The Day Has Come

This is the last Thursday night I spend being separated from my love by 600 miles. Tomorrow I hop on a plane after work and I fly to him. The next morning we are meeting his son for breakfast and then making the drive back to Indiana. It’s hard to believe that this day has finally come.

When I first “met” this guy I didn’t think it would turn into this. We lived 600 miles apart. I had traumatized children. He had traumatized children. We weren’t going to uproot their lives for our own. Eventually he made the decision that he wanted to move to where I was once his daughter graduated. She graduated two years ago.

Yes, our plans have shifted quite often. So often, in fact, that there were times I didn’t think he’d ever make the move. First the plan was to move up here shortly after T graduated and went off to college. Unfortunately, despite stellar grades the college she wanted to attend didn’t give her much in the way of financial aid and there was no way she was going to be able to afford to go away. So instead she planned to go to a local extension there in town. The countdown was going to begin anew. Two more years, he told me. Then August arrived and she went to college for less than a week before deciding she didn’t want to do that. She didn’t know what she wanted to do. Now all of the plans were up in the air. I couldn’t very well ask him to leave his daughter behind while she struggled to find a job and her place in this world. I would never have done so anyway. I love this kid and I want what’s best for her, even if it’s to my own detriment. I always told him I was willing to do long distance forever if that’s what it took.

August of 2019 she decides college is no longer in her future. It took her a while to get a job and then Covid-19 hit and closed everything down. Finally I went to see him after three months of being apart. Shortly after that visit he threw all planning into high gear. His newly revised plan was to be up in Indiana shortly after the holidays.

Of course, that didn’t go as planned either. He started advertising his business for sale. Made contact with the people who said they were definitely interested. One backed out and the other just ghosted him. He thought he had a buyer but that didn’t work out. Finally, in April he came to an agreement with someone. They closed on the deal in June and he’s been busy renovating the apartment above his garage for an Air BnB for most of the summer, with the exception of the three weeks he spent with me. And tomorrow I fly down so that we can drive back up here together.

I am both exhilarated and terrified. The three weeks we spent together this summer was the longest period of time we’ve ever had. And it was awesome! It flew by. Yes, we were on vacation for 10 days of it but we were not on vacation for 10 days of it, too! It was nice meeting him for lunch, having him take me to work, seeing him here when I got home.

So I suppose I’m mostly exhilarated. I have no reason to believe there will be any major problems. I love being around him and spending time with him. It will be amazing to be able to spend our weekends together. I can take him to the Farmer’s Market that I know he’s going to love. We can check out wineries up in Michigan. We can go up to the lake and walk around. We can go running and kayaking and biking together.

I’m also a little terrified. I worry that I’m too much of a slob for him. I worry that he’ll regret moving away from his kids and his family. I worry he’ll come to believe that I wasn’t worth it and he wishes he could take it all back.

This man has given up *everything* for me. He sold his business. He moved away from his two kids that still live in town. All of his siblings live in the area so he’s leaving all of them behind. I hope like hell that he is happy with me and that I am enough.

Mostly exhilarated though. This has been our goal for almost four years. Tonight is our last night 600 miles apart.

Good Times Ahead… And Behind

I’ve been taking a long stroll down Memory Lane these past few posts. Some of you may be wondering, “Why don’t you shut off those memory notifications, Sam?”

Simple. I don’t want to.

Why? Do you love being tortured?

No. No, I do not like being tortured. Honestly, I’m not tortured by any of these memories. It’s more that they pop up and I shake my head at how naïve I was. Or maybe it’s more that I shake my head in disgrace at how far I buried my head in the sand when it came to that jackass. I see those pictures, those happy pictures of us (us being me and my kids) and my overwhelming thought is, “Oh, you poor thing. You had no idea what was heading your way.” Truth.

That’s the root of it, and this walk down memory lane. I look back on those pictures and my first thought is, “What a fucking waste!” when I see my kids and I doing all of our favorite things one last time, going to our favorite places, eating our favorite foods. “What a fucking waste!” I say as I see the pictures of our house up for sale, the moving truck loading up our things, all of my goodbye gifts from my friends, last minute gatherings, saying goodbye to everyone. We moved for what? Absolutely nothing. For the promise of a new life, a chance to start over.

I see those pictures of me and the kids on our three week trip out to Indiana and Utah and while the overwhelming memory is how much fun we had and how great it was to see everyone, I am reminded that the entire time we were away Jerry Lee was doing God only knows what with Harley. As I was reading the news of my friend’s impending divorce and lending her comfort my own husband was busy betraying me. I still remember writing to her that I was one of the “lucky ones” because we worked through it. Huh. Not even two months later I would be calling her and telling her I was joining the Women Who Moved Across the Country For Their Husbands and Then Got Dumped club. It’s a mouthful.

I see the pictures of us again down in Florida on what was supposed to be our family vacation and again, while the overwhelming memory is of what a great time we had, I am always aware of how dramatically our lives were about to change.

Those are all pictures of my old life, the one I had before the last DDay. Regardless of how it ended those pictures represent what was once my life. It was a mere chapter and not the entire book, but it was mine nonetheless.

My children are in those pictures, too. My nieces. My nephew. My brother and mother and sister-in-law. My family. Videos of Rock Star at her gymnastics meets and during practice. Videos of birthday parties. So no, I won’t get rid of the Facebook memories.

And you know what? Those memories that make me cringe come up sometimes alongside new memories. New, good memories. Sometimes I see things like my trip to Hocking Hills with the mobster where we walked around this beautiful, almost magical, park all day and then had an amazing time sampling wine at Hocking Hills Winery. Other times I’m treated to pictures of our weekend in Germantown, in parks, at wineries, in Athens, at the Blueberry Festival. Or pictures of us at the Paula Poundstone concert or the Kane Brown concert will pop up. So many memories between the two of us. Other times I come across a picture of me and Sweet J hanging out at a baseball game. Or there’s a post reminding me that my long time friend took me to The Damned concert up in Detroit. There’s the picture of me and my high school friends reunited for dinner. Sometimes I get to see pictures of me and my niece and my mom on one of our town’s wine walks. And there are always the holiday and birthday pictures. They’re not all tug-at-the-heartstrings memories. Some of them, most of them, are happy memories with no foreshadowing, unless you count my entire life as foreshadowing.

I’m almost six years from DDay. The things that happened changed me forever. The life I live now is nowhere close to the life I lived before. The trick is to keep on going. Roll with the punches. Dodge ‘em if you can. 

Oh What the Hell… Let’s Keep Going

Yesterday it was the picture my mom put up back in 2016 when I picked up the U-Haul that would transport what few belongings we were taking with us back to Indiana. Sam the truck driver, read the caption.

Today it was the little timeline notice showing that I had moved to South Bend on this day five years ago.

Wow- let that one wash over you for a moment. Five years since Jerry Lee lost his job and decided financially supporting his children wasn’t a priority. Five years since I walked through my house putting price tags on everything I owned to attempt to sell it. Five years since I sold off my furniture piece by piece. Five years since I packed up and moved here. Five years since I cried as I drove out of my neighborhood. Five years since I’ve lived in a house that is truly my own.

My view driving into my subdivision.
My house
My pool
My enclosed porch

A lot has changed in those five years, as you might imagine. I finally got a better job. My daughter is beginning her final year of nursing school in a month. My son has finally graduated high school. Shockingly, I found love again. I lost my beloved Beau. My mom lost her dog. I beat Jerry Lee in court over and over and over again. Fingers crossed he’s finally learned. And in about 3 weeks my love, my mobster, will be moving to my area. Hooray! No more weekends only. No more 2, 3, 4 weeks between visits. I’ll write about that more later.

I could be sad. I could wallow in sorrow over all that was lost. My word of the year is attitude and the word the year before was change. I’m going to look at it like five years ago my life began all over again. One chapter ended. Another chapter began.

Damn You, Facebook!

I hope everyone reading my blog by now knows that I am completely over Jerry Lee. That shipped sailed the moment The Saint told me he had been spending his weekends with Harley while he lied to me and made up story after story. And I am probably somewhere in the 95-99% range of being over all the shit he put me through and the havoc he created. With that said Facebook can be a real meddlin’ bitch who stirs shit up!

If I let triggers rule my life I would have to be put into a coma somewhere around the beginning of May and be kept unconscious until the end of August. That’s pretty much when Jerry Lee pulled all his shit- both times! Much like my children have June and July birthdays which means I can pretty much always say, “They’re two years apart,” Jerry Lee was “kind enough” to make sure that both of my D-Days were in August. Four days apart! Except for the original D-Day which was not much of a D-Day because I was so stupid. That one happened in May- hence the medically induced coma beginning in May.

I looked on my Facebook memories and was treated to pictures of my kids and I on a “family” vacation in Destin with my mom, brother, sister-in-law, 2 nieces, and a nephew. I’m not triggered by the pictures of us on vacation so much as I am by what was going on behind the scenes.

See, poor Jerry Lee couldn’t come with us because he had to go on a “business trip” to Tennessee. That was the trip where his counselor and I both coached him on the arduous drive that he was unsure he was going to be able to make. We cheered him on and gave him all the atta-boys his little heart could handle. And then while the kids and I were in Destin Jerry Lee drove to Tennessee and met up with Harley. We’d been in Virginia one year exactly.

I look at those pictures and I see me and my kids enjoying our vacation, having a great time, with absolutely no idea what was ahead of us. We were carefree and happy. Approximately two weeks later I would find out my husband was a lying, cheating shit eating chimp, and about two weeks after that his kids would find out that the family they grew up with was no longer. In a 10 minute come-to-Jesus confessional they both found out not only had their father been spending his weekends hanging out with his new girlfriend in Kentucky but also his entire family knew about it and condoned it. His mother organized it and went on a date with them. It was to a funeral but still…

While the kids and I were on vacation, thinking that life was going on as normal, my husband was busy stabbing me in the back. I look at those pictures now and I think, “Oh my God! You were completely clueless.” And it makes me kind of sad.

Of course, this was also the trip where I spotted the Walmart purchase in Whoreville, otherwise known as Winchester, Kentucky. Looking back on it it’s quite insulting how stupid he thought I was. “D’oh, I gave my debit card to my mom so she could get a new tire for her minivan. That’s why that’s on there. I don’t know why it says Whoreville. She bought it in Lexington.”

Actually looking back it’s kind of insulting how stupid I allowed myself to be. In my defense I thought he was a whole lot smarter than that. Who in their right mind moves their family across the country, buys a brand new house, fills it with brand new furniture, buys their wife a brand new car, and agrees to install a brand new in-ground pool in the backyard which takes almost all of your stock options and requires a loan, and then turns around and cheats with the same damn whore you cheated with 2 years prior? Even more stupid than that, who in the hell buys the whore something from Walmart and uses their damn debit card when they know damn well that the other spouse can see the bank transactions and is checking on a regular basis because they’re on vacation with your kids? I do remember saying to myself, “He can’t be that stupid. He’s a smart man.” Not smart enough apparently.

God, he was such a shit. I remember being in Florida and him telling me the trip lasted longer than he expected. Then he told me that since he was already in Tennessee he was going to “try” to drive and see his mom. Would I be okay with that?

Would I be okay with him seeing his mom? Absolutely. I said as much. Something along the lines of, “She’s your mom. Of course I don’t have a problem with it. How could I say no to that?” Would I be okay with him fucking his cousin? No. I had no idea that to him they were one and the same. Okay with him continuing to slough off on our family vacation? Well then I must be okay with him fucking his cousin. And going to a goddamn family reunion that was set up knowing his wife and kids weren’t going to be there. It was probably their fucking engagement party knowing those inbred motherfuckers.

I don’t remember what set me off. All I remember is thinking that if he could spend money freely on his “mother” then I was no longer going to be keeping the purse strings closed for my kids. I took Rock Star on a very nice shopping spree. All the clothes she wanted. A Coach purse. Another Coach purse for me… after I had already bought a Kate Spade purse and wallet because the Coach purse I liked was a little too expensive. Oh you better believe I went back there a day or two later and bought the one I wanted. It was an outlet mall; it wasn’t that expensive. I bought for Picasso as well, but he had no interest in coming along.

I guess that seeing these memories pop up so close to my return trip to Utah has hit me in some way. I don’t want him back and while I freely admit I miss the lifestyle I used to have I can’t envision still being with him. The thought of being married to him and living life with him makes my skin crawl. I am 100% happier in this new life. Yet I look at those pictures and I can’t help but know that I thought I was happy and I was definitely a lot more innocent. I had no idea the hell that was about to be unleashed. I had no idea the changes and the hardships that were about to befall me. I was a sheltered, pampered stay at home mom with no financial worries and plenty of (maybe too much) time on my hands. Those pictures represent me before life kicked me in the throat. They’re a reminder of my old life, a life where I didn’t struggle and where I thought things were okay, maybe even mostly good. Those pictures are me and my kids before our lives were imploded and we were forced to change everything.

It’s not a bad life anymore. I’m not even sure I’m sad about it. It’s more like seeing a picture of a loved one shortly before they die. You look at that picture and you think to yourself, “I had no idea at the time that this would be the last time I saw them.” That’s what those pictures do to me. I look at the happy faces, the smiles, and I think, “That’s the last time my life was normal.” Approximately two weeks later I would join the ranks of women whose husbands had cheated on them and were planning on leaving for the other woman. I went from being a stay at home mom to being a working mom. I went from being a great mom to just being a mom. I went from living in my own home to living in my mom’s house. I went from no financial worries to worrying about money constantly. I went from being married for 20 years to being single. I went from living in Virginia to moving back to Indiana. I went from having furniture and dishes and towels to getting rid of probably 95% of everything I’d ever owned. Absolutely everything changed. Those pictures are the last pictures taken of me before I died, along with my old life.

Oh, don’t worry. Like the Phoenix I rose from the ashes. Maybe I’m even better than I was before. All that forged in fire shit. Not waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain. I did that. I’m still standing. But that woman in those pictures? She’s gone forever.

Summer Time!

The unofficial kickoff to the summer has come and gone. I spent yet another Memorial Day weekend down in Virginia with my mobster.

Picasso and I left after I got off work on Friday. We were going to stop and drive the remaining distance Saturday morning but I couldn’t find a hotel room and by the time I was actually trying to stop for the night we were only about 2-3 hours from his house. I ended up driving through the night and getting in at 4 in the morning.

The drive was the worst part of the trip. It rained almost the entire trip. It wasn’t terrible through most of Ohio but as I got to the eastern side of the state it began to pour. I can barely see to drive at night as it is, but add in a torrential downpour and I am definitely on edge. I thought I hit not one, but two, potholes. Turns out one of the potholes must have been an animal because when we stopped to get gas (at a gas station that had lost power and therefore had no way for us to get gas into our cars) there was blood splatter on my side of the car. I felt horrible but tell myself that I hit a dead animal. It was pouring so hard out there I find it difficult to believe any animals would have actually been out attempting to cross a highway.

As always we had a great time. He finally took me to a Salem Red Sox game. T actually bought tickets for her and her boyfriend and invited us to come along. Picasso wasn’t feeling well so it ended up just being me and the mobster.

We also played a lot of Pokemon Go, had a bonfire, went out to eat, and took a bike ride where he tried to kill me. Okay, I’m exaggerating but I did fall off the damn bike. I bruised my hip and skinned my knee. I am not real good at shifting gears on a bike and when I tried to shift on one of the last hills I went nowhere and then pitched over. He kept saying, “I don’t understand. The last time we did this you loved it!” The last time I was on a bike with him I shit my pants and had to have him hand wash my jeans for me while I cleaned myself up in a port-a-potty. I don’t know that I would call that love. Plus, I’m not going to lie- I was worried about snakes. Virginia has those dreadful huge black snakes. And, at one point, he yelled, “Try not to fall into the river!” as he cruised over the tiniest of a ridge next to the water. Now, I probably wasn’t anywhere close to falling in but you know how it goes when someone calls attention to it. I’m pretty sure I screamed. Which reminds me- I got going fast, was slowing down, and mistook a dog for a deer. I screamed; there were like four other dogs, and I looked and felt like a complete idiot. But, the good news is I refused to let my disastrous trip to the end of the trail derail me. I got back on the bike, so to speak, and rode the hell out of that trail on the way back. I told the mobster it was very much like ice skating. I went around once, almost died, and was ready to call it quits despite my lifelong dream to be on a hockey team. But, I recalibrated, caught my breath, and got back out there and ended up having a really good time. I did the same thing with the bike. Breathed, recharged, and got back out there. The mobster and I are going to enjoy many long bike rides in our future.

I took Tuesday off so we were able to spend all day Monday with him as well. Sadly, I came down with what I thought was allergies, but turned out to be a cold. I fought through it while with him but once I returned home I crashed, especially once it didn’t go away like I thought it would, proving it was not allergies. I went into work on Wednesday but felt so bad I took my first sick day ever on Thursday. I spent all day in bed and sucking down cold medicine. I needed to be healthy for the weekend because….

Rock Star turned 21 Thursday! Despite being at home sick I called her and sang Happy Birthday to her. On Saturday, Picasso, my mom, and I picked up her best friend’s mom and headed on down to Bad Axe Throwing Company in Indianapolis. My sister-in-law and my niece, Queen B, joined us, as did Rock Star, her bestie, and her boyfriend. We threw axes for 2 hours and then headed to Oliver Winery about an hour away. Rock Star loves their wine. Now how she knows that having only turned 21 two days prior to this is beyond me but it was her one request. We then drove back up to an Indy suburb, had dinner at a hibachi grill, and then headed over to another winery called Urban Vine and Brewery to finish up the night.

It was a great day spent with my two favorite kids. As an added bonus I love my kid’s best friend’s mom! She was awesome. We took a selfie together and started calling each other bestie. She was so much fun.

My summer is only getting started. So much more is yet to come. The mobster, Rock Star, Picasso, Rock Star’s boyfriend, and myself are all heading out to Utah for an amazing ten days, starting on July 2nd. I’m leaving work, driving to Chicago and getting on a plane. Rock Star and the boyfriend fly out on the 3rd. 

We’ve got a family chat going and a bucket list of things we want to do while we’re out there. There are a few favorite food places we want to hit up and between the kids and myself we want to go to Lagoon (the amusement park), Thanksgiving Point (the dinosaur museum), the zoo, multiple hikes, and downtown Salt Lake City. The mobster wants to see the Great Salt Lake and although it’s a dreadful, smelly mess I am willing to take him so he can say he has seen it. Rock Star wants to go horseback riding and we are thinking we might go rafting so we’ll play it by ear. I am so looking forward to this trip. I can’t wait to see my friends and visit all of my favorite places and spend a bunch of leisure time with my family. We are going to be making memories!

Finally, at the unofficial end of the summer, Labor Day Weekend, Picasso and I, and possibly the mobster, are heading off somewhere for a week. I thought my son wanted to go to Maine and New Hampshire and Vermont, but apparently he has changed his mind and would like to go to DC. We may spend a few days in DC and then see about checking somewhere else out. We may spend all of our time in DC. I don’t know. It’s up in the air. There’s also the possibility he’ll change his mind again and we’ll end up going somewhere completely different.

I’m really looking forward to this summer. It should be an amazing season. 

How about you? Do any of you have any plans for the summer months? I’d love to hear them.

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.

Giving Thanks

Those of you who have been reading for a while know that my journey has been filled with a lot of bumps and potholes. It was not easy. My mom has always said he couldn’t have left us in a worse position if he had tried; she absolutely thinks he did it deliberately. He let me install a $57,000 pool in our backyard, using up most of his available stock options. I couldn’t pay the pool off because I needed the money to live on so we never had it closed properly. That in turn meant I had to replace pipes in the spring and we never were able to use the pool again because I couldn’t get it clean from all the leaves and other debris that had fallen into it. He let the house go into foreclosure and of course, we ended up losing the house. After spending months lovingly decorating our new home and filling it with new furniture I had to turn around and sell off as much as I could and leave behind almost everything else because I had no way to pay for storage and didn’t know how long it would remain in storage (going on six years now, btw). He walked out the door without saying a word to his kids. Didn’t bother to tell us he was moving or that he had quit his job and taken another one in a different state. He didn’t pay support at all for 10 months; he paid it sporadically for another 10 months, all while I worked two jobs and was the only parent our kids had anymore. I spent $35k on my divorce and then another $5-$10k getting support modified. He paid what he was supposed to pay for about 6 months and then unilaterally modified child support. Refused to go through legal channels. Refused to pay the legal bills when I tried to. Lost another job. Modified spousal support for almost a year. But you know that old adage: No matter how bad you have it someone always has it worse. 

I thought I’d take a minute to say what I was grateful for in terms of my own betrayal story and divorce.

1. I’m thankful I didn’t have young kids when I divorced. I see these stories of parents whose hearts are being ripped out of their chests because their children are off with the other parent, sometimes in a 50/50 custody situation. I got to spend the majority of their years with them, being a very involved stay-at-home mom. I didn’t have to split holidays or summers. I didn’t have to deal with them thinking Harley was awesome. I cannot imagine a bigger shit sandwich than knowing the OW/OM is playing happy family with your young child/ren and they are too young to understand who this person is. As many people have said, “You can take my spouse but keep your fucking whore hands off my kids.” 

2. Sort of the same thing but not completely I am infinitely grateful that neither Rock Star nor Picasso has any kind of a relationship with Harley. I’m sure to many people that’s an awful thing to admit because we’re supposed to “think of the children” and “love our children more than we hate the other parent.” I know it would probably be better for both of my kids if their dad gave a damn and was a part of their life. But he doesn’t and he’s not and that’s not something I’m responsible for so I’ll take my wins when I can. I’m sure it’s horrible when you’ve been cheated on and you know your cheating spouse and the AP are playing happy family with your baby. I’m sure it’s horrible to have to listen to your young child talk about how much fun this new person is, or how nice they are. But it’s also horrible, I’m sure, having to share older children. I’ve heard many stories of the morally challenged new partner showing up at the kid’s games, recitals, assemblies, graduations, birthdays. I hear about kids that choose to live with the cheating parent or the older child is receiving expensive gifts from the side piece. There are weddings and the births of grandchildren, not to mention birthday parties for those future grandchildren. Having to share those milestones with someone who played a part in blowing up your life would be difficult. I keep trying to steel myself for the day that either one of my kids decides that putting up with Harley is worth it in order to have a relationship with their dad. It’s not what they want right now, but they are still young and there are still years left. For right now though I’m glad I don’t have to slap on a fake smile or remember to use, “Cool. Bummer. Wow,” as my only responses when they’re telling me about their adventures with the two of them.

3. I didn’t have to worry about 50/50 custody. Jerry Lee had already moved by the time our divorce trial rolled around. He moved out six months after his affair was discovered. I feel for those who have to miss out on so much of their children’s lives because of the actions of an unfaithful spouse. I have had every holiday, every birthday, every major event because he walked away. Thankfully they were both old enough to have a say in where they wanted to live even if Jerry Lee had not moved (not that Jerry Lee fought for them). And because of their age and the fact that Jerry Lee moved hundreds of miles away from them they were able to have visitation at their discretion, instead of being ordered by a court.

4. In a similar vein I never had to worry about him trying to alienate my kids against me. God, that has to be the worst betrayal of all. This person cheats on you, leaves you, leaves you destitute and then turns around and turns your kids against you. I cannot even begin to imagine.

5. I don’t have to co-parent. I’m a big fan of parallel parenting anyway, but there are so many people out there who have to try to co-parent with the ex. The horror stories I hear make me so grateful I don’t have to deal with Jerry Lee. He is not a part of the equation at all. I’m sure having full legal custody also helped with that but I didn’t have to consult with him on anything. Kids needed therapy? I got them therapy. Kids wanted to participate in a sport? I signed them up. I didn’t have to ask his permission. I didn’t ask for his help. I took care of it.

6. He didn’t fight me moving. He didn’t have a leg to stand on but I’m still thankful I didn’t have to go through that. I see stories all the time about people moving for their spouse who then cheats on them and now they’re stuck in this place where they have no support.

7. I did not have to deal with him having another child with Harley. I think an affair baby would be the worst but even knowing that my kids had another sibling that I knew nothing about is something I wouldn’t like. I would have loved to have had more children but alas I did not get my wish. Had he gone on to have more children with her I would have been pissed, even though it was completely out of my control.

8. I have always said I saw the writing on the wall. I knew that there would be no reconciliation even if I had been willing. Nonetheless I put on my big girl panties, called the lawyers, made the appointments, and got myself armed with information. I didn’t let on until I was ready to file. And once he knew I knew I gray rocked the shit out of him. It would probably be more accurate to say I went no contact- even while living with him. I’m thankful I didn’t chase after him. I’m thankful I didn’t beg and plead. I gray rocked his ass and pretended he didn’t exist.

9. I had a soft space to land. I absolutely realize there are people out going through the same thing who have no one to rely on. I was fortunate that my mom was willing to take us all in. She was also an incredible help when I was working two jobs and could barely keep my eyes open when I was home. I have a friend who was living in a garage and was damn grateful to be doing that because of the antics her ex pulled. I hear horrible stories all the time, reading Chump Lady and the Chump Nation FB page. People out there wondering how they’re going to support their kids when they haven’t worked in years. People who have no one who can help them out- emotionally or financially. People who have lost their parents and all their family. Even worse are those whose families side with the ex. 

10. I will always be infinitely grateful to The Saint for telling me about what was going on. Because of him and his willingness to speak up I didn’t sink every last dollar we had into paying our final bill for the pool. Instead I was able to follow my attorney’s advice and hang onto that money. I cannot even begin to imagine what would have happened to me and my kids if I didn’t have that money to put into my account. It would have been bad. Really bad.

11. I’m grateful I don’t have to worry about running into them. I had to live with him for six months after knowing what a shithead he was, but then he up and moved and I’ve only seen him twice since then- once in court and once at Rock Star’s graduation. Oops- three times because I saw him right before Rock Star’s graduation as well when I gave him his ticket to her graduation. We are hundreds of miles apart. I know the mobster had to deal with his wife bringing her AP to the kids’ games and then again to T’s graduation party. So many people ask for advice on how to handle it when the inevitable happens and they run into them. Some people have even had the ex and the AP move in next to them. Not me. I don’t think I’ll ever see him again.

12. I have never had to deal with her writing to me, trying to explain things to me or tell me how I should behave. There’s a lot of this going on over on the FB page. Usually the OW feels the need to intervene and give “advice” to the person she helped try to destroy. Things like, “Move on and stop being so bitter,” or “You need to be more grown up and put your kids first,” or, “You need to encourage your kids to have a relationship with their cheating dad and shame on you for being the reason they don’t.” Real classy things. I think we can all agree that if we felt we needed advice the last person we’d ask for that advice would be some home wrecking whore. And yet, they freely give it. Then again freely giving it up to anyone is kinda what they’re known for. Thankfully, Harley has stayed way, way over in her lane. Ironically, despite being married to her cousin for twenty years I never met her. I’ve never laid eyes on her. Might be able to pick her out of a line up (she does have an impressive list of mug shots from which to choose). Then again, I might not be able to. I’ve seen pictures but I’ve never seen her. With the way things are going I probably never will. Hooray!

13. He’s had his moments but for the most part Jerry Lee leaves me alone. He’s not texting me vicious messages or calling me or emailing me and harassing me. Like I said, he’s had his moments- his hissy fit when being called out way back in the day, the stamps on the envelopes, the text message to the mobster, his shitty messages and obscene emojis in his Venmo transfers, hacking my Facebook page… He hasn’t been an angel but I haven’t heard a peep out of him in probably over two years. Now that he has a suspended jail sentence hanging over his head it’s amazing how compliant he is.

14. I was awarded spousal support. That is HUGE. So many states don’t offer it. Period. Others only offer it for a very short amount of time. It’s scary to think so many women are at the mercy of their husbands. If he decides to leave her and take up with someone else after she’s spent fifteen, twenty-five, thirty years supporting his career and putting her own needs aside to focus on him, she’s just out on her own. Oh well. Looks like you live in poverty from now on.  I may have had to fight him on it. I may have never known when I was going to get it until just recently, but I got spousal support. It was enough that I could do things for my kids, buy groceries, pay the utilities, go out to eat, and have some semblance of the life I had before. Way too many women don’t get that at all.

15. I didn’t really lose any friends. Being married to someone anti-social has its perks, I suppose. I’m sure there were people at his place of employment who liked him, both in Utah and Virginia. I socialized with those people in Utah. Most of the people I don’t talk to anymore just because we weren’t all that close and we moved 2000 miles away. I was friends with the wife of the new production manager at his old plant. We still text or send a FB message every once in a while. We’re FB friends. We live over a thousand miles apart but I have an open invitation to get together whenever I come back to Utah. I never really socialized with those in Virginia so no loss at all. We didn’t have any couple friends. He never wanted to socialize so I did all of my socializing by myself. I didn’t hate Blockhead while we were married but I didn’t feel exceptionally close to him either. I guess I always felt kind of like he didn’t care for me so when we got divorced the fact that he wasn’t on “my side” wasn’t a big shock. Or a big loss. I had already distanced myself from most of his family by the time D-Day #2 came along so no loss there either.

16. I didn’t have to get rid of my pets. We did re-home our cats but we hadn’t had them very long either. It would have been nice had he told me he was having an affair and planning on leaving because then we never would have taken them in but let’s be realistic. Our cats were all re-homed and my three dogs were able to come with me. I’m down to two now. My sweet Beau died a few years ago. My luscious Laila Lou is almost fourteen. For a Boxer that is ancient. Far beyond their normal life span. She just had her check up and they were amazed at her good health. Little Milo Tim is almost 8. They will be with me until the day they die. Again, I hear the sad stories of people who were forced to relinquish their pets. I can’t imagine.

17. I won in court. Another huge thing in my favor and another thing to be grateful for. It could have gone badly for me. There were many times I worried about what might happen if the judge decided I didn’t deserve spousal support, or the amount was set at some very low amount. Winning in court, even if it didn’t guarantee him paying what he was supposed to, was a huge thing for me.

18. I’m thankful I had the means to keep fighting in court. And that goes back to my mom in part. I was able to pay the first two retainers (to two different lawyers) but the third retainer I had to borrow from my mom. At that time all of my savings was gone. I’m not sure I had a job yet and if I did it would have been my part-time job at Target. Hardly enough to pay a retainer. I did get lucky and had the funds to pay the retainer for the expert witness and I was billed as I went after the trial, but not everyone is so “lucky”. It also helped that I wasn’t paying legal fees on top of a mortgage and everything else.

There you have it. If I took another three months to write this post I could probably come up with some more things to be thankful for, but I’m not going to do that.

I guess it boils down to this: I’ve got my kids- full-time. I don’t have to see him or deal with him. She stays out of my way. Twenty years of marriage and it’s like it never happened. He’s just someone that I used to know. I don’t have to deal with him playing games in regards to the kids. And with a suspended jail sentence hanging over his head he pays what he’s ordered to pay me. Life is good and I’m thankful.

I’m a Big Girl Now

I did a thing today. I bought a bed. Not just any bed either. Oh no! I bought myself a Simmons Beauty Rest plush pillow top, the softest mattress they had in that line. At the urging of my mom I went all out and even bought the adjustable control instead of the platform, so I can adjust the head and foot of the mattress. I can just press a button and the head will raise up as much as I’d like. I can sit in my bed comfortably and type or watch TV. Isn’t that amazing? 

I was going to be practical. I was already splurging by buying the more expensive Simmons over the perfectly fine Serta. The Simmons was just so comfortable. The adjustable “frame”, or whatever it is, was an additional $800 almost so I wasn’t going to do it. Then the lady that was helping me said, without any provocation from me, “I could probably go down to $X for both, but I couldn’t go any lower than that.”

Well hell! Sign me up! I’ll take them both! And then… I bought a damn headboard!

This was all encouraged by my mother who is a very practical person. And very frugal. She reuses plastic baggies, for crying out loud! Here she is egging me on. “You deserve it! Fuck the kids and their vacation. Do something for yourself!”

So I did! Even though there was a perfectly good headboard out in the garage from when we moved in. I bought a new one. My very own. My own personal selection.

My wonderful, loyal readers, this is the very first time I have ever selected bedroom furniture for myself. I am 52 years old and I have never picked out bedroom furniture for my own bedroom.

The bedroom set I shared with Jerry Lee was gifted to us by Tammy Faye and Pastor Fake as a wedding gift. I didn’t mind at the time; I was thankful they bought it. We had that set the entire twenty years we were married.

We did eventually upgrade from a queen mattress to a king, but we never bought a headboard. 

We did purchase two plain wooden nightstands from Meijer about two years into our marriage. Jerry Lee picked one out for himself and I decided to go ahead and get one as well. But, of course, I left that behind when I moved. 

Now I have this amazing bed that I can hardly wait to sleep in, and I have a beautiful Victorian headboard. I’m just waiting for it all to be delivered.

For five and a half years I’ve been rotating between two couches, my Mom’s bed when she was in Florida, and my daughter’s bed when she was away at college. With Rock Star moving out I’m officially turning her room into my room. I’m installing new flooring, painting the walls, and either replacing or painting the closet doors. I’m finally going to have a space- and a bed- of my own once again.

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!

A New Word of the Year- Attitude

I wasn’t going to do another word of the year. Last year was a disaster. Change. Look what happened!

I’m not going to say I’m a witch, but I kinda think I am. I once had a dream where I predicted who won the World Series. Another time I was wondering about a person and how they were doing. Next thing I know my mom says she saw this person’s obituary in the paper. I made some comment about dorms at our extension college in that same time period. Shortly thereafter there was an announcement that they were building dorms. That was the first time my mom accused me of being a witch. And then there was the time I used magic to stop a bird that was flying straight at my car. My daughter will testify on my behalf.

We were living in Virginia. We were on our way to her gym for practice and we both noticed this black bird, probably a crow, that appeared to be flying straight towards my driver side window. It was coming in fast, too. I remember taking my hand and making the “STOP” motion, you know, like you see in movies. The part right before the person finds out they have super powers. I kinda swirled my hand around and did the hard stop. And then the bird swerved. Rock Star looked at me and I looked at her and she said, “Did that just really happen?”

So there you have it. I am probably a witch. I’m not very good at it obviously. I have no control over my powers. Yet!

Anyway, I thought long and hard about doing another word. Change resulted in a worldwide pandemic. That was a little more change than I had anticipated.

I decided on attitude. I think I did change things up in my life last year. I lost weight. I began running. I’ve reframed things that have happened. Now it’s time to get a new attitude.

I’ve always thought I was basically a pretty happy person and that over the years Jerry Lee dragged me down and sucked the joy out of life. Over the last few years though I’ve noticed myself always looking at things negatively. Instead of cheering myself on and telling myself I can do this, I find myself saying I’ll never be good enough; those good things will never happen for me.

The part of my life that is the most disappointing has been the job prospects. I’ve always felt like there was no hope. Middle aged women with no work experience the last fifteen years don’t get great paying jobs. That’s been my attitude.

It’s been an attitude of defeat. I want to change that. I want to have a more optimistic attitude when it comes to the job prospects because honestly, that is about the only thing I would change about my life right now. I want to be financially independent. I realize that I’m going to have to take those reigns and make it happen, whether that’s going back to some type of schooling, or finding a different job within the bank, or outside of the bank. I’m hopeful that when our reviews come up that there will be more talk of becoming a project manager and that it will happen sooner rather than later. Regardless, it’s up to me; I can continue to complain about the job but that won’t change anything. I need action and I need a new attitude, one that tells me I can do anything. One that encourages me and says that I am a great employee and an incredible asset to anyone who hires me.

I want to focus on attitude because I think it’s so important. I remember that story of those shipwrecked with The Endurance and how a positive attitude resulted in all members of that party being rescued. 

I think about all of the graduating seniors in the Class of 2020, and probably 2021 as well, and how well so many of them coped with the unfairness of the situation. So many of those kids never got to play their sport their senior year. Three years they waited their turn to be the top dog and when their turn came it was cruelly taken away. Valedictorians that never got to give their speech, or gave it online where who knows how many people even heard it. Prom kings and queens that never were. Last rites of passage for seniors that never happened. No walks across the stage. Instead schools offered to put signs in the seniors’ yards, or parents would hang their senior’s robe between the glass storm door and the front door so everyone could see they had a graduating senior. 

I know my attitude was pretty much, “You can take your yard sign and stick it up your ass. I want to walk across the fucking stage and get my diploma. Screw this bullshit!”

But so many of these kids handled it all so well. In some instances there were some very sweet tradeoffs.

The kids back in Utah who were in my kids’ old school district were all adopted by former teachers. I don’t know exactly how this worked because I know the school my daughter would have attended easily had a graduating class of more than 800. It is a huge school district and they keep building high schools. There must be at least 6 of them now. Not all have 800+ seniors but that’s still a lot of kids. Anyway, each student was adopted by one of their former teachers who dropped off a basket or bucket of goodies to the student.

I thought that was very sweet. It would be lovely if they could continue to do this even during times of no Covid-19, but I understand that it would undoubtedly get expensive for these teachers. And what do you do with the kids who haven’t gone to school in this district very long? I look at my own daughter who switched schools her junior year. Who would have adopted her?

The old me would have applauded these new traditions and thought they were they nice additions while simultaneously wondering what was going to happen to the real rites of passage for your senior year. This new me is trying to change my attitude and be okay with only the new stuff.

So I’m trying to embrace the Halloween candy slides that people built, and the parade of cars that would honk as they drove by the birthday boy or girl. I’m trying to appreciate the smaller, more intimate weddings that so many were forced to have if they wanted to marry in 2020. Realistically speaking if a couple was able to roll with the punches and was more focused on the actual marriage instead of the huge wedding and reception that’s a good thing. Maybe there will be fewer divorces with this round of weddings in 2020.

It’s very easy to have a bad attitude. I think it builds upon itself. It’s much more difficult to have a positive attitude.

I think back to being moved downtown. The supervisor who was moved with us tried to lift our spirits and encourage us by telling us to think of it as an adventure. Looking back on it now it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it was. The equipment was actually better. There was a place to eat lunch that wasn’t my car or my desk. Yes, walking those few blocks through bad weather sucked. Dealing with crazy homeless people wasn’t fun. Plus, we were separated from everyone else. Truth of the matter is we’re still separated even though I’m back at the Ops Center. We still have people out and working from home. And it wasn’t like we were stuck in a dungeon.

Being split up in our department is still rough. I feel like pretty much my entire time in Overdraft has been spent flying by the seat of my pants. My partner works from home so any time I have a question I either need to call her, message her through Teams, or send an email. It’s not the simple, easy, leaning over your cubicle and asking a question. There is no having her watch over my shoulder as she teaches me something new. I can choose to look at this as a horrible, dreadful inconvenient thing (which it is), or I can choose to look at it as an opportunity to solve problems in a different way and a chance to spread my wings. It’s very easy to choose the first one and concentrate on the negatives but my desire is to change my attitude and focus on the latter. I am being given an excellent opportunity to show my bosses that I can be counted on and that when put in a sink or swim situation I am able to swim.

We don’t have a lot of perks in our department but what we do have is a huge Ops Center Christmas potluck each year. I was fortunate to be able to attend my first year. Last year I missed due to a family funeral. This year it was canceled due to Covid-19.

Normally our department has a white elephant gift exchange. This year, with the social distancing measures in place, we had a virtual Christmas party instead.

They brought in boxed lunches from Jimmy Johns and those of us who wished to participate drew names for a Secret Santa.

We all logged on to our computers at noon and spent the next two hours online, eating our lunches, sharing traditions, and talking about Christmas related things.

We also had a cubicle decorating contest, an ugly Christmas sweater contest, and daily holiday trivia. We collected donations for the local women’s shelter and received tickets for any donations we made, plus any correct answers to the holiday trivia and on the day of the party one of the supervisors drew names for various prizes.

It was not the Christmas we were used to but it was an effort to celebrate the season and to recognize all of us.

I frequently joke about the fact that I will get over whatever it is that is bugging me; I just need to be dramatic first. It’s so true; however, this year I’m going to try to work on my attitude and take the less dramatic path. I’m not saying I will be perfect each and every time, but I often hear things about how you can choose your attitude and which would you prefer: Being happy or being upset? I want to choose to see my blessings instead of focusing on what I don’t have. What is that they say? Comparison is the thief of joy? So true.

Let’s put these witch powers to work and conjure up a brand new, hopeful, optimistic attitude for 2021.