For My Daughter… & My Son

Have you heard Kane Brown’s newest single? It’s called, “For My Daughter” and it’s his  promise to his daughter to be the dad he never had.

I’m not going to lie. I teared up a little bit listening to it. It tugs at the heartstrings. I hope he lives up to all of his promises. That little girl will be incredibly lucky.

I did like how he acknowledges that they say the past is supposed to shape you, but then goes on to say, “Well, I guess that’s up to me.” Far too often what we get are excuses instead of explanations. His father left him. He survived an abusive stepfather. He could easily shrug his shoulders and say, “What do you expect from me? I don’t know any different.” Instead, he tells his daughter, “I learned what not to do. I grew up without a dad. I’m gonna be the best one I can be.”

You know, when my daughter was born I remember Jerry Lee crying, his voice full of wonder as he said to me, “We have a daughter.” My friend reminded me of the story of all of us going out to dinner and him remaining focused on Rock Star the entire night. Apparently I said something to the effect of, “If nothing else I know he will always be a great dad to our children.” I honestly thought I had picked someone who would never abandon his children. Someone who wanted to give his own kids what his own father never gave him. Someone who wanted to coach Little League and teach them how to hit a baseball. Someone who would be there to cheer them on in whatever they chose to do. Someone who would want to spend time with them and create family memories. I thought he loved them.

Since I made such a colossal mistake in choosing a father for my children I’ve taken to re-writing the lyrics a bit. To both my daughter and my son:

They say dads are supposed to shape you, in a way I guess yours did.

You know what not to do if you ever have a kid

They say history repeats itself

Well, I guess that’s up to you

Yeah I’m sorry ’bout your dad

but I’m gonna be the best mom I can be.

That’s how I sing it now. Chin up, chitlins. You both know what not to do- from cheating on your partner to abandoning your kid. You can let this change you for the worse or you can tell him to suck it and be the best damn people you can be. Don’t let him win. It sucks to be abandoned and discarded by your dad, but your mama loves you. I’m going to do my best to make his absence go unnoticed. I’m going to love you both so hard you’ll hardly miss him. I’m going to do my best to make up for his failings.

Things I’m Thankful For- Milo

It’s November so you know what that means? Time for everyone to take to Facebook and list what they’re grateful for each day. I’m not going to name 30 different things I’m grateful for but I will write about a few of them.

I have two dogs. I used to have three but my sweet Beau Beau died. I have two now because around seven years ago my good friend’s then husband got two dogs on a whim. She wanted to give up one of them and Rock Star wanted it. I thought I was being sneaky and I told her to ask her dad. If he agreed we could take the dog. I think you can see where this story is going…

He did indeed agree to take the dog but they decided to keep her. Rock Star was so disappointed. She was looking forward to a little furry baby, as our others were Boxers. Then the female got pregnant. We ended up taking the only male in the litter.

He was a character even then. He would whine incessantly even as a tiny puppy, until my friend’s daughter would hold him and rock him to sleep. My friend would tell me he had such a big personality. I guess that’s one way to put it.

We named him Milo. I introduced him to the world as Milo Bear because he looked like a little teddy bear.

 

One day Picasso was introducing the dogs to a friend. He began with, “This is Beau Regard.” His name was indeed Beauregard; we called him Beau for short. Picasso apparently thought Regard was his middle name.

He went on, “This is Laila Renee.” Rock Star always called her Laila Bridgert, which I don’t understand. Jerry Lee always referred to her as Laila Renee. She’s now called Laila Lou and if I’m being very fancy she’s Luscious Laila Lou.

Finally he got to our little Milo. “And this is Milo Tim.”

Jerry Lee and I looked at each other as if to say, WTF? We had never called him Milo Tim. And yet somehow, the name stuck. When he’s being bad, which is pretty often, you can hear even my mom yelling, “Milo Tim!” Even the mobster got into it when we came for a visit.

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He goes by many names: Milo, Milo Tim, Milo Phyllo Dough, Buggy, Bugs, Polar Bear, Prancer, Mi Mi, My Mi, My Mi Mi, just plain ol’ Mi, Midy Idy Oh, Mr. Mi, or the more formal Mr. Milo. When he’s being real bad it’s Shithead, but with the French pronunciation- Sha-theed.

He’s my little buddy. When I was working at Target he would get up with me every day. It didn’t matter if it was 3:30 in the morning, or the even earlier times of 1:30 or 2:30. He would follow me downstairs each morning despite the obscene time while the other dogs slept, and then he would lay on my feet, keeping them toasty warm while I got ready for work. I have fond memories of brushing my teeth and washing my face all while he slept on my feet.

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Every day when I arrive home from work I see his little head popping up in the window, looking out to see for himself that I’m home. My mom tells me I’m not allowed to sit in the driveway once I’m home because they all go crazy with anticipation.

And he’s jealous. If the other dogs greet me on the stairs when I come home he wants to make sure he’s the first one to be petted. He’ll go so far as to grab my hand with his mouth if I’m petting one of the others.

One night I was helping my mom’s dog into bed and apparently Baylor couldn’t find a comfortable spot to settle in, as he started to whine. I patted the space beside me and coached him to come on over. Milo was having none of that! If someone was going to sleep beside me it was going to be him. He quickly settled into the space right beside me and poor Baylor was left to find a place at the foot of the bed (which wasn’t really a hardship; that’s where he usually sleeps).

He’s the one that will follow me wherever I go throughout the house. I’ve seen that dog jump up onto the bed while I’m doing something in the bedroom and jump down and follow me into the bathroom- which is right across the hallway. It’s probably less than 6 feet between the bed and the entrance to the bathroom. But he jumps down each and every time. And when I go back into the bedroom he jumps right back up on that bed.

We did an experiment one day. He was sitting on the bed watching me. I took a step back. Maintained eye contact. He continued looking at me. I took another step back. And another. At one point I even leaned my head forward so he could still see me. I wasn’t even out of his line of sight but he decided I was too far away so he jumped down off the bed and ran over to me.

He loves to snuggle up on the couch or the chair with me. He usually just presses his body up against my leg if I’m on the couch, or settles in beside me if I’m sitting in the chair. If I’m sitting at the table then chances are he’s right under my feet. Never far from me.

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Oh, he’s a little shit. He gets into the trash and climbs on tables. He’s even figured out how to use the step stool in order to get up onto the counters. He’ll lick the dishes in the dishwasher and even stand on the damn dishwasher door when it’s open. He whines to go out and then refuses to move from the deck. If you dare sit back down he’ll scratch at the door until you let him in. And he whines until he gets his way which is something he was taught way back when he was a tiny puppy. Whining works!

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Yet every day after work I see his head in the window, so glad to see me. Every day he cuddles up beside me while I watch TV. Every time I walk in the house he jumps up on me, so excited to see me finally. And every night he curls up beside me and we go to sleep.

I couldn’t ask for a better buddy. I’m so very grateful for him.

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To Hell and Back

The mobster and I have a whole playlist of “our songs”. This song by Maren Morris made the list recently.

So much of what she sings on this song fits us perfectly.

You didn’t save me. You didn’t think I needed saving.

You didn’t change me. You didn’t think I needed changing.

He’s never treated me like I was broken or less than. When I wondered, “Why would you want someone like me?” his response would be, “Why wouldn’t I? You’re amazing.”

“But I’m poor. I work two jobs just to make ends meet. I live with my mom. I’m going on year two of a horrible divorce from a horrible person. I don’t have a bedroom to call my own. I’m fat, no longer some slinky, sexy little size 6 and I have two teenage kids- hardly the kind of attributes that make you highly desirable.”

He didn’t care. He saw all my flaws and thought they were pretty awesome. He didn’t think they were flaws. He didn’t think I needed saving. He’s always believed I was capable of great things. There were so many things I did in my old life that I never received credit for and he would tell me how amazing I was for doing what I did. He’s always propped me up and told me how great I am.

He didn’t try to change me either. He didn’t try to fix everything. He didn’t give me a list of things I could do to improve myself. He doesn’t go over all of my faults and I never feel like I’m a constant disappointment to him.

Instead, we are two people who both suffered through pretty miserable marriages for years. We weren’t appreciated. We weren’t valued. We sloughed along and did our best, despite the little encouragement we received from our spouses. We found each other. We appreciate each other and lift the other up. Our wings are frayed and what’s left of our halos are black but lucky for us our kind of heaven has been to hell and back.

Hot Wings Buffalo Dip

I’m not normally a fan of hot and spicy but I love me some buffalo wings! This is the perfect dip. It combines the ranch, the spicy hot sauce and the chicken all together in a delicious, gooey dip.

Hot Wings Buffalo Dip

Ingredients:

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese at room temperature

8 oz. bottle Ranch dressing

12 oz. hot wing sauce

3 cups grilled chicken, cubed (I use the bagged chicken that is already cooked- 2 bags)

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1. Combine cream cheese, Ranch dressing, and hot wing sauce. Mix well.
  2. Add chicken and Cheddar cheese. Pour into a greased baking dish.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
  4. Serve warm with tortilla chips and celery.

You can also make it in a crockpot. Cook on low for 2-4 hours. I usually bake it and then transfer to a crockpot to keep it warm.

Does Intent Matter?

I’ve seen some people say their partner’s intent behind cheating on them does not matter one bit. As one person put it (and I’ll paraphrase): It doesn’t matter if you shoot me on purpose or if you shoot me accidentally; the end result is still that I’ve been shot.

Others seem to go with the idea that as long as their spouse didn’t intend to hurt them with their actions that somehow makes it better.

Aside from the fact that I have a hard time believing anyone thinks they can cheat on, betray, and lie to another person and it’s NOT going to hurt them, I have to wonder if the intent really matters.

If, when your spouse gets stressed, he drinks a bottle of Jack, gets stupid drunk, and knocks you around, do you excuse the behavior because he was stressed?

What if, when your spouse feels down, she goes out and runs up thousands of dollars on your joint credit cards? Or, maybe, when they’re overwhelmed with work they tend to make cruel jokes at your expense. Maybe, when hard things come up in life, like problems with health, children, or parents, their first reaction is to escape and leave you handling everything. Or to drink, or fuck others, or do drugs, or hit you, or mistreat you in other ways.

Look, your partner/spouse can pick a million different ways to cope with stress/anxiety/depression, etc. Instead of asking, “Did they mean to hurt me with that kind of behavior?” perhaps we should be asking, “Am I prepared to deal with that for the rest of my life?” Because as I said above I have a real hard time believing anyone is so stupid as to believe that they are not hurting the person they claim to love when they fuck around on them. And there will always be stressors. Rarely does life move along smoothy with no bumps. Are you willing to live with the way they cope with whatever for the rest of your life?

Radical Acceptance- One More Try

I admit I began feeling a little mopey while writing about this so-called radical acceptance earlier. I’ve thought about it some more and I’m going to give it another try.

I still think radical acceptance is about finally acknowledging and accepting that the life you once had is no longer. It’s a completely different looking life that you are leading. You lean into it instead of fighting against it with everything you’ve got.

It’s easy to feel sorry for myself. My God, I’m 50 years old and I am living with my mother. I don’t have a bedroom of my own. I own almost nothing anymore. My standard of living has decreased by probably 75%. But you know what? Everyone has a sob story. I’m not the only person who has lost everything thanks to a divorce. So what to do now?

Years ago Janis Joplin sang, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” In many ways losing everything has freed me. You learn very quickly what’s important and what’s not when you’re forced to leave almost everything behind. The good news is I don’t have anything left to lose. I’m not chained to the bullshit. I can speak my mind. If they want to fire me at my job who cares? I can replace that job easily. At about $30,000/year it’s not like it’s the job of a lifetime. I will never be thinking, “Oh my goodness! I’ll never find anything this good again!” 

I can lament all that was lost or I can celebrate the freedom to recreate my life. For the first time in a very long time I get to be in charge of my life. I don’t have to move because someone else got a job. If I want to move to New Orleans I can find a job and move there. If I want to stay here for the rest of my life I can. If I want to go back to school to get my Masters I don’t have anyone discouraging me from doing so. All these decisions are mine to make now. No one else.

I’m not sure that’s what Janis had in mind when she sang that but that’s how I choose to look at it. This is my life and I’ll live it the way I want to.

I can focus on everything that was lost- my home, my pool, my furniture. Pretty much everything I’ve ever owned. I can dwell on how I moved back to my home town, in with my mother, completely defeated. Or, I can celebrate how I survived that hell. I didn’t just survive it. I rocked it. I got shit done.

I was 46 years old when I realized my life as I knew it was going to radically change. I had been a stay at home mom for 15 years at that point. I knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. I knew I would end up on aid and that we would pretty much be living in poverty. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: If it weren’t for my mom, my kids and I would have been out on the streets, or living in our car or in subsidized housing somewhere.

Even knowing how badly life was going to suck I continued to put one foot in front of the other. I continued to do the things that needed to be done. I interviewed lawyers and filed for divorce. I fired my first lawyer and hired my second lawyer. I continued to take care of my kids.

Later, after moving back to Indiana, I continued to do what needed to be done. I got my kids enrolled in a new school system. I applied for Medicaid and free lunches and textbooks for my kids. I took a seasonal job at Target, unloading trucks and stocking shelves that had me getting up anywhere from 1:30 to 3:30 in the morning. And then I took another seasonal job at Kohl’s where I worked from noon until 6 or 8 pm. That’s right. I worked two jobs while he worked none. Do you know why? Because it needed to be done. I had two choices. I could cry and bitch about it, or I could do something about it. I chose to do something about it. Yes, it meant I fell asleep sitting up many a nights. It meant I relied on my mom to get my kids where they needed to be. It meant that there were days my feet and back hurt so badly after working both jobs that I limped out to my car at the end of the night. It meant I woke up at ungodly hours and I worked 21 straight days before finally getting a day off. But I did it. I did that. Chumpy little me. A stay at home mom for 15 years with no great job prospects.

Then I pushed for a show cause hearing to get the support my kids and I needed and deserved. And then I hired an expert witness to counter his PTSD bullshit and I kept going through all of it.

I did all of that, and I did it without someone by side telling me how wonderful I was and how I deserved to be happy. I had many days where I would cry all the way to Target, wipe my tears and go to work; then come back home, pick up my daughter, take her to school, get ready for my full-time job, and cry all the way to that job as well. Once again, I would wipe my tears, put a smile on my face and go to work. The biggest compliment I ever received was a co-worker telling me she would never have known I was going through all of that because I was always so sweet and cheerful, always had a smile on my face.

Radical acceptance means saying goodbye to your old life and embracing this new one. It means celebrating all that you have accomplished instead of focusing on what was lost.

I did so many things he never had to do, things I don’t think he has the balls to do. I raised our kids with no help from him while working two jobs for a while. He can’t say he’s ever done that. He can’t even say he worked and raised his kids because all of their care fell on me. He never took a single day off because a kid was sick. He never had to tell his boss he couldn’t go in early, or that he wouldn’t be available to go out to dinner with the bigwigs from corporate at the last minute. Because I was there, making sure everything went smoothly for him.

Today I no longer work two jobs but I donate plasma twice a week so that my kids can have a nice Christmas without me stressing out over it. Is it fair? Probably not. Is it anywhere close to what my life was like five years ago? Oh God no. But you know what? Christmas will be paid for and I won’t be running up any credit cards or worrying about how far my paycheck will stretch. I am free to concentrate on the fun parts of Christmas. Ultimately, fair or not, I’m getting it done. I could cry (and believe me, I did a lot of crying in the early days) or I can choose to celebrate the badass I am.

Am I where I want to be? No, I’m not. But again, I can cry and gnash my teeth over my poor paying job, or I can do something about it. Radical acceptance, to me, means accepting that it’s not going to be handed to me. It doesn’t mean lying down and playing dead; it doesn’t mean I accept this as though it’s my fate. If I want a change I need to go after it. Maybe that means going back to school. Maybe it means getting a different job.

It’s so easy to get sucked into that cycle of feeling sorry for yourself. Look at all that I’ve lost. Look at what I’ll never have again. At some point though it’s necessary to give thanks for what you do have.

I have two great kids who love me. There are those out there who have been cheated on and discarded and their children have turned against them as well. I have been fortunate in that my two have remained steadfastly loyal. They demonstrate on a regular basis how much they love me and how important I am to them.

I realize he does not value the same things I value and yet I still feel fortunate to be able to say I am a large part of their lives. They talk to me and tell me things, I get to laugh with them and make new memories with them. I get to be with them and be a part of their lives.

I have a mother who has gone above and beyond for me. She’ll take Picasso his lunch if he’s forgotten it. She’ll get him where he needs to be after school. She’s provided a home for us these last three years. When I was working 12+ hour days she would take Rock Star to work or pick her up so I could sleep. I am truly fortunate; I know many others do not have the luxury of going back home.

Divorcing Jerry Lee meant that I was free to pursue a relationship with the mobster. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you know I happen to think this man hangs the moon. He is a much, much better partner than Jerry Lee ever was.

No matter how sorry I’m feeling for myself every time I talk to him I’m filled with happiness, and am so overjoyed he is in my life. That other stuff doesn’t matter nearly as much. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I would rather live in a one bedroom apartment with him than in a mansion with Jerry Lee.

If I were still with Jerry Lee, living in my big ol’ house with my brand new furniture, and my luxury pool, I never would have met the mobster. I’d never have experienced all the wonderful weekends we’ve spent together. I wouldn’t know the joy of Athens or Columbus or Chilicothe. I never would have known a man would actually rinse your jeans out for you when you shit yourself on a bike ride. I wouldn’t have my cute little glitter jingle bell elf slippers. I wouldn’t have been kayaking or visited wineries or gone geocaching or known anything about Pokemon Go. I would have missed out on a lot.

I have amazing friends, both near and far. So many people rallied around while this was happening. And moving back to my hometown has allowed me to spend more time with my oldest friends.

I once wrote about going to Holland when you thought you were going to go to Italy. Radical acceptance is a lot like going to Holland. My hometown isn’t a horrible place. It has lots of great things. It has wine walks and Jeff Dunham shows and cool movie theaters. It’s close to Chicago and Lake Michigan. It’s just not what I had planned.

I won’t ever live in another 4000 sq. ft. home unless something very unexpected happens. I don’t think I even want another house that big. But that doesn’t mean I won’t ever have a home. Hopefully one day the mobster and I will share a home. It will be quaint and charming and homey. It will be a haven for us and our combined six kids when they choose to visit. Except for Picasso. I’m pretty sure he’s going to live with me forever.

My job isn’t horrible. It doesn’t pay very well but it has a few other perks, and it turns out I’m pretty decent at what I do. Like I said earlier, I can always get another job. Right now I’m lazy. I haven’t looked because I haven’t had to.

I may not be able to buy my kids all the creature comforts that I once could but a little hard work won’t kill them. I’m extremely proud of my daughter and how hard she already works. She sets a goal and she goes for it. She’s got a job at age 16 and has been working ever since.

Plus, if the mobster and I were to ever marry I feel like I’m contributing equally to the relationship. It’s not him going out to work and providing for the family while I stay at home and do nothing (at least that’s how Jerry Lee viewed it). He’s self-employed so I always figure at least I can bring insurance to the table.

I can’t say that I’m all the way there, or even that I won’t backslide now and again, but I do feel like I’m further than I’ve ever been before.

One Step Forward, 45 More To Go

I swear this saga will never end! Those of you who have been reading along this whole time might remember that I started the garnishment proceeding at the end of January- January 25th to be exact.

That was the day I called on my break and finally got a real live person to talk to. That was the day I was told that if he hadn’t modified the court order they would be garnishing him for the full $1800/month he was ordered to pay. That was the day I was also told judges don’t like it when their orders aren’t followed. So I went down to the office on my lunch, dropped off all of my paperwork, and patted myself on the back for finally taking that step. I was told because it was interstate I shouldn’t expect to hear anything for 60-90 days.

Soon thereafter he “lost” his job and stopped paying full spousal support. Has not done so since January. After frantically calling my attorney and then inquiring with the caseworker assigned to my case I find out this process will not be 60-90 days. Oh no! It will actually be 60-90 days until Indiana gets everything to Virginia and then Virginia gets it back. It will be yet another 60-90 days for that same process to happen between Indiana and Kentucky.

Sometime between late April and early May I find out once everything goes to Kentucky a judge in that state will then modify the court order and take over the entire case. I spend another month going back and forth with the caseworker, making sure I understand exactly how this process is going to work. Finally, believing that I’m going to get screwed if I go with a garnishment order through Kentucky I opt to drop the case, not that it mattered.

Even if I had chosen to go ahead I would have had to have started all over again because just as we were getting ready to send this on down to Kentucky Jerry Lee and Harley scooped up the mulligans and headed on down to Mississippi.

I found out in late July that he had a new job and that he was now living in Mississippi. I contacted the caseworker to ask about that and how that would work, especially since at the time I wasn’t sure if he was living in Mississippi or Tennessee. Shortly after getting confirmation he was indeed in Mississippi I chose to go ahead with the modification/garnishment.

My interstate meeting was on September 10th. I was told then that it would take another 60-90 days. We’re coming up on 60 days. Suddenly I began thinking, “What, exactly, happens in 60-90 days? Is it over in that time period? Is he simply notified? Is that when the court hearing and modification should be done but then the garnishment comes later?” I had all sorts of questions!

I emailed my caseworker and asked her exactly what would happen in those 60-90 days. I asked her for a play-by-play of what would happen and let her know I needed to prepare myself because once he got word he probably wouldn’t be paying anything until after the hearing and until he was garnished.

I got some answers last week. Mississippi has received the case; however, their state is experiencing “issues” with their system so she was unable to see any other information. All she could say was that they had received the case. She went on to tell me that the 60-90 day timeframe refers to the length of time it takes for the other state to receive the case, add it to the computer system, review the case, and then forward it to the correct county. In other words, while Mississippi has received the case she has no idea if any of the other things have been done.

Additionally, once the county gets the case, she believes they have another 45 days to review it and file. Awesome!

I’m guessing that once it’s filed there will be another waiting period. How long that waiting period is is anyone’s guess. I haven’t written her back yet so I don’t have an answer.

I keep trying to tell myself that even though this process sucks big huge donkey balls, once it’s done it will be done and I never have to deal with him again. It’s a tough sell because I gave myself that same pep talk when construction on my pool took 10-12 weeks instead of the promised 3. I didn’t tell myself I would never have to deal with him again, of course, but I did tell myself that even though it was taking 3 times longer to get the pool built once it was done it would be something that I could enjoy for years to come. That didn’t turn out so well for me. But, he can’t cheat on me again. Or divorce me again. Or, make me lose everything I’ve ever owned in my life again. So, I suppose that Zen thinking might help me through.

I try to remind myself that once he’s been garnished he can’t ever fuck around with the payments again. He can’t decide he’s going to pay less spousal support. He can’t modify it on his own. When Picasso graduates he might not even be able to stop paying child support until he’s actually filed to get it stopped in court. Nope, just checked. It terminates automatically in Mississippi. Awesome.

Please, Lord, make this worth it for me. By the time he’s actually garnished I figure he’ll be paying child support for a little over one more year. Hopefully they will continue garnishing him for spousal support.

Meanwhile, I sent my lawyer an email as well. I told her I had contacted her last month to see where we were and if she would be able to file my case before the end of this month and I had yet to hear back from her. I let her know that I would prefer to stick with her since she had all the background information on my case, but if she couldn’t do it to please refer me to someone else.

I guess those must be the magic words because she emailed me back pretty quickly. She apologized, of course, and told me that lately all of her cases were going the litigation route instead of settling. She hasn’t taken new clients in months and I’m not the only one that has been put on the back burner. She told me she wanted to finish out my case but wouldn’t be able to get to it until the new year. She went on to say she understood if I wanted to move on and gave me the names of a few people I could try. I will probably regret this but I’m going to email her back and ask her if she thinks she can get to it in January or February. If she can, I’ll wait it out. It’s not like my other issue will be settled by then. If she can’t then I’ll switch lawyers.

One day… one day this will be over.