A Sweet Moment

My English professor once told me I needed to prune my words. Prune. So I’m going to give this my best shot.

I had a very sweet moment with my two kids today. Rock Star just turned 22 and Picasso will turn 20 in 2 weeks. This is important to the story.

Short version: Fuckwit dad disappears for months. Suddenly reappears and asks his kids, young teens, if they have bank accounts yet and lets them know if they don’t he’s willing to open up a joint account with each of them. Mom is suspicious about this. As she puts it he never does anything unless it will benefit him so she’s wondering what his angle is.

Several people agree with her suspicions. All is fine until one commenter declares that there is no reason for that father to be on his kids’ account and furthermore, any parent who is on their child’s account is controlling and abusive. People replied that in the US a parent is almost always required to be on an account with a minor. I know that’s true at the bank where I work. That’s when the stance became: If you must be on their account while they’re a minor then you should immediately remove yourself once they turn 18 because you have no business being on that account at that point. Anything less is controlling and abusive. The end. Period. Voice of authority says so, therefore it is so.

I could have argued with this person but I figured it would be far better to go to the source. This person believes they are the voice of every child who has a parent on their bank account? Well, I’ve got two kids of my own and I’m on their account. I asked them how they felt about it.

“Hey kids! Quick poll for you. Some stranger on the internet thinks it’s controlling and abusive for a parent to be on their child’s checking account. They also think once the child turns 18 the parent should immediately remove themselves from the account. So, if I were stupid enough to listen to internet strangers and took myself off of your account would you be saying, “Thanks, Mom! It was so controlling and abusive and I just didn’t know how to tell you,” or would you be saying, “Thanks, random internet stranger. Now my mom can no longer randomly transfer money in my account,”?

Shockingly, both of them said they appreciated the fact that I randomly transfer money into their accounts and said they would prefer I not stop that. Rock Star said if I was stealing money from them then it would be abusive but since I’m not she had no problems with it. Picasso agreed with her. He went on to state that he knew of parents who did stuff like that and even mentioned a friend of his who had to hide money from his mom. Rock Star named someone as well. And then the sweet moment happened.

Picasso wrote: Mom, I don’t know if you realize, but you are a good parent.

And then by the miracle of iPhones Rock Star was able to “emphasize” his statement.

Awww! Folks, I was in a restaurant getting ready to eat some chicken wings. I almost cried!

Rock Star went on to say, quite sagely, that parents that are being abusive to their kids probably wouldn’t be reading a post discussing how to be a good parent. Picasso agreed with her and added that they also probably either think they are a good parent or they just don’t care. And then again he melted my heart when he wrote, “We love you, Mom.”

Then it got very sappy. Rock Star added on, “To the moon and back,” which is funny because I always associate that with what Tammy Faye and Jerry Lee would say. But she reminded me a while ago that when she was little I would read the book, “Guess How Much I Love You” to her. Little Nutbrown Hare tells Big Nutbrown Hare how much he loves him. Each time Big Nutbrown Hare agrees that that is indeed a lot and then goes on to add to it. At the very end Little Nutbrown Hare tells his dad “I love you right up to the moon.” Big Nutbrown Hare says that is very, very far indeed and with that, Little Nutbrown Hare falls asleep. Then Big Nutbrown Hare whispers, “I love you right up to the moon… and back.”

Because Big Nutbrown Hare always loves Little Nutbrown hare more I couldn’t leave it with my daughter declaring her love for me to the moon and back, so I told them I loved to Mars and back, or whichever planet was furthest. I added that Picasso probably remembered which one it was from his solar system program in kindergarten.

Sure enough, he writes: …it’s Pluto, though Neptune is sometimes further since Pluto has an elliptical orbit.

It’s a mouthful, but it had to be said: I love you both to Pluto, and sometimes Neptune because of Pluto’s elliptical orbit, and back.

Exhausted

I am officially exhausted! I’ve been working 10-12 hour days since last week, trying to get everything done for the end of month. My plan was to work like a dog last week so that this week I could work normal hours and not be freaking out. I ended up working crazy hours this week, too.

Thankfully though I am now also officially on vacation. I don’t go back to work until June 7th. I’m beyond excited.

We have plans, plans, and more plans. Way back in the early 80s, when spending your Friday nights at the local roller skating rink was the thing to do, Rick Springfield came to my area. I did not get to go. I had no way to pay for it and I know my mom would not have spent money on something so frivolous. Besides, I’m not sure who I would have gone with. I still remember my classmate coming to school the following day wearing her concert t-shirt. Tomorrow night I get to right that wrong. We are going up to the casino in New Buffalo to attend the Rick Springfield concert. My co-worker has a Cricut and she has mad skills. We have custom made t-shirts. The mobster’s says: Jessie and mine says: Jessie’s Girl. Oh, I’m still buying a concert t-shirt if he has any for sale. I’d like the ones with the tennis shoes on back, if possible. If not, I’ll take anything. I’m also starting to realize that even though I had his first two albums (on cassette no less!) I don’t know a lot of his songs. There are maybe four, five of them. I mean, everybody knows “Jessie’s Girl”. Side note: That is the way it’s spelled on the album. My co-worker checked before making the t-shirts. I’m also a big fan of “I’ve Done Everything For You,” and “Don’t Talk To Strangers.” That’s it, off the top of my head. Damn- I’m not even up to four. It’s going to be a great time even if I don’t know all of the songs.

Tuesday we are heading down to French Lick. Yes, that’s really the name of the town. Home of Larry Bird. We’re going down to check out the wineries and the caves and who knows what else. I’m just looking forward to getting out of town and spending some time with my sweetheart.

We’ll be there through Thursday and then Friday is Rock Star’s 22nd birthday. We’re going to Muncie, visiting a winery down there and then eating at a Japanese steakhouse. From there we are heading off to Chillicothe.

That weekend is a big Pokemon Go event called Pokemon Go Fest. We’re going to spend the weekend playing Pokemon in beautiful Yoctangee Park, eating bismarks, and visiting our favorite places and then on Monday he’ll head to Virginia and I’ll head back to Indiana.

This is not ending on a sad note. I am good. Really. I’ll miss seeing him every day but I’m okay. I got all my crying out. I’ve made my peace with the situation. I can’t really explain it but I feel invigorated. Excited about what’s coming next. The things I can do and the changes I might make. We are both horrible at maintaining good eating habits when we’re together. I’ll be getting back on the low carb bandwagon because I’m like 98% sure I’ve gained every pound back that I lost. I also won’t feel guilty when I’m putting in a 10 or 12 hour day (not that I’m hoping to be doing that regularly). I plan on writing more regularly. I have a whole new mindset and it’s going to be fine. We’ll be meeting up again regularly. I still love him madly and he still loves me. We’re just going to do this long distance thing for a few more years.

I think I’m going to go chill a bottle of cranberry wine and jumpstart this vacation of mine. 10 glorious days!

Shock and Awe

My boss: Do you have time for a quick call?

Me: Yes.

Inwardly I’m groaning. Oh shit, what have I fucked up? Am I not doing the new task correctly? Am I too far behind on my alerts? Oh boy! What have I done?

She called me right away and asks, “Do you remember during our one on one how I told you I was going to make you an Analyst II?”

I replied that yes, I did remember that and once again I’m inwardly groaning thinking, “Oh crap. It’s not going to happen. She didn’t get approval.”

Well, folks, I’m an Analyst II now. One fucking week after she tells me she’s going to flip me over to a 2 in the next six months! Best part? I kinda figured I would get somewhat of a raise. Keep in mind I”m used to Deposit Services offering me $0.25 an hour as a generous raise. Yearly raises of around $1300-$1500. Yeah, that’s right. Per. Year. With that in mind I was thinking that maybe I’d get a 5% increase. Remember, I just got a raise a month ago. When I let myself go crazy I’d think maybe I might get 10% and that would be real nice. 18.74% is what I got. She told me my new annual salary and I just about cried. I don’t know why, because I already knew what 10% would be.

She laughed and said, “It’s a lot better than when I plucked you out of Deposit Services.”

I told her she was my fairy godmother.

She told me I deserved it and I work for it. She never has to worry about me or fear that I’m not going to get my work done.

I am making double what I made in my last year in Deposit Services. Slightly more than double. I am making over three times what I made when I first began at the bank.

Remember when I first got hired in this department and I said that I had almost closed the gap? I have completely closed the gap now. The next step is to get CAMS certified and get another nice bump.

I cannot even begin to tell you how good this feels. I have gone from being a stay at home mom who was convinced she would never make enough money to support myself and my kids to a freaking BSA Analyst II. Between spousal support and my own salary I am almost bringing in six figures. Me! The party of the second part who relied upon the party of the first part to supplement my lifestyle because I was incapable of living on my own merits. Jerry Lee is still supplementing that. The asshole tax remains high and he’s still got another 12 years of paying. But I truly believe that if I’m willing to keep working hard and willing to take chances I can be making close to six figures, or better, in the next 3-5 years. And that sure as hell beats the last 5 years!

I still remember those first days after finding out about Jerry Lee and Harley. I had no idea what I was going to do, how I would make it, who would hire me. I remember applying for job after job and not even being called for an interview. Then finally I got lucky and got hired on at Target. I remember getting up at 3:30 in the morning to go to work at 4. I remember going in at 2 am when we had double trucks. I remember working 2 jobs during the Christmas season in order to make sure my kids had a decent Christmas. I remember getting 36.5 hours at $11.00/hour when I first started working at the bank. I remember going into work at Target from 4 am until 7 am, running home to pick up my daughter to take her to school, and then returning home to get ready for my day at the bank. I clearly remember those days when I didn’t have enough money to take my kids shopping for new clothes. We couldn’t go out to eat or to the movies like we used to do. I was exhausted all the time. And then I transferred over to Deposit Services and thought that I had hit the jackpot. Only I really hadn’t. I still didn’t make enough money to support myself and my kids without Jerry Lee’s help. I remember that day he told me he hadn’t sent the second half of my spousal support because he had lost his job. I remember sobbing in my car in the garage because I just couldn’t deal with the thought of returning to Target and having to go into work at 4 am once again. I remember him modifying spousal support for over a year and me just being so grateful in the beginning that he was at least paying something. I remember being dependent upon him. And I remember feeling like a failure because despite everything I had endured I still wasn’t where I wanted to be financially.

That has all changed. I’m so excited and yes, so proud of myself for all I have accomplished. I was promoted from Analyst I to Analyst II in just over a year. Never in a million years did I think that would happen. I planned on a solid two years before I got bumped up. I spent three years in Deposit Services and never went from Rep I to Rep II. So I find this promotion to be amazing, especially the speed with which it happened.

Anyway, that’s all I have for you right now. I promise to write about something else in the near future. I’ve got lots of things to tell you and I even got a new computer. Just need to set things up. Until then….

In Other News, Part 2

I do actually have reason to dance in the rain. I am excelling at work.

Last week we had our remote workers come in for the week, which was awesome. It was my first time meeting these people in person. We had lunches together. We had meetings. We got together after hours three of the days. It was a lot of fun, although I was exhausted by the end of it.

Anyway, my boss had one on one talks with each of us during the week. It’s not a new thing. She tries to do this on a regular basis. But during this particular meeting she let me know I was doing a fantastic job. She continues to be amazed at how well I manage my work and get it all done (see the previous post about working those extra hours). They apparently interviewed a lot of people for this position and I was the hand-picked favorite. She’s giving me a new responsibility and because of that increased responsibility she is making me an Analyst II within the next 6 months. And with that comes another raise. She also told me to plan on taking the CAMS classes around 2023, 2024 and get ready to take the test to be certified.

I cannot tell you how psyched I am about all of this. Seriously. CAMS is a big deal. It’s a certified anti money laundering specialist. My boss told me a few months ago that once I was CAMS certified I could write my own ticket. This is definitely something I want to do and I’ve talked about it with both my mom and the mobster. It’s a big time goal with an even bigger payoff.

The caveat is my boss won’t send anyone to the classes until they’re an Analyst II. I’ve also heard that there are certain qualifications you have to have before you can even sign up. Extra training and classes and such. So, being promoted to an Analyst II was a big step in reaching my goal. I thought it was going to be at least another year before I was bumped up and then who knew how much longer until I was finally sent to classes?

Now I have a date and a timeline. I’m getting *another* raise sometime in the next 6 months. It won’t be long before I can write my own ticket. I can go pretty much anywhere I would like and I can ask for a whole lot more money once I’m CAMS certified.

I’m dancing, folks.

In Other News

This was written about 2 weeks ago. I’ve got another update for you.

I’m really beginning to hate that phrase: Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning how to dance in the rain. And yet I persevere.

While the love of my life happily treks back to Virginia I’m doing my best to dance in the rain. My daughter will graduate from nursing school in December. I am so excited for her. She seems to really be excelling in school. Her instructors love her. One of them asked her to be a student instructor for her class next semester. So she has a paying gig along with the many references that have been offered by various clinical instructors.

I finally have good news on the Picasso front. If you remember back in December he was having a meltdown. He had quit his job at the grocery store, tried Chick-Fil-A and quickly quit that job, and he had run out of medication.

He is doing fantastic right now. I got the prescription refilled, he saw our nurse practitioner and he finally got his referral to a psychiatrist who has since put him on two different medications.

That’s not even the best part. He suddenly decided he was going to get his driver’s license and was going to join the carpenter’s union. I think within a day of announcing his plans he had made an appointment to get his license. He scared the shit out of the driving instructor but she passed him. He’s had his license about two months now.

Once the hard copy of his license was mailed to him he went down to the carpenter’s union and signed up. He’s done everything he needed to do and he’s actually working a job now. He’s been on it for a week and a half. His very first full time job. He makes his lunch the night before and gets up at 5 in the morning to drive an hour to the job site. He’s such a big boy now!

It’s odd to think that next year at tax time I will only be claiming one child, and that this is the last year I’ll be able to claim head of household. As of 2023 I believe both kids will be off my payroll. Quite frankly, I’m hoping to be on theirs. LOL

I’m really hoping Picasso inquires about insurance soon. It’s not so much that I will suddenly have a huge payday (I do still carry Rock Star). It’s more that I’m sure his insurance will be cheaper and will undoubtedly be better than what I can offer him.

My mom just got back from Florida a month ago. She has a birthday coming up on May 13th.

My kittens are growing. They can’t share the little basket on the cat tower anymore. Or, if they do try it one of them usually leaves pretty quickly because they don’t have enough room. They are little stinkers. Holly loves her wet food. She cries and cries in the morning until she gets her way. She thinks every time I walk near the kitchen it’s time to be fed. Noël is a lot more chill and not nearly as food motivated.

I got them a bubbling water fountain because cats are supposed to drink more water when it’s moving. Milo may be drinking out of it, too. Really all three of them can share. It’s not like it’s a cats only drinking fountain.

I am working from home two to three days a week. Milo loves it. He’s my little shadow. I try to remember to bring his little pop up house into the office so he can sleep.

Work has been crazy lately. It hasn’t helped that I haven’t been able to focus until just recently. The past week I’m sure I worked more than 8 hours Monday-Thursday but I know for certain I worked until 8:30 on Friday evening, taking about a 30 minute break to eat dinner and then logged on again on Sunday and worked another four hours. Fortunately, that had me pretty well caught up with all of the end of month stuff.

I just got my raise and it was actually decent. I mean, it wasn’t another almost 50% but it was decent.

I began this year with four weeks of vacation and 2 banked holidays. It’s almost May and I’ve only taken my 2 banked holidays, although I do have the day after Thanksgiving reserved to be taken off. Still, 3 weeks and 4 days of vacation left. I’m not sure what to do with it.

I’ve always wanted to go see Multnomah Falls in Oregon. Apparently there is hiking and an additional waterfall or two. I’d probably end up as one of those lost hikers that ends up dead.

You know, the funny thing about travel is I don’t find it to be something I want to do all by myself. I mean, I guess I could take a fucking cruise on my own but how much fun would that be? Sitting at a table full of people that are coupled up and where I know no one. Lounging about on the deck and sipping cocktails by myself wouldn’t be so bad, but I don’t think I’d leave the ship. I’m not very adventurous on my own. I love going to the movies by myself. I could even go out to eat by myself. But a vacation? Uh. no. There is not a single vacation I could envision going on by myself with the possible exception of the beach. Maybe I’ll end up just taking a road trip one week. Find some tourist-y things to do in a few cities and enjoy my own company. Or I can just sit on my ass at home for 3 different weeks. We’ll see. The year isn’t over yet although I’m sure my boss is probably going to be pulling her hair out in another month or two.

If anyone has vacation ideas I’m all ears.

Never Again

I read this somewhere and I wanted to discuss this:

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

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

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

From all the lies and all the betrayals.

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

Extreme independence is a trust issue.

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

Extreme independence is a preemptive strike against heartbreak.

So you don’t trust anyone.

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

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

“Never again,” you vow.

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

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

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

It’s a trauma response.

by Jamila White

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My answer to that is, “No!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Here, Be Still… In Virtual Reality

Ah, nothing says embracing your word (phrase) of the year and living in the moment like a day out at a virtual reality arcade. Arena? Building? I don’t know the correct terminology.

Last year when my son changed his last name I planned on taking him and a few of his friends out for a day of fun. One of the things he wanted to do was this virtual reality game. He had gone earlier with another friend and loved it. Anyway, it was closed on the day we were going so we didn’t get to do it and I just haven’t ever gone back.

Fast forward to this weekend. The mobster has been begging me to buy him an Occulus (jokingly, of course…. I think….). Two of his sons have one and they’ve had so much fun playing it. Picasso bought himself one a few months back as well. He saw that we have several virtual reality places in town and really wanted to go. I really didn’t have much interest. I was going to go with my son because it was something we could do together. Despite my many campaigns to let him know how much I think he would enjoy a pedicure Picasso has remained steadfast in his belief that he would not enjoy such a thing. So I was willing to bend a little to have that time with him.

Then the mobster got me right in the heart. “You always said you’d try anything once.” Ouch!

Okay. Off we went. Me, reluctantly. The mobster and Picasso excitedly.

It was So. Much. Fun! I have to get my daughter and her boyfriend up here and have the five of us go one day. 

We did the zero latency game. Basically, you wear this life vest along with your goggles and headset. They give you a gun. You’re in a large room and you wander through this room. There were tasks you had to perform along the way. Thankfully you could never get kicked out of the game because I ended up dying four times.

If you’ve never done a virtual reality game I have to tell you it is so real. You know it’s not but your mind plays tricks. At one point we were supposed to go up this ramp that was outside a building. It was just like being outside and staring down God only knows how many stories as you stay close to the wall and get from one point to another.

I couldn’t do it. I was like, “Nope. Game’s over. I’m not moving.” The game master was instructing those of us who were big babies, letting us know that another worker was right around the corner and he’d take our hand. I finally came to the realization that all I had to do was lift my goggles. That’s what I did. Pushed those suckers up and walked right through that little bit of the game. Look up, my ass! Just take the damn goggles off!

As far as shooting zombies went I did not come in last. That honor went to the only other female in our group. Picasso was the overall winner and the mobster came in second. He actually had more kills than Picasso but Picasso had more head shots and a slightly greater overall score.

The game lasted 30 minutes but I swear, it didn’t feel anywhere that long.

We also played two rounds in the Omni Arena. Those are only 10 minutes but thank God for that! After the first one I think I had an episode of exercise induced asthma! I could not stop coughing.

This game says it’s on a treadmill but I think that’s a bit of a misnomer. They’re more like mini trampolines that don’t bounce. They aren’t moving. You are. You wear slippers over your shoes and they have little round monitors, like the ones you would wear for tracking time at a race, that they put into these slippers.

Our first game, of course, was battling zombies. The weapons changed so quickly I’m sure there were times I was trying to take someone’s head off with a pistol. I kept running into things (virtually, of course) and then I’d have to fight through a swarth of zombies that had me pinned in.

My pants kept falling down which was distracting. Well, they didn’t fall all the way down. They were just beginning to slide down. Still distracting.

We let the other group go ahead of us before we did our second game because we were all tired. In this game you’re constantly running and you have to run on that circle to make your character move. No movement, no game.

We ended up spending almost 4 hours out with an ice cream break in between games. We were exhausted by the end of the night.

What can I say? The mobster is almost always right and he was definitely right in this case. I had a blast and am looking forward to going back. I’m still not going outside the side of that building, though.

It’s Not Fair

I often read about people lamenting the fact that their cheating spouse has escaped the marriage with no consequences. They seem to have everything and the cheated on spouse is left with a life in shambles. “Where is the justice?” they often ask. “Why does he (or she) get to ride off into the sunset with a new partner while I’m left all alone? Why has my entire life been firebombed and his (or her) life gone on unscathed? Why isn’t my cheater hurting like I am?”

It goes beyond that, of course. There are feelings of despair. They’re tired. Everything is difficult. Life is a struggle for those left behind. And yes, the cheater does seem to have it all- the new house (or maybe the old house), the new partner, vacations, toys. It sucks. It’s unfair. Why do the cheaters get it all while the ones that are cheated on are left to rebuild?

Of course it appears they have it all! They’re cheaters. No, seriously, they’re cheaters. I don’t mean that only in the sense that they physically cheated with another person. They cheated. Period. It was never a level playing field. They got a head start. They already had everything planned before they walked out the door. They’re not mourning the end of a marriage because they’ve either already done that, or they are incapable of doing that. No one dumped them. They weren’t blindsided by you. Their life was not turned upside down against their will. And life will continue to be unfair until you have a chance to catch up.

Yes, they’ve already got a new bed buddy and you’re all alone? Of course they do! It’s not because you’re unworthy and your cheater is awesome so naturally someone else has glommed onto them. No! It’s because they’re a cheater who already had their next victim lined up. You didn’t do that. You thought you were still in a relationship with this person. If you had known what they were up to you could have got your ducks in a row as well. But the “game” is rigged in their favor. They know and you don’t.

Them knowing what’s going on while you don’t means they can prepare for their new life while you’re preparing their dinner. They can hide money. They can blow marital assets on their accomplice(s). They can get you to sign things and take on debt you wouldn’t take on if you knew what was going on. Every move they make is designed to give them a leg up while keeping you mired in the muck.

They’re financially fine because in most of these cases the cheaters are the high earners while the one being cheated on keeps the home, shuttles the children, makes sure everything runs smoothly, and so on and so forth. It’s a non-paying gig. So they walk out the door and your income goes with them.

Strangely, cheaters always seem to profit, regardless of what side they’re on when it comes to financial matters. If the cheater happens to be the one being supported they’ve already figured out what the poor unsuspecting spouse is going to have to pay them in order to get out of the marriage. They have no conscience. Everything is about them so they don’t give a damn about what they’re doing to you.

It would almost be comical if it weren’t so damn tragic but I see it all the time. The stay at home wife that gets cheated on generally ends up getting screwed over by her cheating husband. She spends the rest of her life living way below the standard of living she enjoyed while married. But the cheating stay at home wife, or the cheating stay at home husband, always seem to end up flush with cash after their divorce. Again, cheaters cheat. And not just sexually. In all areas of their life.

New marriage? New baby? New house? Yes, of course. They have those things because their plan was already in motion. You’re still trying tto come to terms with the fact that you were married to a monster and the monster has been planning their exit for months, if not years. While you were planning a future with this person they were planning their exit strategy.

In the end I guess what I’m trying to say is that of course it seems like they have it all. And it’s easy to get down on yourself when you compare.

Remember though that the reason it seems so easy is because they’ve been laying the groundwork far longer than you can imagine.

The Day Has Come

This is the last Thursday night I spend being separated from my love by 600 miles. Tomorrow I hop on a plane after work and I fly to him. The next morning we are meeting his son for breakfast and then making the drive back to Indiana. It’s hard to believe that this day has finally come.

When I first “met” this guy I didn’t think it would turn into this. We lived 600 miles apart. I had traumatized children. He had traumatized children. We weren’t going to uproot their lives for our own. Eventually he made the decision that he wanted to move to where I was once his daughter graduated. She graduated two years ago.

Yes, our plans have shifted quite often. So often, in fact, that there were times I didn’t think he’d ever make the move. First the plan was to move up here shortly after T graduated and went off to college. Unfortunately, despite stellar grades the college she wanted to attend didn’t give her much in the way of financial aid and there was no way she was going to be able to afford to go away. So instead she planned to go to a local extension there in town. The countdown was going to begin anew. Two more years, he told me. Then August arrived and she went to college for less than a week before deciding she didn’t want to do that. She didn’t know what she wanted to do. Now all of the plans were up in the air. I couldn’t very well ask him to leave his daughter behind while she struggled to find a job and her place in this world. I would never have done so anyway. I love this kid and I want what’s best for her, even if it’s to my own detriment. I always told him I was willing to do long distance forever if that’s what it took.

August of 2019 she decides college is no longer in her future. It took her a while to get a job and then Covid-19 hit and closed everything down. Finally I went to see him after three months of being apart. Shortly after that visit he threw all planning into high gear. His newly revised plan was to be up in Indiana shortly after the holidays.

Of course, that didn’t go as planned either. He started advertising his business for sale. Made contact with the people who said they were definitely interested. One backed out and the other just ghosted him. He thought he had a buyer but that didn’t work out. Finally, in April he came to an agreement with someone. They closed on the deal in June and he’s been busy renovating the apartment above his garage for an Air BnB for most of the summer, with the exception of the three weeks he spent with me. And tomorrow I fly down so that we can drive back up here together.

I am both exhilarated and terrified. The three weeks we spent together this summer was the longest period of time we’ve ever had. And it was awesome! It flew by. Yes, we were on vacation for 10 days of it but we were not on vacation for 10 days of it, too! It was nice meeting him for lunch, having him take me to work, seeing him here when I got home.

So I suppose I’m mostly exhilarated. I have no reason to believe there will be any major problems. I love being around him and spending time with him. It will be amazing to be able to spend our weekends together. I can take him to the Farmer’s Market that I know he’s going to love. We can check out wineries up in Michigan. We can go up to the lake and walk around. We can go running and kayaking and biking together.

I’m also a little terrified. I worry that I’m too much of a slob for him. I worry that he’ll regret moving away from his kids and his family. I worry he’ll come to believe that I wasn’t worth it and he wishes he could take it all back.

This man has given up *everything* for me. He sold his business. He moved away from his two kids that still live in town. All of his siblings live in the area so he’s leaving all of them behind. I hope like hell that he is happy with me and that I am enough.

Mostly exhilarated though. This has been our goal for almost four years. Tonight is our last night 600 miles apart.

Good Times Ahead… And Behind

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

Simple. I don’t want to.

Why? Do you love being tortured?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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