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Bachelor #14: The Rule Breaker

Bachelor #14 was a nice, normal, successful businessman I met online. He lived several hours away from me. And broke one of his “cardinal rules” to date me: he didn’t drive distances for women or to date them. Yet he drove them for me.

As Katharine Hepburn said, “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” And as he said, “I can’t believe how many ‘rules’ I’ve broken for you.”

Although we laughed a lot and had a lot of fun, Bachelor #14 isn’t memorable to me because of any particular weird thing he did (he didn’t do any, like I said, he was totally nice and normal!) He is memorable to me because I learned something from him that literally changed my life.

Thank goodness he broke the rules! “If I’d observed all the rules, I’d never have got anywhere.” (Marilyn Monroe)

I have learned a couple of things from certain men I’ve dated. One that stands out in my mind occurred while dating Bachelor #1.

At some point in dating, when things get to a certain “stage,” every man has asked me if I really, truly am “over” my former spouse. They say, “I know you’ve said you are, I know you act like you are, but are you REALLY? How can you be over Him so quickly after being married for 20 years?”

I never know what to say to that, other than the truth: I am over Him. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, I just know that I am. I always assumed it was because the lies, the betrayal, and the deception were so deep, so complete and so thorough (into every aspect of our life, our faith, our friends and family, and his career.) I assumed all of that was what had helped the love die so quickly and the tie fade so fast after I had the rug of my entire existence ripped out from under me in that one fateful moment on that one terrible day: March 18, 2009.

But I learned there was probably more to it than that. Bachelor #1 pointed it out.

He told me I was missing something important. That I’d received a blessing I didn’t even realize. He had known people married only 3-4 years and unable to move on after their divorce. He said I had received a huge blessing that I was able to get over something so huge and to move on so “quickly.” He said it really was a blessing to me.

I believe in counting your blessings, looking for the good, acknowledging the tender mercies you receive each day and living your life with gratitude every day in all things. So I was thankful that although I’d been too clueless to see it, someone else had seen it and pointed it out to me so I could realize it. So I could acknowledge a miracle, a blessing, in my life.

I realized, “When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.” (C.S. Lewis)

That was certainly true for me.

Bachelor #14 taught me something different: “You don’t have to tell your story any more.”

It was a moment for me. An absolute epiphany.

I looked at him in shock. “What? Not tell my story? But how? Everyone always wants to know why you divorced, what dysfunctional tendencies you have that led to something so terrible. I can’t lie!” I said.

Bachelor #14 replied, “I’m not telling you to lie. I’m telling you that you don’t have to tell your story any more to anyone. You don’t have to tell it to the people you date. Of anyone I’ve met, your story really isn’t your story–it isn’t what you did; it’s what someone else did. You did nothing wrong or criminal, you were not involved, it has nothing to do with you other than it completely changed your life and you ended up with a new and different one in Utah. But you don’t have to tell your story to any one any more.”

It was one of those things that had been right in front of me all along, yet I had never seen it! However, as soon as I saw it, it made perfect sense to me and I wondered how I’d never realized it before.

I clarified, “Well, what do I say to people who asked me why I got divorced? Everyone always asks that.”

Bachelor #14 had a good sense of humor. He laughed and said, “There are so many things to choose from in your case, can’t you pick just one?”

That made me laugh. What he said was totally true. There were SO many reasons I got divorced. I seriously could pick just one “little” one from the plethora of reasons I’d had and it would be a big enough reason for any normal person to understand!

Bachelor #14 encouraged, “You CAN do that! Just tell one little reason and the rest is nobody’s business.”

That conversation changed my life.

It allowed me to separate myself from everything my former spouse had done. In that moment, I was able to let it all go. I had known all along my former spouse’s actions weren’t mine, but because I had been married to him, they were a burden I carried to some degree–as I lived each day with the consequences His choices had thrust upon me and as I felt shame not only for knowing someone who had done such terrible things but for having been married to him while he did them.

But in an instant, I wasn’t ashamed any more. I wasn’t humiliated any more. I wasn’t trying to hide any more. I wasn’t worried about living a life of anonymity or about trying to hide who I was and what I had come from.

I was free to be me, and only me, again.

Andrea Merriman.

Why had it taken me so many months to realize that? I’d had good friends who had told me that over and over, but somehow I hadn’t been able to see it or believe it before. But in that moment, I finally did.

Like that old game “Red Light, Green Light” where you take baby steps at first so you don’t get caught by the “it” person, but the closer you get to the end and to winning, your steps get bigger and bigger until the last one or two steps are giant, almost reckless leaps…THAT is what that conversation and the realization it led me to were for me.

Prior to that, I’d felt almost completely healed. Thanks to Bachelor #14, the remaining gap narrowed considerably. In fact, was there even a gap any more?

Things with Bachelor #14 were perfect while it lasted, but it wasn’t meant to be. There were some core values we differed on. So goodbye Bachelor #14, but I’ll never forget you.

“You are remembered for the rules you break.” (Douglas MacArthur)

I’m so grateful he did.

Bachelor Bee Gee

Bachelor #2 (aka. Bachelor Bee Gee) was paranoid about houses. At least that’s the impression I got. He asked me out on a date, for dessert, but insisted on meeting me at a nearby parking lot rather than my home or the restaurant. He told me he never let anyone know where he lived on the first date.

Should that have been my first clue?

I met him at the parking lot he designated, he helped me into the cab of his giant white truck and he turned on the engine and revved it–a sign of things to come. High school.


He put the truck in gear and drove toward the restaurant. As he drove, he reached over and turned on the stereo. It was blasting so loud I thought he was joking with me, you know, turning up the radio and blaring an 80s song to act young for me or something. But no, he didn’t even look at me. He was too busy singing along and bouncing in his seat and I realized it wasn’t 2009 anymore for at least one of us on the date! The music was so loud it hurt my ears. And then he began to shout over it.

“Do you like the music?”

“What?” I asked.

“Do you like this song? This music?”

I had to reach over and turn it down to hear his question. When I finally figured out what he was asking me, and with my ears still ringing, I realized it was a hard rock song I hadn’t heard since the 1980s. High school. Again.

As we drove he told me all about the song I was hearing and how much it cost him to purchase it; that he had every song from the 80s loaded into his system and how much each song had cost; and the grand total he had spent on music. Then he moved on to the benefits and features of his stereo system–how much he had paid for everything. And then what he had paid for his truck. And then the travel he planned to do in the next few months–and how much he planned to spend.

The whole drive to the restaurant was like that. He talked about everything he owned and how much everything had cost–all the while shouting over the 80s hard rock music he had blasting. I wondered (not for the first time, since I began dating) if I was being punked!

No such luck.

We arrived at the restaurant, the hostess seated us, gave us the dessert menus, and we chatted while deciding what to order. The server arrived to take our order and Bachelor Bee Gee directed me to order first. I did. The served looked at him, expectantly, but he closed his menu and said, “I’m not having any dessert. I don’t like sugar. In fact, I rarely eat.”

Total “Jive Talkin’.”

Then why in the heck had he asked me out for dessert?

The server raised his eyebrows at me before walking away. He seemed to say, “Where in the world did you find this winner?” He didn’t want to know the truth. Online. “I Started A Joke” the day I got online.

I offered to cancel my order so we could do something more to his liking, he said no, and proceeded to tell me how he ate only every 3-4 days and that he never ate dessert. (I thought, “This is going to be a long night. Maybe when he sees I eat sugar, then he’ll take me home early!”) I wondered how he was going to entertain me while I ate dessert. I soon found out.

He decided to entertain me with strange facts about himself, like the “fact” that he lived in a home that was once owned by the Bee Gees. He said it had been the Bee Gees’ mountain retreat in Utah. (Hence the name, Bachelor Bee Gee!) He told me about talking to the Bee Gees on the phone, negotiating the deal, etc…

My dessert came, I ate a little but saved most of it to take home to my kids. I figured Bachelor Bee Gee may not eat sugar, but my kids would enjoy a treat courtesy of the man who starved himself and apparently, liked to watch other people eat dessert! We weren’t at the restaurant long. There is nothing appetizing about eating dessert in front of someone who not only isn’t having any, but who never eats any–or for that matter, supposedly, never eats food!

We got in his truck, and instead of driving me back to the parking lot as I expected, he started driving toward the mountains. I thought maybe he was taking a shortcut to the parking lot that I didn’t know about (I was still new in town, he was not) but finally I figured out we weren’t heading to where I wanted to go. I asked, “Can you tell me where we’re going?”

He told me, “We’re going to my house–to the Bee Gees’ mountain retreat.”

I said, “Wait. I thought you didn’t let anyone see where you lived on the first date.”

He looked at me, winked, and said he wasn’t worried about me. He had a feeling that I was “safe.” I wasn’t worried about me either. But I was seriously starting to wonder about him!

We pulled up to the house and it wasn’t what I had expected: a 70s-style house in the middle of a neighborhood. I tried to imagine why the Bee Gees would buy a house like that and put it in the middle of a normal neighborhood. If I were coming to enjoy the Utah mountains, and traveling from down under to do it, and if I were a celebrity, I think I would want a bit more privacy!

I walked in the door, expecting a total 1970s-style, funky house and it was not what I expected. He took me on a tour and showed me where every Bee Gees decorating touch had been, what it had been, and showed me how he had ripped it out and replaced it with something modern! There was absolutely nothing BeeGees about the house at all. What a waste! It was a “Tragedy!”

He took me into the family room of the house. A fire was roaring in the fireplace. (That should have been my first clue.) Suddenly, and mysteriously, BeeGees mood music came on and I realized a serious case of “Night Fever” might be coming my way. It was time for me to focus on “Stayin’ Alive.” Literally.

I told him it was late, I had to work the next day, it was time for me to go home, and I headed for the door. It was almost as if his truck was calling, “Run To Me.” So I did just that.

He took a while to come out of the house. As I stood there in the dark and cold waiting for him, I imagined having to have to call my teenager to come pick me up and give me a ride home. (If the previous events of 2009 hadn’t scarred him, THAT probably would have! lol) But fortunately Bachelor Bee Gee came out and gave me a ride to my car–music blaring, no shouted conversation this time. I think he got the hint.

But that is the amazing thing about dating. About men. Just when you think men understand, you realize some of them don’t! He must have thought he was a “Heartbreaker.” We got to my car, I opened my door and jumped out. He looked at me and asked, “Hey, would you like me to call you again?”

I was stunned! A wave of…change…washed over me, as I realized in that moment that just a few months earlier I’d been married (and married for 20 years), I’d had stability and security; and yet there I stood, living a completely different life, divorced, single, and ending a date with a virtual stranger who was whack-o. All I could do was laugh!

I couldn’t answer him, I was laughing too hard. (You know, as I’ve said before. In life, you can choose to laugh or cry: I choose to laugh!) I never did answer him. Instead, I laughed all the way to my car. And as I opened my car door I heard him call out, “Remember, the phone line works both ways!”

I drove home, walked up to my room, realized how fortunate I had been and stopped laughing. A wave of “Emotion” washed over me and I burst into tears at the unexpected life that was now mine. “Alone.” I couldn’t comprehend that Bee Gees-wannabes were my destiny. If that was the case, I didn’t think it was possible “To Love Somebody.”

I didn’t think my love was deep enough.

“I was always the one left behind. Out in the streets, when they saw me they’d say, ‘That’s just one of the Bee Gees.’” (Maurice Gibb)

The Innocent…and The Unusual

One day toward the end of Bachelor #1 I was talking to my sister about the single situation. She asked me, “So, have you found any other cute guys?” (That’s what we called them in the 80s.)

I had to laugh. Because I really hadn’t. I was expecting men to look 20-something (that was the last age I’d really checked out the looks of men) and instead, all of the men I saw or met were wrinkled, gray-haired (if they had hair), bald, and/or heavy. In other words, they were aging! And apparently, I was in denial that it was taking place in my life as well, because I felt like I was meeting and socializing (and getting asked out by) fathers and grandpas–not MY peers. (Told you, a little denial on my part!)

So, that was a challenge of re-entering the single scene in my 40s.

It was not the 1980s anymore.

The good news?

I discovered there are some handsome, kind, fun, and active single fathers and grandpas out there. And get ready. You’re about to learn about several I met–in spite of the fact that, “It’s always been my personal feeling that unless you are married, there is something that is not very dignified about talking about who you are dating.” (Luke Wilson)

In an effort to be dignified, I won’t name the real names of some of the memorable men I’ve met or dated. All names will be changed to protect the innocent…and the unusual.

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Bachelor #1


Bachelor #1 woke me up the next morning with a text thanking me for the date. Called me that day, texted me all day, called me during the week in the evenings while he was away on business, and dated me every weekend after that. The rebound relationship had begun!

After the first week of dating, I realized I hadn’t cried in one week. For the first time since March 18, 2009, I had gone one entire week without tears. I hadn’t remembered to cry because I hadn’t felt like crying! I was healing. So what did I do? I cried. In disbelief and gratitude!

Bachelor #1 was a good man and a very decent person. He was also very fun. But I couldn’t help noticing things moved a little too fast for my comfort. I didn’t know if it was the man, or the age, but I was very overwhelmed all of the time at how different things were from the 1980s!

I’m sure everyone who has spent time with me since the nightmare began, has heard me say that. I guess because it’s my biggest shock. All of my single experience, my entire dating frame of reference, last took place over 20 years ago. So I’m constantly amazed at the difference just two decades makes! (Wait. Did I just say that? Nothing makes you sound old like being able to refer to two entire decades as a frame of reference.)

Anyway, Bachelor #1 gave me lots of encouragement. He told me I could be engaged in two weeks and married in less than three months if I wanted to be. (I was too shocked at that comment to even respond.) He told me he was there for me and willing to partner with me in raising my children. (THAT one surprised me. He’d never met them, had just met me, and was offering that? I pretended I didn’t hear that, either.) But mostly he just entertained me and made me laugh. He said unexpected, friendly things a newly single mother of four needed to hear.

For example, during the time I dated Bachelor #1 the pastor of my new congregation called me in to meet with him and asked me to serve our congregation in a particular assignment. I told Bachelor #1 I got an opportunity to serve my new congregation and told him to guess my new assignment. Without missing a beat or batting an eye he said, “As the congregation hottie!” NOT EVEN. (But it did make me laugh.)

He also introduced me to many new, fun things about the city I had moved to; helped me get to know my surroundings a little bit; took me on lots of fun dates, took me dancing, celebrated Halloween with me by dressing as Clark Kent (and had me dress as Lois Lane), etc…

However, there were some insecurities. The man had been married, and married more than once (I couldn’t believe how common that is these days–it has actually been very rare for me to meet men who have been married just one time.) He told me several times how jealous he was of my 20-year marriage, the long and stable life I’d enjoyed married to someone I’d had children with. Bachelor #1 had never experienced that and said he was jealous of me. (I told him not to be jealous, the 20-year marriage had ended rather disastrously for me! But the longer I’ve been single, and the more people I’ve met who never had anything like that, the more I understand that comment now.)

He also told me he felt very inferior in his ability to provide in a manner to which I was accustomed. He had googled me after he learned my story, and the media coverage was very thorough in detailing the lifestyle members of our family had enjoyed. But what they missed, and what many people don’t understand, is that it wasn’t really MY lifestyle. The art, the cars, the motorhome, the jewelry, and so many of the “things” were never my idea. I hadn’t asked for them, I hadn’t desired them, and I hadn’t purchased them. Many times, they simply arrived at the house because my former spouse had purchased them. In fact, if our marriage had any contention in it, it was over “stuff.” Things He wanted, and all of the things I didn’t want us to have or be responsible for. Sure, I enjoyed travel and shopping at Nordstrom, but I also shopped at Target.

I’d never been a worldly person; I’d learned the utter worthlessness of worldly possessions as a teenager–but that’s another blog for some other day. All I could say to Bachelor #1 about the lifestyle and any man’s ability to provide in an equal way was my view of the “providing” I’d experienced: it actually hadn’t been “providing” at all. Turns out, it was theft. And crime is nothing to feel inferior toward!

Like any rebound relationship, however, it wasn’t meant to last.

One night, about six weeks into the relationship, he drove me to see a home he’d found to buy. He said the only thing it needed was a fence to keep young children safe. (He didn’t have young children, I did.) Then he took me somewhere else to ask if I thought I could love him forever, etc… (Marriage Proposal #1.)

Right then, things came to a silent, screeching halt for me. I know that at my age, and with all of the technology we have to get to know people and to keep in touch, you get to know people much faster than previous times–like the 80s. But I had to be honest. I told him at that point, I just knew that he was very nice and fun and that I liked him.

He told me it had to end, then, because he couldn’t take any more risk and hurt. I offered to continue to spend time together as friends and he thanked me for that, but declined, saying it was already too painful for him to continue. The end.

Thank you, Bachelor #1.

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So Much For Anonymity

We moved to Utah for a variety of reasons, the biggest being employment and that Utah is where things worked out for us to live. However, we had a few other motives too. Like the fact that it would be a clean break, a fresh start, and a chance to live where no one knew who we were, who we had once been related to or what we had just been through. Having had our brush with “celebrity,” not one of us was sad to leave the paparazzi behind!

But we had a few things NOT in our favor if we wanted to be completely anonymous. (And believe me, we were all so shell-shocked, that probably would have been our preference had we had a choice!)

Our first Sunday at church, our pastor asked for some personal information so he could request our church records from our previous congregation. I hesitated to give it to him so soon, wanting to make sure the divorce was final on church records so that my former spouse’s information was not transferred with ours. Although I hadn’t planned on it, I told the pastor a little of our situation to explain why I wasn’t ready to have him transfer our records yet. Poor man. He made an innocent phone call to get my birth date, and ended up knowing a LOT more than he was probably prepared to learn!

But that impulse to tell him our story when my plan had been to keep it quiet turned out to be a blessing. Less than a week after my conversation with my new pastor, he called to tell me it was good I’d told him my story; that a member of the congregation had come to him and told him he should google the new woman from Colorado who had moved in–that she had quite a story. He said, “Thank goodness you had told me. I was able to tell them I imagined you had moved here to start over and didn’t want everyone to know your past. I asked them to not share that information with others.”

So much for anonymity in the day of internet and search engines! lol.

On the bright side, I don’t know who the person was who googled me and shared it with the pastor, I never asked, but I never heard a word about my former life from anyone. To my knowledge, they honored the pastor’s request.

And then a few weeks later, after my former spouse had been taken into custody and placed in Colorado’s Jefferson County Jail, I opened the mailbox to find three letters from him. Mailed from jail. On the outside of each envelope, stamped in large letters, were the words “Uncensored Inmate Mail!” I looked down at what I was holding in my hand and all I could do was laugh! So much for anonymity. So much for a “fresh start!”

“This has been a learning experience for me. I also thought that privacy was something we were granted in the Constitution. I have learned from this when in fact the word privacy does not appear in the Constitution.” (Bill Maher)

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You Know It’s Tough When…

You know you’ve been left with a tough lot to hoe when your good friend calls to tell you her husband has another tumor, has already had a stem cell transplant and yet, she’d still rather have her life than yours!

We laughed SO HARD over that one.

No one wanted what I had, including me! My worst fears were my reality.

My friend and I cried together, too. Few cried with me like she did. She had endured many years of trials and challenges she’d never expected; she’d had to adjust her dreams accordingly, and she felt my pain like few could. Interesting, isn’t it? That our unexpected lives have a way of helping us develop empathy and compassion in a way nothing else is able to. Although I would never wish hardship on anyone, what a blessing my friend was to me because of all she had endured and risen above.

And the best part about being with her and knowing her family challenges was that her situation made me simply grateful to be alive. To have a life to live, unexpected as it was. Because not everyone has that option.

“I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.” (Agatha Christie)

Grand indeed.

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No One Will Check On Me Anymore

I had a great circle of friends in Colorado who took me out to dinner every month during 2009, during my nightmare. They were an absolute blessing to me. Here are just a few of the reasons why.

First, we talked and laughed. I can’t tell you how much it helped me to laugh, hard, at some of the crazy and unexpected things I was going through. It was exactly what I needed. (And sometimes we just shook our heads at the events. Sometimes that is all you can do in an unexpected life.)

Second, they asked me thoughtful questions and I answered them, and in doing so, got free therapy and their wise perspectives about my situation and things I was immediately facing. They are sharp, smart, educated and “together” women and it was so helpful to get their counsel as to what they thought I should do.

Third, eating out (when I was mostly living on food storage) was a treat! Our meals were delicious–The Cheesecake Factory, Counter, Costa Vida, etc… Those nights were standout “bright spots” in my life when almost everything else I was facing at that present time, and in the future, seemed overwhelmingly dismal.

We stayed out late every time we went out, and one night, my spouse called at 10:45 p.m. to make sure I was ok.  When I arrived home, and as I climbed the stairs to my bedroom in my darkened house that night, I was struck by the realization that that was probably the last time in my life someone would worry that I wasn’t home and call to check on me and make sure that I was ok. My parents were dead. I was soon to be divorced; single and alone in the world. I was moving to a new state where no one knew me. No one would be worrying about me or calling to check on me any more.

It was such a powerful epiphany that it became almost a physical sensation to me. I dropped down on the stair where I stepped and cried. In the dark. All alone. I certainly was NOT ending up with the life I had worked toward and dreamed of! Everything was SO unexpected. There was a lot of grief in that moment. (I think that is what made that time so difficult–the absolute grief at what had transpired and the consequences that resulted. There were such extreme highs and lows–out with friends having a GREAT time, seconds later indulging in my grief in the dark on the stairs.)

But fortunately for me, I was so wrong.

It’s 13 months post the day my nightmare began, and little by little, very slowly, and thanks to so many good people in the world who have shown me empathy, compassion, and kindness I am waking from the scary dream I unexpectedly was forced to live. And you know what? I am not alone. I have friends, old and new, who check on me every week or every month or as they feel inspired to. I can’t express what that means to me. I hope I am always that kind of friend to them and others who cross my path.

This was reinforced to me as recently as earlier this week. Lately, life has been hectic and I’ve been more sporadic than I would like to have been about writing in this blog. Someone I haven’t even met (yet) emailed me through this blog to check on me! They said it had been a few days since I had written and they wanted to make sure I was ok! If they only knew my thoughts one year ago they would better understand how much their gesture touched me, made my day (and got me to make time to blog/write again!) I couldn’t help but think back to that night I felt such darkness about the fact no one would ever check on me or worry about me or wonder if I was ok again. I was so wrong!

Thanks to the good people in this world, the kindness of friends I haven’t met yet, the wonderful world of blogs and the many amazing people who don’t suppress their generous thoughts, I am not alone. People do check on me. How grateful I am for the friends I’ve connected with via this blog and for the new friends I have made that I haven’t even met yet. As it’s my first foray into blogging, I absolutely had no idea what to expect. But my experience has been miraculous.

I want each of you reading to know how much your friendship and support means to me. I am so gratified that anyone finds my story, or my perspective of life, worth reading. I am grateful for your comments and to hear what you think. I appreciate your support.

What a blessing we can be in the lives of those we reach out to.

You all have been that, to me, in mine. I thank you for that.

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” (Charlotte, “Charlotte’s Web”)

Thanks for reading, for being my friends…and for lifting up my life.

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Volumes of “Lies”

I got a fun comment and suggestion from a former Colorado neighbor (that identity alone should explain what is coming) and client of my former spouse the other day. He, along with many others, has discovered this blog and is apparently QUITE a fan! He not only takes the time to read it, he even spends time commenting.

He kindly pointed out I’ve mistakenly titled my blog. He suggested the title of this blog should be “lies, lies and more lies.” In his honor, and to give credit where credit is due, I feel compelled to blog about that.

The first thing I did when I saw it was LAUGH. I got a kick out of his suggestion not just because it is totally ridiculous (and inaccurate) but because, in a way, I could relate.

You see, I have been a pretty good journal writer most of my life. I got my first journal about age 12 and have been quite consistent over the years in recording the events of my life. In 2009, after my former spouse revealed that He had been running a ponzi scheme most of our marriage, that He was heading to prison, that everything I thought we had was gone, and that I would be left alone to raise and provide for our four children, I had to prepare to move from our home and begin a new life. Having lived in the same home for 16 years, there was a lot of work to be done. Lots of packing. And one day I got to packing the room my old journals were stored in.

As I looked at the approximately 30 volumes I’d written over the previous years of my life, I didn’t know what to do with them.  I treasured the books I’d written as a youth and college student–everything prior to my marriage to Him.  But what to do with the journals recording the life I’d led married to a criminal? As I handled each one, I wasn’t sure what to think of them anymore.

Although what I had written and recorded was life as I had known it (because I had no idea what was going on in the double life my spouse had been leading for 15 years or even that he was living a double life), in that moment, none of the history I’d recorded seemed true or real. At that time, everything was so tainted by the dishonesty and criminal behavior of one man, I felt like I was in possession of Volume 1 of Lies, Volume 2 of Lies, and so on.

What DO you do with volumes of words that don’t seem to be real anymore?

I still haven’t decided.

But I’m afraid I’m going to need a storage unit for the memories! lol. A place to hold the volumes of personal history, the wedding photos from 1989, and everything else that is not mine anymore…that I still am not sure what to do with.  The only thing I’m sure of is time.

I have time to decide.

Because,”Time heals what reason cannot.” (Seneca, Roman philosopher in the mid-1st century A.D.)

What Do You Do When The Feds Come?

Last April, one year ago, government authorities came to my home, as a result of my spouse’s crimes and ponzi scheme, and seized many of our possessions.  (To those not experienced with these kinds of things, lol, I’m talking about when they officially show up and haul everything away!)

What do you do when The Feds come?

I don’t know what other people do, but I spent the morning putting away clutter that had accumulated during our three weeks of trauma thus far so The Feds wouldn’t think we housed a criminal AND were trashy, dirty, messy people!

The U.S. Marshalls arrived in the afternoon and began packing things up and hauling them away.  My spouse wanted me to be gone, but I stood my ground and stayed.  I had done nothing wrong.  And besides, where was I going to go?

I can tell you what my neighbors did.  They all took the day off work to watch our demise.  They stood on the deck of our next door neighbor’s home, with drinks in their hands, watching our downfall while their children and grandchildren ran and played around them.  They talked, gestured, pointed, and appeared to glory in all that was our lot.

Meanwhile, reporters and camera men came and filmed the proceedings and a few of our neighbors followed them around, walked with them, and made sure they filmed all angles of our home and property.  Some of our neighbors stood, with their own cameras, and filmed my children and I coming and going as well.  Several reporters rang our doorbell; one even asked my spouse for a comment.  He declined to comment but said that He had four children and would appreciate it if the children could be left alone.  The reporter said, “I understand,” and walked away.

Despite the fact I’d worked as a journalist, I doubted my peers.  I didn’t think they could possibly understand.  But I guess they did, after all.  I never saw one report that included any photographs of my children or myself.

Later, the neighbors moved their gathering to the cul-de-sac in front of my house.  As I arrived home after running an errand and attempted to drive to my driveway, those same neighbors stood in their group, talking amongst themselves, blocking the road, unmoving, and glaring at me.

What do you do?  I laughed. (Inside.)

I laughed and joked with myself at what I like to refer to as their trust of me, my character, and my emotional stability in the face of my trauma.  Clearly they had NO CLUE how fragile I felt on the inside or they never would have stood, blocking my way, as I sat in the driver’s seat of an SUV, engine running, my foot inches away from the accelerator!

It entertained me the whole time I waited for them to finally move, and as I drove down the driveway and into my garage.

What else did we do when The Feds came?

We had my son’s birthday cake that night. (Note:  The government was sensitive to our family situation.  They intentionally scheduled the seizure of our assets for the day after my son’s birthday so that he wouldn’t have the seizure as his 16th birthday memory. However, my son got so many treats from friends who went out of their way to be kind to him on his birthday that he didn’t want his birthday cake that day. So we had it the next day–and that’s how we ended up having birthday cake the first day of the seizure.) The day The Feds came.

A friend drove my 3rd grader home from lacrosse practice that day but my son was afraid to get out of the car due to the circus of media, neighbors, and U.S. Marshalls everywhere.  I went out and brought him in to be with us.  There was a feeling in the air that even a little boy could sense and it must have engendered some defensive instinct in him because he turned to me as we walked into the house and said, “Mom, do you know what I want to say to all those people?”

I asked, “What?”

And he lifted his pinky in the air to let me know he wanted to give them a finger…or THE finger.  (I didn’t even know he knew about that yet!)

What do you do when The Feds come?

I laughed, I put my arm around him, and I encouraged him to rise above all of the filth of venomous hatred and choose the right (although a part of me certainly could relate to his desire!)

That’s what WE did when The Feds came.

Prison Humor

One day I couldn’t help myself. I researched federal prisons on the internet.

It was like a terrible car wreck off to the side of the road. I didn’t want to see it, but I had to look.  It gave me the shivers to even know someone going to prison.

I wasn’t the only one thinking about prisons.

My oldest son was too.  He came home one day to report that at school his economics teacher showed the class a prison in Georgia.  I couldn’t believe it.  What are the odds they’d be discussing prisons in economics as my son’s father was heading to one?

To my son, the Georgia prison looked like a nice hotel: glass walls with forest views, basketball courts, tennis courts, ping pong tables, and every cell had a flat screen t.v.

It was incomprehensible to me, and to my kids, that we knew someone heading to prison.

I also couldn’t believe I didn’t know where my children and I were going to live or how we were going to eat, yet He was going to have everything provided for him in prison! Never had the thought of prison sounded like a dream, but there was a tiny part of me that felt like He was getting off easier than I was.  His sentence sounded a lot less harsh than mine.

So my children and I joked about it.  (And I have to give Him credit.  He sat there and took our jokes.)

We repeated jokes like, “In prison, you get three square meals a day. At home, you cook three square meals a day and try to get your kids to eat them. In prison, if you have visitors, all you do is go to a room, sit, talk and then say good-bye when you are ready or your time is up. At home, you clean for days getting ready for your guests, cook and clean up after your guests, and hope that they will one day leave. In prison, you spend your free time writing letters or hanging out in your own space all day. At home, you get to clean your space and everyone else’s space, too, and what the heck is free time again? In prison, there are no whining children or spouses asking you to do something else for them. At home….stop me when I get to the downside of prison, will ya?”

But my oldest son made us laugh the hardest.  He detailed the prison he learned about in school to his dad and suggested He “make a reservation” for Georgia for the next several years!

I guess you had to be there. But I do know the laughter was a nice break from crying! It always is.

“With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh I should die.” (Abraham Lincoln)

I knew the feeling.  We all did.