I guess I didn’t realize some people were so two dimensional. I am very much a three dimensional kind of person. That question of, “How can you say you’re happy when you sound so bitter?” brings me back to the days of trying to have a baby.
We tried for four years before Rock Star was born. It took me nine months to get pregnant the first time and it ended in a miscarriage two weeks later. It took me another nine months the second time and that pregnancy ended only days later. After undergoing some very painful tests I managed to get pregnant 6 months later the third time; that pregnancy was an ectopic pregnancy which took weeks to diagnose and find. Finally, after more than a year after the last loss, I got pregnant with Rock Star. Meanwhile, my brother and all of his friends were having babies as teenagers. Not just as teenagers, but as people that weren’t even trying to have a baby. In every situation the parents to be were saying, “Oops! What now?” Everyone around me seemed to be having a baby.
In the beginning it was undeniably difficult. I was definitely jealous. Add on to that the fact that my niece was born the day after I miscarried the first time. I remember my brother asking me, “When are you going to come see her?” and me replying, “I just need more time.” It took me a month before I could see her.
I remember I met up with my SIL to be at a dress shop where she was shopping for a wedding dress. And I took that sweet little bundle of delicious baby out of the car seat and I fell in love. I hugged her and loved on her and never looked back. I took that child for weekends when she was younger. When she got stung by a jellyfish I took her in my arms and ran with her through the sand back to the townhouse so that the stings could be doused in ammonia. It was not a short run and as I’ve walked that path in the ensuing years I tell her, “I’m not sure how I did that.” I took her for Spring Break when her parents didn’t know how they were going to pay for child care during the time off from school. I flew her out to see me over the summer when I lived 1500 miles away. I drove 600 miles for a single weekend just to cheer her up when college decision making was overwhelming her. I love her beyond words and she loves me. I am one of her favorite people. It took me a month to be able to see her but ever since that day in the dress shop I have loved that child and I have been the best aunt I could be to her.
Eventually I got to the point where I wanted people, if they were to say anything about my circumstances, to say that I handled myself with grace. I didn’t want to be the jealous, bitter childless woman. I didn’t want to be the woman who couldn’t bear to look at babies or pregnant women, the woman who couldn’t attend a baby shower or child’s birthday party. As more people I knew got pregnant, especially those who were not trying, I could be happy for them when they shared their news and yet still be sad for myself. I told others in the same situation that exact same thing. Being sad for yourself doesn’t mean you’re not happy for them. It just means they are pregnant and you are not. They’re having a baby, and you are not. It’s okay to feel sad about what you’re missing.
I also realized that other people getting pregnant didn’t lessen my chances. It was still difficult to take sometimes. I was sad for myself because I didn’t know if I would ever become a mom. That’s a hard fact to face when you want that. But the sadness I felt for myself didn’t take away the happiness I felt for others. Hell, to this day I feel a twinge of jealousy when I hear of people who have no problems getting pregnant, or people who have the number of children that I wanted. I am grateful for my two; I truly am. I wanted more, though, and I didn’t get to realize that dream.
That’s the answer to the first question. I can be happy and still be angry at everything my kids and I have been through. For those of you who have read for a while you know the hell I’ve been through, especially since June 10th. So when someone believes it’s impossible to be upset, or angry about what CF has done and still be happy at the same time I am amazed.
I think of my cousin who lost her oldest son in Afghanistan. In the beginning I think she was practically paralyzed by the grief. She mourns his loss every single day. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t have some happy times finally, 5 years later. She has two other children. She takes pride in them and their accomplishments. She spends time with them; she loves them. She’s gone to some fantastic places, done some fantastic things, and had some amazing times. And yet still, there is that loss. It will never go away.
Every holiday when her two kids are gathered around at her house she is going to notice the gaping absence of their brother. When her two other kids get married they will all be missing him and knowing that he should have been there. When she becomes a grandmother for the first time she is going to be reminded of the loss. Every time his birthday rolls around… every time the date of his death passes by… every time a milestone in life is celebrated and he’s not there to celebrate with them… it hurts her and she mourns. Obviously losing your child is not the same as your spouse cheating on you and yet…
Six months ago I was crying every day. I was begging God to end my life; I prayed for an aneurysm or heart attack on a daily basis. Hell, I thought I was making progress when I begged for a terminal illness instead of instant death. Granted, I was going to use that time to create havoc on CF and Harley with no fear of penalty, but still… it was a slight step up.
I had no joy in my life. It consisted of working and sleeping and running my kids around. That was it. I got up at 3:20 in the morning 5 days out of 7, went to work from 4-7 and then turned around, came home, took Rock Star to school, came back home, and then got ready for my second job. I worked 6 days a week most weeks. By the time I quit I was regularly working 7 days a week.
Now? Well, I don’t cry every day. I’m no longer begging for death. I actually have things I look forward to. I’m no longer working two jobs and getting up at 3:20 am most mornings. I have weekends off. I’m doing my best to cultivate relationships. I’ve joined a group at work. I have more work friends. I’ve been on a couple of wine walks around town. I can occasionally feel hopeful about living back in my hometown and all that it has to offer.
I would consider that happiness.
My kids seem to be doing okay and that makes me happy, although there are slight bumps. Picasso is transitioning into high school so I worry about him more. His group of friends don’t go to the same high school and I worry that he has no friends. His cousin attends the same school and they have a class together and eat lunch together. He seems content but you never know. He just spent the weekend at an anime convention so I suppose all is not lost. As I said to him as I drove him to the convention, “Oh, you love anime. You’ll really enjoy this convention.” His reply to me? “Yes, Mom, that’s why I’m going.”
Rock Star at times seems to be over the moon happy and at other times seems to hate her life. I realize most seniors reach that point where they’re “done” with high school but the school year has just started! She has already told me senior year is nothing special for her; she doesn’t know these kids all that well. It’s not like she’s spent four years at this school. I’m sure she would be enjoying her senior year a lot more if she were at her old school, the one where she started her high school years. Not some strange school she was forced to attend after being uprooted. I know there has been talk that she shouldn’t have been made a captain since she hadn’t been here as long as the other girls. I know it upsets her and frustrates her. Them’s the breaks when your dad is a selfish asshole who only thinks of himself. Then again, she has her days when she says she’s basically the main captain and the cheer coach listens to her and seeks out her opinion. She goes back and forth on being happy and being miserable. I know that shortly after school started she had a mini breakdown, bawling that she was so tired and she missed me.
I thought maybe she was upset that I had seen the mobster, or that I wasn’t spending enough time with her because I was focused on him, but that wasn’t it. She just plain misses having me around. She said I was never here because I was always at work but that she was never around either because she was either at practice or work. I couldn’t do much more than hold her and stroke her hair, telling her I loved her. We spent some quality hours together this past weekend so hopefully she understands she can always ask for more time.
She’s also been asking to be put on anxiety meds because she says her anxiety is out of control. The doctor is reluctant to do so and is recommending she see a counselor which she refuses to do. Looks like we’re at a stalemate.
Overall, I think they’re both doing okay. They appear to have adjusted to this new, down-sized life. The life where we have about 90% less money, we don’t have a home of our own, and their mother is never around to do mother type things. Because I’m working to earn that 90% less paycheck.
Am I happy my kids seem to be doing okay? Absolutely. It sure as hell beats the months I spent listening to Rock Star cry. She cried over not getting her license on time. She felt defeated because she was once “somebody” and now she was “nobody”. She had few, if any friends, in the beginning. It was heartbreaking seeing my once vibrant daughter who had been “it” at her former school reduced to feeling as though she was a nameless, faceless, nobody in a sea of new students. Yes, my heart did sing when the tide began to turn.
I’m happy I have a job. It doesn’t pay for shit but it covers the bills I have. Unfortunately, that’s about all it does. It beats not having a job and watching every penny you have slowly circle the drain. I’m not yet at that point where I can confidently say that this will lead to great things and a stellar career. I may have to switch companies before I finally make a decent living. But for right now I’m thankful I have a job even if it only pays $11/hour. I’m thankful somebody was willing to hire me and that I am gaining work experience (again).
I’m thankful I have a place to live. I realize that there are countless people out there going through the same thing that either have parents that won’t or can’t let them move in with them, or simply don’t have parents anymore. I also realize my kids and I would be homeless if not for my mom. Seriously. I. Do Not. Make. Enough. to afford even a shitty apartment somewhere. Ironically, I have approximately $555 left over for the month after I’ve paid my bills. That does not include rent, utilities, or food. Or luxury items like toilet paper, saline solution, tampons, pads, dog food, shampoo, or laundry detergent.
With all that said it is still humiliating to be 48 years old with a college education and not be able to provide for your kids.
Is it really that difficult to imagine how I could be beyond grateful to have a place to call home while at the same time feeling ashamed that I can’t even afford an apartment for the 3 of us? Their father can afford it but I can’t. In fact, as many of you know by now, their father can afford to move his whore cousin and her 4 kids into a lovely, 2800 sq. ft. brick home that looks remarkably like the home he forced us out of.
He can also afford to put his kids and me on his damn insurance but he doesn’t. Instead, the kids and I are on Medicaid. I would pay $370/month for insurance for the three of us through my employer and then I would have a $2600 deductible for each of us. I barely make enough money to pay the damn bills. How in the hell am I going to manage to cough up another $370 for the insurance and then $100 or so to put aside in an HSA for the time when someone needs to go to the doctor? Oh, that’s right. I do have $555 left over at the end of the month so let’s go ahead and eat through all of that extremely generous amount of money.
He can afford to pay child and spousal support but he doesn’t. Instead his kids get free lunches and textbooks through the schools because we’re considered poor.
Is that bitter? Is it angry? Who the hell cares? It’s a fact! Just like it’s a fact that he’s able to afford all of this because I supported his career ambitions for 20 years. I moved all around the country so he could move up. Of course sometimes we moved because he didn’t like his boss or he didn’t like his pay raise. And now he thinks he should be allowed to discard me and his kids, and his lifestyle should remain the same.
I can be pretty damn happy with my life and still be pissed off at CF’s continued financial rape. The truth of the matter is I haven’t yet managed Chump Lady’s goal of gaining a new life. Oh, I suppose I have; it’s just a really shitty new life. I still struggle with being poor. I still struggle with not being able to provide for my kids on my own. I still struggle with the humiliation of using Medicaid and freebies when 2+ years ago I had no financial concerns. Two plus years ago I was the one checking the box that said I would be willing to send in extra money for a child that couldn’t afford a class field trip; today my kid is the one needing the free field trip. I still struggle with this idea that I will move up or find a new, wonderful job that will pay me well. I still struggle with feeling optimistic because every time I’ve ever let myself feel optimistic it has punched me in the face. I still struggle with this idea that he will get away with everything he has done. I’m steeling myself for that on court day. Despite all of that I am happy. I have done my best to try to find the good in all of this. Again, I’m no longer crying every day or begging for death. Things have definitely gotten better.
That brings me to the next question: Will I be okay if he gets away with it all? Will I be okay if my new life with the mobster means living on maybe $60k a year between the two of us? And that is a question I will answer in Part 3.