rational, logical ones… yet it was I who hung on despite the many times I no longer felt any emotional attachment–or connection–with him at all. But when he decided he didn’t “feel the same” about me anymore, and “never would”, he walked away like 10 years is nothing. It’s been almost a year since my daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and it’s been one hell of a hard year for her and me both.

Relationships fall apart for a lot of reasons. Ours fell apart in part because my ex only considers two things to be of value in this world… money and sex. And once he started treating me poorly, he wasn’t getting the second and I was too focused on our daughter to focus on the first.

Yet it goes deeper than that. We all know and recognize the iconic image of the guy with his hand down his pants, yelling for a beer while he watches TV and his wife is bringing him a beer with two kids dangling off of her and her eyes crossed from exhaustion. After all, as we all know, he has had a rough day and he deserves to be waited on hand and foot because… he makes MONEY. And nothing else is of value in this world…

But the new iconic “involved husband and father” image isn’t quite so obvious. There’s no beer to depict his disconnection. Instead, it’s a computer and a group of soda cans.

Today’s dad might look more like this: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/health/health/3003526/Video-gaming-Top-Tuns-are-top-slobs-too.html

When his kid wants his attention, it’s “Stop it, I’m busy.” Or, if he’s in a good mood, it might be, “After this raid”. Which incidentally takes him well past the child’s bedtime. Unlike the beer drinking slob, he’d probably disengage long enough to get laid–because in the gaming community, getting laid is cool (as long as you don’t do it on raid nights).

I’m a gamer, too. It really is kind of addicting, and definitely fun. It can be social, as well. But when my daughter came along, it was me who cut back my gaming hours. It was me who quit raiding. It’s me who stops to play a game or to read a story or to take her to bed–on time (imagine it!).

Yet he was entitled to his gaming time because HE had a REAL job. Because HE brought in money. And he was entitled to sex for the same reason. The idea that he should get off of the computer and spend time with his family was a wonderful one. And he intended to do it. But not tonight. Not during a raid. Not when there were coins to gather or gear to get before the next raid.

I did a lot wrong, too. I kept giving up… and trying to get back into it. Our relationship was like working out. I’d give up and then try again. Then give up and get back into trying again. It was like working out for him, too… he’d try for a day and expect everything to magically change. A kiss that morning on the way to work was “trying to show affection” and if he didn’t get laid that night, then “it didn’t work” and if he did get laid that night, he didn’t need to try anymore because “it worked” and now he should be getting it all the time.

At the end of the day, I thought we were back on track to try with “us” again. I thought that, now that our daughter was on the insulin pump and I wasn’t checking her every single night at 12 and 3 and 5 am, we could work towards us. We’d finally found a babysitter for her who wasn’t petrified of her chronic health condition. It was all coming together…

Except it wasn’t. And you can’t have a relationship all by yourself. He had “fallen out of love” with me… was still in love with his computer… and just didn’t feel like anything was worth the effort anymore. But he did try for a couple of weeks to actually be a dad. And when he’s not near the computer, he’s okay as a dad. He gets angry easily, which he blames on me.  Though him blaming everything on me–whether it has anything to do with me or not–is trademark for our relationship. We quit counseling because it wasn’t fixing me fast enough.

The truth is, as I look back on it, he always thought he would be happy “when” and all of his “whens” focused on me. When I got a job, he’d be happy. When he was getting laid every day, he’d be happy. When that was happening, he wasn’t happy. When that was happening, he picked fights about other things every chance he got.

Now he can raid in peace, and I’m okay with the breakup. The reason why is simple. Because now I realize on a profound level that him being a jerk and a slob really didn’t have anything to do with me. We’re broke up now and I’m working to find my real self again while he… he’s still a jerk and a slob. Bless his heart.

Despite this post, I don’t hate him. I’m not even angry at him anymore. I’m seeing things clearly for the first time since I met him, and I know now that he will never have another chance with me. More than that, I know to look at my part of the relationship now, because I can’t trust what he says is my part in what went wrong. He’ll blame me for everything, just as he always has. So I have to figure out for myself which part of me I don’t want to take into the next relationship.

The most important thing is that I’m going to quit blaming myself for everything. I didn’t learn that from him, I blamed myself long before him. But he did teach me one very important thing… I don’t like someone blaming me for everything, even the ones I had nothing to do with. So it’s long past time I quit doing it to myself. I didn’t like it when he did it to me, so now I need to stop being a hypocrite and quit doing it, too.

If you know what I mean, you may want to check out this website: http://gamerwidow.com/

It’s Not Always Romantic

People ask me what I do. I say, “I’m an author.” Their face lights up, they’re interested. “Wow,” they say, “what do you write?”

 

“I write paranormal romance.”

 

Their eyes instantly glaze over. That look of fascinated wonder turns to bewilderment. I expect a drop of drool to escape any second as their face falls into a fugue. “Oh, that’s wonderful. So do you have any children?” Desperate suddenly to escape the topic, they will ask me any array of strange questions following that one.

 

There are writers out there that give us a bad name, we poor romance novelists. Some of them don’t have editors. After all, it’s romance, right? What do you need an editor for? You know, that one woman wrote this or that, and she got published. She’s a New York Times Bestseller, and she obviously never had an editor!

 

Yes. Thank you very much. You are astute beyond your manners.

 

This is part of what it means to be a romance writer. Some of your fellow writers betray you by ignoring the basic tenets of good writing (editing and proofreading). Some publishers and those NYT people betray you by elevating the same people who have betrayed the basic tenets of good writing. People look at you like you’re some sort of strange three-legged creature from the purple lagoon.

 

Spouses (or in my case, ex’s), rarely support such a peculiar (and naturally meaningless) endeavor. Those whose spouses or partners do support you, count your blessings, please! The rest of us are counting them with envy.

 

I could write pretty decent Fantasy. I could write a biography–I know many people who are constantly being told, “You should write a book [about your life]” who would be thrilled for me (or anybody besides themselves) to write their book. I could write an auto-biography. People tell me all the time, “You should write a book [about your life].”

 

But this is what I want to do. This is my dream and my passion. Writing about love, writing about that magic that sometimes happens between two people, when they actually forget about themselves for a while and become “other” focused… that’s my choice. And I have loyalty and even fidelity to it.

 

It’s not romantic in the same way that love itself often isn’t romantic. And sometimes, writing romance is like living in one… things can go wrong. Sometimes radically wrong. You may find yourself sitting in front of a white OpenOffice document, staring at it while it tells you, “I’m over this. I’m not doing it anymore.”

 

But you get to choose. In a romance, the other person gets to choose, because there are two of you. In writing, though, it’s me and the novel. And I get to say, “Well, I’m not giving up.” You get to make the choice for both of you–you and your novel.

 

It’s different because a novel isn’t like a man. It doesn’t get to decide to beat feet. You can sit on your novel and beat its face in. Hint: Do that to a man, and you’ll likely go to jail. You can scream at your novel and swear at it, and nobody says you’re abusing it.

 

Some days, you have to finesse your novel. You have to smile at it and wheedle it and beg it. You have to close your eyes and imagine again and again until you can write the words. You get as many second chances as you give yourself… the novel doesn’t walk away. It doesn’t yell back.

 

It just sits there, a big white blur on your computer screen, until you put your glasses back on.

 

And that, my friend, is where you readers come in. Knowing that you’re waiting, knowing that you’re looking forward to this novel drags the words, kicking and screaming, from the depths of my subsconscious where they reside in perpetual enshroudment.

 

Your expectation and your desire to read the next book pushes me to put my glasses back on and put fingers to keyboard.

 

I take a deep breath and continue because I have fidelity towards you. The long-term relationship I have with romance writing keeps on going because you’re out there. This is what I do, and you are who I do it for.

 

It’s not always romantic, that’s true. But romance has its place in the world. It brings us comfort and it keeps the hot chocolate sellers in business. For that reason, I must endeavor to continue!

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