Why Is It So Easy For Some People To “Get Over It”?, Part IV

Why is it so much easier for some to get over the cheater than it is for others? Define easy. Or at least easier.

I lost my home. I was forced out of the area my kids and I lived in. I lost almost everything I owned. I cried every day for a very long time. I wanted to die. I begged God to kill me and put me out of my misery. I believe at one point I said something to the effect of, “My life is over. Now I’m just waiting to die.”

When I worked as a teller in the branches I often thought that if we were robbed I wouldn’t even care if I got shot and killed. I’d volunteer to be the hostage. All those other people I worked with had something to live for; I was just waiting to die.

Whether I called Jerry Lee the love of my life or the bane of my existence my life did a 180 and I will never be the same again. I will never trust someone like I did before. I’d like to think I’ve worked on fixing my picker. I’d like to believe I got it right this time and that the mobster would never cheat on me. But then again, I never thought Jerry Lee would either. It’s not even that I think he will cheat, or that I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. I know what can happen and I feel that I would be remiss if I stuck my head in the sand and pretended like it could never happen again. And part of me feels that it’s so wrong to think like that because truly healing should mean being able to trust again. Completely trust again with no reservations.

I will never allow myself to rely on anyone ever again. I will never ever lose my home and everything in it if a man walks out on me again. I see all of these women quitting their jobs and becoming stay at home moms and I think to myself how wonderful it must be to be able to trust and rely upon another that way. The trust may not be warranted. We won’t know until much later. But the fact that they have that faith is something I will never have again. I know, and I cannot un-know, that if I depend on someone for my livelihood, my home, my car, my whatever, and I’m wrong about him and what a good person he is, then I will lose everything. Even if my divorce wasn’t as “tough” as someone else’s or my heart wasn’t broken as badly as another’s it damn near killed me and I will never go through that again.

I don’t look at the institution of marriage the same way. I think it’s mostly bullshit and not worth the piece of paper your marriage license is printed on.

I don’t look at in-law relationships the same as I once did. They’re people who are in your life and like you as long as you serve a purpose for their relative. You don’t have an authentic relationship with them. Once your partner is done with you those people you celebrated holidays with and bought gifts for and visited in the hospital and took vacations with won’t remember your name; even more hurtful is the fact that they will immediately slot the new woman (or man) into your place. You’ve now been erased.

I don’t think women should stay at home and take care of the babies while the men folk go off and establish six figure careers. Because you quickly find out 20 years later that when he leaves you for someone else he still has his six figure income and you get to struggle in poverty forever.

Sometimes I find it hard to believe in give and take relationships at all. Someone is always going to have to be willing to believe in someone else and trust that the person won’t screw them over eventually. How do relationships survive when each person is only out for themselves? I’m beginning to think that marriage is a hopelessly outdated institution, one that benefits men far more than it benefits women in most cases.

When you think about it that question, “Why do some people seem to get it over so much easier?” is actually quite insulting. I may not be crying and gnashing my teeth over losing the love of my life or my best friend but it does not mean my road was easy. It turns out I’m just a hell of a lot better at gray rock or no contact than others. No doubt it helped that he moved 6 hours away but even while living in the same house I wasn’t going to give him the time of day.

At the heart of it all I’m a practical person. No point in begging him to come back; I knew it wasn’t going to happen. We both knew there was no turning back. I had warned him back in 2013 that I would forgive him once but if it ever happened again I would divorce him and take him for everything I could. He knew that so the moment he said yes to Harley he knew what was going to happen. And I knew from conversations way back when that when he finally made a decision (usually about leaving a job) his mind was made up; he wouldn’t be swayed by more money or promises of whatever the person thought he might want. He knew he was going to have to leave everything we had just bought together behind. He knew he would lose his kids. He made a choice. Knowing full well that if he let her back into our lives it would mean the end of our marriage and the end of life for our kids as they knew it, he went full steam ahead. He chose her. Every. Single. Step. Of. The. Way.

“Why do some seem to get over it more easily than others?” is a ridiculous question. We don’t know what other people are going through. The only thing cheated on people have in common is that we were cheated on. Everyone likes to think we’re all in the same boat but we’re not. We can all certainly offer up support and assure the person new to this pain that it’s all going to get better, but we’re not all in the same boat. What may look like easier for one person might seem insurmountable for another.

My husband of 20 years was not much of a partner to me. We might have had a good 5 years but that was about it. I was used to going through life alone. I was used to raising children alone for the most part. While I wasn’t mourning the loss of him, wasn’t suffering withdrawals because I couldn’t be with him, wasn’t wondering how on earth I would ever be happy without him in my orbit, make no mistake, none of what I went through was “easier”.

I was very literally thrust into poverty after living in the top 3-4% of the socioeconomic population. I struggled to find work and then I worked so damn much just trying to keep my head above water that I would fall asleep sitting up and had no time with my kids. I worked shitty hours for shitty pay. It took me five years to finally find a job that paid me halfway decent.

I had to move my kids 600 miles away, tear their world apart once again, and move in with my mom. I sold, or left behind, almost everything I had ever owned. I had no bed, much less bedroom, to call my own. I slept on the couch for 2 years. To this day I don’t have a home of my own, and because Jerry Lee let our house go into foreclosure I don’t even have proceeds from the sale of my home with which to buy a new home. I’m starting over at zero. I have no furniture. I have very few household items.

I lost so much time with my two children. I was a good mom to those two. I know they both say I’m still a great mom but I know I’m not the same as I was. I took them everywhere- museums, amusement parks, skating rinks, caves, water parks, zoos, Presidential museums, Yellowstone. I tried my best to keep them busy and engaged. I signed them up for horseback riding lessons; we went white water rafting and took many hikes while living out in Utah. They were both involved in sports. I volunteered at their schools. I took them on road trips. Once I began working I could no longer do that. I feel like I was robbed of the last few years of their childhoods. I see pictures on Facebook of people I know busy with college trips for their kids. I didn’t get to do much of that with Rock Star. I didn’t have the money in the beginning and once I did we didn’t have long before she needed to make a decision. Two trips. That was it. I didn’t get to celebrate my daughter’s senior year of gymnastics. It was abruptly taken away when we moved to Indiana.

My entire life turned upside down and it has never been the same, or even close to what it was. To this day I worry about what will happen when the spousal support stops and when I near retirement age. Even if I can live well these next 10-15 years, what happens to me after that?

Everything I went through was excruciatingly painful. Everything I lost, especially the time with my kids, meant something to me. For a very long time there was no joy in my world. It was a bleak gray. I wanted to die. Does that really sound easier?

Six Years Ago Today

Time flies when you’re having fun. Six years ago today I had my U-Haul packed up and I loaded my two kids and the three dogs into our multiple vehicles and headed off towards Indiana. My brother drove the U-Haul and took Picasso with him. My mom had her own car, although I’m not sure if Rock Star drove with her or me. I’m fairly confident I had all of the dogs.

I remember crying as I drove out of the neighborhood. It was not supposed to be like this; however, with Jerry Lee basically getting fired and deciding that he wasn’t going to go back to work anytime soon, I didn’t have much of a choice. Even if I started working right away I wouldn’t have been able to pay the mortgage, even if that’s the only thing I paid each month.

I remember pulling into my mom’s driveway, going into the house, and thinking, “Now what?”

Now shit would get real. I had to enroll kids in school. I had to apply for Medicaid because this was back when you were fined for not having insurance. I had to apply for free lunches and textbooks. I had to find a job, which would end up taking three months. I would end up getting hired on at the bank in another month but wouldn’t start until January.

Six years. Huh. I suppose a lot has changed in those six years. I made it through the divorce. I made it through working two jobs. I met the mobster. I finally have a bed and a bedroom of my own. I finally have a job where I make a decent amount of money instead of crossing my fingers each month that Jerry Lee will pay his support in full and not modify it yet again. I finally have a kick ass legal agreement that puts Jerry Lee in jail if he fails to pay. Rock Star will soon graduate and will be fully launched by this time next year. Picasso is working on it.

And while this happens EVERY year today is also National Cheesecake Day. If you live close to a Cheesecake Factory you can go in and get yourself a slice of cheesecake. I think it was free, but it may be half price now. You can’t get carry out but you don’t need to order anything other than the cheesecake in the restaurant. Go get yourself some cheesecake! Make this day a happy one!

Beating A Dead Horse

Honestly, I don’t mean to beat a dead horse but I am astounded.

“Why?” you ask.

I would love to tell you. I see women come to support boards. They’ve been a stay at home mom for years. Some of them homeschool. They are at the mercy of the very man who cheated on them and left them in financial disarray. And then they ask, “Will the judge award me enough child support (and/or alimony, in some cases) that I can continue to stay at home with my children?”

You continue the conversation and let them know that they are probably going to have to get a job. That’s when they hit you with, “But I homeschool!” or “But I have young children! They’ve never been in daycare.” Or even, “How can I even consider getting a job when daycare costs will eat up everything I make? I might even lose money!”

Honey, the judge doesn’t care. I know this wasn’t what you had planned. But it’s your reality now. For every one woman who tells you she is able to manage to get by on support payments alone you’ll hear from over 100 that will tell you they had to get a job. No judge is going to award you 90% or more of your ex-husband’s paycheck. You’d be lucky to get half and that’s a rare occurrence.

I get it. I really do. You’ve been blindsided. Your whole world has been turned upside down. You are grasping desperately for anything that might provide a semblance of normalcy.

I say this as gently as possible. You must let go. Holding on to that old life of yours is doing you no favors.

I was that woman once upon a time. I found out my husband was cheating on me six days after our $57,000.00 inground pool was finally filled. I lived off of what he was willing to give me (what he had incorrectly been told he would be ordered to pay) and the money I had transferred into my own account. And then I lived primarily off of the temporary spousal and child support, which gave me a lot more room to breathe, my half of what remained of his bonus, and the remaining savings. I found out in August and still didn’t have a job in June when my world turned upside down yet again.

I believe I’ve shared with you before that my plan was to start looking for a job right around the time my daughter was able to drive. That way she could get herself and her brother to the places they needed to go and they wouldn’t need to lose out on cheerleading, gymnastics, and band because I had a job and couldn’t leave to take them.

Of course, we all know how that panned out. Terribly. Jerry Lee lost his job. Stopped sending money. I had to sell off everything I could and what I couldn’t sell I left behind when the kids and I moved 600 miles away to Indiana, in with my mom. My kids received free lunches and free textbooks. We were on Medicaid. I might have been able to qualify for food stamps.

My advice is based on the shit storm of my experience. DO NOT RELY ON THE PERSON WHO BETRAYED YOU!

When you are reliant on child and/or spousal support you are at the mercy of the person paying you. You disagree with him? You refuse to go along with whatever it is that he wants you to do? He holds the support payment hostage. Or maybe he doesn’t hold it hostage; he just doesn’t pay if he has something better to do. You know- taking Schmoopie on a fancy vacation, buying toys or bikes or dogs or cars for her kids to impress them, putting in a pool, buying a new car. Whatever strikes his fancy because child support is simply a suggestion and it’s the bill he pays after he buys whatever he wants. Now what are you going to do? You can’t take him back to court when you have no money. Sure, you may be awarded court costs but you have to pay your lawyer in the meantime. How are you going to do that when your only source of income has dried up?

Let’s say you are fortunate enough to be awarded enough child and spousal support that you don’t have to get a job. Let’s even say you’re able to be comfortable on what you’re awarded. All worked out, right?

Until he stops paying. Or he modifies it on his own. Or he dies or becomes disabled.

My temporary orders gave me $6600 a month. While that sounds like a lot my household bills, including our credit cards, mortgage, phone, insurance, and utilities totaled approximately $5000. I had $1600 a month for food, gas, pet food, and anything else we might need. I was planning on staying at least until Rock Star graduated. I was willing to stay until Picasso graduated if he decided he wanted to stay. At that point I would have probably moved back to Indiana. I could have managed just fine on $6600 per month without working if I was no longer living in such an expensive house. Living with my mom? Oh, I definitely wouldn’t have had to work.

I received the court ordered amount for all of five months. Then he lost his job, stopped paying, and decided it would be more advantageous to him to force me and his kids out of our house and go into this divorce with no job. I lost everything.

The lesson there? There’s a big difference between what you’re awarded and what you actually receive. The last statistics I read were 43.5% of people who are awarded child support receive the full amount. That leaves 56.5% who do not. Statistics also report that 30% don’t receive anything.

Let’s say he pays in full as he’s supposed to and it’s enough for you to live on. Great! You’re free to homeschool and be there to take your kids to all of their extracurricular activities. You get to be a stay at home mom despite the fact that you are divorced.

Have you thought about what’s going to happen when your kids are no longer in school? At some point they’ll graduate. The child support will stop. You are then going to have to support yourself. On what? You’ve been a stay at home mom now for twenty years, give or a take a few years. Who is going to hire you? When you get hired how much are they going to pay you?

I was out of the workforce for 15 years. I had a college degree. I stocked shelves at Target for $11.00/hour. I went in anywhere from 2 am until 4 am. That was the first place that called me for an interview. I put in endless applications and heard nothing back.

It took me four years at the bank before I began making close to decent money. Four years and five promotions.

Maybe these ladies will be very fortunate. Maybe one or more of them has a pharmacy degree or a nursing degree and they can go back to work and make fantastic money. I’m pretty sure pharmacists are making six figures now, and depending upon your nursing experience you can definitely make six figures. But from the way they present their situations I don’t think they’re going to enter the workforce after being out for 10 or 15 years and find a job making a huge salary.

All those years you spend at home, living off of child support, are years you are NOT advancing in your career. It’s years you are not being promoted or earning raises. It’s a longer period of time where your resume is blank.

And don’t even get me started on retirement! You might be able to live on child support but can you also save for your retirement? That is doubtful. Again, we’re back to years of NOT contributing to your future. You’re only going to be eligible to receive half of your husband’s retirement, and depending upon how long he’s been working and how much he’s contributed there may not be nearly as much in those accounts as you’d think. No job means no Social Security benefits of your own, and even if you were married 10 years and one day (and don’t remarry) you only get to collect half of what his benefits are.

I can tell you now, almost seven years after finding out about the cheating, that there is nothing more satisfying than knowing you can support yourself, if need be. I spent years being at his mercy. Wondering if this was the month he wasn’t going to pay. When his mom died he paid about a fourth of what he was supposed to pay because he was busy paying her funeral expenses. Didn’t have the common decency to ask if I would be okay with that. Didn’t even have the common decency to tell me that’s why he would be late. And then had the nerve to act indignant that I asked about it. He would pay when he wanted. He would modify payments when he wanted. He frequently waited until the very last day of the month to make his final payment. I dealt with 2 job losses There was always that fear that he would stop paying and I would have to go back to working two jobs and running myself ragged. Now, if he decided to test me and see if I really would throw him in jail (spoiler alert: I would) I might have to tighten my belt but I would make it. My bills would be paid. I’ve been fairly smart and I put money aside for taxes every month and I put money into savings. I won’t have to go get a second job if I don’t want to. That is an amazing feeling.

Yes, when you have young children daycare costs may eat up most of what you make. But you’re still advancing. You’re still getting raises. You’re still putting your name out there and creating a resume for yourself. Your children won’t always be in daycare. And as someone pointed out daycare costs are separate from child support; they’re also usually income based so if he out earns you by a significant amount he may be paying 60%, 70%, even 80% of the costs while you pick up the remaining amount.

We tend to focus on our children when they’re little. We don’t think about the future and what happens when they grow up and move on. We never seem to see what lies ahead. Please look out for yourself, and don’t rely on the person who tried to destroy you.

A Woman’s Responsibility

I have another circumbendibus story for you. I guess it’s not that circumbendibus but I’ll let you decide.

Once upon a time in 1969 there were three precious babies born within 5 months of each other. Spoiler alert! I was one of those babies. The other two were my cousins- one born in January and the other in May.

The cousin that was born in January had a birthday- obviously. I believe he is now retired from the fire department and he has taken to driving buses. He doesn’t drive just any kind of bus. He’s not transporting kids to school. Oh no! He’s driven Lorrie Morgan, Luke Combs, Kane Brown, and Jesse Keith Whitley.

Because I’m Facebook friends with him I saw his message on his birthday where he talked about Jesse Keith (son of country legends Lorrie Morgan and Keith Whitley) calling him up on his birthday and singing to him. It turns out he’s actually friends with this guy now. Like, he’s not just Facebook friends. They go back and forth with each other.

Now, I don’t remember how I came to see this but in the not so distant past I saw a video of him singing his father’s song. I liked it and I downloaded it.

“That’s fascinating stuff, Sam, but why are you telling us this?” I’m sure you are asking. Hold your horses! I told you this was a circumbendibus story!

Because of the exchange between my cousin and Jesse Keith I looked up another YouTube video. In it, he had his mama on stage and sang his father’s hit, “Tell Lorrie I Love Her”. As I am oft to do I began reading the comments.

For those of you who have no idea who these people are I will give a brief overview. Keith Whitley was a country singer who also happened to be an alcoholic. His career was brief, but filled with hits. Maybe some of you might recognize his song, “When You Say Nothing At All.” Allison Krause covered it back in the 90s. He was married to Lorrie Morgan for approximately 3 years, from 1986-1989. They were considered a country superstar duo and then he died of alcohol poisoning.

I have now given you all the background information I need to get on with my main point. Ready?

As I was reading the comments what struck me were the number of people commenting on the relationship between Keith and Lorrie. Many talked about how you could see how much she loved him and how difficult it still was 30+ years later. Others made the comment that if she had loved him so much she shouldn’t have gone on tour. Apparently, it was while she was on tour that he died. And apparently, knowing he was an alcoholic she should have sidelined her career and babysat him.

Look, I have no idea what went on in their relationship. I have no idea how much he had been drinking before she went on tour, and I have no idea if she knew how bad the drinking had become. Hell, who knows if her breaking her contract and refusing to go on tour would have even saved his life? But to have someone actually call into question the love she had for this man because she went on tour? WTF!

Seriously? We women are caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand we’re told no one is responsible for supporting us all of our lives, and especially not after you’ve been cast aside for the newest model; on the other hand, we’re supposed to give up our career for the sake of our husband if that will help him. Or at the very least, we’re expected to put our career on hold so we can take care of our husband.

I hate all the pretentious talk about “the patriarchy” and how it keeps women down, but damn! This is the kind of shit that drives me nuts. As women it’s our duty to disregard what might be best for us and concentrate on what’s best for the man in our life. You’ve got a tour with hundreds of people counting on you for their livelihood? Oh, but hubby needs you. Just cancel it. You have a job that you find fulfilling and allows you to support yourself? Your husband was just offered a promotion 1000 miles away. Looks like you need to leave that job behind in order to make that move. You want to go back to school in order to get a job that pays you well, one that you find personally rewarding as well? Oh, hubby needs you home to take care of the kids, do his laundry, and make his dinner. Just put a pin in those plans until the kids are older.

Most states in the US have no long-term alimony. I know Texas doesn’t. Indiana doesn’t. From what I understand quite a few will award “alimony” while the divorce is in process but it ceases once the divorce is finalized. Others will award rehabilitative alimony for a few years. Basically, the breadwinner has to pay alimony until the dependent spouse has had a chance to either go back to school or otherwise managed to get a job that will support them. It is the courts’ belief that this should only take a few years. Of course, they don’t really care if they have anywhere close to the same standard of living. It’s enough to merely be able to pay rent and buy groceries. If you’re living in a one bedroom apartment in the roughest section of town, who cares? You’re supporting yourself! Congratulations!

It suddenly has occurred to me that we’re not going to make the changes in the courtroom or in Congress. Too many cheaters in power. No way that they will pass laws that hurt themselves. But we can make a change with women. Maybe. Hopefully.

Women, stop putting your husbands first. Start putting yourselves first. Go to school if it betters your career prospects. Get a job. Keep it. Don’t buy anything that you cannot afford on your own. If that means you live in a shittier house than your husband wants- too damn bad. Have him put that extra money aside in savings so that if he gets a bug up his ass and decides to leave for some floozy 20 years younger you’ve got one hell of a savings account to split. Don’t quit when you have children. Don’t move all over hell’s creation for your husband’s career. Don’t be the only one to drive kids all over the place. Don’t be the one picking up dry-cleaning all the time. Don’t cancel your plans for his plans. Don’t be the one who tries to do it all. Period! Make your life count. Make your needs count.

I know it sounds selfish. That’s because we’re used to putting our spouse ahead of ourselves. Don’t.

Not long ago I was reading a woman’s story. She had helped put her husband through med school or law school. Something big. She’d helped him build his career and as they often do, once he became successful he tossed her aside for a newer model. One that hadn’t helped build shit but was going to reap the benefits of that woman’s hard work. The woman was actually chiming in to thank another long time member of the group. She said she remembered sharing her story and that member said to her, and I’m paraphrasing, “Imagine what all you can accomplish if you put as much work and focus into yourself. You helped your husband succeed. Now help yourself succeed.”

And so she did. She took that member’s advice and put all her time and energy into herself and her own career. She went back to school to become a nurse. Her standard of living is nowhere close to what it used to be but everything she has from here on out is hers. She’s not dependent upon a man that will turn on her the minute she’s no longer of use to him. She’s going to be far better off than most of us.

I will leave you with this wise advice I got off Twitter:

It’s the Best Decision I Ever Made!!!

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

“You’re going to love it!”

“So happy for you!”

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

“So glad you’re going to stay home!”

“You’ll never regret it!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Look At This!

That was what my daughter texted to me, along with a screenshot from her father, about a month ago.

She was indignant because he had the audacity to text her and tell her he had seen on Facebook that she was going into her last semester of college, he wondered if that meant she was graduating in December, and he told her he hoped he would get an invite. Also, her boyfriend seems like a really nice young man and he’d love to meet him one day.

She was pissed that he was fishing for an invite to her graduation and more importantly, that he thought he got to be a part of her accomplishments when he was the one that put up stumbling block after stumbling block for her.

I’m not proud of this but I’ve always been honest with those of you who care enough to read my blog. Wait. That didn’t sound right. The thing I’m not proud of is my feelings when I read the text, not the fact that I’ve always been honest with those who read my blog. Let’s try this again.

I’m not proud of this but my heart leaped into my throat when I saw the text message, especially because I could see earlier texts between them. Then I realized she was wishing him a happy Veteran’s Day. This was May. That happened back in November. And then I realized those messages were from 2020. Now maybe they communicate in other ways but Jesus Christ on crutches!

You have no contact with your daughter for a year and a half and you want an invitation to her goddamn graduation? Fuck you! Who do you think you are?

Obviously, I am going to go along with whatever she wants to do. Right now she says she isn’t inviting him but she also said she’ll decide when it gets closer. I think she will end up inviting him and I’ve already told her I will support whatever decision she makes. But I can vent with you in my safe space.

For the most part I don’t think about him and I try not to dwell on what happened and everything he cost us. I’m not perfect. I slip up every now and then. I think it was realizing he hasn’t communicated with her except for the possible Venmo transfer since November of 2020 and then just casually slipping in, “Oh, I’d love to be invited to your graduation. I want to celebrate with you.”

Fuck you, motherfucker! Where in the hell was he when she needed rent money? Where was he when she needed money for groceries? Money for gas? Money for anything? To this day I still send regular Chewy shipments to her house for her cats. I buy them treats, kitty litter, and food. I paid what was left after financial aid towards her tuition her first year. Paid for her books. Her sorority fees. Then he lost his job mid-way through her second semester. My mom came to the rescue and paid the final $1000 until he started paying me again. Dickhead actually had the audacity to ask me why her tuition was not paid already because it obviously was all due at the beginning of the semester AND insinuated that I had filled out the FAFSA incorrectly because she shouldn’t owe a dime for tuition with my salary. Rock Star took out additional loans for her sophomore year because I didn’t know if I was going to be able to help her out. I ended up paying her rent once her first semester and from April on her second semester. I also paid all of her sorority fees. Junior year I paid her rent, utilities, and food bill, along with the sorority fees. Senior year I once again paid her tuition. And her sorority fees. And gave her money when needed. And paid all the bills for her cats. Where was he for any of that?

I remember him asking her one time to let him know if she needed anything. I think it was freshman year. She replied that she still needed to buy books. He went on to tell her some story, probably about himself, and finished up with (again), “If you need anything, let me know.”

“I literally told him exactly what I needed and he ignored it,” Rock Star told me.

I don’t believe he’s ever sent her money randomly. Maybe he has but I doubt it. And if he has I know it wasn’t a frequent occurrence.

He’s washed his hands of both of his kids but when it comes time to celebrate he thinks he should be there.

And it’s not just the money. Where was he when she called, convinced she was never going to make it into nursing school? Where was he was she was overwhelmed and wanting to drop out and come home? He was part of the reason she was overwhelmed. She felt the weight of the world on her shoulders because she knew how I struggled. She felt like she had to get straight As. She felt guilty telling me she didn’t have enough money for rent. She felt guilty anytime she had to ask for something. All of that was caused by him.

Everything she has experienced since she was 15 years old has been because of him. She lost her amazing high school experience because of him. She lost gymnastics because of him. She had to move out of her home with her roomy bedroom and her own bathroom because of him. She had to switch schools because of him. She had to worry about how to pay for college because of him. She ended up at Ball State instead of some school in Utah or Virginia because of him. Hell, she’s on anti-anxiety meds and anti depressants because of him. Just this past December she admitted she always feels like she’s not good enough. Why wasn’t she worth it? Why did her dad abandon her? How could he walk right by her and not say goodbye or tell her that he loved her? She feels like she always has to prove herself to him.

He took this young, bubbly, beautiful, confident young woman and turned her into an anxiety ridden mess. He did a number on her and her future, but by all means, let’s have him show up and take a bow. He took everything he could away from her, made things so much more difficult than they had to be. But by all means, preen about like a peacock. So proud! Daddy of the Year, right there. You were so instrumental in her upbringing.

No, you asshole, you were instrumental in attempting to orchestrate her downfall. But you didn’t succeed. I stepped in wherever you lacked. My mom stepped in wherever I lacked. I’m the one that told her she was exceptional. I’m the one that told her I was proud of her. I’m the one that was always there, always supporting her, always nurturing her, always encouraging her, always assuring her that she could do it. I’m the one that told her she was worth it and to never let her worth be measured by her father. I’m the one that told her she was going to be an amazing nurse. I’m the one that has paid for therapy, and I’m the one that has kept her going.

Here’s the funny thing. I don’t take credit for her accomplishments. I’m proud of her. I’ve supported her, both financially and emotionally. But I didn’t do it. I’m not why she succeeded. She succeeded because she’s incredibly driven. Disciplined. She knew what she wanted and she went after it. I didn’t take those classes. I didn’t do the labs or the clinicals or the homework. She did all of that. She has had an intense schedule for years. The achievement is all her.

It still chaps my ass that Jerry Lee thinks he should be able to show up and celebrate. Sit the fuck down! I’m the one that raised this kid. You were too busy off fucking your cousin and trying to impress kids that already had an involved father.

It’s Not Fair

I often read about people lamenting the fact that their cheating spouse has escaped the marriage with no consequences. They seem to have everything and the cheated on spouse is left with a life in shambles. “Where is the justice?” they often ask. “Why does he (or she) get to ride off into the sunset with a new partner while I’m left all alone? Why has my entire life been firebombed and his (or her) life gone on unscathed? Why isn’t my cheater hurting like I am?”

It goes beyond that, of course. There are feelings of despair. They’re tired. Everything is difficult. Life is a struggle for those left behind. And yes, the cheater does seem to have it all- the new house (or maybe the old house), the new partner, vacations, toys. It sucks. It’s unfair. Why do the cheaters get it all while the ones that are cheated on are left to rebuild?

Of course it appears they have it all! They’re cheaters. No, seriously, they’re cheaters. I don’t mean that only in the sense that they physically cheated with another person. They cheated. Period. It was never a level playing field. They got a head start. They already had everything planned before they walked out the door. They’re not mourning the end of a marriage because they’ve either already done that, or they are incapable of doing that. No one dumped them. They weren’t blindsided by you. Their life was not turned upside down against their will. And life will continue to be unfair until you have a chance to catch up.

Yes, they’ve already got a new bed buddy and you’re all alone? Of course they do! It’s not because you’re unworthy and your cheater is awesome so naturally someone else has glommed onto them. No! It’s because they’re a cheater who already had their next victim lined up. You didn’t do that. You thought you were still in a relationship with this person. If you had known what they were up to you could have got your ducks in a row as well. But the “game” is rigged in their favor. They know and you don’t.

Them knowing what’s going on while you don’t means they can prepare for their new life while you’re preparing their dinner. They can hide money. They can blow marital assets on their accomplice(s). They can get you to sign things and take on debt you wouldn’t take on if you knew what was going on. Every move they make is designed to give them a leg up while keeping you mired in the muck.

They’re financially fine because in most of these cases the cheaters are the high earners while the one being cheated on keeps the home, shuttles the children, makes sure everything runs smoothly, and so on and so forth. It’s a non-paying gig. So they walk out the door and your income goes with them.

Strangely, cheaters always seem to profit, regardless of what side they’re on when it comes to financial matters. If the cheater happens to be the one being supported they’ve already figured out what the poor unsuspecting spouse is going to have to pay them in order to get out of the marriage. They have no conscience. Everything is about them so they don’t give a damn about what they’re doing to you.

It would almost be comical if it weren’t so damn tragic but I see it all the time. The stay at home wife that gets cheated on generally ends up getting screwed over by her cheating husband. She spends the rest of her life living way below the standard of living she enjoyed while married. But the cheating stay at home wife, or the cheating stay at home husband, always seem to end up flush with cash after their divorce. Again, cheaters cheat. And not just sexually. In all areas of their life.

New marriage? New baby? New house? Yes, of course. They have those things because their plan was already in motion. You’re still trying tto come to terms with the fact that you were married to a monster and the monster has been planning their exit for months, if not years. While you were planning a future with this person they were planning their exit strategy.

In the end I guess what I’m trying to say is that of course it seems like they have it all. And it’s easy to get down on yourself when you compare.

Remember though that the reason it seems so easy is because they’ve been laying the groundwork far longer than you can imagine.

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.

I’d Love To Be That Naive Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Do We Force It?

Following up on my lovely post about parental alienation, I’m going to tackle the subject of forcing a relationship between the abandoning parent and the child one more time.

So often I see others admonishing a parent to extend grace to the abandoning parent. They’re told to offer up an olive branch, be the bigger person, love their child more than they hate the ex. Make that phone call. Offer up that extra time. Remind them of the school conference. The dance recital. The football game. The Honors assembly.

You hear over and over again: That’s still their other parent. You should encourage a relationship between the two of them. It’s the only mom or dad they have.

Why? Why does everyone put so much stock into this idea that because you share DNA you must have a relationship with that person regardless of how poorly they treat you? Why do we continue to sell this idea that abusive behavior is love?

I’m not suggesting that you tell your kids to cut off their other parent. What I would suggest is that you listen to your children when they tell you they want nothing to do with the other parent. You don’t force it. You don’t lie to them and tell them that this other parent loves them; you don’t know that. And even if it’s true what a shitty example of love. Love is not putting the other woman/other man ahead of your children’s feelings. When the amount of time that has passed since you last saw your child face to face can be measured in years, that is not love. Love is not telling your child you hated every minute of being a parent. Love is not walking out on your responsibilities because you put your happiness ahead of all else. Leaving your child’s other parent, moving out, disrupting their lives as they know them, moving in with another person and their children and/or having another baby, all in the time span of a few months while your child’s head is still spinning is not love. Love is not disappearing and never being heard from again. You don’t get to put another person’s kids ahead of your own, do things with them and for them that you didn’t do for your own, and then get to claim you love your children. Love is not waiting for your children to call you or text you, to reach out to you.

It’s no wonder so many people end up in dysfunctional relationships. We are sold this idea that when people love you they treat you badly. They ignore you. They minimize your needs. They put everyone and everything else before you. Then when you get into a relationship and that person does those things you think, “Oh this feels familiar. It must be love.”

It is okay to have boundaries, even at a young age. It is okay for a child to say, “This is unacceptable behavior. I don’t want to be around this person.”  As the sane parent I think it’s inappropriate to try to convince them that those feelings are wrong, or should be stifled so as to not damage a potential relationship. When someone has done something wrong admit it! Stop trying to whitewash it and convince your child that it’s completely reasonable to do the unreasonable. 

It’s also perfectly fine to tell your child, if they ask, “I don’t know why your other parent does those things,” instead of rushing to assure them that the other parent loves them. As my own son says, “He loves me? Really? He’s got a funny way of showing it.”

Again, I’m not trying to encourage people to damage a healthy relationship between a parent and child. I’m not encouraging anyone to badmouth the other parent or to create chaos where there is none. But for the love of all that’s holy, please stop trying to convince your children that people who don’t behave as though they love them, who actually do things that are very hurtful to them, love them. Stop selling abuse and toxicity as love. Stop telling your kids that people who love them hurt them and that’s perfectly normal and acceptable. Give them a chance at a healthy relationship.