Always Something There To Remind Me, Part 2

I don’t know why I’m shocked by this but it’s been almost four years since my life exploded. Well, that’s not accurate, is it? My life didn’t mystically “explode”. It wasn’t something that just “happened”. Oops! My husband of twenty years deliberately firebombed my life.

Some days I feel stuck. I feel like I shouldn’t ever give him a single moment of headspace. He should be a distant memory. Who?

Some days I feel like I haven’t accomplished a damn thing in those four years. I mean, look at me. Aside from the mobster, who is a definite upgrade, what have I done with my post-divorce life? I’m working for less than $30,000/year. I still live with my mom. I still don’t have a room to call my own. I’m still poor and I still depend upon him to pay child and spousal support in order to live anywhere close to a decent life.

It’s easy to beat myself up about this, to think I should be further ahead, to think he should never cross my mind and to never have imaginary conversations with him, or be testifying in court in my mind.

Jenny put it so well when she wrote (and I’m paraphrasing slightly) that even though the divorce was final in 2006 it didn’t really end in 2006.

Preach it, sister!

Yes, I found out almost four years ago that CF had firebombed my life but that wasn’t the end of it. It wasn’t even close. Hell, I kicked his ass in court in November and the divorce was final in December 2017. That wasn’t the end of it either. It’s always something with that disordered nitwit.

It’s been that way since the evening I was told my husband had been spending his weekends with his cousin. BAM! Knocked right off my feet. After telling myself he couldn’t possibly be stupid enough to move his family across the country, buy a new house, fill it almost completely with new furniture, buy me a new car, and a put a $57,000 pool in the backyard, I found out he really was that stupid! On top of that brash move he had also been siphoning off money from our account to give to her and her kids. I steadied myself, called the attorneys for the consult, found out what I was entitled to… I’m on solid ground again. Feeling better.

WHAM! I find out in quick succession that the phones he purchased for his dear old mom and stepdad were actually phones for his whore and her kid. I had been the one getting online and paying the damn bill. He had cashed in the remainder of the stock. He had a secret bank account I knew nothing about. He had been taking money out of our savings account to fund his trips to see her. He had taken a $5000 loan out of his 401k. Oh, and he had gotten engaged. I’m taking hits once again.

This whole time he’s living it up with Harley and her kids. I’m watching American Express statements and can see the $300 he’s paid for a dress. The $4200 he’s paid for the engagement ring. The trips. The restaurants. The Christmas gifts. They blow through $30,000 in a span of four months while my kids and I are living off of savings. This entire period I’m biding my time and hoping I will be vindicated in court when we go for our temporary support hearing in December. Until then I have no idea what’s going to happen.

I steady myself again though. Can’t keep me down, you sonofabitch. Six months later our world is rocked once more by him when he takes off, quits his job of 15 years, and moves out of the fucking state! That was a fun week. I spent it crying and worrying myself sick over what was going to happen to me and my kids. Would we have to move mid-year? Was he going to continue to pay his court ordered support or did he figure he was safe from any consequence now that he no longer lived in the same state?

Got through that one. He finally starts sending his support checks again. Bills are paid. Kids are still in their schools. Things are gelling for all of us.

I’m six months out from D-Day at this point. I’m doing mostly okay, but every now and then he likes to throw a monkey wrench into things- like the whole up and moving without saying a word to any of us. I learned he had moved when my support payment wasn’t directly deposited into my account, and after I had to text his boss to see if he was still at that plant.

By May I’m feeling pretty good. I have a plan. My daughter is soon going to be able to drive, which means she can help transport her brother while I work. I have $10,000 in the bank for emergencies. If the furnace goes out I’ve got money for it. When taxes come due, I’ve got money for it. I even go to the Chump Lady book signing. I’m rocking the single life. We’re all doing fine.

Naturally, CF has to toss a grenade our way. Surprise! He’s “lost” his job. What exactly has happened? Is he in the psych ward again? Who knows? Because I’m certainly not entitled to any of that information. Why would I need to know any of that stuff? Like it really concerns me, right?

By the end of year one I had been forced out of my home, had to sell off almost all of my belongings, and move in with my mom in Indiana. I had to move my kids AGAIN, only two years after uprooting them from the only life they had really known.

Meanwhile, as the one year anti-versary crept up on me I was busy enrolling my kids in their new schools where they, or at least Rock Star, did not want to be, and applying for Medicaid seeing as how I had no job and no money coming in.

He firebombed my life, first with the affair and cutting me off financially, and then turned around and came back to do it again!

I can take a deep breathe and start all over, right? We’ll just call Year One a trial year. Year Two is going to be the real test. Now I can get on with my new and improved life. I’ll get that awesome job. Start dating an amazing man. My kids will blossom in their new environment. Right?

Wrong. On one hand, because he was no longer sending me any money he had no way to further fuck up my life. I think he was at least smart enough to know it would be a stupid move to try to go after my kids. Honestly though I think he didn’t give a flying fuck. On the other hand, I was desperately trying to find a job. I was on Medicaid. My kids were getting free lunches and textbooks. I was living off savings until I could find a job.

I found one job which covered my bills and nothing more, so then I found a second job. I began working 14-16 hour days, usually starting somewhere between 2 and 3 am, and making shit money. It was horrible. I finally get a full-time job but it, too, does not pay well. I continue to work two jobs- one full-time, one part-time.

Because I’m not digging this whole “working my ass off while I live in poverty while my STBX shacks up with his whore and spends his fucking days watching TV and sitting on the couch” I take the asshat back to court to get him to pay support. Just another “thing” to remind me. It’s always something. I’d love to get busy with that “new life” thing but I’m kinda busy trying to keep my head above water. Plus, I’m back in court. Hooray.

Technically, I “won” in court; however, I lost a big chunk of money. CF’s plea to have support modified was acknowledged and approved, despite the fact he didn’t bother to show up for the hearing. There’s another blow. $3000 a month wiped out. That caused me to wobble a bit.

As always I rise. I have no financial security. I have no idea what’s going to happen when we finally face off in court. Everything is up in the air.

I do get my back support but CF declines to pay any regular support now that it has been modified. I get a check here and there. It’s for various amounts. Whatever he feels like. Whenever he feels like it. Sometimes he puts a stop payment on it. Other times it outright bounces.

We’re almost two years out and I still wasn’t divorced and I still didn’t know what was going to happen. I lived in fear that he was going to get away with everything.

Even after I won in court the fight with CF still raged on. He hacked my Facebook. He tormented the mobster. He loved flinging insults my way, whether it was through nasty text messages, mean stamps on the support envelopes, obscene emojis, or snotty messages through Venmo. Remember, folks, he was the one that had the affair. He’s the one that left. He’s the one that had someone else from Day One.

He also continued to pay when he felt like it, and God help me if I mentioned he was behind.

I got a promotion but first the insurance premiums and then the extra taxes to account for spousal support ate up the extra earnings and actually ended with me bringing home less money than before the promotion.

There was also the fight about child support and how it was modified once Rock Star graduated. More legal fees. More of CF thumbing his nose at the courts and doing whatever the hell it is he wants to do. More shitty texts from him when he realizes he’s not going to get his own way.

And then there are the legal fees he has yet to pay. Hey, he just doesn’t have it, and according to CF, that’s how court orders work. If the judge tells you to pay something and you don’t have it you no longer have to pay. The end.

Even better, once I finally wised up and realized the games were never going to stop I began the garnishment process. Checkmate! Or so you would think. But no. He evades me once again by somehow losing his job.

So, I’m coming upon the 4 year anniversary of D Day and I feel like I’m right back at the beginning.

I’ve written this all out and yet I can sum it up in one short sentence: It never ends.

It’s difficult to move ahead and try to forge a new life when the ex continues to try to knock you off balance. You just start to hit your stride when something new pops up.

Is it that difficult to pay your damn court ordered support and go about your business? Is it that difficult to keep a fucking job? He managed to keep one for twenty years while he was married to me. I’ve had the same damn job for over two years now, which is no record by any means. It’s still longer than he’s kept a fucking job since we separated.

Logically I know I need to create a life that does not involve relying on him for anything. Realistically that’s a lot easier said than done. It’s not like people are lining up to give me great paying jobs. Hell, I’m finding it difficult to get a mediocre paying job! Right now I have a shitty paying job. And I’ve done the math dozens of times, especially when I figured he wasn’t going to part with a single dime. Even paying off all my credit cards and my car, plus canceling Hulu and my gym membership and then switching phone plans, I am only gaining $900 per month. Call me crazy. Call me cynical. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to pay a mortgage or pay rent, plus utilities, plus food, plus gas for my car, plus pet food, plus household supplies on only $900. Much less have anything left. Kid needs new pants? Too bad. Maybe we can find a pair at Goodwill for $5 or less. Kid needs new shoes? Sorry, there is no way I can help you with that. Kid needs college tuition money? Oh please! That is never going to happen.

Perhaps Year Four will be my year. Maybe he will get a damn job and the state will be ready to swoop in and garnish his ass. I won’t have to communicate with him. Maybe I’ll find an outstanding job that pays me enough to stand on my own two feet. Maybe I’ll be really smart and just stash away most of the money the state garnishes. I’ll live like a fucking pauper (unless I get that great paying job) so that the next time asshat loses his job I won’t be fucked. Maybe I’ll be able to take him back to court and get the judge to order him to pay me the $25,000 he owes me and he’ll actually do it. Maybe in Year Four he’ll decide to stop trying to mess with me. Perhaps the idea of torturing me will lose its luster. Maybe I’ll finally be able to stop paying my lawyer. That would be heavenly. Maybe I’ll finally find direction and discover my purpose.

I sure as hell hope so because I’m really tired of yet another thing. I’d love for this to finally be completely over. Sadly, I think as long as he has to pay me a single nickel he will be playing these games. It will never end.

Oops, He Fucked Me Again

Can this man never stop fucking with me? Seriously.

I left off with me talking to my mom’s financial advisor. What he suggested was moving the 401k over to an IRA and then taking small monthly amounts of cash from that. Like an allowance. Yes, it would add to my income and I would have to pay taxes, but it wouldn’t hurt me the way taking a big lump sum would, especially if CF gets a new job soon. Additionally, he assured me that even if I was taking some money from it I should be safe from touching the principle and should still be able to grow the money that was already there.

Next step is to actually do that. I’m trying very hard to locate letters that might give me a password or something so that I can get online and start this process. In doing so I open a few of the statements that I’ve received since being awarded my portion of the 401k. I never bothered to look at them because I wasn’t planning on touching the money for another 20 years. Or at least another 15-18 years.

My 401k has lost $13,000 in the last quarter. $13,000! How in the hell did this happen, I wonder?

I’ll tell you. Upon closely examining the statements I discover that Boy Genius had 47% of his 401k tied up into his company’s stock. 47%! Who the fuck does that?

If you’re getting paid mostly in stock shares I suppose it wouldn’t much matter. Oh, my bonus is only $20 million instead of $35 million. Whatever shall I do?

Everyone else needs to diversify!

Now I wait. The stock was at a high of approximately $125 and toppled to $83. It’s already risen back up to approximately $100. Analysts seem to believe it should reach $107 within a year. Hell, I’ve got plenty of time. It’s not like I’m short on cash or anything.

I wait until it climbs to a number I’m comfortable with and am willing to sell, knowing I will lose money. The hope is that whatever the remaining money is invested in will recoup that loss.

I wait to see if he sends me another $900 this month, or if he’s stretched too thin paying for something for the new family. If he doesn’t I’m back to needing a second job, or living on approximately $200 a month.

I wait knowing I have taxes to pay, that Rock Star’s car needs brake pads (or something like that), that the fee to break her contract will be due in a few months, that Picasso will once again have to stop cello lessons, and that I’m dead broke.

Stop Feeding Your Kids Shit Sundaes, Part 1

Quite the provocative title, huh? Eh, what can I say? I’m feeling a bit sassy today.

As long as there has been cheating and divorce I’m sure there have been varying opinions on what to tell the kids. The overriding opinion seems to be you keep your mouth shut, you don’t answer questions about what happened, you simply tell them both parents love them and everything is going to be okay and you do everything in your power to encourage a relationship with the other parent, regardless of what kind of a person that parent is. Also, never ever mention child support. Ever.

I am not impressed with any of this. I also strongly disagree. Here’s what I believe: You tell your kids the truth in age appropriate terms. You state the facts; you don’t editorialize. You answer their questions honestly. You don’t tell them that the parent that walked out on them and hasn’t called in two years loves them. You don’t excuse shitty behavior and try to smooth it over. You don’t force a relationship when the kid isn’t feeling it, and you certainly don’t sell them that bullshit that they must accept the affair partner, especially if they want to have a relationship with their parent. I’m also not a fan of acting like child support doesn’t exist and money magically appears in your bank account at random times.

Before the torches and pitchforks appear I shall explain further.

Tell your kids the truth. If Daddy went to prison because he killed someone, or Mommy went to prison because she was selling meth, I think most people would agree the kids should be told the truth. Depending upon the age the child might only be told something so basic as, “Mommy/Daddy did something that was against the law so now they have to stay in jail.” Older kids would probably know more details, like what they actually did to break the law. I’m not saying they would be given crime scene photos and walked through the actual murder/meth production, but they would have the basic facts: Dad killed someone. Mom was selling meth.

Similarly if you divorced because your spouse was a lying cheater then I don’t see the problem with admitting that you are choosing to divorce because of infidelity. Younger kids would get a much more basic version: When your dad/mom and I got married we promised we would live together and we wouldn’t date anyone else. Daddy/Mommy broke that promise so now we are getting divorced and we’ll be living in separate houses.

I’ve read a lot of comments over on Chump Lady from people who didn’t tell the kids about the infidelity and it has come back to bite them in the ass. Either the kid is angry that this information has been kept from them, or, in other cases, they don’t understand why the betrayed parent isn’t mourning the parent’s death or is ready to date once again. They see the cheating parent as a victim of the betrayed parent because finally that person has drawn boundaries and is enforcing them. I suppose that’s the risk you take when you try to protect a lying cheater. I advise not doing that.

My kids were 13 and 15 when this all went down. What I told them was this: You’ve been asking where your dad is this weekend. He’s in Kentucky. With his girlfriend.

I remember my son correcting me, “You mean his ex-girlfriend, right?”

“No. His girlfriend. Your father is having an affair.”

My daughter wanted to know if his family down there knew. When told, simply, yes, she asked in a horrified voice, “And they’re okay with it?”

I replied that they were indeed okay with it as far as I knew. That led to me telling them that this was not the first time he had been involved with this woman. I reminded them of the summer two years prior, the summer that Rock Star had complained was so boring and they didn’t do hardly anything. I explained that I had been working through that all summer, only to find out in August that he was still messing with her. I went on to tell them that according to what I had been told Tammy Faye called Harley and encouraged her to call their father. And, I let them know that their Aunt Jezebel had been actively encouraging him to leave me.

When asked if that’s the reason we had moved to Virginia I was honest. I truly did not know. I told them I did know that their dad had set the wheels in motion to take over this plant when he got involved with Harley the first time, but I didn’t know if he was involved with her again by the time he was offered the job. I think I might have even gone so far as to tell them I wanted to believe that he wasn’t involved with her when we made our move.

I’m sure the people who run those mandatory parenting after divorce classes would be aghast at my answers. I don’t really care. What exactly did I do wrong? Nothing. I told them the truth. I didn’t editorialize. I didn’t go on to say that their dad was a big, fat jerk or that he never appreciated me and what I did for him. I didn’t tell them about the financial shenanigans he had engaged in. I didn’t call him a whore loving pox upon humanity and I didn’t call his cousin a cunt face cum dumpster with a rap sheet. I was very concise. Your dad is in Kentucky with his girlfriend. Yes, his family knows about it and yes, they’re okay with it. This is not a new thing; he was involved with her once before and that set the wheels moving for our move out here.

I think I could make the argument that even if I had told them about all the financial shenanigans I would have been within my rights. It most certainly affected them and it was the truth. There was no editorializing needed. Truth was he was buying puppies and engagement rings. He spent as much on the whore’s kids for Christmas as he did his own kids. Editorializing would have been: Nice that he could go to the mall with her and Christmas shop; he never did that for you. Nothing but the best for them! Or: He’s more concerned with buying their love than he is with maintaining a relationship with you.

And lest anyone thinks I whitewashed my own behavior I did tell them about the alternate Facebook page I had that their father saw and which he used as his excuse to do what he did.

The fact of the matter is this move had completely uprooted my kids. They both had lives they enjoyed back in Utah and we made this 2000 mile move for their father. A year into rebuilding and he was taking aim at their new lives with a flame thrower. They had every right to know whether or not he had done that just to be closer to a piece of ass. I didn’t know for certain so I didn’t say he had, but I was honest about his actions. He did put his plan into motion when he began his first affair with her, and in doing so he didn’t give a single solitary fuck about his kids; he cared only about his dick and his whore cousin.

The truth was his family absolutely supported him and the whore being together. If her husband is to be believed (and I did say this was what I had been told) his mother did reach out to her and ask her to call. His sister had been begging him to leave me. Everyone was very, very concerned about Cousinfucker. No one gave a shit about his two kids who were going to have their lives shredded once again.

The bottom line was I had two teenagers who had been watching their supposedly distraught father who hibernated in his room and couldn’t even manage a family dinner at Olive Garden without dissolving into sobbing fits, hop into his car every weekend and drive off into the sunset. I wasn’t going to be able to pull off this fucked up version of Where’s Waldo for long. I certainly wasn’t going to lie to them. Nor was I willing to fall on the sword for him. Fuck that! If you’re big and bad enough to go fuck your cousin, then you should be able to handle your kids knowing about it.

I was honest at every turn with them.

Do we have to cut our grandparents out of our life? Of course not; they’re your grandparents. I don’t wish to have a relationship with them because they didn’t treat me very well, but I completely understand if you want to see them.

Do you think he’s crazy? Eh, probably not.

If I didn’t know the answer I told them so. Are we going to have to move? I hope not, but I don’t know. I won’t know until I find out what I will be getting in support payments.

I vividly recall the time I took one of the lawyer’s advice about not involving the kids and telling them everything would be okay. Picasso wanted to know if I was going to have to get a job and I responded as I had been coached, telling him not to worry about it, that I was the adult and he was the kid and it was my job to take care of him. His response was that it was his life, too, and whatever I did would affect him. I couldn’t argue with that so I did what I felt was right and I told them the truth.

I even went so far in the very beginning as to remind the kids of good times we had together, like when Picasso commented that his dad couldn’t be bothered to go to Disneyland with us. He did go with us. Don’t you remember? He went on Space Mountain with you, and that one night when I was getting so irritated with you he took over and had more patience with you than I did. Granted, that was in the beginning and I feel like I was correcting misinformation more than anything. I don’t bother with that now, but I have always said I am willing to give him his due when he has done something right.

There have been times these past three years where either of the two kids will start a conversation about their dad. I listen. I commiserate. Sometimes the things they say are funny and I will laugh along with them. Picasso imitating his dad and talking about the horrors of the “Soccer Squadron” comes to mind (CF hated soccer with a passion). Or Rock Star talking about her reaction to his faked breakdown in Olive Garden.

My talks with Rock Star are usually about the way he always portrays himself as the victim, or how no one in that family has ever once reached out to apologize for any of it. Hell, even a simple, “I’m sorry you lost so much,” would be appreciated, and a sign that they realize what he did was selfish. She also talks about the various ways in which he tries to manipulate her and make her feel guilty. She leads and I listen. Sometimes I interject a comment of my own.

Picasso doesn’t say much about his dad although he seems to have a fascination with his own graduation. He honestly doesn’t think his dad will even bother trying to come. He’s asked about the ticket situation and how he could get one. I did tell him that if he didn’t want his dad at his graduation ceremony he needed to be absolutely clear with me on that. Don’t give me the Rock Star treatment where you tell me you don’t care and then go on to say, “You handle it!” and then tell me after the fact that you didn’t want him there. If you don’t want him there, tell me that and I will leave it alone instead of texting him and offering him a ticket.

I will go so far as to say that we actually have conversations, ones with give and take, about these topics. I don’t treat them as taboo, nor do I treat their father as the sacred cow which must be worshipped. We’ve laughed over some things. They’ve made some good points. I’ve used their father’s behavior as a teaching moment, i.e. You don’t cheat on your spouse; you divorce them. I don’t hush them whenever they complain and I don’t pretend that I have no feelings or thoughts on what they are saying or feeling.

Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t insult their dad and I rarely speak of Harley. I don’t feel like we’re ganging up on him but I also don’t sit there quietly all of the time and pretend I have no opinion. I’ve even apologized to them on his behalf because of everything he’s put them through.

 

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Holy shit! When I made that joke about Cousinfucker having a law degree from Imaginary U I didn’t think he actually believed it. Oh, but he did!

My lawyer has finally found a moment to get our support modification papers together. It turns out Cousinfucker’s lawyer is no longer representing him. I don’t know if she canned him or he fired her. Either way he is now representing himself which means my attorney gets to deal directly with his special brand of douchbaggery.

Let’s review. To begin we will go back to August or September of 2015, shortly after I found out my life was blowing up in my face. He sends me a text letting me know how much money I will be receiving per month and then proceeds to break it down by each child’s graduation. Surprisingly child support did not decrease by 50% in his initial calculations. Back then.

Part 2 is also important. Part 2 is when I attempted to let him know that child support did not decrease by 50% once Rock Star graduated. That’s when he informed me there was no separate order for child support; therefore, he would now one half of what he had been paying. Then after contacting my attorney to see if that was indeed accurate he invited me to that UFC match.

The final piece of the puzzle is when he sent me child support the next time after this had all gone down. He made mention of the Potato Chip Squire and told me he would not pay me another dime until my lawyer contacted him with the new figures.

This is all important because he crafts a response to my attorney. It is brilliant in its sociopathy and condescension. One of the gems?

You have the facts correct as to the date of the change in the amount of child support owed. Specifically, the Last Name’s daughter graduated high school on June 7, 2018. I had not been previously informed that the amount for one child was not simply one half of the amount for two children and that is specifically why I began to pay [half]. When I learned that the amount was to be different in July 2018 I merely asked what the new amount was to be and until yesterday I had not been informed of the new amount.

Can we start with the obvious? He refers to his daughter as the Last Name’s daughter. He couldn’t use her fucking name! Oh, that’s right! Because now he’s a lawyer.

Secondly, this is the smartest man we’ll ever meet and yet he had no clue how child support worked, despite man-splaining it to me in the very beginning?

Third, can I paraphrase the judge and say that his story of merely asking what the new amount was hurts his credibility in light of the nasty texts I have? I told him on two different occasions that this was not correct and let him know he should contact his lawyer to get it modified. When he found out he was incorrect and that half was not the correct amount he basically called me a fucking cunt. He then informed me he would not be paying another cent until he heard from my lawyer and accused me of wanting more money so that I could meet up with the mobster, or as he likes to call him, The Potato Chip Squire.

You’d think he was done, but you would be wrong. He goes on to let her know that her figures seem to be correct but he has a newer version of the form.

Then he gets down to the nitty gritty. He wants to see my documentation of my income (of course he does) and of the health care insurance he apparently thinks I’m faking carrying. Because, “If we are updating the child support amount owed, then we need to use the actual figures from today to make everything correct and proper.”

The amount my attorney had calculated for medical and dental insurance “seems high” to him, almost twice the average for the state of Indiana, according to him. Yeah, I’ve got shitty insurance. I pay $188 per paycheck to cover myself and my two kids. If I was only covering myself I would be paying $44. And yes, I realize he no longer has any responsibility towards Rock Star but for him to be acting like I’m somehow ripping him off is insulting.

Unlike him I didn’t wait until the moment she graduated and then declare, “You’re on your own, kid!” I also didn’t get to march into HR and demand I be allowed to take her off of my insurance. You know, since he was no longer responsible for that. No, I’m still paying for insurance for her. I also told my attorney I wanted that noted so I have it in black and white that he doesn’t give a shit about his kid and what she needs. It’s always about fucking me over and never once thinking about his own children and what the extra money might mean for them.

This had to be the best part though: On your arrears calculation sheet you state that “he did some strange calculation.” Let us remain professional please and keep the comments to ourselves and not on our documentation.

Oh. My. God. That motherfucker actually thinks he’s a goddamn attorney!

Cousinfucker is calculating child support for his daughter, or The Last Name’s daughter, down to the very half hour she graduates and he is offended by my attorney not understanding how he came up with those numbers and referring to it as strange? I think my mother nailed it. How dare anyone criticize him?

I’m sure my lawyer is much more professional than I would be but I do so wish she would reply, “I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years. I don’t need you telling me how to behave professionally. If you were a real lawyer instead of pretending to be one you would know that we lawyers speak freely amongst one another when trying to reach agreements; and truly, if noting that your strange calculation is indeed a strange calculation hurts your little feelings you would never actually make it as a real attorney. I don’t come to your plant and tell you how to make boxes so why don’t you give me the same courtesy and stop trying to tell me how to be a lawyer?”

Naturally, he does not agree with the figures. I can almost guarantee that he is going to argue my insurance coverage should be calculated at the higher amount (which is double the plan I could have been on if it had only been me) because those are the figures given. He’s also not agreeing to pay the legal fees. Surprise, surprise! He argues, “I have no input into Ms. Awesome’s business affairs including the hiring of you, nor do I have any control over how long it takes you to do certain tasks. If she wishes to hire you that is her business and hers alone and has nothing to do with me.

What a fucking asshole! Of course the whole reason I’m having to hire her is because of him. This whole thing could have been settled in less than an hour way back in June or July. But no! He had to play high and mighty. No one tells him what to do.

Ugh! I’m so sick of him. Day 1 he really got to me. By Day 2 I was telling myself it was just money and even if I have to pay my own attorney fees it will be worth it. Some moments I’m tempted to just put it on the damn docket and let the judge decide. Other moments I tell myself to keep a cool head. Once I have this modified I can garnish him and then I don’t ever have to deal with him again. Merry Christmas!

Head Exploding, Part 2

I don’t think my head would have exploded had the author quit at this idea you can do divorce well and have a wonderful life post divorce with you being best buds and new kind of family with the ex.

But no, she has to go on and say this:

I do also understand not all divorces are wrapped up in a nice neat bow. Infidelity and lies do lead to harsh feelings – but even then, if we can take a step back and try to see the other human being as just that – a human being, and take our egos out of the equation then it’s possible to overcome this too. Stop asking, how could they do this to US? Why did he/she do that to ME? And instead understand that infidelity is less about us and more about them and their way of trying to figure out how to fill their own voids. We don’t have to agree with their decisions and we’re allowed to feel hurt but then at some point we need to brush ourselves off and make progress towards a better life and own OUR happiness. Everyone deserves to be happy. And not just happy on the terms that WE’VE given them. They need to find their own way, their own path. If it doesn’t include you then that’s ok. If their decisions bring them down the wrong path, that is their cross to bear. Not yours or your children’s. Your strength will get you through any hardships associated with their bad decisions and that strength will trickle down to your children as well. Your happiness has always been within you anyway.

I. Can’t. Even.  Really? Take a step back and try to see the other human being as just that? How about no? How about instead of seeing them as just human I see him as the manipulative, conning liar and cheater that he is? Why encourage people to open themselves up for more abuse? This is the problem. When we see monsters these days we are told they are not really monsters. Why lie to us like that? Why encourage us to lie to ourselves?

My life was napalmed. This wasn’t some small, innocuous thing. It was the systematic dismantling of my life as I knew it. My children suffered as well. They lost everything they knew and then once they finally began to get their footing he pulled the rug out from underneath them all over again. Harsh feelings doesn’t even begin to cover what I felt towards that bastard.

Sweetie, I assure you, my ego is not the problem. The problem is that I married and bred with a liar. My children’s father is a perpetual victim despite the devastation he has caused- both to me and my children.

By my ego I assume you mean my anger or my outrage. We can’t have any of that, can we? How can we possibly sell cheating and divorce as a good thing when people appear to be so angry over it? We can’t have the cheating spouse feel bad about themselves. If you would just please eat the shit sundae, stuff all of your feelings way down deep, and smile real pretty, this could be a real swell ride for you!

It’s all psycho-babble bullshit meant to ease the guilty conscience of a cheater. She paints it as some existential crisis: Stop asking how could they do this to US? Why did he/she do that to ME? And instead understand that infidelity is less about us and more about them and their way of trying to figure out how to fill their own voids.

Are you kidding me? If the cheater in my life didn’t do this to ME and to US and to OUR KIDS then who exactly did he cheat on and whose lives did he impact with his selfish behavior? I assure you that when he told me not to worry if I saw a wire on our bank records because he was sending his mom money for groceries that he most definitely was lying to ME and affecting ME. When he let me coach him to be able to drive to go meet up with his whore he most definitely was doing something shitty TO ME. When he lied about where he was going and tried to get me to send him naked pictures while he was with her that was something done TO ME. When he siphoned off over half of his paycheck and put it into an account with Harley so that she and her kids could have whatever her evil, shriveled little heart wanted, forcing my kids to have to do without, he did that TO US. Every shitty move he made affected us and was purposefully done to inflict the most damage.

Oh, but ignore that and focus instead on the fact that they were fucking strange because they needed to fill their own voids. Even though your life may have been gutted and irreparably damaged please try to remember this isn’t about you. It’s about the cheater’s journey of self-discovery. God forbid someone suggest yoga, or meditation, or journaling. Hell, maybe try a therapy dog. But don’t cheat on your spouse and then try to excuse it by calling it self-discovery. The only thing being discovered is that you’re a selfish, entitled asshole.

We don’t have to agree with their decisions and we’re allowed to feel hurt but then at some point we need to brush ourselves off and make progress towards a better life and own OUR happiness. 

Bless her Pollyanna-esque heart! I wonder if she has a timeline? Month 1- vomit, be unable to eat or sleep, lose twenty-five pounds, cry every day. Month 2- Resume old life, cry only once or twice a week. Month 3- Decide that this new life, sans life partner is absolutely terrific. Start telling everyone that your spouse’s affair was the best thing that ever happened to you and how you are so fortunate to be given this unique chance to start your life over completely from scratch. Month 4- Can’t even remember you were once married.

Thanks so much for giving all of us cheated on people permission to disagree with our partner’s choice to fuck another person and for allowing us to feel hurt for a moment. We sure do appreciate it.

I even understand, to a certain degree, what this author is trying to say. Yes, divorce sucks but we all have the power to make a new and better life. Well, at least a new life. I suppose better is in the eye of the beholder. And yes, we shouldn’t spend the rest of our lives reliving what happened and wishing it was all some nightmare we could wake from. But that doesn’t mean we need to forgive the person who gutted us, who betrayed us in the most intimate way. Getting on with our lives is not synonymous with forgiving or even getting along with the ex.

Everyone deserves to be happy. And not just happy on the terms that WE’VE given them. They need to find their own way, their own path. If it doesn’t include you then that’s ok.

I’m going to call a big load of bullshit on that one. No one deserves to be happy at another person’s expense. Period. And that is what cheating is. If you were to take a gander at Harley’s Facebook page she talks nonstop about how happy she is. She is happier than a pig in shit that she managed to snag her married man. Yep, she’s the luckiest gal in the world. Her brand new husband left his wife of twenty years and deserted his two children to be with her. What a prize! She is ecstatic! Over the moon! Everyone tells her she deserves it. She deserved another woman’s husband. His children deserved to be deserted so that they could live happily ever after.

That also seemed to be the overriding theme in CF’s life with his mom and sister telling him he deserved to be happy. Hell, his mom encouraged Harley to call him because he seemed so sad and miserable. Now he’s supposed to be happy. He’s turned his kids’ lives upside down. He’s pretty much turned his back on them. He put me through hell. But hey- he had a right to happiness no matter who suffered! Am I right?

Here’s the thing: I believe people do deserve to be happy. I also believe they have every right to decide you don’t make them happy. Furthermore, I believe and accept that they are free to end the relationship. Here’s the other thing: You do that shit before you go looking for another warm body. No one has the right to destroy another human being due to their selfish behavior in search of “happiness”. If you’re unhappy get out. Don’t waste your partner’s life while you search for love.

Sadly, I think the author is woefully misguided when she chimes in with: If their decisions bring them down the wrong path, that is their cross to bear. Not yours or your children’s.

CF’s decisions did end up being my cross to bear. It ended up being my children’s cross to bear. His decisions had far reaching consequences for us. We lost our home. We were forced to move 600 miles away. I lost almost everything I had ever owned in my life. It’s magical thinking to tell betrayed spouses that it’s not their cross to bear. There is almost no way that can be true. Actions have consequences and often those consequences are far reaching.

She ends with more psycho-babble: Your strength will get you through any hardships associated with their bad decisions and that strength will trickle down to your children as well. Your happiness has always been within you anyway.

That’s just another way of saying, “Play nice. Let bygones be bygones. Eat shit and smile pretty. Let’s all forgive and forget and be best friends once again.”

You know what? My strength did get me through the hell I lived in for over two years. I still remember that long period of time where I just wanted to lay down and die; I felt no joy, no happiness. I had no hope. My kids did see me as a kickass role model; I’d like to think my strength has trickled down to them. I’m happier now than I ever was with him, so yes, it has always been within me.

That doesn’t change the fact that none of this should have been done to me, or my kids. So no, there will be no playing nicely with the person who cheated. He might be a human being but he’s a shitty one. I do not forgive and forget. His happiness was not more important than mine or our kids’. Start telling that story instead of trying to package adultery up in a beautiful box with a great big bow.

 

Another Round Of Parental Alienation

Yet another OW’s blog. Yet another accusation of parental alienation. By now everyone knows if the kids don’t come around it’s not because the other parent is an insensitive, selfish asshole; it’s because the custodial parent is alienating them.

I don’t know. Maybe most of these cheaters think they are so wonderful they can’t conceive of a situation where someone would choose not to spend time with them. Their insipid little cohorts are sipping the same Kool-Aid. “My bae is so amazing that, of course, his kids can overlook all of the selfish, shitty things he has done in the name of love. If they aren’t talking to him it’s because the horrible, mentally abusive wife has manipulated them. No, alienated them!”

Perhaps I take these articles personally because I know Cousinfucker has told people I’ve turned the kids against him. I saw the Facebook post where he was lamenting the fact his children “probably wouldn’t see this” (his post) but wishing them a happy Thanksgiving nonetheless and telling them how much he loved them. I saw the responses to that.

Hang in there!

One day they’ll be old enough to make up their own minds!

Just keep telling them you love them!

They’ll know the truth one day.

It fries my fritters when I hear that crap! My kids already know the truth. They know that their dad cheated on me. They know that while he lived with us for the next six months he didn’t bother talking to them. They know he walked out the door without saying a word to either of them. He didn’t bother to tell them he was moving out of the house, much less out of the state. They know he could drive to see his cousin/mistress every single weekend before he moved, and that he couldn’t be bothered to visit them even one weekend in more than two years. They know all of this because they lived it. And those are just the big things.

They have experienced the joy of leaving behind lifelong friends where they grew up. My daughter had the pleasure of giving up her dream of being a Level 10 gymnast, and my son gave up playing the only sport he ever liked- hockey- because their dad was unhappy in Utah and wanted this “dream job”.

We promised them a better life. We sweetened the pot, so to speak, with promises of a pool, a hot tub, a game room, a theater room. My son looked forward to working side by side with his dad, helping him build it.

Instead, they got a father who once again shut himself off in his room. They got a father who ended up in the psych ward. A father who couldn’t go outside supposedly. A father who couldn’t celebrate their birthdays with them.

And then they got to watch as this helpless father who couldn’t go anywhere could suddenly play the devoted daddy to children that weren’t his. He could attend their birthday dinners. He could walk the mall with their whore of a mother on Christmas Eve, shopping for gifts. He could make pancakes for them, and buy them puppies and phones and expensive dresses. He could even go on family vacations.

It didn’t stop there, however! They got the pleasure of moving out of their home, watching all their furniture be sold off, saying goodbye to new friends, and moving yet again- this time more than 600 miles away.

My son had a fairly seamless transition, but my daughter was miserable the first six months or so. She lost her place in the Sports Hall of Fame. She lost future Homecomings (my alma mater does not have a Homecoming dance). She lost gymnastics for good. She had been counting down the days until she could get her license and now she was told nothing she did back in Virginia counted; she would have to start all over and wouldn’t be eligible to get her license for another 6 months. She was devastated. She lost any desire to gain a new set of friends. My beautiful, vivacious girl who was surrounded by friends and a social butterfly, became withdrawn, anxious, and depressed. As she told me once, she went from being everything to being nothing.

My son hasn’t seen or spoken to his father since February of 2016. Cousinfucker was creeping around in the shadows at her graduation and didn’t show himself until we had all left. My wonderful, talented, soft hearted son was with my mom on his way to the restaurant so CF never spent a single second with him. He didn’t bother to make it a priority to say a word to his son. This year he sent Rock Star a birthday and graduation gift, but sent nothing for Picasso- not even a card. I doubt very much that he will attempt to reach out to ask for a ticket to his graduation in 2 1/2 years.

THAT is my children’s reality. THAT is their truth. And that is why my son has no relationship with his father and my daughter has a very superficial one. It is nothing I did or said. He did a much better job at alienating them than I could have ever attempted.

 

A Word About Being Angry

Fellow blogger, Reformed Cad, just gave me a shout out on his blog. It was a very nicely done post and I very much appreciated it. I always like it when people take the time to reblog something I’ve written, or take the time to tell others about my blog. I think he has a closed blog so I’m not going to try to link to it. If he comes over and says it’s open to the public I’ll link to it, or he can link to it in the comments.

I am, however, going to quibble with one thing he says. She is angry. And if you read her journal it becomes obvious why.

Let the record (or blog) show I am not angry. It always baffles me when people say things like that because I think I keep it pretty light hearted when it comes to my situation. I think if you asked my mother she would tell you I didn’t get angry enough. I did indeed get dealt a shitty hand.; however, it’s better than what some other people are dealt. He didn’t attempt to poison me (as far as I know). He didn’t try to pay someone to take me out. He didn’t get physically violent with me once the divorce began. He didn’t kidnap and kill my children. He didn’t threaten me with a weapon or set me up for a domestic violence charge. He didn’t leave me after I was diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease. He didn’t leave me with a nasty STD. And yes, I realize those are the extreme situations, but I’ve heard every one of those over on Chump Lady except the one about paying someone to kill me. I got that one off of ID TV, where it happens quite regularly.

He also didn’t fight me for custody of our children. Granted, that would have been a tough sell seeing as how he moved approximately 300 miles away from them and left them behind, but I know that others are having to fight for custody even when the only reason the ex is fighting is to reduce or eliminate child support.

And, while he did indeed cheat again I only lost two years of my life “wreck-onciling” with him, instead of five, or ten or twenty.

I know that I have written a lot about all that my kids and I have lost. That’s a fact. It has nothing to do with anger. He screwed us. We invested everything into this new life he said he so desperately wanted. He threw it away, and in the process the kids and I lost our home and were forced to move. Fact.

With my daughter graduating recently I was continually reminded of everything that we lost. Again, that’s a fact. It happened, and no matter how happy I pretend to be about everything that was lost, it doesn’t change that.

That’s not anger. If anything it’s sadness. Sadness that my kids had to go through that because of their dad and his crappy decisions.

I wrote the other day about the triggers that still come. It’s not anger. It’s continuing to mourn the life I had. Imagine spending twenty years with someone, living a certain kind of life, and then one day having that ripped away from you. I defy anyone to say it would be no big deal. It’s one thing to decide you are going to make big changes. It is a completely different animal when those changes are made for you.

Even when you’ve accepted that life is gone you still mourn at times. There are still things that smack you in the face and cause you to feel that loss. I’m not angry. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that the life I lived for twenty years is gone, and that it was all a lie.

Do I continue to write about CF? Sure, I do. He keeps doing shitty things. I mostly shrug it all off. Nothing he says or does really angers me. Well, except for the fact that he has yet to acknowledge he has a son. That does piss me off. But the shit he says whenever he has to pay me? That’s comedy fodder for my blog. I give him about as much importance as I would a two year old throwing a tantrum.

I did ask my mom if I seemed angry because, as I said, it always perplexes me when people give me that label. She was pretty quick to answer. “No, you just call bullshit when you see it.”

That’s a pretty good explanation. I’m not angry or bitter about my situation. I continue to write because it does make me angry when I hear stories of others who are going through this same thing. It makes me angry when I hear about a spouse who is so desperate to keep a marriage together that they accept bullshit excuses and tolerate the so called “trickle truth” and evasion of questions. I know what I went through; I hate to see others go through that same thing. If I can be a sane voice out there asking, “Is this acceptable to you?” and leading someone through the dark I’ll keep writing.

As Chump Lady reminds her audience over and over, there are many avenues for those who want to reconcile. She is pretty much the only voice that tells people it’s not their fault their spouse cheated and there is a better life out there without a cheater. I don’t go so far as to encourage people to leave; I think that’s an individual choice and everyone has their reasons for staying or going. I will, however, point out when the cheater is blowing smoke up your ass. I’ll tear apart all the psycho-babble explanations for why people do the heinous things they do, and I’ll mock the “affair-y tale” love stories that mistresses share on a regular basis.

I will also never accept the idea that both parties had a part to play in an affair. Both of you were in the same marriage. Only one person cheated. I fully agree with Chump Lady when she says that you may have been the worst spouse on the planet; you may have truly, truly sucked. But you did not deserve to be cheated on and you did not cause your spouse to cheat.

Furthermore, I’m not one who believes you need to be a martyr for the sake of your children. You don’t need to celebrate birthdays with the cheating ex and the new spouse, or go on “family” outings, or look after your ex if they get sick. Your kids will survive even if you’re not pretending that the other parent is the best-est person in the whole wide world.

I’m willing to tell people you don’t have to, and in fact shouldn’t, gaslight your children. Tell them the truth in age appropriate terms. It’s not your job to be your cheating ex’s PR agent. If they didn’t want their kids to know they were lying cheaters maybe they shouldn’t have been lying and cheating. Nothing good ever comes from hiding the truth. It will always come back and bite you in the ass one way or another.

I let people know they don’t have to be friends with the ex. If that’s something you want I think you’re a little bit crazy, but okay. If it works for you more power to you. However, I refuse to perpetuate this idea that’s the way it should be. When you’re dealing with adultery you’re dealing with a person who lied to you and betrayed you. They were supposed to have your back and instead they stabbed you in it. Welcome home, Michael Myers! As Chump Lady always asks, “Would you be friends with the guy who mugged you?” No? OK, then why are you trying to maintain a friendship with someone who essentially mugged your life?

I advocate gaining a support system and leaning on them, instead of relying on someone who betrayed and abandoned you. Even in so-called “good” divorces I advocate for that because you never know how things are going to change once your ex partners up again.

I believe that no contact is a wonderful thing.

I believe that you can focus on gaining a better life without the person who cheated on you and hurt you while still remembering exactly who they are and what they did. Getting on with my life and living a much better life than the one I had with him does not equal forgiving him.

I don’t think that’s being angry. I think that’s using common sense and speaking the truth.

PSA #1- Don’t Stay Home

I’m going to make a pronouncement and it’s not going to be popular. No one will listen because no one ever believes it will happen to them. I’m going to say it anyway: Don’t stay at home! Unless you have a career that allows you to seamlessly step back into the workforce (and honestly nursing is the only thing I’ve ever heard of that even comes close; maybe pharmacy or being a doctor or some other area of the medical field would as well) I implore you to keep your job even after children come along. Other exceptions would be if you have a legally binding agreement where the working partner agrees to put money aside for your personal retirement and pay alimony in the case of divorce, OR you are independently wealthy (or come into a healthy inheritance while married- just keep it separate at all times), OR, you have a secondary income, such as rental units, or a business, or stock dividends, or that handy inheritance.

Many times women (mostly women, anyway) walk away from their outside jobs to concentrate on raising the children. When they choose to, or are forced to, return to work they frequently return at a fraction of what they were making. Many times the skills they had to perform their job are outdated by the time they return. It’s a long tough road to get back on your feet financially. Most states don’t award alimony and even when it is awarded you’re now at the mercy of the ex. If the ex dies on you you’re screwed. It’s far, far better to make a good income and know that you can take care of yourself and your kids with no help from anyone else.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved being at home with my kids. I did a lot of things with my them. We went to a lot of places. When we first moved to Utah my daughter was in year round school, which turned out to be amazing. She had six weeks off in the summer and then was on a 9 weeks on/3 weeks off schedule. We went to Universal Studios, SeaWorld and the San Diego zoo at off peak times. It was wonderful! At Christmas time, her 3 weeks started after the winter break so she got 4-5 weeks from late December to late January. I took them back east to visit relatives, which we couldn’t have done if I had been working simply because we couldn’t have afforded four plane tickets at Christmas for what would basically amount to a four day getaway if the holidays fell on Thursday and Friday, or Monday and Tuesday. Assuming, of course, that Christmas Eve was recognized as a holiday. At my current place of employment it is not. Or rather, we get a half day. I’ve worked other places which gave me a half day on Christmas Eve, as well. Instead, my kids got to spend 2-3 weeks with relatives that they didn’t normally get to see.

I spent a lot of time volunteering at my kids’ schools. I was a room parent. I was heavily involved in PTA.

I was fortunate enough to be able to sleep in when my kids had no school. I was able to take them to water parks and amusement parks and museums and zoos. We went to the skating rink and flowers gardens and matinee movies. We got to go during the week and not have to fight the crowds. We could visit family during the summer and holidays, and when family came out to visit us I was able to spend time with them. On our cross country trips we could stop at Presidential museums and road side oddities. There was no hard and fast schedule. When Rock Star began traveling for out of state meets for gymnastics our last three years in Utah I was able to go and not have to worry about taking vacation time from work. We got to spend some pretty incredible weekends together in different cities- Seattle, Phoenix, Las Vegas, San Diego, Nashville. We had a blast and I treasure those memories.

I spent a lot of time with Rock Star and Picasso as they grew up, and I am so grateful I was able to have that time. It came at a horrible price, though.

Getting hired after not working outside of the home since 1998 was not an easy feat. As most of you know my first job post separation was working at Target on the Flow team. I got up at 3:20 in the morning and went to work at 4. I was paid $11/hour. It didn’t even pay my bills. Then I took a second job working at Kohl’s as seasonal help. That one paid $10. I finally made enough money to pay my bills and be able to buy Christmas gifts for my kids but I was also working sixteen hour days many days. I worked 21 days straight. I was in at 2 in the morning 2-3 days a week and 3 am the rest of the time during the month of December, and then usually would go and work another 8 hours at Kohl’s. My body ached. I never saw my kids. I was undoubtedly tired. Finally, I got offered my job at the bank, which I began in January of 2017. Again, I made $11/hour. I kept my job at Target and would work from 4-7 and then head home, take my daughter to school, and then finish getting ready for work before heading off to the bank. There were days that I would be called in the afternoon by my boss who would let me know that a closer had called off at one of our branches that was open until 7 and then I would go over there and close. I had a few days where I worked from 4-7, and then 8:45-7:15. Until April of that year I did it all with no financial help from Cousinfucker.

He had lost his job in June of 2016 and hadn’t sent another penny to help his children.

Even now I am not in great financial shape. Because of alimony I have to claim no deductions on my paychecks. I contribute to a 401k at a whopping 6% of my salary, which is actually very little because 6% of very little is very little. And I pay health insurance on the kids at $188 per paycheck. Plus dental. By the time everything is taken out I am actually taking home less money now, despite making over $2/hour more, than when I first started. The sad part is it’s probably going to take me another 2 or 3 years to even get back to where I started. And remember- I didn’t start at a great place! I just did a quick calculation and basically, I take home 55% of what I make. The other 45% goes to taxes, 401k, and insurance.

I am at the mercy of a man who has lied to me, who betrayed me, and who left me and my kids to the wolves. He had absolutely no regard for what might happen to us when he had his little “breakdown”. He didn’t even find it necessary to let me know anything more than he had lost his job and wouldn’t be sending anymore money.

Every month it’s an adventure, never knowing when I’ll get a notification that I’ve been paid. In the earlier days he would send a check about once a week. Nowadays he likes to save it all for the end of the end of the month! I think he likes to imagine me sweating it out.

So I say again. Don’t quit your job. Don’t rely on your husband to support you and provide you with your lifestyle. Don’t plan on him providing for your retirement. I used to think this woman from another board was crazy. She and her husband kept separate bank accounts. Her money was hers and his was his. They both paid into a joint account for marital household bills. Even once they co-mingled their funds she always made sure she never made a purchase that she couldn’t afford on her own. The house they bought? She could afford the mortgage if he left. Her car? She could afford it if he left. Fast forward to today, after an affair five or six years ago that resulted in a child, and she is finally divorcing him. Ironically, she’s not leaving because of the affair. She’s leaving because she doesn’t feel he is stepping up to be the father he should for that child. Nonetheless, she’s going to be fine because she never depended upon her husband financially.

I know it’s tempting. When work sucks or there’s never enough vacation time or that sweet baby face tempts you to stay and snuggle all day it’s easy to say, “Why not? He’ll never leave, and if he does he’ll have to pay me lots of money.” They don’t always do what they’re supposed to.

I was riding high for a whole five months- able to live in my home, pay the bills, put some money away for taxes and emergencies- and then he “lost” his job and I didn’t see another dime for ten months. In that time I lost my home, uprooted my children once again, sold off most of my furniture in order to have money to live on, and left the vast majority of everything I had ever owned in my lifetime behind. I moved in with my mother and took up residence on her couch.

Yes, perhaps there might have been things that would have made it easier. The ex and I were big spenders. We didn’t save much. Rock Star’s gymnastics were very expensive. I doted on my kids and they lacked for nothing. Perhaps if we had had more money invested or saved up things would have worked out better for me. Then again, we lived in a state that required a one year waiting period so unless I could get to that money to protect my share it wouldn’t have helped.

My biggest regret (aside from staying with him) is not going back to work to put myself in a better financial situation after I found out about Harley the first time. My second biggest regret is quitting my job and following him all around the country from the very beginning. I wanted to be a stay at home mom and he was all for it. Now I wish I had buckled down and done something with my life. Instead I’m almost 50 years old and I’m still trying to decide if I should go back and get my Masters (for what I don’t know), remain at the bank and hope promotions and raises keep coming, or if I move on and hope that my decades old Communications degree plus my 2 years of work experience might translate into a much higher paying job elsewhere.

One more time- DON’T QUIT YOUR JOB TO STAY HOME WITH YOUR KIDS! It can happen to you. Yes, you! It happens all the time. And it’s happening later and later in life, when it’s a lot more difficult to pick up the pieces and rebuild. Protect yourselves.

The Biggest Lie Of All

Between the other board I read and a recent blog post I read on WordPress I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the population is fairly stupid and naive when it comes to infidelity.

I was reading not that long ago a post from a woman who made the edgy, “unpopular” proclamation that infidelity was not a deal breaker in her marriage. Both she and her husband agreed it was no reason to divorce (you have to put that “one mistake” up against the entire relationship, dontchaknow?); furthermore, they both agreed they would never confess if they did cheat because confessing was for the cheater and only burdened the betrayed spouse.

Oh, there was plenty of talk about how she wouldn’t be surprised if he had already cheated because the statistics say everyone does it, or at least the majority of people do it. Plus, they’ve been together for more than thirty years so why would she throw that away for one little indiscretion?

On the other board one of the women who had in fact been cheated on (repeatedly) by her current husband made the comment that she realized her husband was a “flawed human being seeking to have basic physical needs met.” That didn’t mean he didn’t love her. He absolutely did. This same person insists that there is an entire cultural attitude that applauds those who kick out the cheater and berate or shame those that try to work it out.

There were a few women who talked about how much work goes into restoring a relationship after it’s been rocked by infidelity. There were many kudos given for those who do the “hard work” of rebuilding trust and working through it.

I was especially shocked by the stance of one poster that I admire. Her husband had cheated on her, purposely got the AP pregnant, and eventually moved in with her. He also had no intentions of ever filing for divorce. In his world he was perfectly content to remain married while shacking up with his AP and love child.. She said this about her own daughters facing infidelity in their marriage: I would want my daughters to think deeply before they get a divorce. There are worse things than a “moment of indiscretion.” If my daughter was convinced that the husband was truly sorry and truly loved her, I could understand why she would give her husband a second chance.

I shake my head as I read all of this. There are several problems with these lines of thinking.

The biggest lie is that affairs are just about sex. No, affairs are about lies and deception. You don’t make a mistake when you cheat on your partner. You make a series of mistakes, generally dozens, when you cheat on your partner. There is the choice to chat up a co-worker or friend. The choice to continue on with all of that when you know you are playing with fire. There are the lies to cover your tracks. There are the lies to explain your absences. Then there is the sexual act itself. That’s followed by all the lies and deception used to cover up what you just did. Followed by more lies so you can do it again.

I would love to ask the writer of the blog who declared infidelity not a deal breaker in her marriage if losing a baby due her spouse’s infidelity might be a deal breaker. How about if you were diagnosed with an incurable STD? There are several readers over on Chump Lady who’ve actually been given HPV which has led to cancer. Would that be a deal breaker or is that another thing you would need to put up against your thirty wonderful years together? How about if you found out your husband and his mistress were slowly poisoning you? Is that a deal breaker or are you still going to try to work things out? What about if you found out your spouse was draining marital accounts to fund the affair? What if they “loaned” money to the affair partner? What if your spouse bought phones for, and then allowed you to get online and pay the cell phone bill for your “in-laws”, only you find out two months later you’ve been paying the cell phone bill for his mistress and her daughter? Are we still overlooking all of this because, you know, it’s just sex? Is the long history together still winning out over all this douche-y behavior?

Unfortunately, many times it’s not a simple matter of some horny person out there fucking whatever moves. Many, many times, if not most of the time, affairs involve financial deception as well. “I’m sending my mom money for groceries! I’ve got a ‘business trip’ next weekend. I’m ‘investing’ in a friend’s company.” They involve gas lighting and mind fucking. “I’m not having an affair. You’re crazy! When you don’t trust me it leads me to want to actually do what you’re accusing me of! I would never cheat on you! You and the kids mean everything to me. I swear on our children’s lives I’m not cheating. Maybe you’re the cheater and you’re projecting on to me.”

Go read the comments sometime on Chump Lady. You will find person after person who has been left financially destitute after being cheated on and left. Accounts drained (hello!). Houses foreclosed on (hello!). Support withheld (hi again!). Businesses devalued. Money given to or spent on the AP. Signatures forged. Credit card debt run up. Money hidden. It’s not just sex. It is a far reaching plan to deceive and destroy another person.

As for this idea that a cheater is simply a “flawed human being seeking to have physical needs met”, well, I sure hope that both the cheater and the affair partner are on the same page in regards to what’s happening here. I’ve heard a few stories where the AP thinks this is the romance of the century and when they find out that’s not the case… they turn into a bunny boiler. Seems such a shame to ruin this beautiful “physical needs being taken care of” romance with stalking and hysteria and threatening phone calls to the spouse.

I also hope a pregnancy does not occur because these physical needs were taken care of outside of the marriage. That would be a little awkward, huh? According to ID TV that’s usually when the cheater kills the AP. Of course, if the cheater is a woman and she’s the one who gets pregnant… again, might be a little awkward, but totally not out of the realm of possibility that she might try to pass it off as her husband’s child. Nothing like a paternity test to spice up a marriage! But hey, it’s just sex, right?

I hope that poster is right and she doesn’t find her husband leaving her for someone else a few years down the road. It’s not that unusual for men to trade in their spouse when she gets into her 40s or 50s. Gray divorce is a huge topic these days. Why keep the middle aged wife with her stretch marks and muffin top when he’s got a hot, toned, child free twenty something offering him blow jobs and fun times? My jaded philosophy is something along these lines: Even if it’s not a hot, younger woman, if your husband fucks around on you often enough eventually he’s going to find a replacement for you.

As for this idea that there is a cultural trend to shame those that remain with their husbands I have to say, “Oh please!” Aside from Chump Lady’s blog I can’t think of another blog that encourages leaving the cheater. There is, in fact, an entire industry devoted to helping you “affair-proof” your marriage, teaching you all about the 180, promising you that the affair will be “the best thing to ever happen to your marriage”, and otherwise encouraging you to work through the infidelity and to reconcile. They sell programs and constantly promise to tell you how to win back a wandering spouse. And as always, they promise that your marriage will be “better and stronger than before!”

Look at all the kudos for the people who choose to stay and work through the infidelity. They are “applauded”. They are lifted up in praise because they did the “hard work” it took to work through all of that. People are cautioned to “think carefully” before divorcing a cheating spouse because surely there are worse things than a “momentary lapse in judgement”.

Meanwhile, those who do divorce are judged as being unforgiving. They lack compassion and think they are superior. We foolishly base our decision on one small, insignificant mistake instead of thinking rationally and taking into account the entire relationship.

If we’re not judged as being unforgiving and lacking compassion then we’re judged as being moral failures. Hell, there was a blogger that thought there should be a divorce tax and who advocated shunning those who divorce! Obviously we didn’t value marriage; we’re tossing aside our solemn vows because we’re not “happy.”

We’re accused of taking the “easy way out”. <Snort> Please. Like working entry level jobs, moving in with your mom, losing your home and everything in it, being forced to move out of the state, and sleeping on the couch is so much easier than remaining a stay at a home mom who lives on over $200,000 a year, lives in a nice big house she calls her own, complete with a pool and a hot tub, and has all the time in the world to visit friends and go on vacation. Oh hell yes. Getting up at 3:30 in the morning and working at Target before dropping off my kid at school and then going to my regular full-time job was so much easier than getting up at 7:00, making my kids breakfast, dropping them off at school, and then spending the rest of the day doing whatever I wanted.

Not to mention that some of us didn’t get the “opportunity” to do the so-called hard work of rebuilding our marriage. Some of us got dumped. Some of us were blindsided. For some of us our husbands or wives had our replacements lined up long before we knew we were headed for divorce.

It didn’t take a genius to see the writing on the wall. I did give some thought to approaching CF with “an arrangement.” He could have his cousin on the side, but we would stay together until both kids had graduated from high school. He would not be allowed to financially support her; the kids and I would be the beneficiaries of his paycheck and bonus. However, it became quickly apparent that such an arrangement had less than a snowball’s chance in hell of working. He was lying. He was giving her huge sums of money already. They had a bank account together. He was interviewing for jobs out of state. I was certain he was not planning on taking me and the kids with him. It was going to be a solo move. So I bit the bullet. I lawyered up. I protected myself. I filed for divorce.

Here is another very important part to consider. Most of the people over on Chump Lady have tried reconciliation. I don’t have statistics but my guess, from what I’ve read over the years and through various sources, is that the majority of people who find out their spouse is cheating on them, try to reconcile. I truly believe very few people follow through with kicking the cheater to the curb without a second thought. I think most of us at least try. There may be some who try and decide they can’t get over this, but they do at least try to make it work. This is where that important part comes in.

I’ve read way too many stories over there about people who opted to forgive and rebuild trust, who chose reconciliation, who decided it was worth it to do the hard work and not let one little mistake define their entire relationship, who forgave the cheater and welcomed them back home, only to have the cheater do it all over again years later. In some cases it was years between affairs, and in other cases the cheater took it deeper underground and lived a double life for ten to twenty years before cruelly discarding their spouse. I can’t think of a single one of them who says, “I have no regrets; I cherish every single extra year I got with my cheating spouse. Though the marriage may be dead I will comfort myself with the many wonderful memories we created.” No, what they all say, almost without fail, is that they wish they had left the first time and that they regret wasting all of those years with that person. There are a few who say they are glad they tried marriage counseling, they’re glad they tried to fix it, because they know they did everything they possibly could to make it work so they leave with a clean conscience. But I can’t think of anyone who says they are glad for the extra years with their cheater. There is only regret for wasting a single minute more on that person who chose to turn around and betray them again.

 

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.