Good Times Ahead… And Behind

I’ve been taking a long stroll down Memory Lane these past few posts. Some of you may be wondering, “Why don’t you shut off those memory notifications, Sam?”

Simple. I don’t want to.

Why? Do you love being tortured?

No. No, I do not like being tortured. Honestly, I’m not tortured by any of these memories. It’s more that they pop up and I shake my head at how naïve I was. Or maybe it’s more that I shake my head in disgrace at how far I buried my head in the sand when it came to that jackass. I see those pictures, those happy pictures of us (us being me and my kids) and my overwhelming thought is, “Oh, you poor thing. You had no idea what was heading your way.” Truth.

That’s the root of it, and this walk down memory lane. I look back on those pictures and my first thought is, “What a fucking waste!” when I see my kids and I doing all of our favorite things one last time, going to our favorite places, eating our favorite foods. “What a fucking waste!” I say as I see the pictures of our house up for sale, the moving truck loading up our things, all of my goodbye gifts from my friends, last minute gatherings, saying goodbye to everyone. We moved for what? Absolutely nothing. For the promise of a new life, a chance to start over.

I see those pictures of me and the kids on our three week trip out to Indiana and Utah and while the overwhelming memory is how much fun we had and how great it was to see everyone, I am reminded that the entire time we were away Jerry Lee was doing God only knows what with Harley. As I was reading the news of my friend’s impending divorce and lending her comfort my own husband was busy betraying me. I still remember writing to her that I was one of the “lucky ones” because we worked through it. Huh. Not even two months later I would be calling her and telling her I was joining the Women Who Moved Across the Country For Their Husbands and Then Got Dumped club. It’s a mouthful.

I see the pictures of us again down in Florida on what was supposed to be our family vacation and again, while the overwhelming memory is of what a great time we had, I am always aware of how dramatically our lives were about to change.

Those are all pictures of my old life, the one I had before the last DDay. Regardless of how it ended those pictures represent what was once my life. It was a mere chapter and not the entire book, but it was mine nonetheless.

My children are in those pictures, too. My nieces. My nephew. My brother and mother and sister-in-law. My family. Videos of Rock Star at her gymnastics meets and during practice. Videos of birthday parties. So no, I won’t get rid of the Facebook memories.

And you know what? Those memories that make me cringe come up sometimes alongside new memories. New, good memories. Sometimes I see things like my trip to Hocking Hills with the mobster where we walked around this beautiful, almost magical, park all day and then had an amazing time sampling wine at Hocking Hills Winery. Other times I’m treated to pictures of our weekend in Germantown, in parks, at wineries, in Athens, at the Blueberry Festival. Or pictures of us at the Paula Poundstone concert or the Kane Brown concert will pop up. So many memories between the two of us. Other times I come across a picture of me and Sweet J hanging out at a baseball game. Or there’s a post reminding me that my long time friend took me to The Damned concert up in Detroit. There’s the picture of me and my high school friends reunited for dinner. Sometimes I get to see pictures of me and my niece and my mom on one of our town’s wine walks. And there are always the holiday and birthday pictures. They’re not all tug-at-the-heartstrings memories. Some of them, most of them, are happy memories with no foreshadowing, unless you count my entire as foreshadowing.

I’m almost six years from DDay. The things that happened changed me forever. The life I live now is nowhere close to the life I lived before. The trick is to keep on going. Roll with the punches. Dodge ‘em if you can. 

Oh What the Hell… Let’s Keep Going

Yesterday it was the picture my mom put up back in 2016 when I picked up the U-Haul that would transport what few belongings we were taking with us back to Indiana. Sam the truck driver, read the caption.

Today it was the little timeline notice showing that I had moved to South Bend on this day five years ago.

Wow- let that one wash over you for a moment. Five years since Jerry Lee lost his job and decided financially supporting his children wasn’t a priority. Five years since I walked through my house putting price tags on everything I owned to attempt to sell it. Five years since I sold off my furniture piece by piece. Five years since I packed up and moved here. Five years since I cried as I drove out of my neighborhood. Five years since I’ve lived in a house that is truly my own.

My view driving into my subdivision.
My house
My pool
My enclosed porch

A lot has changed in those five years, as you might imagine. I finally got a better job. My daughter is beginning her final year of nursing school in a month. My son has finally graduated high school. Shockingly, I found love again. I lost my beloved Beau. My mom lost her dog. I beat Jerry Lee in court over and over and over again. Fingers crossed he’s finally learned. And in about 3 weeks my love, my mobster, will be moving to my area. Hooray! No more weekends only. No more 2, 3, 4 weeks between visits. I’ll write about that more later.

I could be sad. I could wallow in sorrow over all that was lost. My word of the year is attitude and the word the year before was change. I’m going to look at it like five years ago my life began all over again. One chapter ended. Another chapter began.

Damn You, Facebook!

I hope everyone reading my blog by now knows that I am completely over Jerry Lee. That shipped sailed the moment The Saint told me he had been spending his weekends with Harley while he lied to me and made up story after story. And I am probably somewhere in the 95-99% range of being over all the shit he put me through and the havoc he created. With that said Facebook can be a real meddlin’ bitch who stirs shit up!

If I let triggers rule my life I would have to be put into a coma somewhere around the beginning of May and be kept unconscious until the end of August. That’s pretty much when Jerry Lee pulled all his shit- both times! Much like my children have June and July birthdays which means I can pretty much always say, “They’re two years apart,” Jerry Lee was “kind enough” to make sure that both of my D-Days were in August. Four days apart! Except for the original D-Day which was not much of a D-Day because I was so stupid. That one happened in May- hence the medically induced coma beginning in May.

I looked on my Facebook memories and was treated to pictures of my kids and I on a “family” vacation in Destin with my mom, brother, sister-in-law, 2 nieces, and a nephew. I’m not triggered by the pictures of us on vacation so much as I am by what was going on behind the scenes.

See, poor Jerry Lee couldn’t come with us because he had to go on a “business trip” to Tennessee. That was the trip where his counselor and I both coached him on the arduous drive that he was unsure he was going to be able to make. We cheered him on and gave him all the atta-boys his little heart could handle. And then while the kids and I were in Destin Jerry Lee drove to Tennessee and met up with Harley. We’d been in Virginia one year exactly.

I look at those pictures and I see me and my kids enjoying our vacation, having a great time, with absolutely no idea what was ahead of us. We were carefree and happy. Approximately two weeks later I would find out my husband was a lying, cheating shit eating chimp, and about two weeks after that his kids would find out that the family they grew up with was no longer. In a 10 minute come-to-Jesus confessional they both found out not only had their father been spending his weekends hanging out with his new girlfriend in Kentucky but also his entire family knew about it and condoned it. His mother organized it and went on a date with them. It was to a funeral but still…

While the kids and I were on vacation, thinking that life was going on as normal, my husband was busy stabbing me in the back. I look at those pictures now and I think, “Oh my God! You were completely clueless.” And it makes me kind of sad.

Of course, this was also the trip where I spotted the Walmart purchase in Whoreville, otherwise known as Winchester, Kentucky. Looking back on it it’s quite insulting how stupid he thought I was. “D’oh, I gave my debit card to my mom so she could get a new tire for her minivan. That’s why that’s on there. I don’t know why it says Whoreville. She bought it in Lexington.”

Actually looking back it’s kind of insulting how stupid I allowed myself to be. In my defense I thought he was a whole lot smarter than that. Who in their right mind moves their family across the country, buys a brand new house, fills it with brand new furniture, buys their wife a brand new car, and agrees to install a brand new in-ground pool in the backyard which takes almost all of your stock options and requires a loan, and then turns around and cheats with the same damn whore you cheated with 2 years prior? Even more stupid than that, who in the hell buys the whore something from Walmart and uses their damn debit card when they know damn well that the other spouse can see the bank transactions and is checking on a regular basis because they’re on vacation with your kids? I do remember saying to myself, “He can’t be that stupid. He’s a smart man.” Not smart enough apparently.

God, he was such a shit. I remember being in Florida and him telling me the trip lasted longer than he expected. Then he told me that since he was already in Tennessee he was going to “try” to drive and see his mom. Would I be okay with that?

Would I be okay with him seeing his mom? Absolutely. I said as much. Something along the lines of, “She’s your mom. Of course I don’t have a problem with it. How could I say no to that?” Would I be okay with him fucking his cousin? No. I had no idea that to him they were one and the same. Okay with him continuing to slough off on our family vacation? Well then I must be okay with him fucking his cousin. And going to a goddamn family reunion that was set up knowing his wife and kids weren’t going to be there. It was probably their fucking engagement party knowing those inbred motherfuckers.

I don’t remember what set me off. All I remember is thinking that if he could spend money freely on his “mother” then I was no longer going to be keeping the purse strings closed for my kids. I took Rock Star on a very nice shopping spree. All the clothes she wanted. A Coach purse. Another Coach purse for me… after I had already bought a Kate Spade purse and wallet because the Coach purse I liked was a little too expensive. Oh you better believe I went back there a day or two later and bought the one I wanted. It was an outlet mall; it wasn’t that expensive. I bought for Picasso as well, but he had no interest in coming along.

I guess that seeing these memories pop up so close to my return trip to Utah has hit me in some way. I don’t want him back and while I freely admit I miss the lifestyle I used to have I can’t envision still being with him. The thought of being married to him and living life with him makes my skin crawl. I am 100% happier in this new life. Yet I look at those pictures and I can’t help but know that I thought I was happy and I was definitely a lot more innocent. I had no idea the hell that was about to be unleashed. I had no idea the changes and the hardships that were about to befall me. I was a sheltered, pampered stay at home mom with no financial worries and plenty of (maybe too much) time on my hands. Those pictures represent me before life kicked me in the throat. They’re a reminder of my old life, a life where I didn’t struggle and where I thought things were okay, maybe even mostly good. Those pictures are me and my kids before our lives were imploded and we were forced to change everything.

It’s not a bad life anymore. I’m not even sure I’m sad about it. It’s more like seeing a picture of a loved one shortly before they die. You look at that picture and you think to yourself, “I had no idea at the time that this would be the last time I saw them.” That’s what those pictures do to me. I look at the happy faces, the smiles, and I think, “That’s the last time my life was normal.” Approximately two weeks later I would join the ranks of women whose husbands had cheated on them and were planning on leaving for the other woman. I went from being a stay at home mom to being a working mom. I went from being a great mom to just being a mom. I went from living in my own home to living in my mom’s house. I went from no financial worries to worrying about money constantly. I went from being married for 20 years to being single. I went from living in Virginia to moving back to Indiana. I went from having furniture and dishes and towels to getting rid of probably 95% of everything I’d ever owned. Absolutely everything changed. Those pictures are the last pictures taken of me before I died, along with my old life.

Oh, don’t worry. Like the Phoenix I rose from the ashes. Maybe I’m even better than I was before. All that forged in fire shit. Not waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain. I did that. I’m still standing. But that woman in those pictures? She’s gone forever.

Stupid People’s Comments Regarding Affairs

A brave soul from another site replied to an article written by the mistress on Scary Mommy. I don’t know exactly what the person said, probably something controversial and sensible like, “There is no excuse for cheating. You have options. Communication. Therapy. Leaving before you find a mistress.” She later reported that she was getting eaten alive on the Scary Mommy site. I guess they have a disproportionate number of cheaters and cheater apologists on that site. Good to know.

I thought I’d share with you some of their wisdom.

Stop with the woe is me. Nobody owes you anything. You don’t own someone because you married him or her.

Nobody owes me anything? Oh, they most certainly! We’re not talking about any random person out there. We’re talking about a person who has asked me to marry them. Not only did they ask me to marry them, they went through with it and exchanged vows with me. They’ve made promises to me. We’ve made plans together. I’ve given up my own dreams to help support theirs. We’ve made agreements and decisions based upon us being partners. Oh hell yes they owe me something. They owe me honesty. They owe me loyalty. They owe me fidelity. If they didn’t want to “owe” me any of those things then they shouldn’t have married me. This isn’t some casual coffee date; this was supposed to be a lifetime commitment.

I moved all over the country for Jerry Lee. I gave up my established life time after time so that he could advance at work. I left friends behind. I left family behind. I held down the fort while he was living and working hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away from us. I agreed to uproot my life and the lives of my children from Utah where we were perfectly happy to Virginia based solely upon what he wanted. I cooked for that man. I made him a plate every night. I did his laundry. I took care of his children. I cleaned his house. I bought his groceries. I took care of everything. You bet your ass he owes me. I was not some random woman he passed on the street. I was his wife of 20 years and the mother of his children.

This attitude is why I have the issues I do with truly merging my life with another person. It’s why I am so reluctant to share everything with someone else, to go all in knowing I could lose everything once again. You have all these idiots out there who act like getting married is no different than going to the movies with someone. You get fucked over? Oh well! They don’t owe you anything. You don’t own them just because you got married.

Honestly, if marriage means so little then why on earth would anyone ever get married? Why not just casually date for the rest of your life? That’s about how much importance some of these people put on marriage and the vows you take. Why do anything for the other person? Move across the country or even out of the country for your spouse’s dream job? Give up your job to stay at home and raise the children? Put your career second to your spouse’s? Give up time with your own family in order to spend it with your spouse’s family? Compromise at all on anything? Why? Why would you when they don’t owe you anything at all and all of those things you are willing to do for your partner don’t mean anything?

I see it every day on Chump Lady’s blog and the Chump Nation Facebook page. Women who have been stay at home moms for 5, 10, 20 years. Discarded for the new shiny. Left without a home. Left without any income. In many cases there is no alimony. They’re left trying to rebuild their lives while the ex-husband rides off blissfully into the sunset with the new supply. And society’s answer to that is: They don’t owe you anything. You don’t own them.

Fuck that. They absolutely do owe us something. And needless to say, but I’m going to say it  anyway, expecting fidelity does not equal thinking you own someone. It means you expect them to be faithful.

I would go so far as to say I think all of us realize we don’t own our spouses. We do, however, have expectations. If you’re unhappy and you want out, then do it ethically. Get out before you start fucking around. Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Don’t waste our lives while you begin a new one without ever cluing us in until you’re ready to discard us.

Therapy? No. If you’re unhappy therapy won’t fix anything.

Really? The only thing that will fix being unhappy is having an affair? You sure about that? 

I don’t think the person who suggested therapy believes that it will automatically cure any ills within a relationship, but it does seem to be a much more mature approach to repairing a marriage than having an affair. The person who is unhappy may find that therapy won’t save the marriage after all but it’s certainly better than screwing around behind your spouse’s back, devastating them and blowing up your children’s lives. You may still end up divorced but you’re not a cheater.

Some people don’t seek out the help they need and then wonder why their spouses choose to cheat or leave. Nobody should live a life of misery simply because he/she exchanged vows with you. Cheating is a symptom of a bad marriage/long term relationship.

Wait. So now it’s my fault that my spouse cheated? If only I had been a better little wife he might not have needed to go fuck his cousin?

No, we do not cause people to cheat on us, just like we don’t cause people to rape us, or beat us or kidnap us, or mug us. In all of those instances, people have chosen to do those things to another person. They are responsible for their choice. No one made them do it.

I always find it interesting that those who believe you caused your own abuse never think people abusing them is justified. Your husband (or wife) cheats on you? Pfft… you deserved it; if you hadn’t done A, B, or C or had done X, Y, or Z, they wouldn’t have cheated on you. You run that cheating sonofabitch down with your car? Well that is just wrong! There is no excuse for that.

I also love how there are only two choices- you live a life of misery or you cheat/leave. God forbid you actually work on your relationship. Nope, that would be too hard. It might actually take some effort. Much easier to just cheat, or call it quits. Your kids might end up suicidal or needing therapy or end up dropping out of college, but hey, if you’re happy that’s all that matters.

Cheating is a symptom of a bad marriage/long term relationship. No, it’s not. It’s a sign of shitty character and a poor moral compass. It is a choice. People are in bad relationships all the time and they don’t all cheat. Hell, most of the people who end up cheated on have horror stories about the things they endured because of the cheater. Yet they remained faithful. They continued to fight for their relationships and their families.

Too many people out here acting like they’re helpless. You have a choice. Your spouse doesn’t want you. Leave! You don’t think he or she has thought about the consequences.? It’s a message. Stop being in denial and go find someone who wants to be with you. If postpartum depression is making you intolerable to be around, then yes, your spouse may choose to not stay committed to you. You can’t be a miserable jackass and expect others to tolerate that life.

Oh, there’s so much to this I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s begin at the end: You can’t be a miserable jackass and expect others to tolerate that life. This person specifically references postpartum depression. Basically what they’re saying is if a person has an illness and they’re no longer fun they should expect their spouse to cheat and/or leave. Wow! I hope that if they are ever diagnosed with cancer or some other life threatening illness or disability that they are equally as understanding when their own spouse deserts them because they’re no longer fun.

Again it’s that whole, “For better or for worse, in sickness and in health” thing. You made vows to this person. You made a commitment. But for these people, that means nothing. Remember, being married doesn’t mean they owe you anything. You don’t own them.

Too many people out here acting like they’re helpless. You have a choice. See, that’s where you’re wrong. The choice is taken from us. We’re lied to and deceived so that we don’t have all of the information. It’ s not a level playing field. It’s rigged. That’s what cheating is all about. People are told, “Oh no! I’m not having an affair! How could you even think that?” when the reality is their spouse is in fact having an affair. They’re told they’re crazy and paranoid. The cheater is playing their part beautifully so that we don’t catch on, and if we suspect something, we’re always told we’re imagining things. “Everything’s fine. Nothing’s wrong. It’s work stress. I’m tired.” No, we are not given a choice. We’re given lies.

I also find it interesting how everything falls on the betrayed spouse. Your spouse doesn’t want you. Leave! Why am I the one that has to do anything? If my spouse is so miserable they must cheat on me then shouldn’t they be the one that leaves? It appears to me that I am the one getting shit on and yet the naysayers are looking at me and asking, “Why aren’t you doing anything about this? You need to take care of this.”

You don’t think he or she has thought about the consequences.? It’s a message.

No, I don’t think he or she has thought about the consequences. They either think they’re so damn brilliant they’ll never get caught, or they don’t believe their good chump will ever grow a backbone and start looking out for their own best interests instead of serving them. When consequences do occur they immediately try to turn it around and play the victim. Most cheaters don’t have any intentions of leaving their marriage. They enjoy eating cake. Those that do? They do not enjoy having any consequences levied. Again, they think they’re the victim when that happens.

Stop being in denial and go find someone who wants to be with you. 

Yes, because when you’ve been lied to and deceived, and your whole world implodes around you the first thing you think is, “I need to go out and find a new partner.” You’re not traumatized. You don’t have trust issues. It’s all, “Wow! I’m so lucky I get to find somebody new!” The fact that your whole life has been turned upside down and in many cases you don’t know where you’re going to live or how you’re going to pay your bills is not an issue. No, Jackass, all we’re thinking is, “I’m going to pull on my big girl (or boy) panties and find someone new. Someone who wants me.”

These people are idiots. End of story.

I’d Love To Be That Naive Again

I’m jealous, folks. I don’t spend much time on Facebook anymore. I get on to check in on the Chump Nation page and take maybe 5-10 minutes to scroll through my feed. I send out a few birthday wishes/happy anniversary wishes, etc. Even with the limited amount of time I’m on there I still see the feeds of seemingly happy couples.

The co-worker I mentioned a few months ago is pregnant and quit her job; she’s going to be a stay at home mom. She’s living the life she’s always wanted to live- living on a farm surrounded by animals with the love of her life and a new baby. My cousin is still at home, baking bread, knitting, and being all domestic. She is honestly rocking this stay-at-home thing. The meals she cooks, the desserts she makes, the fucking artisan bread she bakes, the projects she takes on… it’s amazing. Truly.

I’m not jealous because they’re able to do those things. I’m happy for them. No, I’m envious because they, for whatever reason, have the luxury of believing that this new life they’re crafting with their partner won’t go belly up; the thought that things might not work out and they could lose everything doesn’t even cross their minds. I don’t blame them. I didn’t spend any part of my marriage thinking, “Oh my God! What if he leaves me?” I didn’t prepare for a future without him. I certainly didn’t live my entire life with him in preparation for a divorce. That’s the root of the envy.

I learned the hard way that you can’t ever rely on the other person doing what they’re supposed to do. I learned you need to be prepared to do it all on your own because when you don’t, you’re completely blindsided. I’m envious because they don’t seem to know that; they can throw caution to the wind and depend upon another person. They are quitting their jobs. They are without an income. And they’re fine with it because their husbands will support them. They’re able to take this new life they’re creating for themselves and not think beyond now. It’s all excitement- new houses, new lifestyles, babies, new pets, photo shoots, artisan bread, home projects, and vacations. They’re building a fantastic new life with someone, and they are able to throw themselves whole heartedly into this new chapter of their lives. There is no, “What happens if I quit my job and this person leaves me?” It’s simply a brand new life where they can depend 100% on another person and trust that that person isn’t going to betray them. I really wish I could be that naive again. That is what makes me envious. All that I am I give to you and all that I have I share with you. I wish I still believed that without reservation. I wish I could put my life in another person’s hands and have faith that he will always have my back. I wish I still believed that you work as a team, you build a life together, and you reap the rewards together. You don’t have to keep a tally sheet of who does what and how much your contribution is worth.

Now I see people working as a team, building lives together, making the decision to stay at home, and I think, “You better hope he doesn’t leave. If he does your life is going to spiral out of control. Everything you know to be true today will be over in the blink of an eye. Better yet- you’d better have a backup plan so you can take care of yourself if he does leave.” 

Even worse, I can’t allow myself the luxury of thinking of myself as part of a team. I am horribly aware of how no couple is really a team. You say the words, but the reality is, when that new person catches your eye, you don’t give a fuck about your former “teammate” and you’re certainly not trying to give them a fair share of everything “the team” has accumulated through the years. The team member that was making a six figure salary gets to walk away and move in with the new teammate while still making six figures; their life goes on as normal. Meanwhile, the teammate that wasn’t making the money but was raising the kids, cooking meals, doing all the grocery shopping, doing the laundry, cleaning the house, running the pets to vet appointments, running the kids all around, and generally supporting the money earner from behind the scenes is left alone with no income. Their life changes dramatically.

I know this probably sounds odd coming from me. Or maybe it doesn’t, which is even scarier. I’m very happy with the mobster. Far happier than I ever was with Jerry Lee. I love him and want to spend the rest of my life with him. I still can’t get comfortable with the idea of giving up spousal support in order to marry him or even live with him. Every time I think about it and start to believe that this time would be different because he’s the right person that little voice in my head says, “Listen up! Don’t be an idiot! You’ve already learned the hard way what happens when you can’t stand on your own two feet. You would have to be amazingly stupid to voluntarily give that up and depend on him. You don’t make enough money to be able to afford anything on your own without spousal support.”

That little voice is right. I do know what happens when you depend upon another person. I know what happens when you can’t support yourself. You wind up moving in with your mother and getting rid of almost everything you’ve ever owned and sleeping on the couch. I wish I didn’t know that.

Things have changed a bit since I first began writing this way back in October. The biggest change, of course, is my new job. I actually could support myself now if I gave up spousal support and moved in with or married the mobster. It’s still a good chunk of change though so I’m not eager to give it up. It would also be rather tight because as I said I’ve almost closed the gap. I haven’t done it completely. And when you look at actual take home pay… well, let’s just say I’m not where I want to be without that extra boost.

I like to think I’m mostly unscathed from my divorce; however, I can’t shake that idea that if I can’t afford it on my own then it’s not really mine. It was a hard lesson to learn and I’m not sure if it will ever be unlearned. The funny thing is I think that the mobster and I really would make a great team and could build a fantastic life together. That little voice in the back of my head continues to question though: What if he leaves you? Can you still afford that? Will you be able to take that (whatever “that” happens to be) with you? Will you be able to stand on your own two feet or will you have to return to your mom’s house? Funnier still is the fact that I have no reason to believe he would do that to me. He’s been through all of this himself. I don’t spend time worrying that he’s got one foot out the door or that he’s checking out other women. Hell, we live 600 miles apart and I have never worried about him cheating on me. Maybe that’s stupidity on my part, or maybe it’s a testament to the strong foundation of our relationship. Either way, it’s not something I worry about. And yet… I’m not able to fully commit to joining finances and letting Jerry Lee off the hook.

Fortunately for me the mobster understands. He recently said to me, “You’re terrified to give up spousal support, aren’t you?” Oh yeah. That’s my safety net. I lost everything. I’m not prepared to do that again.

I really wish I could be as naive as some of the people I know when it comes to relationships. I wish I didn’t feel like I always needed an exit plan in case I get discarded. On the other hand, I’m really glad I’m in a position finally where I can stand on my own. I don’t see myself ever giving that up.

Giving Thanks

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.

Random Thoughts- Rings On, Vows Kept

One of the most common questions asked after D-Day is, “How soon is too soon to start dating?”

The best answer I’ve ever seen to that question was, “When you’re ready.”

Alas, there are always those who insist you shouldn’t date until you are officially divorced. You are married until you are no longer married. Some proudly talk of wearing their rings until the divorce was finalized. Others insist upon referring to the lying, cheating spouse as their husband or wife instead of soon-to-be-ex because “I’m still married and that person is still my spouse.”

Funnily enough dating seems to be the one line in the sand that many draw when it comes to being separated but not yet divorced. No one ever says, “I would love to have fresh flowers all over my house but my husband always hated that. I’m still married so I need to respect his wishes.” Or, ”I can’t take up belly dancing until I’m divorced. Married is married and he’s always hated my passion for belly dancing. I need to respect that until the ink is dry on the divorce decree.” We don’t wait to get a new job or redecorate the bedroom or even get a new apartment until we’re fully divorced. So why the hard on for dating? I digress.

I’ve given this a lot of thought and I’ve broken it down. I would really like to thank that commenter over on Chump Lady who talked of the two parts of marriage- the legal and the spiritual parts. I truly believe that and that’s how I separate the two parts of a marriage.

First you have the legal part. As long as you have a marriage license, or a “permit” as it may be, you can go into any courtroom and have a judge marry you. It’s a little more complicated than that, but the important point is there is no need for a big, fancy church wedding. There doesn’t need to be a lot of planning. Once you have that license, that legal form, you can get married pretty much whenever. It’s a legal contract which gives you certain rights.

Then you have the spiritual part. It doesn’t have to be a church wedding in order for it to be spiritual. The important thing to note about this part is that the spiritual part concerns your feelings for this person. It’s all about love. You’re not getting married because your parents have arranged this. You’re not trying to combine your families’ fortunes. In other words, it’s not a business deal (see above regarding legal marriage). You’re marrying because you love this person.

Because you love this person you trust them. You make plans for your future with them. You might buy a house with them, have children with them, move all over the country or world with them for their career. You think of one another as a team. You’ve got each other’s backs. You plan on growing old with this person.

When your partner cheats on you they betray you. All of those things you’ve planned- together- they take away without your knowledge or approval. Having sex with someone else is only a tiny part of it. It’s everything else that accompanies that that makes it so hard. You feel like you’re going crazy because of all of the lies and the gas lighting. There may even be health implications if your spouse gets an STI and passes it along to the unsuspecting spouse. Your life as you know it is over. Many times the cheated on spouse is left in a vulnerable financial situation- how will they support their children, where will they live? Will you be able to keep your house? Will your kids have to leave their schools and their friends? Who will hire you, especially if you’ve been out of the workforce for most of your marriage? Bankruptcy and poverty are not unusual events when a spouse who has been the primary breadwinner leaves. And of course, the most obvious, they’ve been planning this new life with the new person while you’ve had no clue. You were still invested in the life the two of you shared while they were busy creating a life with someone else behind your back. All those dreams go up in smoke when your spouse steps outside of your marriage and leaves you for another person.

For those who insist that even if your spouse has moved 1000 miles away and has two children with the side piece you should remain chaste and faithful to him because you’re still married!!!! I say, “You’re delusional.” This isn’t about the fact you shouldn’t have to put your life on hold while a lying cheater does everything in their power to delay a divorce as they skip happily off into the sunset with the whore. It’s about this idea that cheating is not about the sex. It’s about the betrayal and the discard.

That’s where the legal and spiritual parts of marriage come in. Your marriage does not automatically end in the legal sense because the other person was out fucking the neighbor. Or their cousin. Whomever. That’s very true. You are still legally married. You have to have a judge sign off on your divorce. But while you are waiting for that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with dating if you are ready for that. 

You haven’t blindsided anyone. Your “spouse” is not happily planning a future with you while you are busy planning one with another person. They’ve already done that. They’ve left. They’re off living their very best life with this new person. You are not Plan B. 

Furthermore, you’re not lying to them and gas lighting them. There is no sneaking around. You’re not telling them that there’s no one else. You’re not letting them invest in you while you take, take, take knowing full well that you are not faithful to them and/or are planning on leaving them.

As long as you don’t sleep with your STBX you have no chance of passing along an STD.

They are not financially invested in you while you’re out dating. You’re not siphoning off marital money to give to your new boyfriend or girlfriend, and you’re not using marital monies to fund your dates. More importantly, you dating someone is not going to lead to your STBX losing their home, having to move, and wondering how on earth they are going to support their children. They don’t have to worry about any of that because they’ve already left. There are no ramifications of you dating someone else. Nothing happens to your STBX or their life because of this.

In other words, if you choose to date while you’re still going through your divorce it’s all above board. No one is being played. It’s not being hidden. You’re not lying to buy yourself time to deplete marital funds. No one is being lied to. You and your STBX aren’t planning a future together when in reality you’re planning on dumping them. Everything is out in the open. 

I know there will be those out who disagree and insist that you are still married so you shouldn’t date, and if you do date, then you are no better than the cheater you are divorcing. To those people I say, “Bless your heart,” as I hand them a cookie as a reward. It’s got to taste better than those shit sandwiches they’re choking down.

Reframing Things

Final post for 2020. 

Earlier this year, one day in the summer, I made some comment about Jerry Lee bulldozing my life. My mom replied along the lines of, “Why not look at it as a chance to redo your life?”

I had actually already been thinking along those lines so I didn’t take offense at the suggestion.

I suppose that’s the biggest change for me during 2020. I’m finally reframing what happened to me. I’m not always successful. It’s best if I don’t dwell on it too much, but for small moments I am able to reframe the betrayal and discard, along with the absolute destruction of everything I thought my life was.

When I do this I’m able to tell myself he didn’t blow up my life; no, I got a second chance at a much better life. Sure, there have been speed bumps- financial issues continue to stress me. My kids are in therapy. I’m working a job that isn’t all that personally fulfilling and I feel like I never have enough “me” time, or time to devote to my kids. But it’s not all bad.

I’m back in my hometown. I’m reconnecting with old friends. It’s familiar. I didn’t have to start completely over and figure out how to get around the town.

Living with my mom isn’t a death sentence. She hates it when I say, “I had to move back in with my mom!” or “I don’t have a home of my own.” The reality is she does my laundry which is great because I don’t particularly care for doing laundry. She also has dinner cooked most nights when I come home. I joke with her that it’s nice to have a wife. I realize why so many cheaters don’t leave one until they have another one! I am fortunate enough to be able to spend huge amounts of time with my mom. I get to shop with her, go out to dinner with her, vent to her, and laugh with her. I have too many friends that no longer get to enjoy that with their moms.

Ever since moving back here in 2016 I have seen it as a source of shame- I was too fucking pathetic to be able to stand on my own two feet. I had to move back in with my mommy. I couldn’t take care of myself or my two children. I needed help. It’s very humbling, especially when you’ve lived in your own home for 20+ years. You go from living in a huge home to not even having your own bedroom; I slept on the couch for two years. Perhaps it’s simply the passing of time, but I no longer care. It is what it is. Living at home with her allows her to spend much more time with her grandchildren, allows me to see her all the time, and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than a mortgage payment or rent somewhere. It allows me to be able to do more because my money isn’t wrapped up in housing. I’m finally accepting that this arrangement works for me.

When he left finding a new relationship was the last thing on my mind. I was in survival mode and honestly, I had spent so much time alone even while being married that I had no desire to ever pair up again. I was perfectly content to be alone for the rest of my life; I was good at it. Yet, him walking out the door finally allowed me the chance to experience a real relationship, one where I’m valued and loved.

The mobster and I have an amazing time whenever we are lucky enough to get together. He is the best and I would have never met him if Jerry Lee didn’t go off and fuck his cousin.

As for finances, well, I recognize that I don’t need as much as I used to have. I don’t need a huge house. I don’t need endless baubles. I do like shopping for clothes and my closet is exploding right now but I’ve always been a sale shopper. As long as I have enough to pay my bills, take care of my kids and spoil them some, and be able to have some fun with my friends, family, and the mobster I’m good. I’d like to be able to take a vacation here and there as well, but it doesn’t have to be an elaborate vacation.

I also realize it’s up to me to make that change as far as finding a better paying job. Writing about how awful it pays and complaining does nothing. I intend to change that this coming year.

Of course, my children and their well-being always weighs heavily on my mind. Fortunately, I am finally letting go of that as well. Not as in an, “I don’t care” way, but more in an, “I can’t change the past,” way. It still tugs on my heartstrings when I hear “Best Day Of My Life” or any of the songs I associate with Harrisonburg. The overwhelming desire to scream, “Why?” is always there, but that scream is slowly fading away. I do my best to reframe it as a wonderful moment in Rock Star’s life, one that wasn’t meant to last. Maybe the lesson to be learned was that her dad is an entitled jackass. I don’t know. Maybe it was to show her she was stronger than she knew.

My son seems happy and content. The medication has helped immensely. He has friends here. He likes his job. He likes living here. Hopefully therapy will soon be a thing of the past for him, but as long as he continues to get something out of it I will pay for it. He graduates this year and no one will be happier about that than me! He’s been complaining about school since second grade. I’m tired of fighting him.

My daughter has apparently resolved all of her issues surrounding her father and his abandonment in approximately three therapy sessions. She works fast, I guess. She has decided she is done with him and she’s no longer expending the effort to have a relationship with him. As she put it, “Why am I putting in all this effort when he’s the one that left?”

Despite Covid-19 wrecking havoc with her college life she is happy. She has a solid set of friends down at college. She loves her sorority and her sisters. She has a great boyfriend who treats her like she deserves to be treated. She is kicking ass in nursing school and will be a wonderful nurse in a few years.

She has said herself that everything she went through led her to where she is. If we were still married and in Virginia, yes, I would probably see her more and she would be happily reconnecting with high school friends over break, but she wouldn’t have this life she loves.

Despite the hurdles and all the worries these last few years my kids are okay. They’re not living the life I had hoped to have given them, but they are good. As my mom always says, “You guys had a helluva run.” Yes, my kids had an awesome childhood and they got to experience a lot of wonderful things. And then they experienced some really shitty things and a lot of loss. They lost their friends twice, and lost their mother in many ways. i wasn’t there the way that I wanted to be; I did the best I could with what I had and I hope in the end that proves to be enough. But ultimately they prevailed and they are both good and happy now. I have a great relationship with both of them, and that’s what counts.

I will never say that Jerry Lee cheating on me and destroying my old life was a blessing, or the best thing to ever happen to me. What I will say now though is he ended up giving me a second chance. He gave me the opportunity to live a much better life than the one I could have ever hoped to have lived with him. I get to frame this one. I get to choose. I can make this new life into whatever I want.

How’s that for change, 2020?

Sunk Costs

We’ve all heard that term before, right? People will tell their sad tale of love gone wrong with a cheating man (or woman) and how they can’t leave because they love him (or her). Someone will come along and say, “Kick him to the curb! You can do better than him. You deserve so much better.” Typically shortly after that another person comes along and pats the grieving person on the back. “There, there. They don’t understand. It’s not so easy. You’ve got sunk costs- children, a mortgage, ten, twenty, thirty years with this person. You don’t have to leave if you don’t want to. We understand. You’ve got sunk costs.”

Those sunk costs are a killer, folks. They keep us tethered to toxic people who abuse us and take us for granted.

I sometimes wonder, too, is it really that we’ve invested so much time and effort into this person, or is that we’re scared of the unfamiliar? Kicking your cheating spouse out might feel liberating in the moment, but then you’ve got to live with that. Where are you going to live? Will you be able to keep your home? How are you going to pay for everything? What if you have to share custody of the kids? What if you never go on a date again and never find love again? What if, what if, what if?

I get it. Believe me, I do. You’re reading the words of a woman who lost pretty much everything in her divorce. Sunk costs? I had them in spades- twenty years of marriage, a stay at home mom for fifteen years, no idea how I would support myself much less my two teenagers, a brand new house we hadn’t paid the mortgage on for even a year, brand new furniture throughout the entire house, a $57,000 inground pool, a brand new car that had been purchased less than a year prior to my discovery. On top of that we had just moved 2000 miles across the country for his dream job, completely uprooting my life and the lives of my children. Plus, we had three dogs and had just taken in 3 cats. How’s that for sunk costs?

I ended up losing our home when Jerry Lee was forced to resign and then refused to get a new job, figuring he could play the system and get out of paying adequate support. I had to move back to Indiana with my tail between my legs- defeated and deadass broke. For ten long months he paid nothing in support and then the next ten months he paid a fraction of what he was supposed to. I worked two jobs to make ends meet, even living with my mother. I applied for Medicaid for me and my kids, and for free lunches and textbooks, as well. There were many days I cried and cried and didn’t want to ever wake up again.

I didn’t believe I would ever date again. I had absolutely no plans to date again. I didn’t want to put myself out there again. Just between you and me I don’t really consider what happened in my situation to be dating. The mobster fell out of a tree onto my head. End of story.

Pretty much every horrible thing I thought was going to happen to me, happened to me. I spent an awful long time in that dark place.

I completely get sunk costs. And I sympathize with those who don’t want to lose everything. I didn’t want to lose everything either.

Tracy Schorn has an excellent post on her blog entitled, “You Don’t Need It That Bad.” It’s an ode to putting on your ass kicking boots and telling yourself that nothing is worth suffering through a cheating spouse. Your spouse is lying, gaslighting, and cheating on you but you really really love your vacation home? Get to the point where you tell yourself, “I don’t need it that bad.” You love being a stay at home mom and know that the only way you can continue to do that is if you look the other way while your husband beds every available female in the area? You don’t need it that bad.  You’ve spent twenty-five years with a liar and a cheater and you think you can’t leave because of your “sunk costs”? Do you want to spend another twenty-five with a liar and a cheater? Do you want to get sick and find out that your twenty-five years don’t mean anything to this liar and cheater? They’re out of here as soon as you cease to be useful.

Here’s another part of that equation that most people don’t think about when figuring in their sunk costs. Sometimes you may decide it’s not worth it to leave. You’ve got history. You’ve got a great home that you couldn’t afford on your own. You love this person. You don’t want the other person to “win”. You don’t want to share custody of your kids. Sometimes that shit happens anyway. Sometimes they leave despite all the crap you’re willing to take and all the shit sandwiches you’re willing to eat. They take it further and further underground and they get better and better at cheating and getting away with it. They hide money and make their plans, or they wait until the kids are all out of high school so they don’t have to pay child support, and when they’re ready they walk out the door. Nothing about you. All about them.

You better make damn sure those sunk costs are worth it. You might still end up losing everything you clung to so tightly and you will definitely lose your dignity when you realize you tolerated so much for someone who cared so little and still ended up with nothing.

I bought into all of that crap the first time Jerry Lee was exposed. I could tell myself that it was only an emotional affair, that they never hooked up, never met in person. I did the ol’, “I’m not going to let one moment in our 18 years together define our entire marriage.” I did the marriage police for a period of time. I looked at my home and my kids and my comfortable lifestyle. I didn’t want to be divorced and I didn’t want Harley to win. I measured my sunk costs against everything I would be giving up and I took a chance on a liar and a cheater. I lost. The next time he did it I didn’t get the chance to measure those sunk costs. He was going to leave. Twenty years of marriage didn’t matter to him. Me moving all over the country for his job didn’t matter to him. Our two children didn’t matter to him. The fact that we had just moved, just bought a new house, new furniture, new car, and just put an inground pool in our backyard didn’t matter to him either. All that mattered was this new life that was calling out to him, promising him happiness.

When you break it down you’ve got two options really. The first one is to decide your sunk costs are all that matter. You’re willing to hitch your wagon to a liar and cheater because that’s what you know and look at everything you might have to give up. But you’re stuck with a liar and a cheater, a person you probably can never trust again. Your second option is to throw caution to the wind. To tell yourself, “I don’t need it that bad.” Yes, you might lose a whole lot. You might even lose everything. But in exchange for those losses you no longer have to be tethered to a person who treats you with no respect, who will cheat and lie as easily as they breathe. You may even end up with a pretty damn good cheater free life.

In hindsight I wish I had focused a whole lot less on my sunk costs and decided a whole lot sooner that I didn’t need any of it that bad.

The Biggest Mistake We Make

I was reading Chump Lady the other day. Someone had written in to see if she would put his STBX-wife’s texts through the UBT (Universal Bullshit Translator). Seems cheating ex-wife thought they should come together for their son’s graduation and present a united front- for the children, of course.

Surprisingly, this post is not about presenting a united front, or all the insane things people think divorced couples should do for the sake of their offspring. No, this is about something else.

At some point in his letter he mentioned that he had met a wonderful new lady and they had been dating for about six months.

One regular reader made the comment that one of the biggest mistakes divorcing chumps make is to date before the divorce is final. Among his reasons for thinking this is the biggest mistake you can make:

1. It’s too soon which isn’t fair to your new partner because you haven’t had time to heal.

2. You’ll probably be bringing baggage into your new relationship because of #1.

3. It might look like you were the cheater.

4. You’re still technically married.

5. It can give your cheater ammo to use against you.

I’ve written about this before. I’ve also admitted that I used to think exactly like that. You’re still married until you’re divorced. Don’t date. Keep your marriage vows. Then I divorced a lying, cheating fuckwit. Let’s just say that experience changed me. If you’re in a state (or country) where you can get a divorce in 6 months or less? Great! You probably can get through your divorce without dating. You certainly don’t have to, but you could.

There are many of us, however, where we can’t even file for divorce until we can show we’ve been separated for a year or more. In my situation I had no desire to begin dating; I had no plans to date. I resisted other people’s suggestions that I try online dating. I wasn’t looking and I was fairly certain I would never be in a relationship again. I didn’t even know the mobster existed until almost two years after D-Day. D-Day had been approximately 1 year, 9 months, and 20 days prior. My first divorce court date had already been continued, thanks to Jerry Lee and his claims of PTSD. I had a new date lined up. While I was working two jobs, supporting our two children with no help from him, and navigating all the emotional hurdles with them, my “husband” was living over 300 miles away with his cousin/mistress and her kids. He had financially cut us off that August of 2015, approximately 2 weeks after being caught; he, Harley, and the mulligans were living it up and living their best life ever. I hadn’t seen him in over a year. The month the mobster fell out of a tree and landed on my head marked a year since Jerry Lee had paid any support.

I’m solidly on board with the line of thinking that says I will not let him take one more minute of my life. Obviously you don’t need to be partnered up in order to live a full life, but if someone enters your life and they make things better I see no reason to avoid that person just because your cheating spouse wants to drag this divorce out. And often, they do. It’s the last means of controlling you they have. And because so many “helpful” people tell you that you need to keep your halo shiny and remain true to your marriage vows, they know they can get away with living their new lives, complete with a new partner, possibly new kids and a new house, while you’re left twisting in the wind, waiting for them to finally release you from your matrimonial bonds.

I would never have the relationship I do now if I listened to all the naysayers who say you need to wait until you’re officially divorced. It took me over two years to get my divorce. How much more time was I supposed to wait before I began dating once the divorce was finally finished? Another year? Two? Three? The mobster is still trying to get one. How long is he supposed to put his life on hold while she merrily goes about her life, doing whatever she pleases, shacked up with her boyfriend? We would both be missing out on the best relationship we’ve ever had while our spouses are shacked up with their new loves, doing whatever the fuck they want to do. Why are we supposed to forego our relationship?

Oh yeah- Reason #1- it’s too soon which isn’t fair to your new partner because you haven’t had time to heal.

Who is anyone to say what is too soon? In my case almost two years had passed and I was still married. I can tell you this though. I was way too busy working and trying to survive to go to therapy or do any work on myself. Year one hadn’t been too bad as we were still in our house the first 10 months, but year two sucked! I was thinking of nothing except survival and how much my life sucked. I was also pretty sure it was never going to get better.

I didn’t want Jerry Lee back. I wasn’t mourning him. I wasn’t mourning the loss of my marriage. Again, I was way too busy trying to keep afloat financially. Maybe people with plenty of money have that kind of time to navel gaze and overthink every little nuance of their past relationships.

I actually did fear that the mobster was moving on with me too soon. We met only two months after his wife walked out and less than a month after he had filed for his online divorce. But as he said many times, his marriage had been a living hell for 12 long years by the time he met me. He craved an honest partner. As he wrote once upon a time he wanted honest love; he was ready for that.

In the early days I grappled with a lot of self-doubt. I sometimes thought the love he had shared with her was far too big for me to ever measure up. They had twenty-five years together! But over time the fears lessened. I don’t worry about that at all now. And honestly, it probably wouldn’t have mattered if he’d been separated or divorced for a year or two. The issue was mine and it was mine despite the fact that my marriage had been over for almost two years, I had no lingering feelings for Jerry Lee, and I absolutely knew his cheating had had nothing to do with me.

Not everyone needs a year or two or more to heal. Not all of us need years of therapy and time to heal from a major trauma. Some people have been detaching for years, and once that person is out of their life it’s like a weight has been lifted. The mobster would say that he had been grieving the end of his marriage for twelve years before I came along. All those years he spent trying to get her help and get her sober he was grieving the end. I don’t think the mobster used me to replace her. Truth be told I wasn’t the first person he had dated after she left so it’s not like he just took whatever he could get. He chose me. He told me he fell in love with me the moment he laid eyes on me, crazy as that may sound. He was determined to not let her be the last chapter in his story. He moved ahead with full intentions of finding love again. And, as he always likes to point out, he knew when he was done with her. He didn’t need months or years to recover once that point was reached. When he finally got to that point recovery was well under way. The further away he got from her the clearer his mind became.

Similarly, point #2- you’ll probably be bringing baggage into your new relationship because of #1, isn’t true of everyone. Or maybe it is true of everyone regardless! I think I brought a certain amount of baggage into this relationship and it would have happened no matter how long I had waited. Anyone who watched twenty years of their life go up in smoke is probably going to be a little jumpy now and again. There are certain things I learned while my life unraveled and I don’t think I’m going to unlearn them any time soon. I also don’t think time heals all wounds, and I think everyone heals at their own pace. One person may be ready right away, while another person might never be ready. So, don’t date because you might bring baggage into this new relationship? Honey, I think we all bring baggage into our new relationships, even if that baggage is Louis Vuitton. We can’t help it but we can learn. Again, everyone does this at a different pace.

I’ve already gone over what I think of the “you’re still married” bullshit. Yes, legally I was still married. Legally Jerry Lee owes me somewhere around $60,000. Whether or not I’ll actually get that is a whole other topic. If it makes you feel better to say you didn’t date until the ink was dry on the divorce decree, knock yourself out. I’m certainly not advocating that you must date while you’re in the middle of that. But I no longer see anything wrong with it. Fuckwits are going to do what Fuckwits are going to do. They like to drag it out. Case in point- BSC. She’s been living with her boyfriend for 3 years now but has absolutely no interest in getting a divorce. It’s stall tactic after stall tactic, lie after lie, outrageous demand after outrageous demand. Any time the mobster starts talking settlement she gets all crazy and expects to get everything.

Point number five- you give your cheater ammo to use against you. Well, not really. If you’re in a no fault state they really can’t use the fact that you’re dating against you. And you can always remind them that if they want to try to drag you through the mud because you’ve dared to date before divorced that you’re only dating because they cheated on you. Which in effect means they’re dating, too, and they did it behind your back while you thought you were in a committed relationship.

But what if you live in an at fault state? As a person who divorced in an at fault state I can tell you that all three of the lawyers I met with were very clear that even if I could prove adultery it wouldn’t result in anything extra for me. Debts would still be split 50/50; assets would still be split 50/50. The judge wouldn’t give me full custody because of it. I wouldn’t get everything while he walked away with nothing because he cheated. I was advised to not date but the other side of that coin was that I was also told he could run around town declaring his love for Harley and make out with her in the middle of Main Street. Unless I could prove they were actually having sex I couldn’t prove adultery. The bar is set pretty high when it comes to proving adultery.  Jerry Lee and Harley were living together. He had moved out of the state to be with her. My lawyer still said she didn’t know if she had enough to prove adultery. They. Were. Living. Together.

Plus, it’s only a potential problem if you’re the spousal support receiver. If you would be paying spousal support you can do whatever you want. It’s not like you’ll have to pay more because you’re dating. Even if you’re the receiver you’re allowed to date; you just can’t have sex. Unless your spouse can prove you’re actually having sex and not just going out to dinner and the movies with this new person, you are operating within the law. Personally, I wouldn’t announce it to the world (and I didn’t) because cheaters don’t like consequences and they are always looking for a way out of them.

Finally, I take issue with this little gem, otherwise known as point #3- it might look like you were the cheater.

To whom? The cheater in my case is a perpetual victim. Even if I hadn’t met the mobster until months after the divorce was final Jerry Lee would still be whining and crying. It’s what he does. I don’t care if he likes it or hates it. I don’t care if he thinks it’s unfair or that I’m a horrible person or that he says  horrible things about me. The opinion of a man who cheats on his wife and walks away from his kids means absolutely nothing to me. Furthermore, what on earth do I care what his family thinks? They are nothing to me anymore. They will always side with him; they have supported and encouraged him throughout his entire affair. They know beyond a shadow of a doubt that our marriage ended when he began carrying on with Harley again. They know I was blindsided and that there was no one the entire time I was living in Virginia. They know, and he knows, that he was the one packing a bag and leaving his kids every weekend to go meet up with Harley. Not me. More importantly, I know none of that matters to them. So why in the world would I care if they think I cheated on him?

The people that matter to me know the truth. They had front row seats to the Jerry Lee Divorce Chronicles. They were there when I found out. They were there when he moved out without saying a word. They were there when he lost his job, forcing us out of our home. They were there when I moved back with my poor kids in tow. They were there during those long, long months where I worked two jobs while he worked none and sent no support for his children. Those are the people that matter to me and they all know that I’m not the cheater.

I can say the same thing about the mobster. The people important to him know he didn’t cheat on his wife and leave her for me. They know about everything she put him through. His dad, a Baptist pastor, even told him at one point that maybe it was time he considered divorce. When he told me that story he admitted that his dad suggesting that, when he had always grown up with the idea that marriage was forever and you just did not get divorced, shocked him. It must be really bad if his dad was offering up divorce as an option. They also know that I didn’t come into his intact marriage and break them up. She was gone before I came into the picture. His parents know that. His siblings know that. His kids know that. Jerry Lee can spin whatever kind of lies he wants to about me. His family can judge me as being a homewrecking tramp. I don’t give a flying fuck. You know why? Because the people who matter know the truth. Jerry Lee and his ilk don’t matter. And they wouldn’t know the truth if it came up and bit them on the ass.