Wedding Joy

 

We did it! We finally pulled off the wedding event everyone has been waiting for.  It was questionable for a while, given the ongoing custody litigation and the accompanying exorbitant legal expenses.  While most couples begin the planning process soon after engagement, we really put it off for 5 months.  For a date we had originally set for June 1st.  I was worried about how we were going to pay for it, I was worried about finding a dress, I was worried about the custody trial interfering with my plans.  We had already created a “list” of people we wanted one slightly intoxicated night at a local microbrew dispenser, scribbled into a mini notebook I carry in my purse for recording bursts of creative thought, blood sugars and boluses, and other very important tidbits that would otherwise be lost in the cavern of my memory were they not recorded the moment they light on my brain. 
Todd’s stipulation: our guests had to be people who knew both of us.  That meant to get on the list our guests had to at least meet the one they didn’t know yet.  In theory this worked well – at least it limited a guest list that could easily have exceeded 100 people and our budget – yet there were still two or three people one or the other of us had to meet at the wedding. This wedding had the most amazing effect on so many people – there was no one who didn’t show up and so many people who really wanted to be there.  If not for money, I’d have invited the whole damn Facebook community!  It becomes especially difficult when the betrothed each work in some form of public service – which means there are literally dozens of people we know and like that could have been invited. (A side note to those who weren’t there:  we wanted you there.  We really did.  But we’re only rich in love, not money.)
The Preparations….
So one of my dearest BFFs couldn’t attend the June 1st date.  When I couldn’t convince her that her son’s graduation from high school wouldn’t hold a candle to the extravaganza of my nuptials, I looked at Todd and I said – E can’t make it.  E has to be there – she was there from the beginning, a quarter century ago.  He said, what do you want to do?  Then another dear friend – my SU BFF and sister for life “C” – couldn’t make it either.  So, we changed the date.  I hope these girls know how important their presence was to me – and thankfully they had the good sense not to have to get a gallbladder removed, or catch vomit from a sick kid.  (Incidentally, another “sister” did have to catch vomit, I’m so sorry to say – and we missed you Dolly, but we understand.)
So – we changed the date to June 16th.  Then the custody trial was rescheduled for June 11th.  Todd said, are you sure you still want to do this on the 16th?  I suppose anyone in their right mind would at least consider the implications of the proximity of these two life-altering events to one another, as potentially stress-inducing given the amount of preparation that had to go into both.  Me, though, I didn’t.  My immediate response was – absolutely.  That SOB had sucked enough joy out of my life – and I’m only referring to the last 9 months – and hell would have to freeze over before I let him take my wedding day.  And there turned out to be quite a bit of stress the first week or so of June… I was multitasking nearly every day organizing wedding details and making lists, and then my lawyer had things he wanted me to go over and rewrite and add to and comment on and respond to… and he had his own deadlines that I was struggling to meet.  Add the last day of school and two kids home all day irritating each other to the mix and …there was more than a day or two where I threw up my hands and cried.  And then my better half reminded me that I can only do what I can do.  I smiled through my tears…. and grabbed my meds.  We got through it.  The planning continued. 
At least the invitations got done – probably because Todd took that part on himself.  We designed the invitations ourselves, verbiage by me and the art design by Todd – a red rose reminiscent of one he drew me on the bottom of the last letter he sent me when I was at NYU.  One of Todd’s many connections in education and the arts produced these and assembled them for us – overnight – and did a fantastic job.
So at this point it might be necessary to point out – in case I never mentioned it before – that I have a tendency to procrastinate.  So, a month before the wedding, I went to try on dresses.  My SU bff agreed to attend this huge part of the planning process – and – after she announced  that she was “bossy,” I was sooo glad I’d brought her.  She had the dresses coming at a conveyor-pace, and was organized enough to remember to snap photos of me in the dresses I’d tried.  Her expressions of “ooooh” and the pinched “hmmmm” made my decision all the easier.  I ordered the dress I loved – from David’s Bridal – incidentally, the very first dress I’d picked out in my online search – and it arrived a week later (a full week earlier than guaranteed – way to go Davids!)  Next up was finding someone who could hem my dress, since my procrastination precluded alterations at the bridal shop, and I googled seamstresses in my area and found the wonderful and timely – Gilda (Gilda’s Sew & Co.).   She did an awesome – and professional – job, even adding a bustle that was perfect, in ONE WEEK.  She will forever be recommended in my book. She was done three days before the wedding. 
I ordered my blue 4-¼ inch heel shoes online and paid no heed to my husband’s stature or the customer reviews, many who recommended buying the wide width even if you’ve never purchased wide in your life.  I don’t have wide feet, but the medium width made my feet look like bloated sausages stuffed into an espresso cup.  Nasty.  And painful.  5 minutes in those shoes and my toes went numb.  So, back to the laptop to order the wide width, which were delivered to my door on the day of my final dress fitting, 3 days before the wedding.  And they fit.  Were they painful?  A little.  But I wore them for at least 4 hours before I pulled them off in the middle of the courtyard, along with my pantyhose – no doubt the classiest move ever performed by a bride on her wedding day.  I later found them dangling from a glass shelf behind the bar inside, a’la my mom – who loves a fancy shoe for its artistic potential.
As for the rest of my presentation – I got my first manicure in 15 years, got an up-do I thoroughly trusted my hairdresser to do without a test run – though Ava and I had to get up at 6am to drive over there on the big day, and this – after only 4 hours of sleep for me (I’ll tell you why later).  I never purchased an “undergarment” to lift my girls – and, like everything else, waited until the night before to go shopping at Kohl’s for one.  Once I got there I hit panic mode when I didn’t see anything other than strapless bras and frantically texted Todd since he was with my mom, to ask her to find out when the local lingerie shop closed.  This old shop has been a town icon for decades – the owner has mannequins in the windows dressed in unbelievable corsets, teddies and other Fredericks-of-Hollywood-style underwear – where they are known for custom bra fitting down to personally placing your body parts into said garments.  I wasn’t up for this type of fondling in my anxiety-fueled panic, but desperation drives one to cross boundaries once unheard of.  Luckily, mom called me and said you can’t go there  – you’ll be there for hours! (Which caused me to wonder just how involved bra fitting can be.)  Thankfully, I did find something that could do the job in the store I was already in, plus I remembered to buy new underwear for the big day too!!  Double bonus. 
As for the jewelry, I finally settled on wearing the necklace Todd had given me on Valentine’s Day 26 years ago (one of the few things I managed to keep well hidden for a very long time) and a pair of unsentimental pearl drop earrings, which disappeared the morning of the wedding, causing another wave of panic an hour before.  Thankfully Todd’s cousin, who attached herself to me as my personal handmaid, handed me her 20th wedding anniversary earrings to wear instead.  Incidentally, the earrings I lost remained MIA until 5 days later – where they turned up in the washing machine, which means I mindlessly stashed them in my pants pocket at 6:30am and there they lived while I frantically searched every bag and box I’d brought to the wedding. 
In keeping with the procrastination theme, we waited until the week of the wedding to get Ava’s dress and the attire for both Owen and the groom.  Not too stressful. Well, the boys turned out to be easy, but my little mini-me diva didn’t like anything and we traversed a handful of stores before my mom bribed her into a dress in exchange for a lavender satin handbag at Hartstrings.  The saleswoman was wonderful too – she was very encouraging and treated her like the teenager she really is, and even pressed the dress while we had dinner.  Ava was very concerned that the garment bag fully conceal the dress from her brother and Todd – who she said couldn’t see it until the wedding day.  Thankfully I had already purchased her shoes – a risky move given that she wasn’t there to pick them out – but she loved them and they had the “heel” she wanted.
The wedding itself was meant to be casual – we’ve both been married before in the big frou-frou 150+ wedding – so we had it at my mother’s restaurant, outside in the beautiful courtyard and Todd build the chuppah in two days flat.  We had beautiful weather, and wanted our food to be cook-out friendly and casual.  The s’mores favors were stolen from Pinterest – wrapped simply in a velum bag and tied with natural twine – I only had to make 72 but I was still up the night before putting them together (um, and writing my vows…) until 2am.  We purchased most of the food ourselves at Costco, the rest from mom’s purveyors, the simple, but elegant wedding cake from a local grocery, and Todd picked up the wine and beer we selected to serve our guests.  We also wanted margaritas – of course – and had made up two gallons of my favorite nectar, all of which was gone before the party was over… so, not to be deterred… I jumped behind the bar in full bridal regalia and mixed up my own margaritas from scratch.  (Told ya we were casual.) My mom’s fantastic staff – my coworkers – did a bang-up job setting up and executing our reception.  I am so grateful to them for all their hard work.
  
The Wedding…
We finished at the hair salon around 8 and took a side trip where my super fabulous up-do caught everyone’s attention at the local Wawa when my little princess and I stopped to fuel up on coffee and a fruit smoothie.  I thought this must be what it’s like to be a famous celebrity, just trying to be inconspicuous while shopping for something so simple… and normal.  I mean, people were staring.  My delusion was quickly dashed by Joel – who works with us and seems more like another brother than a coworker – when he told me I looked like Peg Bundy, and all I needed was Ava’s tiny leggings to really pull it off. 
The restaurant was buzzing like a beehive – aromas from the kitchen (which was producing not only my food but catering two other events that day), wait staff setting up our outdoor tables, my mom still putting the flowers together – including wrapping my bouquet (she is fabulous at this catering and wedding shit) and Ava’s selected flowers (all purchased at Cosco for very little money and the flowers were beautiful).  Todd and Owen arrived soon after, carrying the cake and favors… and right after them, my in-laws and Todd’s cousins from California. 
We all walked over to my mom’s house (adjacent to the restaurant) where they would all dress and where my father-in-law wordlessly snatched the boys’ clothes and my iron and started pressing.  A time warp commenced whereby people were coming and going, my cell phone kept buzzing, the search for my earrings ensued whereby no less than 3 people looked through 4 bags –including C, who stopped upstairs to witness my descent into wedding tremors – and I texted my other bff “T” who was still at home to see if she had any she could bring.  I got Ava into her dress and she wandered off to the restaurant.  Todd’s cousin – my handmaid – delivered Todd’s now pressed clothes to him and returned to assist me in doing what seemed like a whole lot of nothing…. Until I turned around at one point and saw Todd’s pants still lying on top of the hamper and exclaimed, “Todd’s pants!  Oh my God, what pants is he wearing??!!”  She had accidentally taken Joel’s pants, which Todd later told me seemed to not quite fit as well as they had in the store.
Mom finally showed up and announced she was taking a shower and gently suggested to me I might want to get dressed now.  This was about 25 minutes before the ceremony.  What a great idea!  Put the dress on, easy enough, and turned to check myself out in the mirror and saw the indentations of my other bra above my strapless gown – fifteen minutes before I had to walk down the aisle!  True story – check out the pics of me at the ceremony.  So now you all know just how un-fabulous I really am – a real mom who forgets the simple grooming things like brushing my hair, fixing chipped toenail polish, unknowingly wearing a shirt inside out in a public place, or having toilet paper stuck to my shoe.  I was mortified!  Mom, by this time still wrapped in a towel and about to get dressed, clears everybody out but me and Ava.  I heard footsteps on the stairs and turned to see Owen just as Mom drops her towel and he lets out a startled “ooff!”  I’m sure he will now be scarred for life.  No one wants to see their grandmother naked.
Suzanne returns to assist me in getting to the gate, but Mom is still doing her makeup and her hair is now in these giant curlers.  I peer out the windows and see everyone in the courtyard waiting, including my groom and son, and to my horror I hear the wedding music.  It’s already playing, and I have a very long walk to the gate.  I later learn that by the time I actually reached the gate, the song had played for the fourth time… and that Todd assured our guests that I was coming, because he’s got Owen.  We get halfway to the gate – Suzanne, Ava and I – when I realize I don’t have my vows.  I left them back on the couch upstairs in the bedroom.  S runs to get them.  Ava, undeterred, keeps walking toward that gate with determined steps.  I follow her slowly, hoping to delay my entrance long enough for S to get back to me, and my legs are wobbly from the worst tremors I’ve experienced since childbirth.  Then I step up to the gate, Ava leading the way, and see Todd – and Owen – waiting at the end of the longest walk I’ve ever taken, and pray I don’t trip, or faint (the sensations of both just tingling on the surface of my clammy skin.)  Everyone is there, but I don’t see anyone but those two boys I’d give my life for.
Our officiant – the infamous Rob Radikal – looked more nervous than I felt.  That did nothing to calm my nerves.  What only a few people in our inner circle knew was that Todd and I – in an effort to avert any possible unforeseen issues – had already married in a civil ceremony and we had asked our friend to direct us through our vows in what we referred to as our “spiritual” ceremony before God and our loved ones.  He did a fine job.  I kept nervously looking over my shoulder for Suzanne, who was now in control of my vows.  She zeroed in and slipped them into my hand from behind.  Mom finally slipped in from behind the curtain like the Wizard from Oz.
Todd’s vows were beautiful, eloquent and unforgettable.  He did his best to hold it together.  Then it was my turn.  Dammit.  I looked at him, smiled with my teary eyes and said…. “ditto.”  People chittered.  I took a deep breath and read my inadequate words to him.  I am my own worst critic, constantly self-editing everything I write – and I knew I could never articulate the feelings I have had for this man for over two decades.  I did my best.  Everyone was kind enough afterward to say how beautiful our vows were, and a few scolded us for making them cry.  Rob directed Todd to put the ring on my finger, and then pronounced us before I put the ring on Todd’s … so a bit of laughter followed that revelation while Todd handed me his left hand and I placed the ring on his right, and then had to take it off and replace it on the correct hand.  Still trembling.  The kiss! The announcement of our union, and we four turned toward the crowd for pictures before we walked out.  We must’ve walked pretty fast – there are only pictures of our backs (and faint bra strap marks) at this point.
We had a beautiful unorganized day – we rehearsed nothing – and everything just flowed.  The kids had Wii set up in one of the dining rooms out of the way – and they were on it all day until dusk.  I tried to visit with everyone and as these events always seem to be – I still felt I didn’t spend enough time with anyone, and they were ALL important guests.  I didn’t see much of Todd, but it didn’t matter – we both remember this day the same way.  We drank margaritas, we toasted with Todd’s best friend and his brother – everyone snapped photos, including Todd – and we cut the cake and, when we fed it to each other delicately, Ava took it upon herself to grab some cake and smash it on Todd.  My mother-in-law sliced up our cake and we plated it together – and Ava handed them out to all the guests standing around us. 
I spent the rest of the day barefoot, dancing with family and chatting, shedding a few tequila-fueled tears over loved ones lost, and mixing up more margaritas behind the bar.  Owen played with his “new cousins” as he calls Todd’s nephews and our other dear friends who stayed til the bitter end – Ava danced with my aunt and uncle and our beautiful and most-welcome wedding crasher (without whom a party is only a party).  The wedding that began at 11-something a.m. finally ended for us around 9pm, after much celebration, libations, and an impromptu pizza party.
The End.
The Beginning…
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It’s Over. Now What?

 

This is part 2 of my drama series.  I will call it drama – because there’s no Joy in this.  I created this series of posts in an effort to help those who aren’t where I am yet, and to remind them they aren’t alone.  It’s a scary road, once you step outside your “safe place,” but – although I can’t tell you how long it will take – I can promise you that you will find Joy again somewhere at the end of the journey.  And now for my religious interjection:  God doesn’t want you to be miserable.  God doesn’t want you to suffer.  He will take you higher.  Have faith.
 
So your marriage is over.  Now what?
 
Speak to a lawyer immediately.  Again, it doesn’t matter who started it – it matters that at least one of you had the guts to say out loud, and act on it – that you don’t want to be married anymore.  All bets are off after this.  I don’t care what you say – there is no turning back.  A good attorney will offer you a consultation – many do charge a nominal fee for their valuable time –  where you explain your situation and they advise you that of course they can take your case.  He/she will tell you what their fees are,  what their retainer is, and what you have to do next.  This is the part that scared me most – and what kept me from speaking to an attorney in the first place – money.  I was a stay-at-home mom with very little income of my own – how the hell was I going to pay a lawyer??  I don’t really have an answer for this one – other than I am a proud person who does not like to ask for help – but found that my family stepped up and offered some financial support to move forward legally when hiring a lawyer became unavoidable.  And guess what?  I have an astronomical bill that I will be paying monthly on until the kids graduate college, but it was worth every single dollar.  All it is, is a number.  Get a grip on it.  You WILL pay it off.  Everyone’s situation is different.  All I can say is please please PLEASE don’t let money prevent you from legal advice ASAP.   You need to know what your rights are, and how to get what you need.  Don’t assume, no matter what he says, that your significant other hasn’t already seen an attorney.  Oh yeah – and just in case he comes back and says he’s sorry and doesn’t want to break up – please don’t give up a consultation.  Go find out what you need to know – don’t, like me, let him convince you that you don’t need a lawyer.


Do NOT, under ANY circumstances, agree to live under the same roof.  Once you’ve (or he has) decided to separate/divorce, you need the physical separation.  It doesn’t matter if you’re broke, the mortgage is in his name, you agree to be “amicable” (we’ll address this later),  you’re a stay-at-home mom with no income, or even if you are the breadwinner and he’s the one who’s broke.  Nothing good can come of this arrangement.  


With regard to the aforementioned living situation – he should leave the house.  You are the mother of his children and, particularly if you’ve been their primary caretaker, you should not be expected to leave the house.  The children deserve to stay in their home.  Displacement for them is just WRONG.  I left the home because he adamantly refused, because he was walking around after the divorce was final behaving like I was still his wife, badgering me daily about child support and other material things, and because a certain late night incident brought the state police to the house.  


And since I’ve already touched on this…This is a risky thing for me to say, but I have to say it.  If there has been any abuse of any kind, by your spouse, either to you or to your children, consider filing a PFA.  Yesterday.  That shit has to stop immediately, and he needs to know you are serious.  A friend of mine who once worked for Domestic Relations quoted me the statistic that it takes 7 times before a victim of abuse will actually go forward with legal action.  There IS a certain fear of the repercussions of doing so, I understand.  Sometimes it’s threat of more serious harm, sometimes it’s just a misplaced sympathy and sometimes not wanting your children to see their father hauled away in handcuffs.  However, your allegations, if not backed up by documentation, are just allegations.  And you can bet your fat lip he will deny it and accuse you of trying to destroy him.  **Again, I need to point out that I am not a legal expert, this is simply opinion – nothing more.  Always seek legal counsel on these matters. **  


If you don’t already keep a journal, start one.  Today.  I have been keeping journals for over 25 years, so this was easy for me.  Not only did it provide legally-recognized documentation of the “unfortunate” events in our marriage over 13 years, it also provided an ongoing commentary on what was happening during this entire legal process.  My attorney advised me at our first meeting to keep one.  Document.  Memorialize.  This would become a constant refrain from him.  I wrote about anything my ex said to me, anything the kids said to me, what occurred during custody exchanges and where they were done, text messages I received from him and email communications, and anything else he did that I found relevant (like changing the locks on the house I still own  before I moved my things out).  You do not want to be trying to remember every last detail of the previous six months, trust me.


Amicable.  A family friend – who also happens to be a lawyer – told me one day before the divorce was final, after I told her we were remaining “amicable” for the children’s sake, that there’s no such thing.  She’s a “tell it like it is” kind of person.  And I, of course, said, “oh no, we are working together and we’re going to share the house until we work out where we each will be living.”  What did she say?  No.  That’s not divorce – that’s marriage.  He needs to move out, she went on to say.  Why didn’t he move out yet?   This is not to say that two sane people can’t amicably decide not to stay married, and file a no-fault divorce and remain in each other’s lives and co-parent their children so they don’t need a lifetime of counseling.  I was told this is a pipe dream; however, I did recently have dinner with a couple that appeared to be doing just that.  BUT – again I will reiterate that once one of you has decided you’re not in love anymore and don’t want to be married (whether you shout it out or he announces it as he’s walking out the door with a loaded suitcase) – somebody’s heart is broken.  No amicability is born of heartbreak.  I won’t say don’t try to be amicable – I certainly have done my best not to be on the attack even in the midst of all the BS he’s pulled – but I am pointedly telling you that you need to lower your expectations.  That is what *Eleanor was saying, essentially:  amicability is married, divorce is not.  If you were amicable, you’d still be married. (*C’mon…You didn’t think I’d use her real name, did you?)


A lawyer will advise you on how to proceed with custody and child support.  There are procedures, and everything takes some degree of time to get resolved.  None of this will be resolved overnight. Or even in two weeks.  Just to give you an idea, I filed for support in September 2011 – a final resolution is expected at the end of August 2012.  Support is important so you can continue to maintain the children’s lives as they are accustomed, and if there is any dispute (as in my case) over the amount of support a temporary support order will be entered  (which means you get money weekly until a final order is entered).  Support hearings occur in a closed office in the Domestic Relations office, and conducted by a DR officer with both attorneys present.  I have also seen people in there with no representation. 


Finally, remember the children.  It doesn’t matter how bad your marriage is/was, how ugly the divorce gets, what an asshole your (ex) husband is, how far the custody battle goes, or how the extended family tries to annihilate your character.   You’ll hear this refrain over and over again:  what’s best for the children… In the children’s best interests…. Etc.  My mom kept asking me, over the last 6 months to consider in everything I do, everything I say as – “how does this benefit the children?”  It did give me pause long enough to think through my decisions, rather than react  (which is sooooo easy to do when you’re up against the “dullest” tool in the shed).  My lawyer said, “the children come first.”  I’m sure he was relieved that I made his job easier by agreeing with him.  It’s not easy to look past the bs.  Especially when your ex is telling the children inappropriate things.  The key is for you not to get sucked into it, no matter what.  You’ve got to dig deep.   My sense of justice was just too strong to just “let it go” when my children came home asking me if it was true that I left dad for Todd.  I felt because they had asked, I could answer, “that’s not true.”  However, the psychologist that evaluated all of us felt differently about how I handled it.  Apparently I was wrong – because I, in my response, indicated to the children in a roundabout sort of way that their dad is a liar.  Well, if the shoe fits….   Ok, sorry.  I will always stand by my actions – I believe I did nothing wrong.  I never, EVER, said anything negative to the children about their dad.  However, the psychologist’s perspective caused me to consider what I say before I say it –regardless of how the children present it to me.  I think about how they might be affected by my answer.  I think about how my response might color their picture of who their father is and, while there is no love lost for me, they deserve to have only the best image of him – for their sake.  They will see who he is – or isn’t – in time.  

It’s Over. Can I Help?

 

Ok so several people have suggested that I write something resembling an advice piece, based on my recent (not to mention traumatic) experiences; however, my intent was to save it all until my own trial was over.  Unfortunately it has come to my attention that there are more than a few beautiful women out there who either live in their own toxic world or were recently slammed into a new reality by their partner.  And so – I’ve been feeling like I really want to help other women out there in similar circumstances and I just don’t know how.  And then it just occurred to me that I could start with my blog.  *A brief comment to the guys: I’m sorry to exclude you but I can really only speak for my own gender in this specific case.
 
So what makes me think I know anything?  I don’t.  But, I was married for 13 years.  It started out okay – I mean, we were in love and he said all the right things and he was really sincere and heartfelt and sensitive and a little silly like me (though as the years went by it became more and more clear that he just didn’t appreciate my silliness – or anything else, for that matter).  It didn’t take long before the real people we were, went to war against the two people we thought we were.   There were multiple disagreements about anything and everything. We fought about everything: money, my work in the family business, my friendliness to customers on the job, my mother, my father, birthday parties for the kids, spending, vacations, my returning to work in the restaurant business, me wanting time to myself, or wanting to go to mom’s night out with friends, sex, my journals, my attitude, my mistakes, past arguments and incidents. I wasn’t allowed to have male friends.  I wasn’t allowed to keep sentimental things associated with past relationships (like photos, letters).  I wasn’t allowed to write negative things about him in my journal.  There were short periods surrounding the births of each of our children that were mostly peaceful.  I wanted us to try counseling so many times, but apparently the idea of actually living in a healthy relationship just wasn’t as appealing.  Then came Ava’s diagnosis.  The shock and subsequent period of adjusting to “the new normal” was like living on the edge of an active volcano – the subtle rumblings of disaster always underfoot, the constant threat of eruptions left me feeling like I was walking on eggshells all the time. 
 
Fast forward to Spring 2010.  The disillusionment I felt over my miserable life came to a head as my daughter finished preschool.  A year earlier I had turned 40, and really wanted to have a party with our family and my friends to celebrate.  He didn’t want to.  He thought my idea to commemorate my milestone with a tattoo was a bad idea too.  Well, I picked the lesser – and less painful – of the two evils.   I fixed myself a pitcher of margaritas and threw myself a party.  My ex-husband, in his usual style, bitched and complained right up until everyone arrived and then suddenly turned on the charm and had himself a “decent” time, though he still didn’t lift a finger to test Ava’s blood sugar or look after her for this one afternoon.  This was the Jekyll/Hyde MO: act miserable every single God-forsaken holiday and birthday, bitch and moan about the interruption to his isolation until I reached my boiling point and my moody twin popped out…. and then he’d relax and look at me with wild eyes and ask me, “why are you acting like this? What’s wrong with you? Don’t you want to have a nice day?”   Anyway…. It was that year that the revelation hit me hard that I had reached the halfway point in my life… and I couldn’t wrap my brain around how I would survive another 40 years of this shit.  I’m sorry – I love a good time, I love being around my friends and family, I love being social and – for the love of God –  I love to laugh.  None of these things was easy in the life I was living, without fighting for it.  Who needs to fight for joy?  It’s a choice, not a war.
 
And then came my daughter’s best friend at preschool – a beautiful, happy little girl who took her by the hand from the very first day and became inseparable.  And her parents.  These two people reflected light from each other that was enviable and, for me, unforgettable.  They didn’t know how they inspired me to either get what I wanted from my marriage (which I already knew wasn’t going to happen) or get out.  I wanted to have that kind of love and respect from a soulmate.   And then came Facebook.  Which, by the way, is quoted countless times in divorce cases across the country.  Well, I didn’t end my marriage because of one man on Facebook.  All the re-connections I made, with the men and women I have known throughout my life, forced me to face the cold reality that my life was definitely NOT what I wanted it to be.  Several people seemed to have really great lives, great loves and family.  It inspired me to reach for more, to stop settling for less than what I deserved, less than what my children deserved
 
Yeah, yeah.  Things aren’t always what they seem.  And that is exactly why so many people I know are suddenly coming forward to leak their own little secrets about just how “perfect” their marriage isn’t.  I am perpetually amazed by how my going public with my drama has driven others to admit – ya knowthat they’re not really very happy either.
 
So what makes me think I have anything to offer?  Well, for one – I made a life-changing decision for not only myself, but my children too, about 18 months ago.  I have now been engrossed in a nasty fight for custody of them for over 9 months, which will be coming to an end in just 5 days.  I have been hurt, I have been angry, I have been broken, I have been shocked, I have been weak, I have been strong, I have been scared to death.  It has without a doubt been the absolute worst thing I have ever had to endure in my life.  But it has been worth every bankrupt second of this terrible ride, because NOT fighting was not an option.  He wanted me to give up.  He thought he could break me, but he was dead wrong.  No one and no man ever comes between a mother and her children.  I didn’t do everything right, I didn’t do anything wrong.  But I learned a lot about what I didn’t know – about the law, about divorce, custody and the real purpose of psychological evaluations.  And so – I am no expert – but I have experience.  And that is what I intend to share.  Because you’re not alone.  
 
Next up:  It’s Over.  Now What?