A Whole New Decade

Happy New Year! It’s 2020. Others say it’s the end of the decade. I say 2020 is actually the end. The new decade will begin next year in 2021. Sorry to rain on your parade. Nevertheless, isn’t this exciting? All those years watching the show 20/20 (which the mobster was on, btw) and thinking about how cool it would be when it finally was the year 2020. What would they call the show then?

I like to say that this will be the year of hindsight. The mobster says it’s the year of clarity. Yes, we are that obnoxious couple that laughs heartily at our own corny jokes.

I’d like to tell you I had an incredible New Year’s Eve. The fact is I don’t celebrate New Year’s Eve. I feel like it’s one of those holidays where everyone wants you to think it’s this amazing time and everyone is having fun. I’ve never really had an amazing New Year’s Eve. Most of the time it’s disappointing and at best, it’s okay.

I think one of my best New Year’s Eve celebrations was back when we lived in Olive Branch and had a fairly large group of friends. We went over to another couple’s house along with a few other couples and we played board games and ate delicious food. It was low key and lovely.

Two years ago I was with the mobster. We were at WinterFest up at Liberty University. That was another good night, but mainly because of who I was with.

Last night I fell asleep sitting up on the couch at around 11:30. I woke up around 3:30 and crawled into bed. No ball drop for me this year.

I also don’t tend to make New Year’s resolutions. I know they are rarely achieved. I know they are mostly forgotten within the first few weeks of the new year. When I do make resolutions I like to keep them something easy, like moisturize more, floss more regularly. Sadly, I can’t even get the hang of the flossing thing.

I do, however, like the thought of choosing a word for the year. Anne wrote about it on her blog earlier this week.

I’m not sure if the outcome will be any different because there is still a goal but I like it. I’ve decided that my word for the year 2020 will not be hindsight, as I originally thought, but change.

I need change. The post I wrote the other day turned into a pity party. It’s very easy to fall into that pattern when I think back to all the time that has passed. It’s been four years since discard and I don’t have an amazing new life. I have an okay life.

I mean, the mobster is amazing. I definitely have a fantastic new partner in my life but that is not something I control, if that makes sense. If he up and leaves me that one fantastic part of my new life is over and done. I’m back to my life being “eh”. To be clear I don’t think he’s going to leave me any time soon, if ever, but unlike something such as going back to school or getting a new job, I have no control over the outcome of our relationship. It is dependent upon him and his desires as well.

I am thankful for my children. I am thankful for my mom. I realize I’m very lucky to have a mom who is willing to house me and my kids and dogs. I realize I’m fortunate that I’m not dealing with kids on drugs or who are suicidal. They haven’t shunned me in favor of their father as some have experienced. All three of them are healthy, despite Rock Star’s recent repeat trips to the Urgent Care and ER.

I suppose I could heed Clarence’s words in “It’s a Wonderful Life”: Remember, no man (or woman) who has friends is a failure. I do have many remarkable friendships. That’s one of the things that has impressed the mobster. I do, and I’m very grateful for that, even if so many of them are so very far away.

I don’t want to give the impression that I have nothing to live for; however, there is much room for improvement. I want to be independent again. I realize I wasn’t ever truly independent once I married Jerry Lee. His job was what allowed us to live the way we did. It was never me. I can (and will) take credit for the fact that I was in the background doing what needed to be done and never prevented him from making those moves that afforded us a better lifestyle, but I never made the money.

I would like to either live in my own house with my own things once again, or live with the mobster, and know that if he leaves me I’ll be okay and can afford to be out on my own.

I would like to work at a job that pays me enough to live on. I realize that for what I make my car payment is way too expensive. We bought it less than a year before my life blew up. We took the longest loan with the smallest payment because we planned to use big chunks of his bonus check each year to pay it off. While the loan may have been for six years we planned to have it paid off in two or three. Nonetheless, it ended up being a $365 payment each month. That was fine when I was living on almost ten grand a month. Not so much when my entire paycheck for the 2 week period was somewhere between $550-$650.

I know this is long and rambling but my point is even dismissing my car payment I don’t have much to live on after the bills are paid. Once that is done and over I’ll have $640/month. Even paying off all of my credit cards still only nets me around $900/month. I have no rent or utilities to pay right now, so finding a place of my own with what I make would take every bit of that and probably more. My job does not pay me enough money to live on. Period. That needs to change.

I’ve mulled over career choices. I don’t know if going back to school for my Masters or a different degree is a viable option or not. I’ve given thought to going back to be a nurse, a forensic accountant, a teacher, a social worker, and a school guidance counselor. I’ve eliminated two of those.

Maybe 2020 will see me back in school. Maybe I’ll find something that pays more that doesn’t require a degree. Who knows. I just know it’s time for a change.

I need to lose weight. This isn’t the, “Oh, I want to fit back into my size 2 jeans,” kind of needing to lose weight. For the record, I was never a size 2, even at my thinnest. No, this is more of a, “I hate the way I look and feel and my blood pressure is out of control,” kind of needing to lose weight.

It’s the blood pressure thing more than anything. I used to have terrific blood pressure. I remember one time having my blood pressure taken and then the nurse took it a second time. Then she asked me if I was an endurance athlete because my blood pressure was so low. Even then I had to reply, “Do I look like I’m any kind of an athlete?”

I don’t remember for certain when it started to climb but I do know at my last exam before the discard it was higher than normal. But, the divorce diet led to a 20-25 pound weight loss and the next time I went in, which was December of 2015, my blood pressure was perfect. It’s definitely a weight thing.

My health is primary but I also hate the way I look anymore and the fact that I’m outgrowing the majority of my clothes.

The mobster would love to see me drink more water and less diet Coke. More change.

I still have running a marathon on my bucket list. Kinda tough to do when you don’t even run a mile.

I think about all the things I believe I would like to do- learn to play hockey, learn to knit and crochet. Wow- that was a shorter list than I thought. Still, those are things I could learn to do, even at my age.

Even in my current situation there can be financial change. Taking charge and making a huge effort to pay off everything I owe. Considering where I once was it’s not a lot. Considering how much I make it is a lot.

The big change I hope to see is finally having Jerry Lee garnished and finally taking him back to court for the court fees he owes. I’d like to have all of that behind me once and for all. No more need to text him to ask about payments. No more wondering when this would finally all be over. No more being frustrated over the shit he is allowed to get away with. No more having to do with hundreds, if not thousands, less whenever he decides he needs the money more than I do.

Anyway, that’s my word of the year- change. We’ll see if anything does change.

In the meantime I have managed to accomplish some things.

  1. I got Picasso into counseling. He had an appointment within a day after I finally reached someone at the counseling center.

    2. Rock Star has her sophomore year paid for. Yes, it’s due to loans but it’s paid for. And she will be applying to nursing school this upcoming semester.

    3. I got a new position in my department and I finally got to move over to my new desk. I don’t make much more than I did before but it’s a step up instead of a step down.

Happy New Year! Here’s hoping for some well-deserved change in the upcoming year.

A Toast

Today would have been my 25th wedding anniversary. I’m not bemoaning the fact that I’m no longer married to Jerry Lee, but it does seem that 25 years would have been quite the accomplishment.

I always used to like to tell the story of how I was almost late for my own wedding. The hair stylists were in absolutely no rush to get me, Jezebel, or my maid of honor done. They keep assuring me, “Don’t worry, honey. You’re the bride; they’re not going to start without you.”

Once we were finally finished my maid of honor and I were speeding down one of our main streets at about 75 miles per hour, trying to get to the church on time. We ran past guests arriving at the church.

On the plus side I didn’t have a lot of time to get nervous or emotional. It was pretty much get there, get dressed, walk down the aisle.

Despite how it all turned out December 10, 1994 was a pretty good day. I was young and thin. My entire life was ahead of me and it was filled with endless possibilities. Everything was good that day. Everything was untouched, unvarnished, unsullied. It was a joyous occasion.

Jennifer Ball of The Happy Hausfrau has a Facebook page as well. What would have been her 26th wedding anniversary was about 2 weeks ago. She wrote a brilliant post that day.

Today would have been my 26th wedding anniversary. And for a couple of seconds I thought about writing something. Something about could have beens and what ifs.

And then I said F THAT. I poured myself a glass of wine… and decided to make a toast.

Today I’m going to follow in her footsteps (minus the wine because it’s late and it will put me to sleep) and give a toast of my own.

This year, almost two years after being officially divorced and four years after having been discarded I’m raising my glass high.

I’m raising a glass to the fact that I have survived. I spent a lot of time crying and a lot of time wishing for death but I’m still here, stronger than ever. I have hated most of what I have gone through and the things I’ve had to do, the changes I’ve had to make, but I did it and I am stronger than he will ever be. He didn’t defeat me. Stupid little me who had been out of the workforce for 15 years and was dependent upon him filed for divorce and left his ass.

I’ve survived living under the same roof as him for six months after discovering what a lying, cheating asshole he was. I survived a divorce that went on for two years. I survived him not paying any kind of support at all for 10 months. I survived him slashing child support in half. I’ve survived him cutting spousal support down on his own as well. I’ve survived his slurs against me, him hacking into my Facebook account, him trying to turn my kids against me, and him harassing the mobster.

I’m raising a glass in my honor because I have continued to do the hard work of raising two children by myself.

There are a lot of people out there who will argue that if your ex pays support you’re not a single parent and you’re not doing it on your own. I’ll be the first to tell you that the money definitely helps. I’ll also be the first to tell you to shut your fucking mouth when you bring that shit around.

He sends money, when he wants and how much he wants. But he’s never the one leaving work and running down to the ER to be with a sick kid. He’s never available to leave work to take a kid that has missed his bus to school. He’s never there to talk to his kids. He’s never there to take them to a friend’s house or run them to the mall or to take them out to eat. He doesn’t pick his son up after his various clubs get out every night of the week. He’s not running to the store and picking up lunch supplies. He’s not the one they come to with their problems, their joys, their achievements.

Rock Star is almost through her first year and a half of college. She’s driven and smart and she’s going to be an incredible nurse one day in the very near future. Picasso is once again getting a D in math and somehow does not have an A in orchestra. Nevertheless, he’s a good kid. He’s funny and kind and despite his grades he is a very smart kid. One day I have high hopes he will get his driver’s license. When that day comes I will be here to celebrate with him; his father will not.

I’m raising a glass to myself because I have finally realized how toxic Jerry Lee was and how hollow our relationship was. I realize now how small I made my needs over the years of being married to him, and have resolved to never do that again. I have the absolute best partner a woman could ask for. I’m so lucky in that regard. I think that definitely deserves a toast.

For the first time ever I’m with someone who is happy. I’m with someone who makes me happy.  I’m with someone who thinks I’m amazing and can do all things. I’m with someone who is romantic and who enjoys pleasing me and making me happy. I’m with someone who appreciates the things I do for him as well. I’m with someone who laughs at my jokes and listens to me ramble on about everything- Candy Crush, bad traffic, stupid fast food restaurants that mess up my order, that guy on the bicycle who insists upon riding into traffic on a busy road with no bike lane. I’m with someone who let’s me vent and doesn’t expect me to be happy all the time or to never get upset or disappointed. He treats me like an actual person and not just an extension of himself or as a wife appliance. I’m real and I matter.

I’m raising a glass to myself because I’m back in the workforce for the first time in 15 years. My mom retired at age 52. I will have been working again for 5 years at that point. I’m starting over when others are at the pinnacle of their careers and/or looking forward to retirement. It’s not glamorous or fulfilling. It certainly doesn’t pay well. But I’m here. I’m doing it. Who knows? Maybe one day I will actually work a job that pays me enough to live on.

I’m raising a glass to myself because I don’t ever have to keep pick me dancing anymore. Those goal posts aren’t going to continue to move. I don’t have to feel like I’m never good enough or that I’m always a disappointment.

I’m raising a glass and giving a toast because I’m getting there. I’m getting to a place of acceptance. I’m letting go of my old life. I’m no longer mourning as intensely as I once did. I’m trying to see the positives. Like how I get to regularly see my oldest friends now that I’m no longer living hundreds of miles away. Like how both of my kids will graduate from my alma mater. Like how living with my mom isn’t a death sentence. There is definitely an upside to living with her and having three generations under one roof.

I’m raising a glass because I can finally look back on the many experiences I have had throughout my life and be grateful for them, even if they did end. I loved my life and friends in Olive Branch. I loved my life and friends in Utah. I even enjoyed my life in Michigan and Virginia. But those were just chapters, not the whole story. There will be more chapters. More adventures. Hopefully more friends.

I’m raising a glass to my dogs- Beau, Laila, and Milo. All three of them helped me get through those first few months when I found out my life was tumbling down. They slept with me in that big king size bed, making it seem a little cozier. They were all by side. Many a nights I would fall asleep in the recliner of our sectional with Milo on my lap, Beau right beside me, and Laila on the couch. I didn’t sleep a lot in those first few months- a few hours here, a nap there.

They watched me as I stomped on my cake topper and my wine glasses, as I smashed things to smithereens.They comforted me while I cried and calmed me down when I thought I was losing my mind. My sweet Beau Beau is no longer with us but I’m toasting him anyway.

I’m raising a glass to all my friends who supported me throughout this ordeal. So many people called and texted to check on me. I returned the favor and called and checked on those who were also going through the same hell. I’m forever grateful to those who cared and who to this day continue to check on me. I’m grateful for their anger on my behalf. I’m grateful to them for lifting me up and telling me how wonderful I am and how awful he is. I’m grateful to my favorite backyard neighbor who has faithfully done my taxes every year since I’ve been divorced (or at least trying to get divorced). I’m grateful for the two friends who sent me birthday flowers on my birthday from hell the year after I was forced to leave my house and move back to Indiana. I’m grateful for the friend who sent me a huge wine basket filled with wine and various snacks on my first single Valentine’s Day in 20 years. Those are the people in my tribe. Cheers to you!

I’m raising a glass to this blog as well. I love that I get to tell my story. I have a forum to say whatever I want. I can cut through all the bullshit that accompanies cheating and divorce and reconciliation. I actually have people who read this thing. Hell, this blog is how I met the mobster. Let’s do a double shot for that! Thank you to all of you who are reading.

Finally, I’m raising a glass to myself because I got rid of a lying cheater. I don’t have to wonder anymore if he’s still in contact with her. I don’t have to worry about triggers related to them. I don’t feel bad anymore about our relationship because it’s over. I don’t ever feel like I’m settling anymore. I don’t cry about our relationship. I am never hurt over his treatment of me. I never have to sit there and think, “How can he say he loves me and then turn around and do that?” I never have to feel like I’m wasting my life or wonder if it ever gets better. I’m free. I know it gets better. I know there is more out there. I have it now.

Cheers!

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.

The Pursuit Of Happiness Fallacy

What seems like eons ago, when in reality it was back in June, there was an article posted on Huffington Post about two wing nuts that got together through their mutual love of the Oregon Country Fair, or “Fair”, as the “family” knows it. Tracy Schorn UBT’d it over on Chump Lady and Jennifer Ball posted about it on her Happy Hausfrau Facebook page.

The quick recap: “Ruby” and Paul spent 16 years working “Fair” in Oregon. One day, while peeling potatoes the feelz hit ‘em real hard and they realized they were destined to be together. While his wife and kids were away on vacation Paul invited Ruby over for a “picnic”. They spent the week together navel gazing and justifying their behavior. It was a love that could not be denied. When his wife came back into town he told her he was leaving her for another woman and Ruby left her husband as well. Ruby was simply stunned that her ex-husband didn’t chase after her, begging for another chance, and was equally shocked that Paul’s ex-wife didn’t bow out without a fight. I’m pretty sure if I remember correctly they are now married (going on 4 years of blissful happiness) and own a pot farm.

Even more vomit worthy than the article were the comments. These are just a few of the stand out gems:

Love isn’t ownership. I’ve walked and I’ve had others walk. Learn and grow and move on. Stop blaming people for loving someone.

Good on them. No point continuing a BS relationship just to conform to everyone else’s BS relationships/marriages. Life’s too short and too long to live a live just to please church goers. Obviously they’re against real love anyway.

In response to someone saying that people who cheat on their spouses have a character flaw: We all have character flaws. People who stay in a loveless marriage also have a character flaw. They keep their spouse from meeting someone who will love them.

Yes, it’s a kick in the teeth when your spouse says they’ve fallen in love with someone else, and hard for the kids to deal with two homes, new step-parents, etc. But I can’t think of anything worse than reaching old age, the kids gone with lives of their own, moved to other states even, only to call on holidays and birthdays, and you being stuck immobile or infirm as time ravages your body, depending on someone you don’t love, haven’t loved in a long time, are disappointed with and sad to be around, and knowing you could have been happy, could have actually had a life worth living, years of love, sharing, fulfilling companionship, etc. and missed your chance.

Don’t stay somewhere you are not happy, life is too short! People like to pass judgement based on their own fears and insecurities. Let people live!

…way too many people stay in miserable marriages and hate their lives. Glad they’re happy.

People that are brave enough to admit their faults, their choices, their lives, always get very “righteous” people judging them… you could see that both of them were unhappy in their marriages before they “found each other”.Are people supposed to live a mediocre and unhappy life forever because of what looks good for society rules? No. I don’t think so.

Wow, so much hate because someone fell in love with another person and left a toxic situation.

Life is short, some people will stay miserable to “do the right thing” and never really live a happy life which is ok… but it’s also ok to make the decision to find happiness.

My husband left me for a younger woman. I’m happy for them. My 10 year marriage was unhappy. He wasn’t happy. I let him go be happy. It’s the mature thing to do.

They are both adults who made a questionable decision, but I’m sure all involved are better off, No one deserves to live unhappily ever after because of their “responsibility” to someone else’s feelings.

Let me remind you what Thoreau said:

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To paraphrase Rock Star, “I. cannot. even. with all of those asinine comments.”

I love how everyone believes that if you’re in a toxic relationship you’re entitled to cheat. God forbid you realize you’re in a bad situation and actually get the fuck out without having someone else waiting on you.

Wait a second! Are you telling me I can actually end a relationship before I have another one waiting in the wings? I can leave someone who makes me unhappy and sucks the life right out of me even if I don’t have another person I’m going to immediately be involved with?

Yes! Yes, that is exactly what I’m saying!

Then why in the fuck didn’t they tell me that? I’ve been stuck in this miserable relationship for the last ten years because I didn’t have time to set up a Tinder profile! Or volunteer at Fair.

I don’t know what to tell you, Sparky. You’ve always had the option of leaving. This remains a free country and more importantly, divorce is legal.

Quick question. Who will have sex with me once I kick my spouse/partner to the curb? Who will hold my hand while I go through this divorce? Who will tell me how awesome I am and how horrible my spouse was? And who’s going to pitch in and do all the things my spouse used to do?

Ah, that is the kicker, isn’t it? It’s not that these cheaters don’t realize they can leave a toxic relationship; it’s that they’re lazy. They don’t want to leave until they’ve got the replacement lined up.

Look, I don’t think anyone advocates staying in a miserable marriage. I know I don’t. I’ve always said you’ve got a couple of choices. The two good choices would be you can try to fix it or you can end it. The two bad choices would be you cheat on your spouse under the guise of unhappiness or toxicity, or you suffer through it for years on end.

About that so-called unhappy/toxic relationship. Cheaters lie. Mine lied a lot. It’s amazing to me how many people who have been cheated on talk of their cheaters telling them how much they loved them, how they couldn’t live without them, how these had been the best fill-in-the-blank years of their lives, how they were the love of their life, they were their rock and salvation, and sunshine shot out of their asses.

Hell, even ol’ Jerry Lee claimed that I was his rock. My family was his only real family. He wanted to renew vows. He wanted to have another baby with me so I couldn’t leave him.

A year later I was a mentally abusive spouse who never supported him and hadn’t had sex with him in ten years.

The story has to change when they start doing shitty things. It excuses the shitty things they’re doing.

So many of them focus on “ownership” and not staying if you’re unhappy. I truly don’t think most people think any of this through. We’re not talking about a summer romance here. We’re not talking about a couple who has dated a year or two. We’re talking about, in this case in particular, two people who were married to other people. They made plans with each other. They bought houses. They may have moved across the country. In one case they had two children together. The time to figure out the relationship is not working for you is before you get married and certainly before you bring children into it.

And again, I’m not advocating staying in a loveless or toxic relationship but, Jesus Christ, could maybe someone put a little effort into maintaining their current relationship, the one that did produce those children, before they decide the potato peeler is the new love of their life? I think the innocent children in these situations deserve a little bit more than, “Golly, I just wasn’t happy. Mommy didn’t support me quitting my full-time job and becoming a pot farmer.” Grow the fuck up! It is not just about you anymore.

That seems to be the popular refrain. You’ve got two choices. You either wait out a miserable life being trapped in an unhappy relationship or you cheat on your spouse and get the hell out. Repairing your current relationship never seems to be a solution. What an antiquated idea!

I loved the one that posited, “I’m sure they’re all better off. No one deserves to live unhappily ever after because of their responsibility to someone else’s feelings.”

What kind of bullshit minimizing is that? It’s a marriage. It’s a legally binding relationship. If he’s in the hospital, as his wife I will be the one deciding whether to pull the plug or not. Our lives are entwined. Our money is combined, I’m taking care of his children. I’m keeping his house and doing his laundry. Do not reduce it to some kind of half baked responsibility to my feelings. No, I’ve created a life with this person. We have made plans for our future. When he decides he no longer has a responsibility to my fucking feelings he’s not just hurting my fee fees he’s fucking with my life.

How does this person know that everyone is better off? Maybe the kids have psychological problems stemming from this. Maybe his ex-wife is struggling to keep a roof over her kids’ heads. Maybe she’s working two or three jobs to keep afloat. Maybe his ex-wife was a depressed, suicidal mess for months, if not years, after this happened and his kids were barely being taken care of because their mother was unable to function. This idea that everyone magically pairs up with someone new and has this fantastic life now is magical thinking designed to excuse people like this.

Look at Jennifer Ball. She’s lived just above the poverty line ever since her husband left. She raised four kids on her own. The jackass ex was rarely around. He was far too busy with his ho-worker and their two new spawn. Is she better off? I think she would tell you that she’s happy and counts her blessings, but better off? I don’t think so.

I’m going to have to invoke my John Walsh analogy one more time. He’s got a lucrative career on television because of what happened to his sweet little boy, Adam. Had he never been kidnapped and murdered John never would have done the work he’s done with missing children or going after wanted fugitives. But I think anyone would have a hard time arguing, “Oh, he’s better off.” Quite honestly, I think anyone stupid enough to say that to him deserves a punch to the throat.

I also appreciated the person who declared that, yes, it is a kick in the teeth to get dumped, and golly, it’s probably hard on the kids to deal with a change in their lifestyle, two different homes, and potential step-families, but gee whiz, wouldn’t it suck to get to old age and realize you’re with someone you don’t want to be with.

Yes, it’s slightly disappointing when you find out you’re being cheated on and deceived. It kinda sucks when you have to return to the workforce after being a stay at home mom for 15 years and you don’t get paid enough to actually support your kids and have a home of your own. 

Sure, the kids do sometimes struggle. I mean, I’ve got one who now thinks he shouldn’t have to even complete high school because it’s pointless and another one who calls me up crying because her anxiety is out of control. They both suffer from anxiety but one gets stressed and cries, and the other finds it difficult to reach out for help and fails school. Neither one of the kids dealt with anxiety or depression when their father and I were together but hey, if one of them winds up killing themselves it’s worth it so long as their dad is happy, right? The kids are collateral damage. Don’t get too attached.

Yes, the real travesty isn’t one parent living in poverty or kids having anxiety attacks or lives being upended. The real travesty is finding out after the kids have left home that you are in a loveless relationship and you were too much of a chicken shit to actually do anything to improve your relationship, or to end it the correct way.

I think my favorite comment though was the one who said that people in loveless marriages have a character flaw because they are keeping their spouse from meeting someone who will love them.

What the what? First of all, maybe the spouse in the loveless marriage doesn’t think they’re in a loveless marriage. Maybe they think they’re in a very happy marriage. Second of all, if you’re both in a loveless marriage, but only one person goes off and cheats while the other person remains faithful, why in the fuck is it the faithful partner’s responsibility to get out of the marriage? Oh, I’m sorry. Why is it their responsibility to make sure their spouse finds someone who will love them? I would think it would behoove the person who can’t keep it in their pants to get out of the marriage before it comes to that.

That whole comment is just one big mindfuck.

Oh, your partner cheated on you? That’s not a big deal. Move on and get over it.

Oh, you stayed in a loveless marriage but didn’t cheat? You horrible person! How can you keep your wonderful spouse from finding love? I hope you rot in hell!

I’m going to say it one more time. I’m not against ending an unhappy marriage. Hell, I would advocate for ending unhappy relationships far sooner than most of us do. Most of us who stay, even when things aren’t going great, do so for good intentions. We do it  because we want what’s best for our kids. We believe in commitment and working through the hard times. We think about things other than ourselves and our own happiness. We regularly put others ahead of ourselves. 

I will, however, take issue with someone cheating on their spouse and then excusing it by saying, “I wasn’t happy.” That’s entitlement and crappy character, not a search for happiness. It’s about selfish people putting their own wants and desires ahead of everyone else.

The Exit Affair

We’re all familiar with this term, right? It’s what they call it when your spouse leaves you for someone else. I guess it differs from the “just want to fuck ‘em” affair somehow.

I’ve never liked the term but I couldn’t put my finger on why until recently.

…minimize the cheating and wrong doing, instead focus on the shortcomings of the relationship.

As in: Yeah, I cheated. But I haven’t been happy for a long time/we haven’t been happy for a long time/we’re not right together/our relationship would have ended anyway/we’ll be much happier apart/it’s for the best, etc. etc.

I think this is another form of manipulation. You’re not allowed to react, get angry or upset about them cheating on you, because instead they’ve switched the focus to ending the relationship as if the affair never happened- they’ve sidestepped and minimized the affair and gaslighted you into thinking your relationship was ending anyway.

Yes! That is exactly it. I was always left wondering if perhaps I deserved it. Maybe we weren’t right together. Maybe he would be happier with her. It wasn’t just an affair. It was an exit affair, which means I was to blame because I was lacking, our relationship was lacking. And everyone knows that if you have a shitty relationship the way to end it is to fuck your cousin. Or the person of your choice. Doesn’t have to be a relative.

He wasn’t just a run of the mill cheater, out having sex with new people because he liked a bit of strange on the side. No! He was still an upstanding man with great integrity. He was practically forced to cheat on me because our relationship was so awful.

An exit affair is all about the relationship; the cheater’s character can never be called into question. Because if the relationship had been better he or she would have never cheated. No, sir!

Someone else on Chump Lady chimed in with this:

You’re so right that the “exit affair” narrative is another form of manipulation, defined by a massive amount of side stepping and down playing.

That is precisely what it is. It downplays the shitty character of the cheater. It sidesteps the total destruction of lives caused by the cheating. And it manipulates people into believing that somehow this is an okay thing because who can argue against happiness and true love?

I’ve written about this before. People like to say they didn’t leave for the affair partner; their marriage was already dead, over. In other words, the affair was simply the catalyst that made them realize the marriage was over. I’ve long argued that, no, if you were still with your spouse up until the moment you began fucking your affair partner, you left for that person. You didn’t leave until you had a replacement lined up. Ergo, you left for that person.

You were too much of a chickenshit to leave honestly and ethically. You were content to sleep with your spouse and take advantage of whatever they brought to the marriage (you know, the long dead one), whether that was a paycheck, child care, laundry services, cooking, yard work, etc. You didn’t get out of this horrible, horrible situation until someone else came along and volunteered to do all of those things for you.

Or as another commenter on Chump Lady puts it:

Ah yes, the exit affair. I hate this term because whenever I read about what it means, it seems like the ultimate blameshift. The relationship was so bad that the fuckwit had to leave under the protection of an affair partner.

It focuses all of the blame on the person who’s being fucked over. It’s all about the crappy relationship. Nothing about the cheater’s crappy character. It’s not their fault, y’all! The relationship was bad! Their soul was dying from the weight of this cancerous relationship. Then this new person came along and suddenly they feel alive again! They can hear the birds sing. They can see the sun shining and marvel at how blue the sky really is. You can’t argue against that, right? So let’s dress it up in a pretty package and spin this sob story into something that has the cheater seen as the victim and the betrayed as the perpetrator.

I didn’t have an affair. This was an exit affair. Exit affairs are all about escaping bad relationships and finding well-deserved happiness. They’re not about sex and entitlement and people who lack a moral compass.

My advice? Don’t take the bait. It doesn’t matter how the affair is labeled. Even if the cheater leaves for the other person it doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean their “love” is special. It doesn’t mean they’ve found someone with whom they are more compatible. It doesn’t mean it was your fault. It doesn’t mean that your relationship was lacking. It means they have an entitlement issue and shitty character. They are the same person regardless of who they’re with. Personality transplants don’t exist.

Radical Acceptance

There are many things that are going to pop into my mind over these next 26 days. I intend to write about most of them.

Today I was trying not to let myself steam over Jerry Lee’s newly self-modified spousal support. “You’ve turned it over to the state. You have to have faith that things will turn out in your favor. Judges don’t like it when people modify their orders (or a fellow judge’s).”

Yet, it still chaps my ass. For four months he played me like a violin. Acting like he was jobless and sending all that he could. I’m grateful for the crumbs he sends because it’s what keeps me from having to work a second job. When he’s finally confronted he doesn’t pony up and pay what he owes. Oh hell no! Instead he does some weird ass arithmetic and comes up with an off the wall calculation for what he is willing to pay. He sends that money each months and believes I should be grateful. He pays me almost $400 less than what he’s supposed to be paying, but I’m supposed to be thankful. And as always, I’m at a standstill. Waiting. Waiting for action to be taken.

“What does that all have to do with radical acceptance, Sam?” you may be asking. It was a comment on Facebook. I believe on Chump Lady’s Facebook page. The person who made the comment said you had to have radical acceptance. You had to accept that what once was was no longer, and you had to accept that this new life was now yours.

So I was just thinking about how he lives in his fancy little (well, okay, big) 5 bedroom house with an open floor plan and a fireplace in the most sought over subdivision in his town, while he doles out partial payments of his court ordered support. His life hasn’t taken a hit at all. He and Harley combined bring home, I would imagine, even more than what he made by himself. She’s living her best life ever with her new, well-paid husband. Her kids are living a life they’ve never dreamed of before while mine are mired in hell with a mother who is constantly worrying about money. I thought to myself, “Isn’t this some shit? Christmas of 2014 both of my kids woke to Mac Book Pros from Santa; they opened up another $300-$500 worth of gifts from us when we exchanged gifts before leaving to spend Christmas with my family. Four and a half years ago, in the summer of 2015, I was spending $57,000 to put an in-ground pool in my backyard. Today I’m donating plasma twice a week so that my kids can have Christmas.” How do you radically accept that?

Sophia’s words come back to haunt me. Her story of having to throw out every plan she had for her future after her accident and then learning to live and accept a different life has stuck with me.

Does radical acceptance mean I have to like it, though? I feel like I have minimally accepted it. I acknowledge and recognize that my children and I once lived an upper middle class, cushy lifestyle and now we don’t. It’s a cold hard fact. I simply do not have the cash to do the things with them that I did before. We don’t go to the places that we did. I don’t spend the money that I used to spend. I don’t have it. I can’t do it.

I acknowledge and recognize that by my former standards I’m poor. I live with my mother and I will never have a home to call my own again. I understand that. I hate it, but I have accepted that that is my fate.

Maybe it doesn’t need to be radical acceptance. Maybe it only needs to be acceptance. Maybe it’s small steps, like having to be okay with your daughter needing to take out loans to fund her entire college education because you know you can’t help her. Or, on a much smaller scale, realizing you can’t buy your kid a new computer.

Picasso recently charged up his laptop. I don’t know what he was doing with it but I’m sure it had something to do with downloading games on it. He let me know that his laptop is outdated and he can’t do the things he wanted to do on it. While I was out donating plasma so I could buy Christmas gifts he apparently was looking online to try to find an inexpensive gaming laptop (I’m told a gaming PC would be much more expensive). He found one for $580. Compared to the others which were over a thousand he did indeed find a deal. Unfortunately, that is more than the generous amount I have budgeted for him for Christmas.

Originally I felt bad about not being able to buy it. I twisted it around in my mind, trying to figure out how to make it work that I could get that for him. Naturally I went to the old standby: If his father hadn’t let his dick rule our lives I’d be able to buy him a new computer- no problem. And then I began to think, not outside the box, but beyond my comfort zone.

The first thought I had was that he simply wouldn’t get one. It’s too expensive, even at that great price. Sorry. No. I cannot afford it.

The second thought I had was that he could get a job and earn enough money to buy it himself. He’s 17 years old and he doesn’t work. He has a couple of after school activities that last a few hours but that’s it. He could get a job like his sister did and make some money of his own. He isn’t responsible for his phone bill. I’ll be paying his insurance when he finally starts to drive. He has no regular bills so anything he made would be his entirely. He could easily make enough over the summer to get the computer he wants.

The third thought I had was that I could buy him a few gifts and then give him cash. If he gets cash from his dad and his grandpa maybe he’ll have enough to buy it. If not, he’ll have a great head start.

There are certainly worse things in this world than having to work for something you want. I don’t know if that’s radical acceptance or not, but it’s all I’ve got for right now.

Even Better Off

Yesterday I posted the song, “Better Off”, by Sara Evan’s. I know it’s easy to get fired up by a song and then when the music stops and life returns to normal we’re left thinking, “Oh sure, Sara, it’s easy enough for you to say! You’re not living my life! You’re not left in poverty. You’re not raising my kids. And I love him (or her)! So today I will talk about real life and how it gets better.

When the Mobster and I first started talking he told me about the day his wife left. She had grabbed a bag or two of belongings, supposedly because she was going to stay with friends “for a few days”. As he watched her leave he said to her, “You’re moving out. You’re never coming back, are you?” He said a look of surprise came over her face and she then thanked him for putting up with her shit all of these years.

About a month later when she brought the other man to their kid’s soccer game and she showed her ass once again he finally decided it was really over. Whatever hope he’d had before was gone. Whatever thoughts of reconciliation had existed were banished. He had had enough.   Later that night he went into the basement and sobbed. His son found him there and assured him that he still had them, meaning his kids.

I’m fairly certain it was that same night while talking he told me, just matter-of-factly, as though it was simply the way these things work, that he would always love her. That was the point in the conversation where I rolled my eyes and sadly acknowledged to myself that this would never turn into anything because I wasn’t going to compete with the memory of his always loved wife.

We have a little disagreement over what happened next because he says that’s when I brought him to his senses and told him, no, he wouldn’t love her forever. I don’t exactly recall what I said but I’m pretty sure I mentioned  Chump Lady. On second thought I probably did say something like, “You only think you’ll always love her. Give it some time and distance.”

Anyway…. my point is this. If you ask him today if he’s better off he will tell you that he is absolutely, 100% better off. He looks back on that relationship and wonders why he wasted so much time trying to fix things. He looks back now and admits he did crazy things, like always sniffing her drinks to try to figure out if she had alcohol in it or not, or starting his day super early and busting through his workday so that he could get back home early in the afternoon before she had a chance to drink herself into a stupor, or meet up with other men. With a little bit of time and distance he was able to say, “She is a really toxic person and our relationship was very dysfunctional. I felt like I had a fifth child.”

You’re gonna find someone who’ll love you like he should have
And when you finally feel the difference you’ll be so glad
You gave yourself the chance to move on
You’ll wonder why it took you so long
And why you wasted so much time on him

Those words are so true. He often remarks that things are so different with me. He would tell you it’s incredible finally being with someone who gives back as opposed to only taking.

Our first time meeting I brought him a little gift. It was a toy helicopter because he had said he wished he had one so he could fly to see me anytime he wanted to and it wouldn’t take the 10.5 hours it takes to drive.

He was so touched. I will always remember him saying, “I didn’t get you anything. I feel so bad! I’m the one that usually does stuff like this.”

That same evening I gave him the letter I had written to his wife. I had commented one time that I should write to her and thank her for letting him go because he was so amazing. He thought that was an amazing idea. So I did it. I never mailed it to her; ultimately, it was for him. It brought him to tears after I read it out loud to him. “That’s a really nice letter,” he told me.

He still wonders what life would have been like had he left when he found that first bottle back in 2005. Or what he might have accomplished if he’d had someone who had supported him and been a full partner to him.

I can’t help with what all he might have accomplished, but I do practically point out that back in 2005 his kids were all still young. His oldest was only 12 at that point. The youngest would have been 4.

Her drinking was not out of control; in fact, the only reason he knew about it was because he found the bottle. I don’t think 50/50 custody was that common back then, the kids wouldn’t have been old enough to say they wanted to go with him, and she was a stay at home mom who homeschooled her kids. They would have been with her full time and he would have had, at best, every other weekend and maybe a Wednesday evening.

You can worry yourself to death thinking about how things could have been, or what you should have done differently. None of that matters, though. The past is gone. Realize now, in this moment, that you deserve better. Choose you. Choose a future free from someone who doesn’t appreciate you, who mistreats you, who cheats on you, who lies to you, and/or who badmouths you to anyone who will listen. You will be so much better off.