Vindication or Moving On?

It won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who has read my blog that my ex-husband appears on the Ashley Madison list. In fact, he’s an active member right now. Interestingly, he seems only to have discovered this website after the divorce.

I suppose he’s cheating on the Other Woman who contributed in her very teeny, tiny, little minuscule way to the ending of my horrific marriage to my ex-husband – an NPD, sex addict, and probable sociopath.

This is the Other Woman showed up voluntarily in court at my divorce trial to badmouth me – a woman she had never even met. A year later, this still takes my breath away.

She showed up at a divorce trial to badmouth an innocent woman whose husband she “stole” (booby prize that he is), and to repeat lies told to her by her cheating partner that she met on an adult website that makes Ashley Madison look as innocent as Disney.com.

And after she testified, she decided that she wanted her name redacted from the court records. She filed motion after motion, filled with vague references to a terrible and life-altering smoking gun against me, which never appeared of course, delaying my three-year divorce by many more months and costing me the remainder of my retirement funds.

The courts turned her down. She will always appear, by name, in my divorce decree. There is some justice in the world. The decree, written by the judge, states that she perjured herself on the stand. Even though she is an attorney.

In fact, she perjured herself twice during a very short cross-examination by my attorneys. She would have perjured herself many more times, but you are only allowed to ask questions directly related to her previous testimony.

So we never did get to ask about the Big Things. It’s too bad because these are very, very Big Things.

I really want to write more here about her job as an attorney, and how she likes to prosecutes people. I want to write where she works.

But I won’t. I know I’m dealing with a lunatic.

But now her “boyfriend” has appeared on Ashley Madison, looking for other women behind her back.

Is she surprised?

No, I’m sure she’s not.

Does she even care?

I’m guessing she does, but since she cheats on him too, I don’t think she has much of a case against him.

But I do know, from their history of Disclosed Emails, that this will lead to a lot of drinking, screaming, threats, and possibly even some violence.

And so how do I feel?

Not so good. Some people will find out that my lying ex-husband is a AM regular with multiple accounts. They may find his scandalous profiles. My children could find out someday.

I think a lot of other things though. I believe that people are generally good, and that the good people I know are too busy and happy with their own lives to look through AM lists.

I also think that I’m lucky to have moved so far away from this man psychologically. I think that my life is good. It’s getting better and better.

I think that he’s somebody else’s problem now.

And that sort of makes me smile.

Advertisements

Goodbye House: A Divorce Story

This house is sold.

Through this front door, a mom carried her first baby home from the hospital. In this living room, the baby bawled all day as his mom paced back and forth, cradling him like a football to ease his colic. Then one wondrous day, the colic ceased all at once. Here, the little baby suddenly started smiling and laughing.

Through this front door, 17 months later, the mom carried her second baby home from the hospital. On this sofa, the new baby slept in her mom’s arms for hours and hours during quiet afternoons when time stood still and nothing mattered more than a mommy-daughter nap.

Down these narrow stairs, two babies learned how to crawl backwards, diapered bottoms first. Two babies ate cheerios for the first time here in this dining room, in big old-fashioned high chairs. Here in this room a little boy ate so many pureed carrots and sweet potatoes that his nose turned orange. Here in this room a baby girl slipped out of her high chair one night. Here her mother heard the smack of bone on the cold, wood floor.  Here her mom felt certain her baby would die, so she clutched the infant to her chest and ran and ran and pounded on the front door of her pediatrician friend.

Here is where a cheer little boy crawled in circles and circles and circles around the house, pushing a toy truck along the wood floors. “Digger,” he shouted. “Weeeeehooooo, fire fire!” And around and around again.

Here is a front window out to the street, where a little boy stood on a chair to watch the garbagemen empty the bins and wave at him. Here is a little city courtyard in front of this house where this little boy grew obsessed with the garden hose, spraying it at his sister, and his mom, and himself. This is where his little sister wore the tiniest rose-covered flouncy bathing suit over pink chubby folds of skin, jumping through the water, euphoric. This is where her big brother showed up one day, naked, to run under the hose until he was scooped up by his mom in front of laughing tourists walking down the little city street.

This is the bedroom that two little people have always shared. Along this wall a little boy played in his toddler bed every morning before 6 a.m., calling gently across the room to wake his baby sister.  Against this wall sat his sister’s crib, where she lay on her back, head swiveled and eyes wide, watching every move her big brother made. Here, as soon as she could stand, her brother taught her how to climb out of the crib and play legos with him until the sun began to rise.

This is the bathtub where two little toddlers, less than 18 months apart, took bright-colored baths together. This is the tub in which a mom mixed Crayola Bath color together for every bath for several years, asking, “How about we mix a red and a blue one tonight?” And this is where two little children screamed, “Yes, yes, make it purple, our favorite!” as the water turned violet. This is the tub where a mermaid lived and a dolphin skimmed across the water’s surface. This is the tub where a little boy wore scuba goggles, and a little girl splashed until the floor was covered in purple water.

This is the basement where memories were made. This was the home of Lego, and Playmobil, and wooden blocks, and Thomas the Train. This was playdate heaven where barefoot toddlers with popsicle-stained fingers popped bubbles and toppled over trampolines and hid in the closet when it was time to go home. This is where little boys shouted, “Yes We Can,” and little girls magically transformed into Disney princesses.

This was the library where two little people learned how to read and how to make sense of the world, sitting on their mother’s lap in a mini stuffed chair. This is the place where two children felt secure, and unconditionally loved, and filled with joy. The world was a good place, and they knew this.

This is the place where two little people first learned how to say, “I wuv you.” It was a place of sticky kisses and bear hugs, a place where a mom was perfect in the eyes of two little people.

And this is the place where their father betrayed their mom, and them. This is the place where voices were raised, making two little people question their security in the world.

This is the place where a father cracked up and then a family broke up.

Here in this place, if the walls could talk, they would spill secrets about a great decline and mental illness and alcohol abuse and lies and cruel gaslighting. This is a place where a mom lost her faith in herself for a while because she was told she was crazy for thinking the obvious. This is a place where a mom learned that she needed to be perfect because she couldn’t control anything else.

Here in the place, the family became smaller, and people were hurt. And here in this place, a sweet little boy hit his mom and told her the divorce was all her fault.

But then, finally, here in this place the healing started. Upstairs in this place, a bunk bed was shared, and books were chosen for bedside reading out loud. Here is this room, the fictional character Mama Pajama was born, and two children made up stories about how she can fight misfortune wherever she goes.

Here at this table, family dinners started again, along with family thanks, and family prayers, and family meetings.

Here in this place, Barbies lie scattered everywhere, and artwork once again features smiling people with big, bright suns shining down on them. Here in this place, the lego has come and gone, but the baseballs and soccer balls and lacrosse helmets and scooters and mitts and footballs and ballet leotards remain. Here in this place, life goes on.

Here is where two little people are still safe and warm and loved. Here in this place, friends gather, and the truth is told. Here in this place lives a new family.

But now it is time to leave this place. A mom turns around one last time. The furniture is gone; there is nothing left here. She shuts the front door one final time and rubs the curved brass knob that feels just right in her hand.

For a moment, the mom wonders what life would have been –  if things had been just a little, tiny bit different. But then she remembers that holding on is never strength. She lets go and walks away.

 

Interview with Emily

I’m tired of writing about myself. Once a week for the next six weeks, I’m going to interview a recently divorced woman. All of them have struggled, and all of them have found the strength to push through to the other side. I’ll ask them all the same questions.

First up, Emily. Emily reached out to me immediately after my separation. She accurately predicated that I was going to be in for a long haul, like her. And boy, was she right. Here is a piece of Emily’s story, in her own words.

Emily

43 years old, North Carolina

Two children, 9 and 12

Separated 2010, divorced 2012

Reasons for divorce:  Infidelity

 

Fill in the Blank: Courage is . . .

Doing what must be done, every day, because … just because. Choosing to go it alone even when the idea of it is overwhelming.

 
What role has courage played in your divorce? 

After willingly giving up control of my life, my financial future, and my career, I had to forcibly wrest all of it back and stand up for myself, my children, and my financial future while in the midst of a mind numbing trauma.

What was your biggest immediate challenge after the Separation? 

Financial insecurity.  My ex emptied the bank account and stopped sending financial support of any amount.  I had been a SAHM for 10 years.  I had a small amount of retirement that I cashed out with penalty.  I began searching for work of any kind during the greatest recession of our lifetime with no immediate experience.  All of this was while dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and stalking by my ex.

Did you ever feel like you wouldn’t make it? 

Yes.  I did not know if I would find work.  I was afraid I would be a single mom living with my parents.  Or worse, I would be murdered at the hands of my ex.  The anxiety was debilitating.

What inspires you when you’re feeling scared or uncertain?

The knowledge that I must set the tone for my children.  They are only as secure as they see me.  I had to act “as if” so that they would believe me when I said, “it will be okay.”

How are your children doing now? 

My children are doing very well.  They are less trusting and “easy” in their happiness than they used to be.  But I have been told they are exceptionally well adjusted.  I have a very solid relationship with them.  They are bright and successful at school and socially.  Both have had anxiety issues (overeating and nightmares) but overall, they are doing beautifully, and I am very, very proud of that fact.  They are mostly indifferent to their father, which makes me sad, but is in fact, a healthy response to his behavior and treatment of them.

How are YOU doing now? 

I am doing better than I ever imagined!  I have a teaching career.  I am well respected at work and in my community.  I am successful as a parent.  I have a home, and I am financially stable.  I do not have to rely on the inconsistent child support.  I have dated, and survived dating in my 40’s.  I like who I am.

I am happiest when . . .

I am in my home.  It is a peaceful place.

What are three good things about being divorced?

Only three?  There are thousands of things.

  1. Knowing my financial situation and being in control of the budget.
  2. Parenting without interference
  3. Peace in my home.

What are three difficult things about being divorced?

  1.  My children feel conflicted about me, their father, and loyalty.
  2. Having my children spend holidays away from me and experience vacations/travel without me.
  3. Court.  I hate going to court, seeing my name on court documents, and realizing that the “system” does not protect the “good guys” from someone who just doesn’t care to play by the rules.  I have had to accept there is no real JUSTICE in the world.

Is there anything that you would do differently? 

I would not have hired an attorney.  I think I could have done a better job fighting for myself.  Certainly I could have done it cheaper.

Do you feel like you will ever fall in love again? 

No.  I don’t trust myself or others enough for this to happen.  I can be happy and be “with” someone without loving them.  I love my children.

Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that has gotten you through the day?

“Just keep swimming… just keep swimming” Dora