Stupid Facebook Posts

A divorced friend of mine posted this on her Facebook page. 

I’m reading this and I’m thinking to myself, “Seriously?”

It will be a cold day in Hell before I run over to Jerry Lee’s house with gifts in hand to make him breakfast and celebrate his birthday. I don’t think ol’ Harley would appreciate it either. Maybe I should tell her to rise above it and be a good example. Nah, too late for that advice. 

I also don’t want anything from him. I’m 99% sure my mom would shoot him if he came into the house and tried making breakfast for us. Any gift he attempted to present would be trashed. It wouldn’t be about me at all. It would be about him trying to look good. See? I’m a great guy! I’m scrambling eggs- and making toast!

No, despite not recognizing him on holidays and birthdays I’ve got my shit together. I don’t need to kiss his ass to prove that. I’m already raising decent human beings. I’m doing it all by myself, too. One of the ways that I’m raising decent human beings and trying to set an example as far as relationships go is by not cheating on their dad. It’s a high bar but some of us are up for that challenge.

These posts are so infuriating. They completely discount the crap some of these people have put their former spouse through. They act like we haven’t already eaten a ton of shit and chide us to eat even more. I think of my friend who moved across the country for her husband’s job, only to be told a few months later that he didn’t think he could be married to her any longer. Oh, and he had a new girlfriend. That’s why he took the new job and moved them all across the country. I think of another friend whose then husband attempted to strangle one of their daughter’s while he was drunk, and who had been abusive towards her as well. I think of the mobster’s ex and how she walked out on her kids without saying a word. “Come on, kids! Let’s run over and make your mom breakfast on her birthday! I want to show you what it’s like to have no boundaries and no self-respect!” I think of my own situation, very similar to my friend’s, where he moved us thousands of miles away and then took up with Harley less than a year later. He walked out of the house one day in February 2016 and has seen his daughter once since then; he hasn’t seen his son at all.

This is the kind of shit that makes good people who are doing the hard stuff in life doubt their choices. “Am I doing enough? Should I be more forgiving? Should I try harder? Oh my gosh- I didn’t buy my ex a birthday gift; I’m going to ruin my children. I’ll do better; I promise.”

The people that need to read this and take it to heart will never think it applies to them. The ones who are going to take it to heart are the ones that don’t need to. Stop trying to guilt them.

You want to set an example for how to treat your ex? Don’t badmouth them in front of the kids. Don’t interfere in their relationship. But even before that maybe try one of these: Don’t cheat on them. Don’t try to financially destroy them. Don’t drag out the divorce. Don’t lie and gaslight. Don’t blame the victim when you’re the one out there screwing around. Take responsibility for your actions.

I am not friends with Jerry Lee. I am not going to act like we are still married. I’m not going to set him on fire the next time I have to see him, but I’m not going to make him breakfast either. Just like I didn’t make him spaghetti for dinner after I found out about Harley. I have boundaries in place for a reason.

This person doesn’t seem to realize he and the former wife are divorced.You want to model good relationship behavior? Model it with someone you’re actually in a relationship with! You want to be an example to your kids on how to treat their mother? Maybe try working on your marriage and not getting a divorce. The horse is out of the barn at this point.

At the root of this is image management. Look how good I am! Look at all I do for my ex. Aren’t I fabulous? Don’t you wish you could be as magnanimous as me? Obviously I love my children more than you love yours. It’s too bad you can’t be a mature, respectful adult.

Yeah, fuck that. I’m not friends with people who lie to me and cheat on me. I’m not going to model eating shit sandwiches to my children.

Boundaries are a good thing. It would be nice if that was respected a little bit more.

Why Do We Force It?

Following up on my lovely post about parental alienation, I’m going to tackle the subject of forcing a relationship between the abandoning parent and the child one more time.

So often I see others admonishing a parent to extend grace to the abandoning parent. They’re told to offer up an olive branch, be the bigger person, love their child more than they hate the ex. Make that phone call. Offer up that extra time. Remind them of the school conference. The dance recital. The football game. The Honors assembly.

You hear over and over again: That’s still their other parent. You should encourage a relationship between the two of them. It’s the only mom or dad they have.

Why? Why does everyone put so much stock into this idea that because you share DNA you must have a relationship with that person regardless of how poorly they treat you? Why do we continue to sell this idea that abusive behavior is love?

I’m not suggesting that you tell your kids to cut off their other parent. What I would suggest is that you listen to your children when they tell you they want nothing to do with the other parent. You don’t force it. You don’t lie to them and tell them that this other parent loves them; you don’t know that. And even if it’s true what a shitty example of love. Love is not putting the other woman/other man ahead of your children’s feelings. When the amount of time that has passed since you last saw your child face to face can be measured in years, that is not love. Love is not telling your child you hated every minute of being a parent. Love is not walking out on your responsibilities because you put your happiness ahead of all else. Leaving your child’s other parent, moving out, disrupting their lives as they know them, moving in with another person and their children and/or having another baby, all in the time span of a few months while your child’s head is still spinning is not love. Love is not disappearing and never being heard from again. You don’t get to put another person’s kids ahead of your own, do things with them and for them that you didn’t do for your own, and then get to claim you love your children. Love is not waiting for your children to call you or text you, to reach out to you.

It’s no wonder so many people end up in dysfunctional relationships. We are sold this idea that when people love you they treat you badly. They ignore you. They minimize your needs. They put everyone and everything else before you. Then when you get into a relationship and that person does those things you think, “Oh this feels familiar. It must be love.”

It is okay to have boundaries, even at a young age. It is okay for a child to say, “This is unacceptable behavior. I don’t want to be around this person.”  As the sane parent I think it’s inappropriate to try to convince them that those feelings are wrong, or should be stifled so as to not damage a potential relationship. When someone has done something wrong admit it! Stop trying to whitewash it and convince your child that it’s completely reasonable to do the unreasonable. 

It’s also perfectly fine to tell your child, if they ask, “I don’t know why your other parent does those things,” instead of rushing to assure them that the other parent loves them. As my own son says, “He loves me? Really? He’s got a funny way of showing it.”

Again, I’m not trying to encourage people to damage a healthy relationship between a parent and child. I’m not encouraging anyone to badmouth the other parent or to create chaos where there is none. But for the love of all that’s holy, please stop trying to convince your children that people who don’t behave as though they love them, who actually do things that are very hurtful to them, love them. Stop selling abuse and toxicity as love. Stop telling your kids that people who love them hurt them and that’s perfectly normal and acceptable. Give them a chance at a healthy relationship.

Why Do We Force It?

Following up on my lovely post about parental alienation, I’m going to tackle the subject of forcing a relationship between the abandoning parent and the child one more time.

So often I see others admonishing a parent to extend grace to the abandoning parent. They’re told to offer up an olive branch, be the bigger person, love their child more than they hate the ex. Make that phone call. Offer up that extra time. Remind them of the school conference. The dance recital. The football game. The Honors assembly.

You hear over and over again: That’s still their other parent. You should encourage a relationship between the two of them. It’s the only mom or dad they have.

Why? Why does everyone put so much stock into this idea that because you share DNA you must have a relationship with that person regardless of how poorly they treat you? Why do we continue to sell this idea that abusive behavior is love?

I’m not suggesting that you tell your kids to cut off their other parent. What I would suggest is that you listen to your children when they tell you they want nothing to do with the other parent. You don’t force it. You don’t lie to them and tell them that this other parent loves them; you don’t know that. And even if it’s true what a shitty example of love. Love is not putting the other woman/other man ahead of your children’s feelings. When the amount of time that has passed since you last saw your child face to face can be measured in years, that is not love. Love is not telling your child you hated every minute of being a parent. Love is not walking out on your responsibilities because you put your happiness ahead of all else. Leaving your child’s other parent, moving out, disrupting their lives as they know them, moving in with another person and their children and/or having another baby, all in the time span of a few months while your child’s head is still spinning is not love. Love is not disappearing and never being heard from again. You don’t get to put another person’s kids ahead of your own, do things with them and for them that you didn’t do for your own, and then get to claim you love your children. Love is not waiting for your children to call you or text you, to reach out to you.

It’s no wonder so many people end up in dysfunctional relationships. We are sold this idea that when people love you they treat you badly. They ignore you. They minimize your needs. They put everyone and everything else before you. Then when you get into a relationship and that person does those things you think, “Oh this feels familiar. It must be love.”

It is okay to have boundaries, even at a young age. It is okay for a child to say, “This is unacceptable behavior. I don’t want to be around this person.”  As the sane parent I think it’s inappropriate to try to convince them that those feelings are wrong, or should be stifled so as to not damage a potential relationship. When someone has done something wrong admit it! Stop trying to whitewash it and convince your child that it’s completely reasonable to do the unreasonable. 

It’s also perfectly fine to tell your child, if they ask, “I don’t know why your other parent does those things,” instead of rushing to assure them that the other parent loves them. As my own son says, “He loves me? Really? He’s got a funny way of showing it.”

Again, I’m not trying to encourage people to damage a healthy relationship between a parent and child. I’m not encouraging anyone to badmouth the other parent or to create chaos where there is none. But for the love of all that’s holy, please stop trying to convince your children that people who don’t behave as though they love them, who actually do things that are very hurtful to them, love them. Stop selling abuse and toxicity as love. Stop telling your kids that people who love them hurt them and that’s perfectly normal and acceptable. Give them a chance at a healthy relationship.

Stop Blaming the Other Parent For Your Crappy Relationship With Your Kids

’Tis the season (’Twas the season?) for endless questions regarding the children, holidays, gifts from the ex and/or OW/OM (okay, mostly the OW), and having to hear about how nice or fun the OW/OM (okay, mostly the OW) is. Inevitably the question is always along the lines of: Is there anything I can do about this? Or, they’re just venting about what a shit sandwich it is to gulp down.

The next inevitable thing that happens? Someone comes along and tells them not to shame their children. You need to love your kids more than you hate your ex. Don’t put your kids in the middle. You have no right to take away whatever it is that the whore gave to your precious child. Dance prettier, bitch! Dance harder! Dance faster!

And then another someone comes along and doubles down on this idea. They are the person that insists that any small frown or raised eyebrow is proof of parental alienation. Saying no to a child is detrimental to their relationship with the other parent. Apparently if you are divorced or separated anyone can buy your child anything and they have free reign to bring it into your home. I’m not sure if you’re allowed to set parameters on the use of the item or not. Probably not, if I had to guess.

We, the parents left behind, are counseled to “learn how to grieve without PA abuse.” It’s all on us to avoid the so called pitfalls of parental alienation. The cheaters, of course, get a pass. They don’t need to worry about any of their behaviors. Abandoning your kids, ripping apart your family, putting a whore before your children… those are all cool. Nothing wrong with any of that.

But you! Chump! Yeah you! You need to understand that your “grieving” and your “boundaries” and your refusal to swallow down yet another dozen shit sandwiches in the name of “co-parenting” is all much scarier to your children than anything the lying, cheating, narcissistic asshole might be doing. Someone actually said that the cheated on parent can end up far more overtly scary, intimidating, abusive and/or destabilizing to their kids than the covertly abusive cheater because they are “so traumatized” that they become unstable. What utter bullshit!

People, get your heads out of your asses! 

I feel like I have to revisit this conversation every few months. Yes, parental alienation is real. It’s rare, but it’s real. I’ll go one step further and state I believe that most of the time the alienation attempts come from the parent who has already lied and cheated. It’s part and parcel of their plan to entirely decimate the discarded spouse.

I know I’m sensitive to all this bullshit because this is the exact story that Jerry Lee spins. “Oh Sam is a monster! She’s emotionally abusive and extremely manipulative. She’s poisoned my precious children against me. I am an alienated parent. I love my children to the moon and back; if not for that nasty she-beast I would have a wonderful relationship with my children because I am an amazing father who loves his kids with his heart and soul.”

Those are all lies. Oh, I believe he believes his own bullshit. But that’s exactly what it is- bullshit. He sent them both $100 and wished them a Merry Christmas through Venmo this year. Told them he loved them. He couldn’t even be bothered to call them and actually speak to them. As Picasso said, “He did his fatherly duty; he performed his obligation. Now he’s off the hook.”

In the almost five years since he walked out the door without telling his kids he was moving out- oh yeah, and leaving the fucking state!- he has made the drive to see one of his kids one time. That was Rock Star’s graduation. He texted her and offered her the opportunity to talk to him beforehand which she ignored; he never contacted his son. He spent maybe fifteen minutes, if that, with her on that day. He came out of the shadows crying his big crocodile tears because as always, it’s all about him. If you gave me a calendar I could tell you exactly how many round trips he managed to make in order to fuck his gold digging whore of a cousin. I can promise you this- it was more than one!

From what my kids tell me the rare times that he does actually text them it’s all about him, or trying to get them to feel sorry for him. He doesn’t text to check in with them or to see how their day is going. If he texts at all it’s to try to guilt them (or rather, Rock Star; I’m not sure he’s ever texted Picasso). Not once has he apologized for what he has done and the havoc he has wrecked.

He does not call. He does not send cards, especially now that both kids have Venmo. They don’t exist except for their birthday and Christmas, when he does his fatherly duty, as Picasso calls it, and takes 30 seconds out of his day to send them something via Venmo.

The day after Thanksgiving I was dealing with a major meltdown by my daughter who was upset because her dad did not even bother to text her and wish her a happy Thanksgiving, even after she reached out and wished him a happy Thanksgiving first. “He tells me he loves me and I try to give him a chance instead of hating him, and he doesn’t even bother to wish me a happy Thanksgiving.”

That is not my fault. I did not choose any of that; I did not force any of that. He is the one that walked away without ever looking back. He is the one that decided it was worth it to sacrifice his children for Harley. He chose her over them and I will not take the blame for that. That is all on him.

I have spent the last five plus years trying to keep my kids’ lives as normal as possible. I was willing to stay in a town where I knew very few people and had no family support so that my daughter could finish high school there. 

I have been the parent tasked with breaking all of the bad news to my children while Jerry Lee and Harley skipped happily off into the sunset with nary a worry.

Oh, you’re cheating on me and we’re getting a divorce? No worries; I’ll break the news to the kids.

Oh, you’ve moved out of the house? And you’ve left the state? Don’t worry. I’ll break it to the kids.

You lost your job and now we’re going to have to move again? Hey- no problem! I’ll break it to the kids. I’m getting good at this.

Our daughter isn’t going to get her license after all? Sure, I’ll be the one to deliver the news. And I’ll hold her while she cries from the disappointment.

Oh, you’ve stopped paying support again? Yeah, I’ll let our daughter know she might have to drop out of college.

Every single bit of shit news that was ever delivered I got the sucky job of delivering. I was the one that held my kids when they were upset or disappointed or sad. He was nowhere around, much too busy with the whore and the new family.

I was the one that got them settled into their new home with their Nana. I was the one registering them for school in a new district. I was the one who had to listen to my daughter say in a defeated voice, “I used to be someone. Now I’m nobody.”

I’m the one that scheduled therapy for them and got them on medication. I’m the one that Rock Star turns to when she’s falling apart because she’s stressed.

I am the one that has made countless sacrifices so that these kids could have a comfortable life. I am the one who has always been present, always been stable, could always be counted on. Me.

Maybe, instead of chiding the parent who is actually there and doing the hard work of raising the children left behind, they could be supportive of that parent. Just an idea.

Parental alienation is a hell of a lot more complicated than simply refusing to let the whore who fucked your husband give your child a gift. She’s not even a parent so how the hell is that parental alienation?

They remain a sensitive bunch. Everything is parental alienation. You won’t let your ex take his holiday AND your holiday? Parental alienation! You don’t want a creepy “family” picture of the OW, your ex, and your kids sitting around the Christmas tree sitting in your living room? Parental alienation! You dare to have boundaries? Parental alienation! You don’t want to be besties with the ex and the affair partner? Parental alienation!

In the beginning, when I was first discarded for the ‘ho, I was way too busy being the sane parent and trying to keep things as normal as possible for Rock Star and Picasso to be busy trying to alienate him. Considering we had less than a year between D-Day and moving day thanks to his firing I didn’t have a whole lot of time to work my evil magic. He left six months after his affair was discovered. Like, moved 300 miles away from his kids without saying a word, left. That was the first time I worried endlessly about what was going to happen to us because he was no longer directly depositing his money into the joint account.

Then I was really busy applying for welfare, enrolling my kids in school in a new school district, and applying for free lunches and text books because I had no job and was living off of savings. Didn’t have time to fuck with his parenting or lack thereof. 

Shortly after that I began working a job that required me to get up at 3:30 in the morning. That’s real fucking early. I don’t function that well that early in the morning. I do even worse when I have to get up at 1:30 in the morning so I can be there by 2. A month later I began working a second job. For a good 10 months or so I worked two jobs- lots of hours, not so much pay. And very little in the way of time off. Again, not really much time to play a quick round of parental alienation. Too busy working and trying to keep afloat. Especially considering he wasn’t contributing anything.

Last year I was kinda busy having a big ass needle stuck in my arm and then having my blood sucked out, the plasma separated from the red blood cells, and then the blood put back into my arm, and then turning around and doing it again later that week, twice a week, every week basically for four months.  All in order to make sure my kids got a decent Christmas because Jerry Lee couldn’t be counted on to pay his support on any kind of schedule. Didn’t have time to tell the kids how much their dad sucked. The plasma donation was pretty much a part-time job.

This year I spent a lot of time running. Changing my eating habits. Trying not to drink so much diet Coke. Jerry Lee and his pathetic attempts at parenting weren’t on my radar. My kids at the beginning of 2020 were 19 and 17. They’re now 20 and 18. I’m not necessary for any information exchanges. He is able to have a relationship with each one of them completely independent of me. I am not a cog in this wheel. If it’s not spinning that is not on me.

I’ve stayed out of their relationship. I’ve never been a factor the entire time. There are so many things I haven’t told them. I didn’t tell them because I knew all it would do is hurt them. Things like him buying a $300 dress for Harley’s daughter to go to a dance when he couldn’t send $80 my way to pay for his own daughter’s Homecoming dress. Or like how he was able to buy a $4000+ engagement ring for Harley that same month he couldn’t send money for Rock Star’s Homecoming dress. Or how he was able to celebrate Harley’s kids’ birthdays when he couldn’t do the same with his own kids. Or how he could never attend Rock Star’s gymnastics meets or cheer competitions but he could buy a fucking Cardinal t-shirt in support of the whore’s daughter and attend her cheer competitions. The iPhones he bought them. The puppies he bought them. Or how he’s so broke and has nothing in savings but can spend over $1800 on a vacation rental.

Harley is the dipshit that continues to post her drivel on social media where everyone can see it. My daughter isn’t stupid. She said recently she knows damn well he spent a hell of a lot more on “their” kids than he did on her and her brother. She knows he offered to buy Harley’s daughter a car. I don’t know how, but she knows. She knows all kinds of things that I had no idea about.

None of this is my doing. It’s all on him.

To these people who are champions of parental alienation everything falls under that category. Your ex planted listening devices in your home so you won’t accept gifts from him in your house any more? Parental alienation! Your ex and his ho have been known to make derisive comments about your child you have with your new partner, and even wish harm on this child, so you are not willing to graciously accept a gift for this child that is supposedly from your shared children? Parental alienation! Those kids are going to be devastated and don’t you know every time you let it be known that you disapprove of their other parent it says to them that you hate half of them? Again, what an utter crock of shit. 

I am a child of divorce. I knew from a very young age that my mother was not a fan of my father’s. For good reason, I might add. Never once did I say to myself, “Hmmmm… I’m half my mom and half my dad, so if my mom can’t stand my dad it therefore goes to reason that she cannot stand half of me.” Nope, not once did I think that way. That just seems weird to me. I am my own person. I am not one half my mother plus one half my father. I’m one entirely whole me.

I’ve also never looked at either of my kids and thought to myself, “Well, they are half Jerry Lee’s, so I guess I need to hate half of them.” Nope, not once. They are both unique individuals and while we both contributed our chromosomes they are not half me and half Jerry Lee. They are Picasso and Rock Star. Period.

Maybe we need to start by explaining to these children who think they are half of each parent that even though their parents each contribute chromosomes to their genetic makeup that doesn’t mean they are that parent, or even half of that parent.

If you don’t want to share holidays and special events with the ex you’re putting your kids in the middle and forcing them to choose. If you don’t want to hear about all the fun things the OW did with your kids you are putting your children in the middle and making things uncomfortable for them. If you’re not super excited about all the wonderful things your ex did for the kids, like taking them on fancy vacations and buying them expensive toys, clothes, and purses while at the same time not paying child support so you can buy them things like groceries and heat, you are not thinking about your children and letting your pettiness and bitterness rule your life. Apparently, once you become a parent, especially a divorced parent, you are no longer allowed to have boundaries or feelings, and if you do have feelings then they don’t matter.

Fuck that. If you’re the parent that stuck around and is doing the hard work then you get to have whatever feelings you want. You can draw whatever boundaries you’d like. You can create the rules that are comfortable for you.

I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a parent that was cheated on and left behind, put their kid in the middle. Do they vent away in a safe place sometimes? Absolutely. But I don’t recall a single time they’ve ever said they were going to do something that was clearly alienation. They regularly bend over backwards for these people and are often encouraged to keep doing so. Keep giving and giving without expecting anything in return. That’s what a good parent does.

Instead of telling the parent that has stuck around and is doing the hard work how much they suck and how they’re doing it all wrong, why not give them a little bit of praise and support? They didn’t choose a sidepiece over their kids; that was the other parent. Hey, maybe that’s why their relationship with their kid is so shitty. Maybe it has nothing to do with parental alienation at all and everything to do with the choices they’ve made.

Dating While Divorced

I’ve seen over and over again women (it’s almost always women) say they aren’t going to date because they’re going to focus on their children and/or their children aren’t ready for them to date. Someone actually threw out this idea that once you divorce your focus should be on your children and you shouldn’t think about dating until they turn 18.

It’s a nice idea. I have no problem with someone choosing that for themselves. To be honest, before I got divorced I thought that same way. Okay, maybe not the exact same way but I did feel that there was no need to rush into another relationship right away; I also thought it was important to make sure you gave your kids the time and attention they needed instead of getting your own needs met. But as with most things there is the theory on how things should work, and then there is the real life application.

I think there is a huge gulf between jumping back into dating an hour after your spouse has left, and not dating for the next 1-18 years because you have minor children. I’m not suggesting moving the first person you meet into your home a month or two after your divorce is final. I’m also not suggesting that a person absolutely must date again after a divorce. If you have no interest in dating for whatever reason then I fully support your right to not date; this post is not about declaring that everyone should be putting themselves out there or that not dating is a horrible tragedy. It’s the opposite. I believe this notion that we do our children a disservice by dating before they graduate high school is kind of ridiculous.

As the mother of an 18 year old and a 20 year old I can tell you my kids don’t really have a lot of time for me anymore. My daughter has been exceptionally busy since beginning competitive gymnastics back when she was still in elementary school. Practice 3-5 days a week. As an optional she went to school and went directly to the gym where she practiced from 3-7. She came home, ate, did homework and went to bed. That was 6th-8th grade. As she entered high school she was busy with friends, extracurriculars and sometimes even a boyfriend. She added a job to that list of things that took her away from me when she turned 16. This summer I spent five days with her. Five. Out of the entire summer. Every weekend she was either running down to Muncie to spend the weekend with her friends and her boyfriend, or her boyfriend made the trip up here. The only reason I spent five days with her and not two is because one weekend I took her, her boyfriend, and Picasso to Ohio to spend the weekend with the mobster for his birthday. That was the weekend we rented a cabin, went fishing, and went out on a pontoon boat. Aside from that- nothing! She also spent the majority of her time in the house in her room where she kept the air conditioning on a chilly 64 degrees. It’s not that I didn’t see her. We just didn’t do anything together. She worked mostly 12 hour days when she was scheduled to work. I work Monday-Friday, 8-5. Weekends she was always busy with her boyfriend.

My son still spends most of his time at home in his room. His meds seem to be working and he’s much chattier lately but he would still prefer to spend his time playing video games, drawing, watching YouTube and hanging out with his friends.

My experience isn’t uncommon. The mobster has four children. Four! His oldest son lives in New Hampshire. He rarely sees him. A and his wife, Little Miss Sunshine, are busy with careers, each other, raising his son, and hanging out with their friends. Taking off for a long weekend to drive 13 hours and see his dad isn’t a regular thing. His next oldest is married as well; even though he lives in the same town as his dad the mobster rarely sees him. He’s busy with his wife’s family and they both work full time. His third son just moved to West Virginia, about 2 hours away. Even before the move the mobster said he didn’t see much of him; he spent all of his time with his live-in girlfriend. This is kind of funny in a sad sort of way because they lived in the apartment that is above the mobster’s garage. Finally, his youngest, his only daughter, is now 19. She works full time and she spends a lot of time with her friends. There are many times he’s all by himself in that big ol’ house because T is house sitting for her brother, or is off with friends. She’s also got a new boyfriend so she’s beginning to spend time with him as well.

The point of these examples is that our kids develop lives independent of us. If we decide we owe it to them to remain single until they turn 18 there is a great chance that we’ll be sitting at home all by ourselves, waiting for our kids to throw us a freakin’ bone in the form of their undivided attention for an hour or two.  Please, child, may I buy your dinner in order to enjoy your company?

Rock Star actually tried to pull that bullshit with me towards the end of the summer. When I told her I felt like I never really got to spend any time with her this summer she actually had the audacity to blame it on me being gone to spend time with the mobster. Oh hell no! I quickly pointed out that the time in particular that she was referring to was when I went to court. I didn’t exactly have a choice in that matter. I also invited her to come along (not to court but to Virginia) and she conveniently mixed up the dates. To put it into perspective she saw her boyfriend every weekend this summer. I honestly don’t think she went a single weekend without seeing him. I, on the other hand, saw the mobster three times this summer. Three whole times in the three months she was home. One of those times was the weekend I took Rock Star and her boyfriend with me. Another time I had to go to court.

Maybe she’s not representative of all kids but there are enough of them out there that would prefer their parents don’t have lives of their own so that they are better able to be at their beck and call.

It’s not just at age 18 that they’re off on their own, leaving you to find something to do in their absence. I’ve heard a lot of parents say that once the kid gets his or her driver’s license it’s a whole different ballgame. No longer are they dependent on mom or dad to take them from Place A to Place B. I spent a lot of time in the car with my kids, especially Rock Star since she always needed to be somewhere. Once she could drive that completely changed.

How far does this extend anyway? Is it anything that might take your attention away from them? Am I allowed to volunteer? What if my kids want me to take them over to a friend’s house at the same time I’m supposed to be packing backpacks for the local food pantry? What if I take a night each week to answer phone calls at the domestic shelter? Can I go out with my friends on a Friday night? Do I get to go to grown up concerts or movies ever? Can I go listen to a band playing at a bar? Is picking up a new hobby allowed? What if I join a community theater group and I have practice every night for three months? What if I immerse myself in knitting or playing hockey or paint pouring? Can I sign up to run a race? Can I even go running several times a week? I don’t see the difference between me dating and doing any of those things. All of those activities take time away from my kids. If I’m doing any of those things instead of spending it with my kids then I’m taking time away from my kids. Are we not supposed to do anything except sit around waiting for our kids to want to do something with us?

Look, I believe I was an involved mother. I’ve received some positive reviews from my own kids. I chauffeured them around plenty. Most summers were spent on the go- museums, amusement parks, water parks, lakes, rollerskating rinks, arcades. I took them to horseback riding lessons, we hiked in the mountains and toured caves, and on Rock Star’s late start Fridays I took her out to breakfast. We went shopping and got pedicures. I went on field trips and volunteered at their school. I took them to Moab where we toured Arches National Park and The Hole In the Wall, went white water rafting and took a HUMVEE tour up on the red rocks while Jerry Lee stayed behind in the hotel room. I took them to Yellowstone another year; we toured the park and went white water rafting (again!) and horseback riding. I took them to the Grand Canyon, Disneyland, and Florida. I even made a trip up to Twin Falls, Idaho to go camping. I made numerous cross country trips with them and always did my best to stop at attractions to break up the time and make things interesting for them. I took them to the movies and to play putt putt golf and bowling and a whole lot of other things.

Of course, that was all while I was married. Then I got divorced and worked two jobs and was exhausted all the time. Getting up at 3:30 in the morning will do that to you. Yet, even if I hadn’t gotten divorced my kids would still be growing up. They’d still rather do things with friends than with me.

I’m not saying you never see your kids once they get a driver’s license or once they hit a certain age. I am saying you’re a fool to think that once they’ve hit that magical age of 18 you’re suddenly free to go build a life for yourself independent of your children. It’s far better to have an actual life outside of your kids before they graduate high school and/or college and move away.

All of those things that are listed above- volunteering, going out with friends, hobbies- I did all of those things as my kids got older. When they were pre-kindergarten age I spent most of my time with them and didn’t do very much on my own at all. Then again, I didn’t have a supportive husband. But once they got a little older I started to spread my wings. Yes, most of the volunteering I did centered around their school and was done while they were in school. And true, most of the time I went out with friends I did so when they were in school as well. But there were the occasional times that I wasn’t around in the evening. They survived.

I wouldn’t recommend that a person who is married close themselves off that much and live a life completely dominated by child rearing. I sure as hell don’t recommend it for a person who has divorced and is forging a life with no other parent to help out.

I think the mobster and I have done a very good job of balancing our relationship and our kids. From the very beginning we agreed that the kids came first. That’s why no one moved when we had kids in high school. At our best we got to see each other every other weekend; that left plenty of time to do things with our kids. Most of the time we did not see each other every other weekend; it could be 4-6 weeks between get togethers. If either of us had a kid related event we scheduled around that. One weekend that meant meeting up on a Saturday instead of our usual Friday because my daughter had Prom on Friday night and I wanted to see her and take pictures. Another weekend he didn’t leave to meet up with me until after his daughter’s softball game. There were weekends we had planned to get together and he had forgotten it was his daughter’s birthday so the weekend together was canceled. We’ve stopped phone calls in the middle of the conversation because a child needed us, and we’ve delayed calling because we’ve been busy talking to our kids. It is possible to balance dating/being in a new relationship and raising your kids.

I want to say once more that I don’t think you absolutely must date. I know there are plenty of single women and men out there that have no desire to do so. They find the single life suits them just fine. For those people I say, “Good for you!” I wouldn’t advise that they change a thing. But I do have a problem with this idea that if you have children under the age of 18 and you choose to date, you are somehow not focusing on your kids and they are suffering for it.

If I can spend time with friends or take up a new hobby or spend time volunteering and not somehow take away from my children, then I can go on a few dates and/or begin a new relationship. And if the people who think you shouldn’t date also think you shouldn’t do anything lest it take away from your kids… well, I would advise everyone to have a life outside of their children. It’s not a bad thing for them to realize you are a person, too, and that you have things you like to do. Sometimes you might even do those things without them <gasp>! If you spend every moment of your life focusing on your kids, and only focusing on your kids, you are going to end up a very lonely person.

Your kids are going to grow up; they’re not going to live with you forever. They’re not even going to want to spend all of their time with you. Their own boyfriend or girlfriend, sports, high school activities, and weekends spent with their friends are going to take precedence. Getting their license is going to be a game changer. Enjoy them! Cherish all of those memories that you get to make with them. Gobble up every minute of time you get with them. Celebrate their achievements. By all means, put them first. At the same time, don’t be afraid to spread your own wings and develop a life of your own- with or without a new partner. It’s a lot of pressure on kids to be the center of their parent’s world.

My Evil Plan Worked!

I think I might have shared with you that Jerry Lee managed to send his daughter money for her birthday, along with a message on Venmo about how proud he is of her and what a lovely young woman she is becoming.

While driving with Picasso a week or so ago he asked how much he had sent her. I told him the truth. He replied that he wondered if his dad would send him anything. I told him that his dad seems to like Venmo so maybe if he had an account his dad would send him money through it. His next question was, “How would he even know I was on it? I don’t have contact with him and I’m not on Facebook.” I explained to him that his dad could see every transaction I made unless I chose to make it private. I let him know I would send him $5 just so that his dad could see that he now had a Venmo account. Maybe then he would treat his children equally. Perhaps pressing a couple of buttons might be easier for the poor dear than actually going out and purchasing something and then getting it in the mail. Stamps are hard to find, y’all.

As we took off for our weekend in Ohio Picasso got his Venmo account set up and a few days later I sent him the promised $5.

July 1st was his birthday. I texted him a happy birthday and when I came home he came out of his room and announced to me, “Your plan worked!” Stupid me, I had to ask him, “What plan?” And that’s when he told me, “Your plan to lure Jerry Lee from out of the shadows.”

He actually sent his son money for his birthday. On his actual birthday, too. Of course now I think it was just to butter him up before hitting us with the whole, “I don’t owe any child support anymore because he’s 18!” nonsense.

Happy Birthday, Picasso! You’re a man now. Be a better one than your dad.

There’s That Word Again- Change

A few weeks ago I was teasing my daughter, telling her that now that she had a new boyfriend she was going to leave me and move in with him and I would never see her again. She told me not to be ridiculous and that she intended to live with me for at least two years after college graduation. Then the other night we were out to dinner and she announces that she’s going to be looking for jobs at hospitals further south in our state. Apparently they pay more.

I know it’s not unexpected. Children grow up and they leave the nest. It’s what we’re meant to do as parents. It’s a sign of successfully raising our children, not a sign of failure.

Meanwhile, Picasso has long spoken of his desire to get an apartment and be on his own shortly after high school. Who knows how that will play out? Maybe he will. Maybe he won’t. I’m not rushing it by any means.

Nonetheless it resulted in me thinking about this whole parenthood thing and how it changes.

They start out as these little babies who are completely dependent upon you, and then grow into toddlers who must be watched constantly so that they’re not painting your walls or climbing on top of refrigerators, or cutting their brother’s hair. Or was that just my experience with toddlers? You get to that point where you think you’re never going to eat a meal without interruption again. You may never go to the bathroom again without an audience. I swore for the first three years or so of my daughter’s life that I was never going to take a shower by myself again. I was really really looking forward to having one in kindergarten and the other in preschool so that I could have two hours to myself again.

Then school begins. If you’re like me you get weepy eyed and start projecting into the future where your five year old is now going off to college instead of into kindergarten at the school two miles away. But you adjust. You begin to volunteer at the school and you run your kid around to various extracurricular activities. Even in kindergarten Miss Rock Star was a busy one. She had Bible Club, gymnastics, dance. Eventually Picasso was signed up for gymnastics as well, although he didn’t stick with it.

You’re busy with classroom parties, book fairs, talent shows, volunteering at Career Day, and helping them make Valentine’s Day boxes. You’re helping them get together an outfit for the Wax Museum, overseeing them at the 6th grade Valentine’s Day dance, and picking up cards, and Christmas gifts, and school supplies and all those little items you don’t even think about until your child is in school.

Before you know it you’re escorting your baby into the middle school so they can figure out their locker combinations and tour this new school. You think the world is ending and your poor baby is in peril from all these “big” kids.

The real shock comes when they enter high school. You listen at orientation as the seniors assure both them and you that they’ll love it here; it will become their new home and that those four years will fly by.

They’re not lying. Those high school years really do fly by. Next thing you know you’re attending their graduation, planning their graduation party, and shopping for items for their dorm room. Then you drive them down to that big school, help them unload their things, maybe shop for a few groceries with them. Finally you drive away, holding back your tears, knowing they’re entering a brand new phase in their life, and that things will never be the same again. 

All this time you’ve been running kids around. You’ve invested your time, your money, your life into these little humans who are not so little anymore.

There were so many things I didn’t do because I had kids. So many things I would have liked to have tried or participated in, but I didn’t because I put my kids first and I was always busy with them and their activities. 

I don’t want it to seem like I did nothing because I did have a pretty full life. As the kids got older I volunteered. I had friends. I played Bunko. I met people for lunch and breakfast. There were definitely things I couldn’t do though because I had to think of my kids. Jerry Lee was not much help and would whine and pout whenever he was left with the kids by himself, so I never had a girl’s weekend with my friends. I didn’t go out in the evening much, especially when the kids were little. The only reason I was able to throw myself a birthday party years ago was because my brother was willing to come up and watch all of the kids. It got easier as they got older, but there were still things I wouldn’t do because they needed me and they came first. This entire life after divorce has been about them and their needs.

Now, in another 2-3 years I won’t have any kids at home more than likely. Rock Star will probably have an amazing job offer before she’s even graduated. May of 2022 will be here before I know it. I’ll attend her pinning ceremony and she’ll probably move directly from her little house she’s renting with her friends, into an apartment of her own. If her plans pan out she’s going to be a good 2 1/2-3 hours away. I will rarely get to see her. I know it’s not a huge distance considering I moved 23 hours away from my own mom, but she’s a busy girl. I don’t see her coming home frequently. She already doesn’t come home frequently. 

Oh, I know. It’s the way it’s supposed to be. It’s yet another change. I’ll go from being a mom first to being a person first. No more will I have to consider my kids before making plans. I’ve long said that by the time I’m finally able to buy a house my kids won’t be living with me any longer. That makes me sad.

You put so much time and effort into being a parent. So much money. I think back on all the things I did without so that my kids could have what they wanted and needed. I think about all the times my days or weekends were filled with their activities. Even looking back on our summers, which I fully enjoyed, I realize they were all centered around entertaining them. Long days at the amusement park, the water parks, hikes, the rollerskating rink, the museums. And then one day it’s over. Your job is done. They leave the nest and you’re all alone, trying to figure out the next step.

I’m not as traumatized as this is making it seem. I know you never stop being a parent. I know that in many cases they return home or they still need you for advice and support. I am exhibit A, after all. Nevertheless, it’s a huge change. One that I’m trying to wrap my mind around. Once both of my kids are out of the house and on their own a large part of my identity is going to leave with them. The only constant seems to be change.

Serving the Punch

I need to add an addendum to my post, Quarantine Craziness, Part 1. Remember how I was telling you that my mother was civil when she had to be? That was not a lie. She was civil. And she did allow my father and step-mother in her home on occasion.

A little background. My stepmother’s name is Mary. I feel comfortable using her name because it’s a very common name. It’s not like anyone is going to say, “Oh my God! Mary! I know exactly who that is!” If her name was Sabina or Pocahontas or Beyonce I could see coming up with an alias, but it is literally one of the most common names out there.

Mary is a very odd person who knows everything. As my brother once said, “Oh good God! She’s a lawyer, a doctor, a judge, a farmer. She knows everything about everything!” When Rock Star was running track her junior year she told me she would sometimes get weather reports from her and reminders to wear sunscreen. She asked me before I got married if I would be interested in having a plain gold wedding band so that if I wanted to garden or otherwise get my hands dirty I could still wear a wedding band and not have to worry about getting my nice ring dirty. Like I even garden! She one time sent a bag of peaches to my younger brother and included instructions on how to eat them. I kid you not. For years I kept a copy of that on my refrigerator because people could not believe she gave him instructions.

Remove pit and slice into pieces OR wash and eat like an apple.

I may not have the verbiage exactly as it was but I know the second part of the instructions is accurate. That was actually one of the few times Jerry Lee showed his sense of humor. “I need more information. If she thinks I’m so stupid I don’t know how to eat a peach, what makes her think I know how to eat an apple?”

I would not testify to this in a court of law but I’m fairly certain my high school graduation was the first time my mom ever invited them to a function she was having. My dad and grandparents lived two hours away from us so on graduation day they all came up. My mom threw my graduation party and took care of all of it and was gracious enough to extend an invite to her ex-husband and the AP turned wife.

I have to say, I was not that gracious for my own daughter’s celebration. It’s not like she wanted him there, of course, but even if she had I wouldn’t have done it. At least I don’t think I would have.

Anyway, at some point before my actual graduation my stepmom was asking me if there was anything she could do. She wanted to help but she didn’t want to be in the way or overstep; she was very big on etiquette, which is kind of funny when you think about it. I’m pretty sure Miss Manners would say it’s not polite to sleep with another woman’s husband, and well, sleeping with someone else’s husband is a huge overstep. Yes, I know I had an affair with your husband but I don’t want to overstep my bounds. Would you be okay with me serving the punch at your daughter’s graduation party?

That is what she settled on. She was wondering if perhaps she should offer to man the punch bowl. So I went home and told my mom that Mary was wondering if she should serve the punch. This has led to a long time inside joke. My mother replied, “I’ll serve her the punch alright!” as she punched the air.

To this day we laugh about it. I can’t drink punch without thinking about it either.

By the way, no one served the punch. My mom remained very civil and, well it was a sunny day and we had peaches so Mary was kept busy running around reminding people to put on sunscreen and educating them on how to eat a peach. Take the easy way- eat it just like an apple.

P.S. It was a sunny day but there were no peaches. I just made that up so that I could end my post.

Quarantine Craziness, Part 3

Normally I would have a knee jerk reaction to this and say, “This whole idea of being civil and doing things that are way out of my comfort zone ‘for the kids’ is bullshit! It would never work. Some people you cannot do this with!” But, I mulled this over with a clearer head. I slapped down that knee jerk response and pondered the idea for a moment. Write this down, folks; it might be the only time you ever hear me ask this. What if I’m wrong?  What if a cordial, friendly relationship with Jerry Lee is possible?

Maybe my approach has been all wrong and if only I were a little nicer to him we could have conversations about our kids, he’d be up here visiting, he would be generous with his time and money. His kids would never want for anything. Maybe, when he came up, all four of us could go and do something together! Go out to dinner, catch a movie, go bowling.

<<You now see Sam over in the corner laughing hysterically.>> Oh my God, that was a good one!

That. Will. Never. Happen. Do you know why?

Well yes! Because you’re a mean bitch who won’t give him a chance!

No! I mean, I am a mean bitch who won’t give him a second chance but that’s not the reason why.

It will never happen because he is a toxic person who must always play the victim. He tells bald face lies and believes them. He honestly thinks I have done him wrong.

You cannot have a conversation with him where you are not fawning over him. You must avoid any criticism whatsoever because he takes that as a full blown attack. He is the smartest man in the world and he knows everything so please don’t even try to tell him what you think should happen because you are wrong and he is doing everything perfectly.

Every time I attempt to engage with him I go out of my way to be as non-confrontational as possible. Granted, it’s almost always about money so he’s not happy to hear from me. Doesn’t matter how I phrase it. He’s snide, dismissive, arrogant, and condescending.

You’ll get your “well deserved funds” in plenty of time.

Greedy much?

Since you like to keep a close eye on MY money I thought you might like to know your lawyer has given me permission to access MY money.

Don’t sweat it. You’ll get your money.

Thanks for the condolences by the way.

You need to read the court order. It says no separate orders for child support. Therefore, $XXX for two children, $XXX/2 for one child.

Again I will point out that I did not harass him, stalk him, scream at him, attempt to kill him, throw his shit away or on the lawn for all to see. I did not go to his workplace and embarrass him by leaving all his crap in the parking lot in front of his car with a big sign that said, “I moved my wife and kids 2000 miles across the country so I could have an affair with my cousin.” I even let that motherfucker move back into our home after he accused me of stealing every dime he made. Yet when I said, “Hey, you’re living here. You need to come up with half of the money for the household bills,” his response was, “I don’t have it.” His attitude was, “I’ve got $750 I’m willing to put towards the $5000 it takes to run this household each month. Take it or leave it.” That was the thanks I got for letting him move back in. But to hear him tell it he paid all the bills and in turn was terribly mistreated by us.

All those months I sat by quietly, pinching pennies and denying my kids, while he and Harley blew through over thirty thousand dollars? Didn’t result in one positive thing. In fact, it ultimately cost me thousands of dollars. He never had to pay that back as a cash payment; instead he rolled it all up into the 401k.

This is a man who has consistently lied about me and things that I have done. How can you have any kind of a relationship with a liar? I’ve tried before and it’s impossible. You are always on guard because you never know when they’re telling you the truth and when they’re making shit up.

He has called me a disgusting whore and a cunt. My friends don’t describe me like that. And quite honestly, he has no reason to. I didn’t cheat on him. I was faithful to him for twenty years.

He treats me with utter contempt. I do not deserve to be told anything. He enjoys blindsiding me, I think.

He moved out of our family home and out of the fucking commonwealth without saying a word to any of us! He didn’t even take all of his clothes. I finally realized about six, seven days later that he probably wasn’t coming back. Of course, I was the one that got to break it to our kids. Little did I know that he hadn’t just moved out of the house. Oh no! He’d  resigned from his job of fifteen years and moved 6 or 7 hours away to a completely different state. I was left to figure that one out on my own as well, which I did when I realized the direct deposit from his company hadn’t gone into my account as scheduled.

He lost his job, sent me a two line text, and I never heard another word from him. It was seven months later before I found out he hadn’t been locked up in a psych ward again; he’d checked himself into the VA hospital for drinking- for three days. I was told nothing. Never once did he check up on his kids. Never once did he send a dime to help out with them. Instead he drained a $10,000 401k and spend it all on himself, the whore, and her kids- all while claiming to be completely dependent upon his “fiancee”.

Then again in March of 2019 I find out, only after asking him if he has a plan to catch up on spousal support since he only sent half of it in February, that he’s “lost” his job. Not another word from him. Not even when he conveniently got himself another job. Or when he moved yet again to yet another state. I mean really, what business is it of mine whether or not he has a job?

For four months he played me, acting like he was sending what he could when the reality was he had a job. If I had to bet I would be betting that this new job paid even more than the old job, and yet he was sending me less money.

And now once again he has up and moved without saying a single word. I’m sure there has been yet another raise but it was only once he realized I was taking his ass back to court that he finally started paying what he owed in spousal support.

I know that without court intervention he will never pay me the original court fees he owes me. I know that without court intervention he will never pay the spousal support arrears. He figures it’s all my loss unless I force his hand.

He hacked my Facebook. He contacted the mobster insinuating that there were naked pictures of me all over the Internet. When he first began sending me my support checks he would stamp the envelopes with the Grinch, a robber, or an adulterer. He sends obscene emojis and snide messages almost every time he Venmos me the money he owes me.

Child Support (Original Amount Pending Revisionist History). Your attorney has not given me the new $$$ required to keep you and the Potato Chip Squire living comfortably and able to meet up. When that amount is determined… then the amount will change.

What’s it for? That doesn’t even deserve an answer. Everyone knows why this money is changing hands. Because the party of the 1st part needs to supplement the inability of the party of the 2nd part to live on her own merits.

Alimony bitches

Alimony- grateful or otherwise

Because sometimes the pay cycles are off and you happen to be 6 days off on paying. Grow up.

He threatened his sister and one of his friends from high school, simply for supporting me (which he found out when he hacked my Facebook).

Sweet baby Jesus! Who wants to hang around someone like this? Why would I want to spend Christmas morning with this?

It never gets better. You might think it will but it doesn’t. You might think treating him with respect and kindness will work, but it doesn’t. I reached out to him for Rock Star’s graduation. I will admit I fully expected him to tell me to fuck off or that he didn’t need my help or to admonish me that he didn’t need me to micromanage his relationship with his daughter. So I was rather surprised when he texted back and was cordial, grateful even that I was offering him a ticket. You might have thought a corner was turned but you’d be wrong. He barely acknowledged me when I handed him the ticket and he promptly cut his daughter off, prorating child support right down to the minute she graduated.

I’ve heard people say that having a cordial relationship with an ex sometimes mean you do things even when that person hasn’t behaved their best. Quite honestly I think that’s crazy. At some point you need to stop beating your head against a brick wall.

I love my children. I’m not willing to unnecessarily degrade myself for them. I’m not willing to put myself in emotional distress for them just because. I’m not going to help them deny reality and play happy family with their father and perhaps their father’s mistress.       

In my case I suppose it’s a moot point because he never sees his kids so they can’t tell me they really wish we would be civil towards one another and act like one big happy family.

But if he did? I’d be telling them to suck it up. There’s nothing to work with. I don’t believe in modeling being a doormat for your kids. I’m not going to bend over backwards and turn the other cheek constantly while he spits in my face. Divorce ends families. As much as people try to peddle the bullshit of, “We’re still family; it’s just in a different form!” it’s not true. You are no longer family. That is a consequence of fucking around on your spouse and ending up divorced.

I’m sure there are people out there who divorce for reasons other than infidelity, addiction,  and abuse. If they can work things out to the point no one knows they’re divorced, good for them. If they want to invite their exes over for graduation and goodbye parties, be my guest. If they want to spend every holiday together, go out to dinner, have sleepovers, go on vacation together, etc. have a ball. But for the love of God please stop telling people who don’t do this, who CAN’T do this, that being friendly and doing everything together is the only way to do things. In my situation it will never be possible.

Let me be clear. I can be civil. I won’t be coming at him or Harley with knives or anything. More than likely I would be ignoring them but if I couldn’t avoid it I can be civil. We will never be friendly though. He’s done way too much and he’s demonstrated his lack of respect for me at every turn. I’m not friends with people like that.

Quarantine Craziness, Part 2

I realize Chump Lady has a niche audience. She’s amassed an incredible following and it can be very easy to dismiss them as a bunch of rabid, group thinking know it alls who only preach divorce, distance, and disdain. However, what most of them (us) have in common is that we’ve already been through this and it didn’t end well.

When the people tell newbies who are trying to figure out whether they should leave or try to work things through, they’re telling them to get out because they’ve already tried the reconciliation thing. There are very few people on that site who kicked the cheater out immediately after finding out about the infidelity. Almost all of them are repeat chumps. They tell the newbies to get out because they’ve been there. They’ve forgiven the cheater who wasn’t sorry. They’ve forgiven the cheater who lied and made promises, only to find out they took it further underground. They’ve endured the repeat D-Days, some of them coming 2… 7… 10… 20 years later. They can tell the newbies their stories of all the humiliating things they did while doing the so-called “pick me dance”. So many who say, “I can’t believe how I gave and gave and gave, how I made my needs smaller and smaller, for a person who didn’t care.”

The people that seem to find her are the ones who forgave their cheater, who thought they had the exception, only to find out the cheater was only buying time to set them up. Drained college funds. Drained retirement funds. Switched jobs to decrease their income. Used them until the money dried up and then moved on to greener pastures. The people who are screaming, “Don’t trust him/her!” are the ones who will never be able to afford to retire because they trusted a cheater.

When they urge the newbies to protect themselves- to get a post-nuptial if they’re going to stay, to do a credit check, to verify accounts- it’s because they learned through financial devastation about the need to do those things. When they say don’t quit your job, don’t move across the country, don’t take on their debts, don’t declare bankruptcy with them, don’t give them second and third and fourth chances, don’t take pity on them it’s because they’ve done those things and they have lived to regret it.

When they tell the newbies to maintain no contact or gray rock it’s because they’ve already learned the hard way. They came to realize the first step is creating space between you and the cheater; it’s difficult to fall for their bullshit when they’re not around. They’ve learned that contacting the employers, the in-laws, the affair partner’s family, generally doesn’t pay off. They’ve learned that any kind of interaction gives the cheater kibbles and maintains their centrality. They know that phoning or texting or emailing angry or maudlin outbursts is not going to benefit you; if anything, it’s going to make you feel worse. They know that begging your ex to take an interest in their children or to do as they promised does nothing except infuriate you because it sure as hell doesn’t change the cheater’s behavior. They realize that trying to figure out why the cheater did something is pointless. They know that arguing with them or trying to reason with them is a waste of time. They know this because they’ve lived it. It’s not because they’re angry, bitter people who want everyone around them to be just as miserable. They’re trying to save people some grief and misery.

Imagine this. I have an office building that overlooks an isolated sandy beach. The sand is white and pristine. The waters are a deep blue. It’s very inviting. As I stand there, looking outside my window, I see someone venture onto the beach. I see that person wade into the water. That person is swimming happily, minding his or her own business. Suddenly, from out of nowhere a shark attacks the person, throws him up in the air, and then gobbles him down in one bite. Naturally, I would be horrified. I call the police. They investigate. No body, no crime. They don’t see the shark. No signs are posted. I’m just a crazy woman.

A few days later I see another person venture onto the beach. Again, the person goes into the water, is having a great time and then BAM! Shark attack. Person devoured.

It happens again and again.

I start posting banners outside my office window, “Don’t go into the water! Shark!” People continue to dismiss me and they continue to get eaten.

Finally, I go down to the beach myself. When someone dares to dip their toes in the sand and head towards the water I implore them not to get in the water. “There’s a shark in there. It’s killed dozens of people in the last month. DO NOT GO IN! You are going to die!”

Am I telling that person not to go in the water because I’m a heartless monster who wants to prevent people from enjoying a refreshing swim? Am I trying to deny them their bliss? Am I angry or jealous that they don’t have to be stuck in an office all day and can take time off to swim?  NO! I know there’s a fucking shark in the water and this person is going to be chum. I’m trying to prevent a death, not stop them from having fun.

That’s how I view the fans of Chump Lady. They’ve seen the shark. They know the danger.

I think also that what some people don’t get is that for many of her followers the concept of a tidy, mutual conscious uncoupling has not been possible. It’s not because we are bitter bunnies who refuse to seek “a future relationship where we can both be happy for each other and our children and show them happiness and being whole are vital to a person’s future.” It’s because the people we are divorcing suck!

As one person put it: He tried to kill me so that’s going to be a hard no on any interaction.

I have a friend who had a police officer pull her aside and tell her, quite bluntly that her address was flagged as a frequent domestic violence call and when it came up they treated it as a potentially fatal call. They even told her, “One day we’re going to get that call and when we show up we’re going to find he’s killed you or one your girls.”

This man attempted to strangle one of his daughters. He’s a violent alcoholic who indulged in a three year long affair. She does not need to share birthday dinners with him. She does not need to model gracefully moving on or civility towards him. She needs to get the fuck away and stay the fuck away. Period. And she has.

The mobster has dealt with his STBX telling people that he was controlling, he made her dress a certain way, and that he was physically and emotionally abusive towards her and towards their kids. Why would he want to maintain a friendship with someone like that? Why would he want to share holidays or care one little bit about how she’s doing?

In my own situation I can still clearly remember Jerry Lee coming downstairs after I had given him a bill for the monthly living expenses. After telling me he couldn’t pay his half (yeah, when you blow over four grand on an engagement ring for your whore cousin it can be difficult to pay your share of the household bills) he told me he could give me $750, take it or leave it. Then he so graciously let me know that this could all still be civil.

The jackass was living in the family home. He cut me off financially and gave me only what his lawyer had told him he would have to pay. I got less than 50% of his paycheck and I was responsible for 100% of the bills. We had a $2100 monthly mortgage, utilities that ran around $400-$500 per month, and multiple credit cards. Plus, a pool loan. The money he was told he would end up paying me didn’t always fully cover the household bills. Meanwhile, he had approximately $5000 a month to blow on Harley and her kids. He didn’t give a fuck if his own kids went without.

I never yelled at him. I never dumped his shit on the front lawn. I never showed up at his place of employment, screaming and outing him as the lying cheater he was. I didn’t harass him or her. As far as I’m concerned I was the perfect STBX. I took care of the bills and the kids. Never bothered him. Never made life miserable for him. He, on the other hand, used our house as an extended stay hotel while he left every weekend to go fuck his cousin and played the sad sausage to everyone who would listen.

How much more civil could I have been?

We’ve seen this rouse time and time again; that’s why we don’t buy it. It’s why we urge others who are new to this to step away and refuse to engage. We’ve experienced giving them an inch and them taking a mile. We’ve experienced reaching out and doing something kind or thoughtful and having it thrown back into our faces. Apparently, some people love that shit! Abuse me some more! I want to show people what a great person I am!

For others it’s simply recognizing that this person is toxic and you need to get away. There’s nothing to work with. Nothing you say is going to make a difference. Nothing you do is going to make a difference.

I think for most people it’s very difficult to go against our basic instincts. We have been conditioned to give chance after chance. We want to try, try, and try again. We feel it’s our duty to exhaust every potential solution. What if I don’t forgive my cheater and this time, the ninth time, is the time it finally stops and we end up happily married for the rest of our lives? If they’ve already cheated nine times I’m pretty sure your chances of discovering it a tenth time are pretty high, but so many are determined to give one more chance. Chances one through eight notwithstanding. I also think it’s very scary to realize you don’t control anything. You can forgive until your brain malfunctions, until your heart stops beating, until your eyes glaze over, but it doesn’t mean a thing in a lot of cases.

Yet, it’s still pushed. You’re doing your kids a disservice if you aren’t friendly towards one another. Your children will be scarred for life if you aren’t sitting together at their concerts or school plays or football games. We took smiling divorce selfies at the courthouse because even though we’re divorced we are still family and that will never, ever change- even when one or both of us gets remarried, even if one or both of us goes on to have more children, even if one of us moves away with the new, improved family. No one can even tell we’re divorced because we do everything together- parent teacher conferences, volunteering, extracurricular activities; we’re the envy of everyone! I let my ex live with me on the weekends for the sake of my children and I accompany them on all of their outings like we’re still one big happy family even though he has a mistress and a love child six hours away in the town he moved to away from his original children. Only bitter exes who can’t get over the divorce refuse to host joint birthday parties, vacation together, go out to dinner together, and spend the holidays together as one big happy family. I’m sorry you’re not demonstrating to your children how to gracefully move on and let someone go; they’re probably going to be in dysfunctional relationships and will never forgive you. My children admire me because they can see all the sacrifices I have made for them, and how I will always put their comfort and needs ahead of my own, even if that means every time my ex asks me for something I jump up immediately and make sure it’s done. No matter how humiliating, painful, or debilitating the request may be I will always do it and I will never think about my own physical or emotional well-being. Because I’m a good parent. Unlike you, you bitter bunny who can’t move on.

To be continued…