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Dear God

Sure, it appears that I’ve lost faith. But, for far too long I dutifully prayed for this or that. As a kid I learned the lesson about not praying for superficial things such as a new bike, but I did pray for a family. Didn’t get it. As an adult I knew the lesson well enough to not pray for a lottery win, but I did pray for everlasting love. Didn’t get it.

I learned to not pray for silly things, but only for things that cause a greater good. I gave money away, I volunteered, went to church alone as an adult,  made sure (over arguments) that my children received the sacraments, and I doted over children who were being ignored. When I prayed it was for something meaningful such as a marriage that lasted forever, someone who would be there ‘for better or for worse’, for extended time with my children, for a meaningful position, for a chance at better education, for a way to save the only home I’ve ever lived in and for an end to icy loneliness. Didn’t get it.

I carried a set of rosary beads in my pocket for months and prayed on the way to work. I had long conversations with the Man. I read the Bible. I watched religious shows.

And now, finally, I get it – I won’t get it.

As John Lennon said There ain’t no Jesus gonna come from the sky, now that I found out I know I can cry. For me that means that though I have experienced exquisite emotional pain and damaging, altering bitterness as a result, there’s no such thing as something divine that sees and acts on those in blistering trouble.

God, maybe only for me, has been relegated to the folklore of the ancients along with Juno, Ra, Zeus, Fu-Hsing, Airmid, Great Spirit, Givinda and Vishnu. The god I followed has helped me just as much as Thor has.

There is no God. Only me. Me and you.

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Feeling Lucky?

sea of lilacs

During my quick gasp back into the blog world last week, I briefly mentioned my struggle with the whole faith vs. luck conundrum. Seems I’ve lost faith but believe in luck.

I mean, keep praying for what? That circumstances will change? That a hole in the knees from excessive kneeling will eventually produce desired results? And if and when something does change, no matter how small, that this was all due to prostrating myself? I should see this as proof of divine intervention?

Should I interpret the overwhelmingly pure and fragrant waft of lilac bushes as a ‘sign’ that things will be better? Or that it was just plain ol’ luck that on a day that I needed to uplifted that I happened to pass by that small forest of lilacs and smiled out of control just because the scent permeated my senses?

I’ve had enough of waiting for miracles that never happen. I’ve taken the belief that nothing is received through an unseen force, but instead, anything received is taken by force. By that I mean anything that I receive is as a result of my getting to it.

BigLittleWolf mentioned in a response comment to my last post:

That said, we can exercise the courage to pull back when we need to, and the courage to put ourselves “out there” as well. One helps us heal; the other increases the statistical probability of being a recipient of a little good luck. Or maybe even, a lot.

I’m more believing that putting myself out there  increases my chance at ‘luck’.

God knows that praying hasn’t helped.

 

Supporting Them

 

When I became divorced, there was never an issue of supporting my children. While I am aware that a lot of men have issue with paying, or the pay amounts, I chose the opposite. My lawyer gave me a figure that stated the amount that she was going for and because I didn’t know any better, I agreed to the sum. Later, I began reading online and found a calculator provided by the state as to general guidelines. I filled out the form and found to my astonishment that I could be paying more!

I approached my lawyer at the next meeting, provided her with the material and said that I wanted to pay the maximum amount by law. She advised me against it, but after all, they are my angels, my light, the reason for trying to achieve a better future for them and my only family on earth. Why wouldn’t I want to give them as much as I can? The order was changed to the maximum amount and I’m proud to tell anyone that I pay faithfully, and on time, each and every week.

When I was out of a job last fall into winter, I let the ex know what was happening and that I was struggling and would pay her what I could – even as I edged closer to homelessness without a weekly  paycheck. I did payed what I could – an over payment, an underpayment, but I tried to keep it going even as I was unemployed. Even as I went out on endless and unproductive interviews. Even as Thanksgiving and Christmas were creeping closer and becoming unavoidable.

Then, she notified Child Support and told them she was not getting child support. A further move by her that caused me heartbreaking grief and wrenching disgust, was that she decided to not tell them of the amounts that I had given to her by hand. As far as the ‘system’ had been aware, I had simply stopped paying anything at all.

One morning early last month, I woke up, fixed a cup of tea, and sat to check bank balances. I was stunned to find that my account was frozen – a lien had been enforced by the state division of Child Support. I could not even withdraw money to pay for gas which would allow me to travel to work 22 miles away. I don’t have sick time accumulated yet. If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Without pay I can not meet any financial obligations – rent, phone, electricity, basic cable. Child support.

I declined to put up a post at the time about the tale of having my assets frozen. It’s humuliating having that done. It’s a desperate situation that stops your heart and has you thinking lunatic thoughts. It’s embarrassing knowing that you are unable to gain the necessary money to support your children. And mostly, it was a deepening of the chasm that seperated me and the ex because she had verbally said to me that she would be fine with repaying the back amount on a weekly basis as I could afford it while I was searching for employment.

Plans for children do not stop. There are sports to be paid for, gas for two and three times a week pickups and drop offs, groceries to be bought and entertainment for them. All while unemployed.

Then she notified child support.

I was devestated.

Thankfully, I now have a job. I have a paycheck that again has my child support taken out automatically, I have weekly taxes to pay and I have a new health plan that decimates my weekly check. All this on less money – much less money, than I was earning at my last position.

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Tenacious Me (cont.)

This is a continuation of the situation that I began with the last post. You can read from the beginning if you choose.

I left the Verizon store with the amount it would take me to cancel my remaining contract, red-faced (I’m sure of that) but without having said anything rude (key point to remember) and with the main Customer Support number.

Last Wednesday it had snowed here – again! So I was in the middle of the parking lot with perhaps only a dozen other cars around me, most which had to have belonged to the very crew that had just denied me satisfaction. I opened my car door, pressed the flat screen digits as best as I could (despite the darkened and segmented keypad on the cell phone) the waited for Customer Support.

I encountered the expected maze of pre-recorded instructions telling me to dial ‘1’ for this, or ‘2’ for that and warning me to not choose before hearing the whole list of options because the menu had been changed. As the minutes wore on I finally received a live person! I’m trying to remember, but I believe that his name was ‘Ed’. At least that’s what I’ll call him.

I rolled out, yet again, and perhaps for the fifth time, what the issue was with my phone – the colored lights that began last week, the black, thick line recently appearing, the lightning bolt line that came suddenly, my inability to read messages or make out who was calling, the difficulty dialing and how the phone was not dropped, immersed or had been unnaturally stressed. After Ed acknowledged and repeated to me what he believed my issue was, and me verifying the information, I then relayed to Ed what had just transpired in the Verizon store – the humiliation of signing in despite being the only person in that department with four other employees looking me over, the curt and unprofessional manner in which the representative handled my issue, the extraordinarily long wait time it took for a supervisor to appear from the back room, the way the supervisor cut me off and told me that there was nothing she could do and that I had to buy a new phone, the other employees simply sitting there and staring at me, the lone customer, and the fact that I had to leave the store and call customer support at all!

Coincidentally, directly across the street, there was a T-Mobile outlet. With plenty of parking also. I mentioned the fact to him that if my issue couldn’t be solved, I was so ready to just say ‘the heck with it’, buy out my contract and switch for good!

He did something that showed me that there are representatives that are willing to work in order to retain your business – he apologized for all of Verizon at the rude manner in which I was treated in the store and made it clear that he would work with me to do anything within his power to correct the wrongdoings and have me walk away pleased, and still a Verizon customer.

Ed did all this:

  • Took down all the information about the store location, the supervisor’s name, the particulars surrounding my experience and the fact that as I was speaking to him, about the eight employees who were gathered at the widow and peering out at me. I played up the humiliation factor to the nth degree.
  • He gave me his word that I would be treated as the only customer that mattered, and he kept his word.
  • He brought up my record and saw the many, many times that I had called looking for resolution to other issues and voiced that he knew that I was a valued customer
  • He put me on hold a few times (each time he was even more profusely apologetic) in order to speak to an immediate supervisor for guidance or to ask a question or two
  • He told me that he was unable to give me a free phone. That was a huge letdown. Again, it came down to my contract – that I still had over a year left and did not have phone insurance. That was a huge source of anger for me – why have insurance for a brand new phone? Shouldn’t it work for the duration of the contract?
  • However, he did have a solution of sorts. He asked me if I still had my old phone, the phone previous to the LG Chocolate Touch that I used. Indeed, I did. He then walked me, step by step, through a process whereby I would be able to activate my old phone, which worked great by the way, and ride out a few more months of my contract and get a free replacement closer to Fall 2011.
  • For my troubles, he offered me many extras such as a free case for the old phone that had an attached belt-clip.

For all that I had been through, for all the time in the store, the beat-down from the store employees, the store employees still peering out at me most likely thinking that I’ll be walking in at any moment when Customer Service shoots me down, being on the phone with Customer Service for as long as I was and most importantly, I was using a phone that was slowly cracking even more – causing the screen to be more unusable as each moment passed. I was sure that in a matter of hours, I wouldn’t be able to use the phone at all. And honestly, I couldn’t afford to spend the $130 to terminate my contract and then spend more money to activate a phone with another carrier.

I simply had no choice at that point but to agree to what Ed was suggesting, because at that moment, it made sense to at least have a cell phone that worked.

I drove home, signed on to the Verizon web site, backed up my useless phone (made all the harder by not being able to fully see all that was being displayed on the quickly disappearing screen), powered up my old phone and clicked the online button to activate my old phone as my current phone.

At least I did have a phone. Granted, not as fancy as my LG, but a phone nonetheless.

However, as the title of these posts suggest, I wasn’t satisfied. I was determined that this issue was not over until I was satisfied fully. This issue was far from being over. I would get what I felt I deserved.

This is not the end of the story. Yet again, I must continue this onto another post within the next day or so. I have so many action items to accomplish today (how business-like, eh?) that I have to cut this saga short and I apologize for that.

But, hopefully, you are getting an emerging theme point here – do not give up no matter what you go through.

As most others will.

As you’ll see when I finish this story, the reward will be better then you believe it could be.

Addendum: As of tonight, a little past midnight, I will have saved $157.50!

Divorced Barbie

One of the large components of starting my own blog was the inspiration I found while reading existing blogs that seemed to have similar general overtones about divorce and a wholesome life that can follow.

There were a lot of blogs to weed through at first when I searched for blogs that were similar to what I was looking for, but a large amount of them seemed to center on either hateful themes (such as women bashers) or who after a few years (or more) were still grappling with how to put together their lives. I can’t read a blog continually and permanently bashing anyone or anything, and though I’m here to tell you first-hand about self-pity, it does get stale after an unnaturally long period of time.

So it was refreshing to land on the sweet shore of blogs who though they were still occasionally smarting from post-divorce wounds, had found a way to cope and even thrive. It is these select blogs that write with such determination to continue their lives in a rich and rewarding manner (and even in joy), that have helped me (and I’m sure many, many others) come to the realization that my experience is not unique in a general sense. By my reading these positive-light blogs, I have found community, strength, determination and wisdom along with a steady diet of intellectual enrichment.

One such blog that I read yesterday comes from The Divorced Encouragist who authors Relative Evolutions. She wrote about a forwarded joke centered on the Barbie doll and why it is so expensive to purchase Divorced Barbie. You can read the post here and I urge you to read it through before reading more of my post.

What prompted me to comment was the fact of how true it is that men are still trapped in the divorce laws from an earlier legal age. While laws are continually being updated to insure the post-divorce rights of women and the couple’s children (and rightly so!), laws that keep up to date with regards to the post-divorce rights of men, and men that are fathers, have been allowed to remain stagnant and are antiquated. Thus, these laws are unjust, causing severe and lasting emotional trauma and suspend a lot of males in a refined purgatory of needless suffering.

Do not mistake the meaning of this post. My meaning is to heighten the awareness in the inequity of 21st century divorce laws, and through intelligent commenting following the post, to bring to light  aspects of what is just, what might be wrong, what might be perceived to be wrong, and to bring into focus ideas and actions that might spur change of these laws – real or not.

Again, I ask that you read the original post from which the idea for this post came from before continuing, and rather than to originate more content, I will end with what I wrote as a follow-up comment on the blog.

I wholeheartedly invite your thoughtful, and tasteful, comments.

More, after the Break

Non-negotiable

Our divorce agreement states that she would take control of, and pay, the mortgage on our home.

I called CitiBank mortgage company last week to ask about the status of account.

Long months ago she told me that she wanted to restructure the loan to make it more affordable for her to pay. She filled out the application and needed me to sign it to make it legal. I stated that if she wanted to change part of the agreement, I wanted a chance to change part of it it also.

I wanted the chance to see each of my three children individually, every so often – alone. I’m in a continual struggle to find anything to do that would satisfy three radically dissimilar children in differing developmental stages – a fifteen year old boy, a twelve year old boy and a ten year old girl. There’s no appropriate movie for an ten year old girl that a fifteen (almost sixteen) year old boy wants to see. And there’s no movie for a fifteen year old boy that’s appropriate for an ten year old girl. Let alone movies, what activities do I choose for the three of them that would keep all three satisfied, curious or simply be fun? Each weekend that they’re here, as they are now getting older and establishing individual identities, it gets razor thin to impossible to stop the arguments, confrontations, bitterness and resentment that they feel toward me and even more so, toward each other, for having to attend something, or do something together, that they don’t want to go to. So, I wanted the chance to see each child, alone, at least once a month.

The chosen date would be one of my weekday nights and it would come out to three and a half hours per month for a chance to see my only daughter alone, see my middle boy alone and time with my fifteen year old alone. For each child that would come out to a total of only fourteen hours a year! It would be a time for us to do something age or gender appropriate that they alone wanted to do with their father without the pressure of having to be coerced into something generic for the three of them. This is something that married parents never even think about when they take one child alone to the store for shopping, go to an age appropriate movie, attend one of their team sports events … the others can be left alone at home, at a friend’s house, a neighborhood friend if they want to be, and still remain content. I don’t have that option or luxury.

On the Tuesdays and Thursdays that I see them, I travel about twenty-five miles one way to pick them up at 4:30PM. Then I drive the four of us twenty-five miles back to my apartment. By 7:30PM, I have to bring them twenty-five miles back home again, and then twenty-five miles back for me. For one night, that’s one-hundred miles. For the two day weeks, it’s two-hundred miles. On the opposite weeks when it’s Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday, it’s two-hundred and fifty miles for a two week total of four-hundred miles. I asked if she could pick them up only one night a week from my apartment for a total of fifty miles a week, or one-hundred miles total over two weeks.

I also asked if I could get access to my storage area (in the basement room that holds my clothing, books and various other items) once a month. Come fall (like it is now), when all I have are summer shirts and light jackets, I’m usually freezing and dressed inappropriately. Same for when spring hits – I’m still in winter clothes. I wanted to be able to quickly sift through boxes and gather belongings that I needed and drop off boxes with what I didn’t need. I don’t even venture up the stairs into my own home when I’m there.

Lastly, I asked that the difference between what she was supposed to pay for the mortgage, and the new payment amount be deducted from her side when the house was sold. I didn’t think it right that when the house was sold – having less equity because of the restructured payment schedule, that I should be penalized in profit. I wanted to have enough money to put a down payment on something small for my kids and myself and because of the restructuring, I would have substantially less.

 Those were the four items I asked in exchange – see my children alone once a month, have the children picked up once a week, get stored items when I needed them and not suffer economic penalties for a restructuring of the mortgage in her favor.

More, after the break

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