[from strange horizons poems]
what if the girl arrived
what if the girl the girl the girl arrived
here and now
to let you know you were alive
to give you energy and rushes of blood to the head
and what if
she would never leave
and she meant every word
to the point where you started believing too
and she listened to your poems
and said nothing
but her eyes burned with the understanding
the romantic expression
captured in her hunger and joyful gaze
even as she’s drifting off to sleep
now, this very now, right beside you
and the tap tap tap
of these words
and this poem
is music within some dream she is weaving
here beside me
and far away
and here, arrived
what if the girl has arrived
1. Love letter to the silent “woman with potential.” (partial) Responding to an email she sent me about why she hasn’t been able to see me over the last two weeks.
Sweet [woman’s name], (i like the sound of that)
2. Declaration of Independence from the Ex-y’s continuing drama about money.
Maybe I could do more, better, try harder, but I don’t think so.
The real story is that my life is good. In spite of being in arrears with Wells Fargo and the ex-y. I am working plenty. I am landing new business. I am keeping my head out of the gutter of depression around the pressure of money and lack of money.
Here’s the rub.
When we were married I worked as a freelance consultant for years. I was successful and then 9-11 took the prosperity right out of my self-employment. What ultimately forced me to seek FTE (full-time employee) status was 1. the need for my family to have robust healthcare coverage; 2. the ex-y’s unwillingness to get a full-time full-pay job herself. Of course in the early part of our kids lives, that was by design, but towards the end of our marriage, it almost felt like defiance. Case in point, the last full year of our marriage she actually had a negative income after taxes and expenses were taken out. How’s that for escalating the stress levels. Of course, the party line, was it was me with the “employment” problem.
Now, however, in divorce, the ex-y must have full-time employment. And with that comes the opportunity to put the kid’s healthcare on her policy. Still bill it to me, but the access to healthcare, that “these days” still requires a FTE status to acquire. As a result, the opportunity to become a self-employed consultant is possible for me again. She really doesn’t have any say about that.
I would’ve liked to have provided enough financially for her not to work at all while the kids were in elementary school. We did the best we could and she averaged 15 – 30 hours a week for a good portion of that time. But as the kids got older, the expectation was that she would start contributing to the overall household growth again.
And the most amazing thing. When she decided she wanted to divorce me, she created a job with a firm that was owned by some personal friends. When she was required to work, she was very good at it. And when her desire required her to go to FTE status, it was a quick and decisive event.
Today, when I’m working my flexible schedule, I wonder how it would be easier if we (my child support) were not paying on two houses. How we might have both enjoyed a more flexible lifestyle had we stayed together.
That was not the choice we made. And today she is the FTE. And while I am paying the healthcare costs, and the equivalent of two mortgages, (and I will get caught up) she is still in some sort of crisis about money. Seems like this was a pattern in our marriage too. She was in crisis about something most of the time.
I am not.
And yet the contrast could not be more obvious.
She: has 30K or more in her retirement accounts, little or no credit card debt, and equity in the marital home in the neighborhood of 50k – 70k.
Me: spent all of my retirement savings to live and gain access to home ownership again, have no credit cards and bad credit, am behind of my mortgage.
Yet still. I am very happy and optimistic that I am pulling out of this. And I am trying to reassure her, just as I did when we were married, that there will be enough. “We’re gonna be fine.”
And she is stressed to the max, thrashing against me for money, and convinced I am the answer and cause of her distress.
I can maintain my neutrality. I can try and respond with kindness rather than anger. I will continue to focus on the happiness and wellbeing of my kids. The happiness and well-being of my ex-y was not something I could manage then, and I certainly cannot manage it now. The good news is, now I don’t have to.
UPDATE: How do you think my message went over? To deaf ears. More saber rattling, more demands for a plan or a schedule. Okay, so I’m putting the ex-y in the bill pile with Wells Fargo. And I’m taking the emotion out of my response.
“Talk to the hand. You’ll get it as soon as I get it. I’ll let you know in real time as I know more.”
The Off Parent
< back to The Hard Stuff pages
- I Was a Happily Married Man, and Now I’m Not: Tiny Hints of Doom
- Waiting for the Other Person to Change
- Love, War, Divorce: Why I’m Not Fighting My Ex-Wife About Custody
- Divorce is Not About What’s Fair, Let’s Get That Straight
- The Divorce Library (reading list)
- Songs of Divorce (free listening library – youtube sourced songs)
- Laugh It Off (building a resource library of funny videos and other diversions)
- Facebook (follow us on Facebook and keep up with all the conversations)
- The 5 Love Languages (a book on love styles by Gary Chapman)