“All my kids”…

For years, I had Ex’s husband blocked from my social media accounts. I also had Ex’s children blocked. It was mainly because I didn’t want them screwing with us and collecting information. Then, sometime last year, I unblocked most of them. I didn’t actively go looking for information on anyone, mainly because I wasn’t interested anymore. Bill’s daughters are grown now, and one of them speaks to him willingly. It turns out she’s not as toxic as her mother is. I’m not as sure about Ex’s third husband. Is he toxic, or does he actually believe her bullshit?

Ex’s husband has a fairly common first and last name, but somehow he was still easy enough to find. It doesn’t appear that he spends a lot of time on Facebook anymore. From what I could see, back in 2012, he was very active and had a lot of public posts. A few were about Mormonism. Ex made him convert when they married. He had quotes from Mormon leaders and clips of church talks. There was a closeup of his face, which reminded me that the quality of Ex’s three husbands are like a bell curve. He had a lot of posts about video games, which doesn’t surprise me. When the kids did speak to Bill, they mentioned that he spent most of his time playing video games. For the first few years of his marriage to Ex, she was the sole breadwinner… well, with help from the $2550 a month Bill was sending her.

Then, there were a few pictures of the children… Bill’s two daughters, and Ex’s other three kids. They all sat together, all escapees from the same womb, fertilized by three different men.

Ex’s husband was referring to Bill’s daughters and Ex’s oldest son as “his kids”, when in fact, two other men fathered those children and both had wanted to raise them. In 2012, Ex’s husband posted public pictures of them. In one photo, all five of Ex’s kids, along with her oldest son’s wife, were sitting at a table. It looked like the picture was taken after Bill’s older daughter got some kind of diploma. He’d captioned it “All my kids.”

In another photo, there was a picture of Bill’s younger daughter with some Mormon guy. She was dressed as if she was attending a fancy dance. I’m pretty sure it was a church function, since Ex made the girls quit public school and “homeschooled” them. The caption for that photo said something along the lines of “the name change will be final soon”. 2012 was when Ex managed to get Bill’s daughters to legally change their names to their stepfather’s, although she did not get them legally adopted by him, as she’d promised she would.

I couldn’t help but think these photos were made public intentionally. Ex was probably hoping we’d see them back then and be wounded by her actions. We knew what she was up to, although we both thought the name change stupidity was a waste of time and money. She did the same thing with her oldest son, changing his name to Bill’s. Later, he had it legally changed back to his original surname.

Just a few years after that “ceremony”, younger daughter married. Not long after her wedding, she and her real father– my husband Bill– started talking again. She calls Bill “Dad” and even speaks to his mother– her grandmother– a delightful woman whose company she’s been denied for most of her life because Ex hates Bill’s mom.

Now that Bill and his daughter are speaking to each other, we’re learning the truth about the facade that was put out there. It was a facade we’d mostly missed when it was relevant. Now we know that what was put on Facebook for us to see– and the reality of the situation– were two totally different things.

A lot of people think I’m the crazy one. I’ve posted about this situation for many years, mainly because it is crazy. Writing about this– and most other things that upset me– helps me process. I’ve had a lot of people who don’t understand the full spectrum of the situation tell me that I’m “unhealthy” or hateful for putting this stuff in print. I don’t think these people realize just how awful it is when people try to silence you from speaking your truth on your space. Even if they think my truth isn’t the whole truth– or they think they know better, when they don’t even know the people involved– they try to tell me what I should write about or talk about, or how long it should take me to “get over” something. They assume the people in this story are perfectly normal people– people who think it’s okay to lie to their children about their past, their other parent and his family, and to the public.

One thing I noticed on Ex’s husband’s page is that he doesn’t have a single public picture posted of Ex. There are pictures of his two kids, their backs turned to the camera. There are several pictures of Bill’s daughters– the ones whose diapers Bill changed, who were held, protected, and fed by Bill when they were tiny, who were supported by Bill’s timely child support payments for years… Those pictures were likely put out there for Bill to see and be wounded by. It wasn’t enough that Ex kept Bill’s daughters from him and talked him into having surgery that would prevent him from having another family with me. She had to get her husband to publicly gloat about stealing Bill’s children from him.

How funny it is that the joke is now on her. Her oldest children know their mother is crazy. Two out of three of them have done their best to get far away from her. One has stayed behind to help raise the youngest child, whom Ex and her husband are apparently neglecting. We learned from younger daughter that she showed up to college with nothing… nothing from her so-called “dad” who referred to her as one of his children. Nothing from her so-called doting mother, who let her daughter go all the way across the country with nothing more than the clothes on her back, so that she had to get help from the LDS church. Not even a phone number for her real father or her grandparents, who cared very much about her and would have helped if they’d only known she needed them.

Ex gets very angry when her children do things she doesn’t like. In 2006, her eldest son started talking to Bill again, looking for support. She became determined to ruin the relationship. The connection lasted three years, until Ex found a way to sabotage it. Bill hasn’t spoken to his ex stepson– the boy he’d once called his own son and paid child support for– since 2009. We’ve heard that he’s now contrite about the way he treated Bill. He realizes it was wrong. I don’t know if they’ll ever reconnect, which is a real pity.

Younger daughter said her mother found out she was talking to Bill and threw a fit. She berated her for being disloyal and connecting with Bill, whom she’d claimed had “really hurt her”. How? Because when she asked for a divorce, he consented to granting it? That response wasn’t in the script. He was supposed to grovel. So, instead of manning up and working with Bill so that the children would be spared some pain, she did her usual thing… forcing her children to split from Bill, too. It was a case of “if I can’t have you, you can’t have the children.” Bill’s kids were part of a package deal. Bill wasn’t in a position to force her to cooperate with him, and it probably would have been a waste of time and money to try, anyway.

Ex had nothing to say for her repeated abuses of Bill… the scars of which he still physically bears. I guess she thinks she gets a pass. She has nothing to say for the way her abuse has affected so many people, some of whom have never even met her. I am among those people. So are her children’s significant others and their children, and other extended family members.

I’ve been affected by this toxicity myself. I can’t take abuse anymore. I am saturated when it comes to abusive people. I’ve come to hate people who mistreat me or Bill, even though I realize that a lot of people who are abusive were once abused themselves. I am capable of forgiving people and getting over things, but it takes me a lot longer than it used to. I am a lot less inclined to let things slide than I was before I encountered Ex. When someone screws with me, I remember it and hang onto it, no matter how many times I get told I should “let it go”. I’m like a dog who gets slapped one too many times and starts biting back. That’s where I am now.

It won’t be too much longer before Bill has a new granddaughter. I hope he’ll get to see her at some point. I hope she’ll be spared her grandmother’s wickedness. Life is hard enough without having someone in it who goes out of her way to fuck things up for everyone.

This post is more serious than I meant it to be. I saw those photos yesterday, not really feeling angry or sad at the time. I’d say I felt more “bemused” by how things have turned out. I have been angry about this stuff for years, but I knew there would be a reconnect at some point. I just wasn’t expecting it to be as gentle as it’s been. It still makes me heartsick to know that my wonderful husband who is a fantastic father has missed 15 years of his daughters’ lives, all because he had them with the wrong person. I wish like hell he’d had them with me, instead.

I wasn’t expecting younger daughter to be so much like Bill is. She didn’t show those tendencies when she was younger. If she really is like him, that’s a comfort. There will still be a part of him out there when he’s gone someday. I wish I could say the same for me… then again, maybe not. At least my distinctive laugh won’t be passed on to some poor descendant.


A very special blog post…

As promised to a few friends who already know why, today’s entry is entitled “A very special blog post…” Last night, Bill finally got his daughter’s gender reveal video to work. She’s shown sitting at a table with her husband’s family, biting into a cupcake made by her mother-in-law. The inside of the cupcake was pink, which revealed that her next baby will be a girl.

I had a feeling that the next baby was going to be female. So did Bill. I think he’s excited about it, although he still hasn’t seen his daughter in person since 2004, and he’s never met his grandson. They all live in Idaho, and we’re in Germany. I do think Bill will probably try to go out to see his daughter and meet her family in person. Once again, I’m not sure I’ll be joining him. It depends on where the meeting takes place. I already wrote about my feelings regarding a family gathering on my old blog, so I won’t rehash the reasons here. Suffice to say that I am in favor of Bill going to see them, even if I opt out.

The baby is due sometime in early July, which could mean she will be a “birthday present” for Bill. Or maybe she’ll be a present for her aunt, Bill’s older daughter, who was born on Independence Day. It’s amazing how much I know about these people I’ve only met one time, fifteen years ago. Technically, they’re family… and pretty close family at that. But they have been kept out of my life, so they’re also strangers. It’s a very odd situation that I never thought I would be in.

One of my friends quipped that now I’m “Granny”. That’s really not true. I had no part in bringing up Bill’s daughters, and Bill was only there when they were very young. I have only met Bill’s daughters once, and that was in 2003. Although technically, I am their stepmother, I don’t really know them and they don’t know me. Maybe someday that will change, but I like to be realistic. I tend to expect the worst; that way when things aren’t the worst, I’m pleasantly surprised.

It’s great to see that Bill’s younger daughter has reclaimed her wonderful dad. She’s obviously smart to do that. So far, we’ve seen no indication that she’s up to anything more than simply being family again. It’s still kind of hard for me to trust her, although I am impressed by her survival skills. She is very resilient, and I respect resilience. As much as I dislike Mormonism, I am also glad she found some church members who were willing to help her escape the situation she was in as a very young woman. I don’t think she’s quite finished college yet, but she’s well on her way. And she and her husband appear to be doing fine, which is more than I can say for myself when I was her age.

I just hope that the real “Granny”– that is, Bill’s ex wife– stays far enough away from them that she doesn’t wreak any havoc on their happiness. Based only on what little I’ve heard about what it was like for younger daughter to grow up with Ex, I can only imagine her own concerns about how her mother is going to behave. It’s really something when a child declares that her mother is mentally ill. I’m sure it was heartbreaking and scary when she came to that conclusion. Ex apparently did go out to Idaho to see her grandson, but according to younger daughter, Ex spent most of her time on her phone and wasn’t really engaged with the boy.

This brings me to another observation… it seems like Ex sees everyone as an extension of herself. She doesn’t seem to know how to form genuine bonds with people. She does things like arrange visits and includes all of the trappings of a celebration, but she doesn’t emotionally connect with the people involved. Instead, the celebrations often turn to shit.

Case in point. One Christmas, when Bill’s daughters and ex stepson were small, Ex decided they must have a grand Christmas. So, even though Bill was underemployed and they were having serious financial problems, Ex went out and bought a truckload of presents. My mother-in-law visited them during this time and she said there were so many presents, they wouldn’t all fit under the tree. And she bought tons of food… stuff that little kids probably wouldn’t even want to eat. She bought a $75 platter of baklava that didn’t get eaten. It was all for show. The celebration itself, despite the decorations, presents, and expensive prepared foods, was a disaster. I think it’s because the celebration wasn’t about family and the love that families and friends share. It was about optics, and what other people might think or see.

Now that younger daughter is about to expand her family, I would not be surprised if Ex decides it’s time for another one of her trademark “celebrations”, which are all about show. I have been through enough of these kinds of “shows” with my own family to last me the rest of my life. They always take me weeks to get over. And my family doesn’t even come close to being as fucked up as Ex is. I imagine having a mother like Ex is a special curse. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

But anyway… I am truly delighted for younger daughter and her husband and son. They deserve every happiness. I know Bill is excited about the new grandchild, especially since it’s a girl. I guess I am, too, although for me it’s more surreal because the only bond I have with his daughters is from afar, and mostly based on stories I’ve heard and emails I’ve read… and blog posts I’ve written, that make other people think I’m the crazy one.

In other news… Bill is taking today off, since he will be working overnights for the next 18 days with no break. I’m going to have to find some trashy television to watch.

P.S. Special thanks to dreamstime.com for the public domain image of the pink booties.


My new address… there’s no HOA here.

It’s been two weeks since I changed blog addresses. I’ve had some time to reflect on the move. In many ways, moving my blog is kind of like moving from a former residence. Having been an Army wife, I’ve had the experience of moving many times over the past sixteen years. Every time we change addresses, there’s a price to be paid. Usually, we have to pay money, and we lose access to friends and familiarity. But with every move, we gain new experiences. The same can be said for this new blog.

I totally get that to some people, I’m like the crazy cat lady who is holed up in her house, shaking her rolling pin at people who walk on her lawn. Actually, I’m more of a crazy dog lady… and, if I’m honest, I’m not even much of a lady. I swear like a sailor, belch and fart like a truck driver, and drink like I’m Irish (which I apparently am, to some extent). But even though I’m not much of a lady, I like to have dominion over my “home”. My blog is like my home. I don’t invite troublemakers over for pie and punch in my physical home, so why would I invite them over on my blog? When I made my blog searchable, it was like opening the door to the world. Most people are nice and understanding, but some people don’t get it. Life is short, and I don’t want to have the clueless folks over for tea.

This morning, as Bill and I were having coffee and fruit, I reflected on the circumstances that caused me to change my blog. Had my old blog survived until this month, it would have turned nine years old. It saw me through our time in Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, and Jettingen, Germany. It mostly served me well. I had many friendly visitors, and I had some not so friendly visitors. But the not so friendly visitors mostly moved on after a couple of random “eggings” and “TP’ings” in the comments section. I mostly felt safe enough there.

A couple of weeks ago, it felt a bit like my former “home” was being invaded. One of people who lived in the house we used to live in was surveilling me in my blog home. And, much like a pesky homeowner’s association officer, she kept “ringing the doorbell”, complaining about the “noise” and the loud colors. I have mentioned before that I don’t like to be fucked with. So, much like I would if I were living in a home where people were harassing me and I had poor security, I decided I wanted to move. It’s not so easy to move actual homes, but it’s somewhat easier to move blog homes. The only bad thing is that I had to leave all my “furniture” behind.

For some reason, when I tried to move my content from the old blog to this blog, it didn’t work. I tried a few times to upload my old posts, but WordPress wasn’t having it. I eventually decided that maybe it was for the best. Some of the “furniture” in my old blog home no longer goes with the new decor. For instance, at my old “home” there is post after post about how angry I was with my stepdaughters and their mother. Those pieces were useful at one time, but they’re not anymore. They would be out of place on this blog. Much like the yucky 70s bedroom furniture we donated to a battered women’s shelter in Texas, that stuff no longer served a purpose and had become downright tacky. So I got rid of it.

On the other hand, my old address has a lot of posts I’m very proud of. Some of the posts make me proud because they were popular and funny. Some, I’m proud of because I think they’re well-written and even somewhat profound, even if no one else agrees with me. I’ve written some posts that I think are legitimately helpful and interesting, too. I would have liked to have taken them with me to my new “home”. Unfortunately, they were too heavy to move.

It’s a bit lonely at the new address. I don’t have many people reading my posts here, although a few people did follow from my old blog. I haven’t made this blog searchable on Google yet. I don’t know if I ever will. It took me years to do it with the old blog. I remember when I finally decided to allow my old blog to be searchable, I got a lot more attention, and that led to poisonous comments from people who don’t know or understand me or my situation.

The blog HOA lady has probably read my posts about Bill’s ex wife and his kids. She probably assumes that I was the “problem” in that situation. Many people like to project their problems, particularly on “stepmothers”. For all I know, HOA lady was a stepdaughter who hated her stepmom. Or maybe she is one of those people who thinks there’s always enough blame to go around. For the record, I happen to agree with that sentiment most of the time. You’d have to know my husband, though, to understand why that doesn’t really apply in his case or mine.

Nothing I ever wrote in my blog actually affected the ex or her kids, unless she read the posts and had “hurt feelings”. I never contacted them, harassed them, messed with their employment or other relationships, or interfered with them in any way. I simply wrote down my feelings and made them visible to the public. I did that because I know there are other people like me, in similar or much worse situations. I wanted them to know they aren’t alone.

I have written before that I don’t go looking for things people might have written about me. No good can come from it. It will only lead to hurt feelings and anger. According to stepdaughter, ex did find my blog and mentioned it to her. Apparently, stepdaughter wisely steered clear. She and Bill are now talking regularly. She even sent him a picture of her latest sonogram, as well as a video of her gender reveal party for her latest baby. Unfortunately, the video wouldn’t run, so we don’t know yet if she’s having another boy or a girl. Either way, I have changed my mind about Bill’s younger daughter. In the face of evidence, I’m still capable of doing that. So how crazy am I, really?

The blog HOA lady also knows my former landlady. Evidently, they’ve had a fantastic relationship. I’m happy for them, although I have lingering doubts that blog HOA lady was entirely truthful regarding the circumstances of her choice to move. But maybe she was… I really don’t know, and it doesn’t matter anyway. What I do know is that we didn’t have the same experience with the ex landlady, for whatever reason. It may have simply been a case of us not meshing, which happens to the best of people. Or maybe blog HOA lady had a very different experience than everyone else who has lived in that house. There’s no way to tell.

The point is, again, I was voicing my thoughts about that in my “home”– on my own blog. I did not name the landlady, nor did I do anything to harass her. I did not write about her in other places where her reputation might have been affected. I simply vented. For that, I got chastising comments, along with preventive chastising comments for things I hadn’t even done yet. Blog HOA lady assumed she knew what I was going to do and tried to stop me before I started. Or, at least that’s how it seems to me. Was she really expecting me to allow her to dictate what I do in my “home”? Would she stand for that if she were in my shoes?

Maybe she anticipated that I would move my blog. My guess is that this was a surprise to her, though. Maybe she’s glad I moved it, since she was compelled to keep coming around to write up complaints. Or maybe she’s sorry I didn’t stick around so she could keep spying. The lovely thing about my new address is that this “house” has better security. I can simply make individual posts available to invited readers rather than shutting down the whole blog whenever problems arise. I can speak my piece in relative privacy among people who get it, rather than open up the house to everyone and allowing them all to chime in.

In a lot of ways, this move reminds me of when I started my first blog. For many months, no one read it. I never got comments. I don’t even think I got any spam. I was in what amounted to blogging wasteland, out in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but wild animals and tumbleweeds to keep me company. It was kind of lonely and, in some ways, it felt kind of futile. Why write something no one will read? Well… I’ve been doing that all my life. I got my first diary when I was seven years old. It was lockable and lavender and had a picture of a Catholic priest on it with the word “Confessions” over his head. I think that’s pretty funny, since I’m not Catholic and didn’t even get the context of that until the diary was worn with age.

I didn’t write regularly in my diary until I was about seventeen, but I still had it and occasionally wrote in it. No one read it, but I still have it in storage somewhere. It’s got value because it offers a glimpse of me at a different time. I lost the key to it many years ago, so it hasn’t been locked since I was a child. When I was sixteen, I bought a new diary that had a combination lock. I wrote in it every day, although that diary lacks the charm of my first one. It’s teal, and hopelessly 90s looking.

I’m sure blog HOA lady thinks I’m a bit crazy. She might think I’m mean-spirited and cruel because of things I write. Maybe I am… although I think it’s better to write those thoughts than act on them. All I’ve done offline, so far, is support my husband in his bid to get our security deposit back. But yes, I’ve written about how aggravating I’ve found both our former landlady and my husband’s ex wife. Yes, sometimes I sound bitter, petty, and “mean”. Is it worse to write down these thoughts and feelings, or simply act on them? I mean, I would like to find Bill’s ex wife and knock the hell out of her for the awful things she’s done, but she’s not worth getting arrested for. And that truly would be a “crazy”, destructive, and ultimately stupid thing to do.

Likewise, it might be fun to publicly smear the ex landlady, as angry as I was at her… (my temper has cooled in the past week, since Bill sent his letter) But I have no desire to be sued for defamation of character or have to deal with the potential legal consequences of losing control and going off half-cocked. So I write about her instead… I even tried to put a story in fiction, but blog HOA lady felt the need to intervene. She was happy to silently read all the other stuff I wrote about people, but not the ex landlady, whom she apparently holds dear. It evidently didn’t occur to her that she could simply stop visiting my “house”. Instead, she tried to tell me what to do in my house, and that is not acceptable.

I don’t want to live in a house where other people control what I do. If I want to paint the walls purple or magenta, I think that’s my right, especially if I own the place. I “own the place” on this blog, so I can do what I want. I will not allow blog HOA ladies to come over for tea and complain about my noise or loud colors. My new home is in blogging wasteland again, although I did tell a few friends where I’m “living”. Maybe someday, this blog will feel more like it’s in a suburb, although I hate suburbs. I don’t know. I don’t do this for money or fame. I do it to stay sane. I spend a lot of time alone, and writing helps me feel connected. And most people offline would rather not hear me spew… so I write it, now in a place where there’s no “homeowner’s association” for my blog. For now, anyway.

I hope this makes sense. It’s fun to write in metaphors.