Back In Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s to my next trip and fewer triggers.

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.

The Kids Are All Right… Or Are They?

You hear all the time that kids are resilient. Maybe they are. Maybe they acclimate to change a lot better than adults do. But even kids have their breaking points.

Both of my kids are on anti-anxiety and depression medication. The last medication she was on caused her to have suicidal ideations and feelings of self-harm. Does that sound resilient to you?

Rock Star was a sophomore in high school when she broke down one day at the thought of getting a B in a class. She felt enormous pressure to maintain a 4.0 so that she would be eligible for scholarships. Getting a B in her eyes meant she was failing and she wouldn’t get any money for college. I would have no way to pay for it and she might never become a nurse.

My daughter has always been a high achiever but I had never seen her like that before. She was 15 years old and had the weight of the world on her shoulders. That’s what her father’s affair did to her. Harley may be happy. Daddy may be happy. But my kid was a tightly wound ball of anxiety already.

If that wasn’t enough she was forced to move 600 miles away from her new friends and her new life a few months later. She had to start all over.

She was never happy here. She rarely brought friends over. Her senior year she ended up in an abusive relationship. To this day she still won’t tell me everything that happened. Just says it’s okay because everything she’s been through has made her stronger and brought her to where she is now.

Last year she cried when she called me, asking for rent money. She freaked out about going to the hospital when she got sick and nothing seemed to be working on her.

If kids are so resilient then why, five years later, does it still hurt her when she sees a father actually being a father to his daughter? Why does she still ache at the realization that she will never have that with her own father? Why does it still hurt when she remembers him walking right by her and then out the door into a new life without saying a single word to her? He left that day and moved to another state. Aside from her graduation he has not once traveled up to see either of his kids.

When she was home a few weekends ago she mentioned finding a therapist and her nurse practitioner putting her on new medication because her old medication wasn’t working any longer. I asked her a question about it and her response was something about childhood trauma issues.

Now, my child has been very vocal about the fact that she had a wonderful childhood so I was worried that I had missed something big. No, that wasn’t it. Apparently childhood trauma can be anything that happens before the age of 18. 

Her response when asked, “What childhood trauma?” was, “My father abandoning me and walking out of my life when I was 15.”

Children are resilient and yet five years later my daughter still needs therapy to deal with these unresolved issues. Five years later and her latest medication, the one that is supposed to help with the depression and anxiety, actually caused her to want to kill herself. On a positive note, her daddy and his whore are happy. If destroying her life was what it took to bring them to this place in their lives then, hey, who are we to stand in the way of their happiness?

Maybe it was a coincidence but up until the time her parents were divorcing she didn’t deal with anxiety. She was never medicated for depression or anxiety. She was never a bundle of raw, fragile nerves all the time. She didn’t complain of things “stressing her out” on a regular basis. Perhaps even if Jerry Lee and I had remained together she would still need medication for anxiety and depression. But I doubt it. She led a charmed life and there was never a need for it up until this point.

While Picasso was not nearly as enamored of Virginia as Rock Star was he has had his own problems. I suppose it could be a giant coincidence. God knows he had his issues when his dad and I were together.

He is more of an introvert than Rock Star and he can get overwhelmed with large groups of people. He also had some serious meltdowns after moving to Virginia which I attribute to losing all of his friends that he had known pretty much his entire life. It was a lot to wrap his head around. He did not like Virginia and did not like most of the people he encountered.

He actually really spread his wings when we moved. He prefers being around my side of the family and he was quickly accepted at his new school. Then he entered high school one year later and everything went to hell.

Nonetheless, he was not on anxiety or depression medication before the divorce. Now, five years later he’s taking medication for both of those and has been regularly seeing a therapist for almost a year. 

I would imagine it can’t be easy to have your father pretty much disown you when you’re a 13 year old boy. One day your dad is telling you that your parents haven’t been happy since having kids and the next day you never speak to him again.

I remember taking him to see a therapist right before D-Day because of his meltdowns regarding school. The therapist asked him if he had a magic remote control what he would have it do. “I’d make it so that my dad was better and he would play video games with me again and we could do the things we planned to do, like building a theater room.”

I remember him asking me if we were still going to keep Granny and Poppy in our life. I told him that they were his grandparents and I understood if he wanted to see them but I wasn’t going to be around them because they had betrayed me. I’m not sure exactly how I put it anymore, but the gist of it was, “I’m not going to but you are free to; I expect it and I encourage it.” At 13 years of age he decided, “No, I don’t think I can ever trust them again.”

That’s the part these people don’t realize. Their lying, cheating love isn’t just lying to the clueless spouse. In many instances they’re lying to the innocent children as well.

Both of my kids sympathized with their father and his supposed PTSD. He even admitted later that he was “probably” trying to create a distance so that it wouldn’t hurt so bad when he lost them. So generous of him.

My daughter wrote a research paper on it. My son sympathized and comforted him. Hell, if he had a magic remote control he wouldn’t use it to gain material goods; he would use it to make his father better so that they could do father-son things once again.

The damage he did was enormous. Five years later it reverberates throughout their lives. Therapy. Medication. Shitty relationships. Anxiety. Depression. Suicidal feelings. Crying. Fear. Hatred. Indifference. A longing to matter.

I’m not so sure kids are resilient. I think they don’t really have a choice in the matter. For some reason that inability to choose, and therefore, the need to roll with the punches, is called resilience. I wonder how they spin the anxiety, depression, and medication…

How Do You Sleep At Night?

The Chicks, formerly known as The Dixie Chicks, are back, feisty as ever with their new album, Gaslighter. Little tip for anyone who might need it: Don’t cheat on a person who can chronicle your behavior in song and then make millions off of it.

Unlike Taylor Swift who seems to delight in superficially calling out the various men she’s dated and dumped (or been dumped by) the songs on this album detail the agony of infidelity, the craziness you feel during all of the gas lighting and lies, and the sorrow of a long term marriage ending in divorce.

The title track song, “Gaslighter” kicks things off. You find the song playing on repeat in your head despite the subject matter. Natalie is bold and brash; she’s not holding back. She calls him out and lets him know she knows exactly what he’s trying to do. “Tights On My Boat” lightens things up a bit. I hope you die peacefully in your sleep. Just kidding- I hope it hurts like you hurt me. She also gives him notice that whoever left those tights on her boat can have him now. “Something Good” is more reflective. The singer begins by listing the things she’s doing to try to keep herself distracted before asking, “Should I have known? Should I have seen a sign?” Isn’t that what we all wonder? How did I miss those red flags? She then goes on to tell him: I hope it’s really worth it. Twenty years of hanging on. Now it all adds up to nothin’. Gave up on the moon and back. Thought you’d found a better half. Ah, I hope it’s something good.” The true gem though is “Sleep At Night.”

The song itself is far too uptempo for what’s coming. When it begins you think it’s just another song that you can bob your head to. Oh, this is nice. And then you listen to the lyrics.

Not that you asked

But I’m getting past everything, everything

I’m doing okay

Just glad it’s not yesterday, huh

Yeah, they never do ask us how we’re doing, do they? They don’t really care. They matter. Their happiness matters. We’re inconsequential.

My husband’s girlfriend’s husband just called me up

How messed up is that?

It’s so insane that I have to laugh.

I know that’s what I’ve told myself for five long years. The things he’s done are so horrible you’ve only got two choices- let it take you down while you cry, or shake your head and laugh about it.

Then she hits us with a bombshell.

But then I think about our two boys trying to become men

There’s nothing funny about that.

Oh. My heart. You try to roll with the punches for your own sanity, yet how do you protect your vulnerable children? How do you explain that this isn’t acceptable behavior while not standing in the way of them having a relationship with this person if that’s what they want?

It brings the fact that there are children living through this to the forefront. They are collateral damage in all of this. Yes, you go find your happiness. Turn my life upside down and force me to live in an alternate reality where your girlfriend’s husband calling me is the norm. While you’re doing that try not to forget that we have children and they understand what’s going on. They’re seeing everything.

The chorus asks:

How do you sleep at night?

How do you tell those lies?

Lookin’ me in the eye

Livin’ a double life

Tell me, how do you sleep at night?

How do you sleep at night?

In the second verse she tells the story of how he brought his mistress to her show where the mistress gushed over her and how much she loved her and was such a huge fan.

I joked that you can love me as long as you don’t love my man.

There’s nothin’ funny about that.

The lies. The duplicity. Duper’s Delight, as Chump Lady puts it. Nothing more exciting than shoving your affair partner right under your spouse’s nose and knowing that person is so trusting and/or naive that he or she will never suspect a thing.

Again she asks:

How do you sleep at night?

How do you tell those lies?

Lookin’ me in the eye

Livin’ a double life

Tell me how do you sleep at night?

Confession time. I was singing along to this song yesterday and I was so angry. As I sang I envisioned myself demanding to know, “How do you sleep at night?” I actually got a little teary eyed wondering how Jerry Lee could sleep at night after all he did to us.

They’ve encompassed the pain and horror of betrayal so beautifully- all it’s absurdities, all the pain, all the horror, all the questions you want to scream out.

Sadly, after about the third time I sang along I shook my head because I realized the answer to that question, “How do you sleep at night?” is, “I sleep fine.”

They don’t think they’ve done anything wrong. The only person they’re worried about is themselves. Our pain doesn’t matter. Our children don’t matter. Only what they want matters.

Therein lies the catch-22. You could ask a normal person that question, and a normal person would be haunted by what he or she had done; then again, a normal person wouldn’t do those things. They wouldn’t think it was fine to bring their affair partner to meet their spouse. They wouldn’t think it was okay to cheat in the first place! A normal person would care about what this is doing to his or her children. A normal person wouldn’t inflict this kind of pain on another person. Lying wouldn’t be second nature to a normal person. They wouldn’t live a double life.

I still love the song. I think it’s powerful and emotional. Let it serve as a warning. Let it call out those who are doing wrong. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can shame a person like this. It can’t be done. They’re going to sleep like babies.

Father’s Day 2020

Another Father’s Day is here. Neither of my kids have any plans to wish their dad a happy Father’s Day. To my knowledge neither of them bought him a card (not that they have his address, of course) or a gift. My daughter did say she messaged the mobster to wish him a happy Father’s Day. Picasso mentioned how he should buy him a goofy mug because he knew he would love it and use it. Basically, we’re doing nothing around here today in honor of Father’s Day.

My first Father’s Day without him my daughter recognized me on this day. Maybe the second year as well. I don’t remember. One year I bought myself a fire pit for Father’s Day and one of my co-workers texted me to wish me a happy Father’s Day.

I know I’m not Dad. I’m simply a mom who is doing the work of both parents because Daddy Dearest is busy with his new life, pretending to be a wonderful father to a kid that isn’t his.

I am part of a Facebook group called Chump Lady Nation. If you’ve been cheated on feel free to look it up and ask to join. It’s open to anyone who has experienced infidelity.

Someone asked what fathers who abandon their own offspring must be feeling today, or what do they say to justify it? Interesting question.

Mainly, I think they feel just fine. You don’t abandon your kids if they’re important to you. He walked away. He’s got Harley blowing sunshine up his ass, telling everyone who will listen what a great father he is. I guess she doesn’t count those two kids he abandoned and never sees. They don’t fit the narrative. Just concentrate on everything he does for her child. See? Great dad!

The other thought I had is that this is the perfect time to play the victim. It’s his chance to post a public message on Facebook and talk about how much he loves and misses Picasso and Rock Star. He’ll get another chance to tell the world that even though they probably won’t see his message to him he loves them to the moon and back. He loves them more than they will ever know. It tears him apart to be away from them. Poor, poor, sad, wittle Jerry Lee, longing to be acknowledged by his children who have been brainwashed by me, the evil, satanic, demonic ex-wife.

People will rally around him and tell him to never give up! They’ll assure him that one day the kids will know the truth! They’ll tell him that as they grow older they will be able to make their own decisions and come to their own conclusions. No longer will they be manipulated by their horrible mother who uses them as pawns.

Of course he doesn’t mention how he lived in the same house as his two kids for six months after his affair was discovered and outed and yet he never bothered in all of that time to go downstairs and talk to his daughter. The last time he talked to her she was crying and demanding to know where he was. He never texted her, never called her back. He had one conversation with his son, who was 13 at the time. He told him he wouldn’t deny he had a girlfriend but we hadn’t been happy since we had kids, which I suppose makes him fucking his cousin an okay thing to do. Not sure how appropriate it is though to tell your 13 year old that he and his sister are the reason for the demise of their parents’ marriage. But after that conversation with Picasso where he played the sad sausage, complete with telling him that I took all of his money and I had a lawyer and he didn’t, he walked past his son’s room every day for six long months and never popped his head in to say hello again. At the age of 13 my son was astute enough to realize that he was the child and his father was the adult so his dad should be checking up on him; not the other way around.

He doesn’t mention that in the time he remained in the same house he never took them out for a meal, or a walk, or an ice cream cone, or on a shopping trip. He told them they would never do without and then he turned around and made sure that the whore’s kids had everything their little hearts desired while turning his back to his own kids.

I know he doesn’t tell his well wishers about walking out the front door as though he was going to work and then driving off to his new home in a new state with a new job. He won’t admit to any of them that he couldn’t even bring himself to tell his kids that he was moving out of the house, never mind the fact that he was moving out of Virginia. He won’t tell them how he didn’t even take any of his possessions. He was just living in the spare bedroom one day and gone the next. It took me almost a week to figure out he was finally gone. Of course, he didn’t bother to tell me he had left his job either. That was going to be a wonderful surprise when my checking account was repeatedly overdrawn with all the bills I paid the day after his regular payday.

If I had to place a bet I would lay odds on the fact that he has not told all those sympathizing with him that he has not yet told his kids that he has remarried. It’s been two years now. He still hasn’t found a good time to mention it. Okay, to be fair it’s not quite two years. Give it another week and then I can truthfully say that.

They probably also aren’t aware that the only reason he has had almost no contact with his son in the four plus years since he walked away is because he doesn’t have his phone number. Yes, the man who is so intelligent that he could qualify for membership in Mensa has no idea how to get his son’s phone number. What a pickle!

I’m sure he also neglects to mention that while he could drive 12 hours roundtrip every weekend for six months to see his whore of a cousin, he has not made that drive one time to see his children and spend a weekend with them. Major props to him for being able to tear himself away from her pussy long enough to see his daughter graduate; however, once again he made it all about himself and didn’t so much as say hello to his son. See above: Doesn’t have his phone number so no way to contact him. 

I’m also positive he never mentions the fact that he neglected to send a dime in child support for ten months, refused to pay the correct amount of his modified child and spousal support for another ten months, or that he has dodged at least two attempts to garnish his wages, whether on purpose or not.

The reality is he has shut his kids out of his life. He hasn’t bothered to tell them where he currently lives. That’s not surprising considering he didn’t bother to tell them he moved out of Virginia after moving them 2000 miles away and destroying everything they had ever known. Nor did he tell them when he moved from Kentucky to Mississippi. I think the only reason he put his correct address on their Christmas cards is because he knew he wouldn’t be there much longer.

He does not contact them regularly. He has not talked to them on the phone in almost five years. He sends them a card or a Venmo transfer twice a year- if they’re lucky. He might have a little more contact with Rock Star (because he has her phone number) but she hates interacting with him because he always tries to guilt her.

Abandoning fathers don’t have much of a conscience. At least not in my opinion. The one in my kids’ lives is being fed a lie by his complicit whoring cousin/wife. You’re so sparkly and shiny; you’re just the best daddy out there! Then he takes that lie and he plays sad sausage for the rest of the world, never ever taking any responsibility for the state of his relationship and certainly not telling the truth about how it ever got to that point.

I’d wish him a happy Father’s Day. Sure I’d throw in, “Fuckwit,” after it, but I’d do it; however, he doesn’t deserve it. No, worse than that, he’s no kind of father. My kids deserve better.

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…

One Angry Rant

I was going to write something completely different. Then I sat down to do my taxes and I didn’t have what I needed, and I was looking at all the medical bills from my daughter’s trip to the ER and the doctor back in November, including the financial assistance form the hospital sent to her. The end result is I’m pissed.

I try to be in a good mood. I try to focus on the positives. Then real life storms in and I’m knocked on my ass.

Taxes? Well, I thought I had all of my documentation. I was going to do my own taxes this year instead of sending them off to my friend. I had what I thought was a tax document from my money guy who now has my IRA. I took money out to pay to break Rock Star’s housing contract back in June. I knew he had taken taxes out for that. I thought that was what the form was. But no! It was actually a tax form from Jerry Lee’s old employer where the 401k had been. I’ve got a tax document that shows me making 3 times my salary because I withdrew the money from the 401k. I don’t have a document showing where I put the money into an IRA. So I have to go look for that. That’s going to be fun. If I can’t find it I’ll have to call my money guy and have him send me another one so that the IRS doesn’t think I’ve made over $100k this year.

The other document that I thought was my W-2 from work was actually just documentation showing I had health care coverage. Thank God! I don’t have a W-2; I’m pretty sure I threw that away when the other form came in the mail and I no longer have a working printer.

I still have to submit my tax forms for Rock Star’s FAFSA. That will take an hour or more. Every year it does. What should be a simple task that takes five minutes max always turns into a clusterfuck that leaves me fuming for an hour or more. This year I’m prepared for it to take an hour. I’m also fully prepared to put in my password and have them tell me it’s incorrect and for me to try to get into the site for, well, an hour. All the while cussing up a storm because what should be so fucking simple takes forever.

Next on my agenda is to pay these medical bills that keep coming in. $5 here. $25 here. $200 there. Oh, and let’s not forget the $4200 ER bill.

If I get COVID-19 and have to go to the hospital I’m telling you right now I’m returning back home and dying. I don’t have the fucking money to pay yet another $5500 in deductibles. Hell, if Rock Star gets it she’s going to have to either pull through on her own or fucking die. I don’t have the goddamn money.

They sent the financial aid form to the house. It looked exactly like another bill. It’s to her but I’m fairly certain I’m considered the responsible party. They want my tax forms from last year (or this year but we’ve already established I haven’t done them yet and I don’t have a printer anyway). They want W-2s. They want income of everyone in the house. Long story short, I don’t believe they’re going to give us any kind of financial help. I’m going to be stuck with this entire bill.

Apparently when your yearly earnings, including spousal and child support, fall right around $50,000 you are rich beyond measure! You can pay a $4200 medical bill- on top of all the other small bills here and there that add up.

I would consider taking her off of my medical insurance but I don’t think that would help. It could help me, I suppose. Every time she gets sick she ends up going to the Urgent Care center because she doesn’t have a doctor down there. I don’t think that goes towards my deductible. I just have to pay out of pocket. If I took her off my insurance I’d probably get $65 more per paycheck. $130 a month x 12 months. That’s $1560 I could put aside for all of her doctor visits. Since I still claim her as my dependent I don’t think she can get Medicaid but even without it- an additional $1560 in my pocket for the year? Unless she continues to go to the ER on a regular basis, of course.

Every time I get just a little further ahead my kid needs something. I’ve been faithfully putting the child support away so that I don’t have to quickly budget to live on almost $1000 less when Picasso graduates. I guess I could take the entire amount I’ve built up in savings and send that to the hospital. Start all over at zero. I was thinking maybe I could pay off some credit card debt or pay more towards my car so that it’s paid off before October. Nope. I’ve got a $4200 ER bill to pay. That $1200 stimulus check I was going to use to either cushion my savings or again, pay off some debts? Yeah, that’s all going towards her fucking ER bill. I haven’t even paid this off and she’s already whining, “I need to get my wisdom teeth out!” She probably does. She’s been complaining about it for about two years now. I don’t have the fucking money for it.

On top of all of this wonderful news she didn’t correctly calculate how much she was going to need for rent. Probably because she insisted her lease ran from August-May. I repeatedly tried to tell her I didn’t think that was correct. But no! She insisted it wasn’t a full year long lease. Well guess what? It is.

I paid her rent in December when she ran out of money. I just paid her rent for April. She’s got no money in her account. It looks like I’m going to be paying her rent in May as well. So that’s another almost $500 I get to come up with. Thank God Jerry Lee is paying because if he doesn’t? Well, Rock Star’s going to need to get her ass up here and work at the hospital.

I feel bad bitching about this. I am the parent. I should be the one taking care of her. She spent 15 years never needing to worry about any of this. Then her dad walks out and life has never been the same. I’m pissed off that I’m in such a shitty financial situation that I actually want my kid to avoid medical care because I can’t afford it. What kind of a decent parent tells their kid to suck it up and not go to the ER when their symptoms aren’t improving? Hell, what kind of a decent parent tells their kid they need to wait yet another year to get their wisdom teeth out because they can’t afford it?

I’m pissed that I have such shitty insurance and that I’m court ordered to maintain it, although not for her. It’s ridiculous. I pay what amounts to over $430 per month and it covers almost nothing. Oh, I can get a flu shot for free every year. I didn’t until last year because I needed the points for the extra money, but I can. Immunizations are free. As I saw with Picasso’s original bill, that would have been over $1000. Then again, I could have paid for that in roughly three months. I can get a Pap smear and a mammogram. Don’t care. I went 3-4 years without getting one. I’m probably getting a deal on high blood pressure medication. And her anxiety medication. But that’s it. I’m pretty sure for what I pay in premiums I could set that money aside and still have more money in my account.

I’m also pissed at myself that I made such horrible decisions- the decision to marry him, the decision to have children with him, the decision to move all over the country with him instead of focusing on a career of my own, the decision to stay at home with my kids. All horrible, horrible choices. He couldn’t have left back when I was younger and still had a chance. Nope, he had to wait until I was almost 50, had been out of the workforce for 15 years, and had almost no chance of ever getting a decent paying job. Thanks, asshole!

I’m mad and frustrated with my daughter because of shitty choices I’ve made and shitty circumstances; it’s not her fault. I’m the one that didn’t teach her to budget. I’m the one that hasn’t put the brakes on her spending. I’m the one who tries to keep doing for her. I’m the one that doesn’t want her life to completely change.

She’s a good kid. She’s a hard working, driven kid. She’s been working since she turned 16. She is generally very responsible. She’s taken out student loans to pay for her college education. I couldn’t even help her with that this year.

The first year I paid the remaining $4000 balance that loans and scholarships didn’t cover, and gave her money for books. Her second year, as I said, I couldn’t help her at all. Her student loans paid her tuition and paid for her books. They paid for her rent all first semester except December. Second semester they’ve paid for her books, her tuition, and apparently 3 months of rent. I was paying $500 a month last year when Jerry Lee was paying what he was ordered to, so this shouldn’t be any different.

I know it’s not what I wanted to spend the money on but I suppose I’ve got it. I may as well pay her entire bill so that the hospital can continue to cover those who get all that free medical care.

Merry Christmas, Love Dad

A Christmas miracle has occurred! Picasso and Rock Star both got envelopes in the mail from their dad. Same day! This never happens! The last time it did happen was December of 2015 when he could leave their gift cards for them. I honestly no longer remember if he put them in the mailbox or if he left them on the kitchen island, not that it matters anymore.

Another Christmas miracle- he used his real address! He didn’t try to hide out like he was still living in Kentucky. Nope, he put that fancy address on the envelope this year. I guess he figured the cat was out of the bag. No use hiding.

Strangely, he listed the return address as “The Jackasses” instead of using his full name (Jerry Lee Jackass), or only his last name. I don’t know if that was his way of finally telling the kids he got married or if it was an oversight on his part.

He sent them both a Visa gift card. Nothing else in the envelope. Not a card. Not a letter. No, “I miss you,” or, “I love you.” Not even a “Merry Christmas!” on the flap of the envelope. As Picasso said, “Good to know how much he loves us. Couldn’t even bother to wish us a Merry Christmas. This is more like an obligation than an actual gift.”

Even better? The gift card was one of those where you determine how much you want to put on it. The card said you could choose from $5-$500. He didn’t bother to tell them how much was on it. Rock Star called the number and found out her dad gave them $50.

I know Christmas is not about the gifts and it’s not about how much money you spend. Yet I still shake my head and whisper, “Jesus Christ!” under my breath. This man makes over $100k a year. His cousin turned wife makes somewhere between $75,000-$90,000 a year (last records I saw she brought home $5000/month). He lives in a nice big house in the most sought after subdivision in Olive Branch. Pretty sure he’s driving a new car, too. I know damn well the mulligans did not get a mere $50 spent on them. This man who whines endlessly about how I’ve turned his children against him gifts them a $50 Visa gift card with not a word said to either of them.

I sat with a needle in my arm twice a week for the last four months so that I could give my kids the kind of Christmas they remember. I almost fainted one time. Another time I ended up with bruises on my arm and had to use the other one to donate.

The mobster who is not even their father spent over $100 on each of my kids. He gave me $100 to put towards Picasso’s computer and then ordered a $50 gift certificate to a nail salon for Rock Star, plus he gave her a stocking stuffed with another $50 or so worth of little odds and ends.

My mom undoubtedly spent right around $100 on each of them.

When my kids went down to see my dad my stepmom gave both kids a $100 bill.

Again, I know it’s not about the money or the gifts; however, he doesn’t do anything else for them either. Out of all of the adults in their lives, with the possible exception of my dad, Jerry Lee is the one with the most resources and yet he’s the one that chooses to spend the least. This was a total fuck you gift. Like Picasso said, it was an obligation. He can’t admit to giving them nothing so he gives the least amount he can.

My mouth is still hanging somewhat open at his audacity but as I told the mobster, “They’ll remember which one of us donated plasma twice a week for four months so they could have a great Christmas, and which one of us gave them $50.” I went to great lengths to make sure my kids got the things they wanted for Christmas. They know this. It’s not just the money but the sacrifice, the willingness to do whatever it takes to provide for them.

I will never forget the look on my son’s face when he walked downstairs and saw the computer he so badly coveted sitting there, instead of a few hundred dollars in his stocking knowing he was going to have to make up the difference.

I know how much Rock Star loves her stocking; she has said many times it’s her favorite part of Christmas. This year it was bangin’! She was thrilled with the cosmetics and skin care products she received, along with the gift certificate for a massage and her Air Pods.

Every hour I spent in that plasma center was worth it. Every stick was worth it. My kids are worth it. It’s sad he doesn’t realize that.

This is not my battle to fight. He is who is and his kids are going to have to accept that. I would say that he’s going to have to accept responsibility for the state of his relationship with them but I think we all know that’s not going to happen.

He Paid

I do a great job of ignoring his shit. but I’m human. I’m not proud of this but I lost it a little bit on Wednesday.

Rock Star texted me and asked if I could send her some money so she could buy groceries. This was four days after the end of the month when I was fairly certain he had found out I was taking him back to court and he was refusing to pay. I had just paid her rent on the 1st and given her about $35 extra, which I found out she used to buy gas to get back to school. The girl has taken out approximately $16,000 in student loans; she’s paying her entire tuition, all of her books, and has paid all of her rent up until this point. She works on her weekends home and on her breaks. I don’t want to put anything else on her; she’s already doing enough. Nevertheless, I was losing it.

My nest egg keeps getting smaller and smaller. Cello lesson here. Grocery money there. Dog grooming. Oil change. It never ends.

I sent her the money. It was only $25 but that’s what she asked for. I Venmo’d it to her and in the section that asks what’s it for I wrote: Food, because even when your ex refuses to pay his support your kids still need shit.

It was set to public because I don’t care if people read it and see what a shit he is. I want them to know when he’s being a deadbeat. Frankly, I hoped he would see it.

Oh, he saw it. I happened to notice a text message which said I had a comment on a Venmo story. Naturally, I thought it was added under my comment on Rock Star’s account. He had written back: Because sometimes the pay cycles are off and you happen to be 6 days off on paying. Grow up.

Then I realized his comment wasn’t attached to mine. He had actually sent a support payment. Holy shit! It’s a Christmas miracle!

Seriously? I’m expected to believe somehow his pay cycle is off by 6 days? I’ve got bad news for him. The court order states he’s supposed to pay in full on the 1st of the month, or he’s supposed to pay every other week. He does neither of those things. In fact, despite asking for the every other week payment schedule based upon his pay schedule, he has never paid every other week. He typically waits until the second half of the month and then he pays the entire balance over three payments.

I love how he conveniently ignores the part where he is currently not paying what he is ordered to pay. I guess going to court to plead your case is for pussies. Real men like him just do some calculations, come up with what they’re comfortable paying, and then do it. No judge needed.

I also love how he justifies his behavior by saying his pay cycle was off so I should be understanding of that, yet he never once communicated that. That would have been helpful. He didn’t even need to explain what happened. “Hey Sam, I’ll be sending the remaining support for November a little late. You should have it before the end of the first week of December.” Yes, that would have been a huge help. Oh silly me! I forgot- I don’t count. I’m not worth communicating with. He owes me nothing.

Let’s not forget his track record. It’s not good. Between this upcoming court hearing and the reality that he has no problem not paying what he owes, I don’t think I jumped the gun. I gave him until the very last day of the month. Then I panicked.

I feel no guilt and no shame in calling him out. What I do feel bad about is blindsiding Rock Star. I honestly thought she knew he wasn’t paying. Her last day at home before returning to school we were going to go out for dinner. She asked if we even had enough money to go out. So I thought she knew.

When she saw my comment she asked me if he wasn’t paying again. At that point I told her he was not. She told me she thought he was paying which meant we were more financially stable. I told her I did, too. She also told me that if she had known he wasn’t paying she would never have asked me for money, which made me feel like a complete failure as a parent. I told her I thought she already knew and that if she didn’t know I didn’t want to tell her because it stresses her out. That’s when she let me know she wanted to be kept informed because it affected her life as well. Then she said she was going to be working a ton over her Christmas break so she could make some decent money. Again, I felt like a total failure as a parent.

Without his money I can’t do anything for my kids. It pisses me off. I’m so disgusted with my life choices sometimes. Instead of focusing on a career I stayed at home with my kids, moved all around the country, and helped to support his career. Now I’m 50 and barely above the poverty level. If only I had been smarter.

The story doesn’t end there. Jerry Lee texted her. Of course he did.

Just so that you are aware of the truth, I pay your mother over 50% of my salary every month. She gets $XXXX from me each month. I just wanted to make sure you knew the truth and not whatever she tells you. I don’t expect you to respond, just wanted you to know.

You know the funny thing? I give him credit all. the. time. They are both completely aware of the fact that his support payments are what give us any kind of financial security. They both know that my job pays the bills and that’s pretty much it. They know that him paying support is what allows me to do extra for them. Hell, they watched it play out during the ten months he wasn’t paying a dime. They’re teenagers, not toddlers. They knew I was working two jobs to make ends meet. They knew I was exhausted all the time. They saw me fall asleep sitting up in a chair. They knew when he began paying and I could do more for them. They knew that I was finally able to quit my second job because he was paying support.

He doesn’t pay? Picasso stops taking his cello lessons. I can’t pay Rock Star’s rent. There’s no money to go out. I worry about how I’ll buy groceries. I again start looking for a second job. Lots of fun things happen when he doesn’t pay support. Stress. Tears. Angry outbursts. So believe me he gets all the credit for paying.

That’s the problem though, isn’t it? He wants credit for paying (and I have no problem with giving that to him) but he doesn’t want to have to face the consequences when he doesn’t pay. It’s easier to portray me as a liar who tells the kids all sorts of falsehoods about him. It’s easier to believe that I never give him credit for the support he pays and that I take all the credit for everything they get. He can’t accept that if he’s going to get the credit for paying then he’s also going to have to take the blame when he doesn’t.