Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Divorce Part 7 - Finding Love Again


It’s been written in the scars on our hearts / That we’re not broken just bent / And we can learn to love again - Pink

I’ll never forget the reaction I got from one person who found out I was dating again after my divorce. She told me I should take some time for myself like she did. She told me she stayed single for a year to prove she could be on her own and support herself.

First, I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. Secondly, I have been on my own before and supported myself while single. Finally, I wasn’t looking for someone to support me and my kids. I had been doing that already. I was constantly saving our asses financially the best I could while dealing with Scott’s job losses and business failures. 

I wanted companionship. I felt like I had been single for two years or more already.

One month after I decided to get divorced I joined Match.com. I wasn't looking for a relationship. I wanted someone to talk to. Someone in a similar situation with whom I could be friends. I didn't want to go to bars. I didn't want to get involved with someone from work. I didn't have any single guy friends outside of work locally so . . . Match.com it was.

I spent a couple months just emailing with guys exchanging divorce stories. Occasionally, I would text with a few. I met a few for lunch or a drink. The funny thing was, I wasn't desperate and if they showed any trace of my Ex's personality or behaviors I stopped being friends with them. I wasn't about to even waste my time or energy.

Then, one night I got an email from Match with "potential matches" within my area. I took a look. On the side of the page were just other random people outside of my designated area. I clicked on one of them. I read his profile. Studied his only photo of himself - a selfie - and then sent a wink to him. He sent me an email via Match introducing himself. I replied back and then didn’t hear from him again.

I was intrigued by Ed based on what he wrote and his one single photo of himself. He obviously held the camera out in front of himself while grinning in a faded blue t-shirt with a tattered collar and one of his closet doors open behind him. It told me so much about him. Here was this guy who wrote about how he lived all over the world, retired from the Navy, was looking for someone to just get him out and have fun. But, his photo said I am not into image. Take me as I am. It made me chuckle.

Finally, I got an email from him saying he was on vacation. We texted for 2 hours the very first night. He just kept making me laugh. I loved it. He just seemed so genuine, quirky, funny, sincere.

We spent the next two weeks talking everyday on the phone and texting all day long. It was the most I had talked to anyone I met on Match. After two weeks, we finally decided to meet. We met at a restaurant and he instantly hugged me. We both agreed we were nervous. I was more nervous meeting him than anyone else I had previously met from Match. We had dinner and at one point I said, "Can I hold your hand?" I just felt like I needed to touch him. I loved his eyes, his smile, his skin color. His hands were so soft but he was shaking a little. It was when he started singing along (loudly) to the song "Time of my life" by Patrick Swayze that I looked at him, laughed and thought to myself “this guy is different”.

So began our relationship. At first it was mostly by phone. I didn't have a lot of free time and wasn't on the every-other-weekend schedule yet with the kids. I think it was 6 more weeks before we went out again.

I was amazed at how fearless he was about my situation. He was taking a huge risk. I wasn't divorced and was just at the beginning of the process. For all he knew I could have changed my mind and decided to go back to my ex. I once asked him why he took that chance and how he knew that I wouldn’t change my mind. He told me because there was a time he was with me when Scott was giving me hell via text and he said he could see the hurt in my eyes. He said he knew I was done with him.

There were many times that he saw that hurt. He held me up throughout the entire process. There were times I was crying and blubbering on the phone so hard that he had to tell me to slow down because he couldn’t understand me. There were times I showed up at his place in tears. I even had a telephone code setup with him too because divorces can cause people to get violent and unreasonable.  I sometimes feared that Scott would hurt me. So Ed knew if I dialed him two times in a row and didn’t say anything when he answered that he needed to come quick.

I look back at the early days and realize how much he took care of me. While I wasn’t looking for someone to take care of me and the kids and support us, I did find someone to take care of me emotionally. It was a life saver. I am not sure how I would have made it through the divorce like I did had he not been there to hold me up. 

My mom used to ask me what Ed said or thought about some of the crap that was going on during my divorce. The truth of the matter is he didn’t have a lot of opinions. Or should I say he didn’t share them with me unless I pressed him to do so. He left me to the decision making. He would occasionally offer things to consider or think about. However, when it came down to it, he left it all up to me. He stood there supporting me along the way and helping me move forward. And despite how badly Scott treated me, he rarely said nasty things about him.

During the early days, his goal was always to make me smile. He told me that too. He tried to make our time together as stress free and calm as possible. He wanted me to smile and relax. I remember a lot dinners out and lying on his couch watching movies. Sometimes I would just nap at his house. He would let me sleep because the stress would get to me more than I realized.

One time he said, “We need to get out of town.”  He let me pick. I wanted to go to the beach even though it was winter. I knew the beach would be relaxing. So he booked a weekend at Orange Beach. We talked and sang to the radio the whole drive there. When we got there we spent three days wandering around the shops, eating out, renting movies, playing multiple games of putt-putt and walking the beach. We did whatever we felt like. My favorite was the night I woke up in the middle of the night with a belly ache and asked him if we could just sit on the balcony. So there we sat wrapped in blankets on the balcony and talked while we looked out over the moon reflecting on the ocean.

It was so completely different from traveling anywhere with Scott. Ed was so calm. It was like night and day. In fact, I had to get used to not being on guard when I was out with Ed like I had to be with Scott. With Scott I was always worried something would set him off or go wrong that would cause an uproar – like u-turns or not so perfect service.

The thing that made me the most happy was that Ed insisted and preached to me that my kids always come first before him. That was probably the only thing he had a very strong opinion on and wouldn’t waver. I never had to feel like I had to make a choice between my kids and him. He made it for me. He always told me “You are worth waiting for.”.

It was almost a year before I introduced him to my kids. We had a plan that we followed. We would slowly introduce him. We went to extremes sometimes to make it happen. It was thought out and gradual. Now, almost 3 years later, the kids like him, he vacations with us and we still only see each other every other weekend. On the weekends I have the kids, he sometimes spends at least one day with us doing something but not always. It works for us and that is all that matters.

My brother told me one day that I went from one extreme to another in men. I have to agree with him. I wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice. I have learned that the little things I thought I could live with in Scott when we were in our mid-twenties (job hopping, not valuing his family, not paying bills very well, his desire to be rich and his arrogant personality) became BIG issues as we got older.

So when I met Ed I saw the opposite. He once asked me what attracted me to his Match profile. I said it was because he actually accomplished something – a 20 year career in the Navy. I was serious. He also had taken care of himself all that time – like paying bills. He called him mom and twin sister every day! He adored his family and was close to them. He helped his mom care for his dad his last two years of battling cancer. He saved his money and didn’t care about status. Arrogant wasn’t a word I think anyone would ever use to describe Ed.

Most of all, Ed became my valiant protector. He protected me and my heart. He still does. I always thought I was this strong, independent person who didn’t need anyone to take care of me. What I didn’t realize is that every woman needs someone to take care of them emotionally, regardless of how well they can support themselves financially.

It wasn't always easy finding love again. I had a lot of bitterness and betrayal to deal with. Many times I took it out on Ed. He stood strong and was secure enough in himself to realize it wasn't him. He understood I needed to heal.

I often get asked if I would marry again. Maybe. I am not that bitter about marriage.  The next question is when will Ed and I get married. I can’t answer that. We joke it will be when both kids are graduated from college. We say until then we will continue living in our respective homes and seeing each other on every other weekend.

It works for us. We are both happy.  I often ask in return “What is the rush?”

 

 

 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Divorce Part 6 - After the move out

"Might not have so far to go / Just to leave the mess behind / I see the sun coming up / I know it's worth believing" The Used

A lot happened after the move out. The next year was a year of adjustments. We had to figure out how to take care of the kids as a divorcing couple. It was a trying time as well. 

I let him continue to get the kids off the bus and come into my house and start homework with them as he always did. This caused many issues. He was always going through my stuff - mail, paperwork, looking in my room, etc. He thought I was too stupid not to notice. He even opened a gift card I had hidden behind something on the windowsill to see who it was from. My son was upset because it was a Starbucks gift card for his birthday from the kids. So of course I heard about the snooping from my son.

He made comments about fresh flowers I had at the house. He even accused me of having a party one weekend when he had the kids. Why? He had to stop at the house for something one of the kids forgot. I wasn't home.  He went into my son's room and found one of my shoes in the middle of the room! I swear I laughed about that one forever! I have no idea how it got there but it was ONE shoe and perhaps the dog drug it in there? Who knows and who cares? Most importantly, how does that indicate a party?

He still comes to my house after school a few days a week. I had to threaten to not allow him into the house anymore and would change the locks if he didn't leave my stuff alone. He finally stopped and for the most part it works now. It is good for the kids.

Then, there was the legal stuff. I hired a lawyer. He represented himself. So he paid ZERO dollars for the divorce.  He thought he was a lawyer and wanted all kinds of crazy shit. My lawyer laughed at him. She wanted to know where he got some of his demands and requests. He would threaten me constantly. I just kept plugging forward legally. 

There were lots of fights and I was regularly called a bully. He wasn't getting his way like he was used to and therefore I was a bully. Interestingly enough, it was him that was acting bullish. I was simply implementing boundaries and legally proceeding. He did not want me to use a lawyer. He wanted him and I to write up our own agreement. I am glad I didn't go that route.

Then, there was the insanity. He demanded to speak to the children every single night. He would get so irate if I missed a night. Well, sometimes I was busy with them at night and forgot or just didn't have time. It was a big change for us and it required adjustment learning to balance getting home at 6 pm, dinner, homework, bedtime. For awhile my son threw hour long or more fits at night before bedtime. It was hard for me to deal with. I was often just mentally exhausted at night. 

Well, one night during a massive fit with my son, Scott kept calling. I answered angrily and told him it wasn't a good time and to relax. He proceeded to text me. I told him to back off, put my phone in my room on the charger and silenced it. I didn't need him on me while I was trying to get my son to settle. 

About an hour later, my son was settled and asleep. I was in my daughter's room tucking her in when there was a knock at my door. It was 9:30 pm. My dog went crazy barking. I flicked on the light and there in the dark with a flashlight was the Sheriff.  I answered the door. He told me that my husband called them to check on his kids. That I was not answering the phone and he thought they might be in danger. My response was "Are you kidding me?" He asked if I and the kids were ok. I said I was just fine. My daughter was behind me and he saw her. I turned around and asked her to go back to her room. I stepped outside and closed the door behind me. He said "I am so sorry to bother you on a school night at this hour ma'am."  My reply "He is no longer my husband, nor does he live her anymore. We are getting divorced." He said, "We will make note ma'am. We have on record that he contacted us before." I asked "He did?" He said, "Yes ma'am, he wanted us to escort him here to check on his kids because I wouldn't let him come by one day. We told him we don't do that." I shook my head in disbelief and wished him a good night. 

I checked my phone and had 30 missed calls and text messages threatening to call the police. I went into my daughter's room and had to comfort her. She heard us talking she said and asked why Daddy called the police. "I don't know" was the only answer I could give her. She was very frightened.

Things got better as time went on. Craziness ensued on occasion. My kids did relatively well considering. I am very proud of them. 




Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Divorce Part 5 - 5 months till move out

"So I made up my mind / Made up my mind / Gonna move on ahead / Instead of lagging behind - David Grey

After I found out about the affair, there was no turning back. My mind was made up. I recently spoke with a friend who went through a divorce and she said once she made up her mind finally to take the leap it was like a light switch went off. There was no way she could go back. That is a great way to describe it.

We agreed that he would move out January 1. That meant we would live together for 5 months. We had some financial things to take care of first before we split residences. 

This became a very difficult time. We slept in separate rooms. He hated this and would sometimes beg me to come sleep in the same bed with him. It was pretty pathetic. 

We basically worked and took care of the kids. We did not speak to each other unless it was about the kids. 

I also did not wear my wedding ring anymore. As far as I was concerned, I wasn't married anymore. This drove him crazy! He continued to wear his. I refused. I put it back in the box and tucked it to the back of a shelf in my armoir. At one point he accused me of pawning it. I am not sure why he thought that but I often didn't understand the way he thought. He got so aggressive about me pawning it I ultimately had to show him that I still had it. He claimed it was community property and if I pawned it I owed him half the money. Honestly, that didn't even cross my mind, but this is the insanity of his brain. The things he would be concerned about. 

Several weeks later he accused me of stealing his passport. (He was planning a trip with Kari out of the country I now know). I asked him why he needed it suddenly? He said none of my business. I then asked why would I want to steal it? He said nothing and just started digging around. He found it of course. 

It occurred to me one day to check on my ring in it's hidden spot. It was gone. The box was there but the ring was missing. I confronted him. He acted like he had no idea what I was talking about. I gave him 24hrs to return it. I probably put some ultimatum on the line but don't recall what it was. The next day I was outside with the kids and he walked out and said, "I found your ring." I said, "Oh yeah, where?" He said, "Go look in your room. You had it hidden in the back of the drawer wrapped up in a nightgown." WHAT? Insane I tell you. I went in my room and he literally had staged it like he was looking for it. He pulled the drawer out of the dresser and dumped it's contents on the bed. There sitting on the foot board ledge was my ring. Now, tell me how my ring got out of it's box in the armoir and made it's way into the back of my dresser drawer wrapped in a nightgown? 

Yeah, my thoughts exactly.

Other things happened. During a fight one time he said he recorded things I had said during a previous fight and would use it against me in court. I lunged at him to grab his phone he was waving in my face and he jumped backwards hitting his elbow on the edge of the towel rack. I gave him a knee to the thigh and walked away. He left the house and drove to the police station to file a domestic violence report. He came back and claimed they were at the corner waiting for his call to come arrest me if I harmed him again. I left the house for the weekend. It was worse then it had ever been.

He becaming raging jealous. He started looking at my phone when I wasn't in the room. I was never like him where I had my phone on my person 24/7. I had to start keeping it with me at all times and locking it down. He would hear me on the phone and hear a male voice. He would confront me right there on the spot. It was my dad!

I befriended another guy online who was going through a divorce. He lived locally and we shared a mutual friend, but we never met in person. We talked a lot about our divorce and kids. We shared a similar profession. One day he texted me while I was cutting the grass and I had my phone on the bumper of my car. Scott walked out and picked up and saw the contents of the text message that said simply "Just got home. You watching the game tonight?" That was it. I was having an affair with this guy. I didn't hear the end of it. 

So one weekend I made plans to stay downtown with a friend. Scott was convinced it was this guy he saw the text from. The guy has a unique name and he looked him up online and called his house. His ex wife still lived there and Scott told her we were spending the weekend together. He had called every hotel downtown asking to be transferred to this guy's room. One hotel transferred him to a room so he was convinced that is where we were. The guy texted me the next day and said "What the hell is going on? Why is he contacting my ex wife?" I apologized and said he is going crazy. I asked if he happened to be downtown the night before and he said he was not. He also told me that he couldn't talk to me anymore because his divorce was civil and he did not need anyone messing it up. We never talked again. However, I never heard the end of this guy I have never met in my life from Scott.

I started going to see a counselor. More just to talk then seek help. It was good for me. She didn't give advice really but just listened and asked questions. She gave perspective sometimes that helped digest what was happening. One time he asked to come with me to talk to her. I didn't want this of course. He wanted to talk to her about how to tell the kids about the divorce. I thought this was stupid. It was our decision and we were capable of figuring that out. He insisted that I was being selfish and again threatened to hold it against me in court if I didn't seek out this professional opinion. ugh. Always threatening me. 

So I gave in.

I told her he was coming. He wore a suit of course! I walked in and sat down in my usual spot on the couch across from her desk where she sat. He sat in the chair. He did all the talking. I just sat there. He asked her about how to tell the kids. Her response was "You two are very intelligent people. You know your kids better than anyone else. There is no right or wrong way. Just tell them the truth. Don't sugar coat it." So that was that and he spent the rest of our hour giving her an ear full about me. 

On the way out the door, she called me back in and said "Can you please setup an appt with me to meet next week by yourself?" I went in the following week and she had a lot to say this time. She talked about my demeanor with him present. She said that at first she was confused by my behavior as it was not similar to our previous appointments. I was sitting there with my arms and legs crossed, coat still on and staring at her the whole time. She noticed my body was twisted away from him. After he just kept talking, it occurred to her that it was him. His presence had a profound effect on me.  She said that his personality was so apparent to her and that I could choose to stay with him and work through it with him. Or, I could just leave him. This was the first time she ever said anything like that. She warned me that someone with his personality would not change unless he wanted to and it would require years of therapy/work. She said, I should not feel guilt leaving him if that was the decision I made. She also said, that based on her perception of his personality, the reason he wanted to meet with her was to get his jabs at me, not to ask about the kids. She believes he can't stand that I was talking to her about him and he wanted his opportunity to tell her about me.

The holidays were approaching. I don't recall what we did for Thanksgiving at all. I do know that he went on a cruise with Kari for 10 days right before Christmas. He literally came home on Dec. 23rd. He of course said it was for work. I could have given two shits where he was and if he ever returned. My family was all at my house. They all knew at this point too. It was sorta uncomfortable but more for him than me. The reason I know about his cruise is because he never went away for 10 days for work, I literally didn't even get a text about the kids from him one time, she worked for a luxury cruise line out of Ft. Lauderdale, he needed his passport,  I found receipts for the Ritz Carlton in Ft. Lauderdale in our luggage and finally, tell me the last time you heard of any work convention taking place for 10 days before Christmas? I swear he thought I was a complete fool.

It is important to note here that during these 5 months he begged me to not end it and then finally asked me to let him stay and continue to live with us. He proposed we could lead separate lives and maintain the home for the kids. He used to try to guilt me in that he couldn't afford a nice place to live and that he would have to live in a cave. He said the kids can't see him living in a shoebox. Blah, blah, blah, blah.... I didn't care and I didn't give in. He said I was evil because I didn't care if he was on the street. I didn't. Once I found the receipts to the Ritz, I sent him a picture of them via text and said "For someone who says he wants to make things right, you sure didn't pass up the opportunity to take a 10 day cruise with your mistress!" And I just laughed.

It turns out he supposedly got his best friend/boss to get a corporate lease at a fancy place to live. I know how much he was making and his pay would literally be consumed by the rent of this place so there was no way he was paying for it. His credit was so bad he couldn't get a place that would let him rent that would meet his living standards - luxury, pool, fitness room, security, gated, etc. So he worked his magic on someone of means to make it possible for him. That's how he always worked. 

We agreed to tell the kids together. We agreed on what we would say. The truth. Except when it came down to it, he took over the conversation and made it sound like it was temporary - not following the professional opinion he sought out. I of course over time had to clean up that mess with my kids.

Like my entire marriage with him. I went behind him with a shovel cleaning up his messes!



Friday, January 24, 2014

Divorce Part 4 - The Back Story

"Funny you're the broken one but I'm the only one who needed saving / Cause when you never see the light it's hard to know which one of us is caving." Rhianna

Things were not right with Scott and I after he got fired about two years after moving to Louisiana and the day before our second child was born. I won't get into all the details of his job loss, jumping and quitting throughout the duration of our relationship. But, this time I had quit my career and was a stay at home mom. I depended on him to make it right this time.

After getting fired, he passed up some decent opportunities (didn't pay enough for what he felt he was worth) and  started a business with two other guys. Again, I put my faith in him. I helped him with the business until I was forced to start working and the money was running out. It was very hard for me. I am a gal who needs financial security and every month it was getting harder.

I started doing whatever I could work-wise considering I had two very young kids and no money for child care. I worked at the preschool my son attended a few hours a week. I worked for an account scanning documents for $10/hr. I was freelancing in web design at night and on the weekends.

Finally, I landed a part-time consulting job where I could work form home and my freelancing started to take off. However, by this time, Scott was not even making an income anymore as the business was failing. Eventually it closed. I begged him to find anything! I told him to go be a bartender till he got something. He promised me daily but did nothing. Meanwhile, I got a job waiting tables on the weekends. I consulted during the nights after taking care of the kids during the day. I was the only one carrying us with a very unsteady and low income.

By summer I was ready to leave the marriage. I had enough with how he was letting our life crumble and doing nothing. I know now he was already talking to Kari at this point. One day we got in a huge fight because I wasn't allowed to cry about our financial situation. I left the house after telling him I want to leave our marriage and planned to go home to visit my parents like I did every summer but this time I wasn't coming back. I intended to find a job there and start my life over.

He got desperate and begged me to come home. He drove around town with the kids looking for me. He contacted my friends. He found one at the church and begged her to tell me not to leave.

That was two years prior to me finding out about the affair.

I went to a Beth Moore lecture with my girlfriends about a month after that episode. At the end, Beth said something that struck a cord so hard with me that I sat down in the pew and sobbed. I don't recall what it was but it was something about identifying and ridding the negativity from your life. I knew at that point the negativity that was destroying my life was my husband. It was crystal clear. My friends finally got an earful of the truth of what was my life. Most didn't know how bad it was. How we were on the brink of losing everything. It was very hard to admit what was going on in my life out loud.  They were very supportive and held me up the way good friends do and in their own ways.

One friend referred us to marriage counseling. The first time we went, the counselor asked me if I loved him. I sat silent for some time thinking of how to answer. Scott just stared at me in disbelief. I finally answered "I don't know." He was very upset by that. The counselor ultimately told him that he needs to be the man of the family and provide the support that a man should to his family. A wife does not want to bear the burden of everything. She basically told him to get a job and help me out with the home and children.

A month later I landed a full-time job. I also landed a large freelance job.  Shortly after, Scott finally got a job. Things were looking up. 3 months later he got fired. He told me the new boss didn't like him because he was a male and she was cleaning house. I now believe it was because he needed to have a valid driver's license for his job. I've since learned he got a ticket that he never paid and then his license was revoked. I learned this from his mother who said they lent him the $650 to pay the ticket fees so he could get his license back but they weren't supposed to tell me because he was afraid I would divorce him.

So again, he was unemployed. He had to take care of the kids because I was working full-time now. After a several months of it he got depressed and needed that weekend getaway with his buddies that I wrote about in a previous post. Ya know, the one where Kari flew him using her miles, he charged $200 on our credit card for hotel room and he didn't go there to sleep with her? While he went out of town, I had to drag the kids to work with me because I couldn't afford childcare. My boss later told me how he thought that was so shitty of Scott to "have to take a vacation" while he was unemployed. I concur.

Eventually, I got a very good job and was back into my career! At the same time, Scott was trying out another business venture with his friend Richard. They kept flying to Florida a lot to "learn about the industry" and go to conventions. This is also when he interviewed with Kari's company. Even his mom started questioning why he was going to Florida so much. I basically didn't care.

Christmas was always as stressful time for me because Scott always caused issues with my Dad. I begged him this particular Christmas to not start trouble. He promised me he wouldn't.

He did.

After that, I regulary thought about leaving. I basically had one foot out the door. I waivered and thought and thought and thought about it. I talked to others who recently divorced for advice. Most said don't do it because of the kids or save your money for a lawyer fees before you do anything. Every time he called me at work it was trouble. An accident, a ticket, a problem at work, a flat tire, blah, blah, blah. I would cry a lot at work after talking to him. Sometimes I wouldn't take his calls out of fear of what the bad news was.

Our financial situation was getting a little better but still very poor. A car got repossessed and shortly after returned because the payment and court order got crossed in the mail. We were trying to repay everything but at the same time he was having an affair and living the life. Everything was Richard. He came home with a pair of shoes. "Oh Richard ordered them online and they didn't fit. So he gave them to me." Or if he was texting while we watched TV, it was Richard about work. I find a Michael Kors cologne bag in the closet. "Richard got it as a gift from a customer and doesn't like how it smells so he gave it to me." Everything that was Kari, was covered up by saying it was Richard. I even caught him on the phone outside behind the shed one night. He was in his pjs. When I approached and said "What are you doing?" he put the phone in his pajama bottoms pocket and I could see it was still lite up and on. He claimed he was talking to a co-worker who had the hots for his buddy. I told him that was the stupidest lie I ever heard and walked away. I just didn't care.

So one day while really having a hard time at work and crying in the break room about my marriage with a female co-worker, a male co-worker who overheard told me he fixed his marriage after 8 years of trouble. So naturally I sought him out privately to find out how. I think I still wanted that last attempt at salvaging before I jumped ship. He gave me advice and encouraged me to try for my kids sake.

We talked a lot via IM about what happened to him and what was happening with me and compared notes. It was hard to talk in person about that stuff at work (very little privacy) and we didn't see each other at all outside of work. So we IM'd daily about how things were going and he suggested new things to try. He repeatedly told me I had to make it work for my kids. He was right. So I tried and took a lot of his advice.

One day he said, "You loved him at one time because you married him. Why? Try to go back to that reason." That  threw me for a loop. I didn't know why. I couldn't remember why. I went home that day and went for a 2 hour walk and cried because I didn't know why I loved him and married him. The next day Scott left for his "week long convention" (aka a week in Orlando with Kari) and I had time to myself at night to think. I was digging through my nightstand looking for a notebook to start writing in and out fell a piece of paper. I started reading it and it was from the year before we moved to Louisiana. I wrote about loving Scott. I was stunned. I didn't remember writing it but I guess I did and there it fell into my hands at a time I needed an answer.

I went to work and immediately IM'd my friend and told him. He was ecstatic for me. He said "When he gets back from his trip go outside on the patio and have a drink together. Just talk." So that was what I did.

And that is when it all started . . .

We talked awhile and he said to me "You have been awful nice lately." I admitted how I was feeling and how I consulted my friend and he was giving me advice. His first question to me was "Do you like this guy?". I just looked at him with a quizzical look on my face and said "No?" He said then why are you talking to him? I explained how it all started and said that the guy was encouraging me to save my marriage. He then said, "Well, I have someone I talk to as well and she has really been supportive and helping me" (Kari!) But he wouldn't tell me who because he said I know her. (Lie. I didn't and still don't.)

That conversation didn't end well and the next day I demanded to know who. I didn't think it was fair that he couldn't tell me and I wondered why. I told him the name of the person I was talking to. I had nothing to hide.

So since he was being secretive I started to dig. There was no way in hell I was going to put anymore effort into my marriage at this point if he was cheating. A co-worker heard my story and was convinced he was cheating and encouraged me to keep digging. She told me I had to figure out the password to his phone and she believed the answer was within. She was right.

He discovered I was digging and got angry at me and started to threaten to call the wife of the guy at work who I was talking to and tell her we were having an affair.

So I finally gave him an ultimatum. Tell me who it is or I will start contacting every female I know. He said it was someone he went to college with and she was married to his college buddy so he didn't want to tell me her name. He feared I would get jealous and contact her and cause trouble in her marriage. He told me her husband is a super control freak, that she works for his families' business and has two daughters. I asked if he ever traveled to where she lives. He said no. I asked if she ever traveled to meet him. He said no and that she can't travel anywhere without his family knowing since she worked for their business.

All of the above was a complete lie.

He described someone else that I did know that wasn't Kari. So I naturally figured it out based on the info above and confronted him about that person. He said, "what if it was? how would you feel?" I don't recall the conversations after that but I do know it drug out awhile and he ultimately promised to stop talking to her. And important to note, somewhere in that conversation he said he doesn't keep her name in his phone, just her number. And that he never intiates texting, only she does because if her husband found out he would kill her. So he waits for her to text.

Between the above incident and the night I checked his phone in the hotel room different things went down. He started cleaning out his nightstand that was stuffed with all kinds of papers, business cards, etc. I had asked him for like a year to clean it out and suddenly he did. I asked him if he was clearing it out so I wouldn't search it and potentially find anything. He got really mad at me.

He got a text in the middle of the night and picked up his phone to read it. I pretended to be asleep and could see it was just a phone number, not a name. I confronted him and he got all upset and said it was his cousin sending him porn links. And then he went into this crying fit saying he needed help because he was addicted to porn and that was why he stayed up late at night after I went to bed. I told him I didn't believe him. He put on quite an act. I said, "Then prove it to me. Get help." He never did and I never heard another thing about this porn addiction ever again.

So then comes our night out in the city while the kids are at my parents. He picks me up at work at 5:00 pm. He texted me he was downstairs waiting. We go downtown and end up at a bar owned by his high school buddy who moved to NOLA too. We eat dinner and drink for awhile with them. It's Essence festival weekend so hotel prices are jacked up high but his buddy knew someone at the hotel next door and got us a room for the normal rate of $120 a night.

We weren't planning to spend the night so Scott volunteers to run home and get our stuff. I stay at the bar with his buddy and his wife just hanging out. He arrives back with our stuff and $650 in cash! We were pretty broke so swinging the $120 for the hotel was a stretch. I asked where he got the money and he said Richard always carries around a lot of cash (he is a millionaire) and he gave it to him after work and told him to take me out so we could enjoy ourselves. I was very skeptical . . .

We tried to go out on the town after that but it was miserable. We argued and disagreed about everything. We didn't have fun and just decided to go back to the hotel and sleep.

I woke up in the middle of the night to pee, checked his phone and saw the blank (content deleted) text message at 5:05 pm to a just a number (not a name) with the area code of Ft. Lauderdale - 5 minutes after he texted me he was downstairs at my work to pick me up. He had been to Florida at least 10 times in the past year "for work". My heart sank, my hands quivered and eventually my whole body shook. It was over.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

Hurricane Katrina - Our Story - Part 6

So the adjusters show up. It is a nice sunny day. It is a husband and wife team from Pennsylvania. She examines the inside of the house. He the roof. They seem cordial and all. The apologize for our loss and leave. I feel uneasy. Not sure why.

So now, all we could do was wait . . .

We returned back to Dallas. We still were unsure what our next step was. Do we get an apartment or not? Where is his company going to send us? One day we are going back to New Orleans the next day we are not. In the meantime, things are getting tense at the in-laws.

At one point my mother-in-law had a little bit of a heated discussion that sent me over the edge. She left the house and in the 30 minutes she was gone I packed up every single item we owned that was at their house and moved us out. Remember my husband rented a UHaul to go back to check on the house, well, he brought a lot of stuff back with him.

I had enough room in my Yukon for my daughter to sit in her carseat and me to sit in the driver's seat and I couldn't see out the rearview mirror!

I drove south into Dallas because I knew my husband was working in Dallas. I called him on my cell and asked for directions. I think he was in shock that I made such a drastic move so suddenly but he handled it well and was supportive of my decision despite how rude I was being to his parents. He told me how to get to him and made reservations for us to stay at the hotel directly next door to his temporary office.

We moved in and I settled down. I spent time shopping with my daughter, watching movies, going to Chuck E Cheese and hanging out with my old college roommate Liz. She let me use her washer and dryer and we had dinner over there a few times.

Then, we were told we were to go back to New Orleans. Despite the condition of our home. Hubby's job was returning to the city the following week.

I was on the phone A LOT making preparations for our return home, etc. My best friend Jen offered up her camper still parked in Ohio (she had moved to Florida the year before). That way we didn't have to wait on FEMA to get us one. I called my parents and asked them if they would tow it down for me. Jen went to work trying to get a current license & registration on it as it had expired since the trailer was in storage. It was a lot of back and forth and coordination between her and I and my parents and her parents. Jen was awesome and patient despite the quick turnaround time needed.

One random day in that week at the hotel, I got a phone call. I was in a mom's club back home that happened to be an international club. The woman calling me was from the headquarters. She got word from our chapter president of the damage to our house. She said they have a fund to help out their members in times of need such as this. She informed me that they were mailing me a $5000 check and needed to know where to send it! I was in my car and luckily I was parked because I just started crying. I had two feelings: guilt and humbleness. I felt guilty for being in need and humble for their generosity. I couldn't thank her enough. What do you say to someone who you don't know that is going to make getting those trees off your roof a reality?

We eventually made it home and met my parents with the trailer to live in. Before we could move back in, we had to clean up the house from the flea treatments and get the rooms with mold secured with plastic so it didn't spread. We also had to gut the walls and treat the studs to remove mold.
 
My parents stayed with us for a while helping us get things handled. Kate at 2.5 locked herself in the camper while we were all outside. It is a fun story to tell today but a little worrisome at the time. Roof has a blue tarp all across the front. Found a guy to remove the trees from our yard with his industrial size chain saw and front loader. Dad and his normal chain saw was not able to handle 50-60 year old 70-100 feet tall pine trees. The entire frontage of our almost 1 acre property was piled up 10-12 feet with tree debris. I used to have a picture of it using my mailbox as a reference for height!
 
Several moms from the Mom's Club I was a member of brought us meals during that time. It was so nice to get home cooked meals instead of eating out! My parents brought down tons of gifts from family and friendsfor Kate. It was like Christmas for her. We did have to throw out a lot of her stuff because the toy room was one of the rooms that got damaged badly.
 
A check from the insurance company arrived. $20,000. Really? Did they see my house?
 
 
 


 
 
So my parents eventually went back home. We were able to live in the house. Scott was working. I was trying to lead a normal life with Kate and find a contractor to fix our house. It just seemed to be one thing after another.  We needed to buy a new fridge but it was hard to find appliances after the storm for obvious reasons. They were sold out EVERYWHERE. So we ordered it online from the same place in Chicago we ordered the first one. Because the mail, let alone shipping was a total mess in New Orleans the 2 week shipping turned into months and we didn't get that new fridge until 2 weeks before Christmas! The first fridge got lost and then was later found sitting on a dock somewhere. The second fridge got sent back to Chicago after arriving in New Orleans. It was a mess. To get by I was using the camper fridge for veggies and fruit and a 1950s beer fridge that was plugged in outside the back door of the house in the carport.
 
What I didn't tell Jen about one of my dogs was that she only had 6 months to live. She had lymphoma for the second time. We treated her at age 3 for it and spent $5000. It bought us 5 more years with her. This time we passed on the treatment as $5000+ was not feasible anymore. She called me one day and said that Dakota seemed sick. I counted the months backward. It was about month 5ish. Crap. So I decided to drive there and get the dogs. Well, lo and behold, Hurricana Wilma was headed straight for her in Florida so I had to delay my trip! I didn't make it there in time. My best friend had to put my Dakota to sleep for me. I remember having to make that decision at an iHop. Jen called me two days before I was leaving to go to her house to say Dakota was in bad shape and what did I want her to do. I was having breakfast at iHop and was standing outside the restaurant on my cell phone crying telling her not to wait for me.
 
Two days later I left for Florida. I decided since I was by myself and not in a hurry I would drive through Waveland, Bay St. Louise, Gulport areas. I got off at Waveland, MS and took the route I new to get to a beach house owned by Scott's boss. As I drove south towards the water through the neighborhood there were boats in the roads, houses off their foundation in the road. There were dirt paths around everything. This was early November. The only people I really saw were the utility companies in their trucks working Then, out of nowhere it was like the whole environment got eery. It was devastating. There was nothing. All of sudden like that. Nothing. There was a definitive line where the surge clearly took everything away. It was ground just covered in mud. As I drove through the streets, you would see an occasional lawn chair or something that didn't wash out to sea. Someone found a picture of a couple with their child and set it up against a tree.
 
I came to the ocean. I could go right or left. I knew the house I was looking for was two houses to my right. I could see from the corner the lot. There were no houses either direction. I turned left and headed toward Bay St. Louis. I saw a U-Haul truck on the beach covered in sand almost to the roof. The only way I knew it was a U-Haul was because of the coloring and partial lettering sticking out.
 
I saw a woman outside by two tents. There weren't many people so I stopped to talk to her. I asked her a lot of questions and asked her if I could bring her anything on my way back from Florida. She said Second Harvest was setup in town and feeding everyone. Walmart was open again. She had everything she needed. I asked about a FEMA trailer. Now, this is where everyone needs to listen up and forget what Oprah and the news told you about no one getting FEMA trailers . . . What I didn't realize and learned that day from her is that you could not get a FEMA trailer until you had approved electrical and sewage hookups for safety and obvious reasons for the sewage. She had an electrical pole erected and was waiting on the utility company to make it's way down to her with electricity so she could hook up to it. There were utility trucks everywhere and from all states. She was just waiting her turn. She was generally pretty happy and content. She had quite a spread. Two big tents, Water jugs everywhere. A tent for sleeping. A tent for food/living, etc. Now, that is a survivor. (Side note: FEMA called me two weeks after getting home and offered me a trailer. I denied it as I had one and didn't need it.)
 
What everyone needs to understand is that the infrastructure of the gulf coast was destroyed. I don't know the specifics, but their sewage and water lines could have been destroyed as well. That takes time to fix people. When Oprah rolled in 6 months later reporting on the lack of progress I almost punched the TV. I was seeing it first hand how bad it was. There is no bouncing back FROM NOTHING overnight. They weren't even cleaning up a lot of stuff or worrying about the houses in the middle of the roads. They just worked around all that. I saw them working on getting the necessities back in order - like electricity.  I returned in February and saw a lot more progress and cleanup. My parents were with me and they just couldn't believe it. The one thing my dad and mom commented on was the amount of FEMA trailer parks. Yes, that was the easiset way to get them setup with proper electrical and sewage instead of on individual lots. I also took them through Lakeview  (New Orleans neighborhood that rarely is covered because it's not the ninth ward) where there were FEMA trailers on almost every lot as their utility infrastructure was intact but their houses were completed flooded.
 
I spent a week at Jen's to relax a bit and I needed that. I also found out I was pregnant with Jack while there. It was a funny story. I was complaing how about a week or so ago I felt like I had the flu and how it only lasted one day. She reminded me that happened when I got pregnant with Kate. She asked me how long it was since I had a period. Lord, I had no idea. I was so distraught I wasn't keeping track. She stopped off at a Walgreens to get me a pregnancy test. It only took 1 second and that thing was screaming PREGNANT! lol! She got to enjoy me calling Scott and my parents to tell them. What a crazy ride.
 
I took my 1 dog home and continued to look for contractors and wrangle with the insurance company for more money - which was a documenting nightmare and full time job. We had to have a second adjuster come out. The insurance did not want to replace our entire roof, just the front! Are you serious? Contractors were telling us the whole roof needed to be replaced because every single tile was unglued from the winds and many were broken. So the morning of the adjustor coming, Scott gets a ladder out to have a look at the roof himself. I am inside with my back to the patio doors folding laundry when I hear a loud crash and him screaming. I turn around and there he is laying on the driveway under the ladder. The neighbor behind us was drinking coffee in his breakfast nook and came running. He heard him and could see him laying there. (First time we met the neighbor because there were no privacy fences anymore.) The ambulance came and he ended up with a very sprained ankle and broken arm. The good news is the second adjuster agreed we needed an entire new roof. Thank god.

One day at the end of November I walked out of my front door and smelled gas really bad. A few months earlier a runner told us he smelled gas everytime he ran by in the morning. We had the fire department come out and check. Nothing. Well, I finally smelled it. We believe because it was now winter and the winds had changed pushing the gas toward my house and it was getting caught up in the alcove by the front door. I called the gas company. They found it right by the connection to my house. The guy unhooked my gas meter out front, put it in his truck and said "Call a plumber." I had no gas to my house that fast! As my luck would have it the first two weeks of December were frigid cold for Louisana. I was wearing my old wool sweaters and ski parkas from my up north days IN THE HOUSE! We had to go by 4 space heaters and all sleep in one room at night.

I called the plumber. He told me the gas line to my house was most likely cracked when the trees fell during Katrina. He said it is only 6 inches underground. He proceeded to tell me it would be about $2400 and whatever it cost to break up my driveway as it ran under my drive. I said, "You are going to have to break up my driveway?" He said, "Yes ma'am." With that I did an about face and walked into my house and slammed the door in his face. I didn't care about the money. I didn't want one more thing broken. After I regained my composure. I called the plumbing company and told the lady who answered to apologize to him for me. She said, "Honey, please don't worry. We will help you." The owner called me back and said he found someone who could tunnel under my driveway but it would cost more money. I told him I didn't care and to get it done ASAP. Unfortunately, I had to go two weeks without gas, heat or hot showers.
 
Christmas arrived about two weeks after my new fridge and my gas was fixed. It was the first time we didn't spend it with my family. It was quiet but nice. Kate got so many gifts it took us all day to open them. Scott cooked and we sat around finally in peace because we had secured more money from the insurance company and a contractor who was going to start the 3rd week in January.

Rebuilding the entire front of our house.

To wrap it up. The last and final thing to be fixed was our ornamental pond under the palm tree you see in the pic above. It was detroyed by the trees falling on it. It was the end of June before that got done. Scott came home from work on July 13 and told me he lost his job. On July 14th I gave birth to Jack.

Related: 31-17 . . . and then we danced.

Divorce Part 3: The Facade

"Behind the smile is a hurting heart /Behind my laugh I’m falling apart/ Look closely and you will see/The girl I seem--isn't me." - Unknown

I spent a week at my parent's house pretending I was okay. Pretending my life, my marriage and my heart were just peachy. I was far from okay, let alone peachy. I had a war going on inside of me. My emotions were out of control yet somehow I managed to fake it. One never knows how well they can hide the truth until they are put to the test I guess. I had no game plan upon arrival of how I would act or hide the truth. I just winged it.

I couldn't talk about it. I knew one thing for sure. There was no way I was spilling the beans to my parents that week. In fact, it was July and I didn't tell them a thing until October. I just couldn't. Couple of reasons

1. I had to figure it out for myself. I had to know the what, when, where and how before I divulged anything to my parents. I told other people. My friends, people I worked with, my neighbors. I just couldn't break it to them yet. 

2.I had to be okay with what was happening in my life and in the acceptance stage. Telling an unrelated third party is one thing. Telling your parents who will most definitely be on your side and ready to fight for you is another. I had to be ready for that.

3. I didn't want their influence in my decision making. I needed to know that it was my decision and my decision alone Sure, my friends and co-workers had their opinions but they wouldn't influence me as much as my parent's would. 

4. They worry. Especially my mom. And she did. I had to be in a strong position to get her past the worry. I had to have a plan in place to be able to put her mind at ease and have answers.

5. And probably the hardest reason . . . admitting I failed. (I can't even write this without crying.) I had to tell my parents that my marriage failed. Coming to grips with such a failure in your life is very difficult.

While we were there I Facebook messaged and called his mistress, Kari. I let her know that I knew. I left a voicemail on her home phone and work phone. Being she held a very high position at her company it wasn't hard to get her work number. I dialed the main number and simply asked for her. She complained to Scott and then I got reprimanded for leaving a message on her home phone because her kids or maid might have heard it. Whaaaa. Well, then you shouldn't be sleeping with a married man if you don't want such things to happen. Cry me an f-ing river was basically what I told him.

Then, he proceeded to tell me that she has an army of high-powered lawyers who will take me down if I continue to harass her. To which I simply laughed out loud at him. "Really?" I said. "I have seen much worse from wive's of cheaters. Calling her to let her know I am now in the loop is a far cry from running her over with my car!" Then, he told me she is prepared to get a restraining order against me. Again, I just laughed and said, "Do they give restraining orders to someone who lives 4 states away from the potential victim?"

This was the absurdity I had to deal with.

I managed to get through a visit with my college friend and her family, several events with my brother and parents and even a birthday party for my son where a bunch of family members came over and some other friends of the family and my brother. It was tough. I had to listen to my family talk about my cousin's recent divorce and try not to comment on what they were saying. Not because what they were saying was bad or anything. Simply because you have no idea until you live it. That is what I wanted to blurt out constantly! 

We didn't sleep in the same bed at my parents or ever again. We played it off as each of us sleeping with one of the kids. All I remember is that once my kid of the night fell asleep, I cried. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Divorce - Part 2 - The Truth Comes Out

"All I want is the truth / Just give me some truth" - John Lennon

I don't know where my husband went for 5 days. I know he didn't take my calls until two days after leaving. He claimed he was staying in a hotel in the city paid for by his friend Richard (We were pretty broke at the time). He also claims Richard set him up with a lady who is a counselor to speak with him about what was going on.

Knowing what I know now, I don't think that any of the above is true. The only definitive thing he told me was that he would be home on Wednesday after work. So my guess is he flew to Ft. Lauderdale to be with Kari, his mistress. She was the one "counseling" him and the reason he wouldn't come home earlier than Wednesday to talk about the divorce even when I asked him to.

So I went to work, kept to myself and carried on with my life. I remember cutting the grass after work and smiling to myself that I was now going to be on my own living my life and back in charge of it. It was a tremendous feeling. To some that may seem raw and cruel but to me it was my first good and confident feeling I had had in a long time.

On Wednesday night he arrived home. We didn't speak much. On Thursday night we had to pack as we were leaving after work Friday to go to my parent's in Ohio to spend the week and fly back with the kids. It was Thursday night when I told him I didn't want him to go to my parent's with me. Of course he begged and pleaded. He said the kids were expecting him, etc, etc. Same old lectures of convincing I was used to. At some point in that conversation we got in a huge fight and I made him admit he was having an affair with Kari. Oh he not only admitted it, he gave me tons of details . . .

1. He had reconnected with her on Facebook (Shocker!) after his class reunion took place and he saw pictures of her via his high school buddies.

2. They went to Junior Prom together.

3. She just had her divorce finalized two months before he was admitting all this that night.

4. She had two boys and one shared a name with ours. (Yeah, that made me feel so much better!)

5. She was extremely rich and successful.

6. Two years prior when he was unemployed and taking care of the kids he told me Richard was letting him use some extra miles he had to fly to Ft. Lauderdale for the weekend to relax a bit (because he said he was depressed) and hang out with his high school buddies. He admitted that it was really Kari who used her miles (she works in travel) and flew him there. That was the first time they slept together but as he puts it, "I didn't go there to sleep with her". Oh really! If a guy flew me to his place for the weekend after we had been texting/talking for a year I don't think it would be to sleep with him at all! NO! Never! Besides the adultery started a year prior when he started having daily conversations with her.

7. She tried to get him a job with the luxury cruise line she worked for. He told me all about the job prior. He was so excited and told me a high school buddy hooked him up and his chances were good. He didn't stop talking about it prior to going for the interview. He even said (get this!) that if he got the job he would move there by himself for like a year to see if it was a good fit and the kids and i could stay here. He would just fly home on the weekends. How incredibly convenient that would have been for him don't ya think?

8. He even told me about the first time that they slept together. I asked if that was the $200 charge on our credit card that I had questioned him about during the #6 trip above. He previously had told me that he and his buddies were drinking at the hotel bar and he charged the bill and they all gave him cash. Truth is he admitted was that he got a room for him and her to shack up. I never saw the cash and he was unemployed so $200 was a huge hit to our then $39,000 a year family income.

9. When I asked about all his other "business trips" to Florida that he was going on with Richard because they were trying to supposedly start a new business, I found out it was all her flying him to visit. Prior to this night he had recently spent a week in Orlando for a "convention" and I found it odd that I didn't hear from him once during the entire week. He was with her I now know.

I remember sitting on my bedroom floor crying for the better part of the night. I don't know if I slept or how I even finished packing for my parent's house. I rode to work with him since we were going to the airport after work. We didn't talk at all. I got to my desk at work and broke down in horrible, loud sobs. I am sure people around me were in shock and didn't know what was going on. No one said anything though.

Finally, someone on my team arrived and he stopped by to say Happy Birthday and give me a candy bouquet. (It was in 3 days but I would be out of town) Instead he found me a mess. A hot, blubbery, crying mess. He sat with me and just listened. We weren't even close friends really but I think he felt obligated.

I made it through the day somehow and got picked up for the airport. We didn't speak to each other. I stood as far away from him as I could. I wanted no association with him what so ever. I was seething with anger and hatred. I watched from afar as the asshole (dressed in a suit because he thinks traveling dressed up gets you better perks) tried to convince the gate person to let him board early. The guy kept saying no and he just kept trying to work his magic on him. I just looked on with disgust. I kept thinking, "Why did I marry such a jerk?" We boarded the flight, sat apart and then I put on my facade upon arrival in Detroit.