Huh… So This Happened 8 Years Ago Today

I came across this tonight.

Screenshot_20200406-191012_Facebook

Just to be clear the original post was simply about setting Jerry Lee up on Facebook. I added the rest of that a few years later. 🙂

We were in Kentucky for Easter when I did this. Staying with Tammy Faye and Pastor Fake. He had resisted forever and I thought it would be funny to create a profile for him. In hindsight I don’t think funny was the correct word. Tragic. Life changing. Foolish. Let’s go with a moment in time that irrevocably changed the course of my life and the lives of my children. But that’s not all!

This was the same weekend that Jezebel took Jerry Lee to meet her future husband, #3. Completely excluded me. Gave me a bullshit story about how they never got to do anything just the two of them. I was stupid enough to believe that. He was already lying and I hadn’t a clue.

By April or May of the next year, 2013, Jerry Lee was cheating on me with Harley. In May, Mother’s Day weekend in fact, he admitted to texting her and swore he would end it. In June, Jezebel and #3 got married. Good ol’ Jerry Lee went by himself to the wedding. By himself I mean without his wife and children. I’m fairly certain that they met up that weekend. They certainly had plans to. They were even going to get tattoos together. And in August I found out he hadn’t ended it with Harley after all.

This time of year in 2014 we were replacing carpet and flooring in our Utah home as we prepared to move across the country to Virginia. Two months later we would buy a home in Harrisonburg and three months later we, the kids and I, would make the move and join Jerry Lee.

This time of year in 2015 I was suicidal. My gut was screaming at me but I continued to bury my head in the sand. Surely he wouldn’t move us across the country, invest all the money we had invested in this new life, and then turn around and take up with Harley again. Oh, but he would. Almost four months to the day I would find out about his affair with Harley.

Eight years ago today I ended my life as I knew it. I had no clue at that moment what I had just done.

 

Life’s About Changing… Nothing Ever Stays the Same

As you know my word for the year is change. Since choosing that word I’ve noticed how much change happens, regardless of what we may choose. Honestly, I’ve known that for a while but with this being “my” word for the year I will probably be writing quite a bit about it.

Change is inevitable. People die. People move. Friendships fade. New friendships are made. I’ve experienced a lot of that over the course of my life. When you move every 2 1/2 years for the first five or six years of your marriage you get used to the constant upheaval. Then you start to settle in after that 2 1/2 year mark and you begin to think, “Maybe this is it. Maybe this is the place I’ll remain.”

I thought that way after we moved to Michigan the second time. It was different. We had a child now. It wasn’t just the two of us. Jerry Lee settled in. Until that call came six years later, telling him they had an exciting offer for him. They wanted him to take over as the production manager in Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City? I knew nothing of Utah except Mormons. I’d never lived west of the Mississippi. Nevertheless, I gave him the go ahead and we moved. I called my best friend crying only weeks before we moved. I watched my precious children flounder in their new surroundings. I missed having family close by and missing out on so much. Yet somehow it all worked itself out. I fell in love with the state. I made great friends. I got involved. My children made friends. Rock Star devoted her life to gymnastics. Picasso fell in love with hockey after trying out just about every other sport under the sun. We spent eight amazing years out there.

Jerry Lee always said we would never leave so I began to feel like Utah was the place I would remain. Until Harley came along.

But this isn’t about Michigan, or Utah, or even Virginia. It’s about my 2 1/2 years living in Olive Branch, Mississippi. It’s about the fact that living there was one of the happiest times of my life. It’s also about the fact that now Jerry Lee and Harley are there, defiling this place that I once loved so much.

We had been married less than a year when Jerry Lee took a job with PCA up in Michigan. While living there we took a week long vacation at the end of May and visited Memphis to see Graceland and the zoo, and then headed over to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. I’m sure the fact that Michigan was experiencing a very cold spring (that morning I left for vacation the wind chill brought the temperature down to zero) didn’t help, but we both fell in love with Memphis. I loved Beale Street. I loved the food. I can’t explain it; I just loved it. I didn’t even mind the humidity. A little less than two and a half years later he was offered a job in Olive Branch, which is right outside of Memphis, Tennessee. In fact, when I lived there I would often hear it described as, “Memphis’s fastest growing suburb”, which I always thought was interesting considering they were in different states.

We had an amazing group of friends. Jerry Lee was actually social. There were quite a few transplants working at the plant so they hung around together quite a bit. It was nothing for us to go out to dinner in a group of 12-14 people. Robert and Judy. Bev and Tommy. Arch and Alice. Kevin and Kelly. The good Aunt Judy (who would later turn out to be the bad Aunt Judy) and her daughter, Sheri. Julie. Eric. We went to each other home’s. Some of us bowled together. We had parties. We went out to dinner. We went to football games (okay, once we went to Knoxville to see a football game but we couldn’t get tickets). I had a key to Bev and Tommy’s house. We were such good friends we were at the point where we just walked into each other’s homes. I spent a lot of time in their above ground pool and hot tub. I went out to dinner with Bev, Judy and Judy every week while Jerry Lee and Tommy played golf. Arch and Alice trusted us enough to leave their son with us on the rare weekend they managed to get away. We exchanged Christmas presents and spent holidays together if we didn’t go home. We would go to the restaurant Robert and Judy owned, The Oasis, and eat dinner, talk with the locals. One time the place got overwhelmingly busy and neither Judy nor Robert was  there. Bev and I jumped up from our table and began helping out. We ran the register, got drinks, ran food out. I got pregnant while living in Olive Branch. I had three separate baby showers and lovingly decorated a nursery in classic Winnie the Pooh. I  brought my baby daughter home to that house. They had a brand new high school there and I envisioned my little Rock Star graduating from that high school one day. Rock Star was surrounded by people who loved her. Judy, Judy, Bev, and Tommy were all at least 10 years older than me, and in some cases 20 years older. A baby was a welcome addition. We finished our upstairs and now had a five bedroom house. I had a life there and I loved it.

Then Jerry Lee got fired. Seems he and his boss didn’t get along. So he was hired back on at PCA. He had an area VP that loved him and had stayed in contact since he left the first time.

At first he was assigned to Manufacturing Services, which is a team of people that travel to various problem plants and try to help them fix whatever issues are plaguing them. That lasted for four months before a position opened at one of the plants. As luck would have it we moved back to the same area and he was at the same plant as he had been before.

We moved, and despite the fact I would once again be only two hours from most of my family, I was devastated. I was losing my friends. I had to start all over.

Now, Jerry Lee and Harley are living there. Funny aside- I think he’s actually in the subdivision his old boss that fired him lived in. Her kids are going to be the ones graduating from Olive Branch High School. She gets to shop at all the great places in Memphis. She gets to visit Graceland and go down to Beale Street. She gets to marvel at those beautiful red clay roads. She can eat all the fried catfish and BBQ she wants to. She can go to the fantastic Memphis Zoo. In short, she gets to pick up where I left off, in one of my favorite cities.

When I first heard the news that they were living in Olive Branch I’ll admit it took me back a moment. I had this, “WTF” moment and probably a brief feeling of jealousy. They moved back to one of my favorite places and they replaced me with her. How did I feel about that?

I’ll be honest. When I heard that the Olive Branch Catfish Company was no longer in business I felt a little better.

Oh, such great memories of time spent there. Our realtor took us there when we were down looking for a house. If you like catfish you would have loved this place. It was amazing. And always packed. They had added on at least twice to the original restaurant. Our large group of friends would gather there on a Friday or Saturday night. Wait an hour or more to get a table. And then enjoy that amazing fried catfish (although you could have it grilled if you chose). We always took visiting friends and family there as well.

I’m glad Harley doesn’t get to experience the Olive Branch Catfish Company. I’m happy that Jerry Lee doesn’t have access to it either. Ha! It’s a small, selfish, silly victory.

That aside, I realize that my Olive Branch no longer exists. Kevin and Kelly moved away probably a year before we did. Robert and Judy, who had been together for many, many years, went their separate ways and Judy spent most of her time in Hot Springs, Arkansas after that. I found out years later that Robert had died. As I said earlier the good Aunt Judy turned out to be the bad Aunt Judy. She had an affair with Tommy, Bev’s husband. They divorced. Bev put the house on the market and it sold within 24 hours. I held onto my key to their house for years until finally I threw it away. Bev eventually moved down to Jackson. Judy and Tommy got married and then divorced 2-3 years later. Arch and Alice moved back to Chicago. Eric moved back to his hometown of Corinth, which was probably 2 hours or so south of Olive Branch. He got his ex-wife pregnant and married her again and then went on to have one more child with her. He left Menasha sometime after Jerry Lee got fired. Julie went to work at a different corrugated plant and then eventually remarried her ex-husband and moved back to Tennessee, although I’m not sure what order that took place. Sheri, who was just a young teen back then, is married with a daughter and a son on the way. She lives in Florida now and is a stepmom to two older girls.

Life’s about changing; nothing ever stays the same. Even if he didn’t get fired the Olive Branch I knew and loved wouldn’t be there. All of our friends are gone. We would have watched as Arch and Alice moved back home, and we would have had a front row seat as Bev and Tommy’s marriage exploded and we were faced with the fact that Judy was the other woman. And then I would have been left behind when Bev made her move to Jackson. Maybe there would have been new friends as Rock Star, and then Picasso, began high school. Or as new people were hired on at the plant. Then again, maybe those few years were like lightning in a bottle- never to be captured again.

That high school I envisioned my daughter going to? It had only recently been built and they were already using multiple portables because they had outgrown the building. Apparently a lot of parents were not fans of the Memphis school system. That high school probably doesn’t exist anymore. My guess is they have already built a new one.

If I were to visit I’m not sure I would know my way around anymore. It’s been 19 years since I lived there and 17 years since I last visited.

I can still see that shopping area with the Kroger, the cheesesteaks, Applebee’s, and Cookout. I think there was an eye center there as well. I remember where the new Wal-mart was built. But who knows what’s there now?

I would love to take my kids to Memphis one day because I love the city. Maybe I would take them over into Olive Branch as well. Show Rock Star where she lived when she was a baby. Show them where Bev and Tommy lived. Show them where the Olive Branch Catfish Company used to be.

I know it’s no longer the Olive Branch I once knew and loved; it’s only a treasured memory now. What made it so special was the people, and the people are all gone.

I’m fine with Jerry Lee and Harley living there. It takes nothing away from me and my memories. It won’t ever be replicated. I doubt very much that they’ve made friends, and that was the best part of it. Even if they have it doesn’t change the fact that they’re not living in my Olive Branch. My Olive Branch is gone. They can have this new one.

Sunday Dinner

When I was a little girl I remember my grandma making Sunday dinner. Beef and noodles. Fried chicken. Ham loaf. Pot roast. Pork chops. With side dishes like mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, corn, wilted lettuce, many different salads, cinnamon rolls.

I always thought it would be nice to have Sunday dinners again. Most of the time, of course, I lived several hundred, if not over a thousand, miles away. Then I moved back to Indiana. It’s been three years and I kept thinking we should have a Sunday family dinner.

Yesterday, I finally followed through. I invited my brother and his family, a few single friends, and Rock Star and her roommate. We ended up with seven people gathering round for dinner and an eighth showing up after work.

I made two meatloaves, mashed potatoes, gravy, macaroni and cheese, green beans, corn, and a salad. All topped off with a cake. It was delicious. It was also a lot of work!

I started making the meatloaves around 10 in the morning and just kept cooking. I didn’t use instant potatoes this time. I peeled those suckers, cut them up, boiled them, and then mashed them. The green beans were fried up in bacon grease and then simmered for almost an hour.

It got super hot in the house. We were opening windows and changing into shorts and short sleeved shirts.

After dinner I was ready for a nap!

It was a good time. I’m going to start out slowly. My goal is once a month, and I’ll work my way up from there.

Here’s to Sunday dinners!

This is the meatloaf recipe I used. It’s a combination of two different recipes I’ve posted before. I really feel like this is “the one”. It combines all the best parts of each recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I’m going to toot my own horn for a minute, and I really hope I’m not overselling this recipe but my niece and both friends told me it was delicious. Queen B had second thoughts about showing up because meatloaf isn’t her favorite but she said this one was really good. She loved how moist it was and raved about the glaze. My friend Sweet J asked me to share the recipe and my other friend agreed that it was amazing.

Sam’s Amazing Meatloaf

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¾ c milk
  • 3 slices of bread torn into small pieces
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t pepper
  • 1/2 c ketchup, divided
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • ½ c onion, diced
  • 1 oz pkg ranch salad dressing mix
  • 1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese

For the glaze:

  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. mustard
Instructions:
  1. Combine your eggs, milk, bread crumbs, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine gently.
  3. Now you have two choices. You can shape it into a loaf and bake it on a cookie sheet with a lip, or put it in a loaf pan. Or you can make a mound in your greased slow cooker.
  4. Combine the three ingredients for the glaze and spread over the meatloaf.
  5. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 90 minutes. Or cook on low in the slow cooker for 6-8 hours,

What Is Normal?

This is a two part post. Part 2 has a completely different name though. Watch for Holland tomorrow.

I was reading the comments over on Chump Lady the other day. Someone said she had been asked by a good friend, “When will you be normal again?”

That’s an interesting question, isn’t it? When will I be normal again? I don’t know. If by, “being normal” the person means “going back to how you used to be” I don’t think I will ever be normal.

My normal was being a wife and a mom. I was the one that was there for my kids 100% of the time. I drove them to practice, attended their games and meets, and chauffeured them and their friends around. When school was out I planned amazing adventures- water parks, hikes, amusement parks, vacations, museums. If school was out it meant I got to sleep in later, just like they did. I was able to spend the day with them. Oh sure, there were the times I carpooled with other moms, or asked a friend if she could grab my kid, but that wasn’t the norm. Now I’m the mom whose son has to sit in the office for an hour or more when the bus is running late because I can’t go pick him up. I rely on others because I can’t be there. I rely on my mom or my brother or my sister-in-law or my niece to pick my kids up from work and school, and to take them to doctor’s appointments and dentist appointments because I can’t do it anymore. I can’t be there because I work every day.

Add that to my list of things that is no longer normal. I didn’t have to work before. My time was my own. I had plenty of downtime to do things I wanted, to get together with friends, while my kids were in school. Then in the afternoons when they were back home I could devote my time to them. Now, I’m at work all day. When I get home if I spend time doing things I want to do I’m neglecting them. If I’m spending time with them I have no me time.

My normal was being able to shop for clothes for my kids without worrying about whether or not this was going to break the bank. I could buy them toys and gadgets and not think twice. I could buy expensive make-up at Christmas for my daughter. I could buy iPods and iPads and MacBook Pros. I could spend amazing amounts of money at Christmas, and I could afford to be generous with my mom and my nieces and nephews. Now those nieces and nephews will be outearning me shortly.

My normal was living in my own house, preferably a fairly large house. It didn’t matter how many pairs of shoes I left in the living room, or if I didn’t do the dishes right away, or how much shit I let pile up, because I was the one cleaning it all up anyway. All the furniture in my own house was furniture that I had picked out. All the decorations were decorations I had selected. I had a room of my own. I had space. I had all my stuff.

Now, if I were to move out I have to start all over. I have no plates or bowls. No silverware. No towels. I have pans and some baking sheets and cake pans. I have some glasses and some mugs and some kitchen utensils. I have a blender, a popcorn popper, an immersion blender, a waffle maker, a few crockpots, a Keurig, and a George Foreman grill. I’m pretty sure that’s the extent of my kitchen. I also have no furniture save for 4 bar stools, although I do have my magnolia painting and all the pictures of my kids.

I suppose I could see this as a grand adventure. “How exciting! I get to completely start all over! All new things. Hooray!” Instead I feel like I did when I moved into my first apartment- starting out for the very first time and dirt poor.

My normal was volunteering in PTA, knowing all of the teachers, and getting together with friends. Now my life is spent working. It’s not like I’m going to end up with some wonderful new career. I will always be poor. My daughter will graduate in four years and make triple what I make. I don’t see a path to riches where I am.

That’s another “normal” thing that I will never get back. I used to live an upper middle class lifestyle. Now, I don’t. I never will again unless I start playing the lottery and end up winning.

I think it’s very similar to someone who has lost a child. You never get over it. You never stop feeling like a piece of yourself is missing; you never stop feeling that loss. Your old, “normal” life is over forever; you now must go on living this new life, the one that no longer includes your beloved child. Normal doesn’t exist anymore.

There are a few positives to this new life. I don’t have to put up with an asshole any longer. I met the mobster. I’m closer to family, which can be a blessing and a curse. Remember, my normal is doing everything on my own. I lived most of the last twenty years away from my family.

Meanwhile, CF goes blissfully on his way. My life has been turned upside down and then hammered into the ground. He has everything he has ever wanted. This divorce was a goldmine for him. He has yet another high paying job. Between him and Harley his life style hasn’t decreased at all. Not one penny. In fact, together they make more than he did by himself when we were married. He lives in a house that looks like our old house. He’s got a new wife and new kids. He lives where he wants to live- back in his home state, close to his mommy, when she was alive, and his sister. He goes to not-his-kids’ sporting events. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he also attends parent-teacher conferences for them and coaches their damn sports teams. He goes on family vacations with them and out to celebrate birthdays. He doesn’t hole up in his bedroom all the time. He’s got dogs and cats. He’s blooming, like a rose. Divorce has been wonderful. A little expensive but wonderful nonetheless.

When will I be back to normal? Never. I wasted twenty years of my life on someone who never deserved me. I’ve been betrayed, lied to, humiliated, played for a fool, dumped for a whore cousin, financially raped, and drug through the mud. I’ve had someone try to destroy me and I have ended up losing everything. CF and Harley happily play house and embrace their new life together; they have everything they set out to get when they embarked on their affair. I, on the other hand, am left to continue trying to build this new life of mine out of the ashes of my old life. My normal is gone. My old life was destroyed and it will never be back to “normal”. I’m expected to forge ahead with a new life and call that my new normal. That is my only choice.

It sounds like a rather daunting task, doesn’t it? It has been, but all hope is not lost. You see, I believe the key is simply realizing that the old normal is gone, and to embrace all the newness.

 

Was He Always Cheating?

I don’t know why but a thought suddenly popped into my head. I hadn’t thought about this in years. It didn’t even occur to me either time I was finding out about Harley’s glorious presence.

Waaaaaay back in the beginning of our marriage, like year 2 or 3, I remember seeing an email from him to what was obviously another woman. He was complimenting her breasts and asking for more pictures.

I know what you’re thinking.

Jesus Christ, Sam! You said you thought he’d never cheat on you. The real head scratcher is how on earth you thought he wouldn’t cheat on you?

What can I say? I’m slow in the driveway. I found out five years ago (twice in a three month period!) that he’s capable of betrayal. I’ve been living through this shit show for the last three years. I’ve been busy. With all this trauma I’ve been dealt I think I might have repressed the memory.

Do you want to hear the story or not? I thought so. Let’s stop picking on me and concentrate our efforts on him.

It’s been twenty years or so; the story is a little faded at this point, but some details remain sharp. I remember coming across the email and being hurt, pissed, and horrified. I remember thinking, “Oh God, I need to lose weight! I’d better get started before it gets out of control; right now it’s not so bad, just a few pounds. But if I keep ignoring it he may find someone else and I’ll be wishing I had started losing weight back when I first found out his attention had started to wander.” That’s pretty sad, isn’t it?

I’m pretty sure this happened at the same time we had tickets to go see Patty Loveless. I know we were not talking and I so badly wanted us to be able to communicate. I’m pretty sure we weren’t talking because of this.

When we finally did start talking he told me it was pictures he had seen online. I questioned why he emailed her then and his response was that this was the way it worked. You complimented their pictures in the hopes that they would send you more. That’s all it was. He didn’t know her. He hadn’t ever met her. She was some woman on the Internet, posting naked pictures of herself.

I wasn’t happy about it, and I let him know that, but I bought the explanation. It has stayed safely tucked away for twenty years.

Until now. Now I realize I was quite naive. I so solidly bought into this idea that he was loyal and would never cheat on me, that even when the signs were there I couldn’t comprehend what was going on.

Maybe he was telling the truth and this really was some amateur (or not so amateur) Internet porn star. Maybe he had never met this person. Or, maybe it was a co-worker. I don’t think he ever met up with this person, although why I should give him the benefit of the doubt is beyond me. It doesn’t matter. What’s done is done. Once again I am shown that he was never the person I thought he was. The signs were always there. I was oblivious to them.

I know it’s a fruitless question but I’m left wondering, “Was he ever faithful to me, or was he cheating from Day 1?” The positive side of this is that I keep being given ample evidence that he sucks. It also proves that whatever it is that Harley thinks she’s got, she doesn’t. That man has deep, dark secrets and they just keep coming.

It’s like the scene in Men In Black when the alien takes over Edgar’s body. CF wears a suit of lies. It looks like everything you want. It looks like someone faithful and loyal. Someone who has achieved great things and has much success. Someone who values a partner and a family. It reflects back whatever it is you want. It’s an illusion. The person CF claims to be isn’t real. He’s just an alien in an Edgar suit.

 

 

Like Sands Through the Hourglass…

Why not use a soap opera intro? My life is basically a soap opera anymore anyway.

Today is the 2 year anniversary of me moving back home. Mark your calendars, people! This is the day I failed at being an adult. I moved back in with my mommy, too poor to provide for myself and my kids. I moved back to my childhood city, a place I never really wanted to move back to. It feels very much like the past twenty years were a waste. Seriously.

I’m back in the same city I lived in before I met him and we started moving all over the country. I’m working yet another low paying job. Hell, I’m probably actually poorer than I was twenty plus years ago because back then I knew I made shit for money. I didn’t have a big car payment or a cell phone payment. Mainly because cell phones were only just becoming a thing back then and not many people could afford them. I drove a Suzuki Samurai because even new it cost me a mere $188 plus change each month. I didn’t even have cable because I couldn’t afford it. I didn’t have an email address at that point in my life so there was no internet bill to worry about either. I also didn’t have two children to support. Back then I knew I couldn’t provide for a child on what I made. Today I don’t have a choice. They were thrust into this situation, too.

Sure, there have been definite changes. I have a job finally. As I’ve said many times before it pays my bills and that’s about it. Thankfully, CF has been paying child and spousal support, which is another change. When I moved here he was busy trying to convince everyone he suffered from PTSD and was opting not to pay his court ordered support. I met the love of my life thanks to my blog. That’s yet another amazing change in these past two years. I no longer cry every day. I no longer beg for death. So that’s good, I guess. My daughter is about to leave for college, which will leave the house minus one. My son is ready to begin his sophomore year.

I also want to point out that I am infinitely grateful for my mother’s generosity. I know that there are people out there in the same situation who don’t have a parent to turn to. My mother took me and my 2 teenagers and my 3 dogs into her home and allowed us to live with her instead of forcing us to live out of our car, or in crappy subsidized housing somewhere. She also does my laundry and cooks most nights, so living at home is not without its perks.

It’s still an interesting anniversary to mark. Two years since I sold off what I could, packed up very little of what remained, and left the rest behind. Two years since I left my own home, my own bed, my own room. Two years since I was forced out the new town I lived in and the state where I was born. I’ve now lived back at home as long as I lived in my last house.

Two years is an interesting amount of time to live somewhere. It’s enough time for you to start to get a feel for things. It’s enough time to start to develop a route when you drive. You look for the familiar. It’s enough time to get a hair stylist, a doctor, a dentist. You know the town. You know the restaurants. You know the schools. You get to know more people. You become more involved. Things become a little more routine.

And then it’s all ripped out from under you. In my case it was made a tad more complicated by the fact that my husband was cheating on me with his cousin and had financially cut me off right after the one year mark.

I’m not in the same dark, dismal place that I was when I moved here two years ago. Yet, I can still remember those final days. I remember going through my house and putting price tags on almost everything I had ever owned in my lifetime, in order to hold a garage sale so that I might have a little bit of money to pay for the truck and to keep us afloat while I looked for a job. I remember selling off my furniture, most of it less than a year old, and watching as strangers departed with little pieces of my old life. I remember renting that U-Haul truck and driving it back to the house. I remember checking in at Wal-Mart repeatedly to get boxes; the entire time I was married to CF we never had to worry about it. His company always paid to pack us up and move us. I remember driving to DC to pick up my brother who was coming out to help move me back. I still remember going to KFC and buying chicken for our last meal in the house. I remember loading up the truck and my brother cautioning me that we might have to leave some stuff behind. I remember the cars, mine and my mom’s, being loaded with more stuff. Rock Star and I drove together with all three dogs, while my mom and her dog went in her car, and Picasso and my brother drove the U-Haul. I remember crying as I left my neighborhood for the very last time. Finally, I remember pulling into my mother’s drive, knowing that everything I had lived for the last twenty years was over and done. This was it. This was home now.

Maybe one day this will be nothing more than another day. Sadly, at the two year mark it’s another reminder of everything that was lost and will never be regained.

Facebook Memories, Go Away!

The entire summer is a weird time for me in many ways. If I let it it could serve as one long trigger until September or later.

I know I have shared before about how I do like Facebook. I don’t post nearly as much as I used to, and I’m finding recently I’m not even on it reading quite as much, but I like it. I generally like seeing the memories that pop up. I get to relive cute stories about my kids, see what I was up to years ago, look at the pictures of my kids over the years, and recall all the fantastic trips I’ve taken and places I’ve been.

The summer though… it can be a bitch.

On one hand I see pictures of me with my kids and visiting family as we go to amusement parks, Yellowstone, Moab, water parks, etc. There we are hiking. There we are camping. Oh look how little the kids were! Queen B towers over Rock Star and all four kids are little stair steps in height. There we are celebrating the kids’ birthdays- parties and/or dinners out. There we are at the roller skating rink with the rubber nose that you squeezed and slime came out of it. There we are bowling. There’s the video of Rock Star and her teammates as the Hummer limousine pulled into the parking lot to take them to the reservoir for her party.

On the other hand there is the picture of us on the plane, getting ready to fly to Virginia to pick out a new house. There is my post about all of our lasts in Utah. There is my post about my trip from hell getting to Virginia. Oh, four years ago today we spent our first night in the new house. Look at those pictures from your vacation in Florida or your trip back out to Utah to visit friends. You had no idea your husband was in the middle of an affair and was planning on leaving you. There you are with M, the morning you left to head back to Virginia; you told the story of how the two of you met and how in a wonderful twist she was moving to Virginia, too, and you would only be three hours apart instead of 30. Too bad you didn’t realize you had been replaced and would be moving again in a year.

Every time I see those pictures of our last days in Utah back in 2014 I want to shout to that woman: Don’t go! Don’t leave! It’s a trap. He’s taking you away from all of your friends; he’s moving you closer to his mistress. He’s going to start cheating on you less than a year after you and the kids move out there. Don’t do it! Stay there!

When I see the pictures of the kids and I back in the summer of 2015 I sadly shake my head because I was so stupid, so blind. I had no idea what was coming. I can’t say I was ignorant and happy because he had amped up the crazy by that point, but I had no idea my life was about to be obliterated. There I am smiling at the camera, happy to be eating French toast at Kneader’s once again, or enjoying the beach down in Florida, and my husband is plotting against me. He’s sending his whore money and I have no idea.

The memories that crop up on June 10th, August 10th and August 14th are a little bit trickier. Sometimes I read those or see the pictures, and I think, “You had no idea how your life was about to change.” Other times, like when I see the new pictures of the mobster with me, or I know one of the pictures this year will be the freedom cake I brought in to work last year, I smile and think to myself, “It’s just another day.”

The most heartbreaking photos though are of my kids, back in the summer of 2014. The first one is of Picasso surrounded by his posse of friends. We lived in Utah. It’s a law everyone has to have four kids. I regularly had between 3 and 6 more boys in my house than I had given birth to. They spent a lot of time together. They were huddled around each other, hugging in a circle.

I know leaving Utah hurt Picasso. He cried. He didn’t think he would ever make new friends. He was a nervous wreck the night before his first day of school. He spent many months hating it there. Just as he was beginning to find his footing we had to move again.

The second picture is one that doesn’t even belong to me. It was my daughter’s and I saw it shared by one of her friends. It was the entire optional team posing one last time with Rock Star as she said her goodbyes and thanked everyone for the memories.

Gymnastics was her life. I remember all the drop offs and pickups. The way they would yell, “Bye! I love you!” to one another as they climbed into their parents’ cars and went home. I remember all the different get togethers we did as a team. The away meets and all the fun we had with those. Rock Star spent so much time in the gym that it was pretty much the only life she knew. The guest list at her birthday parties after 4th or 5th grade included her best friend from the neighborhood, and her teammates. That was it. No other classmates or girls from the neighborhood. Those girls were her friends, and they became more like family.

I see those pictures and I  want to cry. Those pictures represent everything Rock Star and Picasso gave up. They were promised a better life, a fantastic future. What did they get? A father who abandoned them and left them to survive on their own, with a mom who hadn’t worked in years. They gave up their friends and their passions all so their dad could get closer to his mistress.

Those memories are extremely painful, even to this day. I don’t think there will ever come a day that I won’t mourn what was stolen from my children. I could accept it if they had a new life that was so much better, but they didn’t get that. They were teased with new, bigger bedrooms, their own bathrooms, a pool, a game room, and the promise of a media room. They were promised a better life. “This move will secure our future so that we can provide better for you,” they were told.

They didn’t get that better life. They sure as hell didn’t get a more secure future. Our cross country move was always about CF and what he wanted. They were collateral damage.

I look at all of those pictures and all of those posts now and I realize what a farce my life actually was. Was any of it real? Was I skating across thin ice the entire time? Was I off living my life, thinking things were fantastic and we were so blessed when the reality was my husband was planning his exit the entire time? I naively thought my kids were going to be well provided for always; they would have everything I didn’t have growing up. It turned out to be an illusion.

I’m not sure if I should say, “Thanks for the memories,” as I grow teary eyed looking at what was, and what will never be again. Or, if I should instead say, “Thanks for the reality check. My life was never real. Too bad I didn’t know it back then.”