Just Me

I needed the time to heal. It took me so long to get over J.D. to get over the lies. I have never had a break up when the ex and I didn’t apologize, forgive and become amicable. I still exchange yearly emails with one of ex’s.  I have never had the hate and animosity that followed J.D. and I.

I spent the last 5 years in therapy, in groups and classes, looking at myself, pulling myself apart like some Thanksgiving turkey, looking for what it was about me that contributed to this. I read all the books and completed the workbooks, I have dug down and shoveled the shit and did the work. I refused to be involved in any relationship, but to solely focus on myself and my son.

I have had one long relationship since I was 19, with 3 different husbands. At 36, I was alone with myself.  I needed that, needed that silence that place without the them and just me. It ugly business to peel myself apart to see what lay underneath all that I presented to the world.

Five years later, I am left with me finally.

Lost Children

The world of child custody,  the fight over a child is something I never imagined I would be part of. Much of the terms used in the divorce process, custody, 50/50, ‘my weekend’, or’my time,’ is used to in relation to a child, yet those are words used to describe a possession. Why does divorce turn a child into a possession a thing to be fought over. won or lost?

I have heard so many stories of mothers (and yes I realize this happens to fathers too, but I am speaking from experience) that have lost custody. Abusers, I have learned often seek revenge on the wife by using the children, often seeking custody out of anger . J.D tried. After he told me to leave, after he told me he didn’t want to be a father or husband, he threatened me.  He told me if I didn’t bring back ‘his’ T.V he would charge me  with kidnapping our son.  He tried to blackmail me, give me $3000 and I will let you ‘keep Jude.’ He told my parents that if they wanted me to take Jude out of the state they first had to give him money. He told me he could take Jude and I would never see him again. I didn’t believe him at first, but after being in the world of divorce and parenthood, I believe him.

I think had he had a lawyer and had he said the right things he could have ‘won’ Jude.  Jude wasn’t and is never a person to  J.D. Jude is a possession to be used to get back at me. Jude was all that I cared about and J.D tried to use that. His weapon, his threats, ‘give me money or a T.V and I won’t take Jude from you’ scared me. Those words he said to me several times over the course of 3 months after I left him. I grew to fear that he would take Jude, fear that I would have to make a choice.

For me it has yet (I won’t say never) come to that. As of now a judge has determined I am the fit parent and has awarded me the right to raise my son. But what about those that have lost the right to parent? Did they deserve that?

The Best Mom

When Jude was born I had no clue what I was doing. I had prepared, read a few books, and bought all the required items, but I had no idea what I was actually doing. The first night home from the hospital he cried every time, I put him down. My mom and I took turns staying awake holding him. At one point during the next 10 days, I was desperately trying to figure out how I was supposed to sleep and get up every few hours to nurse and stay awake while I nursed him. This just seemed impossible. I finally stumble upon the idea of Attachment Parenting and co-sleeping. That made all the difference in the world. I purchased a sling and co-sleeper. I carried J.D in a sling and nursed him on demand. At night I stayed awake for his midnight feeding and then off to sleep I went until 7 a.m. He nursed the night away when he wanted and I got some sleep.

J.D was in San Diego during this time. He was in Navy Seal training and had come for Jude’s birth and for 10 days at Christmas. From January to July I was in Las Vegas and J.D was in San Diego. I remember telling J.D about Attachment Parenting and co-sleeping. He said that was fine with co-sleeping, but he wasn’t comfortable with a baby in the bed and really Jude should be in his own crib.

I know had J.D and I stayed together I would not have been a very good mom. I was divided on trying to make him happy and put the needs of my son first. I remember J.D telling me when Jude was 3 months old that it seemed like I was more interested in the baby than in him. Um really? He told me he couldn’t wait for him and I to get back to how we were. I didn’t question that, thinking that somehow I could balance my son and my asshole husband.

When I moved to San Diego, he talked of buying a motorcycle. I asked how exactly that would work with our son. His solution was that he would ride the bike to work and then we could get a baby sitter for the weekends and take off on the bike. He wanted me to join a gym with him and start working out like we had done before Jude was born. Once again, I asked him how that was going to work. He said I could meet him at the gym when he got off work. I said, “So you will work until 5 or 6 and then we will meet at the gym and work out  until 7 or 8 and then we go home and Jude goes to bed?” He said that sounded fine as Jude was a baby, and not likely to miss out or care.

No way would I have been able to spend time with my son and meet any of his needs had I stayed married to J.D. J.D had no concept of a child or putting anyone except himself first. At least once a day I am thankful my marriage imploded and I got the opportunity to be the best mom I can be.

All Quiet

It’s been quiet. For once in the last 5 years, it has been calm. When I left J.D. I was so afraid, I feared things getting ugly. In my co-dependency I wanted to help and fix. I tried to fix his cheating, help him with  his screwed up new girlfriend, while we were still married. I was so afraid of having him leave my life and so afraid of being a single mother, of being alone and on my own. I feared my son being raised without his father. I wanted to hang on to the image of a family, a mom and dad for my son.

I spent so much time attempting to fix J.D., talking to him on the phone, listening to him cry and moan about his screwed up childhood and his messed up life. I tried to fix his life while he was trying to destroy mine. Oh the irony!

It is freeing to be in this stage of my life. To know J.D’s choices no longer effect me or my son. His inability to hang on to a job or control his spending, no longer my problem. His inability to keep from soliciting strangers on Craig’s List or exchanging phone numbers with anyone under the age of 24? No longer my problem to deal with. I remember after the first time I found a text from a girl to J.D. “Hey sexy, I miss your sweet ass!!” I sat on the floor at 2 a.m. looking at that text wondering who this girl was. I wondered if I should delete the text, but I knew there would be more. I wondered if I should text back, call her and scream at her, but I knew that wouldn’t change anything. It wasn’t this girl it was J.D. I knew that, I knew in that moment, the problem wasn’t me or the girl, but J.D. What did I do with that text? I woke J.D up and listened to his excuse,  ‘She’s just a girl from a college class. That’s how people talk to each other. You don’t get it because you have issues, but that is how friends joke around.’ I accepted that, took the blame. I buried my head, waited for the the next explosion and slowly destroyed who I was.

 

Just One for Me

Jude is my first and only child. I often thought that I would have one more. J.D, my ex-husband only wanted one child, a boy and he was done. I always knew I would be a mother to a son and I rarely wished I had a daughter. Occasionally I was sucked in by all the adorable girl clothes, but a quick check of price tags and the longing for girl seemed to magically disappear.

This year I will be 42, and Jude will be 6. I know that I won’t have another child, most days I am just fine with that, grateful  to have Jude. Today I saw on Facebook (or Fakebook) that a friend is pregnant with her 3rd child. She has two boys and of course is hoping for a girl. She has the ‘perfect’ life. Her and her husband are teachers and what they can’t afford her wealthy parents purchase. When she graduated high school she got a new BMW, diamond earrings when she graduated college and half the money needed for a new home when she got married. Her parents watch the kids while she works and help out with day care costs for the oldest one that just turned 3. I’ve known Gio for about 8 years. Oddly enough my ex-husband introduced us. They knew each other through mutual friends. Gio was just completing her student teaching when I met her.  She used to bring me little gifts at school because I would help her out with things. I always considered Gio a friend, we weren’t real close, but we ran in the same in circles. She came to my baby shower and made me the neatest diaper cake.  I was and have been somewhat envious of her.

A few years ago we were invited to the same birthday for friends of ours. It was the first time she had seen me since J.D and I had divorced. She was surprised when I told her some of the details of my divorce from J.D. She said that J.D had always been a flirt, but cheating just seemed so out of character for him.  She told me her marriage wasn’t so great, that her husband, Ryan had a gambling addiction. A gambling addict in Vegas! She went on to say that her parents were always having to bail them out because he would spend entire pay checks gambling. She said they now have a system where his money goes into an account that he had no access too.  I felt sorry for her, living with someone that you can’t trust. I asked her if she had plans on leaving. Gio looked at me oddly and said, “Like divorce? No, I wouldn’t.” I was surprised. I can’t imagine living with a gambling addict and not being able to trust him.  She went on to have a 2nd and now a 3rd child with this guy. I wonder the price she pays to stay in that marriage. I know I couldn’t pay the price for my marriage.

Silence

Since I changed my number and asked J.D to use Skype we’ve heard nothing. My son asked to call J.D, we did three times and he never returned any of our calls. I am relieved and somewhat sad. Relieved because I don’t believe J.D cared about Jude, but only about hurting me and somehow getting back at me. Sad because I always hoped J.D would be a good Dad or at least try to be.

Having Jude changed me so much, it changed my thinking and my priorities. I wanted to be a better person for Jude. How is it possible that for J.D it did nothing? He used to say that he joined the Navy because of Jude. Jude didn’t come along until 2 years after J.D joined the Navy so that was a lie. Then he told me he spent so much time at work to be a better Navy Seal so he could make promotions and make money for Jude. Yet Jude never saw anything extra in the way of money. I told J.D, what Jude needs is you. Simply you and your time. In reality it is better that  Jude have as little as possible with Captain Narco.

 

I

Awesome Dad

I want to be fair to my ex-husband, I really do, but I am pissed. I am pissed that after 5 years he suddenly wants to be a Dad and yet denies he did nothing wrong. He maintains he was and is a great Dad. He has told me at every opportunity that he is an ‘awesome Dad.’  An awesome Dad that started an affair with a 20 year old when he was 32, when his wife (me) was 6 months pregnant, an awesome Dad who moved his son and wife to San Diego and then dropped a bomb in their lives (Um gee honey, I am having an affair and can you leave with our son?). An awesome Dad that visited his son 4 times in 5 years and has never once  been alone with his son for more than 3 hours or spent any time caring for him. Read him a story? How about a bath? Dinner cooked and fed? Nope he’s done of that!

I want to be happy for my son that maybe there is some chance J.D will get his act together and actually be a Dad, but I just don’t see it. We aren’t on the same page or even in the same book about anything.  My son asked J.D where his Christmas and Birthday presents were. J.D had the nerve to say, “Ask your mom.” My son looked at me and said, “I’m supposed to ask you where my presents are.” I said I had no idea where the presents are. I then said to J.D did you even send presents? He replied with, “Son there are two sides to every story and sadly you are only getting hers.” What does that mean? Did he send Christmas presents or not? He’s never sent anything, but child support for the last 5 years and that had to be garnished from his pay.

I hate this, hate that my ex and I can’t have a conversation. I asked him to attend counseling with me, via Skype for him, so we can see each others sides and maybe learn to communicate. I would love for us to have an open conversation, but he blames me for everything. He has no relationship with our son, my fault! He can’t pay his bills, my fault. His lawn got stolen, my fault.  Is it too much to ask for normal???

Dear Twenty-Something Me

Dear Twenty-Something Me,

First stop thinking you are fat, you aren’t. Wait till you are 40 and had a kid, whine then about your weight. Enjoy that gorgeous fake blonde hair and keep ignoring the roots. Spend a little more time in shorts and mini skirts you can so pull it off!

Don’t marry James to just to get out of Arkansas. You can finish college on your own, taking out a few thousand in loans and living with your parents for a few years. Marrying James will turn out messy. He actually loves you, but you are too naive to understand. You will grown up and become more independent and James doesn’t want that. He likes that you are young and fun. Serious Lette will scare him, Independent Lette will make him miserable. Just keep working at Walden books and going to UALR and you will graduate, it just may be a Bachelor’s degree on 8 year plan.

Still take a ride on Kim’s CBR 600, but don’t marry him. Learn how to ride a motorcycle, you spent 5 years living, breathing motorcycles, but you never learned. Ask! And when Kim says no, ask one of the other guys at the bike shop to teach you. Stop thinking you will drop the bike, you might but so what! Learn to ride. The first time Kim throws something at you and takes a hammer to your rocking chair, you need to go. That young Lette is a sign of serious problems. Let him go.

Instead of spending your 20’s married take care of you, find out who you are. You turn out to be pretty fab! Travel to Corpus Christi to see your friend, Rena, but go to Padre Island too! Drive into Mexico and spend the day. You lived in Texas for five years, but never got all the way to Mexico! Go!!

Instead of marrying the guy in the uniform, you go and get yourself one. I know you joined the Army, but you waited until you were 25 and you were married to Kim on the verge of divorce. You spend your 2 years in the Army refusing to let go of Kim and refusing to put any effort into what you were doing. Put the effort in, stay and do your five years, go to Kansas when the Army sends you there. Be a journalist, live in the barracks and have fun.

You got to travel across the United States, you drove from Fort Meade, Maryland to Vancouver, Washington. You loved that drive, you had no job, $5000 and a cell phone that stayed charged for 3 hours. I love that you went on that drive. Thing is once you got to Washington, Kim asked you to drive back to Virginia so you guys could have another chance. Say no!!! Tell him you are staying in Washington that you are living your life on your own.

Young Lette!! Don’t be afraid to be alone!  These men that you cling too, that you bend yourself like Gumby to keep, aren’t worth it.  Let me just tell you, in the end James dies, Kim is an Art teacher with a kid. And you, you are alone. So let them go and be okay with yourself. Figure out that you are messy, (because you are), that you like having ice cream for dinner and go on a date. A date that does not end in marriage!

Finally, when you meet Joe let us look at some things that may be problematic.

He’s still married.

Drivers License is suspended for reckless driving.

He is on probation for felony theft at his last job.

He is working as a cook in a restaurant, but quit because they cut his hours.

He can’t pay his rent.

His family refuses to help him out.

His car is repossessed.

And all of these things are not his fault or so he says. And you will try to fix these things! Don’t! You can go on the date, but after you hear the above mentioned things, RUN!

You turn out amazing my dear Lette, but it is a tough road.

Love your old self!

Child Support AGAIN

I went to Child Support Enforcement back in June of last year to have JD pay child support to the state and then they pay me. My thought was that the Child Support office could keep track of his payments and make sure he pays.  I mean their brochure had this cute little picture of a child holding hands with a mom and dad and the caption that said, “Children First.” So of course they would do right by my son.

What a bunch of crap!!

JD had been paying the state consistently from June until November. I got a direct deposit every month on the 10th.  for child support. Then December rolls around and nothing,the 10th comes and goes no child support.  Of course the month of my son’s birthday and Christmas JD doesn’t pay child support. I somehow expected that would happen. Karma, pay back whatever!   I didn’t worry too much because I knew the state would take care of everything. I mean they explained he had 30 days to pay and when he didn’t pay within that time period they would garnish his wages and within another 30 days child support would be paid. That sounded so easy!  Silly me!

I finally get a payment on the 29th of December for that months child support.  I figure JD must have changed when he was going to pay or the state posted it on a different day. I’m not too worried, I adjust a few things plan for the end of the month for child support. January goes by and no payment. I call the state the first of February and after a lovely 17 minutes on hold, I get to speak with Mrs. Dumb-ass.

After a few minutes of reviewing my case Mrs. Dumb-ass says that the state decided to garnish JD’s wages back in January. I ask why as he has been paying every month by the 10th.  After a few minutes of silence, Mrs. Dumb-ass says she doesn’t know.  YES she has no idea why her office would suddenly start garnishing JD’s pay, when they don’t do that unless the person is 30 days behind or more. .  Okay I say you started garnishing in January, it is now February so where is the child support?  Big long pause and Mrs. Dumb-ass has to put me on hold,  When she comes back on the line she says she doesn’t know why JD’s pay was garnished or where the money is.Seriously??

Mrs. Dumb-ass says that JD called in January very upset because the state garnished 2 months of child support from his check on January 5th, but the Child Support office has yet to receive any money.

Um okay I say, so where is the money if it was garnished from JD’s paycheck and you don’t have it. Well says Mrs. Dumb-ass we don’t  know. We think the military is holding it. (JD is in the Navy).

Again are you serious?? She doesn’t know why his pay was garnished nor where the money is?? Let me just say right now her tone of voice and attitude was more like this was my fault than hers.

Mrs. Dumb-ass goes on to say they can’t do anything until the military releases the money. I ask if they are for sure the military has the money. She says no they are just going off of what JD told them. I say isn’t it weird that JD’s paycheck would be garnished  January 5th  for 2 months of child support and that money is just floating around somewhere. I ask if JD provided any proof of his wage garnishment. She says no he just called and told them that his pay was garnished.

UM SERIOUSLY??  You don’t want to check that out I say, maybe ask for check stub or something?  Mrs. Dumb-ass says, look you just need to not depend on that money. Just put it in an account and pretend it doesn’t exist that way you will be surprised if the money is there and not disappointed if isn’t.

I am literally about ready to curse this lady out. I am not joking that she said this crap to me.  I told her that was the dumbest thing I had ever heard. I said that no matter what my financial position was JD was responsible for paying for part of his kid and her job was to make sure my kid got his child support.

Mrs. Dumb-ass then said, Well according to your financial statement you should be just fine. You don’t qualify for welfare so you don’t really need the child support.

After I picked myself up off the floor I asked to speak to a supervisor and was told that no supervisor was available, but one could return my call within 72 hours. Again Seriously?? This is the department that is supposed to be advocates for our children?? This world is in so much trouble!

Now it is March and I have still not received a payment, but hey I guess I don’t need it right??

Dinner with Friends

I don’t have very many friends. Growing up my parents have few if any friends. We never had people over to our house  or dinner with my parents friends. I think it is hard to keep the facade when you invite people into your home.

I am trying to develop friendships, deep friends. I define those friends as the person I would trust to watch my house when I’m vacation or I could call to pick me up if I locked my keys in the car.  I have some friends, but nothing too close and personal. I realized that I keep people at a distance. I keep them away because of my own feelings of inadequacies.

I wanted my home to be full of people, friends over for dinner, kids in and out. I don’t have that. My son’s birthday in December was the first time in 6 months that I had people besides family in my home. I honestly don’t know what to do or how to get those friends. I keep looking back to high school and the close the friends I had or thought I had. I keep thinking I can somehow reconnect with those people,but of course high school and 40 are way different. In the past I’ve had some close friends, Rena and her 2 sons, I spent many an evening at her house or she at mine with the boys.  She was a stay-at home mom with 2 sons under 4. I didn’t get the intricacies of her life. There was Crystal a good friend that I spent  lunch and holidays with.  Moving has caused me to have friends in many other states, friends that I considered close.

I miss that closeness of friendship of someone simply getting me. I want my son to meet other people and to see people at our door, not just Grandma and Grandpa. I want to have people over and be invited to other people’s houses. I want to have a friend that I can call up and say, “Let’s go to Target.”   I know lame, but that is what I want.