It’s a funny thing how, after having a baby, you kind of forget the pain and stress associated with pregnancy and childbirth. Some say it’s to make sure you have another eventually. I think some might say the same thing about marriage. In the past, I’ve heard some divorced people discussing how they’d, “never make the same mistake.” I always assumed they meant they’d never get remarried . . . maybe they did or maybe they meant the mistake of marrying the wrong person.
I have friends and family that have been married more than once and I remember thinking, here they go again! But I get it now. For me, as messy as my divorce was and child custody issues continue to be, I knew I’d get remarried someday . . . but who knew I’d find my person so quickly? Is there a timeline we are supposed to stick to? What happens if you find your missing piece soon after? Who determines the definition of “too soon”? Weeks? Months? Years?
All I know is that I now have what I have always wanted and it feels amazing. We are moving in together very soon and someday we’ll be married. One day it may even be legal! We discussed the possibilities from the get go (remember this?), and even though neither of us are sporting an engagement ring, we are women, so we have been talking about it for months.
Remember the u-haul joke? I think an updated version would be having a Pinterest Wedding Board a few weeks/months in? And Erin and I are totally GUILTY! We started a secret joint account so we could pin items for each other before we were public with our relationship and then it has morphed into the old school “wedding binder.” When are we going to get married? Who knows but it’s fun planning and sharing ideas with each other.
So first I came out to myself, then gradually everyone else . . . now I’m outing our Pinterest boards! Enjoy and happy repining!
I am sure you have heard the old joke What do lesbians bring to a second date? Answer? A U-haul. I had heard it before and I thought, whatever. But I think I get it now, why as women, we move quickly on things together. Or at least I know why I would have. I can tell you that if I didn’t have three children and she didn’t have a child, I would already be living with Erin. It would not have been the second date but definitely after the first several weeks. Although, I say this based on the conversations we had because we already did have kids.
I know it’s a stereotype that not all women fit; however, a lot of us are very communicative. I know that for me, one of the biggest differences in getting to know and date a woman vs. the men I had in the past was the amount of time we communicated. Emails, texts, Facebook, phone, in person . . . tons and tons of discussions. We talked about EVERYTHING and for hours a day. I remember, years ago, when I’d meet someone, there was always a week or two of tons of communication, getting to know each other. Now, with Facebook and texting, it’s so much easier to communicate with someone at various times throughout the day. And when that someone is a woman, maybe a little bit more than what you’re used to with a man . . . or rather most men.
Erin and I are both very open, honest, and communicative. From the get-go we talked about who we were, what we were looking for and what we wanted for our kids. We spent weeks discussing our possible future as it became more and more apparent that we liked each other. That’s the thing that is a bit different when you’re a mother.
When you already have children, the new relationship you are forming will include them at some point in time. For us, it seemed like a perfect fit from the beginning. She was exactly what I have always wanted. She was also exactly what I wanted for my children. Someone who is kind, loving, a hands-on, awesome mom. Of course, as much as I wanted to get started with our lives together (i.e. “uhauling”), we had four children to think about.
I was able to discuss everything with my counselor, who just so happened to be my children’s counselor, and she helped me navigate the best and healthiest way to introduce my new girlfriend into not just my life, but my family’s life. I knew, watching my ex thrust his new girlfriend on my kids just weeks after leaving the marriage, that it wasn’t how I was going to do it. It wasn’t fair to anyone. So as much as I wanted to let my kids know about Erin and me, I didn’t. Eventually, she would hang out with us as a my friend and then a while later, when the counselor said it was okay, I introduced her to them as my girlfriend. (I will talk about this later, I promise.)
Again, if we didn’t have children, I would’ve rented a U-haul awhile ago. But we have children whom we don’t want to thrust into a new situation too soon. So we will continue to live at two different houses . . . our “country abode” and “city apartment” and then come summertime, after school is out, we will join our two families into one crazy, noisy, fun, loving, cuddle-filled house. I can’t wait! Do you think U-haul will take a reservation for six months from now?
The last year has been the hardest of my life. I know I’ve only been blogging about my divorce for a few months and I did have a timeline of how I was going to lay it all out, but with Thanksgiving having just passed, I feel the need to skip a little ahead. Well, ahead with the story that also requires a few major “flashbacks” if you will.
I am truly thankful for my divorce. If my ex-husband had never left me, I don’t think I would have ever left my marriage. My counselor says that my “moral compass” would not have allowed me to and I totally agree with that theory. I didn’t want my kids to come from a divorced home. I didn’t want my kids to have to struggle or not feel whole. I was “okay” in my marriage. It was fine. I was surviving but I certainly wasn’t thriving. I was able to grow as a person and do some pretty amazing things in the last twelve years but I wasn’t where I should have been. I wasn’t 100% myself, and how could I be? I married a man.
Now don’t get me wrong, I loved my husband. He was my best friend. When we met I thought he would make a great husband and father and he had this wonderful large extended family (and I did want to be a wife and mother and always wanted a big family) so I felt fine with proceeding. Over the years I settled into the role of traditional wife and mother with a few “out of the box” adventures, which included continuing to be one of the biggest GLBT allies I knew. I thought I was happy with all of it, or at least what I thought happy meant. Looking back, I can see it wasn’t happy really, it just was. I was incredibly happy with my children and loved them so very much, however, my best friend had definitely become my roommate. There were lots of times where I brainstormed how I could make my marriage better but I would never follow through. My husband was lonely and I felt bad about it but didn’t want to put forth the effort physically because it wasn’t what I wanted. There were even times when he was upstairs on the computer or playing games on the xbox and I was downstairs watching TV and folding laundry and I would daydream about us not being together. But I would never leave. I just couldn’t.
Lucky for me, he left. It was a surprise and quick and painful but he did it. He did what I would have never done. And even with all the bullshit that he did the months before he left and is still doing today, I wouldn’t go back there for anything. Him leaving gave me the opportunity to finally be me, 100% me. So I made the decision to go for it. To live the life I never had the courage to live before. To be myself, to be attracted to and to love who I wanted, and to show my children the lessons I had been teaching them for years. That love is love.
I promise to fill you in on the last several months of becoming the real me and the years of piecing it together but for now I will just say I’m thankful for many things this year, one being my divorce –because without it, I would have never embraced and celebrated who I have always been and in turn I would have never met the love of my life, Erin. And SHE is absolutely amazing.
At the end of December my marriage ended. By the end of January I already had an appointment with the a Marriage and Family counselor for both myself and my three children. As a teacher I knew how divorce would affect my kids and as someone who knows myself very well, I knew that I would benefit from speaking to someone too . . . and boy was I right!
Our counselor is amazing. She was recommended to me by a friend and even though she isn’t in my network, which means paying full price with no co-pay, she’s been worth it. I was actually given the name of two or three different counselors, but “ML” specialized in GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender) family situations, so I wanted to use her. First off, because I have a history of picking “family friendly” professionals when given the choice. I also knew that since I was going to be opening up to her, it would help to have someone with her experience helping me navigate through my own issues. (Yes, we’ll talk about this later!)
In the last ten months, I typically see “ML” about once every 4-6 weeks and the kids see her once every 6 weeks. I have really enjoyed seeing the same counselor as my children. We focus on some of my issues and she is able to give me advice about my children based on what they discuss with her. It is nice for my kids to talk with her about how they are feeling about the divorce . . . not having their parents together, moving to two new cities, changing schools, living with another woman that isn’t their mom (Dad’s girlfriend) and her children, etc. They have had to deal with a lot of change in the last several months and I thought that they could use the help figuring out their new normal. I figured it would also be helpful once I started to date too.
When I first interviewed “ML” she made the comment that she sees her job with my kids as helping them survive divorce and I thought that was perfect. She uses sand play and other fun activities to help my kids open up to her. She even called my ex during my daughter’s appointment to get permission for her to discuss things with “ML” when she had commented that her dad said what happens at their house isn’t anyone’s business and he didn’t want her talking about it. When she called on speakerphone, he agreed and said it was fine (regardless of what he had told my daughter in person). She is amazing that way . . . she really wants my children to come out of this as healthy as possible. So do I.
If you were to ask me what the biggest change was when my ex and I separated, I would have to say the loss of time with my children. That has, and continues to be, the part that sucks the most.
When I had my first child in 2001, I stopped teaching full time. My goal was to stay at home for as long as possible with my children. In the last 11 years, I have had a home business for a few years, taught part time at college for ten years, and had a brick and mortar business for five years . . . with lots of overlap. Having all of those jobs lets me stay home as much as possible with all three of my children. In doing so, I was able to take my children to school almost everyday and pick them up after school most days. I was able to volunteer in their classrooms and even participate in field trips.
After my separation, I lost them for 50% of the time. During the first few weeks, while my ex got set up in an apartment, I got to have the kids for most the time. However, within two months, I lost them for about half of the time and still only have them half time. This has been HUGE for me. As a mother you never think you’re going to lose all that time with your kids. I think it’s a big misconception among most moms. I have friends who say, “I’d never let that happen.”
Like you have a choice.
I learned, the hard way, that it doesn’t matter. In the state of California, if your ex isn’t a drug dealer or a sex offender, nowadays, it’s 50-50. So what if your ex only saw them two hours a day while you were married? So what if he never took them to doctor or dentist appointments? So what if he cheated, walked away from the mortgage, had the mistress around within weeks, spent money on trips with her and complained about spending money on the kids? So what?! It didn’t matter. None of it did!
So now, after years of my world revolving around my kids pretty much 24/7 . . . I have to go without them. Before the custody arrangement, I had only been without my kids for a few days, ever. Now I have to go without them for days at a time on a weekly basis. As it is now, I have my kids Mondays and Tuesdays, he has them Wednesdays and Thursdays, and we alternate weekends. One good thing is that I always have them on Sunday evenings, to get them prepared for the beginning of the school week. However, I do get upset when they don’t do well on the spelling tests on Friday; I have no control over that. I have no control over anything that happens over there at the end of the school week.
For years my kids have had a bedtime routine that has them in bed at a decent time, especially for school nights. I have no control on the other nights . . . so when they are still up an hour after their bedtime, there’s nothing I can do. When things don’t get done the way they have been done for years, I have no control. I do understand that there are different ways to do things, but kids like structure and over all the years that I was with them doing things while my ex was working, etc. we had a schedule that worked well for them. They’ve had enough change with our divorce; I don’t feel changing their entire routine should happen too. But again, no control.
One thing that has been great for me is that while I am waiting to get hired full time, I can still take my kids to school every morning. Even on the mornings my ex has them. They go to school where I live, and we meet half way. So I help him out by meeting him on his mornings and evenings. That way I get to see my kids for a few hours on days that aren’t mine. This will work great until I get a full time job, or summertime when I will not see them for 4+ days every other week.
My “lemonade” in this scenario is that losing my kids for all this time makes me cherish the time I have with them more now. I don’t take them for granted at all. Our time is OUR TIME. It sucks that in an entire year I will not be with them for six months of it!!! Probably, another reason why I’m not totally stressed about the job situation yet. Sure, I don’t have a lot of money coming in and I lose my insurance in two months, but I still get to see the three sweetest faces on days that aren’t mine. I won’t trade that in for a full time job until I have to.
Once my husband left I went through a variety of emotions. I remember thinking once, what comes next? I knew there were stages, so I set out to find a chart or wheel, something that would help me see where I was headed. Onward to Google Images!
What I found was the Grief/Loss Wheel. It made total sense to me. I really did follow it. Some stages were days long, others lasted for weeks. I feel that I go backwards sometimes too. In the beginning I experienced the first four stages almost simultaneously. I started a Pinterest board about “Healing” taking its time and as I would revisit it every few weeks/months I would see my growth and my progression on the wheel. At first there were a lot of pins that were pointing fingers and joking about physical harm (“I hope you step on Legos”). As I’d feel things, I’d pin them to the board. Then later, I’d go back and remove what wasn’t true for me anymore. It was liberating when I was able to remove all the “ANGER” pins.
So my experience through the stages…
I was immediately in Denial. I would also use the word “shock” here. I couldn’t believe that my marriage of 11 years was over and, at the time I thought, with no warning signs. I thought about all the things that I was going to lose, the things that were going to change, and that my “normal” was no longer. I was in total denial. NO WAY IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING!
At the same time I was so Pissed. Anger is the next step, although I was pretty much angered from the get-go. Once I found out my spouse was cheating . . . and then trying to hide it . . . and then making bad decisions about our children… Angry! Angry! Angry! I was angry at him, her, “them” . . . how could a mother (the other woman) cheat with her married boss who had a family? She had been in my home, met me, shook my hand, and hung out with my children. What type of mother does that?! It took me a very long time to not be angry anymore. Even now, I still have no respect for my ex and the other woman. At least I stopped calling her whore (in my head). That was progress!
Bargaining was really interesting. This happened the first few weeks. I started to to think about what I could’ve done differently and how I could change. I could spend more time with him. Get off my computer, stop watching TV, start loving him more. Kiss him and cuddle with him. All the things he said I didn’t do (so he got it somewhere else). At one point I even typed up a “Plan of Action.” However, like I said in my last post, I’m glad I stopped to think what I wanted, what I really wanted because it wasn’t him and it wasn’t my marriage. Again, I decided to Fly from -not Fight for- my marriage. I am sooooooooo thankful that he didn’t take me up on my plan because I know it would not have changed the outcome, just how long it took us to get there.
Depression happened for the first few months. I started to go to counseling immediately, it made me feel so much better to talk about it all. I didn’t really think I was depressed until my counselor was asking if my eating and sleeping habits had changed and if I was taking care of myself. They had changed and I wasn’t taking care of myself as usual. I also remember not wanting to go work in my store. I just wanted to stay at home and blog and watch TV. Do anything to take my mind off it all.
Once I started really thinking about why my marriage ended, I started to feel Guilty. Guilt that I could have avoided it by being a better wife. I felt guilt that my children were going to come from a divorced home. Guilt that my ex and I had wasted so much of our lives together. I got through this step rather quickly. My counselor had helped me see that even though it wasn’t consensual to end our marriage so abruptly, it was consensual to not fight for it and that guilt wasn’t going to solve anything.
For awhile I was Obsessed. I didn’t want to be with him and I don’t think I was jealous of her. I was just jealous he could move on and at the time I couldn’t. Not to divulge too much info, but I had made a promise to help someone out and I wasn’t going to be able to move on for another several months because of it. Think of it as a job that I held that wouldn’t let me go on with my life as usual. So there I was, at a standstill, while he got to date, love someone, have sex, and enjoy his new found freedom . . . and I couldn’t. My focus was to help my kids survive the separation and be successful with the promise I had made. It was too easy for me to wallow in my situation and obsess about how it wasn’t fair that he could go on and I couldn’t yet.
I think I was able to Accept the situation little by little. I was okay with my marriage ending but it took awhile to accept all the changes I was forced to go through. For me, I think it wasn’t really a cycle (like the picture shows) it was more of a ping pong game. Back and forth, back and forth. Lots of emotions and tons of stuff to work out. As I type this, I haven’t ever been more happy. Several things have happened since I became able to finally move on. The commitment/job was over. I could finally do what my ex was able to do 9 months before I could . . . go out and find the happiness we both deserved.
It’s been about nine months since my husband of over eleven years decided to walk away from our marriage. In retrospect, I am very glad I didn’t start blogging back then, because there would’ve been a lot of evidence for trial.
Of course I’m joking now, just like I have for the last several months. My sense of humor is the biggest thing that got me through the implosion of my life that started back in December. It is also one of the things that has helped me rise up from the ashes.
Here’s a quick timeline to bring you up to speed:
*Caught husband involved in an affair (texts/emails) with one of his employees
*Told me he wanted out of our marriage on our way to Disneyland with our kids the week before Christmas
*Found out I was laid off from my job of nine years (that same weekend)
*Less than a month later he filed for divorce
*Told me he was “walking away” from our mortgage and house of nearly seven years
*Less than a month later, had his mistress/girlfriend around our children
*Less than three months later started having sleepovers (including with our children) at his girlfriend’s house
*Six months later, officially moved in with his girlfriend (with our children 50% off the time)
*Closed my business of almost six years
Sprinkled throughout that time were some other events like buying a vehicle and putting it (including her) on my car insurance . . . and lots of other things that caused me to think my ex must have a brain tumor. It was the only explanation of his erratic behavior. Within weeks of leaving, his appearance changed. He went from Old Navy Dad to Douche Bag a la Jon Gosling. How can you not see the humor in an almost 40-year-old man dressing like he’s 22?
When I would explain to friends, family, acquaintances, customers what was going on in my life they couldn’t believe I was smiling. Hell, I wouldn’t have thought that I could’ve smiled through losing my best friend/husband, my children half the time, my job, my house, my business -all in one fell swoop… but what else could I do? There were times I thought I must be on some sort of reality show that I wasn’t in on, like that movie The Truman Show. The Ex would do something, another thing, to me and I would think, “REALLY?!!” and wonder if at any moment Ashton Kutcher was going to come running up with a camera crew and inform me that I was being Punk’d. He didn’t. I wasn’t.
So, how can you not laugh? How can you not take a step back and realize the ridiculousness of the entire situation? Answer: You can’t because if you didn’t see humor in any of it you’d lose it . . . and I mean REALLY LOSE IT. When you’re a mother to three children under the age of 10 whose dad just decided he didn’t want to be with their mother anymore, you need to be there for them. You need to be the rock. And while he is cutting his hair and waxing his eyebrows and buying $900 concert tickets for his new girlfriend, someone has to remain the constant. Someone has to be the parent that shows them that she still loves them and will try to keep as much the same as possible . . . which includes kisses, hugs, bedtime stories, and jokes. And that brings about laughter, lots and lots of laughter.
By: Amy Wise
After over 20 years of being together I take it for granted that we are…well…just us. I tend to forget that society sees us with different eyes than we do. Lately I have been reminded of this on numerous occasions. The first time was at a car show a few months back. Jamie and I went to the show with his dear friend Yolanda. Jamie and Yolanda have known each other since middle school and he has been a “big brother” to her all of her life.
Per the usual, while we were at the show we ran into various people we knew. Yolanda ran into some old friends as well. What we didn’t know was that one of those old friends ran back to Yolanda’s soon-to-be-ex-husband and told him she was with another man. Now at this point in time Yolanda and her husband had been split up and had filed for divorce months before, so regardless of the true facts, it didn’t really matter who she was with. What did matter was, this friend told her soon-to-be ex that Yolanda was at the car show with some “big dude.” Mind you, he saw the three of us together and all three of us talked, but he still assumed that Yolanda and Jamie were together because they matched. I’m still giggling today as I write this.
I’m not done. After the friend told the ex, the ex went to their pastor and told him! Yep. Amazing! THEN the pastor had a conversation with Yolanda and asked her if she was at a car show with another man. Yolanda replied, “Yes I was, AND I was also with his WIFE! Here, would you like to see a picture of them? That’s his WIFE and they are a MARRIED COUPLE! He is like my brother.” She said the pastor just stood there quietly shaking his head.
Isn’t it hilarious that this old friend automatically assumed because Yolanda and Jamie match on the outside that they must have been together? When will people remember the definition of ass-u-me?
A few weeks later, Yolanda, Jamie and I went out to dinner. A week after that, my daughter and I went out to the same restaurant. Jamie was out of town visiting his sister who was ill. We happened to have the same waitress from the week before. She said, “I remember you. You were here with your friend and her husband but you were sitting next to him.” I smiled nicely and said, “Um, he is MY husband and this is OUR daughter,” pointing at Tatiana who was across the table from me. Her eyes got wide and she said, “Oh sorry.” We all laughed and I said, “It’s okay, but that’s why I was sitting next to him.” As she walked off I looked at Tatiana and said, “REALLY?! Why is it so hard for everyone to believe that he is MY husband. I don’t get it.”
I take it all in stride at this point because it doesn’t change our love for each other, but sometimes it does get old having to constantly explain us.
We have been together for over two decades and one thing is for sure…we don’t have to match on the outside because our hearts are a perfect match on the inside!
By: Kelly Rummelhart
I am freaking out. Nothing really pregnancy related per se, but thinking about what I have to do in the next few weeks has my mind spinning . . .
As a reminder, my husband decided to inform me a week before Christmas, on the way to Disneyland with our kids, that he didn’t want to be married anymore. Since then, I have been healing, making plans, trying to keep things as “normal” as I can for my kids. June is a huge month. This week is my last week at my store. Because of the impending divorce I needed to piece off my business. Friday is my last day and then I have two days to get everything I did not sell moved home, cleaned up for the person moving in, and inventory the items I’m bringing home and what the new person is keeping. The following week is my kids’ last week of school. Then around the 20th I move out of my house and to a whole new city. Why the rush? Well, I needed to close the store, move, and get our new house set up and the kids and I settled before the c-section, which should be the end of July or early August. Since it’s surgery the recovery time is weeks longer than a vaginal, so it needed to be now. UGH! I’m tired just thinking of it all again as I write this.
All this means lots of thinking, planning, packing, and moving. Not fun to do . . . especially in your third trimester of pregnancy. I am trying to save money but at the same time I can’t carry my dresser down the stairs in my current condition, which means hiring movers. I know I need to just suck it up and get in the frame of mind that TONS of work is headed my way. Hell! I’ve been working my butt off already but I’m so tired and frustrated. I know there is light at the end of the tunnel but boy, it looks like a tiny flicker at the moment or a VERY LOOOOOONNNNNGGGGG tunnel. Wish me luck.