A Toast

Today would have been my 25th wedding anniversary. I’m not bemoaning the fact that I’m no longer married to Jerry Lee, but it does seem that 25 years would have been quite the accomplishment.

I always used to like to tell the story of how I was almost late for my own wedding. The hair stylists were in absolutely no rush to get me, Jezebel, or my maid of honor done. They keep assuring me, “Don’t worry, honey. You’re the bride; they’re not going to start without you.”

Once we were finally finished my maid of honor and I were speeding down one of our main streets at about 75 miles per hour, trying to get to the church on time. We ran past guests arriving at the church.

On the plus side I didn’t have a lot of time to get nervous or emotional. It was pretty much get there, get dressed, walk down the aisle.

Despite how it all turned out December 10, 1994 was a pretty good day. I was young and thin. My entire life was ahead of me and it was filled with endless possibilities. Everything was good that day. Everything was untouched, unvarnished, unsullied. It was a joyous occasion.

Jennifer Ball of The Happy Hausfrau has a Facebook page as well. What would have been her 26th wedding anniversary was about 2 weeks ago. She wrote a brilliant post that day.

Today would have been my 26th wedding anniversary. And for a couple of seconds I thought about writing something. Something about could have beens and what ifs.

And then I said F THAT. I poured myself a glass of wine… and decided to make a toast.

Today I’m going to follow in her footsteps (minus the wine because it’s late and it will put me to sleep) and give a toast of my own.

This year, almost two years after being officially divorced and four years after having been discarded I’m raising my glass high.

I’m raising a glass to the fact that I have survived. I spent a lot of time crying and a lot of time wishing for death but I’m still here, stronger than ever. I have hated most of what I have gone through and the things I’ve had to do, the changes I’ve had to make, but I did it and I am stronger than he will ever be. He didn’t defeat me. Stupid little me who had been out of the workforce for 15 years and was dependent upon him filed for divorce and left his ass.

I’ve survived living under the same roof as him for six months after discovering what a lying, cheating asshole he was. I survived a divorce that went on for two years. I survived him not paying any kind of support at all for 10 months. I survived him slashing child support in half. I’ve survived him cutting spousal support down on his own as well. I’ve survived his slurs against me, him hacking into my Facebook account, him trying to turn my kids against me, and him harassing the mobster.

I’m raising a glass in my honor because I have continued to do the hard work of raising two children by myself.

There are a lot of people out there who will argue that if your ex pays support you’re not a single parent and you’re not doing it on your own. I’ll be the first to tell you that the money definitely helps. I’ll also be the first to tell you to shut your fucking mouth when you bring that shit around.

He sends money, when he wants and how much he wants. But he’s never the one leaving work and running down to the ER to be with a sick kid. He’s never available to leave work to take a kid that has missed his bus to school. He’s never there to talk to his kids. He’s never there to take them to a friend’s house or run them to the mall or to take them out to eat. He doesn’t pick his son up after his various clubs get out every night of the week. He’s not running to the store and picking up lunch supplies. He’s not the one they come to with their problems, their joys, their achievements.

Rock Star is almost through her first year and a half of college. She’s driven and smart and she’s going to be an incredible nurse one day in the very near future. Picasso is once again getting a D in math and somehow does not have an A in orchestra. Nevertheless, he’s a good kid. He’s funny and kind and despite his grades he is a very smart kid. One day I have high hopes he will get his driver’s license. When that day comes I will be here to celebrate with him; his father will not.

I’m raising a glass to myself because I have finally realized how toxic Jerry Lee was and how hollow our relationship was. I realize now how small I made my needs over the years of being married to him, and have resolved to never do that again. I have the absolute best partner a woman could ask for. I’m so lucky in that regard. I think that definitely deserves a toast.

For the first time ever I’m with someone who is happy. I’m with someone who makes me happy.  I’m with someone who thinks I’m amazing and can do all things. I’m with someone who is romantic and who enjoys pleasing me and making me happy. I’m with someone who appreciates the things I do for him as well. I’m with someone who laughs at my jokes and listens to me ramble on about everything- Candy Crush, bad traffic, stupid fast food restaurants that mess up my order, that guy on the bicycle who insists upon riding into traffic on a busy road with no bike lane. I’m with someone who let’s me vent and doesn’t expect me to be happy all the time or to never get upset or disappointed. He treats me like an actual person and not just an extension of himself or as a wife appliance. I’m real and I matter.

I’m raising a glass to myself because I’m back in the workforce for the first time in 15 years. My mom retired at age 52. I will have been working again for 5 years at that point. I’m starting over when others are at the pinnacle of their careers and/or looking forward to retirement. It’s not glamorous or fulfilling. It certainly doesn’t pay well. But I’m here. I’m doing it. Who knows? Maybe one day I will actually work a job that pays me enough to live on.

I’m raising a glass to myself because I don’t ever have to keep pick me dancing anymore. Those goal posts aren’t going to continue to move. I don’t have to feel like I’m never good enough or that I’m always a disappointment.

I’m raising a glass and giving a toast because I’m getting there. I’m getting to a place of acceptance. I’m letting go of my old life. I’m no longer mourning as intensely as I once did. I’m trying to see the positives. Like how I get to regularly see my oldest friends now that I’m no longer living hundreds of miles away. Like how both of my kids will graduate from my alma mater. Like how living with my mom isn’t a death sentence. There is definitely an upside to living with her and having three generations under one roof.

I’m raising a glass because I can finally look back on the many experiences I have had throughout my life and be grateful for them, even if they did end. I loved my life and friends in Olive Branch. I loved my life and friends in Utah. I even enjoyed my life in Michigan and Virginia. But those were just chapters, not the whole story. There will be more chapters. More adventures. Hopefully more friends.

I’m raising a glass to my dogs- Beau, Laila, and Milo. All three of them helped me get through those first few months when I found out my life was tumbling down. They slept with me in that big king size bed, making it seem a little cozier. They were all by side. Many a nights I would fall asleep in the recliner of our sectional with Milo on my lap, Beau right beside me, and Laila on the couch. I didn’t sleep a lot in those first few months- a few hours here, a nap there.

They watched me as I stomped on my cake topper and my wine glasses, as I smashed things to smithereens.They comforted me while I cried and calmed me down when I thought I was losing my mind. My sweet Beau Beau is no longer with us but I’m toasting him anyway.

I’m raising a glass to all my friends who supported me throughout this ordeal. So many people called and texted to check on me. I returned the favor and called and checked on those who were also going through the same hell. I’m forever grateful to those who cared and who to this day continue to check on me. I’m grateful for their anger on my behalf. I’m grateful to them for lifting me up and telling me how wonderful I am and how awful he is. I’m grateful to my favorite backyard neighbor who has faithfully done my taxes every year since I’ve been divorced (or at least trying to get divorced). I’m grateful for the two friends who sent me birthday flowers on my birthday from hell the year after I was forced to leave my house and move back to Indiana. I’m grateful for the friend who sent me a huge wine basket filled with wine and various snacks on my first single Valentine’s Day in 20 years. Those are the people in my tribe. Cheers to you!

I’m raising a glass to this blog as well. I love that I get to tell my story. I have a forum to say whatever I want. I can cut through all the bullshit that accompanies cheating and divorce and reconciliation. I actually have people who read this thing. Hell, this blog is how I met the mobster. Let’s do a double shot for that! Thank you to all of you who are reading.

Finally, I’m raising a glass to myself because I got rid of a lying cheater. I don’t have to wonder anymore if he’s still in contact with her. I don’t have to worry about triggers related to them. I don’t feel bad anymore about our relationship because it’s over. I don’t ever feel like I’m settling anymore. I don’t cry about our relationship. I am never hurt over his treatment of me. I never have to sit there and think, “How can he say he loves me and then turn around and do that?” I never have to feel like I’m wasting my life or wonder if it ever gets better. I’m free. I know it gets better. I know there is more out there. I have it now.

Cheers!

6 thoughts on “A Toast

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