Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Married too young

 I recently saw an article online about the 8 Signs Your Marriage Was Doomed From The Start.  Go ahead and read it, I'll wait for you. 

Okay, back?  Did any of that make you nervous?  I can't tell you how accurate it is, but in my case a lot of it applied.  I married Ex when I was 21 and he was 22.   We also had friends and family who divorced and argued about money our entire marriage.  We also had very different drinking habits.  He liked to drink and it'd be nothing for him to finish off a bottle of wine (or something harder) in an evening "to help [him] sleep."  I drank only occasionally (in part because all of the alcohol in our house disappeared with confusing regularity.)  Yes, I was blind.

I think the fact that we started dating when I was 16 and he was 17 and never dated anyone else after that was probably the clincher.  The person you are at 16 is hopefully a very different person than the one you are at 49.  Your dreams change, your plans change, you're more settled and established.  The things you enjoy doing change...for example, the internet was in its infancy in 1986.  Zuckerburg hadn't invented facebook yet!

We honestly had nothing in common.  I've always loved reading.  Part of our family lore is that my mom was not a reader when she and dad married but she soon learned to enjoy reading.  Ex wasn't, and still isn't, a reader.  I'd hoped that he might learn, but it never happened.  That was something we were never able to share.  I also love comic strips and the political and social commentary within.  I'd gleefully read a particularly funny one to him and he'd say "I don't get it."  Even after I explained it to him he'd say "I guess I just don't get the humor."  

I loved to sew and crochet.  He loved to watch TV.  He loved what I called "stupid comedies."  The kind that rely on slapstick for laughs, think "Home Alone" or "Dumb and Dumber."  I don't like slapstick humor because whenever I see someone get hit in the head or balls I cringe, imagining the pain.  I prefer plays on language, "in jokes" where you have to understand something in order to get the joke and laugh-at-life humor.  

We never had the same goals in life.  I didn't want anything different than other average Americans, a family (the 2.5 kids that I rounded up to three) a house, a new car every five years or so, a vacation to somewhere with the family every year.  Ex wanted far less.  He wanted a roof over his head, enough food (even if it was stale) and to not have to work (or to work as little as possible) in order to survive.  He'd be happy in a camper trailer permanently on a plot of land (maybe owned by a friend) and going out once or twice a month to make a bit of cash to be able to afford some food.  Anything he could get free would be best.

I felt that pets were family and that the cats and dogs should be in the home with us.  He felt they were animals and they should be outside only.  I felt that we should be early to everything, he felt he was on time if he arrived before the main feature started or the party was in full swing.  On time to him was within 10-20 minutes of when he said he'd be there.  If a business said it closed at 6, then they should have no problem with him wandering in at 5:59 to start his shopping.

So why did I pick him?  Why did I say "I do?"  I'm not sure anymore.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mental Illness

I was emailing my mother the other day and said something about being excluded from couples invitations from other couples in the church I went to.  At the time I wasn't sure if there was something about ex that was offputting, or if it was simply because he didn't attend the church with the kids and I so no one there really knew him.  I think it was a little of both.  My mom then said:

"He really is bizarre and some of his strangeness is offputting.  When he talks he avoids eye contact, he giggles and moves around; he manifests behaviors of the mentally ill and nobody is going to include that in their lives voluntarily.  Not your fault, of course but you are judged for your mate's behaviors.  We saw people look at [Ex] and move away from him almost like they were afraid of him.  It's easy to understand why they would feel that way."

I read that through twice and started thinking, really?  Was I that blind?  So I, like any normal woman, turned to my best friend who has known me since before I even started dating Ex.  I sent her my mom's quote and asked her if she agreed.  She said:

"Yeah,  I did notice.  He always seems very jumpy and nervous, unless he is asleep!  LOL.  I think people steered clear more because he latches on to them and won't stop talking. When you put it all together it really does spell mental illness.  I doubt he will ever get help though because no one will push him."

I knew that Ex was a hoarder which is considered a mental illness.  I also knew that he had zero social skills and no social awareness.  Once when I told him after we'd moved that our neighbor was mad at us for years for the mess that he kept in the yard, he accused me of lying.  "She accepted help from me, she wasn't mad at us."  Of course when her husband was in the hospital and she came home with her two young kids and the front door was wide open she was perfectly willing to let you go in and see if anyone was in there!  Didn't stop her from being mad at you for bringing down the home values on our block.

Like my friend mentioned, he'd latch on to someone and talk their leg off.  Complete strangers in a store would be walking sideways trying to get away from him and he'd confuse their polite unwillingness to be rude or mean to him as interest in what he was saying.

He got stranger as the years wore on.  He stopped wearing clean clothes.  After his father died he'd only wear his father's old clothes, even though they didn't fit him.  He stopped showering and shaving or even getting his hair cut.

He drank...lots.  He never acted drunk, but he'd wake me up in the middle of the night too drunk to walk, falling on the floor and crying.  I gave up on ever having alcohol in the house for an occassional drink because it'd disappear.  He always said it was to help him sleep.

He slept, all the time.  His protestations of insomnia to the contrary, he'd fall asleep in the movies, while watching TV, even when we were talking.  He'd be snoring LOUDLY, then suddenly stop get out of bed and be rattling around in the bathroom.  I'd ask him what he was looking for and he'd say "A sleeping pill, I can't sleep."

I think I was blind, the behaviors came up so slowly and just one at a time so I'd get used to them before another would appear.  I didn't notice how "off" he was because I wasn't used to looking at the sum of his parts.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Food can be clutter

When I moved out I only took the food with me that I knew the kids and I would eat.  That was a huge relief...Ex liked to haunt the sales.  He loved clearance stores, he'd buy 20 single serving bags of almonds for 5 or 10 cents each...all of them tasting stale.  He'd go crazy at Grocery Outlet buying whatever off brand item he thought we might eat.  He had a friend who was a district manager for a grocery store chain, she would give him milk carton crates full of food that were either past their expiration date or couldn't be sold for whatever reason.  

A family of four could’ve survived the zombie apocalypse for years on the food that was stored in our house.  As long as they were willing to eat food that tasted stale the day Ex bought it or was missing the label or was some sort of food never heard of in the US.  After filling our house with these stale and inedible foods he'd get mad at me for buying stuff at the grocery store.  "We have so much food already, why don't you use this stuff up first?"  Because Ex, I can't figure out what to do with frozen escargot, stale, off brand Ritz-like crackers and mystery jelly that the label fell off of.  I tried, honestly I did.  I got on that website where you enter the items you have and it'd come up with recipes for you.  Even that site said "Sorry, no can do."

He would eat anything, literally anything.  But there was never enough condiments no matter how much I put on.  Back in my Susie Homemaker days I would make his lunch every day for him to take to work.  Every day he wanted the same thing, tuna fish sandwich.  He wanted the tuna salad mixed up and put in a different container than the bread so the bread wouldn't get squishy.  Every day he said "That was great, maybe a bit more mayo and pickles next time?"  I was tempted to just put mayo with pickles mixed in to see if he'd notice the absence of tuna.

If the kids didn’t finish everything on their plate he’d eat it or put it in the fridge telling them “You can finish this later.”  They never would.  He would be appalled at any wasted food…the moldy fruit, he’d find the one spot that wasn’t moldy and eat that.  Same for bread and cheese.  I think the condiments were the secret to his success here.  I’d refuse to eat the cheese that he’d cut the mold off of because I could still taste the mold.  He’d insist it was my imagination.  He’d try to slip sandwiches into the kids’ lunches with bits of the bread pinched off to remove the mold spots.  Of course the kids could taste the mold and refused to eat it.  No wonder they decided that hot lunch was a better option.

He’d fill our refrigerator with all sorts of containers full of leftovers so that I couldn’t find anything at all that I’d put in there.  He NEVER labeled them, so every single one was a mystery.  Produce would go bad in the back of the fridge because I couldn’t find it and would assume that it’d been eaten.  All of this would make him crazier and his craziness escalated.

The pantry we had was so overloaded that I had a hard time finding anything.  All of my attempts to organize the food containers by type, or purpose were thwarted by his "throw everything into whatever spot I can find" methodology.  Things were always falling and spilling off the shelves so we usually had stuff a foot or two deep on the bottom.  It was useless to find anything I needed quickly.  With five people in the house who all could cook, how was I to know if that ingredient was used up or lost?  Was it worth my effort to look for?

I have a very small fridge now, leftovers are eaten or tossed.  My cabinets are organized and the pantry is nearly bare.  This feels so good!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Decluttering My Life

One of the things I gained by being the one who chose to leave was the freedom to decide what to take with me.  The kids, of course, were at the top of the list.  Next, what furniture did I want?  I left the king sized bed with the hard mattress on it and took the queen sized bed that my son had been sleeping on.  I bought him a new full sized bed.

I left the sofa and love seat that smelled of the mold that filled the studio apartment they'd been stored in.  My in-laws gave them to us, I hoped the smell would go away.  No go, they still stank to high heaven six years later.  I tried everything, trust me, there are things even Febreeze can't help.

All of the tchotchkes that were given to us by friends and family for our wedding or for birthdays and Christmases for the last 28 years...I went through those to see if there was really anything I wanted.  Most of the time the answer was no.  I took one set of dishes, one set of flatware, one set of mixing bowls, cake pans, cookware, and just the things in the pantry that would be used by the kids and I.

I took the furniture that I would actually use.  After living nearly 30 years with a hoarder to actually have empty space in my home feels so incredibly free.  I bought a sofa off of craigslist from a sweet 87 year old woman.  I went to a thrift store to find a couple of silk flower arrangements and a painting to put on my walls.  But after 10 years of not being able to use the left hand drawers in my dresser because there was furniture and piles of junk in the way it feels so good to be able to just vacuum my floors without having to move piles of stuff.

I have to admit here, that it isn't all his fault.  My depression and the pain caused by my fibromyalgia coupled with his hoarding made it nearly impossible for me to keep up with the stuff he brought in.  The kids were never taught to clean up after themselves, the mess grew daily and I hid from it.  I bought organizers, I tried cleaning one small area only to have it messed up before I finished the next. But when your house is overloaded with stuff, cleaning is next to impossible.  My house was a pig sty. and were no match for this impossible task.  Especially when I'd say to Ex "Why don't we get rid of the moldy smelling loveseat to make a bit more room in the livingroom?" and he'd say "I don't smell anything and I like it."

Now I have my wide open spaces (well not in the kids' rooms, but everywhere else) and I can stay on top of it because I didn't bring everything that I didn't need.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay

When you've been married 27 years you don't just suddenly wake up one morning and decide to call it all off.  "Sorry dear, I'm tired of you.  Moving on!"


You think...and think...and think some more.  You talk to your girlfriends, your mom, your sister...everyone besides the person you want to leave.  That's because you need to make a rational decision and if you talk to him, it'll get irrational real fast!  Not that I never talked to Ex, I told him I was unhappy.  I asked him to clean up all of his hoarded garbage.  I watched Hoarders: buried alive with the sick feeling that I was seeing my future.  I gave him a deadline.

The deadline passed.

While trolling the interwebs I discovered this book:  Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay.  It was amazing...except for the fact that I saw Ex and I in each and every chapter.  Each chapter outlines a couple and their issue.  The issue is discussed and how it affects the marriage.  Then you are given some questions to answer and then told how different people felt after they either left or stayed when they had this issue in their marriage.  I didn't even make it through to the end because every single chapter ended with me likely being happy if I left.

It still took many more months, but it did help me start to make a plan.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

He wanted a mommy

I got married young; I was only 21.  Ex and I met when I was 16 and started dating soon after.  I’d had a couple of boyfriends before, but nothing really serious or long term.  Ex was my first in many ways.  I was in a serious rush to grow up once I graduated from high school.  I attended a year of community college then my best friend and I decided to move out on our own.   I had no pressing reason to leave my parental home, but I knew I’d be getting married soon and I wanted to experience living on my own before I had a husband. 

Ex felt no such thing.  He continued to live with his parents and as our wedding day neared I pressed him to look for a rental with me but he convinced me to move with him into his parents’ house.  I wish I’d resisted, or decided to wait.  I wish when the wedding day grew close and my mom said “I know we’ve spent a lot of money on this but if you don’t want to go through with it you don’t have to” that I’d listened.  I might wish the marriage away, but I don’t wish our kids away, so I can’t really say that I regret it all.  I just regret rushing out of my childhood so quickly.

My Ex decided he wasn’t ready to leave his childhood behind.  For the first five years of our marriage he continued to work when he felt like it (he worked for his dad) go fishing when he wanted, hang with his friends when he wanted and smoke pot whenever he felt the urge.  He thought nothing of disappearing overnight without calling and letting me know where he was.  This was, of course, in the days before cell phones so I had no way of finding him, short of calling all of his friends until I got a hit.

He never did figure out how to choose appropriate clothes for any occasion that might demand more than a T-shirt and shorts.  Just last summer our family had tickets to see “Book of Mormon” at the Paramount Theater in Seattle.  He dressed in Scooby Doo pajama bottoms with a button up shirt.  When we were first married I had no problem choosing his clothes for him, but once we had three kids I was overwhelmed choosing clothes for them as well as myself.  I wanted him to be adult enough to dress himself.

About 8 years ago I bought a set of hair clippers and started shearing both my ex and my son.  It saved money and was relatively quick.  Three years ago I developed fibromyalgia and it struck my hands first.  They hurt so bad that holding a pen was painful.  I told my Ex that I could no longer cut his hair because it was too painful.  I found out later he was telling all of his friends that I wouldn’t allow anyone else to touch his hair.  I have no idea why he’d tell anyone that.  Instead of paying someone to cut his hair, he just let it grow.  Finally one of the people who interviewed him for a job suggested he might want to get his hair cut.  So he cut it himself and it looked like it.

Three years ago he had a pulmonary embolism.  He went to his doctor and was told he needed to go to the emergency room immediately.  Instead of heading straight there he called me and asked me what I thought he should do.  Duh!  Go to the emergency room!   On another occasion he was complaining that he didn’t feel well and I told him to see his doctor.  He responded “I just want you to be my doctor.”  I explained that I had no medical training and WebMD has limits.

When both my son and my husband were equally clueless about creating a resume and sending it out I realized I was willing to help my son since he was young and this was new.  I was tired of helping my ex, he was 50 and I wanted him to stand on his own two feet.  I realized I could see the end of the journey with my kids.  Soon they’d be launched and I’d (hopefully) be done.  There was no end in sight for my ex…he was going to be my eternal child and I’d never be able to launch him.

Monday, January 12, 2015

It hasn't just been the last year, dear

I got an email yesterday from Ex.  I was surprised that he finally answered one of my myriad stabs into the dark.  He lost his cell phone and despite my many suggestions on how he can replace it (I'm stuck paying on it as part of my plan until June 2016, so he might as well use it) he hasn't lifted a finger to do anything.  He left the house and is staying somewhere, but I have no idea where that is, so at the moment I have no way to contact him.  Loving father that he is, he never asked about the kids or answered any of my emails asking if he wanted to see them over their Christmas break.

The email instead was a long run-on sentence full of mea culpas and how he handled the last year so poorly.  I decided not to respond.  At least not to HIM but instead to you, my loyal readers, all one of you.

Ex (he isn't dear!)

I didn't leave you for the way you acted in the last year.  I left you for the way you acted in the last 20 or so years.  Remember when I was pregnant with our first child and after dinner I wanted to go on a walk with you?  I wanted to spend some time together, talking.  I knew that once the baby entered our life our chances of being together would be far more limited.  You said no, you were tired and wanted to watch TV.

Remember during that same pregnancy when I complained about being uncomfortable and you said "I don't know what all the fuss is, women have babies on the side of the field and then go back to work."  Ex, do you personally know any such women?  I sure don't!

Then when I finally went into labor but it wasn't progressing, you wanted to leave me alone in the labor room with no phone (before cell phones people) and go home to get some sleep.

All of those said to me "I don't care about you, what you want or how you feel."

Do you remember when I started working nights and rather than be glad I finally got a job (you'd been badgering me for years) you were just mad that you had to take care of the kids and I didn't have a normal day job.  Even after I pointed out to you that in order to make it worth putting three kids in full time daycare I'd have to make over $60,000 a year?

When I moved to Oregon and you wouldn't even try to get a job up here leaving all of the parenting chores to me for nearly ten years.  When you did come up to visit you didn't even want to do anything with the kids.  When I needed to escape for a few hours after weeks of non-stop parenting, you'd pout because you wanted to spend time with me.

Even now you have no cell phone, no way for me to contact you if one of the kids should have an emergency.  I asked you (via email since it is all I have) if you wanted time with the kids for Thanksgiving or Christmas and I got no answer at all.  You haven't even given the kids any gifts for Christmas.

All of these said to me "I don't care about our kids, I think they are an inconvenience."

When you were mad at me for buying a new car, even though you sat next to me and signed the papers.  When you kept bringing home used cars that were ten miles away from dying.  When you left me in Oregon with unreliable transportation and living 20 miles away from civilization.

When you brought home used appliances that needed your constant attention to keep running, but then you'd leave and go back to California while your babies and I had to figure out how to live without a refrigerator or without a washing machine or without heat.

When you decided to cancel our garbage service but then refused to take the garbage to the dump until you "had a full load" and the pile just got bigger and August.

All of these said to me "I only care about money, not my family or their safety."

When you stopped cutting your hair and insisted I do it or it wouldn't get done.  Even when my hands hurt so much that I couldn't even write with a normal pen.

When you stopped shaving or showering unless I promised to have sex with you, even though your refusal to do so made you repellent.

When you kept "losing" the nice clothes I bought for you so whenever we wanted to go somewhere nice I either had to buy you new clothes or go out with you looking like a homeless person.

When you tried to go to the Paramount Theatre in Seattle Washington to see a Broadway play...wearing Scooby Doo pajama bottoms.

All of these said to me "I don't care how I look to you or to others and I don't care if I embarrass you."

When I bought a van at auction and wanted to drive it home myself rather than letting you take it to get more junk to hoard, you decided you'd never drive it.  Even when we were in the mountains and I was sleepy and my mom and step dad were in the back seat listening to you refuse to help me.

When you told my mom that if you didn't buy me that house in Oregon that I'd kill myself.

When you accused me of acting like your crazy selfish brother.

When you told my sister that I was making up my fibromyalgia diagnosis.

All of those said to me "I don't care about your feelings or how other people see you."

So you see Ex...those are just a few of the things you've said to me over the years.  You almost had me convinced that I deserved that, that you were the best I could ever hope to get, that you were the normal one, not me.  Recently though, I woke up and decided that living alone and raising three teenagers by myself and being celibate would be better than the hell I was living in.  THAT is why I left you.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Self Sufficient

I love reading "Happy Hausfrau" ( and enjoy her wit and positive view about surviving divorce.  However I was reading a post the other day that talked about how she needed help and a bunch of her friends "loaned" her their husbands to help her out.  She said that most of her friends were still married.

My life is the opposite, most of my friends (at least the ones who live in my area) AREN'T still married.  I'm having a gathering of friends a week from tomorrow and out of the five of us...only one is still married.  Two of them had their husbands leave them for other sluts women and two of us just have bad taste in men.

There is only one possible "loaner" husband for me.  I did ask him to help me set up my washer and dryer when we moved.  Especially as my dryer had a four pronged plug and my duplex had a three pronged outlet.  He was incredibly nice and changed the plug for me once I bought a new one.  I don't want to over use him so I'm trying to be as self reliant as I can.

One reason I decided to get a rental is because when my gutters are full of leaves, the dishwasher overflows or the roof is isn't my job to fix it, the property management has to take care of it.  I thought this through and decided this would be the best option because I am not good at fixing things and even the few things I know how to fix, I'm usually not strong enough to fix thanks to my fibromyalgia.

Some of this is a learning experience for my kids and me.  We all know how to plunge a toilet.  Just last week my fridge and microwave both blew a circuit and I got to show my daughters how to check the breaker box and reset the breaker.  Question for electricians...Kitchens always have a dedicated spot for stuff like refrigerators and dishwashers, so it is seldom ever a surprise where they'll be plugged in.  Knowing this...why don't you give them their own circuits?  I say this knowing the Ex was a contracter who also worked as an electrician and he'd create single circuits for all of the big item things that would likely trip the circuit.

Learning to do all of this myself is a good lesson, for both the kids and myself.  My daughters will be self sufficient and will know how to do these things for themselves without having to rely on a boyfriend or husband to do them.  My son will also learn how to do the stuff that so many millennials aren't learning.  So while it is hard and sometimes frustrating, there is almost always a youtube video to show me how and I know I (we) can do it.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Like Mother Like Daughter

I am my mother’s daughter

My mother asked my father for a divorce shortly after their 34th wedding anniversary.  I remember at the time thinking “Why bother now?”  Of course when you are young it is hard to think about life after 50, not to mention thinking about your parents as sexual beings…I mean ICK!

I’d known my mom was unhappy in her marriage since I was 14.  I constantly expected her to leave my dad and for us to move away.  Instead she stayed, and stayed and stayed.  By the time I was 32 I figured she’d never leave, so it took me by surprise.   It also took my dad by surprise; even though she’d told him repeatedly that she was unhappy he was shocked that she decided to end their marriage.

I thought about staying with my husband until the kids were grown.  Then it occurred to me, my mom had done that.  What did I learn from her?  How to stay in a miserable marriage.  So what was I teaching my daughters?

My sister asked me why I decided to leave the Ex now.  She claimed that he hasn’t changed since we started dating.  That seemed odd to me, why would I want to be with someone who never changed after age 17?  I’m almost 50…I’d like to be with a grown-up thank you very much!  I’d told him repeatedly that I was unhappy and gave him warnings and ultimatums and he was still shocked that I decided to end our marriage.  I am my mother’s daughter…and I married my father.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I wasn't ready

Have you looked at a marriage and thought “If I was treated like that I’d leave!”  You wonder how that person can put up with that kind of treatment.  As I tell the stories of everything that led up to my marriage ending I’m sure there are a lot of people who will wonder why I stayed so long.  What kept me with him?  I can’t give anyone a clear answer other than “I wasn’t ready.”

I wasn’t ready to be the sole working parent supporting my kids and the only person responsible for them on a daily basis. 

I wasn’t ready to deal with hanging curtains, fixing the dryer, adding transmission fluid to the car, or fixing my daughter’s bed that is falling apart.

I wasn’t ready to be the only person who took sick kids to the doctor…and OMG, what if I’m the one who is sick???

I wasn’t ready to be the sole cook and bottle washer in the house.  I hate being the only one who nags the kids to clean after themselves and their cats.

Oh spiders…I hate spiders…I wasn’t ready to be the only spider killer in the house!

I’m still not ready to date but I wasn’t ready to say that being single and celibate is better than living in a miserable marriage.

It took a LONG time for me to be ready. 

Now each day I wake up and feel free…because I was ready.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Rent is Late

Yes, as the title says my rent is late.  It was due today.  I should've gotten some money from the Ex's unemployment last week, but it hasn't appeared as of yet.  Whether it was delayed due to the holidays, or Ex not turning in his paperwork or what have you, it is late.  And now so am I.  The sad part is that I'll have to pay a $75 late fee, but guess what?  Ex doesn't have to pay any extra.  The money just has to appear sometime this month.  Any time this month.

This got me to sit down and write out a budget.  From now on I'm only going to count on his money for discretionary expenses, like food and clothes.  My rent is more than one paycheck, so I need to make sure to save the extra so I'm not counting on Ex to provide.

This is probably one of my first lessons in living single and single parenting.  His unemployment runs out in March, so he might not have anything to give me after that.  That will mean that I'm surviving on only what I make from then on.  That'll be tight, really, really tight.

Today after I realized that his money still hadn't come...I applied for food stamps.  I never thought I'd be here, but without the food stamps we can't possibly make ends meet without Ex's child support and my alimony.  Now I'll just keep my fingers crossed that we'll be able to get something.

I hate living like this.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Can you call it a marriage if you don’t live together?

You might’ve noticed in an earlier post that I said the kids and I moved to Oregon while their father (I've gotta come up with a good anonymous name for him) continued to live and work in California.  How did that come about?  Before moving to Oregon we were living in Silicon Valley at the height of the housing boom.  Our family of 5 had 524 square feet of tiny house in some of the most prime real estate in the country.  Yes, you read that right, 524 square feet.  It was a tiny house before tiny houses became a thing.  Only problem was that it didn't have ANY of the well thought out floor plans, storage solutions or loft bedrooms that you see in those adorable tiny houses.  My in-laws owned the house and wouldn't let us remodel it in any way because they couldn't afford the higher property taxes.

We’d been preapproved for a $400k mortgage.  I was wary of the adjustable rate interest loans, because it never seems like my income goes up, only my bills. So I knew we couldn't afford a 400k mortgage, besides that wouldn't even buy a two bedroom condo at that time.  We needed to leave the area.  One thing led to another and I soon found a three bedroom manufactured home on ½ an acre in a beautiful area of Oregon for $153,000.  I loved it and I was thrilled to be a homeowner

The minute our bid was accepted my ex started to look for places closer to home.  Why he started looking AFTER I found a house remains a mystery to this day.  He found falling down wrecks of homes in the central valley of California for $100k.  He kept complaining that the place I found wasn't a fixer upper.  The Ex is an amazing contractor and can build anything.  He's done amazing work in some of the nicest homes in Silicon Valley.  His mantra for his own family home is cheap or free.  He'll get it to work...but it'll be ugly.  I realize now I should've taken pictures of the work he did in his own home.  At the time I was too embarrassed and tried to hide it.  I still remember when he added a second shower head complete with PVC pipe and drips of purple pipe cement.  He said "Now we have a shower like the rich people do."  My sarcastic response fell on his deaf ears.  He continued to complain that I didn't buy a fixer, until his neglect meant that our house became a fixer.

We moved to our new home and he stayed behind with his parents with the understanding that he’d keep looking for a job in Oregon.  He didn't.  He SAID he did.  But when I checked his email accounts there were never any emails sent to prospective employers.  When I asked him later for a copy of his resume he didn't have one.  I asked him how he was applying for jobs, he said he kept looking on Craigslist but didn't see anything.  Later I told him I was seeing stuff on Craigslist and he said that his brother was looking for him and hadn't mentioned anything.

This went on for nine years.  I know, I’m a glutton for punishment.  Everyone who heard my story was amazed I put up with it so long.  In my own defense it was one day at a time.  Like sobriety, you don't set out to be sober for nine years, you set out to be sober for 24 hours.  I was essentially a single mom for nine years worth of 24 hour days.  In January of 2013 I told him that I’d had it.  I was filing for a legal separation and if he didn't find a job in Oregon, clean up the mess he’d made of our home (his hoarding will be another entry at another time) and start acting like a full member of our family then I’d make the separation a divorce.  By June he had a job here and by September that business folded.  He found another job shortly after that and then was laid off a few days before Christmas.  This lead to over a year of unemployment , with only an interruption of a couple of months of under-the-table work and he didn't even get paid everything he was owed.  The money worries seemed endless.

He stopped showering and shaving regularly, refused to cut his hair and wore the same clothes for days at a time.  He looked like a homeless person and even though he tried to clean up some for interviews he never managed to look like a normal person.   Not surprisingly our sex life was nonexistent.  All of our alcohol was disappearing, every time I bought a bottle of wine it'd be empty when I looked for it; he said he needed it to sleep.  He only moved from the couch to cook dinner in the evening or put together a lunch for me in the morning.   I found myself not only uninterested in him…but repelled.  

I realized he was depressed, but he wouldn't do anything about it.  I was working full time, taking care of our kids and commuting two hours a day.  I had nothing left to give him and he couldn’t help himself.  My deadline to clean up his mess passed in June and the mess was still there.  In September I started looking for a place for the kids and me nearer to my work and their schools.  Did I give up on him?  Yes, I did.  I know our marriage vows said “for better or for worse” and “In sickness and in health.”  I’m very aware of all of that and I know many people will fault me for leaving him when he is obviously depressed.  I’ll write more entries that I hope will help explain some of it, but in reality, there are two people in a marriage and no one else will ever totally understand it.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Staying for the kids.

So often when you hear about bad marriages and wonder why two people who are so obviously ill suited for each other stay together you'll hear the same reason: "They are staying together for the kids."  I admit that is why I stayed in a bad marriage for so long.  When I gave my husband his ultimatum in January 2013 that he needed to find a job in Oregon (among other things) or I'd leave him I hoped it'd have a good effect on our kids.

What happened is probably what you'd expect.  He had no idea how to parent the teens they'd become while he was mostly gone.  Watching him deal with our children so ineffectually was part of the reason I decided that maybe we'd been better off without him.  When he first moved back our son was 20, had been away for a year of college and then developed two autoimmune illnesses.  During the nearly year long ordeal to get a diagnosis I realized that I couldn't lean on his father for support, he was leaning on me for support.  One time I needed to be at work and since the ex was unemployed it made sense for him to take our son to his appointment with his gastroenterologist.  After the appointment I asked him what was said...he had no idea.  My son had no idea either.  My son has an excuse, several actually.  One is that he is autistic and doctor's appointments are very stressful making it difficult for him to process the information; that is why he needs a parent there to help him.  The other is that he is still young and not used to navigating the myriad medical questions and opinions he's been subjected to in the last year.  How many young men are?  The third reason is that he has social anxiety which is common for autistic individuals.

Later on in the year my son had a liver biopsy scheduled for the same day that I'd volunteered to help at my daughters' camp.  I asked ex to take him to the hospital and told him that I'd be there as soon as I could be.  I assumed (yes, I know what happens when I assume something) that he'd stay with our son until I got there.  Nope, he dropped him off and ran to work.  Our son was visibly relieved when I arrived.

My older daughter has always been very headstrong.  She is very loving, empathetic and caring and the child most likely to clean up after herself or help me when I need it.  She also hates to be ordered around.  If you phrase a request the right way then she'll go to the ends of the Earth for you, if you make it a command, be prepared for a very long day.  Ex made hints...then got passive aggressive if you didn't pick up on the hints.  "Gee, that popcorn bowl has been there a long time" turned into a week long stand off between them.  When I asked her why she wouldn't take care of it she said "because then he'll make a comment about it."  What could I say, she was right.  If I'd said "Hey, can you bring that bowl into the kitchen?"  She would've done it quickly and it would've been over.  Ex didn't know how to parent her.  Not long after he moved back in with us she started spending every spare second in her room.  Maybe six months after he arrived she asked to see a counselor for anxiety.

My youngest daughter is very happy-go-lucky.  As a toddler she had a love for shoes that continues to this day.  She currently has pink hair and refuses to wear pants.  She has always had a love for fashion and is learning to sew her own clothes.  She loves her dad and missed him when he was gone.  She was the happiest to learn he was moving back.  I'm not sure if it was the tension between her parents that caused her anxiety.  None of the kids could've missed that dad was sleeping on the couch every night.  In September she had her first panic attack.  I noticed that she was getting annoyed with him and starting to talk back to him, but then she was 14.  I also noticed that she was also starting to hide in her bedroom.  Once again, she is a teenager, what is normal and what isn't?

I realized that all three of our kids were dealing with anxiety and hiding in their rooms.  Some of it could be attributed to their ages, but the suddenness of the change and the fact that it coincided with their father's move was not lost on me.  After we moved into our new home my older daughter saw her counselor.  She'd recently started a low dose of Zoloft for her anxiety and was telling everyone who'd listen how much it was helping her.  Her counselor thought that it was the move more than the very low dose of medication that helped her.

I'd been staying for the kids...and it was hurting them far more than I realized.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

My first single New Year's Eve

I had a perfect night last night.  New Year's Eve with my kids.  Since they are the people I enjoy being around the most then I should enjoy being with them, right?

We watched my Netflix disc X-Men: Days of Future Past after watching Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  My youngest and I have been doing a Harry Potter marathon this week.  When X-men was over we had about a half an hour before midnight and I asked my son to set up the digital antenna.  We don't have cable, haven't paid for cable in over 20 years.  The last 10 years we lived in a narrow valley that didn't get any digital reception, so this was new.  We have over 12 channels* now!  My son got it working with two minutes to spare for ball drop!

My son turned 21 last month and we decided to share a bottle of wine.  We also had a bottle of Martinelli's for my daughters.  It was an enjoyable evening and I spent it just the way I wanted to.

*I now have access to PBS just in time for the next season of Downton Abbey.  Hooray!

New Year's Resolutions

Hey, maybe if I put this out in the interwebs I'll finally keep them!  You think not?  Well it is worth a shot.

1.  Go back to Tai Chi and keep at it!

2.  Take better care of myself and that includes doing what my Naturapathic Doctor tells me to do.

3.  Lose weight...of course this one is always on my list, but my initial goal is to lose 20 pounds before my 50th birthday on March 29, 2015.

4.  Establish routines to keep my house clean.  I might follow or someone else, but those routines need to be set in stone.

5.  Along with #4 I'm going to make my kids also establish routines.  They're all close to moving out age and they need to know this stuff!

6.  Finish my competent communicator book in Toastmasters.  I need this for my resume.

7.  Try to keep up with this blog.  I really want the recorded history of how I survived my divorce!

8.  Learn to stick with my budget, pay off my credit cards and then stop using them.

9.  Get enough sleep each night.

10.  Enjoy my time with my kids, say "yes" more often and remember that there are very few years left of them living with me.

I know that these look like standard resolutions that nearly everyone makes each year.  Since I've just left my husband and moved to a new place I feel that I have the best opportunity to start life anew.  I'll keep you updated on how well I manage this!