I’d Love To Be That Naive Again

I’m jealous, folks. I don’t spend much time on Facebook anymore. I get on to check in on the Chump Nation page and take maybe 5-10 minutes to scroll through my feed. I send out a few birthday wishes/happy anniversary wishes, etc. Even with the limited amount of time I’m on there I still see the feeds of seemingly happy couples.

The co-worker I mentioned a few months ago is pregnant and quit her job; she’s going to be a stay at home mom. She’s living the life she’s always wanted to live- living on a farm surrounded by animals with the love of her life and a new baby. My cousin is still at home, baking bread, knitting, and being all domestic. She is honestly rocking this stay-at-home thing. The meals she cooks, the desserts she makes, the fucking artisan bread she bakes, the projects she takes on… it’s amazing. Truly.

I’m not jealous because they’re able to do those things. I’m happy for them. No, I’m envious because they, for whatever reason, have the luxury of believing that this new life they’re crafting with their partner won’t go belly up; the thought that things might not work out and they could lose everything doesn’t even cross their minds. I don’t blame them. I didn’t spend any part of my marriage thinking, “Oh my God! What if he leaves me?” I didn’t prepare for a future without him. I certainly didn’t live my entire life with him in preparation for a divorce. That’s the root of the envy.

I learned the hard way that you can’t ever rely on the other person doing what they’re supposed to do. I learned you need to be prepared to do it all on your own because when you don’t, you’re completely blindsided. I’m envious because they don’t seem to know that; they can throw caution to the wind and depend upon another person. They are quitting their jobs. They are without an income. And they’re fine with it because their husbands will support them. They’re able to take this new life they’re creating for themselves and not think beyond now. It’s all excitement- new houses, new lifestyles, babies, new pets, photo shoots, artisan bread, home projects, and vacations. They’re building a fantastic new life with someone, and they are able to throw themselves whole heartedly into this new chapter of their lives. There is no, “What happens if I quit my job and this person leaves me?” It’s simply a brand new life where they can depend 100% on another person and trust that that person isn’t going to betray them. I really wish I could be that naive again. That is what makes me envious. All that I am I give to you and all that I have I share with you. I wish I still believed that without reservation. I wish I could put my life in another person’s hands and have faith that he will always have my back. I wish I still believed that you work as a team, you build a life together, and you reap the rewards together. You don’t have to keep a tally sheet of who does what and how much your contribution is worth.

Now I see people working as a team, building lives together, making the decision to stay at home, and I think, “You better hope he doesn’t leave. If he does your life is going to spiral out of control. Everything you know to be true today will be over in the blink of an eye. Better yet- you’d better have a backup plan so you can take care of yourself if he does leave.” 

Even worse, I can’t allow myself the luxury of thinking of myself as part of a team. I am horribly aware of how no couple is really a team. You say the words, but the reality is, when that new person catches your eye, you don’t give a fuck about your former “teammate” and you’re certainly not trying to give them a fair share of everything “the team” has accumulated through the years. The team member that was making a six figure salary gets to walk away and move in with the new teammate while still making six figures; their life goes on as normal. Meanwhile, the teammate that wasn’t making the money but was raising the kids, cooking meals, doing all the grocery shopping, doing the laundry, cleaning the house, running the pets to vet appointments, running the kids all around, and generally supporting the money earner from behind the scenes is left alone with no income. Their life changes dramatically.

I know this probably sounds odd coming from me. Or maybe it doesn’t, which is even scarier. I’m very happy with the mobster. Far happier than I ever was with Jerry Lee. I love him and want to spend the rest of my life with him. I still can’t get comfortable with the idea of giving up spousal support in order to marry him or even live with him. Every time I think about it and start to believe that this time would be different because he’s the right person that little voice in my head says, “Listen up! Don’t be an idiot! You’ve already learned the hard way what happens when you can’t stand on your own two feet. You would have to be amazingly stupid to voluntarily give that up and depend on him. You don’t make enough money to be able to afford anything on your own without spousal support.”

That little voice is right. I do know what happens when you depend upon another person. I know what happens when you can’t support yourself. You wind up moving in with your mother and getting rid of almost everything you’ve ever owned and sleeping on the couch. I wish I didn’t know that.

Things have changed a bit since I first began writing this way back in October. The biggest change, of course, is my new job. I actually could support myself now if I gave up spousal support and moved in with or married the mobster. It’s still a good chunk of change though so I’m not eager to give it up. It would also be rather tight because as I said I’ve almost closed the gap. I haven’t done it completely. And when you look at actual take home pay… well, let’s just say I’m not where I want to be without that extra boost.

I like to think I’m mostly unscathed from my divorce; however, I can’t shake that idea that if I can’t afford it on my own then it’s not really mine. It was a hard lesson to learn and I’m not sure if it will ever be unlearned. The funny thing is I think that the mobster and I really would make a great team and could build a fantastic life together. That little voice in the back of my head continues to question though: What if he leaves you? Can you still afford that? Will you be able to take that (whatever “that” happens to be) with you? Will you be able to stand on your own two feet or will you have to return to your mom’s house? Funnier still is the fact that I have no reason to believe he would do that to me. He’s been through all of this himself. I don’t spend time worrying that he’s got one foot out the door or that he’s checking out other women. Hell, we live 600 miles apart and I have never worried about him cheating on me. Maybe that’s stupidity on my part, or maybe it’s a testament to the strong foundation of our relationship. Either way, it’s not something I worry about. And yet… I’m not able to fully commit to joining finances and letting Jerry Lee off the hook.

Fortunately for me the mobster understands. He recently said to me, “You’re terrified to give up spousal support, aren’t you?” Oh yeah. That’s my safety net. I lost everything. I’m not prepared to do that again.

I really wish I could be as naive as some of the people I know when it comes to relationships. I wish I didn’t feel like I always needed an exit plan in case I get discarded. On the other hand, I’m really glad I’m in a position finally where I can stand on my own. I don’t see myself ever giving that up.

Why Not Getting a Job Might Not Be the Wisest Choice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

































































































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.

All That I Have I Share With You… Or At Least Split It Down the Middle, Part 1

Hi. My name is Sam. I’m 51 years old. I was married for 20 years. After our kids were born I became a stay-at-hom mom and my now ex-husband began climbing the corporate ladder. 

My daughter participated in competitive gymnastics, not an inexpensive sport. Towards the end we were paying over $600 a month for 6 months out of the year and over $300 a month for the remaining six months for her sport, plus travel expenses for out of state meets. Don’t even get me started on what I paid for new leos, grips, and miscellaneous supplies. 

My son played hockey. Not quite as expensive as gymnastics because he didn’t do travel league, but still not a cheap sport. His last year I spent over $400 on equipment for him because he had outgrown all of his old stuff. Before that he regularly played baseball, soccer, and even enrolled in karate. 

I could shop for clothes and toys and make-up for my kids whenever I wanted, without having to consider a budget. It wasn’t unusual for me to take my daughter on a shopping spree once or twice a year. If they needed new clothes I could easily go out and drop $200 at a single store in order to stock up. 

The last year of our marriage I lived in a 4000 sq. ft. home where my kids had their own rooms and their own bathrooms. We even put a pool in our backyard. 

We could go back out to Utah and to Indiana to visit friends and family. I could afford to take my kids and do fun things with them. It wasn’t uncommon for us to have season passes to the amusement park and water park every summer. I took my kids on vacation. I made sure they had everything they needed and most of what they wanted. I rarely worried about money and could afford to be generous to friends and family. And then… I got divorced.

I lost pretty much everything when that happened- my house, my furniture, 90% of my belongings, my children’s emotional security, my financial security. I didn’t even get to remain in the same city. My kids and I had to sell off everything, vacate the family home, and move 600 miles away in with my mom. That was a mere two years after he moved us two thousand miles across the country for his “dream job”.

Five years after finding out about his affair, almost 3 years after the divorce, I’m still struggling and he and the OWife are doing great. Pulling in over $14,000 a month together. Living in houses just like we used to do. In fact, the first one they moved into together could have been an exact replica of the one he left behind in Virginia. At least from the outside.

I made a vow after this happened to me that I would never be financially dependent upon a man again. This is actually kind of funny because I’m still financially dependent on the ex in the form of the spousal support he is supposed to pay me. Nonetheless, my vow was that I would never be financially dependent on another man again. Losing everything and being forced to move away from the place that I called home (even if I didn’t particularly love it there) almost killed me the last time. Most of my friends who went through a divorce right around the same time as I did have no idea what it’s like to go through your entire home and put price tags on almost everything you own. They have no idea what it’s like to have to leave the family home. They have no idea what it’s like to have to tell your kids that we are once again moving and I’m going to be uprooting them from their friends, their sports, and their schools all over again. I cannot do it a second time.

I believe we’ve covered all of this before so you may be wondering why on earth I’m writing about it again. That’s a very good question, and one that deserves an answer. I’ll do my best, although it’s going to be a circumbendibus story.

Welcome To the Team

I do my best writing when the moment is fresh. It also helps if I’m angry. I think some of my best blog posts have been the ones where I mock cheaters and infidelity. I know I’ve been getting away from that lately. My blog has been more like a journal. Anyway, I have a whole long list of things that I’ve long thought would make a good blog post and I’m going to try to write about them.

It’s been almost 9 months since my niece got married. She and her boyfriend were high school sweethearts. Started dating as sophomores when she moved in with my brother and transferred high schools. They dated all throughout high school. They dated all throughout college, despite being several hours apart. He played basketball for a school in Kentucky and she went to my alma mater in Indiana. There was a very brief breakup which lasted less than 2 or 3 months but my niece, not having much experience with dating or breaking up, continued to go to his games and basically act as though they were still a couple. It paid off though because after she graduated from nursing school she moved to Ohio and in with him. After 9 years of dating they finally married last September.

It was a beautiful wedding and they are a gorgeous couple.

Several times the groom’s father gave a toast and each time he would end with, “Welcome to the team, Florence Nightingale!”

How easy it is to say those welcoming words, “Welcome to the team!” What’s more difficult is managing those sentiments when things go wrong. I don’t know what the statistics are but it seems there are definitely more people who find out the hard way that blood is thicker than water. Story after story is told about how you were tight with the in-laws until the divorce and then they no longer knew your name. In some cases they even abandoned the grandchildren. You go from, “Welcome to the team!” to “I have no idea who you are or why you think you matter to me.” Suddenly you are no longer a part of that team, that family. So many people are absolutely shocked by this revelation when it happens to them.

I was very close to my in-laws until Jerry Lee’s first affair. In the beginning I would call his mom, or she would call me, and we would talk for an hour or two. I drove anywhere from 7 to 25 hours to go visit them by myself and bring the grandkids to them. I celebrated holidays with them with no Jerry Lee in sight. I bought birthday and Christmas gifts for his sister and his mom, his entire family actually, and I always managed to do an exceptional job. I spent every Thanksgiving with these people until we moved to Utah and it was too difficult to get back there. Tammy Faye told me on more than one occasion that she couldn’t have picked a better daughter-in-law.

Then Jerry Lee cheated. His sister, the one I went to King’s Island with, the one I went to the movies with, the one for whom I bought birthday and Christmas gifts, the one with whom I had shared countless memories, meals, and holidays, told him he owed it to himself to be happy and that she would support him in whatever he chose to do. His mom and stepdad continued contact with Harley because “she was family!” They both fawned over her profile pictures, telling her how pretty she was.

His mother, if the Saint is to be believed, encouraged her to call him after he had moved me and the kids 2000 miles across the country, because he was sad. Hey- if dumping your wife of 20 years might cheer up your perfect little golden boy then dump that bitch! She accompanied them to the funeral of a cousin, knowing full well that I had no idea I was being replaced with that cuntface cum dumpster. She embraced Harley’s kids as her own grandkids and shouted out her happiness at the fact that he was “going to make Harley her family, too!”

Oh, she reached out to Rock Star via Facebook. Would tell her how much she loved her and how she was her blood. She never did anything substantial, like say, “I’m sorry your dad did this to you,” or, “I’m sorry you’re going through all of this. I’m sorry your life was pulled apart once again.” No, much easier to simply write words on Facebook where everyone can sympathize with you and you look like a loving, kind grandmother instead of the orchestrator of this giant mess.

Jezebel, of course, was over the moon ecstatic about her “new sister”. Yeah, good luck with that. She’s a lot more cunning and devious than I ever was. You’re both a lot alike so you’re probably going to clash a lot.

She also talks a good game about how much she misses her niece and nephew while at the same time doing absolutely nothing to stay in their lives. Of course her whole mantra throughout her life has been, “You come to me. Make things easy for me.”

Maybe I have become hardened and cynical. Are many people lucky enough to have a relationship with the in-laws that isn’t based solely upon your marriage? Do they ever see us as stand alone people or are we always destined to be a prop for their family member? Does anything you do over the years count at all, or will they always circle the wagons and make excuses while distancing themselves from you?

Even with everything that has happened I love weddings. I cry at weddings. I love seeing the eager couple so happy and full of promise on that day. I think it’s a beautiful thing when two people pledge to love one another for the rest of their lives. I also think it’s a lot easier said than done. Hello, Exhibit A!

I hope my niece and her husband have a long, happy marriage filled with everything they want. I hope they are both good to each other even twenty years from now. I hope they remember how they felt on their wedding day every day of their marriage because it is so true what they say. A wedding is about one day. A marriage is about a lifetime. And I hope that his family really does mean it. I hope she is a part of the team no matter what happens, and especially if they divorce because of his actions.

It’s so easy to say, isn’t it? Welcome to the team. Welcome to the family. So easy to mean it when things are new and fresh and everything is good. It’s a lot more difficult to continue to treat the person, your flesh and blood has discarded, like a real person no matter how heartily you welcomed them in the beginning or how much your relationship with them has grown over the years.

I hope she never has to find out if they truly mean it or not.

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.

Emotional Happiness or Financial Security?

I was talking to someone who came through our department the other day. She was there to observe what we do and we got to talking. The topic of me being divorced came up, as did my new dating life. She asked me which I felt was more important- financial security or emotional well being.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is a trick question. Looking back over the 20 years I was with Jerry Lee I can see how our marriage wasn’t a great one. We probably had a decent five years but even then there were signs he wasn’t going to be all in. I’ve already written about his reluctance to go to my grandpa’s funeral with me. He didn’t attend my friend’s wedding in Chicago with me. Didn’t go to my class reunion with me. And I’m not quite sure he ever went to my grandparent’s or dad’s house again after we went down to announce our engagement. He was also a no show at my best friend’s wedding, didn’t come to support me when I went skydiving, couldn’t be bothered to take time off of work when my ectopic pregnancy was finally found, and didn’t go to either of my grandmothers’ funerals.

In comparison the Mobster is amazing. He’s a wonderful partner. Not only does the man go to funerals, weddings, and company parties with me he travels 10 1/2 hours to do so! Okay, the funeral was in Virginia but still… my point remains.

I have never felt so loved by a man in my life. He listens to me. He laughs with me. He supports me, encourages me, stands up for me, and is willing to help me in any way possible. He is an all in partner in every way.

Do you prefer the emotional well-being or the financial well-being?

I’ve got a bill sitting on my dining room table from the hospital where my daughter went to the ER. I haven’t even got the courage to open it yet. I wouldn’t blink an eye in my old life (primarily because we had great fucking insurance and it probably would have cost me a $50 co-pay but that’s a rant for another day!).

I used to be able to drop a couple hundred of dollars on my daughter when she said she needed new shorts or a new wardrobe.

I used to be able to buy my son a new game system if I felt like it.

I used to be independent. I lived in my own home. I had furniture and dishes and possessions accumulated throughout over 45 years of living.

Quite honestly, the last eight years or so of our marriage I didn’t have to worry about money much at all, and in that last year I didn’t worry.

Now I worry about money every month.

There have been times when I briefly wished both of my kids were self-sufficient and out on their own because trying to meet their needs was overwhelming to me. I still count down until the day I no longer have to pay over $200 a paycheck to cover them on my insurance. I never did that before.

There are times I don’t know if he’s going to pay spousal support or child support and Picasso needs one thing and Rock Star needs another thing and they all converge on me and I begin to have a mini nervous breakdown. Their needs and even their wants were met without a blink of an eye before.

I always figured we would always be there to help them out if they needed it. Both of them would have college paid for. We would send them money each month while they were away at college. My pipe dream fantasy at one point was to buy enough land where we could build a house and both kids could build their own homes so they would never leave me. My kids and grandkids would all live in close proximity.

It’s a trick question.

I think we all know money doesn’t buy happiness. I think we also know that while it may not guarantee happiness it sure makes life easier.

No matter how happy I am no bank is going to loan me a couple hundred thousand to buy a house. No store is going to let me have groceries based upon a happy relationship. I can’t buy new shoes for my growing son or pay utilities with love.

I’d like to borrow two hundred thousand dollars to buy a house.

You don’t make enough money for us to lend you two hundred thousand dollars.

But I’m really happy!

M’am, that’s not how lending and finance works.

Well damn!

In an ideal world I’d have both. I’d be working a job that made me a shit ton of money and I’d come home each day to the mobster. Or at least I’d have a job where I made enough to support myself and my kids and have some left over.

I’m not stupid. I wouldn’t go back to Jerry Lee for any amount of money. I am far, far happier with the Mobster than I ever was with him.

I’ve already psychoanalyzed myself and decided that all the shopping I did and all the material goods made up for a marriage that was lacking.

I still think it’s a trick question. Would you rather be able to feed your children or be in love?

A Whole New Decade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the meantime I have managed to accomplish some things.

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

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

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

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

When Your Kids Take the Hit

It’s getting down to crunch time. I’ve got 3 blog entries in my draft section; I still need to work on one of those. Normally, I would have just replied but since, as I said, I’m down to crunch time and needing some material I’m going to write a blog post.

I wrote about Rock Star calling me, crying, worried about rent money and worried about school. Ainsobriety commented that she believed this conversation would have happened even if Jerry Lee and I were still together. I agreed at first but the longer I’ve thought about it the more I’ve come to the conclusion that no, we wouldn’t have. We wouldn’t have had that conversation at least.

Yes, I am her sounding board. I always have been, even when her dad and I were together. I was the one that drove them to practice and attended almost every single game, competition, recital, and program. I was the one who took them to school, stayed home with them when they were sick, took them to visit family, and planned fun outings all summer long. I was the one who cooked for them, cleaned for them, washed their clothes for them.

When Picasso was in second or third grade he had to write a letter saying what he was thankful for for Thanksgiving. He said he was thankful I cooked for him because otherwise he would starve. The thought that his father might actually take care of him in my absence didn’t even occur to him.

When Rock Star was three I had Jerry Lee pick her up from preschool one day because I was tied up at the doctor’s office with a baby Picasso. She asked where I was/why he was picking her up, and after explaining that I was at the doctor’s with Picasso she replied, “Wow- I’ve never stayed at home by myself.” She was three! He quickly assured her that she wasn’t staying home by herself that day either. But how sad is it that even at that young age she couldn’t fathom her dad staying at home with her?

So, yes, she would have called me if she was having trouble with school, or was simply feeling the pressure of it. I’ve always been the sounding board; she’s always felt comfortable falling apart on me while keeping it together around everyone else. That time she got her hand pinched in the vault at the gym and everyone was commenting on how brave she was and didn’t cry once? Yeah, she got into the safety of my minivan and burst into tears. Mom’s here; I’m safe. But I also don’t think she would be under so much stress if not for her father and his shenanigans.

The reality of the situation is if Jerry Lee and I were still together she would have no financial stress. You can argue whether that’s good, or bad, but it’s a fact. His bonus check alone was enough that we could have paid her full tuition, no loans required, and her room and board (or rent for an apartment), and still had money left over to put into the bank. Her books would have been covered, any additional schooling expenses would have been covered and I would have sent her money each month to cover incidental expenses. She wouldn’t have to worry about working enough over her breaks to cover rent, books, or spending money.

Money is a huge stressor. Without having to worry about student loans, coming up short on rent, cost of books, and a variety of other expenses, she would be able to fully concentrate on her classes. Instead, she worries about things like whether or not she has enough gas money or grocery money. She worries about costing me money that I don’t have.

Hell, she was reluctant to go to the urgent care center even though she was sick. She didn’t want me to have to spend the almost $200 it was going to cost. I had to assure her that I had the money and that I could pay the bill. The girl was crying and telling me she felt nauseous, was in pain, and was running a fever. She never runs a fever. She didn’t think it was a UTI and feared it might be a kidney infection instead. Still, she was reluctant to go because of the money.

Thank God her big [sister, in her sorority] insisted she go because they were very concerned about her at the urgent care. They’re still waiting on test results but they are treating her as though she has either a kidney infection or a bladder infection. They gave her two shots in her booty, three prescriptions and instructions to go straight to the ER if she got any worse.

I wanted my kids to have easy lives. I wanted them to be able to have it all. I wanted Rock Star to be able to go to college, have her tuition and books paid for, and join a sorority if she wanted. I wanted to be able to send her spending money and buy groceries for her and slip her some gas money as well. I wanted her to have no worries in the world. I wanted her to just have to concentrate on getting through nursing school and having fun.

I know she’ll be okay. I know that she’ll be stronger for it. I also know I hate him for what he’s done to us. And I know we wouldn’t have had that exact same conversation if he hadn’t left.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

 

20191103_210250.jpgThis picture is the essence of who my daughter once was. It was taken just a few months after we moved from Virginia to Indiana. A few months after gymnastics was taken away from her forever.

She started gymnastics the first time around as soon as she turned three. It lasted about 3 months. The class tended to take place at the time she was just waking up from her nap and she was a beast upon waking. I decided it wasn’t worth it.

Fast forward almost a year. Her preschool class took a field trip to that gym. She loved it. I asked her if she’d like to take lessons again. She enthusiastically replied, “Yes!”

Her coach was a real cutie patootie. After she had gone through the entire program for kids her age it was time to decide if she wanted to sign up for some more recreational lessons, or if she wanted to start training for team gymnastics. I explained to her that if she wanted to do rec Chad wouldn’t be her coach any longer because he taught the preschool program and the team girls. She wanted to do team gymnastics.

“Do you want to do team gymnastics because you really like gymnastics, or because you really like Chad?” I asked her, knowing that participation on the team would require a much bigger commitment.

“I really like gymnastics,” she replied. “But I really like Chad, too,” she admitted.

That’s how we ended up spending tens of thousands of dollars on gymnastics over the years.

She made the transition from the gym in Michigan to the gym in Utah with a few tears. It was difficult starting over. Meeting new coaches. Getting used to them. Meeting new teammates.

She was at that gym for 8 years. She spent countless hours there. Gymnastics was her life. Her final three years in Utah she was an Optional. She was at the gym no less than 20 hours a week. In the summer it was 25. Her friends were her gymnastics teammates. Very few people outside of the gym permeated that friendship circle.

For eight years she lived and breathed gymnastics. She progressed from a little girl who couldn’t do a cartwheel, much less a back handspring to a young lady who was doing whips and fulls on floor, back tucks on beam, giants on bars and a Yurchenko on vault.

Then we took it all away from her. We moved to Virginia to a town that didn’t have a JO gymnastics program. They had high school gymnastics though and she dove into that. At one point she even did Excel, saying all she wanted to do was compete. But once again she was being asked to trust new coaches, only this time around the skills were a lot more challenging than a cartwheel.

That lasted for two years. We had to leave our home shortly after she found out she was being named co-captain for her high school gymnastics team. There was no high school gymnastics and I couldn’t afford competitive gymnastics any longer. It was over. Twelve years of gymnastics, over in the blink of an eye. Her love, her passion, was abruptly taken away. She never replaced it with anything else.

I love that picture of her. It captures who she was so perfectly. You could take gymnastics away from her but she would always find a way. She lost competitive gymnastics but embraced high school gymnastics. Then that was taken away from her when we moved from Virginia to Indiana. Yet, out there in a cornfield she used a log as a balance beam and leaped.

I feel like this picture represents something I can’t put into words. Perseverance? The ability to soldier on even when everything you care about has been taken from you? The ability to get back up when life knocks you down? A strong will? Loss? Refusing to be defeated? I don’t know.

What I do know is she loved this. It was her life. And now it’s over. Her father took it away from her to meet his own selfish needs.

Keep leaping, my beautiful girl. Keep dreaming and improvising.

P.S. She nailed the landing, in case you were wondering.