Take Me Home, Country Road

It’s taken me a while to get into the correct frame of mind to write this. I suppose I may as well get straight to the point. The mobster is moving back to Virginia. We’re going back to the long distance thing.

Why? The route was a source of disappointment to him. It took him about six weeks longer to get started than he had originally planned. He can’t stand the district manager who acts as though he works for him and has absolutely no bedside manner, for lack of better word. The tax stuff every year stresses him out. His truck keeps breaking down. Small things like coils needing to be replaced but still… When that happens he’s waiting a week or more for his truck to get repaired and in the meantime he’s paying a couple hundred dollars to rent a truck so he can deliver. Oh yeah, and he went through a five week period where he didn’t get paid. He sold $48,000.00 worth of product and was somehow upside down. He’s still not sure what happened. When he gets paid he does very well for himself, especially for only three days of work. But those weeks when you don’t get paid…

Despite all of the issues he had with the route the main reason he’s moving back is because he misses his kids. As he said one time, “Even if I only see them every few months at least I’m there.”

He’ll see them more than every few months when he goes back. His son and his wife have moved into the apartment above the garage while their house is being built. His daughter and her best friend are still living in the house so he’ll see her all the time. We both expect her boyfriend to propose to her within the year. He graduates with his Masters in December and we figure he’ll do it sometime between Christmas and her birthday in March. She’ll be living in the house at least another year, maybe two.

I’ve known he was planning on moving back since early March. We just didn’t know when it was going to happen. Turns out the guy who sold him the route is buying it back. The sale is supposed to be finalized in about two weeks. He hasn’t said yet exactly when he plans on returning but I’m sure it won’t be almost 3 months later like it was when he sold the route in Virginia and moved up here. I would guess a week, maybe two, after the sale. It might depend on how quickly he sells his truck as well.

As I said in the beginning it has taken me a while to get into the right frame of mind. I spent the first two weeks crying every day. I didn’t eat much the first 3 or 4 days. I’ve only been able to concentrate on my job properly in the last 2 weeks or so. I still have days where I get teary eyed, if only for a few minutes. I’m really going to miss him. I’m going to hate not seeing him every day.

We watched all 8 seasons of Pysch. It took us a couple of weeks because we only managed about 2 or 3 episodes at a time. I watched it when it was on originally but loved watching it again. That’s something we won’t do anymore. When you only have a weekend or two each month you tend to spend that time running around making memories. You don’t drive five hours to see each other and then spend the entire weekend watching TV.

I’m going to miss meeting him downtown on Wednesday nights for raid hour, or having him come meet me for lunch on the days he doesn’t work. I’m going to miss going out to breakfast and/or visiting wineries on the weekends. I’m going to miss watching TV with him and spending lazy days with him. I’m going to miss going on walks with him and telling him about my day. Sure, I suppose when we talk in the evening he’ll ask me how my job went but it won’t be the same. I’m still really really sad about it.

I also regret all the things we’re not going to get to do that I thought we still had time to do- like watch all the Marvel movies in order. That’s not going to happen. There are too many of them and who wants to spend their one weekend a month watching movie after movie? I regret not going to the Farmer’s market more often. I regret not taking more weekend trips once we could pick from many other different cities and not just Columbus or Chillicothe. Chicago, Indianapolis, Nashville (Indiana, not Tennessee), Mackinaw Island, Grand Rapids, St. Louis. All trips we won’t make. I regret not getting a chance to eat at The Bucket out on the deck, enjoying the nice weather and the view of the river. We’ve been there once or twice, but we’ve always had to eat inside. So many things I thought we were going to have a chance to do that we won’t.

But, getting into the right frame of mind also means asking myself the hard questions. And each time it comes down to this: I’d rather spend a weekend or two with him each month than spend every day with someone else.

We’ve had conversations about me possibly moving down to where he is. I would still be about an hour or two away. I will not move to the armpit of Virginia. I refuse to have to drive an hour to go anywhere or do anything. They drive an hour to go to Olive Garden. No one should ever drive an hour to go to Olive Garden. Ever. Cheesecake Factory? I get that. Macaroni Grill? Carrabba’s? All choices I could get behind. But Olive Garden? Absolutely not.

I’ve lived life in a small town. Twice, in fact. I am not a fan. Even if I don’t use everything available at my fingertips I still like having a variety of options.

I was thinking Charlotte might be a nice option but the housing prices there are way out of my league. Other potential options are Roanoke or Greensboro. Maybe even Winston-Salem.

We’re playing it by ear for now. Who knows where our kids will end up or how much time we’ll actually get to spend with them once they’ve built their own lives?

My daughter keeps saying she and her boyfriend plan to move to Utah (although she did say she would be willing to move to the Carolinas). My son doesn’t want to go south and wants to remain with his friends. He would be willing to move to Utah if I moved, but I can’t afford to move back to Utah. My mom, of course, doesn’t want me to go but I think I could possibly persuade her to come with me. To Virginia or North Carolina, that is. I don’t think all the rum in the world could get her to move to Utah.

I don’t see the mobster’s kids ever moving from where they currently live. His oldest son, if he doesn’t remain in New Hampshire, could potentially end up moving more towards the D.C. area and his youngest son who is currently in West Virginia could end up moving back to the area. In other words, I don’t see his kids going to all four corners of the world to set about their lives. They’re pretty much Virginia bound.

I mention this only because at one point he said maybe we could pick a place that was central to all of our kids. I don’t think that’s pragmatic when all of his kids are in one location and it’s mine that are spread around the country.

But we’ll see. Maybe Rock Star will end up in Utah and I’ll only get to see her two or three times a year. Maybe Picasso will move out, find a nice girl to settle down with, and I’ll only see him once a month because he’s busy. Who knows?

One thing I do know is no matter what happens I will be fine. That was one of the big hurdles I had to finally leap in order to be okay with all that’s happening. When I finally told myself, “Sam, you are going to be fine no matter what. You’ve had far worse things happen and you’ve survived,” that was when I could finally breathe again. And as the mobster has been saying all along, “This isn’t the end of us. Nothing’s changed. We’re just going back to the way it was before until we come up with a to the way it was before until we come up with a new plan.”

So that’s where we’re at. After 8 months of being together every day we’re going back to long distance.

Phrase for the year: Be here, be still. Boy, I really know how to pick those goddamn words and phrases, don’t I?

Random Rant Number Who the Hell Knows

This is a series of rants and wonderments about totally nothing. For instance….

What do those people who use u for you, ur for you’re/your, and b4 for before do with all of their extra time? Honestly, it’s the single u that gets me. Spell it out, people! 

And what in the hell is going on with “Sis”?

Sis, he’s not the man for you. Move on.

Listen to me, Sis; dry those tears and get on with your life.

I don’t know who needs to hear this but, Sis….

WTF? Now, that’s not me taking a short cut. That’s me being polite and not spelling out fuck. 😉  Back to my outrage…

It’s not just memes either. You see people calling others “Sis” on message boards, too.

Hey, Sis, I gotta tell it to you straight, he’s never going to change,.

Come on, Sis, you’re fooling yourself.

He’s never going to change, Sis.

How did this come to be a thing? I’m not your sis. My own brothers don’t walk around saying, “Sis, he screwed up,” or whatever platitude they’re supposed to be spewing.

Maybe if I could pull it off I wouldn’t hate it so much but walking around saying, “Hey, Sis, let me tell you something,” feels as unnatural to me as referring to everyone I encounter as “Sweetie” or “Darlin’”. Those are typical names I reserve for those that are close to me. I must have used it a lot on Rock Star when she was young because I remember her asking a friend of mine about her “little darlin’”.

I can also solidly get behind the whole, “Oh, honey!” when someone is believing some bullshit but that’s as far as I go. Sis is a no go for me.

Hey, Sis, I know you don’t want to hear this but this whole “Sis” thing is stupid. Knock it off.

Wait! Are they referring to being sisters in solidarity? That might make sense but I still don’t like it. I’m going to stick with, “Oh, honey! Wake up and smell the coffee,” or some other wise advice.

I’m mad at my optometrist. It’s not his fault really but I’m still mad. For the last two years I have amazed the eye doctors with my lack of need for reading glasses. Apparently that placed me in like 2% of the population that didn’t need reading glasses at my age.

The trade off was that my near-sighted prescription wasn’t as strong as it could be. If I could still see okay he wouldn’t increase the prescription.

Well, it happened. This last visit about six months ago or so I had my first increase in probably 10-15 years. I cannot remember the last time my prescription increased. 

He warned me that increasing my ability to see things far away might jeopardize my ability to see things close up. And boy, he was not kidding. It is a struggle all the time.

I’ve got the mobster telling me I look like a sexy librarian while I struggle to see *anything* after around 7 pm at night.

That’s right. My contacts are starting to wear on me. I can’t see far away. I can’t see close up. I actually take my contacts out so I can read. Then I can’t do anything else. With a -5.5 prescription I’m pretty much blind without my contacts.

Last night we came home and decided to do a 3D puzzle. It was a small, 39 piece crystal 3D puzzle of Olaf that the mobster bought me for Christmas.

We cracked open a bottle of wine (also a Christmas gift- from my son) and I joked that this should take about 5 minutes to put together. It took over an hour! And this was after Picasso stepped in and helped us.

Turns out they have step-by-step directions. I know what you’re thinking- excellent! This should be a piece of cake.

It is not a piece of cake. They’re written on this tiny piece of paper. Very tiny. Maybe the size of a cell phone. And keep in mind, there were 39 steps so that’s a lot of information on a very small piece of paper. Turns out the parts are labeled with a number as well. Also, teeny tiny. Practically invisible when you consider it’s a clear number etched on a clear piece of plastic. Try reading that after 7 pm while you’re drinking and you can’t see a damn thing. I actually had a damn magnifying glass out trying to read the numbers.

Good news. The mobster enjoyed it so much he wants to do a Level 3 3D puzzle. The one we did last night, that took over an hour, was a Level 1.

Also, does anyone ever wonder how much of the lotion and shower gel from Bath & Body Works actually gets used? I was thinking about that today in the shower. I’m still using the big bottle of Body Sugar shower gel I bought probably close to a year ago. I know I have bottles and bottles of shower gel in a bin somewhere. I remember stocking up on it when Bath & Body Works had their semi-annual clearance sale. I’m sure I still have some of it; I hope it doesn’t go bad.

Same with lotion. It tends to be a popular gift. Here- here’s some lotion. Merry Christmas or Happy Birthday! I’m not a big lotion user (I should, but I’m not) so a bottle will last me a very long time. In fact, I could probably channel my mother and say I have enough to last me the rest of my life.

That’s all I’ve got. Rant over.

Even More Conversations With My Mother

We had been out shopping and had stopped to grab some Chick-Fil-A. The dining rooms are still closed so I pulled over into an adjacent parking lot so we could eat. We were listening to Christmas music on the radio when Bing Crosby comes on singing, “White Christmas.”

No one whistles anymore.

Me: What?

He’s whistling. Listen. No one whistles anymore.

I did not even know what to say to that. It’s true. There is not a lot of whistling in today’s music. I think the last great whistling solo might have been “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” back in the 80s.

That’s my mom. Lamenting the lost art of whistling.

P.S. As I mentioned she’s down in Florida. A week or so ago she was out and listening to live music. She called to let me know that one of the performers whistled. She was very pleased. Told me she almost recorded it to send it to me.

The Case For Divorce

This is a difficult post to write and I need to be careful about how I write this. I have long said that the purpose of life is not to be happy; rather, it is to be useful. To have a purpose. To leave a legacy. With that said I think it’s easy to become a martyr in your unhappiness.

There was a discussion on another board about Adele and her divorce and new relationship. There were many people that thought she was selfish for leaving her marriage because she was unhappy. Some even accused her of cheating. I don’t know enough about her or her life to have an opinion but let’s for a minute say she’s telling the truth. She was unhappy in her marriage. She realized she would never be happy. She divorced him. She met someone else. She’s now very happy.

I think that’s very different from a cheater. The biggest reason it’s different, of course, is because if we’re going to take what Adele says at face value, she didn’t cheat on her husband. She was unhappy. She left. That’s completely different from, “I cheated because I was unhappy.” 

To put it another way: Cheaters lie. They have to reconstruct history to justify their behavior. So it’s not that they were unhappy; therefore, they cheated. It’s that they cheated, and because they are always the victim and need to save face the story becomes they were very unhappy. The unhappiness did not show up until they cheated and needed a victim-y reason to excuse their piss poor behavior.

I look at Jezebel and her three marriages. She uses people. She doesn’t care who gets hurt in her quest for whatever it is she wants. She helped bring a large church down. Yes, the pastor ultimately was responsible for his actions, but she did not hesitate to engage in an affair, lie to everyone, and honestly believe that when all was said and done, she would simply step into the shoes of the current wife. 

She devastated her first husband. Her second husband, no victim himself, gave up everything for her, and in return, she left him for yet another person. I have no doubt #3’s time is coming. If history keeps repeating itself she’ll be onto #4 within the next 5 years.

Each time it’s the same thing. He didn’t understand her. They didn’t communicate. This new person was her very best friend. And each time she completely remakes herself. She’s like Julia Roberts’ character in “Runaway Bride” not knowing what kind of eggs she likes.

I think that’s a lot different from the person who realizes they are in a shitty marriage with a selfish person. Or simply a person who realizes they made a big mistake in marrying the person they did and they’ll never want the same thing.

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t tell a person there’s no excuse for cheating; get out if you’re unhappy but don’t cheat! Then turn around and say being unhappy is no reason to end a marriage.

I think back on all the stories I’ve read in the six years since Jerry Lee’s affair with Harley was exposed. So many of these people detail nightmare marriages. They give and give and give while the cheater takes and takes and takes. So many of them say, “I wish I had known about the cheating sooner because then I would have had an excuse to leave.” Or some variation of that.

Why does it take cheating or abuse or addiction (and you need to be careful of that one because there are those that think you should stand by them and help them through it) before we’re “allowed” to leave a bad marriage?

There is a huge difference between the prima donna that whines her husband is no longer telling her she’s beautiful 20 times a day and is too tired after working all day to wine and dine her, and the woman whose husband doesn’t even bother to hand her a birthday card on her birthday. Relationships are not going to be fireworks and hot sex 24/7 for the rest of your life. Puppy love turns to mature love. That new relationship that gives you butterflies and puts a goofy smile on your face is going to become familiar. You can’t sustain that level of obsession. It will literally kill you. I’m all for comfortable, familiar love. The kind where you can have a ;piece of lettuce in your teeth and your partner can say, “You saving that for later?” The kind where you sit around all day, doing nothing. Maybe he’s off playing video games and you’re playing a game on your phone. Or you’re off shopping while he’s doing a yard project. I’m not talking about bailing when the relationship gets comfortable and is no longer a new, novel thing in your life.

No, I’m talking about the people who spend years catering to spouses that don’t appreciate it. I’m talking about people who spend their lives tip toeing around their spouse’s frail ego. People who are used by the spouse and the spouse’s family. People who have to do things “just so” or the prima donna rages at everyone in the family. People who aren’t allowed to be friends with other people by decree of their spouse. People who are insulted and/or taken advantage of all the time by their spouse. People who put up with years and years of bullshit because they took vows and they take those vows seriously. So even though this is a nightmare marriage and has been for some time they are resolute in staying the course. Maybe the person they fell in love with will return. Maybe if they just love them a little harder things will get better. If they cook better, clean better, wear make-up, lose weight, whiten their teeth, pay more attention to what they like… The list goes on and on.

I was one of those people. I stayed. I would have stayed until one of us died. I took my vows seriously. I never wanted to get divorced. Many times I told myself, “You chose this person. You make the best of it. You choose happiness.” I threw myself into my kids, into volunteering, into my friendships. There was no throwing myself into the relationship because he didn’t participate.  

“Date night? Why would we want to do that?”

He was a victim. If he actually did something to make things better then he could no longer whine and complain. And I think he was perfectly happy watching TV, having me cook his dinner and bring him a plate, wash his clothes, take in his dry cleaning, take care of his children, and then spending a few minutes a day with his kids- when it was convenient for him.

There were many times I thought about leaving. But I never did. Because I made vows and he was the person I picked. It was for better or worse and I kept thinking it would get better.

You know what? It doesn’t get better. They never suddenly decide, “Hey! I’m being really unfair to you. You do so much for me and I do jack squat for you. I’m going to change that.” You spend your whole life catering to this person and for what? You don’t get a gold star. No one tells you that you’re wonderful for not leaving them or for putting up with their crap. And it eventually ends one of three ways. 1) You spend your entire life serving them, never being enough, and walking on eggshells.  In some cases you support them and they act as though they’re entitled to it. You take care of everything while they sit back and demand you wait on them. Your life is a living hell until the day you die because that person is not going to change. They will suck every last ounce of life and joy and financial support out of you, And then you die. Having never been loved. Having never been appreciated. Having never experienced any sort of reciprocity at all. 2) The spouse cheats and leaves anyway. You put up with all the bullshit for nothing. And no one cares. They’ll go on and on about the other person’s happiness, and how everyone deserves to be happy. Except you, of course. You’re starting over at square one. 3) The spouse dies and you’re finally free to live a happy, authentic life. After years of unhappiness. If you’re lucky you’ve still got quite a few years left to live that happy life. If you’re not so lucky it may only be a a year or two, if that.

I know the mantra seems to be, “Stay together for the sake of the kids,” or, “Think of the children!” While I’m not a big fan of the whole, “Kids are resilient and a happy parent results in happy children,” I also don’t think you do your kids any favor living in dysfunction. There’s a whole lot of talk about generational abuse/dysfunction and I think it starts with what we allow in our relationships and how we model our relationship with our kids’ other parent. If we model to our children that we let people walk all over us then they think that’s fine. If we model that we give tirelessly and never ask for anything in return they come to believe we’re their humble servant as well. If we model turning a blind eye or putting up with ridiculous behavior that becomes something they, too, accept. Sometimes they don’t think it’s fine though and unfortunately they come to believe they can either be the abused or the abuser and they choose being the abuser.

Again, let me be clear. I believe marriage is not something to be taken lightly. I don’t think you should get married with the attitude, “If it doesn’t work out we can always get divorced.” I believe that there are a lot of immature, entitled people out that bail the minute it’s no longer fun and the minute they have to put an effort into the relationship. I think that’s sad. But I also believe that many times we stay far too long with a person who has no interest in having a healthy relationship. We don’t know about “cake eating” and “kibbles”. We believe that what’s important to us is important to them, and because we aren’t disordered we can’t think like the disordered. We don’t yet understand that we are of use to them. And we certainly don’t comprehend that once we are no longer of use to them we will be quickly discarded while they begin a new life.

I like to believe that what Chump Lady says is the truth- that a kid only needs one sane parent. Be that sane parent. Model boundaries and self worth. You cannot do that when you try to maintain a relationship with someone who does not love or respect you. Let’s be honest. If someone loves and respects you they show it; you can feel it. They want to make your life easier, not constantly demand you make their life easier. They don’t act like entitled assholes. They don’t move goal posts. They don’t keep you in a state of constant pick-me dancing. They don’t leave you always wondering, “What happened to that person I fell in love with?” You’re not always thinking, “If only I lost weight, dressed better, wore makeup, worked less,” or “I just need to not complain or not nag or not cry or not ask questions.”

Learn the difference. Accept that you can’t change it. And then get the hell out while before you waste your entire life on this person. There is nothing to fight for in these cases.

More Conversations With My Mother

I think I could do a whole blog on my mom. She’s fascinating. I mean that in a good way. I think my only complaint is her tendency to take on my paternal grandmother’s habit of starting a conversation with, “If I’m still here…” Or, as I like to call them, The Death Conversations.

Now, when I die, I need you to know our money guy has all the information you’ll need. EXCEPT about this one account. Listen carefully…

I bought these beautiful Christmas cards for next year. If I’m not here next year this is where I’ve put them.

Mom: I don’t want a feeding tube. Whatever happens do not let them put a feeding tube in. They can take lifesaving measures but no feeding tube.

Me: Okay. No feeding tube.

5 minutes later…

Mom: I need you to witness this DNR for me.

Me: What? No, Mom! You said you didn’t want a feeding tube but you did want them to try to save you. 

Mom: Well then what’s a DNR?

Every time she pulls out her wallet and has to remove her ID… This $20 back here? That’s for Queen B. She’ll be looking for it when I die.

But I think my favorite has to be this past summer. We had been going to various local festivals and often times they’ll have a booth where the vendors are selling perfume. After the Apple Festival, which was the last one we attended, she looks at me and says, “I’ve got three bottles of perfume now. That should last me for the rest of my life.”

How big are these bottles, Mom?

Folks, my mother is in her 70s. I can’t elaborate further because she’ll kill me and I have not had death conversations with my children so they will be unprepared. She looks like she’s in her 50s. She’s in amazing health. She went to Israel two years ago. She hops in her car and drives to Virginia and Florida and everywhere else. She’s planning on going to Scotland this summer. She has three square meals a day, always has stamps, and gets things in the mail and down to the donation site in a timely manner. Maybe I’m just fooling myself but she’s not going anywhere! As I said above, how big are these bottles? 

Good news though. She had a home health visit for some reason and she got very good reviews so she’s thinking she might buy another bottle of perfume.

Stop Expecting Equality, They Advise

I saw something once on a Facebook page. A woman who had been left by her husband of many years was lamenting the fact that he made approximately 4x what she did, and once support ended he would still be making 4x what she made and she’d be struggling on her own. Like many of us, she had been a stay at home mom, supporting him in his career climb behind the scenes for years, and now that she’s middle aged and he’s decided he needs a different model, she’s disposed of and left to fend for herself. She did have a job, a teaching job, but it paid far less than her ex-husband’s job. Where is the justice, she wanted to know? Where are his consequences for his behavior? Why must she suffer all of them while he suffers none?

Someone advised her to stop expecting equality. She pointed out that it was a fruitless exercise and once she stopped focusing on that, the better off she would be. Unfortunately it didn’t stop there. She went on to say that countless numbers of people undoubtedly make more money than the original complainant does and she needs to put her ex-husband in that group and focus on herself and what she can do to make more money.

I get it. I truly do. If we continued to dwell on the unfairness of it all we would go crazy. Hell, I consider myself to be at “Meh” when it comes to the end of our relationship and the fact that he married his gold digging whore of a cousin. I’m even pretty close to “Meh” when I think about my old lifestyle and everything that has been lost. But that’s because I’ve learned not to stay there in that cesspool of “What if’s?” too long. If I do, it infuriates me. Even to this day. So I walk away. I focus on other things.

But here’s the thing. This isn’t just someone else that makes more money than we do. This is the person who was supposed to be our partner. We supported them, encouraged them, picked up the home life slack for them. We thought we were building something together. We formed our plans for our life based upon them. And they decided to take their toys and give them to someone else. 

My boss makes more money than me. I’m pretty sure both of my brothers make more money than me. Most of the people I work with make more money than me. I’m perfectly aware that there are a lot of people out there that make more money than me. Am I resentful of them? No, of course not.

Those people also didn’t rise to their position on my back. They didn’t string me along until they got what they wanted and then kick me in the face and leave me and my kids to starve. They didn’t ask me to move multiple times throughout our relationship, leaving behind friends and a life I had foraged. They didn’t throw up roadblocks to me getting a job so that I was financially dependent upon them.

He did. He did all of that and he suffers no consequences. His life goes on exactly as it did before. And for the most part I don’t think about it. Because I would go crazy and the anger would consumer me. So I don’t dwell on it. I don’t expect equality. For crying out loud, he’s got a 20 year head start on me. I’d be crazy to expect equality.

But to act like he’s just some other person out there who makes more than me? To skip happily along and get a second and third job so I can get somewhere close to the amount he makes? To donate plasma twice a week on a regular basis to make up the difference? To sign up for Door Dash and Uber and tutor and babysit and string together a whole list of side jobs so I can hopefully take a vacation once in a blue moon while the ex takes two and three expensive vacations a year? To live in a crappy little dingy basement apartment while he’s living in a four bedroom/ 2 bathroom house with a fireplace and a hot tub in a quiet subdivision?

Nah. I’m not going to do any of that and act like it’s no big deal. It is a big fucking deal and that was the original woman’s point.

Thanksgiving 2021

This was going to be a much different post. Thanksgiving 2021 didn’t go exactly as planned and I was not in a very good mood because of it. By the end of the day I had Thanksgiving 2022 all planned out. I was going to the beach. I was going to stay at a hotel. Wake up and have a lovely hotel breakfast. For lunch/dinner I would go Captain George’s Seafood Buffet. Crab legs on Thanksgiving! Yes, please! I’d spend the day walking the boardwalk, playing Pokemon Go. Maybe I’d try to do a puzzle. Maybe I’d write a few posts. In the evening after the sun had set I planned to walk along the beach and look at all the Christmas lights set up on the beach.

And then I pulled my head out of my ass and reminded myself of how much I have to be grateful for. Yes, Thanksgiving 2021 didn’t go off as planned but it wasn’t horrible. It simply wasn’t what I had envisioned.

I think it’s fair to say that Christmas has a leg up on Thanksgiving. And no, that’s not a turkey joke. Christmas has music and lights. Pageants. Christmas plays. Church bizarres. Presents. Cookies. Lots of Christmas baking. Cocoa. Santa Claus. The Nutcracker. Hallmark movies. Christmas has tons of stuff. But Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving has food and family. That’s it. Oh, and a parade. But then again, so does Christmas.

I was feeling sorry for myself because my daughter and her boyfriend weren’t coming up the night before or spending the night the day of. In fact, they arrived right before dinner started around 2, and they took off 2 or 3 hours later. It was a very brief visit. And needless to say, I miss her. My mom misses her.

Then as I was getting ready to make the meatloaf that my niece loves (she’s not a fan of turkey) my mom told me Queen B had texted her to let her know she hadn’t been feeling well all week and still wasn’t feeling great. So she wouldn’t be at Thanksgiving. The appearance of her boyfriend had been up in the air until that point. Obviously, if he was only going to come for dessert even if she did attend he wasn’t going to be at our home when he had a family of his own.

Also during the conversation that morning I realized my sister-in-law opted to work the holiday so she wouldn’t be over either.

That now left myself, my mom, my son, my brother and my nephew, and my absent sister-in-law’s brother, along with a very brief visit from my daughter and her boyfriend. Hours of cooking, followed by cleaning up the mess, for 3 guests and a drive-by visit from my daughter. Awesome. How could the holiday get any better?

Oh yes! Notice how I did not mention the mobster? That’s because the Friday before the holiday he suddenly decided to return home to spend the holiday with his family. While I understood his desire to go back and spend it with his kids I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed. I thought when he moved up here that we would get to celebrate the holidays together. 

Despite the many blessings I have enjoyed because I divorced once my children were older and Jerry Lee disappeared like a puff of smoke (they got a say in visitation; I never had to co-parent with a fuckwit- basically because he abandoned them; I never had to share holidays; they were old enough that they knew the truth and weren’t having any of his nonsense; I never had to deal with my kids being around him, Harley, his family, and/or her family) I realize that one of the pitfalls of divorcing when the kids are older is that you never truly blend your families. The kids are simply too old. It’s not to say they won’t get along or they don’t like each other. But there’s no sense of family between them, which means you live essentially two lives- the life with your kids and the life with your partner.

On the plus side he had a really good visit with his kids, his parents, and his siblings. I’m glad he went. Despite my sadness at not spending Thanksgiving with him I still made a batch of Scotcheroos and sent them with him. I’m very glad he got to see his kids and that he had such a great time with them. I know he’s given up a lot to be with me and it was just me being selfish that wanted him here.

Similarly I can’t be upset with my niece for being sick, or with my sister-in-law for taking the opportunity to make 2-3 times what she normally makes. Disappointed that our table is smaller? Sure.

And the reality is I did get to spend the holiday with both of my kids. I know there are a lot of people out there mourning the fact that their cheating spouse gets the kids this year. Not me. I’ve had my kids every holiday since this happened. Who knows what will happen in the coming years? My daughter and her boyfriend seem pretty set on moving out to Utah. I can say from experience that it’s not as easy as you think it will be to just buy tickets and fly home for the holidays. My daughter is going to be a nurse and it’s possible, probable even, that she’ll be working future holidays. My son likes his job at the supermarket and thinks he wants to stay there. Another job that requires working on the holidays. Hell, maybe next year I will make it to the beach!

Then I remember my best friend who just lost her mother earlier this month. Her father suffered a second stroke in July and she and her family have been enduring insurance and nursing home care nightmares for months. He was already blind from his first stroke a few years ago and this second stroke exacerbated his dementia. They’ve been so focused on him and undoubtedly preparing themselves for his death, and then after what was called a perfect day her mother slipped and fell, hitting her head as she went into her house. She never regained consciousness. And to top it all off her dad caught Covid so they couldn’t even go visit him at Thanksgiving. She’s had a hell of a year. I’m sure she would have loved to have been able to celebrate the holidays with her family, and here I am whining and feeling sorry for myself because my mom and I have been cooking for only a few extra people.

Maybe that’s the heart of it. If I’m going all out and cooking a huge feast I want a crowd. I’m not doing eighteen dishes for four people. Yet as I think back on my 52 (well, 53) previous Thanksgivings I can’t say that we’ve had a huge crowd throughout most of them.

Before my parents divorced we had Thanksgiving over at my grandma’s. Her father and my grandpa’s mother would be there. My aunt, and later, her husband, would be there. And then my parents, myself, and my brother. I think maybe sometimes they would invite a family friend as well, but I may have that mixed up with just a regular Sunday dinner. After my parents’ divorce it was often just my mom, my two brothers, and me. I remember at least once we went to Virginia and celebrated with my Mamaw.

Now, Thanksgiving at Tammy Faye’s was a completely different beast! One year I think there were 30 of us, including Pastor Fake’s ex-wife and her new, just released from prison husband. She met him at the halfway house when she got out of prison for embezzling. I’m also fairly certain I spent at least one Thanksgiving with a convicted murderer. I mean, I know he killed a man and he spent years in prison. That is not the part I’m doubting. I’m not 100% certain he was at Thanksgiving dinner, but I wouldn’t be surprised because Tammy Faye’s sister remarried him. Yeah, remarried.

Then of course we had the Utah years where it was just the four of us typically. Ordering Thanksgiving dinner after the first disastrous year where I cooked for hours and hours for what amounted to a 20-30 minute meal. Heading out to the zoo in the morning. Maybe catching a movie if they weren’t sold out.

Finally, we had our last Thanksgiving before the bomb dropped. Or as I like to call it, my last normal holiday. I hosted it at our new house which I had decorated to the hilt. I cooked all the food and it was a feast! My mother, brother, his family, and my other niece all came down. My daughter’s best friend flew out from Utah and spent almost a week with us as well. We played tons of Phase 10. They drug me out Black Friday shopping. We all wrote down 3 things that we liked best about the holiday. Maybe I’m hoping for that again, and if I can’t have it I’d rather just do something completely different.

Although, Thanksgiving of 2017 was pretty sweet. I don’t remember who came over for dinner but I do remember getting the judge’s decision the day before. $25,000 in legal fees awarded. Child support. Spousal support. He got imputed. Judge named Harley and basically said, “You’ve got the money; you just prefer to spend it on your girlfriend and her kids. That’s not acceptable. And by the way, your PTSD claims are rejected. This was a self-inflicted injury.” That was a good Thanksgiving.

This year had good parts, too. Sure, my stuffing was a disaster. Like, literally, it was a soupy goo when I checked it the first time. I kept baking it and baking it until finally it looked like stuffing- burnt stuffing. That’s my favorite part of the meal. But on the plus side, the turkey was really good, and that’s usually my least favorite part of the meal. And, I got to sing our Thanksgiving prayer. Yes, I was laughing and my brother kept trying to squeeze my hand as if to say, “Knock it off!” but I got out a good Hallelujah and a rousing chorus of Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna. There was something about pumpkin pie and it being so good I could cry. Usually when I offer to say the prayer and begin singing my brother interjects, “Nope. Stop. I’ll do it.”  My daughter told me after I finished it was the best prayer she had ever heard. “It had it all! Singing, shout outs, recognition for everyone!” It was supposed to be a duet with Picasso but he backed on me. “You’ve got this, Mom,” he told me. Rock Star is willing to do a duet for the Christmas prayer. Maybe we’ll work on it this weekend.  Oh, and Picasso has promised to do some Latin chanting at the Christmas dinner as well.

In the end I’m thankful. I spent the holiday with my family. Maybe not all of them, but enough of them. And we were able to welcome my sister-in-law’s brother over for dinner once again. He has been a frequent visitor in the past. His parents are in Florida. He’s single. And several years ago he suffered a stroke even though he was only in his 40s. He’s living in a rehabilitation center. Picasso’s friend who spent most of last Christmas with us also came over after the meal was over. And then another friend of his showed up as well. Apparently the kid brought his own pie with him. I like any kid that travels with his own pie. I think I might adopt that philosophy.

Also, Black Friday shopping was awesome. I didn’t get out there super early. My mom and I went to breakfast first and didn’t hit a store until after 12. But I bought myself a fabulous pair of 1/2 carat diamond earrings. Almost bought the 1 carat ones but I held back. Kinda wish I hadn’t. In exchange for buying myself an early Christmas present, plus a few other things, I ended up with $150 in Kohl’s cash. Went back the next day and bought myself a coat. It is amazing! So, so warm. And it’s got the little hole you put your thumb through to pull the top of the sleeve over your hand. It’s also slightly longer than my old coat so it covers my butt which is nice when the wind is blowing and you’re outside walking.

Happy belated Thanksgiving. I hope you all had a fabulous one. Maybe one day my Thanksgiving will look a little different. Until then I’ll give thanks for the blessings I have.

Everything Possible To Save the Marriage

Sometimes I shake my head. I get that everyone is on their own timetable. Honestly, I do. I also frequently hear the statistic that it takes, on average, a battered woman 7 attempts before she leaves her abusive husband. I know that there are things each individual, man or woman, has to deal with when considering whether to divorce or not: Does she (or he) have the financial means to leave? Will they be paying the cheating spouse if they divorce? Where will they live? Will they lose time with their kids? In some instances, can they protect their kids? So, I get it. 

In fact, there are times I want to scream at the pious people who chide a woman who stays, insinuating that the lifestyle she leads is why she puts up with it. Maybe it is, and if that’s the case then that’s her decision to make. But other times it’s because she doesn’t have a job. She doesn’t have a family member or friend willing to take her and her kids in. Maybe she is fearful about her children’s safety, or she doesn’t want to lose time with them and knows her husband will fight her on that if for no other reason than to hurt her. We all have our own path we’re on.

With that said I read a very sad tale from a woman who took her cheater back. It lasted about a year. And then he cleaned out the bank accounts and left with no notice. Right now she has no idea if she’s going to be able to keep the place she’s been living in. After she tells this story someone says to her: You need to know you did everything possible to save your marriage. Don’t feel bad. Only you know when you’ve had enough.

I read that and I thought, “Really?”  This woman has lost everything. Her husband is once again with his affair accomplice. The affair accomplice is encouraging him to fight for the land, despite him telling her she could have that. She’s encouraging him to fight dirty and to basically take it all and leave the wife with nothing. He cleaned out their bank account. Meanwhile, the wife has supported this man throughout their entire marriage as he’s a “brilliant” but struggling artist. Yet someone who has read her story and sees that “doing everything she could to save her marriage” has cost her her life savings once again applauds her for that and reinforces the message that everyone should do everything possible to save a marriage.

No. Just no. This is why so many of us implore those who have discovered cheating to get the hell out of Dodge. Don’t do everything possible to save your marriage. Don’t “stand for your marriage.” Don’t give them second chances (or third or fourth or fifth chances). Stop hoping that they will change and revert back to that wonderful person you once knew and loved. Trying to save a marriage and doing all that you can to save it is noble and wise when the issue isn’t cheating but when you attempt that with a cheater you are giving them entry into your life so that they can take advantage of you once again. They use that time to line up their ducks, to spend or hide all of the money, to put themselves into whatever position they want to be in. If you continue to do everything possible to save your marriage to a cheater you just may wake up one day and find out he’s cleaned out your bank account and you’re left with nothing. Don’t be that person. Please. For the love of God, don’t be that person.