Monthly Archives: April 2015

It Takes a Village to Raise a Woman

I’ve been thinking about writing a letter like this to thank all the people who helped me claim my life back. Not sure if I’ll do it — I tend to get too flowery. But it felt good to write.

April 25, 2014

Dr. [name]
Therapist [name]
Father [name]
Father [name]
Dr. [name] DDS

Each of you need to know that you had a huge part in my coming back to the world of the living which is what I’ve worked on for the last year and a half.

Throughout my forties I was profoundly depressed, heavily medicated, and had many suicide attempts and psychiatric hospital stays. I ruined a really good marriage and I deeply regret that.

In my fifties I made one bad decision after another until I was ruined financially by my con artist husband. When he discarded me and cheated on me with a 26 year old woman, I truly never felt more depressed in my life (and that’s saying something!). Except for my daughter and parents I had nothing and no one left.

I don’t know why it was at that point that I decided I could not let that man have my life on top of everything else he took from me. I enlisted a team of professionals and my family who have never stopped loving me to help me find out who I am and what I want to be.

Starting with Dr. [name] and then [name], my psychiatric nurse practitioner, then therapist [name], and finally I began to have months and months of the strongest desire to re-introduce myself to God and find a church and church family, and I hit a home run right off the bat by finding Fr. [name], Fr. [name], and [name] Church.

I also give credit to the reasonably priced and high quality recreation facilities in [name] because it helped me lose weight and gain strength, but mostly showed me that physical exertion is what I need most for my mental health. And keeping busy.

And it turns out I’m actually a pretty happy person (with no more stress headaches) now that I’m on my way to being divorced from a heartless man.

So many people helped me. I had to declare bankruptcy, but thanks to Legal Aid and an attorney who volunteered his time at a local law firm, I got that behind me and have already greatly improved my credit. I went to my long time dentist with emergencies and he helped me for a very low cost.

Over a year ago I began to volunteer at a child abuse assessment center in [name]. I wanted to give back, but they gave me far more than I gave them. Earlier this week they have hired me full time. At 57 I am starting all over again and I feel so grateful.

I’m telling you busy professionals what an impact you had on my life because you need to know that you do make a difference, you save lives. I feel honored, and more than a little blessed to have each of you in my life.

When communities do the right thing, their citizens benefit. Happy and healthy citizens cost less to maintain than miserable, unhealthy ones.

For the first time in ten years I am fully supporting myself with no help from outside sources and I plan to keep it that way. I’ve learned that more often than not, when we ask for help, we get help and that’s gone far to restore my faith in mankind.

When I left work yesterday (it feels so odd to say that after so long not working) my boss made a point to tell me what a great job I did this week and how they’re lucky to have me. I was really moved.

I still have a couple of weeks of feeling pretty incompetent but things are starting to gel for me and they can see that.

I’m not qualified to give anybody else any advice, but I can honestly recommend that if you need help, that you come right out and ask for it. You might be surprised at the result.

Oh My Heavens, the Learning Curve is Steep

I’ve been going in to the office full time since Monday, but on Monday I was just a warm body at the desk because the woman who is training me was out. So, so far I’ve been in training two days — and omg, it’s pretty awful.

I’m being far, far too hard on myself because this is a job with so many details that no one, whether 57 or 27 can learn it fast.  I’m being way too apologetic. I need to shut up and just keep doing my best. So many totally unfamiliar computer programs, so much redundancy, and since I was thrown in to the middle I’m not seeing the big picture, the life of a case. So tomorrow I’m going to ask her to back up a bit and present it in order for me.

My alarm is set for 6am and I’m there by 8am. Last night I was in bed by 9:30 — so exhausted, and I managed to dream about it. But I’ve told everyone that right now I need to eat well, sleep well, and concentrate on this job — not on my divorce, not on my apartment to-be, nothing else. The good news is that physically I’m fine (other than not being able to poop whenever it’s handy. LOL!)

I’m seeing, as expected, some cattiness and talking behind people’s back. I don’t like that and I’m surprised at the people who are doing it. I’m going to take extra effort not to do it and not to take sides as they are.

I know that within months they’ll be very, very glad to have me in that position and they may just want to keep me there and not offer me the other position, but meanwhile I’m feeling terribly insecure. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and it’s hard for me to feel incompetent.

The lovely young woman training me is very patient, but she’s not the greatest teacher. I, on the other hand, am a very good teacher. She’s not making it easy for me to grasp.

Tonight I came home and announced to my parents that I fear they’re going to give up on me. But now that I’ve eaten and calmed down, I will go in tomorrow and learn some more. I need to zip my lip and not give them any ideas that I’m not capable.

The young women I work with are fairly freshly graduated from college and they have so much self esteem and are such quick learners.

An upside to being busy this week is not spending much time on the computer at home. I’ve spent far too many hours at this screen for years and years and years and I need a life. My eBay store sales have crawled to a stop and I don’t care.

Today we toured the Mission in this town and it blew my mind. They serve hundreds of homeless people a day and they don’t get one penny from the government. Everything is from donations — they don’t even do fundraising! And they do it well and it’s clean, and they treat the people who come there with dignity. They work with a ton of community agencies to try to get people out of there and into their own place.

The woman who gave us the tour today said, “Frankly, the fact that this works as well as it does is a miracle.”

For a community our size our homeless population is larger than other comparable towns, and that’s probably because the services here are pretty good, if you’re willing to stay off drugs and alcohol. It was a beautiful thing to see.

Today I had to remind myself of all I’ve lived through, not just the last 18 months since my husband and I separated, not just since I met him, but for so, so long before that. I reminded myself that I am a fighter and because of that I will not give up.

Now that I am in a paid position (which I hope will become permanent) I feel tremendous gratitude for the privilege of going to work every day. Only when you’ve found that no one will interview you and no one will hire you do you appreciate how lucky you are to work.

I’m Going to Be Fine

Life feels so beautiful to me right now. More beautiful than it’s ever seemed before. I’m a changed person —  I can see it plainly. A better person than I was before.

I’ve been sick for over a week with the flu so was unable to start working last week. In the old days the old me would be freaking out about that and freaking out about starting work, but I’m not. I’m grateful and I feel ready and competent. I don’t expect to be perfect — there will be a learning curve. I’m as good as anyone for the job.

I’ve been wound way too tight for far too long. It’s been hell on me and the poor people who had to deal with me. Anytime I felt like it this week I just crawled back into bed. It’s a luxury I don’t allow myself and it felt blissful even while I coughed and hacked up phlegm. Just lying there doing nothing felt divine.

I spent $300 on a large, pro KitchenAid Mixer today — an incredible deal. I tried to talk myself out of it but I knew I deserved it. I knew it was a once in a lifetime purchase and that I’d use it for breads and pastries. Cooking delicious things is something I plan to do with my spare time, when I move out.

I found a place I’d like to rent but called the woman back and told her I was going to slow my search down. No need to rush. But I’m hoping it, or something like it will be available in a month or two when I’m ready.

For right now I’m just going to go to work at 8 a.m. and take my cold meds with me, drink plenty of fluids, and come home and climb into bed at 5 p.m. if I need to. I’ll repeat that until the cold is gone. I won’t ask anything else of myself. I didn’t even go to church today! I missed it, but knew I’d only cough throughout the entire service.

So here I find myself writing about nothing, really. And it feels so good. So relaxing. My husband had me convinced I was really a shrew and lucky that he put up with me because no one else would. Now I see that’s not true. I’m actually fairly mellow.

I was supposed to see my therapist Friday but they called to change the appointment. I told the woman I couldn’t reschedule because I would now be working full time. An hour later my therapist called me back to congratulate me. I wish I could have seen her one last time, but it’s okay. I’m ready to be done. I’m ready to be an adult woman on my own.

I put this into place by being proactive in my recovery from a terrible marriage, heartbreaking infidelity, and being ruined financially. I’m rising from the ashes and I know I will be fine.

I wish everyone could feel the peace that I am feeling this evening.


I Got A Job

I wrote this yesterday and posted it in the forums on the Chump Lady website. If you’re unfamiliar with the site, you must be registered to see the forum section. The responses I got from dozens of amazing, strong, women just blew me away. I know they are genuinely happy for me that I have finally gotten here. I have such deep admiration and respect for each and every member of Chump Nation as they run or crawl their way to their new cheater-free life.

The post:

I Got A Job At The Place I Volunteer

I am just beside myself right now. Beginning next week I’ll work half time for two weeks and then full time. In July the position will be made permanent instead of temporary and the benefits will follow.

I don’t know what possessed me to volunteer at a child abuse assessment center, but I’ve been there over a year and everybody there is way, way younger than I am but they’ve embraced me. They made me feel welcome, they made me feel competent, they really appreciated my efforts.

18 months ago I was a morbidly obese and miserable 56 year old woman whose husband just dumped her for a 26 year old. He had cleaned me out financially and I was bankrupt. I moved in with my parents. I began to swim, a lot. I swam and I lost weight. I came here and cried and cried and cried. I began to volunteer. It got me out of my head. I kept going to counseling, sometimes weekly. I joined a church and became very active in it. I began to rebuild my credit. And now I’ve been offered a job at the place I’ve been volunteering. It just makes me feel like sometimes good things happen to good people, people who work and apply themselves.

In the coming months I really will be moving out to my own small apartment — something I was really having trouble believing would ever come. I am so eager to get all my stuff out of storage and decorate the place how I want to decorate it. For the first time in my life I will be independent and it feels so good.

The pain of infidelity truly separates the men from the boys and even though it has taken me a long time, I have risen to the occasion. After a lifetime of depression and countless suicide attempts I finally decided to fight and not give up.

— end —

I have to say I’m in a daze (part of that is the cold medication I’m on). But I simply can’t believe I finally got to this place and I actually feel capable and strong.

I do wish I could share the news with him until I remember he’s not on my team any more.

The support I’ve received from the folks who read here and occasionally comment has also greatly impacted my recovery. Thank you.

A Moment of Sincerity with the STBX

I’m pretty anxious that I’ll never find that full time job I need and therefore never move out of my parent’s house and be independent. I’m trying hard to remember that I’ve come along way in 18 months and to trust that things will fall into place as they have been.

I sent that email to my STBX about sponsoring his daughters and he called me back as soon as he read it. He was quite alarmed and said if I can’t help him he has no way to sponsor them. I asked him why he couldn’t have his girlfriend do it and he said “that can’t happen.” He’s careful to never actually mention her.

The next day we had a talk that I feel closes some doors and helps me on my way to meh. Although these days I’m thinking “meh” is not what I want. Meh sounds too light and silly. I just want closure and to not yearn for him any longer.

We spoke and I said that he had some gall asking me to do this for him after the way he discarded me. He tried several times to say I am not without fault and that he just couldn’t take it any more. I said, “I have fault. I have a ton of fault. I’m talking about the way you discarded me. Someone you supposedly loved. Someone you had been through so much with.”

Eventually we had two or three minutes of a conversation where I was crying and I think he was too. He said he has a lot of remorse and he is sorry. When he started sounding pompous or like he was lying I would say, “Stop. Don’t do that. Be genuine with me.” And he got back on track.

To this day he won’t admit he was with Heather Ann before we split up. Absurd that he insists on that when I know with 100% certainty that he was. I guess some things are just too hard to face up to.

I told him that it just feels like further humiliation for me to be asked to help sponsor his daughters when they already have a new relationship with my replacement. He started to talk about how much they love me and again I said, “Stop. It’s not about whether they love me. We are communicating less and less these days and we may someday lose track of one another. My point is they are good kids who never did anything to hurt me and for that reason I would help them if I could.”

The next day he called to say he is going to approach their sponsorship a different way and try to remove me from the equation. I told him that was great and I wished him luck.

I felt that for a few fleeting moments in the last day or two that I could see the part of him who is actually a decent and loving man. I have to remind myself how duplicitous he is, and highly suspect that if I were to read his email (which I haven’t since before Lent) that I would find he’s buying Heather Ann gifts and making all sorts of ridiculous purchases and plans.

But he told me he is at his wits end, as always. How the money he got is not enough to pay back people for all he borrowed. How he doesn’t know how he’d care for the girls even if he could get them here. How he is a loser.

I am aware that I’m only seeing the part of the puzzle that he wants me to see, but I was still grateful for having a few moments of relative honesty and closeness with him. I assured him that I didn’t want him back but it was nice to see a glimpse of the man I know he is inside. In short we were basically tender with one another.

I feel so sorry for him. He’s aware that he’s not provided for his kids or his two wives and that he is looked at as a loser. He wears this pompous outside shell, but on good days he knows he has failed.

The good news is that even those calls made me feel a bit melancholy, they didn’t really depress me or make me want him back. Those days are over. And yesterday I re-read my diary from our last year in London and it reminded me that there’s no going back after his very ill treatment of me, not to mention his relationship with Heather Ann.

Yesterday I was at the courthouse at 8 a.m. for my volunteer job and spent four hours with advocates over there who help people who come in for protection orders. It’s part of just trying to get an overall feel of how the legal system works. Later this week I’ll be going to a sentencing.

My supervisor got the job she applied for which opened her position. The receptionist took her old position. They will soon be needing to hire a new front desk person. They have already indicated to me that they could use my help as they transition.

I don’t want to get stuck with a low paying front desk job, but if I get an inkling it could lead to something better, such as the case manager position they hope to create, then I would take it. My fear is that the front desk position will only pay $12 or so an hour and I can’t live on that.

But I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

I was going through the lengthy process to apply for a position at the UO this weekend when I realized that the position would be too much for me physically. It is hard to admit, but I know they’d look at me and think, she’s too old for such a position, walking from one part of the campus to another, always on the go. I’ll finish filling it out, but don’t feel at all hopeful about getting an interview.

I guess if I can get this job at the place I volunteer it will be a good transitional move for me. I’ll get used to working 8s-5p five days a week and I won’t have to get used to new names, I just need to learn the job. I don’t know who else might be interested in the position. I know they like me a lot but they also like some of their other volunteers.

If the job is offered to me I will not say no.

I was so active the last ten days at church and I miss it. The Easter services were really amazing. Even the vicar said he thought the Saturday night service was more beautiful and moving than it had been to him in years. Probably because he went to Israel in January and has been invigorated. Maybe he’s seeing things through new eyes like I am.

Even though feeling sorry for my  husband is more painful that detesting him, I’d rather feel sorry for him. One thing I’ve learned about myself in the last few days is that I can’t hate him — it’s not who I am. I won’t forgive him, don’t get me wrong. What he did to me is inexcusable and reprehensible. But if I allowed myself to be consumed by hatred for him then I lose.

Nothing has changed for him. I found out his parents did sell their house and paid for two years of rent and moved with the girls to a new apartment. That his mom is taking the rest of the money to buy a home in Iran. I said, “So once again they didn’t send any money your way after all they’ve done for your sister?” He said he doesn’t want their money and he isn’t speaking to them. So it’s the same ol’ same ol’ with him and his family. So glad not to be in the midst of that.

I also know that I can’t assume he’s telling me the truth about them not giving him some money. He’s a highly secretive man.

While my heart hurts for him and his girls I am removed from it and will not let it consume me. I have my own life and goals now and they don’t include him. I think having those few moments of sincerity with him was good for me at this phase of my recovery.

It’s tense here at my parent’s house because they have been preparing for an appraisal which will happen tomorrow. If the amount comes to more than they owe on their loan they can refinance and get a loan which is $175 lower per month than it is now. If they can reduce their mortgage payment that much then they can afford to stay here because it would cost them the same to just rent a place. I pray, pray, pray that the number is what they need. My mom’s mood will be horrific if it isn’t.

Crossing fingers, eyes, and saying a prayer to the appraisal gods.

To Sponsor or Not Sponsor Plus Bach

Easter week is really busy, at church, man! I can only imagine that the priests might want to take the rest of the month off to recuperate. This week I’ll be at the church 5 out of 7 days and I love it.

To people who have gone to church all their lives it’s probably not as riveting as it is to me. But I haven’t been to church since I was about 14 years old, and I’m new to the Episcopal traditions — it’s a big learning curve. But no one cares if you get it wrong, they don’t seem to notice.

I learned about Advent this year, something I never paid attention to before, and as you know I had my first Lent practice this year. Yesterday, Maundy Thursday, they stripped the alter. The crosses have been covered for a month. They are asking us to leave in silence. It’s a somber but beautiful time of year. Went to my first Good Friday noon mass today and the clergy were in black. No decoration anywhere. Everyone is waiting and pondering.

Tomorrow night is another mass at 8 p.m. I don’t know what it will be like. Then on Sunday, Easter, I predict the church will come alive with flowers and beauty and we will be able to sing songs that include “Hallelujah” again, which we have not said since Lent started.

But I’m a novice at this stuff so if you’re curious about the Episcopal Church, don’t learn from me! I’m just happy to be experiencing this whole year of firsts. I love the staff and so far love the parishioners I’ve met. I feel I’ve come home. I’m glad I finally went after months of saying I wanted to go there.

I sat with my therapist today for the first time in several weeks and told her about my moral quandary — to sponsor my STBX stepdaughters or not. Because everyone tells me, “You don’t owe him a thing.” And I know that, but I want to know what my motivations are for not sponsoring them.

First, I want to make sure it’s not going to get me in trouble that I’m doing this when I have no plans to stay married to him. I’m also not sure if it makes me responsible for them in some way. I’m not worried about that, really — one daughter would like to come here, the other one won’t come until her grandmother can sell her house and move to the US which will probably be never.

But my husband has no income and there are minimum income requirements and presently we do not meet them. I don’t want him misrepresenting our earnings and making me part of a lie.

He’s told me on several occasions, “I’ve got to take care of this immigration shit to get my mom off my back about it.”

You’d think he’d care about it because he cares for his daughters and wants the best for them. But if he felt that way then I suspect he would have had a hand in raising them, which he really hasn’t, unless you count hours a day on FaceTime.

So, back to me sponsoring (or not sponsoring) them. What if they are already tight with Heather Ann (the other woman)? Doesn’t that just make me look like a horrible fool? Again? Chumped all over again?

But should it matter to me if they are or are not close with their dad’s girlfriend? It’s not their fault he dumped me when my money ran out. I shouldn’t punish them for what he did.

At the same time the girls and I go longer and longer without communication and I don’t think that’s going to change. In fact I can see us eventually losing contact. On one hand that’s a bit of a relief, on the other hand I would like to know how they fare. I’ve often thought that if I could get on my feet, the younger daughter, the one who connects with me, could come live with me. But that would mean occasionally seeing or hearing from (or about) her dad and worse, Heather Ann or whomever the current OW is.

I don’t need to torture myself any longer.

I’ve expressed real concern with him and he knows I am starting to get cold feet about this. He has a meeting with his immigration attorney on the 8th so I hope he gets some answers then. I told him in an email last week that if he can sponsor the girls after he’s been here for three years, then that’s just 9 months away. Not long in the scheme of things. Then he could do it without any help from me

I’ve written to (a legal advice website) to see if anyone will tell me why I might want to seriously consider NOT sponsoring them. I want to know how this might affect me and my own future.

I’m hoping I can get advice from a lawyer who will tell me in no uncertain terms that I should not sponsor them. Then I can write to my STBX and tell him the legal reasons why I can’t do it. Don’t know if I’ll get that lucky though. I might just have to tell him I don’t want to do it on general principle and because he’s a manipulative asshole who is continuing to use me.

Then I feel like he’ll badmouth me further, yet why would I care? Who do I know that he knows? Pretty much no one. If I decide to tell him I can’t participate in their sponsorship then I will really feel less connected to him. I’d go to the courthouse the very next day and file the dissolution paperwork.

The only other bit of information I wanted to relay is that since Christmas I’ve become a Bach freak — yes, J.S. Bach. I’ve purchased four or five albums from iTunes and lately found myself humming or whistling these complicated, epic numbers from the Passion of St. John or St. Matthew, or the Cantatas, or B Minor Mass.

Bach was fiercely devout and I usually buy his works where the vocals are in German because when sung in English the magic goes away for me — I don’t really want or need to know the words. It’s the depth, passion which captivate me the most. It’s all about feeling it. And there are a few numbers which just might be the most beautiful things I’ve ever heard. Here’s one that brings me to tears:

Happy Easter to those who celebrate. Or Passover. Or Norouz. Or just happy spring.