Merry Christmas, Love Dad

A Christmas miracle has occurred! Picasso and Rock Star both got envelopes in the mail from their dad. Same day! This never happens! The last time it did happen was December of 2015 when he could leave their gift cards for them. I honestly no longer remember if he put them in the mailbox or if he left them on the kitchen island, not that it matters anymore.

Another Christmas miracle- he used his real address! He didn’t try to hide out like he was still living in Kentucky. Nope, he put that fancy address on the envelope this year. I guess he figured the cat was out of the bag. No use hiding.

Strangely, he listed the return address as “The Jackasses” instead of using his full name (Jerry Lee Jackass), or only his last name. I don’t know if that was his way of finally telling the kids he got married or if it was an oversight on his part.

He sent them both a Visa gift card. Nothing else in the envelope. Not a card. Not a letter. No, “I miss you,” or, “I love you.” Not even a “Merry Christmas!” on the flap of the envelope. As Picasso said, “Good to know how much he loves us. Couldn’t even bother to wish us a Merry Christmas. This is more like an obligation than an actual gift.”

Even better? The gift card was one of those where you determine how much you want to put on it. The card said you could choose from $5-$500. He didn’t bother to tell them how much was on it. Rock Star called the number and found out her dad gave them $50.

I know Christmas is not about the gifts and it’s not about how much money you spend. Yet I still shake my head and whisper, “Jesus Christ!” under my breath. This man makes over $100k a year. His cousin turned wife makes somewhere between $75,000-$90,000 a year (last records I saw she brought home $5000/month). He lives in a nice big house in the most sought after subdivision in Olive Branch. Pretty sure he’s driving a new car, too. I know damn well the mulligans did not get a mere $50 spent on them. This man who whines endlessly about how I’ve turned his children against him gifts them a $50 Visa gift card with not a word said to either of them.

I sat with a needle in my arm twice a week for the last four months so that I could give my kids the kind of Christmas they remember. I almost fainted one time. Another time I ended up with bruises on my arm and had to use the other one to donate.

The mobster who is not even their father spent over $100 on each of my kids. He gave me $100 to put towards Picasso’s computer and then ordered a $50 gift certificate to a nail salon for Rock Star, plus he gave her a stocking stuffed with another $50 or so worth of little odds and ends.

My mom undoubtedly spent right around $100 on each of them.

When my kids went down to see my dad my stepmom gave both kids a $100 bill.

Again, I know it’s not about the money or the gifts; however, he doesn’t do anything else for them either. Out of all of the adults in their lives, with the possible exception of my dad, Jerry Lee is the one with the most resources and yet he’s the one that chooses to spend the least. This was a total fuck you gift. Like Picasso said, it was an obligation. He can’t admit to giving them nothing so he gives the least amount he can.

My mouth is still hanging somewhat open at his audacity but as I told the mobster, “They’ll remember which one of us donated plasma twice a week for four months so they could have a great Christmas, and which one of us gave them $50.” I went to great lengths to make sure my kids got the things they wanted for Christmas. They know this. It’s not just the money but the sacrifice, the willingness to do whatever it takes to provide for them.

I will never forget the look on my son’s face when he walked downstairs and saw the computer he so badly coveted sitting there, instead of a few hundred dollars in his stocking knowing he was going to have to make up the difference.

I know how much Rock Star loves her stocking; she has said many times it’s her favorite part of Christmas. This year it was bangin’! She was thrilled with the cosmetics and skin care products she received, along with the gift certificate for a massage and her Air Pods.

Every hour I spent in that plasma center was worth it. Every stick was worth it. My kids are worth it. It’s sad he doesn’t realize that.

This is not my battle to fight. He is who is and his kids are going to have to accept that. I would say that he’s going to have to accept responsibility for the state of his relationship with them but I think we all know that’s not going to happen.

When Your Kids Take the Hit

It’s getting down to crunch time. I’ve got 3 blog entries in my draft section; I still need to work on one of those. Normally, I would have just replied but since, as I said, I’m down to crunch time and needing some material I’m going to write a blog post.

I wrote about Rock Star calling me, crying, worried about rent money and worried about school. Ainsobriety commented that she believed this conversation would have happened even if Jerry Lee and I were still together. I agreed at first but the longer I’ve thought about it the more I’ve come to the conclusion that no, we wouldn’t have. We wouldn’t have had that conversation at least.

Yes, I am her sounding board. I always have been, even when her dad and I were together. I was the one that drove them to practice and attended almost every single game, competition, recital, and program. I was the one who took them to school, stayed home with them when they were sick, took them to visit family, and planned fun outings all summer long. I was the one who cooked for them, cleaned for them, washed their clothes for them.

When Picasso was in second or third grade he had to write a letter saying what he was thankful for for Thanksgiving. He said he was thankful I cooked for him because otherwise he would starve. The thought that his father might actually take care of him in my absence didn’t even occur to him.

When Rock Star was three I had Jerry Lee pick her up from preschool one day because I was tied up at the doctor’s office with a baby Picasso. She asked where I was/why he was picking her up, and after explaining that I was at the doctor’s with Picasso she replied, “Wow- I’ve never stayed at home by myself.” She was three! He quickly assured her that she wasn’t staying home by herself that day either. But how sad is it that even at that young age she couldn’t fathom her dad staying at home with her?

So, yes, she would have called me if she was having trouble with school, or was simply feeling the pressure of it. I’ve always been the sounding board; she’s always felt comfortable falling apart on me while keeping it together around everyone else. That time she got her hand pinched in the vault at the gym and everyone was commenting on how brave she was and didn’t cry once? Yeah, she got into the safety of my minivan and burst into tears. Mom’s here; I’m safe. But I also don’t think she would be under so much stress if not for her father and his shenanigans.

The reality of the situation is if Jerry Lee and I were still together she would have no financial stress. You can argue whether that’s good, or bad, but it’s a fact. His bonus check alone was enough that we could have paid her full tuition, no loans required, and her room and board (or rent for an apartment), and still had money left over to put into the bank. Her books would have been covered, any additional schooling expenses would have been covered and I would have sent her money each month to cover incidental expenses. She wouldn’t have to worry about working enough over her breaks to cover rent, books, or spending money.

Money is a huge stressor. Without having to worry about student loans, coming up short on rent, cost of books, and a variety of other expenses, she would be able to fully concentrate on her classes. Instead, she worries about things like whether or not she has enough gas money or grocery money. She worries about costing me money that I don’t have.

Hell, she was reluctant to go to the urgent care center even though she was sick. She didn’t want me to have to spend the almost $200 it was going to cost. I had to assure her that I had the money and that I could pay the bill. The girl was crying and telling me she felt nauseous, was in pain, and was running a fever. She never runs a fever. She didn’t think it was a UTI and feared it might be a kidney infection instead. Still, she was reluctant to go because of the money.

Thank God her big [sister, in her sorority] insisted she go because they were very concerned about her at the urgent care. They’re still waiting on test results but they are treating her as though she has either a kidney infection or a bladder infection. They gave her two shots in her booty, three prescriptions and instructions to go straight to the ER if she got any worse.

I wanted my kids to have easy lives. I wanted them to be able to have it all. I wanted Rock Star to be able to go to college, have her tuition and books paid for, and join a sorority if she wanted. I wanted to be able to send her spending money and buy groceries for her and slip her some gas money as well. I wanted her to have no worries in the world. I wanted her to just have to concentrate on getting through nursing school and having fun.

I know she’ll be okay. I know that she’ll be stronger for it. I also know I hate him for what he’s done to us. And I know we wouldn’t have had that exact same conversation if he hadn’t left.

This Is Why Tuesday Never Comes

My daughter called me at work today. I had just clocked back in from lunch when I noticed she was calling on my cell phone. I quietly answered and told her to call my work phone. She told me it was something serious and she would just call me back after I got off of work.

Um, no. I stepped away from my desk to find out what was going on with my girl.

“You can go back to work, Mom. I’m not hurt. I can talk to you later.”

I assured her that I could talk to her right now and I wanted to know what was going on. At which point she burst into tears.

She was freaking out about rent. She’s coming home over Thanksgiving break and working at the hospital but she doesn’t get paid until after her rent is due. She was going to be $200 short.

I reminded her that I already knew she was going to be short and I had been planning on helping her pay it. I just needed to know when she needed it.

She kept telling me she was stupid and felt bad for asking me for help.

I had to tell her once again that I was not dead broke. I am not living pay check to pay check. I am being smart and I’m being cautious, which is why I try not to spend a lot of money, but I have money in my account and I can help if needed.

The next crisis was school. She has two papers and a test due before she goes home next week. She told me she didn’t think she could do it anymore and she wanted to come home.

Once again I remind her that she is the most organized, goal oriented person I know. I tell her she can do anything and I have every confidence that she will get through this. I tell her to break it down into little pieces. Write down what needs to get done. Tackle whatever is due first. Then move on to the next thing.

I told her she needed to focus on getting through these last few weeks of the semester. Once that’s over the hardest part will be done. No more five hour credit classes. Chemistry, biology, anatomy and physiology will all be done. She can breathe a little more next semester. She’ll apply to nursing school, get in, and from there on out she’ll be working with patients, which she loves.

I made her tell me she was awesome and then I made her tell me she could do this.

By the time we got off the phone I felt she was doing much better.

And then I got the messages from her two best friends. They both reached out to me in a group text to tell me they were worried about her. They said she had been very closed off, wouldn’t talk to them, and hadn’t been herself lately. They wanted to know if there was anything they could do to help her.

My stomach dropped. It must be bad if her friends are contacting me.

I keep telling myself that she is fine. She has her ups and her downs. She’s always been a perfectionist. She’s always been driven. This is the kid that placed 2nd in the state on balance beam and was pissed because she didn’t take home first.

“Rock Star, out of all of the girls your age in Utah you placed second! That’s amazing.”

“I didn’t come to take second. I came to win.”

I can handle her freaking out and crying. I know she can fall apart on me and pick herself back up and continue on.

When I’m getting messages from her friends telling me they’re worried about her… I begin to freak out a little myself.

For any of you who follow Chump Lady you know that one of the things she’s often asked is, “When will it stop hurting?” Her reply has become, “Tuesday. It will stop on Tuesday.” She’s not sure which Tuesday, of course, but it will eventually stop.

To be clear, I am not pining away for the ex. Sadly though, he still has the power to hurt me through my children. Fearing that my daughter might end up a suicide statistic hurts me.

My daughter should not be worried about how to pay her rent. She should not feel as though she has somehow failed if she needs to come to me and ask for financial help.

I hate him for that. I hate him for not making sure his kids have everything they need.

You want to make sure I never get another dime of your money? That’s fine. Pay your goddamn kids directly! Give them what they need instead of trying to bribe someone else’s kids. It doesn’t matter how fucking good you are to the mulligans. You have failed your own kids.

I’m going to take my own advice. Break this up into little pieces. Survive one crisis and then tackle the other. By all accounts it sounds like she is doing much better. I texted her friends back and let them know what was going on. By the time I finally had a chance to get back to them they told me she was more like her old self and she was laughing and talking to them.

The mobster called her and talked to her. He reported that she sounded better as well. Of course, as he acknowledged it’s a lot easier to fall apart on mom. He didn’t expect her to open up and fall apart on him. But he gave her a pep talk and let her know how worried I was and how worried her friends were.

One foot in front of the other. Tuesday will come one day.

For My Daughter… & My Son

Have you heard Kane Brown’s newest single? It’s called, “For My Daughter” and it’s his  promise to his daughter to be the dad he never had.

I’m not going to lie. I teared up a little bit listening to it. It tugs at the heartstrings. I hope he lives up to all of his promises. That little girl will be incredibly lucky.

I did like how he acknowledges that they say the past is supposed to shape you, but then goes on to say, “Well, I guess that’s up to me.” Far too often what we get are excuses instead of explanations. His father left him. He survived an abusive stepfather. He could easily shrug his shoulders and say, “What do you expect from me? I don’t know any different.” Instead, he tells his daughter, “I learned what not to do. I grew up without a dad. I’m gonna be the best one I can be.”

You know, when my daughter was born I remember Jerry Lee crying, his voice full of wonder as he said to me, “We have a daughter.” My friend reminded me of the story of all of us going out to dinner and him remaining focused on Rock Star the entire night. Apparently I said something to the effect of, “If nothing else I know he will always be a great dad to our children.” I honestly thought I had picked someone who would never abandon his children. Someone who wanted to give his own kids what his own father never gave him. Someone who wanted to coach Little League and teach them how to hit a baseball. Someone who would be there to cheer them on in whatever they chose to do. Someone who would want to spend time with them and create family memories. I thought he loved them.

Since I made such a colossal mistake in choosing a father for my children I’ve taken to re-writing the lyrics a bit. To both my daughter and my son:

They say dads are supposed to shape you, in a way I guess yours did.

You know what not to do if you ever have a kid

They say history repeats itself

Well, I guess that’s up to you

Yeah I’m sorry ’bout your dad

but I’m gonna be the best mom I can be.

That’s how I sing it now. Chin up, chitlins. You both know what not to do- from cheating on your partner to abandoning your kid. You can let this change you for the worse or you can tell him to suck it and be the best damn people you can be. Don’t let him win. It sucks to be abandoned and discarded by your dad, but your mama loves you. I’m going to do my best to make his absence go unnoticed. I’m going to love you both so hard you’ll hardly miss him. I’m going to do my best to make up for his failings.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

 

20191103_210250.jpgThis picture is the essence of who my daughter once was. It was taken just a few months after we moved from Virginia to Indiana. A few months after gymnastics was taken away from her forever.

She started gymnastics the first time around as soon as she turned three. It lasted about 3 months. The class tended to take place at the time she was just waking up from her nap and she was a beast upon waking. I decided it wasn’t worth it.

Fast forward almost a year. Her preschool class took a field trip to that gym. She loved it. I asked her if she’d like to take lessons again. She enthusiastically replied, “Yes!”

Her coach was a real cutie patootie. After she had gone through the entire program for kids her age it was time to decide if she wanted to sign up for some more recreational lessons, or if she wanted to start training for team gymnastics. I explained to her that if she wanted to do rec Chad wouldn’t be her coach any longer because he taught the preschool program and the team girls. She wanted to do team gymnastics.

“Do you want to do team gymnastics because you really like gymnastics, or because you really like Chad?” I asked her, knowing that participation on the team would require a much bigger commitment.

“I really like gymnastics,” she replied. “But I really like Chad, too,” she admitted.

That’s how we ended up spending tens of thousands of dollars on gymnastics over the years.

She made the transition from the gym in Michigan to the gym in Utah with a few tears. It was difficult starting over. Meeting new coaches. Getting used to them. Meeting new teammates.

She was at that gym for 8 years. She spent countless hours there. Gymnastics was her life. Her final three years in Utah she was an Optional. She was at the gym no less than 20 hours a week. In the summer it was 25. Her friends were her gymnastics teammates. Very few people outside of the gym permeated that friendship circle.

For eight years she lived and breathed gymnastics. She progressed from a little girl who couldn’t do a cartwheel, much less a back handspring to a young lady who was doing whips and fulls on floor, back tucks on beam, giants on bars and a Yurchenko on vault.

Then we took it all away from her. We moved to Virginia to a town that didn’t have a JO gymnastics program. They had high school gymnastics though and she dove into that. At one point she even did Excel, saying all she wanted to do was compete. But once again she was being asked to trust new coaches, only this time around the skills were a lot more challenging than a cartwheel.

That lasted for two years. We had to leave our home shortly after she found out she was being named co-captain for her high school gymnastics team. There was no high school gymnastics and I couldn’t afford competitive gymnastics any longer. It was over. Twelve years of gymnastics, over in the blink of an eye. Her love, her passion, was abruptly taken away. She never replaced it with anything else.

I love that picture of her. It captures who she was so perfectly. You could take gymnastics away from her but she would always find a way. She lost competitive gymnastics but embraced high school gymnastics. Then that was taken away from her when we moved from Virginia to Indiana. Yet, out there in a cornfield she used a log as a balance beam and leaped.

I feel like this picture represents something I can’t put into words. Perseverance? The ability to soldier on even when everything you care about has been taken from you? The ability to get back up when life knocks you down? A strong will? Loss? Refusing to be defeated? I don’t know.

What I do know is she loved this. It was her life. And now it’s over. Her father took it away from her to meet his own selfish needs.

Keep leaping, my beautiful girl. Keep dreaming and improvising.

P.S. She nailed the landing, in case you were wondering.

When You Feel Like You’ve Failed

I have days when I doubt everything I’ve done throughout this divorce. Was I right in cutting off communication and going no contact? Should I have eaten shit in the hopes that he would spend more time with his kids? Was I too open, too honest, with my kids? Should I have instead lied or hid the truth about what was really happening from them? Should I have pushed them more to have a relationship with their father? Should I have begged and pleaded for him to be more involved with his kids? Pushed Harley on them even though I didn’t want to? Hell, should I have made him his fucking spaghetti after that first night and carried on like normal so that the kids would have known it was fine for them to have a relationship with him? Hey, if Mom’s still making dinner for him and fixing his plate then we can surely go out to eat with him and have a fun time with him.

These thoughts have not come out of the blue. Rock Star was home a few weeks ago for Fall Break and on one of those nights she had a slight breakdown. She complains of constant stress and feeling like the weight of the world is on her shoulders. It’s hard to tell how much is drama and teenage angst and how much is real.

Some days it seems like she’s got the world by the tail and she’s so very happy and content. Then other days she seems to fall apart.

She didn’t get a “little” this year. Littles and bigs, they’re called. I suppose once upon a blue moon they were labeled big sis and little sis but now they’ve dropped words to make it easier to say. It’s like KFC and Dunkin’.

Earlier in the process she had complained that it was moving so quickly and that she didn’t really feel like she had a great connection with one specific person. Then came the reveal that she didn’t get picked to get a “little”.

She played it off like it was a relief because of all of her schoolwork but when she had her breakdown it all came tumbling down. She felt like she let her own “big” down. She felt like she wasn’t enough. I’m sure the rejection stung, although the reality was there were simply more girls available to be bigs than they had in the pledge class.

She thinks she’s stupid, too stupid to get into nursing school. I have been telling her for at least two years now that her cousin, the one who graduated a year ago as a nurse, isn’t one bit smarter than her. She had a 3.8 GPA in high school, for crying out loud! And yet she continues to say her grades are awful, they’re not good enough on their own to get her into nursing school and she knows she’s too stupid to pass the nursing school exam.

She’s always been a perfectionist, though. She has a 3.3 nursing GPA right now. I have had the conversation with her that goes something like this: I find it very hard to believe that only straight A students get into nursing school. The kids that aren’t getting in are the ones like the girl in your biology class that was rockin’ that 1.8 GPA.

When things calmed down I did suggest she go talk to her advisor because surely he or she could let her know what she needed in order to get into nursing school. Maybe the advisor can lay her concerns to rest. I also reminded her that she’s always been hard on herself and that her version of bad grades probably means she’s getting a B in something, which she did admit.

She told me her anxiety and depression is getting worse, despite being on medication. She says she doesn’t have much of an appetite and that she can make a single cup of coffee last for about four hours because she just can’t drink it that fast anymore.

And always there are the issues with her father.

I’d like to knock the shit out of any of those people who say that affairs are between two consenting adults, or who try to sell that bullshit that as long as you’re happy your kids will be okay. I’d like to run over the next person who dares utter the phrase, “Children are resilient.”

Yeah, they’re so fucking resilient that that evening when she was having her meltdown all I could do was think, “Oh God, please don’t let me get a call from the university informing me they’ve found my kid’s body after she’s committed suicide.”

Hey, her dad’s happy and that’s all that matters, right?

A little back story. My aforementioned niece, the nurse, just got married last month. My other niece, Queen Bee, was invited to be in the wedding. Rock Star was not. She’s been wanting to be in a wedding ever since her childhood best friend was in her sister’s wedding back when they were probably only 13 years old. Rock Star, Queen Bee, and Florence Nightingale have done almost everything as a trio throughout the years so I think it was yet another rejection.

Nonetheless she put on a brave facing, declaring it was no big deal and that she would undoubtedly be in a lot of weddings in the upcoming years because of her close ties with her sorority sisters.

Then came the big day. Florence Nightingale made the decision to walk up the aisle unaccompanied. But later that night at the reception there was the Father/Daughter dance.

I was keeping an eye on Rock Star and checking on her reaction. Nothing seemed amiss that evening but the night of her meltdown she told me she was bawling during it. In my defense I was across the room from her.

It hurts her to realize she will never have that. As she said, “My dad doesn’t care enough about me to do something like that for me.” At one point during the conversation she mentioned him abandoning her without saying a word, not loving her enough to stick around, and spending the last four years making her life a living hell.

I gave her the same speech I gave to her brother a little while ago.  He is your father. I understand if you want to have a relationship with him. You aren’t being disloyal to me by having a relationship with him.

“I don’t want to have a relationship with him!” she replied, still crying. There was something in there about him “making” me suicidal and how she couldn’t lose me. I stressed to her that I’m doing fine and that once I was away from him I no longer felt like that. Of course, that’s where the guilt kicks in again. Maybe I should never have opened my mouth. I’m too damn flippant sometimes. When I mentioned that in passing one time (and I don’t even remember what brought it up) she got a shocked look on her face but nothing else was said. I assured her at the time that I was fine and no longer felt like that. But in hindsight that was a terribly heavy burden to place on her and I’m sure the fear is always there that something else he will do will end with me wanting to end my life. He does have a habit of yanking the rug out from under us every six months to a year.

I’m pretty sure she went on to say that he was a horrible person and he continues to make everything about himself. Hmmm… that does sound familiar.

I think she’s between a rock and a hard place. She wants something she knows she can’t have. She wants to be a daddy’s girl, even though she never was even when we were together. She wants that close relationship but she realizes it’s never going to happen. He’s not that person. And ultimately she knows exactly what kind of a person he is and knows that’s not the type of person she wants in her life. Sure, he would walk her down the aisle. Hell, he’s already told her that he wants to do exactly that when the day comes.

I know I moved you 2000 miles across the country, away from the only friends you really remembered, and away from your true love, gymnastics, only to cheat on your mom and leave you all behind. I realize I put my own wants and desires and pursuit of happiness ahead of you and anything you might have needed as a young teen. I conned you into believing I suffered from PTSD so you would feel sorry for me. I moved out of our house and out of the state without saying a single word to you or your brother. Bummer that you had to move out of your new home and leave your new friends behind. I know I spent years whining about having to switch schools every year when I was younger, and I know I insisted we move when we did because I was supposedly so concerned about not moving you once you began high school but it turns out it doesn’t concern me at all that you had to switch high schools right as you began your junior year. I don’t care that you had to move in with your grandmother and don’t have a home of your own; I’m rocking that five bedroom home in the “most sought after subdivision”. I don’t care that you didn’t get your driver’s license when you were supposed to, thanks to me and Harley, or that your last two years of high school were awful. I’m not willing to help you out with college or to pay your medical insurance or help with your phone bill or your car insurance. But I want you to know it would mean the world to me to be able to walk you down that aisle on your wedding day.

Yeah, that about sums it up. He would be there with bells on if she asked him to be.

Unfortunately I don’t think that’s what she really wants. I think she wants him to want to have a relationship with her. She wants to know she’s loved and missed. She wants to be able to reject him and hurt him, the way he has hurt her these last four years. She wants to know she matters. Sadly, I think she knows that she doesn’t matter to her dad. He’s way too busy with his whore cousin and her kids.

He couldn’t be bothered to come to any of her events but he can put on a damn Cardinal t-shirt and support the whore’s daughter. Guess those crowds at the gym didn’t give him the heebie jeebies like he claimed they did when it came to Rock Star’s gymnastics. He couldn’t be bothered to send extra money so I could buy her a Homecoming dress only weeks after he was discovered. No, he was too busy spending $4400 on an engagement ring for his cousin that month; but two months later he could spend $300 on a dress for the whore’s daughter. He couldn’t buy his own daughter a car but he sent $500 to the whore so she could pay for repairs for her daughter’s vehicle. And on top of that, he made big promises about buying her a car as well. He was so busy buying the affection of Harley’s kids that he neglected his own. Just like he could make a 12 hour round trip drive to go see the whore every single weekend and yet the only time he has ever made the drive to see his own kid(s) was Rock Star’s graduation. I think that was solely so he could know the precise time to cut off child support for her.

Maybe it would be better if he would disappear altogether. Instead he randomly pops back up. He’ll send a text designed to elicit sympathy. He’ll say something negative about me. He’s always oh so sad and he always wants her to know he loves her to the moon and back.

She feels guilty about “being mean” to Tammy Faye, the person who engineered Jerry Lee and Harley’s hookup. She didn’t call her when she was dying. She feels like she’s a horrible person for not responding to her. There is always all this guilt heaped upon her.

I reminded her that aside from Facebook, and maybe one holiday card, Tammy Faye had never reached out to her. She never bothered to call or text after the very first episode when the kids found out, when she demanded to talk to her and then threw the phone on the ground as she walked off crying. It was all postings on Facebook about how she loved her so much and she was her flesh and blood. That’s not really all comforting considering she was crowing her unconditional love for her new “grandkids” as soon as Jerry Lee replaced us all.

Even if The Saint lied and Tammy Faye didn’t encourage Harley to call Jerry Lee she still had absolutely no problem with what they were doing. She went as the third wheel to a fucking funeral with the two dipshits, for crying out loud! She never told Rock Star she was sorry about everything that had happened or expressed any sympathy about everything she lost due to her father’s behavior. There was never an, “I’m sorry you didn’t get your license on time,” or “I’m sorry you had to move out of your house,” or “I’m sorry you have to move again and leave behind all of these new friends you’ve made.” Not a one of them know the hell she went through her last two years of school.

I reminded her that having boundaries wasn’t “mean”. She distanced herself for a reason. She really only had two choices. She could maintain her boundaries, which pretty much boils down to, “Anyone that doesn’t have a problem with what my dad did is not someone I want in my life,” or she can cave to the pressure. If she wants to pretend it’s all fine and that she has no problem with what her father did then that’s up to her.

Most recently she was invited to the Jackass family reunion (paternal side of the family). Oh, not by him. She was invited by his sister-in-law, the one I recently unfriended. “Why won’t they leave me alone?” she asked me.

The short answer would be: You’re still family. 

The slightly longer answer would be: They love you. You’ve never come right out and said to any of them, “Leave me alone!” or, “If you are okay with what my dad did I want nothing to do with you. When you support him and his whore, you’re not only supporting what he did to my mom, but what he did to me and my brother as well. You can’t tell me you love me and care about me when you don’t have a problem with what he did because his behavior has destroyed my life.”

I know the guilt should not be mine to bear. It should be his! But he’s totally oblivious. He never has to see her in pain. He never looks into her face when she is disappointed yet again. He is unaware of the stress and the struggles, the anxiety and the depression. He lives in a make-believe world where his happiness justifies everything.

I will always feel guilty when these things come up. When my child hurts, I hurt. And as always I am left wondering, “Was there anything else I could have done? Was there anything I could have done differently?”

Fortunately for me, the answer is always, “No, he’s an asshole. Nothing you could have done would have changed that.”

Radical Acceptance

There are many things that are going to pop into my mind over these next 26 days. I intend to write about most of them.

Today I was trying not to let myself steam over Jerry Lee’s newly self-modified spousal support. “You’ve turned it over to the state. You have to have faith that things will turn out in your favor. Judges don’t like it when people modify their orders (or a fellow judge’s).”

Yet, it still chaps my ass. For four months he played me like a violin. Acting like he was jobless and sending all that he could. I’m grateful for the crumbs he sends because it’s what keeps me from having to work a second job. When he’s finally confronted he doesn’t pony up and pay what he owes. Oh hell no! Instead he does some weird ass arithmetic and comes up with an off the wall calculation for what he is willing to pay. He sends that money each months and believes I should be grateful. He pays me almost $400 less than what he’s supposed to be paying, but I’m supposed to be thankful. And as always, I’m at a standstill. Waiting. Waiting for action to be taken.

“What does that all have to do with radical acceptance, Sam?” you may be asking. It was a comment on Facebook. I believe on Chump Lady’s Facebook page. The person who made the comment said you had to have radical acceptance. You had to accept that what once was was no longer, and you had to accept that this new life was now yours.

So I was just thinking about how he lives in his fancy little (well, okay, big) 5 bedroom house with an open floor plan and a fireplace in the most sought over subdivision in his town, while he doles out partial payments of his court ordered support. His life hasn’t taken a hit at all. He and Harley combined bring home, I would imagine, even more than what he made by himself. She’s living her best life ever with her new, well-paid husband. Her kids are living a life they’ve never dreamed of before while mine are mired in hell with a mother who is constantly worrying about money. I thought to myself, “Isn’t this some shit? Christmas of 2014 both of my kids woke to Mac Book Pros from Santa; they opened up another $300-$500 worth of gifts from us when we exchanged gifts before leaving to spend Christmas with my family. Four and a half years ago, in the summer of 2015, I was spending $57,000 to put an in-ground pool in my backyard. Today I’m donating plasma twice a week so that my kids can have Christmas.” How do you radically accept that?

Sophia’s words come back to haunt me. Her story of having to throw out every plan she had for her future after her accident and then learning to live and accept a different life has stuck with me.

Does radical acceptance mean I have to like it, though? I feel like I have minimally accepted it. I acknowledge and recognize that my children and I once lived an upper middle class, cushy lifestyle and now we don’t. It’s a cold hard fact. I simply do not have the cash to do the things with them that I did before. We don’t go to the places that we did. I don’t spend the money that I used to spend. I don’t have it. I can’t do it.

I acknowledge and recognize that by my former standards I’m poor. I live with my mother and I will never have a home to call my own again. I understand that. I hate it, but I have accepted that that is my fate.

Maybe it doesn’t need to be radical acceptance. Maybe it only needs to be acceptance. Maybe it’s small steps, like having to be okay with your daughter needing to take out loans to fund her entire college education because you know you can’t help her. Or, on a much smaller scale, realizing you can’t buy your kid a new computer.

Picasso recently charged up his laptop. I don’t know what he was doing with it but I’m sure it had something to do with downloading games on it. He let me know that his laptop is outdated and he can’t do the things he wanted to do on it. While I was out donating plasma so I could buy Christmas gifts he apparently was looking online to try to find an inexpensive gaming laptop (I’m told a gaming PC would be much more expensive). He found one for $580. Compared to the others which were over a thousand he did indeed find a deal. Unfortunately, that is more than the generous amount I have budgeted for him for Christmas.

Originally I felt bad about not being able to buy it. I twisted it around in my mind, trying to figure out how to make it work that I could get that for him. Naturally I went to the old standby: If his father hadn’t let his dick rule our lives I’d be able to buy him a new computer- no problem. And then I began to think, not outside the box, but beyond my comfort zone.

The first thought I had was that he simply wouldn’t get one. It’s too expensive, even at that great price. Sorry. No. I cannot afford it.

The second thought I had was that he could get a job and earn enough money to buy it himself. He’s 17 years old and he doesn’t work. He has a couple of after school activities that last a few hours but that’s it. He could get a job like his sister did and make some money of his own. He isn’t responsible for his phone bill. I’ll be paying his insurance when he finally starts to drive. He has no regular bills so anything he made would be his entirely. He could easily make enough over the summer to get the computer he wants.

The third thought I had was that I could buy him a few gifts and then give him cash. If he gets cash from his dad and his grandpa maybe he’ll have enough to buy it. If not, he’ll have a great head start.

There are certainly worse things in this world than having to work for something you want. I don’t know if that’s radical acceptance or not, but it’s all I’ve got for right now.