Back In Time

We got back from Utah last Sunday. Rock Star, her boyfriend, Picasso, the mobster, and I all went out for 10 glorious days. We went horseback riding, rafting, and hiking. We visited some of our favorite places and visited some new ones. The mobster finally got to see the Great Salt Lake and if asked, he would tell you, it smells to high heaven. We probably wouldn’t have gone if not for the fact we went horseback riding on Antelope Island and Antelope Island is in the middle of the Great Salt Lake. It was a great time and yet… I felt myself overcome with the feelz more than a few times.

I don’t know why. It’s not as if I haven’t been back since DDay and everything that happened. Then again, our other two trips were pretty quick and were for a specific purpose. First trip back was for Rock Star’s college visit. It was a long weekend and we weren’t even back in our area. We flew into Vegas and spent the entire time about 4 1/2 hours away from our town. Our second trip back was for our friend’s son’s wedding. We flew out Friday morning and flew back home Sunday afternoon. It was the mobster’s first trip to Utah and we tried to cram as much as possible into the time we were there, but the wedding itself took up almost a full day. Again, there was a purpose for the trip.

This time we were there to relax, reconnect with friends, and do all the things we used to do but could no longer because we don’t live there. There were a few bumps in the road but overall it was a great trip. I missed seeing some people but a week really isn’t long enough to see everyone, do everything, and eat all the food you’ve missed. You think it will be, but isn’t.

I didn’t spend my whole trip bemoaning the loss of my old life but there were times I did get hit with jolts of nostalgia. They were mostly tiny triggers but I could feel them some days. I would have the question, “Why was I being triggered?” but the answer to that is in the first sentence of this paragraph. I was constantly being reminded of my old life, the one that is gone, obliterated. I will never have it again.

So many things have changed out there and it was super frustrating. I kept feeling like I should know where I was going, especially considering the entire city is set up on a grid, but I kept getting so turned around. It’s not just that there are new stores and restaurants. They have new roads and highways. The Mountain View Corridor had just opened a year before we left, or rather, parts of the Mountain View Corridor had just opened. I remember it ran much further west than it did east. Now it connects to the freeways. 

I also remember driving along the opened parts, talking to myself or envisioning what I would say to Jerry Lee, Tammy Faye, or Jezebel, when shit first started going down. I remember screaming and crying after Tammy Faye had commented on how pretty Harley was in one of her profile pictures. I wondered at the time how on earth she could possibly compliment my husband’s mistress, knowing we were together still. It hurt me to the core that she could spend so much time telling her how pretty she was every two weeks when she changed her profile picture, but she couldn’t be bothered to tell me even once.

That new-to-me, finally completed corridor brings up a lot of memories, and not all of them are good.

The highway with the funny name (Bangerter) that ran from one end of the Salt Lake Valley to the other and which was dotted first with stoplights at the major streets, and then with weird left turn interchanges has been changed to overpasses with exit ramps where most of the lights used to be. There is still endless amounts of construction going on.

I would get on a freeway and think I would know where I was and then pass a store I recognized and realize I wasn’t where I thought I was. That, or the freeway was taking me in circles and I didn’t realize it before. Or perhaps I forgot.

There was the moment at Lagoon when we were standing in a massive line to buy tickets, only to turn around and stand in another line to enter the park. I looked over at the kiosks where the season pass holders could enter and recalled all the seasons we had summer passes. We’d go up for a few hours sometimes because it didn’t matter if we rode everything or not. We’d be back later that week, or maybe the next week.

I did laugh about the time I lost Rock Star and her best friend. They had gone off to ride the roller coaster and we somehow got separated. I came up with the genius idea to crumble up Doritos so I could spell out a message for them: Stay here! I came back twice to find the crumbs were scattered all over and thought birds had pecked at the pieces and helped themselves to a tasty treat. I found out much later that those two rotten girls had seen the message and just wiped the Doritos away so that they could keep riding the rides without interruption.

As our week progressed I pointed out places that meant something to us. Here’s Scheel’s, a huge sporting goods store with an aquarium that goes around the store and a giant ferris wheel in the middle of the store. That’s the aquarium I took the kids to; they just moved from Sandy to Draper as we were leaving. They’ve got penguins and an anaconda. Lots of cool displays and set ups. Here’s where we lived. That’s the grocery store I ran to when I was out of something. There’s Jordan Landing. Look at how much it’s changed! They’ve got a Cafe Rio and a Waffle Love now. That’s the Walmart where I grocery shopped. There’s my kids’ dentist office. This is where my kids’ pediatrician was. That’s where I used to get my hair done until my stylist started doing hair out of her house. Hey, where’s Lani’s Snow Cones? They used to be right here, in the parking lot across the street from my former vet’s office. And that’s the Real soccer stadium. Huge controversy when they built that despite the voters saying, “No!” Oh, and there’s the ER where I spent many a days with my kids. And here are the malls we went to. There’s the Trax station; that was just built about a year before we left. We used to take it downtown so we didn’t have to worry about parking. We even ended up stopping in Park City and going right by one of the gyms where Rock Star competed every February once she reached Optionals. And although we didn’t spend a lot of time hanging out downtown going back there and seeing the outdoor shopping malls, especially the one that opened shortly before we left, was difficult. This all used to be at our fingertips. There was so much and we gave it all up to move to Harrisonburg, VA where they didn’t even have an Olive Garden and the food court at their mall consisted of one Chinese place and an ice cream shop. There were so many memories that accompanied this trip.

The hardest part though was hearing my friend tell the mobster stories about me and who I used to be. It wasn’t a bad thing. She was being very complimentary. More of a, “Oh my gosh! Let me tell you how amazing Sam was!” 

Let me preface this by saying I don’t spend a lot of time talking to people in my day to day life about what my life used to be like. I’m pretty open about what happened to me as far as my husband cheating on me with his cousin, leaving Virginia without a word to me or the kids, and abandoning his children, but I don’t talk about what my life used to be like. I don’t go on and on about my former life as a stay at home mom, or a PTA president, or all the places I took the kids, or the things that we used to do. I do occasionally talk about missing my pool, but aside from that I don’t talk about the big house I used to live in or the shopping sprees I used to be able to go on. I don’t talk about my walk in closet or my multiple bathrooms or how I decorated the house because I had nothing else to do. The mobster and I talk about that part very little because it doesn’t matter anymore. It used to be. It’s not anymore. And to be clear it’s not as if that’s all my friend wanted to talk about but when telling the stories of our girls growing up together you end up talking about that previous life because that was the way things used to be.

My friend works full time. Always has. Our girls were the same age and best friends. I frequently took her daughter to Lagoon and the water park and hiking and the roller skating rink and all the other places we would go in the summer. Her daughter was the only kid I allowed to spend the night on a school night and vice versa. On late start days in middle school, if she slept over, I’d take them both to Kneaders for breakfast. The mobster was regaled with stories of how I did everything with and for my kids. I was constantly running them from one activity to another. I took them places constantly. I was always busy and always doing things with them.

My friend went on to tell the mobster how her daughter would come home and tell her, “She’s the best mom!” Yeah, that was me. I was the best mom, was being the important part of that sentence. Now I’m the barely-ok-sometimes-adequate mom.

The mobster was also treated to stories about how I was Ms. PTA President. I knew everybody. I did everything. I was so involved up at the school. As my friend put it, “Sam worked her ass off up at that school!” Yes, I did put in quite a bit of effort for Teacher Appreciation. I wanted my teachers to feel appreciated and loved. I enjoyed doing it. Everyone knew me. Everyone raved about me. Everyone loved me. I had a purpose. Today? I couldn’t tell you the names of Picasso’s teachers the last four years, with the exception of his biology teacher. That’s only because it was the same damn teacher I had for biology back in 1983.

Don’t get me wrong. This new life is not the path I thought I was going to take; it’s not the life I thought I was going to live. But it’s a good life. Most days I enjoy it and I’m happy. I met the love of my life. I have a job finally that will actually support me. I just moved into my new office. I didn’t sacrifice my kids for this new life and my happiness. Despite both of them struggling with mental health issues they are doing well. Rock Star is entering her senior year and moving in with the boyfriend. I have high hopes Picasso will return to work soon. I have accepted that the old life is gone. But damn- all of those memories, even if what my friend was doing was bragging on me and lifting me up, they still hurt. It was another realization that that life was over. Who I was back then is nothing like who I am now. I went from PTA mom who knew all the teachers to the mom whose son barely graduated high school. I went from being the mom who kept my kids busy five days out of seven (I rarely took them places on the weekends) to the mom that can literally stay in her pajamas all weekend long. I went from having good, close friends that I hung out with, went to lunch with, went on trips with, to having mostly acquaintances. I am not the same person I was and I don’t necessarily think it’s a positive change.

I think my kids got cheated out of a great mom. I had to go back to work and I had to work a lot in the beginning- 6 and 7 days a week in the beginning, crazy hours, very little sleep. Even now I don’t have time to myself like I once did and they suffer because of it. Instead of running everywhere with them and trying to find things they might like I would rather hang out at home and chill.

Going back there brought back how much Jerry Lee took from us, especially how much he took from Rock Star and Picasso.

It’s a bit overdramatic to proclaim that I will never forgive him for what he did; however, out of all of the things that he’s done moving us out of Utah and then ditching us for Harley is definitely one of his all time lows. I truly don’t think I’ll ever forgive him for that.

Ironically, my daughter’s boyfriend fell in love with Utah the moment he landed. They are legitimately looking into moving there after she graduates. It’s not only because of the boyfriend. 

Rock Star recalls her childhood as being amazing (and it was). Her friend told her she really appreciates how I didn’t let them stay on their screens all the time and took them places, which I found a little funny. I never restricted TV or phones. I just found things to do with them and took them. Plus, I didn’t have a smart phone myself for most of their early childhood. They didn’t have phones either until they were 5th or 6th grade so it wasn’t even me keeping them off of them. Rock Star envisions raising her children the same way, keeping them off of their phones and making sure they have plenty of adventures outdoors. The problem is my kids had that life because I didn’t work. I’m about 99% sure we would not have had season passes to the amusement park if I had to take them on the weekends throughout the summer. The lines are horrible. I hate crowds. I wouldn’t have done it. Our weekends probably wouldn’t have been jam packed with activities because I would have been tired after working all week. She’s comparing what I did for her and her brother as a stay at home mom to her being a working mom. I hope she’s better at balancing the two than I am. But she also talks about how everything feels so much safer out there. She wants to feel comfortable letting her kids ride their bikes and wander around their neighborhood.

If going back to Utah is what she really wants then I hope she gets the chance to do that. I know Picasso would return in a heartbeat as well. The mobster loved it out there and was ready to move, too, but he needs to be practical. His kids are all in the eastern part of the United States- West Virginia, Virginia and New Hampshire. As for me? I would love to return but there’s no way I could ever afford it. Thanks to the smartest man you’ll ever meet we sold our house for $20,000 less than what we purchased it for 8 years prior in order to make this cross country move for his “dream job”. Seven years later it’s going for around double what we sold it for. His genius continues. Because he let our house go into foreclosure neither of us has any money for a down payment, not that we would have made much of a profit seeing as how our mortgage was less than a year old when Jerry Lee took up with his cousin again.  Average homes in average subdivisions are going for $500,000 or more out there. I can’t afford a $200,000 home, much less a $500,000 home. You need a $100,000 down payment and your mortgage is still over $2000 a month. Unfortunately, it looks like I’m stuck here because returning to Utah permanently is out of the question for me. Instead, I’ll have to be content going back every few years and trying to relearn my way around the valley. Grrr!

Here’s to my next trip and fewer triggers.

The Terrible Tragedy That Time Forgot

Do you know what today is? It’s June 11th. That means yesterday was June 10th. It went by without notice by me. I mean, obviously I knew the date. I wrote several reports that day at work citing the date, but it did not give me a single pause.

I went back to see what I wrote about the date last year. Apparently I forgot about it last year as well. The year before I didn’t realize the significance until the day was almost over.

When my world came crashing down on me on that date back in 2016 I thought for sure I would never forget that day. That was the beginning of a very dark period in my life.

These last two years it’s gone back to being just another day and I am so thankful for that. Life does indeed go on. 

If there is one thing I could burn into the brains of those people who are just now going through what I went through it would be that it gets better. It really does. You may not believe it now but the pain will go away. You will gain a life. You will smile and laugh again. You may or may not find love again. You will find happiness. And you will forget those horrible dates.

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.

Why Not Getting a Job Might Not Be the Wisest Choice

I frequently see women who have been stay at home moms advised by well meaning people who have been through the hell of betrayal and divorce NOT to get a job. Many times they are advised by their lawyers not to get a job. I was advised not to get a job. As my first attorney said (and I’m paraphrasing), “I want to put you up on that stand as a stay at home mom with no income.” Let me tell you why I think this is bs.

First of all, I get it. I understand *why* the lawyers give us that advice. Child support and alimony calculations, many times, are based upon the difference between what you are earning, and what you need to continue living the same lifestyle you and the kids have been living. Your lawyer is trying to get you the best deal possible. In regards to child support it’s usually a set formula but when it’s an income share model the more you make the less he needs to pay. That’s why Jerry Lee was insisting upon current numbers when I first tried to modify child support. If I was making $1.00 more per hour that would mean his support would be cut. It wouldn’t be cut by much but any amount he could get out of paying was worth it to him.

With spousal support you are looking at all of your expenses and what you need to pay your bills. Every dime you don’t make is a dime that your spouse is, in theory, supposed to make up. Scratch that. It’s actually the difference between what you are earning and what you need to pay your bills. When Jerry Lee lost his job, forcing us out of the house, it benefitted him greatly. As my second lawyer told me it wouldn’t matter how much money he made. If all I could show was $3000 in monthly expenses then the judge would only award me the difference between what I was making and $3000. Obviously my expenses were higher when I was paying a $2100 a month mortgage, plus utilities that ran anywhere from $400-$600 a month. Regardless of how much or how little your monthly expenses may be it  stands to reason you want as much help as possible, especially if you haven’t had a job in years. You should receive more help when you make $0 than if you’re making $40,000, or $100,000. That’s what the lawyers are looking at, and that’s what the well-meaning people on support boards are talking about.

Let’s look at the big picture though. Most of these stay at home parents have been out of the workforce for years. 10, 15, 20 years. Many of them don’t have a college degree, and we already know that a college education won’t necessarily get you a great job right away if you’ve been at home for a considerable amount of time. My main point is even if they do manage to get hired right away chances are they are not going to be making anywhere close to what the ex is making. If you’re one of those women that has supported your husband throughout the years while he’s climbed the corporate ladder, or you helped put him through school while he earned his law degree, medical degree, or other doctorate, he’s light years ahead of you. He’s been making money and getting steady increases in his pay over 10-20 (or more!) long years. You’re starting out at square one. He is going to be making so much more money than you that it really doesn’t matter if you’re making $30-$40,000 a year. Compared to the $150,000 or more that some of these men are making it’s a drop in the bucket.

You also need to consider the likelihood that he’s even going to pay. I’ve seen it more times than I can count where women are counseled to not get a job because that will affect how much they will receive in child support. We keep ourselves in poverty on the promise that child support and possibly spousal support will be more. Sometimes we luck out and he is ordered to pay a significant amount of support; however, being ordered to pay and actually paying it are two completely different things. Ask me how I know.

According to the US Census Bureau in a report from 2018 only 43.5% of all child support recipients reported that they received the full payment. Honestly, I was shocked it was that high; at one point I believe the stats were somewhere between 25-35% of support recipients received payment in full. More than 30% don’t receive any support at all, although I was unable to verify if that included people who have never filed for it, or if that was strictly people who had an order that was not being followed.

I know anecdote doesn’t equal data but back when I was still a teller I remember looking around at my co-workers. There were four of us. We were all lined up in a row. At least three of us had been married to the father of our children; I’m not sure about the fourth. Not a single one of us was receiving regular support. I think I had the best situation out of all of them, which is a sad thing if you think about it. Some didn’t pay at all. Some would toss the mother of their child $30 once in a while. Make a random payment here and there. I will never forget that image. Four women working hard to provide (barely) for the four sets of children left behind by the four fathers who didn’t care whether their kids were provided for or not. Maybe they just figured we wouldn’t let our kids starve. Maybe they didn’t care one way or the other. Kids fed and doing well? Great! Kids starving and doing without? Not my problem!

Those statistics become even more important when you consider so many states don’t have spousal support. You can spend your entire marriage supporting your spouse’s career and taking care of the house and the kids, but once he decides he’s done with you and he’s onto the next willing victim there is nothing for you. Nada. So you’d better hope that child support is generous and is paid in full.

I’m not saying to go against your lawyer. God knows, if you’re paying hundreds of dollars an hour you should probably follow their advice. I am saying it might be a good idea to question your lawyer on why they are giving you that advice.

Most of these women are terrified. They have no idea how they’re going to make it once they’re divorced. I get it. I was one of those women. I was living in a nice big house. I had a nice, cushy life. I had no money problems. Then **POOF** it was all up in smoke. I went from going on shopping binges to fill my house with furniture and putting a $57,000 inground pool into my backyard to wondering how I was going to pay for insurance and where would my kids and I live? How would I pay for my daughter’s graduation party? How would I afford college (in a state that will not order college to be paid for)? How could I provide for my children? All questions I was wondering about while my lawyer wanted me to appear in court as a fragile little stay at home mom.

In hindsight the best thing I could have done was start searching for a job right away. What I probably would have made wouldn’t have prevented us from losing the house but it may have given me more of a cushion. I was actually pretty good at staying on a budget. When he did lose his job I would have had something to put towards bills instead of having to begin draining my savings. Even if I ended up having to leave my job six months later I would have still been in a better position to get a job once I moved to Indiana. Trying to get a job after a long absence in the workforce is a nightmare. This idea that when you’re finally ready to get a job you’ll find one is a fairytale. In a lot of cases it takes a long time. Far better to start that search before you want to, so that when you need to you’re well on your way. I also might have been in a better position to ask for more money. Between having more relevant work experience and having had an actual paying job I might have been able to make more, or at least been confident enough to ask for it.

It’s well meaning advice but I don’t think it’s very prudent. The difference between what a man who is making six figures will be ordered to pay you when you’re making nothing versus making a fraction of what he makes is not worth putting yourself in potential poverty. The chances of him actually paying out what he’s court ordered to are less than half- 43.5% to be exact. And finally, just because you start looking for a job doesn’t mean you’re going to find one right away. Once you find one it doesn’t mean it’s going to pay well. It took me almost four years to finally get to the point where I’m making enough to support myself on my own if I had to. Save yourself. Don’t wait on the man who cheated on you and abandoned your kids to rescue you. It probably won’t happen.

































































































Waiting For the Other Shoe To Drop

Life is good! I haven’t felt this good in a very long time. All the pieces are falling in place lately- not just bits here and there.

-I’ve got a new job making pretty decent money- especially compared to what I was making. And my hope is that it just goes up from there.

-My relationship with my daughter has taken a 180 degree turn. It was never awful but we weren’t connecting like we had in the past and I didn’t feel like we were as close. We are very much back to where we used to be before this divorce hit us and rocked our world.

-My son is happy. There is a possibility he has a girlfriend even. I say it’s possible because even he is not completely sure where things stand with this girl. It’s very new although they’ve been friends for a while.

-Speaking of my son, he got his last name legally changed to mine a few weeks ago.

-The mobster and I are still going strong. I was driving home yesterday thinking I am so damn lucky to have found this man.

-Jerry Lee is still abiding by the court order. We had a little HR snafu a few weeks ago but that got cleared up and appeared to have been an honest mistake on the company’s part.

Everything is going great and I hate to say it but I’m beginning to sound like the ex, always wondering when the other shoe would fall and everything would come tumbling down. It’s like, “How can this be my life? There’s not one thing I can complain about (not that I’m looking for things to complain about but who has a perfect life?). I’ve decided to keep riding the wave of happiness. I’m always hearing it’s a choice so I’m choosing to be happy and to not worry about what may happen down the road. After all, I’ve already been to hell and back. I’m prepared for pretty much anything.

For those of you who wanted a quick synopsis on how or what I’m doing you can stop reading now. The above paragraphs were the highlights. For those who would like a more detailed report, keep reading. There will be a quiz at the end.

The New Job

I started my new job on Monday. I have only a vague idea of what I’m doing but that’s okay. I tell myself that in no time I’m going to know exactly what to do, and all those reports that cause my eyes to glaze over and my brain to hurt will be common knowledge. I’ll be navigating through new systems in no time.

I’ll be very honest. The job has been a huge piece of the puzzle. That was the one area of my life that had me very disappointed. Five years divorced and I was still not making enough to support myself without his help. Now, I’m not making six figures. I didn’t go from barely scraping by on what I made to making enough that I will never have to worry about money again. But this promotion is HUGE! I’ll let you know how huge when I finally get my new paycheck. That won’t happen for another 3 weeks- next paycheck will be half old job/half new job.

For the first time in years I am not worried about money. Between my new paycheck and the fact that Jerry Lee is abiding by the court order I am not currently under any financial strains. It feels wonderful. It’s been a long time coming.

Plus, as I said above, this new job is the tip of the iceberg. If I can excel in this position (and I know I can) I can do other things, I can go other places. We are one of the few departments in the bank that has analysts that are completely work from home. We have people on our team that don’t even live in this state. I can take a class and an exam and become certified, which makes me more valuable. If I do ever decide to leave my current employer I am already starting out at a much higher pay rate than what I was at before. I feel like the sky’s the limit.

Rock Star

I’m not sure if I spoke of this before but my daughter had a meltdown of epic proportions over Thanksgiving. She told me she felt like she’d been abandoned by both of her parents. She and the mobster don’t see eye to eye politically and she was bent out of shape about that. She thought my entire focus was on him and there was nothing left for her.

I pointed out to her that I felt like she didn’t have time for me. She was occupied with her friends and her boyfriend; I thought I was giving her what she wanted- her freedom. I also pointed out that despite her thinking I had been gone “all summer” visiting the mobster, the reality was I had seen him a grand total of three times while she was home. One of those times she came with me and the other two times she was invited to come along but declined. One of those times was also court; it wasn’t like I had a huge choice in the matter.

Anyway, our talk did us a world of good and because of the talk I have now started going down to visit her in her college town. I try to go down at least once a month. I also do my best to stay off my phone when I’m with her because I know that bothers her as well.

It seems to have done the trick because our relationship is like it used to be. It’s still difficult having her move out and in with her boyfriend; I’m really going to miss her this summer. But it’s nice having her excited to see me when I come down. I guess I never realized how much she still needed me, despite all the enticing new experiences at college.

Picasso

Oh, my sweet boy. He’s a man now, you know. Eighteen and almost ready to graduate. He’s been doing the online school thing. Has no desire to go back. Has no desire to walk at graduation either, although he says he will if I want him to.

He’s been crushing on a girl for about two years now and apparently the last time she was over she “made a move” on him. He wasn’t expecting it but he was pleased. I hope she doesn’t break his heart.

He legally got his last name changed last month. It was a fairly long process and I have my mom to thank because she did most of the running around with him to get things in order.

He had a Zoom court hearing at 9:30 in the morning. After we were done we went out for breakfast. His pick was Cracker Barrell. I bought way too much in the store, including a vinyl record for him and plenty of Ale-8. After breakfast we went to the guitar store and I ended up buying him a bass.

He used to play the cello and loved it, but he wanted something smaller and decided to go with a bass. I hear him upstairs now occasionally playing. He’s teaching himself. It’s a lot better than the recorder that he has been playing.

He’s still working. Still enjoying it.

I cannot say enough good things about the benefits of medication. He is like a completely different kid now that he’s been on his anti-anxiety/anti-depression medicine. He does things he never would have done before. Simple things- like making a phone call, or talking to someone he doesn’t know.

The Mobster

He is getting closer and closer to finally being able to sell his route and move up to where I am. I’m looking forward to the day we no longer have to plan weekends away in order to spend time together. I’m looking forward to mundane and ordinary, although I’m not sure anything is mundane and ordinary with him.

It’s going on four years now and the magic hasn’t stopped. He still makes me laugh. He still puts together the grossest ingredients possible and calls it a culinary masterpiece (I’ll be doing most of the cooking when we need to cook). He still stops at Lover’s Leap every time he drives to meet me and takes a picture. He’s still sweet and kind and wonderful. He still laughs at my jokes and tells me I’m beautiful and amazing.

We have our share of arguments but overall things are pretty dang swell between the two of us. As much as I hate what Jerry Lee did to me and my kids, I know I would have never left. I was so faithful that when I fantasized about hot male actors I had to envision myself as a widow in order to be okay with it. I apparently don’t know how fantasy works. LOL Anyway, as faithful as I was I would never have met the mobster, much less been able to enter into a relationship with him, if I was still with Jerry Lee. Let me assure you my relationship with the mobster is a million times better than what I ever had with Jerry Lee.

I’m so thankful for him and he’s so thankful for me. As much as it sucks to have your world implode when your spouse cheats I think both of us appreciate the other so much more because of everything we experienced with the exes. I can’t say it enough: I’m so damn lucky to have found him.

Jerry Lee

Jerry Lee has not yet dipped his toe back into the waters of contempt. That direct deposit comes in like clockwork. Almost.

A few weeks back the deposit did not appear in my account when it should have. Payday was on a Sunday so the money should have been there on Friday. It was not. When I contacted him he told me he only realized that morning that he did not get paid and he was talking to HR to get it straightened out.

I had several people tell me there was no way that was the truth. I was crossing my fingers because I couldn’t figure out what he stood to gain by lying. It’s not like he was going to have an extra two or three months to con me. This was going to be pretty straight forward and quickly concluded if he was jerking me around.

He kept in contact and told me HR was cutting him a check on the following Friday (so a week later). If they didn’t give me my portion he would Venmo the amount to me if that was okay by me.

That Friday the money appeared in my account. It was from the same employer so he didn’t change jobs and not tell me. I guess it really was a random screw up.

The very next week I got paid again (President’s Day was on Monday so I got my money on Friday) just as I should have.

My only complaint right now is that I submitted Picasso’s final therapy bill to him right around that time and he still hasn’t paid his portion. His response when I sent it was something along the lines of: receipt acknowledged. So he’s back to being his usual a-hole self. He’s had it for about a month now. I already paid the bill so I’m not waiting on pins and needles. I’ll give him a little more time and then inquire about it. You know what the best part is? I don’t NEED his help. It will all be a bonus.

I haven’t been saving as much as I originally wanted to, but as I said previously, I have not felt this financially free in years. I paid off my car in December. I paid off Picasso’s therapy bill. I have no more lawyer fees. I paid off my Target card and then put more stuff on it (I have an $800 limit, I think, so it’s not like it’s a huge amount to begin with). I’m paying off my Kohl’s bill in big chunks. I have plenty put away for taxes this year so I won’t be scrambling to pay those this year. I do have some in savings, just not as much as I wanted to have. Right now though I’m trying to pay off bills while also putting aside a few hundred. I’m keeping my HSA contribution at the obscene $200 per paycheck for now. Rock Star needs her wisdom teeth out. I’m probably going to need a crown. All three of us wear glasses or contacts so need eye exams and contacts and/or glasses. I may knock it down later on in the year. I haven’t decided yet.

Life is good, people. It’s taken five and a half years to get here but I like where I am now.

February 3

On this date back in 1997 I was in the hospital, miscarrying a much wanted baby. I had a D&C later that afternoon (evening?). That day sucked.

Ironically, on this date five years ago, in 2016, I was sitting in a courtroom. Jerry Lee declined to attend our scheduled show cause hearing so it was just me and the lawyers in the courtroom. Although he was ordered to pay me under a fine of $10,000 he still managed to get spousal support modified despite not attending the hearing. That day sucked, too.

February 3, 2021, on the other hand, has shaped up to be a very good day.

I’ve been saying for a while now that if my life is going to change I need to grab the bull by the horns and make those changes happen. Almost a month ago a friend of mine from the bank told me that there was an opening in her department. She had mentioned vacancies in her department back over the summer but by the time we had actually talked they had been filled. I told her then if there was an opening to let me know because I might be interested.

She told me on the 4th or 5th of January and I updated my resume and threw together a cover letter that morning. By the time I went to lunch I had put in my application.

Several weeks went by with no news, aside from the customary email letting me know my application had been received and would be reviewed.

Two weeks ago they finally began interviewing. I had my first interview on Friday. I sat at my laptop at lunch and talked to a circle on the computer because the person interviewing me had a computer that would crash every time she tried to use the camera. I had some problems getting into the meeting to begin with and then I spent the next 45 minutes or so talking to a voice on the other side of the computer screen. I asked what the next steps were and was told they were hoping to make a decision by the following Friday (January 29th). I thought it was strange that they weren’t planning on doing a second round of interviews because the person who interviewed me was not the manager of the department. Nonetheless, I figured, “OK, I’ll have an answer shortly.”

Monday I got another phone call from Human Resources. They wanted me to interview with the department manager. Did I have time available tomorrow?

I certainly did!

Thankfully her computer worked so I got to see the person I was talking to during the interview. I did manage to ask two questions of her at the end. 1. Are there advancement opportunities in this department? and 2. When are you hoping to make a decision? Again, I was told Friday.

Shortly after the interview I got another email from Human Resources. They needed five minutes of my time. They wanted to know if I had ever taken a caliper test.

No, I have not.

They were going to send me a link and I needed to take the test. She urged me to take it that night and let me know I needed to allow myself about 2 hours.

My friend said that was an excellent sign because the test was quite expensive and she wouldn’t have me take the test if she didn’t think I would be a good fit for the position.

I took the test that night. Hated it. For those of you who have never taken one it consists of about 60 sets of statements that you need to rate, along with approximately 5 sets of numbers where you need to predict the next number in the pattern, and then a number of actual shapes and/or patterns, only they do this, “This picture is to this picture, as that picture is to….” and you have to fill in the blank. After I finally finished that infernal hell I waited.

Friday came and went. The hiring manager did message me and ask if HR had set up my caliper test. Once she knew I had taken it she must have called them and then she let me know that the next steps would need to be taken the next week (this week). In the meantime, have a great weekend and stay warm.

To say I was on pins and needles all weekend was an understatement. Then came Monday. No word. Tuesday. No word. Wednesday. Another email.

This one was asking if I had discussed with my manager the fact that I was a finalist for the position. I quickly let her know that I had indeed had that conversation with my manager, and then I was sent yet another email regarding the hiring manager speaking to my manager and reviewing my last two performance reviews.

A couple hours later I get a message from the hiring manager. So…. have you checked your email?

i GOT THE JOB! I freaking got the job! There was a ton of interest and many candidates and out of everyone I got the job! I am going to be an analyst in this new department.

As you may recall, one of my co-workers took a job in a different department and ended up making $3 more per hour. I didn’t really know what this job paid. I just kept thinking, “I want to at least get three more dollars per hour.”  When I saw the offer I almost cried. I am going to be making almost double what I currently make now. It won’t completely cover what Jerry Lee owes me in spousal support, but it’s a hell of a lot closer. I am almost free of him. Oh, I’ll still be collecting on what he owes me, but now if he pulls his usual bullshit I’m not going to take the huge hit I take now. I have options now! I am not completely dependent on him. If I ever do decide to take the plunge and marry again I won’t end up homeless and destitute if he walks out on me or gets hit by a bus the day after our wedding. Hell, for that matter, I won’t be destitute if Jerry Lee gets hit by a bus before he’s done paying me what he owes me. I can’t even begin to describe how huge this is for me.

The position is salaried so no more punching a time clock. I’m also told that at our official location we each have our own office! How cool is that? I thought I had hit the big leagues when I had my own desk. Now I could be getting my own office.

This February 3rd has been much better than some previous February 3rds. I am so incredibly happy right now. I would like to think that my word of the year, attitude, had a little something to do with where I am now.

First, I had to get real with myself and take charge of making the changes I wanted. Then, I kept giving myself little pep talks along the way, telling myself to stop the defeatist self talk and to think about the possibilities. Every time I would get down on myself I would keep reminding myself, “Attitude, attitude, attitude.” Now here I am, getting ready to start an amazing new position in a department that I find fascinating, making more money than I ever dared to hope I would make. The best part is this is just the beginning!

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?

I’m Alive, Part 2

My lovely daughter has started therapy and seems to really like her therapist so far. It’s been one session but she didn’t hate her and said that things went really well. She doesn’t have another session until November 10th, I believe, but then she’ll meet weekly at least for the first month.

I’m trying to get a handle on how often she will be going because I have an HSA account. Currently I put a huge $20 in every paycheck. I have another $20 going into a former direct deposit account. I was going to just have them deposit my entire paycheck into my regular account but then I thought, “Hey! I could double my contribution and I would never miss it.” Then I realized, these therapy bills are going to have to get paid one way or another. It would probably be wiser to up my contribution and put that money into my HSA account, instead of paying for it out of my regular account. Money that goes into my HSA account isn’t taxed. If I raise my contribution to $150 or more per paycheck that’s $3900 going into my HSA, and it’s $3900 that I don’t have to pay taxes on. I don’t know that it would make a huge difference at tax time but every little bit helps. It’s a little scary because as I’ve often mentioned I don’t make much money at my job. So losing another $300 per month is going to mean that when I finally pay my car off I’ll still have about $250-$300 left from my paycheck after bills are paid. I will be completely at the mercy of spousal and child support. Eh, actually no more than I am now. I was just looking forward to having a little bit more money. That never seems to happen for me. There’s always something new coming up which diverts my money from my bank account.

Speaking of money, does it surprise anyone that I still don’t have the money that was taken by Mississippi on August 31st? I finally emailed Jerry Lee to see if he had received it. He says he has not. I contacted the caseworker. Much to my surprise she emailed me back that same day. She has now reached out to the caseworker down in Mississippi, so we’ll see what happens.

I had somewhat of a rough week a week or so ago. One of my co-workers is moving departments. This move is not a huge promotion or anything like that. She’s simply moving from being a rep in our department to being a rep in their department. But the move to this department comes with a $3/hour raise. 

That’s an actual raise. That’s over $100 a week more. Over $400 more per month. I am happy for her; however, it just highlights how very little we are valued in our department. I’ve been in that department for almost 3 years and I do not make $3 more per hour than what I did when i first started back there. I barely make $3 more an hour from when I started four years ago!

Most of us (I believe) tend to get fifty cent raises each year. It ends up being a little over $1000 for the entire year. When I moved from my former desk to the overdraft desk I got seventy cents more for that. I know. That’s very close to $3; I shouldn’t complain.

At the beginning of the year I was told by my former supervisor that she wanted to bump me up to a Rep II but because the person who is over our department head wouldn’t go for such a substantial raise that she was going to do that in May before she retired. Well, as you all know, Covid-19 hit, and supposedly all raises have been frozen. I have not been bumped up to Rep II. I have not been given another raise. And to be fair, while my initial yearly raise is usually a little more than 50 cents, we do tend to get another raise later on in the year. I got three one year. I got a whole 24 cents more as an incentive to stay, and then I moved over to the overdraft desk. So last year was actually quite nice. Still no $3/hour nice.

It also bugs me that I’m still only a Rep I. Most everyone in the department is made a Rep II within 2 years. A few of us have not. We should have been promoted this year but we haven’t been. Hell, after everything we went through after our first six months I think we should have been promoted at the one year mark.

We were a pod of four. After six months they moved the two most experienced people in our group into the brand new Fraud Department, leaving me and the other newbie to do the job on our own. What took 4 people to do was now being given to 2 people. We had to ask for help from everyone in order to get our reports done. And then, another 6 months later our reports changed and we went from mostly paper reports to a brand new system where everything was electronic.

Another thing that I didn’t share with everyone is that back in July I applied for the open supervisor position. Didn’t get it obviously, but I put myself out there. About a month later the Deposit Services manager schedules a meeting with me to catch up. I thought it had been scheduled because of the new boss who has come on board. She had met with all of us via computer chat and I had told her that being downtown was kind of lonely and isolating. I thought our boss was just trying to stay in touch.

Instead she told me how impressed she was with me as a candidate. She said that she and the HR lady that does the recruitment for our area were both amazed at all I have done and that I was like a hidden gem. She told me that they weren’t sure what they were going to do with the supervisor position because this was a chance to completely restructure our department. She asked me if I would be interested in perhaps being a project manager instead of a supervisor. She also assured me she was trying to get me more money.

This was back in July. I am not a project manager. I am not getting paid more. I have not been promoted to even Rep II. At this point I’m not even sure I’ll get my normal fifty cent raise come February or March. They finally hired a supervisor for that spot, but our other supervisor quit and now they’ve posted the job for that position.

Between the slow pace in which they operate and the fact that I know this co-worker of mine is getting $3 more an hour in her new department I’m really thinking I need to make a change. I’m not confident that I will ever get hired on in a different department so that means I’m going to have to start looking outside of the bank.

The problem of course is that I’m not qualified to do much of anything. I have a Bachelors Degree in communications which is almost 30 years old. I have a lot of volunteer experience but it’s mainly through PTA and most people that are hiring don’t really seem to think that’s anything to brag about. I have supervisory experience from twenty-five years ago but my previous work experiences don’t seem to matter either. That leaves me with my nearly four years at the bank. 

I was a teller and then I found and identified fraud among other things, and now I’m working at the overdraft desk. That doesn’t really translate into marketable skills. It’s a pretty narrow focus. Although, considering that the new person they brought on board has absolutely no banking experience whatsoever and she is now over our Deposit Services manager and has most of us in the department reporting to her maybe experience is highly overrated. Then again, perhaps when you get to a certain level it doesn’t matter. Apparently if you have no idea what you’re doing they’re willing to put you in charge of things, but they’re not willing to take you on as an entry level person.

They also really don’t seem to give a shit about attendance. I’ve missed zero days of work due to illness since I’ve been back in the workforce. I have missed for the occasional kid’s doctor’s appointment. I did go with my daughter when the Health Department notified her she had tested positive for Hepatitis C antibodies (she did not have Hepatitis C, nor did she have the antibodies; it was a false positive test) and I went with my son to ensure he got put on anti-anxiety meds this past summer when he was saying he had nothing to live for. I also left early once when my daughter ended up in the ER, and I took the next day off because I had been with her until almost midnight and it was a three hour drive back from her apartment to my house. I’ve also missed a couple of hours due to appointments of my own. I’d say all total I’ve used maybe three days of sick time. Doesn’t seem to matter though.

Anyway, all of that to say I was in a funk a few weeks ago knowing that my co-worker is making a hell of a lot more than me now. I’m sitting here realizing how very little we’re valued in that department, and knowing that nothing will ever change. So I will have to make a change, and I’m really tired of change after this year. It sucks.

All That I Have I Share With You… Or At Least Split It Down the Middle, Part 5

I freely admit I got badly burned. I barely made it through the first time. I don’t think I could take losing everything all over a second time. Financial independence is a must for me. I’m willing to downsize; I’m not willing to be homeless if I don’t live with my mom or someone else. I know that’s ironic considering I’m still reliant on spousal support, but if I remarry or live with someone I have to give that up. The spousal support I receive now gives me financial independence in my relationship with the mobster. I can afford to buy my kids things they need and want because of that money. I don’t have to ask the mobster for it. If I want to go somewhere or I want to buy something, I can do that. I am not reliant upon the mobster for it. Ultimately though I want to be financially independent even if there is no spousal support. Quite honestly, I would love to make more money than the mobster. He jokes about me being his sugar mama. I would love to be in that position.

I keep going back and forth. Is it important to be able to do it on your own? Yes, I think it is. Do you have more buying power when there are two of you? Yes, I think you do. How do you merge those two? That is the million dollar question. Maybe it comes down to not buying anything tangible that you cannot afford on your own but being willing to co-mingle money when it comes to the intangibles. Maybe. I don’t know. What I do know is I have no desire to lose everything all over again, and it seems like two becoming one is the surest way to do that. 

Maybe the real trick is to make sure marriage benefits both of you. Hell, even looking back at my own marriage I could see that it benefited both of us.

I was lucky enough to be able to stay at home with my kids. That was my main benefit. I got to do all kinds of amazing things with them and I was very involved with their school. I’m sure there are many working women who can say the same. I’m not one of them. It’s like I told Picasso not that long ago, “I used to be a good mom.” I don’t have the time to devote to them. Period.

I also had 100% access to his paycheck. I could book tickets to fly back to Utah. I could pay for gymnastics for my daughter. I could pay for hockey for my son. I could buy them whatever they needed and plenty of it. I could also buy them most of what they wanted. I didn’t have to worry about money, and I never had to ask either. I was free to do whatever I wanted with it within reason.

As for him, he was able to climb the corporate ladder. He was able to make an excellent salary, far more than I will ever be able to earn. He never had to wash a dish, do a load of laundry, pick up a kid from school, take a day off work because a child was sick, run kids around for activities, make a meal, or even fix his own plate or put his own clothes away. He never had to worry about trying to juggle working full-time with raising his kids because I was at home taking care of everything. 

Obviously, the benefits were lop-sided, and he ultimately benefited a hell of a lot more than me in the end.

Perhaps the real indictment is against ever being a stay at home parent. I had nothing of my own to financially contribute. The entire financial burden was carried by someone else. Everything I had was paid for by someone else. And then- POOF- it all went away. Maybe if we had been bigger savers the hit might not have been so bad; there could have been money in savings to split- if he didn’t blow it all on Harley first. If our house didn’t go into foreclosure when he lost his job, or if he hadn’t walked out one fucking year after we bought the damn thing maybe we could have sold it and I would have had a little bit of money to sock away. Shit, I had over $10,000 socked away at the time he lost his job. If he’d kept working none of the bullshit that happened would have happened. I probably could have kept the house, even though it wouldn’t have been a prudent financial decision. My kids wouldn’t have been uprooted. I would have had a $10,000 head start in regards to my divorce.

It’s easy to blame it all on staying at home but even in the prior examples those people are taking risks. My best friend is earning a third less than what she could be and the longer she stays out of private practice the harder it will be to build up her practice again. My cousin might very well not find another job as great as the one she left behind to “take care of herself”. My co-worker could find that she’s no longer being considered for promotion because she no longer wishes to work full-time. All of those decisions require taking a risk and placing your faith in the person you’ve chosen to trust and share your life with.

Not to mention even if you’re both working you’re getting something out of being married in most instances. I make $100; you make $100. Together we make $200. Twice the money to put into savings, put towards vacations, pay household bills, raise children. I know it doesn’t work that way all of the time, but in a lot of cases it does.

Maybe another answer is this. Be able to be self-sufficient. Earn enough money to be able to pay a mortgage on your own. Be able to afford your car payment. Be able to fund your retirement and put money into savings. But if this marriage truly benefits both of you then you’ll both lose something if the marriage ends. 

Perhaps that would be the difference this time around. If I make $35,000 and the mobster makes $65,000 and we bought a house based on what we make combined, then it doesn’t matter if I can’t afford the house payment on my own; he couldn’t either. When I was married I could afford nothing and Jerry Lee could afford everything because I had no job. Maybe this time around I’ll be the one providing the insurance and contributing a good chunk of the retirement funds. After all, there was a period of time in the beginning of our marriage where both Jerry Lee and I worked. Our combined income didn’t come close to what he eventually made but we were young and had no children either. We didn’t stress about money. One paycheck covered our bills nicely and the other paycheck allowed us the freedom to go out, buy gifts, and do all of the little extras. It was a team back then. Honestly, I think we were much happier back then, back when we both worked. Him being the sole provider meant an immediate power imbalance. As much as I miss my free time and the ability to get shit done in the middle of the week I know I will never go back to that.

I don’t know why I puzzle over this so much. Even in this woman’s story, when it comes right down to it, she’s going to marry again- for financial reasons. It doesn’t matter that she can pay her rent, or that she refused to buy a home with her husband that she alone could not pay the mortgage on. It doesn’t matter that she didn’t rely on her ex’s $250 a month for child support. It doesn’t matter that she could support the family when her husband was out of work for a few months. It doesn’t even matter if she continues this mindset with the new husband, refusing to live in a house she alone cannot pay for, refusing to take on any bills she can’t cover. She doesn’t have a well funded retirement and she doesn’t like paying out hundreds of dollars a month for insurance. So she’s getting remarried. She’s teaming up with someone else. Where she falters, he will help her. She can continue to pat herself on the back for being self-sufficient and doing it all on her own, but in the end… she’s not doing it all by herself. She needed help and she’s going to get it- by getting married.

All That I Have I Share With You… Or At Least Split It Down the Middle, Part 4

When I first read Mandy’s story, and throughout the years, I always wondered what the point in being married was if you were going to live like she did. Marriage is supposedly about being a team and combining your resources. Not much of a team effort when everything is separate or must play to the lowest common denominator. Now, having had my life systematically dismantled by a cheating man who held the wallet in our marriage, I see the benefits. Despite the flaws in her thinking I admire how smart it is to never purchase anything you alone cannot pay for. I look back now and I realize none of it was ever truly mine. It was all given to me by Jerry Lee and when he decided he was done with me I lost everything. No more nice big house, no more pool, no more vacations, no more outings with the kids, no more shopping sprees for them, no more financial freedom.

Yes, I understand that me tending to the home while he went out and worked allowed him to concentrate on his career. I completely understand and agree with the idea that if not for me he might not have been able to climb as high and as fast as he did. I get the whole “we’re a team” thing. But when that team breaks apart some of us quickly realize that our contribution to “the team” didn’t mean squat in terms of financial security. Nobody hires us on our ability to help our spouse achieve career success. When you split up that career success all goes to the person who is actually working. They leave and continue to make big bucks. The person who supported them are left behind, scrambling to find a job and figure out a way to support themselves and their kids.

I’ve written before about never dating again, never marrying again, and me not wanting to lose everything because the next guy can’t keep it in his pants, or he just decides he’s tired of me. Well, you know how the “never dating again” thing has turned out. I’ve even relaxed my stance on never marrying again. But, losing everything because he walks away? That’s a huge fear I continue to have. I absolutely do not want to give up my spousal support, be completely financially dependent on the mobster, buy a house, create a fantastic life together, and then have him walk out the door, leaving me destitute again and knocking on my mother’s door because I can’t afford to live on my own. It terrifies me. Financial independence is an absolute must before I ever consider living with or marrying the mobster (and he knows that for those of you who might worry he’s just now learning this).

Then I zigzag right back and I think, “Why bother?” Why bother creating a life with someone else if everything is separate? Isn’t the purpose of marriage to be a team? To combine resources? All that I am I give to you, and all that I have I share with you. Those were my wedding vows twenty plus years ago. All in. Not half assed. 

If I make $35,000 and the mobster makes $65,000 together we have $100,000. Doesn’t that $100,000 go farther than my measly $35,000 or his $65,000? Or even if it’s a lot more equal and I make $60,000 and he makes $80,000 together we make $140,000. Sure, we could both do okay on our own, but wouldn’t we do a lot better combining our incomes instead of living like we were single? Again, there would be two incomes paying household bills, two incomes going towards retirement, two incomes to contribute to savings, two incomes to pay for vacations, two incomes to help put kids through college.

Lately I’ve been seeing lots and lots of benefits of being married. For example, a co-worker at the bank just got married a little while ago. She was able to move from her home in the city to an adorable little house out in the country with plenty of space for her 4 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 pigs. She loves it out there and is always posting cute pictures and videos of her animals in their new home. She’s also gone down to part-time instead of working full-time. All of this has been possible thanks to her new husband. He is why she can buy a new house out in the country before selling her old house. He is why she can work part-time instead of full-time. She definitely could not do that on her own.

I have a cousin who had an amazing job at this tony military retirement community as an activities director. She remarried a little over a year ago. I know this because her husband, for their first anniversary which is paper, presented her with tickets to Hawaii. Nice. She has now quit her amazing job to take some time to take care of herself. She’s busy posting pictures of the bread and other goodies she’s making and talking about all the projects she’s tackling. Again, this is made possible by a husband. A husband who has no problems supporting her and her son. I suppose we could switch it around and say a man could also do this if he had a wife who made good money, but most men don’t tend to do that.

I’m happy for both of them. Honestly. After what I’ve been through I’m also a little scared for them. I keep thinking, “You better hope the bottom never drops out because if that happens you are going to be screwed!”

Then again, neither of them is as stupid as I was. My cousin is in her 50s and has been married twice before this. She’s struggled and she’s worked. She’s done it on her own before and I have no doubt that if she had to, she could do it again. The co-worker has worked full-time since probably age 18; she didn’t marry until her mid to late 30s. I have every bit of confidence that she, too, can re-enter the workforce in a full-time capacity if she needed to.

It’s everywhere- this benefit of marriage. Partnership. I see person after person who is benefitting from being paired up.

I look at one of my best friends who is a chiropractor. Before meeting her husband she was a single woman in her late 30s, working 70-80 hours a week. Soon after meeting him she quit her job to go into practice for herself. She became a mom to his three children and was the one doing laundry, making dinner, and getting kids to school and sports. Now she is teaching at her kids’ high school for a discount on the tuition. Maybe it’s free. Nonetheless, she has gone from working 70-80 hours a week making almost 6 figures to a teaching job making about a third of what she was making but where she has summers off and plenty of down time during the school year. She leads a completely different life. Thanks to a husband.

Another woman from high school just got married. They’re building a house.

Another one of my best friend’s is thinking about letting her ex turned on-again/off-again boyfriend move back in with her because the little bit he contributes to the rent and utilities helps her out considerably.

Yet another friend lost her full-time job during the coronavirus shut down. She’s been living with her boyfriend in another state during the week and then coming back to our town on the weekends to work her part-time job which she really likes. From prior conversations it’s apparent that he wants to take care of her. I have no idea if he’s helping her with her bills during this time but I know she’s looking for a job in his state and would move in with him for good if she was able to find something there.

It’s a complicated situation. On one hand I don’t ever want to be financially dependent on a man again. On the other hand, I see by all the examples outlined above, how beneficial it is when you work as a team instead of as a single person against the world. But then I think, “What happens if I’m discarded again?” Yeah, it’s nice to have a home of your own. It’s nice to go on vacation and buy things you want and need. But when the person you’ve chosen to spend your life with walks out on you and drastically changes the socioeconomic path of your life you get a little gun shy.