Never Again

I read this somewhere and I wanted to discuss this:

The inability to receive support from others is a trauma response.

Your, “I don’t need anyone, I’ll just do it all myself,” conditioning is a survival tactic. And you needed it to shield your heart from abuse, neglect, betrayal, and disappointment from those who could not or would not be there for you….

…From all the situation when someone told you, “We’re in this together,” or “I got you,” then abandoned you, leaving you to pick up the pieces when shit got real, leaving you to handle your part and their part, too.

From all the lies and all the betrayals.

You learned along the way that you just couldn’t really trust people Or that you could trust people, but only up to a certain point.

Extreme independence is a trust issue.

You learned: if I don’t put myself in a situation where I rely on someone, I won’t have to be disappointed when they don’t show up for me, or when they drop the ball… because they will always drop the ball eventually, right?

Extreme independence is a preemptive strike against heartbreak.

So you don’t trust anyone.

And you don’t trust yourself, either, to choose people.

To trust is to hope, to trust is to be vulnerable.

“Never again,” you vow.

But no matter how you dress it up and display it proudly to make it seem like this level of independence is what you always wanted to be, in truth it’s your wounded, scarred broken heart behind a protective brick wall.

Impenetrable. Nothing gets in. No hurt gets in. But no love gets in either.

Fortresses and armor are for those in battle, or who believe the battle is coming.

It’s a trauma response.

by Jamila White

There was more but this encompasses most of what I wanted to write about.

I read this, and my first thought was, “Wow! This is so profound. So true. You’ve got to open your heart. Learn to trust. Not let the bad experiences shape you.”

And then I thought, “This is nuts. Of course the bad experiences are going to shape you! You should learn from them, not put your head in the sand and pretend that the next time it will all be okay.”

I suppose I should start with this: I don’t think I engage in extreme independence. I also don’t think I deny others the chance to support me.

Am I perfectly fine being on my own? I sure was. I didn’t think I would ever date again and I was pretty okay with that. I didn’t go looking for the mobster. He found me.

With that said I absolutely love having someone like him in my life.

Now, having said that I’m still not ready to throw caution to the wind, move in together, chuck spousal support out the window and cling to the notion that, “This time it will all work out!”

Yeah, last time it damn near killed me. I’m not exaggerating when I say that. I sometimes forget how awful it was because five years have passed and my life isn’t horrible anymore. And you know, you would think that would be a big help.

Hey! You survived it before! You thought you wanted to die and that your life was going to suck forever and ever. But look at you now! It doesn’t suck. If he walked out the door you’d pick yourself up and carry on. You’re in a better position now even because you already have a job! So you wouldn’t be back to square one. You’d be on, like, square two at the very least. Maybe even square three. You couldn’t lose everything all over again because you already lost everything and you never really rebuilt, right? It’s not like you bought a house. You don’t have any furniture. There’s nothing to lose! You’re good!

Ah, Happy-Go-Lucky Sam! I’ve missed you. Unfortunately for her, Baptized Through Fire Sam also shows up. And she’s like, “Are you crazy?”

My answer to that is, “No!”

I’ve thought about this a lot and it comes down to this. Let’s imagine there is a lake I swim in quite often. For years I go to this lake and I jump in and I swim around and have a grand ol’ time. And then one day, I go to the lake and I jump in and I swim around just like I always have. Only this time… an alligator bites my leg off. Now, I don’t know how the alligator got in the lake. It’s not like I live in Florida. Maybe it was a pet and it got too big so someone let it go. Maybe it migrated. I don’t know. I just know it now lives in the lake I used to swim in. And it bit my leg off. I was lucky to survive. It was a miracle. Kinda like me surviving my damn divorce and losing everything. Hmmmm…. Anyway… if someone asked me, “Hey, Sam, why don’t you swim in that lake anymore?” I would have no problem with saying, “Because a damn alligator bit my freaking leg off!” And if they tried to tell me that the chances of the alligator biting my other leg off was slim to none I’d tell them I wasn’t going to take any chances. I know there’s a damn alligator in that lake!

I don’t think anyone would fault me for that.

I think I tend to trust but verify. Trust but not put all my eggs in another person’s basket. Trust but not blindly. Trust but don’t be stupid. Any of those could be my new motto.

The mobster spent a few weeks with the guy who sold him his route. They talked a lot. The guy had 2 children from a previous relationship. He was currently with his girlfriend of 7 years. They had a child together and she really wanted to get married. His father ran routes all over for years until he began the Missions routes, which were basically given to him. Between him and his two sons they owned multiple routes. The guy who is selling the mobster the route makes quite a bit of money between the three or so routes he runs and his investment properties. One day the mobster came home and he was relaying the stories he had heard from him. I don’t remember how it came up but I remember him saying that at one point B was explaining that while his girlfriend worked a full-time job as well “all of this is me”, meaning that while she worked, too, the reason they had the giant house and the waterfall features in their yard and the Tesla and the million other things they had, was because of him.

My first inclination was to think, “Well, that’s not very team-like of him.” But my second reaction, which quickly followed my first, was, “He’s absolutely correct. It is all him.” Or rather, it’s all his.

I’m sure she helps him out logistically. She may even provide insurance for him and his two other children. But the reality is she makes a fraction of what he makes. Her lifestyle is funded by him. If she walked out on him tomorrow his life wouldn’t change. He might have to scramble to find someone to help out with his kids, but he’s not going to be wondering if he can afford the mortgage. He won’t be worried about whether or not he has to take his kids out their school because he might need to move. If he walks out on her? Oh you can bet your ass her life is going to change. She may have a full-time job. She may not be destitute. But she’s not going to be living in a house like she does now. She won’t be driving around in a Tesla. A lot of the things she can afford to do and purchase she wouldn’t be able to afford or purchase if he left.

That is still my mindset. I went through my house and I put price tags on all of my belongings. What I couldn’t sell was left behind. I lost my home. I lost my pool. I lost my brand new furniture. I had to move out of the state and back in with my mom. I live in fucking Indiana once again, for crying out loud. 

I will never financially depend upon another man again. That is still my stance. If I can’t afford it it’s not mine. If I can’t afford it on my own I don’t want it. I see all of these happy people who live these amazing lives and they’re doing it because they’re married. Their husbands fund their lives. It’s the ol’ “teamwork” concept. We’re a team! What’s mine is his and what’s his is mine. We don’t have his money and my money; it’s our money. I sometimes think how nice it would be to be able to do that again. To think that because I have a husband who can buy us a second home on a lake that I somehow have a home on a lake. To think that because my husband can afford a boat that I, too, have a boat. To think that because I’m married to a man who can afford a half a million dollar home that I have a half a million dollar home.

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that that is not true. If my fictitious future husband decides to walk out on me for some gold digging whore then I no longer have a lake house. I no longer have a boat. I no longer have a $500,000 home. And I do realize that I got a very raw deal because Jerry Lee let our house go into foreclosure as opposed to getting up off his ass and getting a new job, hoping to wait me out. But I probably wouldn’t have been able to keep that house anyway. 

The way I look at it is this: As long as I follow my own common sense advice and only live on what I can afford on my own then I don’t have to worry about losing my home and everything in it should the man I’m with suddenly decides he wants to fuck a gold digging whore. If I acknowledge the fact that I only have access to his huge house, or his pool, or his boat or his lake house, because he wants to fuck me then I’m not shocked when I no longer have access to any of that if he dumps me. I don’t have to pack up my house. I don’t have to put stickers on everything. I don’t have to move back in with my mom. Would I be sad? Of course! But I’m not having every single goddamn thing I own taken away from me either. 

It’s kind of like if I had a job where I got free concert tickets as a perk of the job, or they allowed me use of their corporate condo in Hawaii. I would expect to only get to use those perks as long as I worked there. I wouldn’t be thinking, “I have a condo in Hawaii.” No, I’d be thinking, “My company has a condo in Hawaii and I get to use it as a perk of my employment.” If I leave the company I don’t have access to that condo in Hawaii anymore. I no longer get free concert tickets. All of those goodies are contingent upon my employment, just like my access to anything I can’t afford on my own is contingent upon my partner still wanting to be with me.

I think the point of this is to not let your bad experiences rule your life, but it doesn’t mean you don’t implement some safe guards. Instead of declaring, “All men (or women) are bad and I’m not getting involved with anyone ever again!” you examine the red flags you missed and the behavior you tolerated in order to stay in that relationship. It’s not, “I’ll never let down my walls!”, or “I’ll never trust again!”.  It’s being willing to have deal breakers. It’s being willing to say, “This is not acceptable to me,”- and meaning it. It means not overlooking bad behavior and coming up with excuses for it. It’s demanding reciprocity and leaving when you don’t get that instead of continuing to wish upon a star that things were different. You don’t twist yourself into a pretzel trying to get someone else to love you and you’re willing to walk away when you realize this person is never going to be who you need them to be.

I don’t think it’s so much that I’ve built up walls or have trust issues. I think I’ve seen the stark reality of what happens when you go into a relationship thinking you’re a team and that you’ve built this life together, and then one person decides they want out. I can love deeply. I can love fiercely. I can let down my walls and I can trust. But I’m not going to be stupid. I’m not going to put myself in a bad situation like I did the first time around. For me, that means I won’t rely on another man financially ever again. I don’t think that means I have trust issues. I think it means I learned a very valuable lesson. I no longer swim in lakes that are known to have alligators in them.

Child-Free Weddings

You gotta love Google. You click on one article or do one internet search and all of sudden you get tons of similar stories. Currently, I am getting a lot of stories from Reddit’s Am I the Asshole threads. Why these are Newsweek featured stories is beyond me but it is what it is.

Today’s story was about a bride who wanted a child-free wedding. Her sister, who has two children, wanted to know if she was the asshole for not planning on attending. Her reasoning was she had two children; attending the child-free wedding of her sister would entail finding and paying for a babysitter. She also felt that weddings were family events and if her two kids weren’t invited she didn’t care to attend.

Apparently everyone on Reddit ripped her to shreds and believed she was definitely the asshole.

I have to admit I was puzzled at this outrage. She didn’t complain and whine or try to change her sister’s mind. She simply told her she wouldn’t be attending the wedding. “I congratulated her, but I told her as it’s child free and I have two sons, I wouldn’t be able to make it. I would send a gift with our parents though.” When her sister got upset and pointed out that it was unfair that she had attended their cousin’s wedding the author of the post reminded her that the cousin didn’t exclude children from her wedding.

My point of view is it’s your wedding and you can make whatever crazy or not-so-crazy demands you want. If you want no children at your wedding you are within your rights to say, “No children, please.” You are not, however, within your rights to demand that your guests attend your child-free wedding. You do not have the right to demand that your guests all pony up for a babysitter so that they may witness you getting married.

You don’t want kids at your wedding? Then you may need to accept the fact that some people won’t be able to join you. Others will choose not to. And that is perfectly within their rights.

I think I mentioned before that when I got married eons ago we asked that all children under three go to the nursery, which we staffed with a Girl Scout troop and their leader. We had a lot of people coming from out of town and we had a lot of people with small children. In hindsight I probably should have just let them all come and cry it out at the wedding but I didn’t. I did, however, take responsibility for finding someone who could watch the child (or children) for the 30 minutes or so it took for us to get married. They were in the same building as their parents. And after the wedding they were all welcome at the reception. Bring your baby; I don’t care.

Had someone said, “I won’t be attending because I don’t want to leave my child in the church nursery for 30 minutes,” I would have accepted that. I would not have whined and cried and carried on and demanded that they dump off their child and come see me get married.

I’m not against child-free weddings. In fact, I think it’s extremely rude to disregard the host’s wishes when they let you know it is a child-free event. I certainly wouldn’t defend someone who brought their children to a child-free event. 

On the other hand, if you are adamant that your wedding must be child-free you need to be prepared for some people to say, “No, thanks.” And it doesn’t really matter who they are- co-worker, friend, sibling, best friend of 25 years, some other relative. No thanks, is an acceptable response.

I’ve attended child-free weddings before. In fact, both times that I was told children were not welcome I had to travel quite a distance to attend the wedding.

The first wedding was my cousin’s. It was probably a 6 or 7 hour drive. Tammy Faye and Pastor Fake lived only an hour from them so I drove to their house and spent the night, left the kids with them and attended the wedding the next day.

My brother and his wife said, “Fuck the rules!” and brought their kids, but I did respect their wishes regardless of how I had to contort myself to get this done. No kids! And then I drove back to my in-laws that evening, and I’m sure the following day we headed back home. I think Picasso and Rock Star were 4 and 6 at the time, maybe 3 and 5.

The second time I was informed no children were allowed was for my best friend’s wedding in 2012. My kids were 12 and 10 at the time. I lived in Utah. She was in Indiana. I had mentioned bringing Rock Star with me as Jerry Lee wasn’t planning on coming along and that’s when she nonchalantly told me the only kids allowed were the groom’s kids and the immediate family’s children. So I hopped on a plane by myself, left my kids behind with their dad, and attended this wedding. Even if Jerry Lee had been willing to go with me I don’t know how that was supposed to work.

Either we find someone to take the kids for 2 or 3 days and pay hundreds of dollars for the both of us to take a flight from Salt Lake City to Chicago or Indiana for a long weekend, or all four of us fly out here and then I try to figure out who might be able to babysit for me while we’re at this wedding. And if I can’t find anyone then all four of us flew out for nothing.

My mother had been invited so it’s not like I could have asked her. I suppose I could have asked my brother but seriously…. I was not going to pay close to $1000, if not more, for the four of us to fly out for a wedding that only two would be attending. And it’s not like Jerry Lee really wanted to go. So, I went by myself.

And did I mention I was matron of honor at the wedding? It was a little too late to pull out at that point even if I had wanted to.

So I’ve done the whole, “No kids at the wedding” thing. A lot of times it’s a pain in the ass. You’re either shelling out huge amounts of money for someone to watch your kids (not to mention, in my case doing a lot of extra driving) or you get the honor of going to the wedding by yourself while your spouse watches the children for you.

My point is I don’t have a problem with people asking you to leave your children at home. I truly don’t. But I have a huge problem with them asking you to leave your children at home and then throwing a tantrum because you decline the invitation.

I was honestly amazed at the comments some people made. 

“Your children don’t have to go everywhere you do.” No, they don’t. But if someone doesn’t want to go anywhere without them there’s nothing wrong with that. either.

“You’re showing your sister how little you care for her!” Isn’t her sister showing how little she cares for her nephews? In this specific situation it’s not like she can ask her parents to watch them while she attends the wedding. And while I never had a problem with not-a-family-member watching my kids, some people refuse to leave their children with anyone that isn’t family.

“This is why people complain about no one ever asking them to go anywhere.” Yes, because an hour and  a half at a restaurant eating a meal is exactly the same as leaving your husband and children behind to attend a three or four hour event.

“The ‘If my children can’t go, I won’t go,’ attitude rarely works out in the long run. This is how mothers end up losing their identity and being completely lost as their children grow up and become independent.” Again, if she doesn’t want to get a babysitter and would rather not attend events without her kids that is her prerogative. I don’t think she needs to attend child-free weddings in order to keep her identity intact.

“She’s the sister of the bride. She should make more of an effort to go than a regular guest.” If it was important to the bride that her sister attend I think she would be cognizant of the fact that her sister has two children.

“Her children won’t remember one afternoon they were with a babysitter for a few hours, but her sister will ALWAYS remember that she willingly chose not to attend her wedding.” Jesus people! This is a wedding invitation. It’s not a freaking summons. No one is obligated to attend your special day. 

It’s this whole piling on that she should move heaven and earth to attend her sister’s wedding and whatever her sister wants she should rejoice and be willing to do it. No.Questions.Asked. Ever!

“When you love someone, you are willing to do at least the bare minimum to attend their special events. In the case of the OP, that would be asking the children to stay home with their father for a single day.” Really? She’s expected to attend her sister’s wedding without her own husband? 

Obviously I did a lot of shit without Jerry Lee but for someone to actually say that I should leave my kids with my husband and attend a wedding by myself… Wow! I have no words. And yes, I realize her parents will be there as well so it’s not like she won’t know anyone. Nonetheless, I can’t imagine being expected to attend a wedding without my spouse because the bride (my own sister!) doesn’t want my kids around that day.

The poster did say her sister was getting married in the park. No mention of the reception so maybe it would be a short, simple ceremony followed by cake and punch, or a lunch at the park. I might be willing to do that without my partner. But if it’s a full on dinner with dancing event? No, I’m not leaving my spouse at home unless I want to leave my spouse at home. 

“Weddings seem to bring out the absolute worst behavior in people. I could not fathom missing my sister’s wedding even if I hated the dude she was marrying… I’d have had to be on my death bed.”  What bad behavior is she exhibiting? She declined a fucking wedding invitation. She’s allowed to do that. Yes, even when it’s your sibling.

Everyone keeps going on and on about how it’s her sister and it’s her wedding day and she should be there and she should be supportive. No one ever stops and says, “Hey, you know what? Her sister is aware she has nephews. She’s putting her sister in a tough spot.” I mean, you either want the person to attend or not.

When I was getting married I asked my uncle which weekend he had off. He was a pharmacist that worked nights at Walgreens. His schedule was seven days on, seven days off. It was important to me that he be there so I worked around his schedule. I didn’t say, “It’s very important to me that you and your family are able to come to my wedding. Now please take vacation time so that you can attend.”

“…YTA and one of the reasons weddings have become toxic and shitty.” Really? I think the reason weddings have become so toxic and shitty is because there are lot of very entitled people out there getting married. There are lot of people who have never been told, “No!” getting married. There are a lot of people who take the whole, “It’s my day and it’s all about me!” attitude and run with it. It’s not toxic because someone doesn’t attend your wedding.

“This is her sister and the wedding is not a destination wedding. I’d be pissed and hurt if my sister didn’t come to my wedding. No excuse. She has plenty of time to find a sitter.” I think we’ve found the asshole…

And hey, just curious. Let’s say the sister reconsiders. She says, “Sure, Sis, I’ll show up at the park and watch you get married. But because the rest of my entire family is sitting at home I’m leaving after the ceremony.” Is that acceptable, or is she expected to ditch not only her kids, but her husband as well, the entire day?

Something tells me that once sister dearest has children of her own she won’t react well to someone telling her to leave them and her husband behind while she does something for someone else.

In my opinion, that poster was NOT the asshole. The commenters were. Her sister is just a whiny, entitled brat.

My Mom and Her Watch

Two years or so ago I bought myself a Galaxy watch. I needed something that would count steps for me. I was going to go with the simpler Galaxy Fit, I think, that just counted the steps but Target only had the complete watch in stock and I really needed one so I went ahead and bought it.

I hated it! Oh, it had some features that were nice. I liked being able to see texts on my watch. I think I could use my finger to write. And keeping count of my steps was interesting. But overall, I am not a watch wearer. I am especially not a watch wearer when the watch is so damn big and bulky.

My mom wanted to get a FitBit but didn’t want to pay FitBit prices. Anyway, long story short I gave her my watch. And now she’s mad at it.

It keeps telling her to take a walk. She does not like that at all. She said, and I quote, “I don’t need a goddamn watch telling me to get up and take a walk. I’ll take a walk when I feel like it.”

In her defense she does indeed take many walks, especially now that she’s down in Florida where the weather is a bit better than what we’re experiencing up here in northern Indiana.

I talked to her the other day. She told she kept checking my blog to see if I had printed the story about her being mad at her watch. She upped the ante. As she put it: I’m still irritated by it. Who does it think it is? How dare a watch tell me, a human being, what to do?

I don’t think she understands that some people actually pay a lot of money to have their watch tell them what to do.

P.S. On the bright side, Mom, when Rock Star comes down for Spring Break you can get ask her how to make it stop. Apparently you can turn it off.