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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

Temp Help

Well, that about says it all.

After the devastation of not being tendered an offer after my second interview last week, I was in an orientation class for three days. It’s an orientation that will only lead to a per diem job and who knows just how many shifts I’ll pick up? It’s not full-time or even part-time, so no benefits and I’m still in the same position.

This morning I received a call to fill in a call out. Temp help. I must take it. I must take anything I can at all.

And so, Christmas looms large. No tree, no presents, no cheer. But my children – they’re so young! How can I decide between presents for them and rent?

God help me.

I dreamed of my ex last night.

High Hopes

Out of nowhere, out of the blue, the call came ringing about 1:00 PM.

Reacquainted girlfriend called and told me that someone at her facility was being let go, and that she had already spoken to her boss about me, and her boss agreed to letting me come down to fill out the application. I quickly showered, dressed and (finally) found the facility. I filled out the application and was lucky enough that the boss came to meet me.

We had to have talked for at least a half an hour! About the facility, about what it might be lacking and how I might fit in based on my qualifications. A lovely lady, but make no bones about it, she wants things to work smoothly for her facility. She even went the step of taking copies of certain documents of mine that she needs and telling me that I could have it!

It’s not perfect. The hours are opposite of what I’m used to, it isn’t 40 hours, although they consider 30 hours full-time for benefits, and the pay isn’t great. It also hinges on them formally letting go of the other person. But, it’s a job, it provides a paycheck and now I have a rope thrown to me that I can hang on to and stop from drifting further away!

It will certainly impact my children. My schedule of how often I see them will be thrown into total disorientation, but I must go with what I have right now at this moment. And, while I’m there, I can still keep looking for a better opportunity. Not that I want to leave them hanging when I do find something else – anything but, but I must still think of more hours to support myself and my children.

This also gives me something to cling to in terms of staying in school. My plan was to go back for January classes. Without a paycheck, without starting in January, I might not get that chance for another year due to popular enrollment. So, I have the chance.

Reaquainted girlfriend. She continues to aid me in whatever way she can. I’m trying to come up with a better term for what she does for me and how I feel, but all that keeps coming up is that I’m totally humbled by her belief in me.

In the past two weeks since I called out to her for help, I have spent much time thinking about her and she has done nothing but bolster me with support.

I’ve also been praying like I hadn’t in years. Doing the rosary even! I’m becoming comfortable with my prayers and even though distracting thoughts try to constantly interfere while I’m praying, I find that I’m able to … not so much shut them out, but I’m getting the hang of dispeling them as a simple annoyance.

I’m still going out again, but having hope is an amazing feeling that I haven’t had the luxury of in a very long while!

Keep those good thoughts and prayers coming – please.

Smile For The Receptionist

The hardest part of looking for a job in my field is a cold walk-in.

I shower, dress up in business casual attire (nobody will know that I wore this yesterday) drive to a few select locations and walk in the front door. The receptionist greets me and I quickly tell who I am and what I’m looking for. More often than not she reaches behind herself and retrieves a clipboard with a standard application already neatly clipped to the board and a pen attached via a silver ball chain. I sit in a comfy chair filling out, yet again, where I went to high school and other pertinent information.

I rise, walk back to her and ask if I might meet with someone. I’m much better person to person and was once described by an old boss of ‘giving great interview’. Which is precisely why I left my old career involving cubicles and retrained myself in my mid 40’s – I enjoy personal contact.

 Most times there is no one to meet with. HR is out or the heads of the building are in meetings. I don’t take it personally, but I do kind of deflate as I walk out with a smile on my face after I offer a  sincere ‘enjoy your day’.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I need something soon! Very soon. I’ve thought of posting my bank balance on here, as long as I’m anonymous and all, to show my rapidly eroding finances (as I’ve seen others do) but I’ll think about it a little longer.

Because I had such a late schedule of filling out applications yesterday, I had to call the ex and cancel picking up my children. It broke me dreadfully, but I had no choice but to keep going late into the afternoon. By the time I would have finished, picked them up and brought them back, it would have been time to leave. The guilt was a consuming fire in my mind. But, honestly, and regretfully, I would have had to spend money on filling my tank and buy more food for them. That money will now go toward gas and food this coming weekend when I have them again.

The woman who I’ve recently reestablished a relationship with called me and asked if I wanted to come over and have dinner. I agreed because I didn’t want to repeat what I had done to her before. Not that I really wanted company, but again, I’m realizing (through her observations) that I do have a tendency to self-isolate, so I agreed. I’m glad I did.

Something that I note about myself is that when I’m alone, I tend to not eat. At all. For a day at a time. I’ll sip tea while quietly looking out through the window or I’ll flip through the channels looking at nothing at all and I’ll smoke way too much (picked it up again as I lost my job). But, I’ll not eat. Anything. Funny that I don’t even get hunger rumbles in my belly.

She made chicken, rice and sautéed vegetables and it was delicious! Ice tea washed it all down perfectly. She commented on how thin I was and I became a little self-conscious. We hung out for a few hours and then I left about 9:30PM.  It was a welcome distraction from my normal routine.

I can’t keep regular sleeping hours either. I wake up multiple times each night and after a while I drift back again. In and out, in and out. Sometimes fall asleep around 7:00 PM, sometimes at 5:00 PM, sometimes after midnight. Sometimes wake up for good at 4:30 AM, sometimes at 6:00 AM, sometimes at 9:00 AM. Each night (or day) it’s different.

This morning I’ll shower, dress up in business casual attire (nobody will know that I wore this yesterday) drive to a few select locations and walk in the front door.

I’ll smile for the receptionist. I hope there’s someone to meet with.

 P.S. I’ve noticed that a lot of other blogs are able to respond to a comment within a blocked box. For instance, when I post a comment, that person will respond in the comments section and it will appear as a thinner width-sixed box under my original comment. When I respond to a comment on this blog, I get it showing as a line by line by line comment section. Can anyone point out how you do that – get a threaded, thinner width-sized box under the original comment? I’ve looked through the options, but don’t see anything that addresses this. It would make a threaded comment much neater. Thanks for any help.

Oh, I get it. I have to click the ‘Reply’ shown within the initial comment itself! That is, instead of going to the bottom of the post and entering in a brand new comment. Oh, OK.

My Forced March into Madness

I had such a bout of panic and anxiety yesterday, that at times I seemed to have been surgically spliced and lightly lifted out of my own body. I was terrified.

I couldn’t find my professional license. I need to prove that I am able to work in my field, and that proof is my professional license. I looked in my small safe that I keep in the closet that holds other important papers that I need to keep, and it is also the most logical location for where the license would be kept. I was wide-eyed and stilted after I opened the safe only to find that it was missing!

I rifled through my tall bureau where there’s a shelf that I use to keep other important documents such as the divorce agreement, my bank checks and assorted papers. It wasn’t there! I then quickly tore at my nightstand where I keep various saved papers from the kids’ schoolwork that they’ve given me from time to time, allowing me occasional cool comfort and the slightest of illusion that I am an involved parent within their presence in school. Nothing there! I looked in my kitchen ‘junk’ drawer, I ripped through the drawer in the small table that used to be my nightstand when I was married, but is now the catch-all at my apartment door. Nothing in either!

I felt the panic as a dizzy menace spreading as quickly as though it were colored dye spreading through my mind – filling my head, narrowing my thoughts, trembling my fingers, my heart overextending to accept blood and forcefully plunging closed – the center of my life was clawing through piles of scattered documents, circulars, magazines and miscellaneous opened and unopened mail that now lied in a wide circle around me as I knelt, centered amid the paper debris. I rapidly and savagely reopened envelope after envelope where it might have been, separating contents from their proper container without rejoining them for later use and throwing them aside, tossing them even further away from me and creating an even larger circle of print matter that in the end had me perfectly centered, fully surrounded and piled on all sides, mocking me for my inept ability in keeping something so important within easy grasp.

I placed my forehead down on the floor as if I might do for eastern meditation as I began to cry silently in raging frustration and blinding panic, As I raised my head to breath, I happened to glance under my bed. There, I could see boxes of storage items – photo albums of relatives I never knew, a box of glasses that I won at a work raffle last Christmas, a old colorful basket, and a plastic shopping bag filled with papers. I reached shoulder-length under the bed and pulled quickly as if I were saving the bag from harm under the bed. More of the same filtered out – old bills, old magazines, circulars from last year and articles that I never read. But, somewhere near the middle of the plastic bag was an envelope with my handwriting on it. I opened it, and there, nestled between my social security card and three small wallet sized pictures, was my professional license.

My overpowering relief was met, at that very same exact instance, with a rapidly ballooning despair. The three pictures were the pictures taken of my children at the hospital the day they were born – their newborn pictures! I found myself holding in my left hand my most precious, most treasured above all lost past, and in my right, my needy, bleak and uncertain future.

My thoughts couldn’t distill my elation for finding my professional license from the jarring jolt of electricity that thundered through me at seeing my babies as newborns, and I continued kneeling, sitting on my heels in the ring of torn, mismatched, scattered papers, sweating through my shirt, hands twitching, barely sane and exquisitely solitary.

Much later, last night at about 8:00 PM, I received a call from a realtor – my house is being put up for ‘short sale’.

This morning I found out via email, that I am not eligable for financial assistance if I want to go to school this coming year.

I am out of work, my home where my children live is to be taken, I am not able to receive assistance to better myself in school and, again, I am alone.

Is there anybody out there?

Reaching Up to Zero

The worst happened – I lost my job.

Though my bosses both told me that they knew that the multiple charges against me were trumped up, to fight back against them – all of them, would be futile. There are just too many of them to isolate one at a time and defend. There are just too many, and the long, drawn out attempt to take on line item upon line item would only weaken my integrity, ability to lead others and bring into question my character. I’m given the choice of either trying to fight or willfully resign.

We hugged, she shed a quiet tear and told me that she knew that it was bullshit, but there it was. We left on good terms. But, the reality of it comes down to money.

If I resign – signing a letter saying so, I get my built up vacation pay. Without it, I will have had no income for two weeks. However, I received bad news about resigning: resigning will not allow me to collect unemployment. Unemployment will give me a sort of safety net if I can’t find a job right away, which, obviously, I desperatly need.

I must get out immediately and find another job. Now. Though the pain and desperation cling to me as a wet and cold sheet – I don’t know … but, I need to get out there today. Thanksgiving week.

I had my children this past weekend and told them. They, as children, took it well and didn’t have any questions after I told them. What I didn’t tell them is that Daddy will only have enough money to cover December’s rent and possibly even January’s rent. This doesn’t take into account phone, cable, electricity, gas … and food.

This is Thanksgiving and I have them this year for Thanksgiving. I need to spend money for turkey and all the fixings. Each time that I’ve spent even two dollars, I receive a sinking feeling that I’m two dollars closer to living on the streets.

And, I know I couldn’t survive that.

I did go to church yesterday and my youngest son wanted to go with me! He watched me well up as I sat there in the pew and recited my rosary. I felt weak, vulnerable and pathetic knowing he saw me. But, seeing all the couples with their young children brough back such torturous memories of us going to church when we were together that I couldn’t hold back the remorse or the begging to God to turn back the clock.

These are not the boisterous thoughts that I thought I would have at my age.

Is there anybody out there?

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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