Death and Taxes

I finally did it. I broke down and did my taxes last night. I’ve been in a bad mood ever since. Like, “What am I doing with my life?” bad mood. So really we’re not going to talk so much about death; we will mostly focus on taxes and why they’re so stupid and I hate them.

Last year, or rather 2018, I “earned” approximately $25,000 more than I did this year. I put earned in quotation marks because more than half of my income came from spousal support. Jerry Lee paid in full each month and in addition to that he paid a hefty amount in back support from 2017. Yet somehow I got a small refund of approximately $600 back last year and this year I owe the federal government. It’s not a lot- $280, maybe? But still! How do I count $25,000 less in income and owe them money?

More importantly my actual earned income went up slightly (very slightly- less than $2000) while my non-taxed income went down significantly. I note that only because it means I was paying the same as or more in payroll taxes as I did last year, while receiving a lot less non-taxed income.

I don’t get the child tax credit for my son anymore because he turned 17 last year but that’s only $2500. Hmmm…. $2500 less in deductions/credits versus $25,000 less in income? I would think I should still be ahead.

I did withdraw $3800 from my IRA so that brings the difference in income down to around $20,000. I did, however, pay taxes on that money. I did not receive the full $3800. My finance guy withdrew the $3800 so I could get the money I needed and the rest went to pay the taxes. I did have to pay an additional $380 penalty but again… versus $20,000 in lost income?

I suppose the good news is that I only owe the state a little over $800 this year as opposed to the $2200 I had to pay last year.

I try to be thankful. I try to be rational. I see TurboTax do that initial refund. Every year after I put in my information from my W-2 they tell me it’s going to be my biggest year ever. Every year that tax refund shows up as over $6000. Then I put my alimony in and it drops like a rock. Apparently even more so this year than last year when he paid me $25,000 less.

I’ve been trying to tell myself that even if I’m not one of those single moms out there getting a hefty tax refund like everyone seems to think we get I should be thankful I get spousal support. A lot of people don’t. I tell myself that if I do a comparison analysis I’m still coming out ahead. I can take the $6400 or $6700 tax refund once a year and stretch it, or I can take a monthly payment which will surpass that amount in a matter of months, and put some aside for taxes. What’s $1000 in exchange for what I’m getting each month?

Then I look into the future. A future where I’m only claiming single because both of my kids are no longer dependents. And I panic. If I’m paying this much in taxes already when I still have two dependents how much am I going to have to come up with when it’s just me? I’m envisioning having to pay $5,000-$6,000 to the federal government. God only knows how much I’ll have to pay the state! At that point it becomes almost ridiculous to even receive spousal support. I’ll be paying 30-40% of it back to the damn government.

It’s so frustrating. Back when I was married and we were living on six figures we got a tax refund every year. He upped the exemptions because he was tired of getting a $5000 refund each year; he didn’t want to give the government a free loan. We still got around $1500 back. Now I live on a fraction of that and I PAY every year. I may not always pay the federal government but I definitely pay the state.

Realistically I know that he paid a shit ton of taxes. His bonus check was taxed at 39%. That was a huge part of it. He paid enough into Medicare, I believe it was, that he got a mini “raise” mid-year because they didn’t take any more out.

It all makes me hate him even more. He couldn’t have pulled this shit when the kids were younger. Oh no! Had to wait until they were 15 and 13 to pull this crap. That way when I finally had to start filing taxes on my own I could have an adventure every year! It’s never the same thing twice. One year I get both kids as a tax credit. The next year I only get one. Then I get none!

The first year I had no job until October 31st but everyone had their hand out, wanting to get paid on the massive $23,000 I received in spousal support the first 5 months of the year. I went through that and every penny I had in savings trying to stay afloat after he lost his job and declined to send any money to help support his kids for the next ten months.

The second year I finally had a full time job AND a part time job through August, but he wasn’t paying regular support. And then he paid a large amount of back support.

The third year he paid support regularly and again paid back support, while the fourth year he shorted me almost $11,000. Years three and four I only had the one full time job.

Next year my son graduates. He has no plans to go on to college so I’m expecting he’ll get a full time job and probably want to start claiming himself. A year after that my daughter will graduate from college. I’ll be filing single and getting fucked every year when it comes to taxes. Hooray!

It enrages me, too, because not only did he wait until my life was practically over to pull this shit but also he gets a nice big tax refund every year because he gets to deduct all of that spousal support. So while he and Harley bring home over $200,000 a year at this point they get a substantial refund every year. Meanwhile, little ol’ me, with my huge $60,000, will be paying as much as they’re receiving. What utter bullshit.

For the first time in my life I’m actually saving money. My mother would be so proud. I have frequently said I know what to do with money; I just don’t do it. As I’ve said before I am currently saving all of the child support I receive so that when he stops paying it next June I’m not suddenly floundering, trying to figure out how to live on $900 less per month. When I began I wasn’t saving the full child support amount because he wasn’t paying full spousal support. I saved enough that I was still only using my salary plus the full amount of spousal support. Honestly, I was feeling pretty good about that. He’s been paying full spousal support for a couple of months so I’ve been able to save even more.

Today as I was driving to work I decided I needed to open yet another account to set aside money for taxes. If I have to pay the kind of money I think I’m going to have to pay I may as well start setting aside even more money and not allowing myself to think that I can use all of the spousal support. I mean, I don’t let myself get down to a few pennies in my checking account. Hell, it’s been a while since I’ve even been down to a few hundred dollars; I like to keep a cushion. But nonetheless, instead of thinking, “Okay, I’ve got this much left over!” I’m trying to think, “i’ve got to put this aside and this aside and this.” Because let’s face it, once child support ends the biggest part of my savings is going to evaporate. I’m already going to have to put a big chunk (well, 20% or so) of spousal support aside for taxes. I probably should also set aside some more for car repairs, Christmas gifts, vacations, etc.

See? I’m not just whining. I’m being proactive. I think my next proactive step is going to be looking for another job. I can’t keep doing this. I need a job where I make more than I receive in spousal support. That’s the only way I’m going to keep my tax bill down. I’m already paying as much in taxes as I can. I take zero exemptions and it’s still not enough.

Furthermore, I found out the other day that my company has put a freeze on raises. My boss was planning on making me a higher grade in May, which is Friday. At this point it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. I don’t know how long this raise freeze will last. I do know our profits are down by about 25% and if this shelter in place crap keeps going on much longer I’m sure we’ll suffer even bigger losses and once we’re finally all allowed to come out they still won’t allow raises because they didn’t make as much money as they wanted.

My co-worker who was also supposed to get this raise told me she had heard the raise is rather substantial, but I’m not going to wait another year for it, especially if that means I won’t be made a Rep II until my next review. I’ll end up getting that as my raise instead of getting a raise and then getting a promotion. No thank you. If I can find something that will pay me what I would be making with the raise I’ll leave in a heartbeat. I’m tired of not making enough money to support myself and my kids. I’ve got a goddamn college education, which my company constantly pushes. They are always urging people to go back to school and they even offer tuition reimbursement if it’s for a degree you could use working for them. I have a work history including the years before I made the mistake of staying at home. And I’m a fucking fantastic worker. I deserve to make enough to live on.

End of rant.

5 Miles

I am exhausted, folks. I was planning on doing 4.5 miles on Saturday and then a shorter 30 minute run on Sunday.

I woke up Saturday morning to rain. Now, I probably could have gone out later on in between showers, but I wasn’t feeling it and I really wanted to go to a park a couple of miles from my home. It has a running trail that runs along the river.

I prefer running outdoors over running inside. I think I can go so far as to say I hate running inside. I’m sure I’ll have to do it again once the weather gets cold. I’m not much for running in sub zero temperatures. Or even when it’s in the 20s or 30s.

I like to mix things up, too. I was getting a little tired of the same route, even if I do shake it up a little each time.

Anyway, I ended up resting for 2 days because the run on Saturday did not happen.

Today I got the bright idea to take Picasso with me, and then my mom wanted to join in as well. I really was going to just walk but once my mom came along I figured she and Picasso could walk together while I ran.

I did, in fact, walk with them for a good 10 minutes or so. Picasso was being extra chatty. I’m now planning on taking him fishing and tent camping soon. Or, I’ll find someone. I don’t fish so I don’t think I would be much help there. I will come along for the camping, although it would be so much easier if he wanted a cabin.

Eventually, after roping myself into fishing and tent camping at some point in the near future, I took off running.

When I started I thought about only going 3 miles again but I talked myself out of that. “Self, you’ve already ran two shorter runs last week. You’ve gotta get back to the longer runs or you’re never going to want to do them again.” I agreed with myself.

At some point, around the 3rd miles I think, I got the bright idea to push myself and go the extra half mile and just make it a solid 5 mile run today.

I don’t know what the hell I was thinking but I did it. Five glorious miles were ran today along the river. I even managed to play Pokemon while I did it. I know it messes with my time; however, I managed to do a raid, take over some gyms, hatched eggs, and placed Pokemon in gyms that were already blue. Plus, I caught a lot of Pokemon and spun a lot of stops. All while running. More importantly, according to Pokemon Go I managed to walk over 50 km this week so I should be seeing some big rewards tomorrow morning.

Total time out on the trail today was 1 hour, 11 minutes, 37 seconds so I don’t think I lost a lot of time by playing Pokemon Go while I ran. Or as I like to call it- multitasking.

In other good news I am wearing a pair of jeans I bought in November or December of 2017. I can even pull them down without unbuttoning them.

Here’s hoping I have another good weigh in on Friday.

MOPS Apple French Toast

Have you ever heard the expression, “That’s so good it makes me want to slap my mama!”? Usually I hear it down south. I don’t know why you’d want to slap your mama because your food tastes good but that’s what they say. This French toast recipe, though, is “slap your mama” good. It’s yet another recipe I found through MOPS. It’s a great one for lazy weekend mornings and would be perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas morning. Or a special quarantine breakfast for you homebodies. I hope you enjoy it as much as I used to. I always paired it with sausage links but you could with patties or bacon. You could even serve ham if you want. Enjoy!

Apple French Toast

Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

2 T light corn syrup

3 large tart apples, peeled and sliced

1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk (or you can use 3 eggs)

1 cup milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Day old French bread, cut 3/4 thick

Cinnamon

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, cook brown sugar, butter and syrup until thick, about 5 minutes.
  2. Pour into an ungreased 9×13 pan and arrange apples on top.
  3. In a bowl, beat eggs, milk, and vanilla. Dip bread slices in egg mixture for 30 seconds each side.
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon over top.
  5. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  6. Remove from refrigerator for 30 minutes and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

I Did Not Eat a Cheeseburger

I know you are all waiting with bated breath. Did Sam eat the cheeseburger? Did she drown her frustrations in red meat and carbohydrates?

As you can tell from the title (I really need to work on burying the lead!) I did not eat a cheeseburger. I had a half a cup of cottage cheese and a hard boiled egg, plus a triple chocolate Atkins bar.

I weighed in this morning to find out I had lost 2.8 pounds! AND, even better I finally reached my first really big goal! Plus, I reached the 2nd milestone in the weight loss challenge.

I’ve been feeling good pretty much all day. I told the mobster at lunch I wasn’t going to take this victory away from myself. It would be so easy to tell myself, “You still have so far to go,” but I’m pushing those thoughts away today. I had a major milestone I wanted to reach and I did it. I don’t care if that milestone doesn’t mean I’m wearing a size 2 pair of jeans. I’ll be honest with you. Even at my thinnest I didn’t wear a size 2. I’m not size 2 material. I’ve got hips, I’ve got boobs, and as my great grandmother would say, “Ooh, you’re solid!”

I’m finally fitting into jeans that were getting too tight on me. I haven’t worked up the courage to try on the ones I bought at the end of 2017, many of which were a tad too tight anyway. I bought them thinking I would lose 5-10 pounds.

The most recent work clothes I bought when I finally accepted the fact that all of my others were too small for me are now loose on me. Again, haven’t worked up the courage to try on the newer stuff I bought a year or so ago, and definitely haven’t tried on any of the original work clothes. Hopefully by this fall I’ll be wearing them once again.

Tomorrow I run. I’ve been really tired on these shorter 3 mile runs. Maybe it’s because I know I’m only running 3 miles. I’m hoping to make tomorrow a longer run (4.5 miles) and I’m considering doing a short 30 minutes on Sunday.

The cheeseburger is going to have to wait.

I’m Probably Going To Eat a Cheeseburger Tomorrow

Guess who took back the top spot on the weight loss leaderboard? Yep, this girl. So why am I going to probably eat a cheeseburger tomorrow?

I don’t weigh myself every day. I’ve heard it’s not a good idea because your weight can fluctuate so much depending upon what you’ve eaten and how much water you’re retaining. So, I don’t do it every day but I do check in occasionally during the week because I don’t want to get to the end of the week and think, “I’ve been so good! I bet I’ve lost another 4-5 pounds. Or at least 3,” and then get on the scale and see I haven’t even lost 2 pounds.

As of this morning I was down one full pound since my last weigh in. One pound. That is unacceptable. I’m eating low carb. I’m running 4.5 miles three times a week. I’m denying myself delicious treats. I went back and checked and even though I’m allowing myself 30 net carbs a day the last time I was even close to consuming that many was the 9th of April. The rest of the time I’ve been below 20! I’m eating things like a half a cup of cottage cheese and a hard boiled egg, or two pieces of deli meat and 2 pieces of string cheese for lunch. If I’m really lucky I take along some sugar free Jell-O. Today I was really really lucky and took the rest of the London broil we had the night before.

My mom asked me last Sunday if I wanted to get take out from one of our favorite Chinese restaurants. Do I want to? Oh hell yes! I’ll take some shrimp lo mein and the beef and mushrooms and maybe some shrimp fried rice and shrimp toast. I’m sensing a shrimp theme…

Instead I looked at the menu and anything that sounded good was out for me. Everything was in a brown sauce and I couldn’t verify the carb count so I passed.

I’d love to have some chips and salsa. Love it!

We have a cafe across the street from the bank. I go there occasionally to get a regular cup of coffee. Normally I would have their kafe wein, which is a mixture of their coffee and their hot chocolate. Their hot chocolate, by the way, tastes like a melted candy bar. It’s actually too sweet for me but I love the mix! In addition to the decadent hot chocolate they have many different candies, and the most delicious looking muffins in the case up by the register.

I have been sticking to this like a champ. I even write myself little notes of encouragement to keep my spirits up.

I was so upset when I weighed myself on Wednesday and discovered I had only lost a half a pound. I didn’t want to run. I did it anyway. I shortened it though. I ran 3 miles/40 minutes. And I ran another 3 miles/40 minutes tonight.

Honestly I’ve wondered if combining long runs and low carb is a good thing. I thought I would try mixing it up a little bit and maybe do more shorter runs instead of focusing solely on longer runs.

I’m also wondering if maybe I’m not eating enough, which is pretty funny because I’m the queen of being a bitch when I’m hungry. I honestly am not hungry that often and when I am hungry I eat. I’ve discovered some really delicious Atkins bars. They’re expensive but I don’t rely on them all the time so it works. I also have a stash of almonds at work. I dutifully count out my 24 and by the time I’ve eaten the 24th one my hunger is gone.

This morning when I weighed in I had lost one full pound. Who knows what the scale will say tomorrow? I can tell you this, though. If it turns out I’ve only lost one pound after denying myself all week and running 15 miles so far since Saturday I’m going to order myself a goddamn cheeseburger from a local restaurant downtown! I’ll take fries with that, too!

I figure I’m a winner either way. I either lose 2-3 pounds and hopefully finally hit my first major goal, or I get to eat a cheeseburger. I’m good with either one at this point.

Quarantine Craziness, Part 3

Normally I would have a knee jerk reaction to this and say, “This whole idea of being civil and doing things that are way out of my comfort zone ‘for the kids’ is bullshit! It would never work. Some people you cannot do this with!” But, I mulled this over with a clearer head. I slapped down that knee jerk response and pondered the idea for a moment. Write this down, folks; it might be the only time you ever hear me ask this. What if I’m wrong?  What if a cordial, friendly relationship with Jerry Lee is possible?

Maybe my approach has been all wrong and if only I were a little nicer to him we could have conversations about our kids, he’d be up here visiting, he would be generous with his time and money. His kids would never want for anything. Maybe, when he came up, all four of us could go and do something together! Go out to dinner, catch a movie, go bowling.

<<You now see Sam over in the corner laughing hysterically.>> Oh my God, that was a good one!

That. Will. Never. Happen. Do you know why?

Well yes! Because you’re a mean bitch who won’t give him a chance!

No! I mean, I am a mean bitch who won’t give him a second chance but that’s not the reason why.

It will never happen because he is a toxic person who must always play the victim. He tells bald face lies and believes them. He honestly thinks I have done him wrong.

You cannot have a conversation with him where you are not fawning over him. You must avoid any criticism whatsoever because he takes that as a full blown attack. He is the smartest man in the world and he knows everything so please don’t even try to tell him what you think should happen because you are wrong and he is doing everything perfectly.

Every time I attempt to engage with him I go out of my way to be as non-confrontational as possible. Granted, it’s almost always about money so he’s not happy to hear from me. Doesn’t matter how I phrase it. He’s snide, dismissive, arrogant, and condescending.

You’ll get your “well deserved funds” in plenty of time.

Greedy much?

Since you like to keep a close eye on MY money I thought you might like to know your lawyer has given me permission to access MY money.

Don’t sweat it. You’ll get your money.

Thanks for the condolences by the way.

You need to read the court order. It says no separate orders for child support. Therefore, $XXX for two children, $XXX/2 for one child.

Again I will point out that I did not harass him, stalk him, scream at him, attempt to kill him, throw his shit away or on the lawn for all to see. I did not go to his workplace and embarrass him by leaving all his crap in the parking lot in front of his car with a big sign that said, “I moved my wife and kids 2000 miles across the country so I could have an affair with my cousin.” I even let that motherfucker move back into our home after he accused me of stealing every dime he made. Yet when I said, “Hey, you’re living here. You need to come up with half of the money for the household bills,” his response was, “I don’t have it.” His attitude was, “I’ve got $750 I’m willing to put towards the $5000 it takes to run this household each month. Take it or leave it.” That was the thanks I got for letting him move back in. But to hear him tell it he paid all the bills and in turn was terribly mistreated by us.

All those months I sat by quietly, pinching pennies and denying my kids, while he and Harley blew through over thirty thousand dollars? Didn’t result in one positive thing. In fact, it ultimately cost me thousands of dollars. He never had to pay that back as a cash payment; instead he rolled it all up into the 401k.

This is a man who has consistently lied about me and things that I have done. How can you have any kind of a relationship with a liar? I’ve tried before and it’s impossible. You are always on guard because you never know when they’re telling you the truth and when they’re making shit up.

He has called me a disgusting whore and a cunt. My friends don’t describe me like that. And quite honestly, he has no reason to. I didn’t cheat on him. I was faithful to him for twenty years.

He treats me with utter contempt. I do not deserve to be told anything. He enjoys blindsiding me, I think.

He moved out of our family home and out of the fucking commonwealth without saying a word to any of us! He didn’t even take all of his clothes. I finally realized about six, seven days later that he probably wasn’t coming back. Of course, I was the one that got to break it to our kids. Little did I know that he hadn’t just moved out of the house. Oh no! He’d  resigned from his job of fifteen years and moved 6 or 7 hours away to a completely different state. I was left to figure that one out on my own as well, which I did when I realized the direct deposit from his company hadn’t gone into my account as scheduled.

He lost his job, sent me a two line text, and I never heard another word from him. It was seven months later before I found out he hadn’t been locked up in a psych ward again; he’d checked himself into the VA hospital for drinking- for three days. I was told nothing. Never once did he check up on his kids. Never once did he send a dime to help out with them. Instead he drained a $10,000 401k and spend it all on himself, the whore, and her kids- all while claiming to be completely dependent upon his “fiancee”.

Then again in March of 2019 I find out, only after asking him if he has a plan to catch up on spousal support since he only sent half of it in February, that he’s “lost” his job. Not another word from him. Not even when he conveniently got himself another job. Or when he moved yet again to yet another state. I mean really, what business is it of mine whether or not he has a job?

For four months he played me, acting like he was sending what he could when the reality was he had a job. If I had to bet I would be betting that this new job paid even more than the old job, and yet he was sending me less money.

And now once again he has up and moved without saying a single word. I’m sure there has been yet another raise but it was only once he realized I was taking his ass back to court that he finally started paying what he owed in spousal support.

I know that without court intervention he will never pay me the original court fees he owes me. I know that without court intervention he will never pay the spousal support arrears. He figures it’s all my loss unless I force his hand.

He hacked my Facebook. He contacted the mobster insinuating that there were naked pictures of me all over the Internet. When he first began sending me my support checks he would stamp the envelopes with the Grinch, a robber, or an adulterer. He sends obscene emojis and snide messages almost every time he Venmos me the money he owes me.

Child Support (Original Amount Pending Revisionist History). Your attorney has not given me the new $$$ required to keep you and the Potato Chip Squire living comfortably and able to meet up. When that amount is determined… then the amount will change.

What’s it for? That doesn’t even deserve an answer. Everyone knows why this money is changing hands. Because the party of the 1st part needs to supplement the inability of the party of the 2nd part to live on her own merits.

Alimony bitches

Alimony- grateful or otherwise

Because sometimes the pay cycles are off and you happen to be 6 days off on paying. Grow up.

He threatened his sister and one of his friends from high school, simply for supporting me (which he found out when he hacked my Facebook).

Sweet baby Jesus! Who wants to hang around someone like this? Why would I want to spend Christmas morning with this?

It never gets better. You might think it will but it doesn’t. You might think treating him with respect and kindness will work, but it doesn’t. I reached out to him for Rock Star’s graduation. I will admit I fully expected him to tell me to fuck off or that he didn’t need my help or to admonish me that he didn’t need me to micromanage his relationship with his daughter. So I was rather surprised when he texted back and was cordial, grateful even that I was offering him a ticket. You might have thought a corner was turned but you’d be wrong. He barely acknowledged me when I handed him the ticket and he promptly cut his daughter off, prorating child support right down to the minute she graduated.

I’ve heard people say that having a cordial relationship with an ex sometimes mean you do things even when that person hasn’t behaved their best. Quite honestly I think that’s crazy. At some point you need to stop beating your head against a brick wall.

I love my children. I’m not willing to unnecessarily degrade myself for them. I’m not willing to put myself in emotional distress for them just because. I’m not going to help them deny reality and play happy family with their father and perhaps their father’s mistress.       

In my case I suppose it’s a moot point because he never sees his kids so they can’t tell me they really wish we would be civil towards one another and act like one big happy family.

But if he did? I’d be telling them to suck it up. There’s nothing to work with. I don’t believe in modeling being a doormat for your kids. I’m not going to bend over backwards and turn the other cheek constantly while he spits in my face. Divorce ends families. As much as people try to peddle the bullshit of, “We’re still family; it’s just in a different form!” it’s not true. You are no longer family. That is a consequence of fucking around on your spouse and ending up divorced.

I’m sure there are people out there who divorce for reasons other than infidelity, addiction,  and abuse. If they can work things out to the point no one knows they’re divorced, good for them. If they want to invite their exes over for graduation and goodbye parties, be my guest. If they want to spend every holiday together, go out to dinner, have sleepovers, go on vacation together, etc. have a ball. But for the love of God please stop telling people who don’t do this, who CAN’T do this, that being friendly and doing everything together is the only way to do things. In my situation it will never be possible.

Let me be clear. I can be civil. I won’t be coming at him or Harley with knives or anything. More than likely I would be ignoring them but if I couldn’t avoid it I can be civil. We will never be friendly though. He’s done way too much and he’s demonstrated his lack of respect for me at every turn. I’m not friends with people like that.

Quarantine Craziness, Part 2

I realize Chump Lady has a niche audience. She’s amassed an incredible following and it can be very easy to dismiss them as a bunch of rabid, group thinking know it alls who only preach divorce, distance, and disdain. However, what most of them (us) have in common is that we’ve already been through this and it didn’t end well.

When the people tell newbies who are trying to figure out whether they should leave or try to work things through, they’re telling them to get out because they’ve already tried the reconciliation thing. There are very few people on that site who kicked the cheater out immediately after finding out about the infidelity. Almost all of them are repeat chumps. They tell the newbies to get out because they’ve been there. They’ve forgiven the cheater who wasn’t sorry. They’ve forgiven the cheater who lied and made promises, only to find out they took it further underground. They’ve endured the repeat D-Days, some of them coming 2… 7… 10… 20 years later. They can tell the newbies their stories of all the humiliating things they did while doing the so-called “pick me dance”. So many who say, “I can’t believe how I gave and gave and gave, how I made my needs smaller and smaller, for a person who didn’t care.”

The people that seem to find her are the ones who forgave their cheater, who thought they had the exception, only to find out the cheater was only buying time to set them up. Drained college funds. Drained retirement funds. Switched jobs to decrease their income. Used them until the money dried up and then moved on to greener pastures. The people who are screaming, “Don’t trust him/her!” are the ones who will never be able to afford to retire because they trusted a cheater.

When they urge the newbies to protect themselves- to get a post-nuptial if they’re going to stay, to do a credit check, to verify accounts- it’s because they learned through financial devastation about the need to do those things. When they say don’t quit your job, don’t move across the country, don’t take on their debts, don’t declare bankruptcy with them, don’t give them second and third and fourth chances, don’t take pity on them it’s because they’ve done those things and they have lived to regret it.

When they tell the newbies to maintain no contact or gray rock it’s because they’ve already learned the hard way. They came to realize the first step is creating space between you and the cheater; it’s difficult to fall for their bullshit when they’re not around. They’ve learned that contacting the employers, the in-laws, the affair partner’s family, generally doesn’t pay off. They’ve learned that any kind of interaction gives the cheater kibbles and maintains their centrality. They know that phoning or texting or emailing angry or maudlin outbursts is not going to benefit you; if anything, it’s going to make you feel worse. They know that begging your ex to take an interest in their children or to do as they promised does nothing except infuriate you because it sure as hell doesn’t change the cheater’s behavior. They realize that trying to figure out why the cheater did something is pointless. They know that arguing with them or trying to reason with them is a waste of time. They know this because they’ve lived it. It’s not because they’re angry, bitter people who want everyone around them to be just as miserable. They’re trying to save people some grief and misery.

Imagine this. I have an office building that overlooks an isolated sandy beach. The sand is white and pristine. The waters are a deep blue. It’s very inviting. As I stand there, looking outside my window, I see someone venture onto the beach. I see that person wade into the water. That person is swimming happily, minding his or her own business. Suddenly, from out of nowhere a shark attacks the person, throws him up in the air, and then gobbles him down in one bite. Naturally, I would be horrified. I call the police. They investigate. No body, no crime. They don’t see the shark. No signs are posted. I’m just a crazy woman.

A few days later I see another person venture onto the beach. Again, the person goes into the water, is having a great time and then BAM! Shark attack. Person devoured.

It happens again and again.

I start posting banners outside my office window, “Don’t go into the water! Shark!” People continue to dismiss me and they continue to get eaten.

Finally, I go down to the beach myself. When someone dares to dip their toes in the sand and head towards the water I implore them not to get in the water. “There’s a shark in there. It’s killed dozens of people in the last month. DO NOT GO IN! You are going to die!”

Am I telling that person not to go in the water because I’m a heartless monster who wants to prevent people from enjoying a refreshing swim? Am I trying to deny them their bliss? Am I angry or jealous that they don’t have to be stuck in an office all day and can take time off to swim?  NO! I know there’s a fucking shark in the water and this person is going to be chum. I’m trying to prevent a death, not stop them from having fun.

That’s how I view the fans of Chump Lady. They’ve seen the shark. They know the danger.

I think also that what some people don’t get is that for many of her followers the concept of a tidy, mutual conscious uncoupling has not been possible. It’s not because we are bitter bunnies who refuse to seek “a future relationship where we can both be happy for each other and our children and show them happiness and being whole are vital to a person’s future.” It’s because the people we are divorcing suck!

As one person put it: He tried to kill me so that’s going to be a hard no on any interaction.

I have a friend who had a police officer pull her aside and tell her, quite bluntly that her address was flagged as a frequent domestic violence call and when it came up they treated it as a potentially fatal call. They even told her, “One day we’re going to get that call and when we show up we’re going to find he’s killed you or one your girls.”

This man attempted to strangle one of his daughters. He’s a violent alcoholic who indulged in a three year long affair. She does not need to share birthday dinners with him. She does not need to model gracefully moving on or civility towards him. She needs to get the fuck away and stay the fuck away. Period. And she has.

The mobster has dealt with his STBX telling people that he was controlling, he made her dress a certain way, and that he was physically and emotionally abusive towards her and towards their kids. Why would he want to maintain a friendship with someone like that? Why would he want to share holidays or care one little bit about how she’s doing?

In my own situation I can still clearly remember Jerry Lee coming downstairs after I had given him a bill for the monthly living expenses. After telling me he couldn’t pay his half (yeah, when you blow over four grand on an engagement ring for your whore cousin it can be difficult to pay your share of the household bills) he told me he could give me $750, take it or leave it. Then he so graciously let me know that this could all still be civil.

The jackass was living in the family home. He cut me off financially and gave me only what his lawyer had told him he would have to pay. I got less than 50% of his paycheck and I was responsible for 100% of the bills. We had a $2100 monthly mortgage, utilities that ran around $400-$500 per month, and multiple credit cards. Plus, a pool loan. The money he was told he would end up paying me didn’t always fully cover the household bills. Meanwhile, he had approximately $5000 a month to blow on Harley and her kids. He didn’t give a fuck if his own kids went without.

I never yelled at him. I never dumped his shit on the front lawn. I never showed up at his place of employment, screaming and outing him as the lying cheater he was. I didn’t harass him or her. As far as I’m concerned I was the perfect STBX. I took care of the bills and the kids. Never bothered him. Never made life miserable for him. He, on the other hand, used our house as an extended stay hotel while he left every weekend to go fuck his cousin and played the sad sausage to everyone who would listen.

How much more civil could I have been?

We’ve seen this rouse time and time again; that’s why we don’t buy it. It’s why we urge others who are new to this to step away and refuse to engage. We’ve experienced giving them an inch and them taking a mile. We’ve experienced reaching out and doing something kind or thoughtful and having it thrown back into our faces. Apparently, some people love that shit! Abuse me some more! I want to show people what a great person I am!

For others it’s simply recognizing that this person is toxic and you need to get away. There’s nothing to work with. Nothing you say is going to make a difference. Nothing you do is going to make a difference.

I think for most people it’s very difficult to go against our basic instincts. We have been conditioned to give chance after chance. We want to try, try, and try again. We feel it’s our duty to exhaust every potential solution. What if I don’t forgive my cheater and this time, the ninth time, is the time it finally stops and we end up happily married for the rest of our lives? If they’ve already cheated nine times I’m pretty sure your chances of discovering it a tenth time are pretty high, but so many are determined to give one more chance. Chances one through eight notwithstanding. I also think it’s very scary to realize you don’t control anything. You can forgive until your brain malfunctions, until your heart stops beating, until your eyes glaze over, but it doesn’t mean a thing in a lot of cases.

Yet, it’s still pushed. You’re doing your kids a disservice if you aren’t friendly towards one another. Your children will be scarred for life if you aren’t sitting together at their concerts or school plays or football games. We took smiling divorce selfies at the courthouse because even though we’re divorced we are still family and that will never, ever change- even when one or both of us gets remarried, even if one or both of us goes on to have more children, even if one of us moves away with the new, improved family. No one can even tell we’re divorced because we do everything together- parent teacher conferences, volunteering, extracurricular activities; we’re the envy of everyone! I let my ex live with me on the weekends for the sake of my children and I accompany them on all of their outings like we’re still one big happy family even though he has a mistress and a love child six hours away in the town he moved to away from his original children. Only bitter exes who can’t get over the divorce refuse to host joint birthday parties, vacation together, go out to dinner together, and spend the holidays together as one big happy family. I’m sorry you’re not demonstrating to your children how to gracefully move on and let someone go; they’re probably going to be in dysfunctional relationships and will never forgive you. My children admire me because they can see all the sacrifices I have made for them, and how I will always put their comfort and needs ahead of my own, even if that means every time my ex asks me for something I jump up immediately and make sure it’s done. No matter how humiliating, painful, or debilitating the request may be I will always do it and I will never think about my own physical or emotional well-being. Because I’m a good parent. Unlike you, you bitter bunny who can’t move on.

To be continued…

Quarantine Craziness!

If any of you read Chump Lady then you probably saw Thursday’s post about Bruce Willis self-quarantining with his ex wife, Demi Moore, and their three adult children. If you’re familiar with Chump Lady then you can probably guess her reaction. She thought it was crazy and stupid.

I, personally, don’t care whether they’re all stuck together or not. Bruce and Demi have always had a crazy type of post-divorce relationship. They’ve always made a show of being a united front for their three girls, at least publicly. Hell, maybe privately too; I don’t know them so I can’t say with certainty. They were the supposed goal of post divorce relationships, even when she got together with the much younger Ashton Kutcher. It was all one big happy family with the girls calling Ashton “MOD”, or, my other dad. I did feel a bit vindicated when it was revealed after Demi and Ashton broke up that Bruce had always thought the guy was a jerk. I also feel fairly confident that “their other dad” doesn’t have much of a relationship with “his” daughters now that he has remarried and has two children of his own.

Tracy did bring up one valid point though, which I hadn’t really thought about. Bruce is remarried and has two young daughters with the current Mrs. Willis. Why is he not with them?

I don’t really care. Honestly. What I did find interesting in all the comments was someone who decided to chime in with the news that she had left Chump Nation because it felt like a cult. Despite being cheated on she and her cheater remain friendly and she felt like Chump Lady didn’t approve. She went on to say that Chump Lady wants everyone to hate their ex and basically shames those who don’t. Another commenter chimed in with, “Exes CAN be caring friends. It DOES happen.” And then went on to imply that Chump Lady wants everyone to be pissed off at their ex.

Um… no she doesn’t. She’s pretty clear on this. Does she want you to get angry and use your anger to propel you through the hard parts of this shit show? Absolutely! Does she want you to stay there and wallow in your misery and the unfairness of it all? Not at all. Her standard go to advice is that the pain is finite. It hurts like a sonofabitch but it will end. On some random Tuesday. Her goal for her readers? To reach Meh, that glorious state where you don’t care what your fuckwit is doing or who they’re doing it with. You’re not angry. You’re not vengeful. You are way too busy living your new amazing life.

I can believe she doesn’t see the point in remaining friends with your ex. Then again, her first ex, the father of her child, is a hoarder with mental issues who sued her pro se for custody continuously despite rarely seeing his own child and being financially negligent; and her second ex was a serial cheating sociopath. Not a lot to work with.

She’s also not a big fan of the whole “conscious uncoupling”. I’m right there with her. If infidelity wasn’t a part of your divorce I can see perhaps remaining friendly. Otherwise, my question has always been: Why would I want friends like these?

She firmly believes you don’t have a lot to work with when your spouse cheats. She doesn’t think most of them are genuinely remorseful; they just don’t like consequences so they’ll say or do whatever is needed to prevent said consequences. And she has said many times that cheating is not about the marriage rather it’s about entitlement and shitty character.

I understand she’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I’ll even let you in on a little secret: I don’t agree with everything she says. The Bruce and Demi self-quarantine? I don’t care. And despite her insistence that they’re probably having sex and the new wife should file for divorce, I don’t think that’s true. Her views on emotional affairs? Don’t necessarily agree, although she has changed her stance over the years. This idea that a 50 or 60 year old has just as much of a chance to find love again as a 20 or 30 year old? Nope. Don’t agree. I also don’t think she necessarily gives credence to all the different variables people have in their lives. It sometimes feels like it’s a one size fits all approach. I tend to think that obstacles facing a 60 year old whose marriage has disintegrated after 35 years are probably different from the 30 year old who is divorcing after five years. I tend to think that the woman who has been a stay at home mom for 15 years is going to find it financially more difficult than the woman who is the main breadwinner in her family. Despite my minor disagreements I’m not offended by her or her message. I take what I can use and I leave the rest. Her tag line is very clear: Leave a cheater, gain a life.

Apparently though there are some people out there that are very, very offended by the fact that Chump Lady exists. They’re offended by the fact that she preaches leaving instead of reconciliation. They’re offended that she doesn’t encourage friendship and “cooperation”, but rather gray rock and no contact. They’re offended at the thought of no longer untangling the skein, or giving up their spot on the marriage police. They also seem to be offended by the fact she believes instead of investing in a relationship with a person who has lied to you, cheated on you, and stabbed you in the back you should invest in yourself.

My first thought on the commenter who was complaining Chump Lady wants everyone to hate their ex and all of those who are offended by the fact that she doesn’t believe in reconciliation is, “Who the fuck cares?” Seriously! There are 11,569,214 websites out there devoted to reconciling with your lying cheater, aka your wayward spouse. There are almost as many blogs written by betrayed spouses who are reconciling after infidelity. Chump Lady is ONE website that doesn’t preach reconciling at all costs. Actually, if you read her you know she doesn’t preach reconciling at any cost. But it’s one website! One website out of millions. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find blogs written by divorced women? Most of the blogs I have found are written by women (almost overwhelmingly women) that are reconciling. Most websites are geared towards reconciliation. It’s a foregone conclusion that you want to save your marriage.

As for being friends with your ex? That is the message we are bombarded with every. single. day! Friendly exes are held up as the golden standard. Look, they vacation together! They spend holidays together! I believe in putting my children’s needs ahead of my own; that’s why I threw the OW a baby shower. We’re besties now- because it’s best for the children. I live with my ex on the weekends- for the children.

We get literally one website that tells us it’s okay to not be buddy buddy with someone who has abused you. One website that tells us it’s okay if we don’t want to double date with the ex and the replacement, or host parties together, or vacation together. We get one website that tells us it’s okay not to engage, to not waste our breath. One website out of 11,569,214 that tells us it’s not us, it’s them. That we don’t control them and there wasn’t anything we did or didn’t do to make them cheat on us. And even there you find people who want to talk about forgiveness and thinking of the children. Like those of us who aren’t willing to have our ex and the OW over for dinner must not love our children. Like those of us who would rather crawl through raw sewage than sit with our ex and the affair partner never think of our children or refuse to put their needs ahead of our own.

There’s a woman who is hosting dinner for her husband (not divorced yet) and his pregnant girlfriend/mistress because custody orders are still in place and if she does dinners with them then Daddy Dearest won’t push the issue and insist they transfer the child between homes during this pandemic. Many people have responded with, “No. Not gonna happen.” She continues to insist she is putting her child’s needs ahead of her own and doing what it takes to help her child be comfortable. Then along comes someone who tells her what a wonderful thing she’s doing, how it’s so great that she can put her child ahead of her own ego and anger.

There it is again. That assumption that people can’t let go, that they’re mired down by their anger. If only you would forgive everything would be wonderful. Adult children of divorced parents NEVER complain about their parents being civil to one another. They are only grateful Mommy and Daddy could put aside whatever petty issues they may have had which led to this divorce so that everyone could go to Benihana’s after the school play or they could have both of their parents there on Christmas morning.

Ah yes, the kids are rubbing the sleep out of their eyes as they roll out of bed in their matching pajamas. They run down the stairs to the sight of their giant Christmas tree decorated to the nines and full of blinking lights. Presents overflowing. There’s Mommy in her sweats and t-shirt. She’s been up all night getting things ready for the big reveal and has been busy making breakfast for everyone. And then there’s Daddy and his whore, both dressed in their Christmas finest, with her practically sitting on his lap, her hand firmly holding onto his as if to claim him. Mommy is dutifully serving Daddy and the whore that helped demolish her family like the good subservient loser that she is. They all laugh and coo over the kids as they open their gifts, patting themselves on the back because they’re so evolved and love their children so much more than those bitter exes that spend the holidays in separate homes. Then Daddy and the replacement say it’s time for them to go. Maybe they take the kids with them for more festivities. Maybe they head home to their own quiet, clean house to spend the rest of the day in bed, fucking like rabbits before going out for Chinese food and going to the movies. Meanwhile, Mom is left to clean up the kitchen and the mess of wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows and assemble the toys or find batteries. Wow- sounds like an amazing holiday.

The sad part is that this is the narrative preached by so many. This is the only way to teach civility, letting go, moving on, exhibiting grace. It’s also the only way you can demonstrate that your children’s well being is the most important thing.

You know what? I AM a child of divorce. I never once wanted those things. I never expected my parents to act as a unit now that they were divorced. I don’t know who all these kids are that think even though Mommy and Daddy are divorced they’re still going to do everything together. My dad cheated on my mom. For years my mother could not stand him… or her. I still remember after Rock Star’s fourth or fifth birthday party when everyone had gone home my mom telling me she had been talking to my dad and she had to find something else to do because she was having a good time talking to him and it almost made her forget how much she couldn’t stand him. They separated when I was in fourth grade. I had my first child at 31. This was twenty plus years later.

I’m not damaged by the fact that we didn’t spend holidays together or that my parents weren’t super chummy. It was just the way it was. My mother was civil when she had to be. She preferred to not be around him. He and the OW turned wife were invited to her home for my graduation party. I think that was probably the first time they were in the same space for a prolonged period of time. I’m not sure they said a single word to one another at my wedding. You know what? I didn’t even notice. It did not affect me or my big day. They were able to be in the same space when we started having kids and the kids had birthday parties. Again, she was civil when she had to be. She was not friendly. She kept people around her and kept busy when they were there in the same space. I’ve never had a problem with that. I’ve never thought less of her. I’ve never wondered, “Gee, why didn’t my parents take us on a family vacation after they got divorced?”

I have always believed you do not cease to be a person with feelings and emotions once you have children. Yet, so often what we’re told is good parents eat shit sandwiches. Good parents let people walk all over them for the sake of their children. You don’t get to feel hurt. You don’t get to feel angry. You don’t get to draw boundaries. You’re a parent. Whatever your kid wants you should give them. Don’t worry about the psychological toll it may take on you.

I say, “Balderdash!” I much prefer Chump Lady’s message. Let us have our ONE damn site out of millions. If we’re all wrong who the fuck cares? It’s not like there aren’t millions upon millions of websites and blogs that are going to push reconciliation and friendliness between exes.

To be continued…

4.5

That’s how far I’m running now. 4.5 miles. Last time I discussed this I was running a full hour. Surprisingly my time has not changed much. It took me an hour and 5 minutes the first time I did it, an hour and 3 minutes the next time, and today it took an hour and 1 minute.

Today was my first day strapping on my Hoka One One brand running shoes. The mobster swears by them. I’ve been making due with my Skechers and Filas up until today. I did cut about a minute and a half off of my time so maybe they’re working.

I think I’m going to stay at this 4.5 mile mark for a while. I am seriously dying after about 50 minutes. Today as I ran the last half mile I was saying out loud, “OMG! I think I’m going to die!” Thankfully no one was outside. That would have been embarrassing. 45-50 minutes is probably my sweet spot. I feel like I can run that amount of time fairly effortlessly. I suppose it’s good that I’m challenging myself. Push just a little further. But I’m pushed about as far as I can go right now. I’m sticking with 4.5 miles for a little while longer and then maybe in another week or so I’ll add on a half mile.

Honestly though? I don’t want to spend hours 3 days a week running. By the time I warm up, run an hour, and then walk back home I can easily be out for 90 minutes. On top of a full workday? Does not leave a lot of time.

Thankfully I do feel like I’m recovering more quickly after these runs. Right after running I would be so exhausted; I could barely climb the stairs. Once I sat down I was down for the count and found it difficult to move. I used to feel it the next day; I was so sore and stiff. Today I was climbing stairs pretty easily and I’ve had plenty of energy. We’ll see what tomorrow brings and if I’m stiff as a board after a good night’s sleep.

I dropped to second place at work on the Weight Loss challenge last week. I’m still in the top three though, and the top three “losers” split half the pot so I’m fine with being #3. I prefer #1, of course. I keep hoping the others will lose their drive and I’ll emerge victoriously.

Normally results are posted Friday afternoon; unfortunately that wasn’t done this past week so I have no idea what the results are. I’ll probably find out on Monday whether or not I’ve reclaimed my #1 spot or if I’m still in the top 3.

I do know that I have lost approximately 23 pounds since I stepped on the mobster’s scales back in February. I wasn’t doing anything back then; since I began the weight loss challenge it’s more like 22 pounds.

I’m still finding food to be an issue. This was so much easier when I was staying at home and could eat when I wanted and what I wanted. I’m sticking with it so that’s good, but I’m finding it a pain in the ass.

We got Chili’s to go tonight and my mom got the chips and salsa. Oh my God! I love their chips and salsa. I could make a meal out of their chips and salsa. Alas, I cannot have chips and salsa.

Oh, I know; I know. I’m supposed to phrase it as, “I don’t eat chips and salsa.” That’s supposed to be empowering. It’s not that I can’t eat it; I choose not to. Which is a bunch of bullshit because if I could eat it and still lose weight I would!

Anyway, I did not indulge. I stayed away from them although I did give them several longing glances before she took them downstairs out of my sight. Instead I made do with my side salad that somehow had 6 grams of carbohydrates even without the damn croutons and the shrimp fajitas, minus the tortillas and with way too many peppers and onions. Now I’m sitting here full but not fully satisfied either.

Here’s my other dilemma, and it’s probably the biggest one. Rationally, I know I did not put on the weight overnight, and therefore I will not take it off overnight. Rationally, I know I am doing an incredible job. Seriously, I see everyone posting memes reminding each other to try on your jeans every now and then to make sure they still fit after weeks of lounging around inside the house and wearing pajamas all day; I’m wearing a pair of jeans today that were too tight a few months ago. My fat pants are almost too big for me and the other two pair of pants I broke down and bought are both loose on me. Rationally, I know you have to start somewhere and you keep building on that success (or loss, as it may be in this case). No matter how much you want to lose you have to start with that first pound. I get all of that.

Yet, right after I’m done patting myself on the back for continuing to lose and celebrating 23 freaking pounds gone, I’m sighing heavily and telling myself, “I don’t know why you’re so happy; you’re still fat.”

I still have a double chin. I still can’t wear cute, form fitting clothes. I’m still not going to be dressing up in lingerie any time soon. I’m pretty sure I still can’t wear my original work clothes. I’m still not down to the weight I was when I was on the divorce diet. I still haven’t achieved my first big goal. And I still weigh more than the mobster.

Don’t worry. I keep going and I do applaud my efforts. Most of the time I try to ignore that critical voice. As I said above I do know that you’ve got to take it one step at a time. I can’t lose 50 pounds without first losing 10, and then 20. I’ve broken it down into little pieces. I mark my achievements at each level. I have lots of little goals along the way.

The mobster keeps asking me what my ultimate goal is and I’m still not sure. Right now I think it’s somewhere between 130 and 140 pounds. Some days though I think to myself, “That’s not enough! You’re not even 5’4. You should be down around 120 pounds.” Then I think, “Are you fucking crazy? I haven’t been 120 pounds since college! Maybe since high school. You’re insane!” Other days I think, “150 sounds good. I could be good with that.” Really, I’m just winging it. I may get to 150 pounds and think, “Wow- you’re still a fat ass. You need to lose another 20 or 30 pounds.” Then again, I may get to 150 pounds and say, “Yep, this is as good as it’s gonna get.” Or, I could get to 150, 160 and decide I’m not going to lose anymore; I’ll just maintain for a little while. After a month or so I’ll take it up again and attempt to lose the last however many pounds.

Right now I’m trying to focus on the positives. I’m running 4.5 freaking miles! I can run an entire hour without stopping. It’s not taking me as long to recover. I’ve lost 23 pounds. I can wear jeans I haven’t been able to wear in a while. My fat pants are almost too big. I’m doing this.

P.S. I call one pair of my new pants my fat pants because of this. When I could no longer comfortably wear my old work clothes I went out and bought 3 new pairs of pants. With the brand I normally buy I can wear a size smaller than what I normally take but with the weight gain I was wearing the size I normally take! I found 2 pairs of pants that were that size. I wanted a third pair but the only other ones they had were the next size up. Those are my fat pants. At one point, my fat pants were tight! Now, there are times I have to keep pulling them up because they’re falling off of me.