It’s the Best Decision I Ever Made!!!

Oh boy! Another former co-worker had a baby and opted to be a stay-at-home mom. This makes three in the last 2+ years. She announced it on Facebook and so many people chimed in to tell her how happy they were for her.

“You’re going to love it!”

“So happy for you!”

“Being a stay at home mom is the best!”

“So glad you’re going to stay home!”

“You’ll never regret it!”

“It’s the best decision I’ve ever made!”

I didn’t comment. I didn’t feel it would be appropriate.

The reality is no one wants to be told they’re doing something that could prove to be financially devastating to them. They don’t want to hear about everything that could wrong. We’re not taught to plan for the worse; we’re always told to look on the bright side and think positive! The person who attempts to interject reality into this fabulous fantasy is labeled bitter, jealous, and jaded. Plus, I realize it might all work out exactly as they’ve planned. I hear that sometimes happens for other people. I guess in that case you’ve made a mountain out of a mole hill. Jellybean’d on their dreams for no reason. Not to mention looking like a bitter, jealous, crazy woman who wants everyone to be miserable. So I don’t comment. With that said (or left unsaid)…

It’s the best decision you’ve ever made? Really? Because I look back on my time as a stay at home mom and while, yes, I did enjoy my time with my kids, I think it was the absolute worst decision I could have made. When the discard came 15 years later I lost everything. Primarily because I didn’t have a job or any way to support my kids.

Had I not gotten a divorce I might be singing a different tune. I might be one of those people telling her how amazing it is. Then again, if I didn’t get a divorce I wouldn’t be living in Indiana. If I didn’t live in Indiana (and I didn’t get a divorce) I wouldn’t have taken a job at the bank. If I didn’t take the job at the bank I wouldn’t have met her, and therefore would not be Facebook friends with her. It’s a real If-You-Give-A-Mouse-A-Cookie situation.

You’ll never regret it? Hmmm…. I suppose that depends upon how your marriage works out. Again, if you remain married I would imagine you wouldn’t regret your decision much at all. He tosses you aside for a new model after 15, 20, 25 years and you’ve got to go out and hustle to get a job after all that time at home, you might be regretting it.

I find it a little sad that I view life that way now. This woman is so overjoyed with her new baby and being able to stay at home with her and all I can think about is how this has the potential to go horribly wrong years down the road.

Honestly, I’m happy that they can go all in. I’m happy that they feel like they can trust their husbands. I’m happy they seem to truly work as a team. Good for them. That’s over for me but hooray to whoever can still have that. I mean that sincerely.

I think that when marriage works as it’s intended to it can be a very, very good thing. Two people working towards a common goal. Two people supporting each other and each other’s dreams. Two people raising their family and having the best interests of their children at the forefront.

The problem comes, of course, when it no longer works as intended. When the woman who worked a full-time job so that she could put her husband through law school gets discarded once her husband graduates from law school and begins to finally make good money. When the woman who has moved around the world in support of her husband’s career, and at the expense of her own, is tossed aside for a younger model, When the woman who chose to stay at home with her kids and take care of everything related to the home so that her husband could concentrate on his career and his climb up the corporate ladder is replaced by a woman who makes good money herself. That’s when we say to ourselves, “I never should have done that. That was NOT the best decision I’ve ever made and I DO really regret it!”

Unfortunately, it’s one of those things where you don’t know what you don’t know. Until your world comes crumbling down and you find out that those decisions that felt so right back when you made them 10, 15, 20 years ago, turned out to be so, so wrong.

The truth is most people don’t live their lives thinking of worst case scenarios. They don’t make their decisions based upon, “What if I get divorced?” or, “Could I do this completely on my own if I had to?” I certainly didn’t back when I was married. I naively thought that I would never get divorced, and if I did… Well, I saw my mom do very well for herself after her divorce and had heard of other women who began careers after their kids were grown and out of the house. I didn’t think I would have any difficulty.

I’ve said before I enjoyed being home with my two kids. I enjoyed taking them to school and running them around to all of their practices and games. I loved being able to take them places and do things with them in the summer and when they were on break. I’m thankful for all the memories we were able to make. I did love it. And had I remained married I would still think it was a wise and wonderful choice. But I didn’t remain married. Instead I was forced out of everything I ever knew and had to find a job after being out of the job market for 15 years. No one wanted to hire me. I suffered. My kids suffered. We lost almost everything. We had to move 600 miles away. I worked 2 jobs for almost a year. I didn’t have much time for my kids. I went from being a 100% dedicated stay at home mom who did everything for my kids, to being someone who was constantly exhausted, worked ridiculous hours trying to pay my bills and support my kids, and never had time for my kids. I think that abrupt shift from Mother Extraordinaire to Pretty Shitty Mom hurt my kids more than anything. In the end staying at home was the worst decision I could have ever made and I definitely regretted my decision.

I sincerely hope that all of these former co-workers who are so happy to quit their jobs and stay home with their babies don’t find themselves wearing my shoes 15-20 years from now.

Shock and Awe

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

Me: Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

I told her she was my fairy godmother.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

































































































February 3

On this date back in 1997 I was in the hospital, miscarrying a much wanted baby. I had a D&C later that afternoon (evening?). That day sucked.

Ironically, on this date five years ago, in 2016, I was sitting in a courtroom. Jerry Lee declined to attend our scheduled show cause hearing so it was just me and the lawyers in the courtroom. Although he was ordered to pay me under a fine of $10,000 he still managed to get spousal support modified despite not attending the hearing. That day sucked, too.

February 3, 2021, on the other hand, has shaped up to be a very good day.

I’ve been saying for a while now that if my life is going to change I need to grab the bull by the horns and make those changes happen. Almost a month ago a friend of mine from the bank told me that there was an opening in her department. She had mentioned vacancies in her department back over the summer but by the time we had actually talked they had been filled. I told her then if there was an opening to let me know because I might be interested.

She told me on the 4th or 5th of January and I updated my resume and threw together a cover letter that morning. By the time I went to lunch I had put in my application.

Several weeks went by with no news, aside from the customary email letting me know my application had been received and would be reviewed.

Two weeks ago they finally began interviewing. I had my first interview on Friday. I sat at my laptop at lunch and talked to a circle on the computer because the person interviewing me had a computer that would crash every time she tried to use the camera. I had some problems getting into the meeting to begin with and then I spent the next 45 minutes or so talking to a voice on the other side of the computer screen. I asked what the next steps were and was told they were hoping to make a decision by the following Friday (January 29th). I thought it was strange that they weren’t planning on doing a second round of interviews because the person who interviewed me was not the manager of the department. Nonetheless, I figured, “OK, I’ll have an answer shortly.”

Monday I got another phone call from Human Resources. They wanted me to interview with the department manager. Did I have time available tomorrow?

I certainly did!

Thankfully her computer worked so I got to see the person I was talking to during the interview. I did manage to ask two questions of her at the end. 1. Are there advancement opportunities in this department? and 2. When are you hoping to make a decision? Again, I was told Friday.

Shortly after the interview I got another email from Human Resources. They needed five minutes of my time. They wanted to know if I had ever taken a caliper test.

No, I have not.

They were going to send me a link and I needed to take the test. She urged me to take it that night and let me know I needed to allow myself about 2 hours.

My friend said that was an excellent sign because the test was quite expensive and she wouldn’t have me take the test if she didn’t think I would be a good fit for the position.

I took the test that night. Hated it. For those of you who have never taken one it consists of about 60 sets of statements that you need to rate, along with approximately 5 sets of numbers where you need to predict the next number in the pattern, and then a number of actual shapes and/or patterns, only they do this, “This picture is to this picture, as that picture is to….” and you have to fill in the blank. After I finally finished that infernal hell I waited.

Friday came and went. The hiring manager did message me and ask if HR had set up my caliper test. Once she knew I had taken it she must have called them and then she let me know that the next steps would need to be taken the next week (this week). In the meantime, have a great weekend and stay warm.

To say I was on pins and needles all weekend was an understatement. Then came Monday. No word. Tuesday. No word. Wednesday. Another email.

This one was asking if I had discussed with my manager the fact that I was a finalist for the position. I quickly let her know that I had indeed had that conversation with my manager, and then I was sent yet another email regarding the hiring manager speaking to my manager and reviewing my last two performance reviews.

A couple hours later I get a message from the hiring manager. So…. have you checked your email?

i GOT THE JOB! I freaking got the job! There was a ton of interest and many candidates and out of everyone I got the job! I am going to be an analyst in this new department.

As you may recall, one of my co-workers took a job in a different department and ended up making $3 more per hour. I didn’t really know what this job paid. I just kept thinking, “I want to at least get three more dollars per hour.”  When I saw the offer I almost cried. I am going to be making almost double what I currently make now. It won’t completely cover what Jerry Lee owes me in spousal support, but it’s a hell of a lot closer. I am almost free of him. Oh, I’ll still be collecting on what he owes me, but now if he pulls his usual bullshit I’m not going to take the huge hit I take now. I have options now! I am not completely dependent on him. If I ever do decide to take the plunge and marry again I won’t end up homeless and destitute if he walks out on me or gets hit by a bus the day after our wedding. Hell, for that matter, I won’t be destitute if Jerry Lee gets hit by a bus before he’s done paying me what he owes me. I can’t even begin to describe how huge this is for me.

The position is salaried so no more punching a time clock. I’m also told that at our official location we each have our own office! How cool is that? I thought I had hit the big leagues when I had my own desk. Now I could be getting my own office.

This February 3rd has been much better than some previous February 3rds. I am so incredibly happy right now. I would like to think that my word of the year, attitude, had a little something to do with where I am now.

First, I had to get real with myself and take charge of making the changes I wanted. Then, I kept giving myself little pep talks along the way, telling myself to stop the defeatist self talk and to think about the possibilities. Every time I would get down on myself I would keep reminding myself, “Attitude, attitude, attitude.” Now here I am, getting ready to start an amazing new position in a department that I find fascinating, making more money than I ever dared to hope I would make. The best part is this is just the beginning!

It’s That Day Again

There were so many different things I thought I was going to write about.  I started off thinking I would write about the fact that no matter how much I try to train my brain that today is just another day there’s always a little part of me that recognizes today is the day I made the biggest mistake of my life, aka my now defunct anniversary.

Then I tried to find a new pair of jeans. I was going to write about that. Shopping in the age of a pandemic is not easy. All of my old jeans are too big; I really need some new ones. Truth be told I can usually wear the old jeans for about 30 minutes to an hour and then they begin drooping and falling off my ass. It’s a good problem to have, I suppose. Much better than the old problem which is where I couldn’t zip my jeans up because I was getting too fat. Nonetheless, I’d really like to find a few pairs that fit. After nearly two hours of trying to find a new pair of jeans, ones that would fit just right- not too tight, not too loose- I gave up and headed to the Chick-Fil-A in the food court at the mall. I was already there and my hope was that it would be less crowded than the other one.

As I waited in line for my food I got a notification on my phone. It was Jerry Lee. 

No, he did not text to commemorate our former anniversary. He was letting me know I should check my Venmo. Mississippi finally sent the money back and he was finally sending it back to me.

I find a certain poetic justice in that. Turning over a big chunk of change to me on what would have been our 26th wedding anniversary. I always find it humorous when he pays me alimony on our anniversary. I wonder if he realizes that? Do you think he’s connected the dots and ever thinks, “Jesus, Joseph, and Mary! If I’d just kept my dick in my pants and stayed married I could keep all of this money,”? Probably not. I’m sure if he even remembers the past significance of this date he feels it was a good deal. 

It won’t happen again though because it’s automatically deducted out of his paycheck now but you have to admit as far as anti-versary gifts go this one is a doozy. I got a nice big pay day and the saga with Mississippi is finally over. Plus, he has to pay me again on Tuesday. To cap off this fantastic day I’m getting on a plane tomorrow afternoon and flying down to see my love. Happy former anniversary to me!

I’m Alive, Part 2

My lovely daughter has started therapy and seems to really like her therapist so far. It’s been one session but she didn’t hate her and said that things went really well. She doesn’t have another session until November 10th, I believe, but then she’ll meet weekly at least for the first month.

I’m trying to get a handle on how often she will be going because I have an HSA account. Currently I put a huge $20 in every paycheck. I have another $20 going into a former direct deposit account. I was going to just have them deposit my entire paycheck into my regular account but then I thought, “Hey! I could double my contribution and I would never miss it.” Then I realized, these therapy bills are going to have to get paid one way or another. It would probably be wiser to up my contribution and put that money into my HSA account, instead of paying for it out of my regular account. Money that goes into my HSA account isn’t taxed. If I raise my contribution to $150 or more per paycheck that’s $3900 going into my HSA, and it’s $3900 that I don’t have to pay taxes on. I don’t know that it would make a huge difference at tax time but every little bit helps. It’s a little scary because as I’ve often mentioned I don’t make much money at my job. So losing another $300 per month is going to mean that when I finally pay my car off I’ll still have about $250-$300 left from my paycheck after bills are paid. I will be completely at the mercy of spousal and child support. Eh, actually no more than I am now. I was just looking forward to having a little bit more money. That never seems to happen for me. There’s always something new coming up which diverts my money from my bank account.

Speaking of money, does it surprise anyone that I still don’t have the money that was taken by Mississippi on August 31st? I finally emailed Jerry Lee to see if he had received it. He says he has not. I contacted the caseworker. Much to my surprise she emailed me back that same day. She has now reached out to the caseworker down in Mississippi, so we’ll see what happens.

I had somewhat of a rough week a week or so ago. One of my co-workers is moving departments. This move is not a huge promotion or anything like that. She’s simply moving from being a rep in our department to being a rep in their department. But the move to this department comes with a $3/hour raise. 

That’s an actual raise. That’s over $100 a week more. Over $400 more per month. I am happy for her; however, it just highlights how very little we are valued in our department. I’ve been in that department for almost 3 years and I do not make $3 more per hour than what I did when i first started back there. I barely make $3 more an hour from when I started four years ago!

Most of us (I believe) tend to get fifty cent raises each year. It ends up being a little over $1000 for the entire year. When I moved from my former desk to the overdraft desk I got seventy cents more for that. I know. That’s very close to $3; I shouldn’t complain.

At the beginning of the year I was told by my former supervisor that she wanted to bump me up to a Rep II but because the person who is over our department head wouldn’t go for such a substantial raise that she was going to do that in May before she retired. Well, as you all know, Covid-19 hit, and supposedly all raises have been frozen. I have not been bumped up to Rep II. I have not been given another raise. And to be fair, while my initial yearly raise is usually a little more than 50 cents, we do tend to get another raise later on in the year. I got three one year. I got a whole 24 cents more as an incentive to stay, and then I moved over to the overdraft desk. So last year was actually quite nice. Still no $3/hour nice.

It also bugs me that I’m still only a Rep I. Most everyone in the department is made a Rep II within 2 years. A few of us have not. We should have been promoted this year but we haven’t been. Hell, after everything we went through after our first six months I think we should have been promoted at the one year mark.

We were a pod of four. After six months they moved the two most experienced people in our group into the brand new Fraud Department, leaving me and the other newbie to do the job on our own. What took 4 people to do was now being given to 2 people. We had to ask for help from everyone in order to get our reports done. And then, another 6 months later our reports changed and we went from mostly paper reports to a brand new system where everything was electronic.

Another thing that I didn’t share with everyone is that back in July I applied for the open supervisor position. Didn’t get it obviously, but I put myself out there. About a month later the Deposit Services manager schedules a meeting with me to catch up. I thought it had been scheduled because of the new boss who has come on board. She had met with all of us via computer chat and I had told her that being downtown was kind of lonely and isolating. I thought our boss was just trying to stay in touch.

Instead she told me how impressed she was with me as a candidate. She said that she and the HR lady that does the recruitment for our area were both amazed at all I have done and that I was like a hidden gem. She told me that they weren’t sure what they were going to do with the supervisor position because this was a chance to completely restructure our department. She asked me if I would be interested in perhaps being a project manager instead of a supervisor. She also assured me she was trying to get me more money.

This was back in July. I am not a project manager. I am not getting paid more. I have not been promoted to even Rep II. At this point I’m not even sure I’ll get my normal fifty cent raise come February or March. They finally hired a supervisor for that spot, but our other supervisor quit and now they’ve posted the job for that position.

Between the slow pace in which they operate and the fact that I know this co-worker of mine is getting $3 more an hour in her new department I’m really thinking I need to make a change. I’m not confident that I will ever get hired on in a different department so that means I’m going to have to start looking outside of the bank.

The problem of course is that I’m not qualified to do much of anything. I have a Bachelors Degree in communications which is almost 30 years old. I have a lot of volunteer experience but it’s mainly through PTA and most people that are hiring don’t really seem to think that’s anything to brag about. I have supervisory experience from twenty-five years ago but my previous work experiences don’t seem to matter either. That leaves me with my nearly four years at the bank. 

I was a teller and then I found and identified fraud among other things, and now I’m working at the overdraft desk. That doesn’t really translate into marketable skills. It’s a pretty narrow focus. Although, considering that the new person they brought on board has absolutely no banking experience whatsoever and she is now over our Deposit Services manager and has most of us in the department reporting to her maybe experience is highly overrated. Then again, perhaps when you get to a certain level it doesn’t matter. Apparently if you have no idea what you’re doing they’re willing to put you in charge of things, but they’re not willing to take you on as an entry level person.

They also really don’t seem to give a shit about attendance. I’ve missed zero days of work due to illness since I’ve been back in the workforce. I have missed for the occasional kid’s doctor’s appointment. I did go with my daughter when the Health Department notified her she had tested positive for Hepatitis C antibodies (she did not have Hepatitis C, nor did she have the antibodies; it was a false positive test) and I went with my son to ensure he got put on anti-anxiety meds this past summer when he was saying he had nothing to live for. I also left early once when my daughter ended up in the ER, and I took the next day off because I had been with her until almost midnight and it was a three hour drive back from her apartment to my house. I’ve also missed a couple of hours due to appointments of my own. I’d say all total I’ve used maybe three days of sick time. Doesn’t seem to matter though.

Anyway, all of that to say I was in a funk a few weeks ago knowing that my co-worker is making a hell of a lot more than me now. I’m sitting here realizing how very little we’re valued in that department, and knowing that nothing will ever change. So I will have to make a change, and I’m really tired of change after this year. It sucks.

Resolution

Thank God! The support saga appears to be OVER! I got a text this morning from Jerry Lee letting me know he had received his pay stub and Mississippi had NOT garnished him this time around. Hallelujah! I will have my money as ordered on Tuesday.

Again, he was very nice. I told him that he should be getting the garnished money back within the next 30 days or so. Get this- he offered to try to get the money to me even sooner, before he got all of it back. Told me he didn’t want me to be in jeopardy because of all of this. Say what? When has he ever cared what’s happened to me? Um…. NEVER.

I don’t know what’s happened to him. I think maybe someone has taken his phone and I’m being punk’d. Or he really did get a lobotomy. Or he’s on some really good drugs after losing in court and having to sign his life away for the next 3 years. Or… maybe that kid they discarded somehow hacked into his phone and is promising me the moon in order to fuck with them. Maybe he is honest to God scared he’ll end up in jail. Truthfully, I don’t care what it is. I don’t want to give the impression I’m spending a lot of time trying to untangle the skein here. I simply find it curious and a little unnerving. As I’ve said before I know how to deal with him when he’s being an ass; when he’s being nice I’m totally thrown. Don’t worry, dear readers. We’re not being buddy-buddy. I’m being civil to get this shit done. I’m almost certain we will not have another conversation anytime soon.

I also received an email from the caseworker. She got permission from her supervisor to send me a paper to sign to close the case on Indiana’s end. She emailed and snail mailed the paper to me. I didn’t check my emails until late Friday or it would already be signed and delivered. As it stands I’m signing today and my mom will take it down to the office tomorrow. Done!

I was a little off put though because the form she emailed included the phrasing, “Please review and sign the attached case closure form by no later than 9/25/20. If you fail to sign and return the form, we will send a request to Georgia to enforce the order out of Virginia.” Say what? I told my mom what it said and her exact words were, “Tell them to eat your shit!”

I don’t know if “sending the request to Georgia to enforce the order out of Virginia” means they would take my new order and have Georgia enforce it, or if they were somehow planning on having Georgia modify my freakin’ order without me ever going through another interstate meeting. Regardless it pissed my mom off that they’re requiring me to get something done in 16 days when it’s taken them over 18 months to get him garnished (and then did so when they had no jurisdiction) and they generally can’t even reply to an email any sooner than 8-10 days. I’ll do it, of course, because I want this over, but the sheer hubris of giving me a tight deadline… it boggles the mind.

Anyway, it’s done. It’s over. It all worked out, which I figured it would. I’m deliriously happy that it only took approximately two weeks to get it all sorted once we found out they could really garnish him. I was truly expecting this to be an absolute nightmare that would take months to resolve. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Let’s hope it’s smooth sailing from here on out.

Clawing My Way Back

What a difference an email or two can make. What a difference a little bit of communication can make.

Friday I received two emails from the caseworker. The first came in around 10:30 letting me know she had sent an electronic message on the 21st and that Friday morning she had directly emailed the caseworker in charge of the case in Mississippi requesting that income withholding be terminated and that they close their case. She also let me know that she had asked about the garnishment because there was still nothing showing in their system.

The strange thing is she said that Mississippi had emailed their office with a request to close the case on August 17th because they knew neither party resided in that state. This is strange to me because Jerry Lee’s garnishment notice was dated August 6th. I’m not sure what happened in those 11 days, or why he wasn’t garnished the 15th either.

In the end she promised to follow up the following week with a phone call if she didn’t hear back from them, and talked about what she could do to close my case with their office.

Well, that was something. Certainly more than I had been privy to in an entire week. At least it sounded like she was working on it and not just ignoring it.

Less than an hour later she emailed me again. Mississippi had responded. Yes, they did garnish him (duh!) but they were not able to register the case (duh- neither of us live there) and as soon as the case closes the money will be returned to Jerry Lee.

He’s going to have to send me that money back through Venmo but at this point I don’t care.

I wrote back with a couple of questions, mainly, “Are they going to do this again?” and she replied back quickly. She let me know the closure process takes about 45 days but they have already sent a termination notice to stop the garnishment. She said that no other money should be garnished but if it is it will be sent back to Jerry Lee. It won’t be floating out there in the ether. She also said she was going to talk to her supervisor about letting me sign a case closure form so that their office is no longer involved.

I let Jerry Lee know about the update and in return he sent me a text showing he had received a termination order for the income withholding order. I hope that means I will be receiving my correct direct deposit next Tuesday. I am crossing my fingers.

Jerry Lee continues to be suspiciously nice. My mom thinks he’s had a lobotomy. I don’t know why he would have had one of those. She said she thinks it was forced on him. Again, I don’t know who would have insisted on such a thing, but she is sticking with the lobotomy theory.

After I updated him the second time to tell him no further money should be garnished and if it was it would be sent back to him he thanked me and told me if I needed any extra for the kids in the meantime to let him know and he would see what he could arrange.

I appreciate the fact he isn’t calling me names or being nasty but it worries me a little too because he’s never like this. 

I’m not sure if he’s setting me up for something or if his lawyer simply put the fear of God in him and he’s trying to do everything possible to stay out of jail.

Regardless, it seems like this awful saga is almost over. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I’ll see some money on the 15th, but if not, at least I know it shouldn’t be too much longer.

Hitting the Wall

It’s happened. I have finally hit a wall. I realize I have spent the last five years worrying. Constantly. Worrying about money. Worrying about what was going to happen. Worrying about my kids. But mostly worrying about money- when he would pay, if he would pay, how much he would pay.

I FINALLY got everything settled. After more than 2 years of him self-modifying child and spousal support, and almost three years of him paying whenever he felt like it, I FINALLY had an order requiring him to directly deposit a set amount into my bank account on set dates.

Much like my pool that I had wanted for years and finally got, only to enjoy it for a mere six days before my world collapsed, I got to enjoy my victory for a small window of time. One month between court and the day I finally got my first direct deposit. Even that was marred because Jerry Lee texted several days before payment was deposited into my account to tell me he was being garnished.

Six days of having my pool and one direct deposit. That is the story of my life.

I thought the days of waiting for a response and hounding people to get to my case were over. I have been working on this in ernest since January of 2019. I finally had my day in court on July 15th of this year. And now I am back on the hamster wheel trying to get shit done.

I am so tired. I don’t think I have it in me to keep fighting this.

It is Wednesday. The caseworker has not gotten back to me, despite the fact that I emailed her on Saturday morning. My lawyer has not replied to my email or returned my phone call from Monday.

Monday morning the direct deposit came in considerably short, as expected because of the garnishment. I received an email from my lawyer letting me know that she had received a phone call from Jerry Lee’s lawyer. He was informing her that his client’s paycheck had been garnished by Mississippi. Her advice was for me to send that money back, assuming he had paid the correct amount per our order. Isn’t that cute? If only it were that easy.

I wrote her back and told her I had no idea where the money was and that Mississippi had garnished him before his company could put the money into my account. I also told her I had already told him I would send him that money back.

I tried calling her to get a quicker answer because I didn’t know what to do. On one hand she’s telling me to return the money. On the other hand, she’s telling me to return it if he’s paid the correct amount per our order. Well, that’s the Catch-22. He couldn’t pay me what our order required him to because there wasn’t enough left. The part that Mississippi took is floating around out there somewhere. No one seems to know where.

I got her assistant who told me she was on her way to court but she could call me after 2 pm. I waited until after 3 before leaving for lunch.

Today I went down to the Child Support Enforcement agency on my lunch hour. I took my current order and I spoke with a very nice receptionist who seemed to know what she was talking about. Unfortunately, my case had her stymied.

She said there was no record of any payment to my state. She also said that the last correspondence between my caseworker and the state of Mississippi was when MS asked her if they could close the case, and her reply on Aug. 21st, giving them permission. Why on earth they garnished him when they clearly told her he was no longer living in the state is a mystery. She took my name and put me on something called a walk in sheet. I’m not sure I’ll get an email or a phone call any sooner because of this but I at least did something.

I also learned it could take up to two months to get this resolved. Why? Because it’s an interstate case. They have 60 days to respond to anything. Supposedly Indiana can’t be calling them up and asking them for a response any time sooner if they haven’t gone over their allotted time. So, she sent them approval to close this case on Aug. 21st. They technically have until October 21st to do anything. Two full months without a dime in child or spousal support. Potentially.

Right now I feel like I’m beating my head against a brick wall. I can’t get anyone to respond and when someone does share information it’s even more disheartening.

I know I won’t be destitute. My mom has already told me she would loan me money. She feels I’m a safe bet because she knows where I live. The mobster has offered up money as well, if needed.

I’m thankful, but I’m also so frustrated. This. Was. Supposed. To. Be. Over. I’m not supposed to be borrowing money to make it through until I finally get payment. I’m supposed to be socking money away. And what happens if it takes them even longer?

I walked into her office on September 10 for my interstate meeting. She told me to give it 60-90 days. Eleven and a half months later they finally garnish him, despite the fact that he’s no longer living in that state and hasn’t been for more than 8 months. She called and left a message with the customer service rep in February, asking the caseworker to give her a call back. She sent them another email in June, asking for a status update because she had never heard back. They finally reply in August, and tell her he’s moved and they would like permission to close out the case. These are not people that are in a hurry.

You are probably wondering why I didn’t just keep the money and let Jerry Lee sweat it out. Well, as I wrote earlier my lawyer told me I needed to return the money. She’s not answering me once again so I wasn’t sure if she would tell me to keep what little money was deposited and let him worry about how to pay bills, or if she would tell me to return it in order to honor our Virginia court order.

I could keep it, I suppose. However, he’s just going to have his lawyer ask for an emergency hearing to have the direct deposit stopped until this mess is sorted out. Then I have to go through this all over again. I’m trying to avoid that.

There’s also the possibility that his lawyer could seek to have our order voided since Mississippi garnished him. I don’t think that’s as much of a possibility as I did in the beginning, but what do I know?

I think the biggest thing is I’m so tired of being called a bitch, a cunt, a whore, a selfish, money hungry gold digger. I’m tired of the obscene emojis and the hateful comments and the nasty stamps on the envelopes. This was supposed to be the end of that. I didn’t have to communicate with him. I didn’t have to deal with him. It was over. The money was being directly deposited and we never had to speak to one another again.

If I had kept the money I would be dealing with all of that shit all over again. It may come to that.

Strangely, he’s been suspiciously nice. He offered to pay me his share of Picasso’s therapy bill to help me out until this was sorted. He thanked me. I really figured he’d be cussing at me. He called Mississippi once again and was told Indiana has to stop the garnishment. He even told me that Mississippi either wouldn’t or couldn’t tell him where the money is. And, when I asked him if he would help Rock Star out if he could, he agreed to send her the money she needed for the third access code she had to buy for this semester.

Right now I’m simply overwhelmed. Rock Star has started a new semester and there are all sorts of expenses associated with that. I told her I would pay her rent this year and it hasn’t even been a full month back at school and I’m already in financial distress once again. Every time I turn around she has to buy a new fucking access code for one of her classes. They’re over $200 a pop. She’s bought 3 so far. Her sorority dues are coming in. They’d better all be $25 because they’re sure as hell not doing anything these days.

My co-worker was supposed to be on vacation next week. She works from home and her internet is out so took this week off instead. Charged off accounts are crazy this week. Normally I’ll have maybe 10-15 on a busy day. I had 21 yesterday and I’m scheduled to have 29 on Thursday. That doesn’t count any of the requests by people in the branches, or the business close outs, or those that are on mail return. And for some reason I had over 100 cards to close out as well yesterday. I did have help from the staff assistants in closing them, but I still folded all the letters and stuffed most of them. In addition to that I had 40 service fee closures. On a normal day I might have 4-5. A busy day might be 8-10. It’s been an overwhelming amount of work, just with the things that I would normally do; then I add in completing the NSF report every morning and trying to get the fee reversals done and logged for the student accounts.

I’m trying to squeeze in getting this garnishment mess cleared up in between doing my co-worker’s workload and my substantially bigger workload this week. I think I’ve finally caught up somewhat (until I’m stuck with 29 charge offs tomorrow). I’ll shoot off another email to my lawyer and ask her what I do until this mess is sorted out. And I suppose I’ll wait for my caseworker to email or call me back.

I’m so tired.