Those of you who have been reading for a while know that my journey has been filled with a lot of bumps and potholes. It was not easy. My mom has always said he couldn’t have left us in a worse position if he had tried; she absolutely thinks he did it deliberately. He let me install a $57,000 pool in our backyard, using up most of his available stock options. I couldn’t pay the pool off because I needed the money to live on so we never had it closed properly. That in turn meant I had to replace pipes in the spring and we never were able to use the pool again because I couldn’t get it clean from all the leaves and other debris that had fallen into it. He let the house go into foreclosure and of course, we ended up losing the house. After spending months lovingly decorating our new home and filling it with new furniture I had to turn around and sell off as much as I could and leave behind almost everything else because I had no way to pay for storage and didn’t know how long it would remain in storage (going on six years now, btw). He walked out the door without saying a word to his kids. Didn’t bother to tell us he was moving or that he had quit his job and taken another one in a different state. He didn’t pay support at all for 10 months; he paid it sporadically for another 10 months, all while I worked two jobs and was the only parent our kids had anymore. I spent $35k on my divorce and then another $5-$10k getting support modified. He paid what he was supposed to pay for about 6 months and then unilaterally modified child support. Refused to go through legal channels. Refused to pay the legal bills when I tried to. Lost another job. Modified spousal support for almost a year. But you know that old adage: No matter how bad you have it someone always has it worse.
I thought I’d take a minute to say what I was grateful for in terms of my own betrayal story and divorce.
1. I’m thankful I didn’t have young kids when I divorced. I see these stories of parents whose hearts are being ripped out of their chests because their children are off with the other parent, sometimes in a 50/50 custody situation. I got to spend the majority of their years with them, being a very involved stay-at-home mom. I didn’t have to split holidays or summers. I didn’t have to deal with them thinking Harley was awesome. I cannot imagine a bigger shit sandwich than knowing the OW/OM is playing happy family with your young child/ren and they are too young to understand who this person is. As many people have said, “You can take my spouse but keep your fucking whore hands off my kids.”
2. Sort of the same thing but not completely I am infinitely grateful that neither Rock Star nor Picasso has any kind of a relationship with Harley. I’m sure to many people that’s an awful thing to admit because we’re supposed to “think of the children” and “love our children more than we hate the other parent.” I know it would probably be better for both of my kids if their dad gave a damn and was a part of their life. But he doesn’t and he’s not and that’s not something I’m responsible for so I’ll take my wins when I can. I’m sure it’s horrible when you’ve been cheated on and you know your cheating spouse and the AP are playing happy family with your baby. I’m sure it’s horrible to have to listen to your young child talk about how much fun this new person is, or how nice they are. But it’s also horrible, I’m sure, having to share older children. I’ve heard many stories of the morally challenged new partner showing up at the kid’s games, recitals, assemblies, graduations, birthdays. I hear about kids that choose to live with the cheating parent or the older child is receiving expensive gifts from the side piece. There are weddings and the births of grandchildren, not to mention birthday parties for those future grandchildren. Having to share those milestones with someone who played a part in blowing up your life would be difficult. I keep trying to steel myself for the day that either one of my kids decides that putting up with Harley is worth it in order to have a relationship with their dad. It’s not what they want right now, but they are still young and there are still years left. For right now though I’m glad I don’t have to slap on a fake smile or remember to use, “Cool. Bummer. Wow,” as my only responses when they’re telling me about their adventures with the two of them.
3. I didn’t have to worry about 50/50 custody. Jerry Lee had already moved by the time our divorce trial rolled around. He moved out six months after his affair was discovered. I feel for those who have to miss out on so much of their children’s lives because of the actions of an unfaithful spouse. I have had every holiday, every birthday, every major event because he walked away. Thankfully they were both old enough to have a say in where they wanted to live even if Jerry Lee had not moved (not that Jerry Lee fought for them). And because of their age and the fact that Jerry Lee moved hundreds of miles away from them they were able to have visitation at their discretion, instead of being ordered by a court.
4. In a similar vein I never had to worry about him trying to alienate my kids against me. God, that has to be the worst betrayal of all. This person cheats on you, leaves you, leaves you destitute and then turns around and turns your kids against you. I cannot even begin to imagine.
5. I don’t have to co-parent. I’m a big fan of parallel parenting anyway, but there are so many people out there who have to try to co-parent with the ex. The horror stories I hear make me so grateful I don’t have to deal with Jerry Lee. He is not a part of the equation at all. I’m sure having full legal custody also helped with that but I didn’t have to consult with him on anything. Kids needed therapy? I got them therapy. Kids wanted to participate in a sport? I signed them up. I didn’t have to ask his permission. I didn’t ask for his help. I took care of it.
6. He didn’t fight me moving. He didn’t have a leg to stand on but I’m still thankful I didn’t have to go through that. I see stories all the time about people moving for their spouse who then cheats on them and now they’re stuck in this place where they have no support.
7. I did not have to deal with him having another child with Harley. I think an affair baby would be the worst but even knowing that my kids had another sibling that I knew nothing about is something I wouldn’t like. I would have loved to have had more children but alas I did not get my wish. Had he gone on to have more children with her I would have been pissed, even though it was completely out of my control.
8. I have always said I saw the writing on the wall. I knew that there would be no reconciliation even if I had been willing. Nonetheless I put on my big girl panties, called the lawyers, made the appointments, and got myself armed with information. I didn’t let on until I was ready to file. And once he knew I knew I gray rocked the shit out of him. It would probably be more accurate to say I went no contact- even while living with him. I’m thankful I didn’t chase after him. I’m thankful I didn’t beg and plead. I gray rocked his ass and pretended he didn’t exist.
9. I had a soft space to land. I absolutely realize there are people out going through the same thing who have no one to rely on. I was fortunate that my mom was willing to take us all in. She was also an incredible help when I was working two jobs and could barely keep my eyes open when I was home. I have a friend who was living in a garage and was damn grateful to be doing that because of the antics her ex pulled. I hear horrible stories all the time, reading Chump Lady and the Chump Nation FB page. People out there wondering how they’re going to support their kids when they haven’t worked in years. People who have no one who can help them out- emotionally or financially. People who have lost their parents and all their family. Even worse are those whose families side with the ex.
10. I will always be infinitely grateful to The Saint for telling me about what was going on. Because of him and his willingness to speak up I didn’t sink every last dollar we had into paying our final bill for the pool. Instead I was able to follow my attorney’s advice and hang onto that money. I cannot even begin to imagine what would have happened to me and my kids if I didn’t have that money to put into my account. It would have been bad. Really bad.
11. I’m grateful I don’t have to worry about running into them. I had to live with him for six months after knowing what a shithead he was, but then he up and moved and I’ve only seen him twice since then- once in court and once at Rock Star’s graduation. Oops- three times because I saw him right before Rock Star’s graduation as well when I gave him his ticket to her graduation. We are hundreds of miles apart. I know the mobster had to deal with his wife bringing her AP to the kids’ games and then again to T’s graduation party. So many people ask for advice on how to handle it when the inevitable happens and they run into them. Some people have even had the ex and the AP move in next to them. Not me. I don’t think I’ll ever see him again.
12. I have never had to deal with her writing to me, trying to explain things to me or tell me how I should behave. There’s a lot of this going on over on the FB page. Usually the OW feels the need to intervene and give “advice” to the person she helped try to destroy. Things like, “Move on and stop being so bitter,” or “You need to be more grown up and put your kids first,” or, “You need to encourage your kids to have a relationship with their cheating dad and shame on you for being the reason they don’t.” Real classy things. I think we can all agree that if we felt we needed advice the last person we’d ask for that advice would be some home wrecking whore. And yet, they freely give it. Then again freely giving it up to anyone is kinda what they’re known for. Thankfully, Harley has stayed way, way over in her lane. Ironically, despite being married to her cousin for twenty years I never met her. I’ve never laid eyes on her. Might be able to pick her out of a line up (she does have an impressive list of mug shots from which to choose). Then again, I might not be able to. I’ve seen pictures but I’ve never seen her. With the way things are going I probably never will. Hooray!
13. He’s had his moments but for the most part Jerry Lee leaves me alone. He’s not texting me vicious messages or calling me or emailing me and harassing me. Like I said, he’s had his moments- his hissy fit when being called out way back in the day, the stamps on the envelopes, the text message to the mobster, his shitty messages and obscene emojis in his Venmo transfers, hacking my Facebook page… He hasn’t been an angel but I haven’t heard a peep out of him in probably over two years. Now that he has a suspended jail sentence hanging over his head it’s amazing how compliant he is.
14. I was awarded spousal support. That is HUGE. So many states don’t offer it. Period. Others only offer it for a very short amount of time. It’s scary to think so many women are at the mercy of their husbands. If he decides to leave her and take up with someone else after she’s spent fifteen, twenty-five, thirty years supporting his career and putting her own needs aside to focus on him, she’s just out on her own. Oh well. Looks like you live in poverty from now on. I may have had to fight him on it. I may have never known when I was going to get it until just recently, but I got spousal support. It was enough that I could do things for my kids, buy groceries, pay the utilities, go out to eat, and have some semblance of the life I had before. Way too many women don’t get that at all.
15. I didn’t really lose any friends. Being married to someone anti-social has its perks, I suppose. I’m sure there were people at his place of employment who liked him, both in Utah and Virginia. I socialized with those people in Utah. Most of the people I don’t talk to anymore just because we weren’t all that close and we moved 2000 miles away. I was friends with the wife of the new production manager at his old plant. We still text or send a FB message every once in a while. We’re FB friends. We live over a thousand miles apart but I have an open invitation to get together whenever I come back to Utah. I never really socialized with those in Virginia so no loss at all. We didn’t have any couple friends. He never wanted to socialize so I did all of my socializing by myself. I didn’t hate Blockhead while we were married but I didn’t feel exceptionally close to him either. I guess I always felt kind of like he didn’t care for me so when we got divorced the fact that he wasn’t on “my side” wasn’t a big shock. Or a big loss. I had already distanced myself from most of his family by the time D-Day #2 came along so no loss there either.
16. I didn’t have to get rid of my pets. We did re-home our cats but we hadn’t had them very long either. It would have been nice had he told me he was having an affair and planning on leaving because then we never would have taken them in but let’s be realistic. Our cats were all re-homed and my three dogs were able to come with me. I’m down to two now. My sweet Beau died a few years ago. My luscious Laila Lou is almost fourteen. For a Boxer that is ancient. Far beyond their normal life span. She just had her check up and they were amazed at her good health. Little Milo Tim is almost 8. They will be with me until the day they die. Again, I hear the sad stories of people who were forced to relinquish their pets. I can’t imagine.
17. I won in court. Another huge thing in my favor and another thing to be grateful for. It could have gone badly for me. There were many times I worried about what might happen if the judge decided I didn’t deserve spousal support, or the amount was set at some very low amount. Winning in court, even if it didn’t guarantee him paying what he was supposed to, was a huge thing for me.
18. I’m thankful I had the means to keep fighting in court. And that goes back to my mom in part. I was able to pay the first two retainers (to two different lawyers) but the third retainer I had to borrow from my mom. At that time all of my savings was gone. I’m not sure I had a job yet and if I did it would have been my part-time job at Target. Hardly enough to pay a retainer. I did get lucky and had the funds to pay the retainer for the expert witness and I was billed as I went after the trial, but not everyone is so “lucky”. It also helped that I wasn’t paying legal fees on top of a mortgage and everything else.
There you have it. If I took another three months to write this post I could probably come up with some more things to be thankful for, but I’m not going to do that.
I guess it boils down to this: I’ve got my kids- full-time. I don’t have to see him or deal with him. She stays out of my way. Twenty years of marriage and it’s like it never happened. He’s just someone that I used to know. I don’t have to deal with him playing games in regards to the kids. And with a suspended jail sentence hanging over his head he pays what he’s ordered to pay me. Life is good and I’m thankful.