Living Happily Ever After


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It’s funny how things turn out.

On March 18, 2009, when I discovered my husband had been running a Ponzi scheme and would be heading to prison, in that moment I thought every possibility and dream for a bright future for my children and I had been shattered. Of course, I continued to press forward and talk positively about our opportunities for the sake of my children, but deep inside sometimes I wondered how my children and I were ever going to overcome the monumental challenges we were facing.

We moved from Colorado to Utah and began a new life. There were some dark moments and hard days, especially in the beginning. Some of us seemed to struggle more than others with the adjustment. But there were also many tender mercies, small miracles and blessings. And eventually, we all realized we liked our new home and our new life. We are happy in our unexpected life. VERY happy.

This was reinforced last week. I went with my oldest to his end-of-season high school track team banquet. We enjoyed time together just the two of us. Aside from our late night chats and drives, I couldn’t remember the last time it was just he and I alone in the daylight. Note to self: spend time with oldest more often when we’re both more coherent and awake! lol. Not only was it absolutely enjoyable to be with him, it was fun for me, as his mother, to put faces to the names and stories I’ve heard the past few months.

Then came the awards portion of the evening. As it was his first track season, and his first attempt at learning the hurdles, he wasn’t expecting any awards. In fact, every time I’d tried to go to a track meet this season he had discouraged me from watching, told me he wasn’t doing very well and that this was his season to learn and I should watch him run next year. So I almost fell off my chair when my son was awarded a varsity letter in track! And then he got an All-Region Academic Excellence Award too!

As we were pulling out of the parking lot afterward, I had to ask why he’d insisted he was performing so poorly in track all season. He said, “I did. I didn’t break one school record–that was my goal!”

I said, “So you aimed for the stars and only hit the moon and THAT is why you didn’t think you did very well? THAT is why you wouldn’t let your mother watch you race?”

And as we drove home I had to shake my head at the turn of events in our life the past year. Every single aspect of our new life is going so much better than I ever expected it would. I told my son what a great experience the track banquet was, and what a great opportunity it was for him to participate on his school’s track team. He agreed. I said, “You have created a great new life here. I am so thankful and so proud of your attitude and all you’ve accomplished.”

He replied, “Yes, it has been amazing. I am so happy here. The only thing I regret is…”

Here is where I started to die inside–gut reaction of a worried mother. I braced myself to hear the disappointment and prepared myself to instantly put a positive spin on whatever his challenge was.

Instead, he finished by saying, “The only thing I regret is…that I didn’t get to go to all four years of high school here. Next year is going to be AWESOME!”

Whoa. Last summer, and even at the start of last school year, I never imagined he’d ever feel that way or that I’d ever hear him say that! I realized we have come full circle.

“There must be a positive and negative in everything in the universe in order to complete a circuit or circle, without which there would be no activity, no motion.” (John McDonald)

Equation for the unexpected life: positive + negative = progress (and eventual peace and joy!)

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The Irony of Crime

So life in Colorado continued winding down. I was packing and preparing to move my four children to Utah and begin a new life. He was wrapping up the details of His life and preparing to go to prison.

As part of that, He went to our cabin to take care of some business. As soon as He arrived at the cabin, He called me, absolutely furious and disgusted by what He had found. We had been robbed!

He ranted about the situation, listing every thing that was missing. He was so upset to have been stolen from!

All I could do was laugh.

He stopped, mid-rant, and asked why I was laughing. I said, “I’m sorry, but I think it is kind of funny! So ironic! The man who stole has been stolen from and he is angry that someone stole from HIM!”

Funny how that happened, huh?

He tried to justify His indignation, but I just didn’t feel it. Now that I knew the truth about the life He had led, I realized the cabin had been purchased and furnished with money HE stole! It wasn’t really ours and never had been.

The irony of the situation entertained me for a moment in the nightmare that had become my unexpected life. And it validated something I had heard His mother say time and again in the nearly two decades we’d been married: “What goes around comes around.”

It surely did.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

What a wonderful occasion to think of our mothers, all they have been to us, and all they have taught us.

For me, every day is a little like Mother’s Day as my mother is not living. So each day I’m reminded of something she stood for, something she taught me, or something she said or did and I pause to remember her and her teachings and example that prepared me to live an unexpected life. I can’t help but wonder how differently things could have turned out for me had my mother not prepared me as excellently as she did. My story could certainly have turned out very differently. But thanks to my mom, I’m heading toward a happy ending. I’m indebted to her.

Today I remembered many good women I am indebted to: the mother who gave me life, the mother who raised me, aunts who have been mothers to me, and good friends who have filled in the voids that periodically surface in my life as I carry on without parents and in the past year, as I’ve pressed forward very alone.

Last Mother’s Day, my life had fallen apart. Less than two months before, I’d found out my spouse had been running a ponzi scheme for most of our marriage and would be heading to prison for several years, leaving me alone to provide for and raise our four children. We were divorcing. I was entering the work force for the first time in 18 years. Many changes hitting and all at the same time. For awhile, every day was more difficult than the previous one. It took herculean effort on my part to get out of bed every day and face what had become my life. But I did it.

However, last year, good friends made it a little less of a challenge.

Friends coordinated a special Mother’s Day for me–a bright spot in an otherwise very overwhelming existence. Many friends chipped in to the effort financially on my behalf. They made the day unforgettable for me.

The day began with an unexpected delivery of homemade cinnamon rolls, a box of See’s candy, the most beautiful arrangement of two-three dozen pink roses, and a card to me from many friends. They also delivered a huge, delicious meal to us as well.

Another friend took my daughter shopping so she could purchase some things for me for Mother’s Day.

Frankly, my life was in such turmoil I didn’t give much thought to Mother’s Day 2009. I probably was just hoping to make it through another day. I was too busy to think about it. And I was too devastated to expect anything special that day.

He was still in our home, living with us, we had four children together yet He did not mention one word about the day until evening. I noticed. So did my children. He came to me after it was dark and apologized for not having money to buy me a gift but said, “Happy Mother’s Day.”

He was sorry he couldn’t buy me a present? THAT was why he couldn’t even say the words, “Happy Mother’s Day?” until the day was past? I couldn’t believe it. I told him I never had been about the money and he knew that. I told him words didn’t require any currency. I reminded him I’d asked for very few (if any) material things as gifts in the course of our entire marriage and the only gift I’d ever requested was a letter of appreciation–which doesn’t cost anything but time and effort.

He acknowledged all of that and walked away. I shook my head, again, wondering if I’d ever known the stranger who was now living in my home.

So if you want to make a mother’s day, in my opinion, take a moment and write a letter of appreciation to a mother you love or admire. I promise, you’ll add to the joy of her day, and who knows, it just might help her over an unexpected event in her own life.

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” ~Albert Schweitzer

Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers, women and friends who rekindle my spirit. How grateful I am for their influence in my life. May I follow their good example and be that to others in my own small way.

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Father’s Day

I know Mother’s Day is coming. But what I’m thinking about today is Father’s Day 2009. What a TOUGH day.

Although our family had always gone to church together that day, 2009 was a different. My spouse didn’t go to church with us anymore, and that day, my two youngest did not want to go to church without their dad. I couldn’t blame them. On top of everything else they were dealing with, how hard to be so young and see everyone else sitting by their dads when my sons knew their dad was headed to prison.

How hard would it be to get up and sing Father’s Day songs…to other dads? I felt for them. I really did. When they both complained they had sore throats (in June), I didn’t even question it. I let them stay home.

But instead of celebrating the father of my children that day, I really struggled inside toward Him. Although I didn’t express it out loud, this is how I felt and what I wrote that day, despite my goal not to hate anyone: “I could hate him for the lies He told and lived for almost two decades, for what He did to his victims, and for all He has done to what was once our family. But the hardest thing I face is not about any of that. How am I ever NOT going to hate him for what He has done to our children? This day is just a reminder to me of all that. I feel He deserves absolutely nothing.”

But what I felt and what I did were two different things.

I needed to do what was best for my children. I had to show them a good example. I had to model what I thought was the right behavior. I had to practice what I had always preached.

I had to choose NOT to hate.

I wished Him a “Happy Father’s Day” and I spent a little of the practically non-existent cash on small gifts from my two youngest children. I suggested my daughter bake a dessert her dad loved as her “gift” to Him. It was the right thing to do: for Him (his last Father’s Day for many years, probably) and surely for my children.

Prior to the day, one of my older children came to me and said, “You aren’t going to do anything for dad for Father’s Day, are you?”

I replied that I would help any of them celebrate their dad in whatever way we could think of and manage. When asked what they planned they replied, “Nothing. He deserves nothing after all he has done. And he did NOTHING for you on Mother’s Day.” (But that’s another blog post.)

I acknowledged that child’s feelings and told that child whatever they felt and whatever they decided, was the right choice and I would support them in that. But I told them for the two younger kids, helping them honor their dad was the right thing…for them.

I don’t know what the experts say about that. I certainly am not one. But my instinct was that in situations like ours, or divorce situations or any other situations the parents cause and their children have no choice in what takes place, the children HAVE to be free to feel what they feel, and to be validated in what they feel–whatever that is–and that whatever they feel is right and correct and the right choice for them.

I told my children that again and again during 2009. And I wasn’t just saying that, I believe that. But I also told them at some point, they’d have to let themselves feel everything, work through it all, heal and forgive. I told them that is the only thing I insist on: they have to forgive.

The horror in one child’s eyes, when they realized I expected them to forgive their dad at some point, was evident! But I stood by it and still do. I told them forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to be their best friend, or that you even have to spend time with them, but you have to let go of the hate. You have to overcome their wrongs against you, forgive them, and rise above the natural inclination to hold a grudge or hate.

I truly believe in forgiveness. For everyone. For everything. Because if you don’t forgive, that hatred can destroy you. And then THAT is the true tragedy. Not the terrible destruction caused by the perpetrator, not everything the perpetrator destroys, but your destruction. The destruction you allow to happen because of the choices made by someone else.

Hatred is like acid. It can do more damage to the vessel in which it is stored than to the object on which it is poured.

And in my humble opinion, that is no way to live!

THAT is why I believe in forgiveness. And why I’m doing all I can to help my children feel it toward their father and any others who wrong them. Because I want so much for them. I want them to experience all life has to offer. Life is good. Life can be beautiful–even in spite of, or maybe even because of, the hard stuff.

My children have important things to accomplish, greatness to embrace, and oak trees to become. “Today’s mighty oak tree is merely yesterday’s little nut that managed to hold its ground.”

That’s what we’re about at our house. That’s really our bottom line. We’re just a bunch of nuts trying to hold our ground through a very unexpected life!

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So Famous I Had My Own Paparazzi!

Have you ever been so famous, or perhaps infamous is a better word in the case of the Merriman family, that you had your own paparazzi?

I have.

And in case you were wondering, no, it isn’t as fabulous as it sounds.

During the events of 2009, after my spouse revealed the crimes He had committed and prepared to go to prison and as I prepared to leave the only life I’d ever known, we were blessed with our own paparazzi. Our own totally amateur and unprofessional frenzied followers, but our own paparazzi all the same.

My spouse handled it by becoming a mole. He stayed indoors, only went out at night, and kept a low profile. I don’t know that I “handled” it at all. I was simply appalled. So great was my horror of what some had degenerated to doing, I didn’t want to be like them in any way. So I continued to attempt to live my life and hold my head high as I did it. It was effort, let me tell you. To hold your head up when you’d really like, instead, to crawl under a rock!

“When you have the paparazzi hiding in the bushes outside your home, the only thing you can control is how you respond publicly.” (Portia de Rossi)

As we came and went, we’d see neighbors holding cameras, photographing us. And it seemed like every day, the government called us about something the neighbors had complained about. One day, the U.S. attorney called to ask about all of the boxes we’d been hauling out of our house. The problem? We hadn’t hauled any boxes away. But friends had hauled empty boxes to us so we could pack!

Another day, a government official called to say the neighbors had complained about me “hanging out on my porch and having fun.” They reported to the government that it looked like I was having fun and that made them mad! I could tell the government official was disgusted, and I admit, I hung up the phone and shook my head. WHO, in their right minds, would EVER look at me and be dumb enough to think I was enjoying myself? Sure, it’s a total dream come true to be hated and persecuted when you’re innocent. Yes, I LOVED to know I’d been lied to and betrayed for nearly 3/4 of my 20 year marriage. It was WONDERFUL to lose my money, home, cars, things, and life, and to lose it all so publicly. I was having the time of my life!

One day a government representative dropped by to check on things. Friends were in short supply, and he must have known it or saw the hungry desperation for a kind word in our eyes, because he generously stood in the entryway of our home and chatted for a few minutes before he left. As we talked, he got a text, checked it, gave a snort of disgust and shook his head. When I asked if everything was ok, he revealed the text. It said, “We saw you go in to the Merriman’s house and you haven’t come out yet. What is going on? Is everything all right?” I couldn’t believe it. I thought, “What? Are they going to accuse the Merriman family of murder, now, too?” It was crazy!

On July 4, 2009, instead of the usual holiday celebration, our family was forced to stay indoors to avoid the cameras, questions and complaints of neighbors. The holiday was a total bust. And of course, all my little boys wanted to do was light sparklers. Their dad absolutely forbid it due to the actions of our neighbors. Finally, at 10 p.m., it was completely dark outside and I couldn’t take it anymore. I took my children outside to light a few sparklers. After they each did about four, their dad made them stop and go back in to the house. My heart broke for innocent children who were even denied the childish pleasure of sparklers in the driveway of our home!

A few nights later, I was out front with my three year old. We were watched so closely I assumed all of the neighbors knew, but I guess they didn’t, because shortly I heard a “click-click-click” sound, looked over, and one of my non-victim neighbors was learning over the fence between our houses and photographing my car, my open garage door and all of the contents inside. I snapped. I said, “EXCUSE ME, can I help you?” He jumped about two feet in the air. Startled. And after accusing ME of stealing money from my neighbors, turned and hustled into his house as fast as he could go.

I continued to be watched like a hawk, even the day I moved from Colorado to Utah. After I arrived in Utah I found it had been circulated around the neighborhood the exact time I drove away. A friend called to let me know she heard I had driven away at 12:23 p.m. (That was right on, by the way.)


“The only thing I think I can be accused of about paparazzi is being really naive. I didn’t think about it coming along with the job and I never…fantasized about one bit of it.” (Paul Bettany)

I SO get what he’s saying.

The insanity of notoriety, for whatever reason or due to whatever cause.


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It Was Going To Take A Miracle

I believe in miracles. I believe they didn’t just take place in the Middle East centuries ago, but that we still are blessed with them today, in our time. I believe we just need to keep our eyes open and look for the tender mercies that come our way each and every day, and we’ll see them. I know I do.

Ironically, at no time in my life did I see them more than during the events of 2009. Although I lost pretty much everything I had ever known (except my children), I also have probably never felt, in some ways, more blessed than I did in 2009. Yes, my life had not just been turned upside down, it had been ripped from me. But there were positive forces at work, too.

Soon after March 18, 2009, THE DAY–the day my spouse revealed he had been running a ponzi scheme, that everything we had was lost or seized by the government, that he would be going to prison, and that I would be left alone to raise and provide for our four children, etc… I had a thought.

It was this. “If I can just find a job and a place to live, I can handle everything else.”

It sort of became my mantra.

Like “The Little Engine Who Could,” who dared to attempt what others hadn’t and who kept herself going by encouraging, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can,” I kept telling myself, “If I can just find a job and a place to live, I can handle everything else.” I repeated that over and over to myself. Maybe if I said it enough, it would turn out to be true! But I knew it would take a miracle.

Yes, I had a college degree. But I hadn’t worked full-time in approximately 18 years! Yes, I had taught piano to 32 students a week at my home studio, but I hadn’t done that for 16 years AND I needed medical insurance for my children. At that time, the economy was a disaster, people were losing their jobs, times were tight for everyone, and very qualified people with current experience were out of work. I couldn’t imagine who would hire ME in a time like 2009. Yes, it was going to take a miracle.

And, like pretty much every other good thing that has come to me and helped me get through my unexpected life, I got one.

I had a good friend who kept his eye open for jobs for me and helped me get my resume together. I had a cousin and a brother who also reviewed my resume. By the way, putting my resume together and trying to make sense of a life I’d lived for nearly 20 years and how it would translate to help me on my resume was an overwhelming challenge in the state of shock I was in. Thank goodness I had good men to help me!

And then less than one week after everything feel apart, I got a call from a friend. He said, “Andrea, I have been so worried about you. I have prayed and prayed for days about what I can do to help you. And it came to me to call someone we both know. I told him a little bit about you, I hope that’s ok, and he told me to have you call him. He has a job for you.”

I still remember where I was standing when I got that phone call. I was at a park with my three-year-old, in that cold, Rocky Mountain spring afternoon where it’s sunny and “warm,” yet an icy breeze blows. I was shivering as tears of gratitude streamed down my face. A job? Like that? It seemed too good to be true. Things like that just don’t happen in real life, unexpected or not.

I thought about calling, I was sort of afraid to call, I put it off a day or two wondering if I dared call…and then the man called me. “Didn’t so-and-so tell you to call me?” he asked. “Didn’t he tell you I have a job for you?” He even went above and beyond (because he is just that kind of a good man) to reassure a broken, shattered potential employee that he wasn’t doing her a favor. He told me he knew me, he knew what I could do, that someone with my background and training was exactly what he needed at his company, and that actually, I would be doing him a favor by coming to work for him.

Approximately one year ago today, I received my formal offer letter of employment.

I had a job. It was a miracle.

Now, if I could just find a place to live…I could handle everything else. Anything. But it was going to take a miracle too.

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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.)

Miracle Mail

I am terrible at remembering to collect my mail each day.  I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because my former spouse always got our mail, so it has been over 20 years since I’ve had to collect my mail.

But one year ago that changed. Due to my spouse’s crimes, the revelation that He had been running a ponzi scheme for 15 years, His prison sentence looming, our pending divorce, and other traumas…I took over everything–including the mail collection.

Each day, it seemed, hate mail arrived. I was shocked that we received it, and even more surprised at where it came from: total strangers, all across the U.S. It became so frequent for awhile there that one day I realized it had been one week since we had received a piece of hate mail!

An occasion to remember.

However, not all of the mail was hateful.  For the first two-three months of the nightmare, other anonymous mail arrived, the complete opposite of hate mail. I would open an envelope to find a gift card to a grocery store, Target, Costco or WalMart.  Other weeks, I would open an envelope to find some cash.  Other times it would be words of encouragement or an uplifting thought I really needed at that moment and that helped me continue on when the day had been particularly disastrous.

I called it Miracle Mail. It was such a blessing to me and to my children. It helped us survive, not just emotionally, but physically.

Thank heaven for those who “never suppress a generous thought.”

We were getting by on very little money as all of our accounts had been frozen. The cash I had I withdrawn on March 18, I had put in my wallet and then kept my wallet with me at all times. I didn’t let my spouse know where the money was because I was afraid he’d steal it! Trust was non-existent. (I guess it shows you may choose to allow a stranger to remain in your home for your children’s sake and because you feel it is the kind thing to do, but that doesn’t mean you trust Him.  At all.)

Any time my children needed lunch money, etc…I pulled a small amount of cash out of my wallet and used it.  I didn’t dare look at it, because to see the minimal amount, and to see that minimal amount dwindling, would have added even more stress to a life that was already bursting at the seams with it!

I remember getting down to the last $20, and then finally to the last $1, and wondering what we were going to do…and then an anonymous piece of mail, miracle mail, containing a gift card or cash would arrive at the very moment I needed it. There are some amazing, generous, kind, and charitable people. They literally saved us.  And of course, most of it was anonymous so I had no idea who to thank.

We also lived off food we had stored for emergencies, so although we weren’t eating our favorite things, we were able to purchase less at the store and still had food to eat. And, as with everything else, we got by with a little help from our friends.

A friend stopped by one day and unloaded a car load of food items from Costco–”fun” food, as she called it, that my children hadn’t seen in awhile like fruit snacks, crackers, Mickey Mouse-shaped chicken nuggets, cookies, etc…THAT was a highlight of the nightmare experience for my children! It was like Christmas in our kitchen!  They were thrilled to enjoy, once again, some treats they remembered from their former life.

Other friends called when they were heading to the store and asked if I needed anything.  If I didn’t need anything, they usually dropped food off anyway. Other times, they picked up what I needed and more.

And many women from my church delivered meals to us as well.  I think we had one entire month of dinners brought to our home by good women who were concerned about us and wanted us to not only have food to eat, but to feel loved. They delivered dinner every night until I finally asked them to stop–I couldn’t move my food storage and felt like we needed to use it up and provide for ourselves as much as we were able to.

Another friend brought us huge, delicious Sunday dinners EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY until we moved out of state.

True, we may have been hated by some, but we were also SO LOVED by so many.  That compassion, and Miracle Mail, got us through.

A Media Disaster

My spouse was headed to prison for running a ponzi scheme and agents of the federal government were at what had once been my home seizing our assets.

The second day of the seizure was a media disaster!

Satellite trucks, camera men, reporters hounding us, people photographing me as I came and went, people chasing me to get a photograph, media coverage in print and on television (locally and nationally), the phone ringing off the hook, and the doorbell constantly ringing as reporters looked through the windows of my home and watched me, shoved notes in the crack of the front door, and my neighbors told everything they knew in interviews.

I can’t detail all the horrors of that day. In fact, to some degree, I still can’t comprehend it all.

I felt like I was the one person involved in the nightmare who had done absolutely nothing but who had lost everything. And I had no voice.  I had been directed to not talk to anyone, including the victims. It was a shocking position to be placed in when I’d done nothing wrong and had taken no part in any crime, and forgive me, but toward the end of the second day, I snapped.

I flaunted my unwillingness to chat with the media that surrounded my home, rang my doorbell all day long, and stared through the windows at me.  It was my version of expressing my frustration, metaphorically thumbing my nose at the people reporting the destruction of everything as I’d known it in the face of my humiliation, shock and grief. Here’s what I did.

Occasionally, intentionally, I’d walk by the front door where reporters were waiting outside and looking through the glass at me…and I wouldn’t answer the door in spite of their knocks and rings!  I’d laugh (sort of, inside) as I’d hear them say, “What is she doing?  She’s in there and she’s not opening the door!  Can you believe that?”

What did they think I was, stupid?

Oh, yes.  I was married to a man accused of stealing (according to the last media reports I saw) $23 million dollars over a period of 15 years while he ran a ponzi scheme and I never had a clue. Yes, they probably did think I was lacking in intelligence.

But I showed them.

Not only did I ignore their knocks, I taped white paper over all of the glass they were looking through (as they looked through it) so they wouldn’t be able to stare through the windows at me any more.  (And of course, that also got reported. Something to the effect about “someone taping cheap, white paper over the glass in the front door.”  THAT is news?  Lets just say the media coverage of my nightmare was far below the standard of “newsworthy” I had been trained in as a journalist!)

For our safety, that night my children and I didn’t stay in our home.  Too many people, too many spotlights shining on our home and lighting up the inside of our house like it was mid-day.  And in a situation like that, no one knew if a victim would snap or a crazy person would try to steal into our home.  (The government had recommended that at least my children and I NOT stay in our home that night.) Instead, we stayed at a friend’s home and they treated us royally–with pizza, pop, salad, dessert, and normalcy away from the craziness of our home and situation. It was the most peaceful night of sleep we’d had since our nightmare began.

I’m smarter than I look.

Hey, media outlets!  Go and report THAT to the world, why don’t you?

I can see the headline now…in my dreams.

Life Is Such a Roller Coaster Ride

One of the people left in the world who has known me the longest emailed me earlier this year with encouraging words and fabulous advice that I’ve tried to follow:  Life is such a roller coaster ride…we just have to hang on, scream real loud, and enjoy the ride!

In my experience, truer words have never been spoken.

And no ride made me hang on (or want to scream) more than the ride I was on April 2009 last year. My spouse had revealed His crimes, He was headed to prison, and I found out I would be left alone to provide for and raise our four children. My roller coaster car was rolling away from the gate and the ride of my life had begun!

Things seemed very black a lot of the time, yet the crazy optimist in me refused to give in to it and I tried to find the light in every thing that I could.  It was SUCH a roller coaster I can’t describe it. I was worried about providing for my family, finding a place for us to live, beginning a new life in every sense of the word, and I did it all amid negative publicity about my spouse for His ponzi scheme crime and the public collapse of my life and marriage. Yes, there were ups and downs!

One huge roller coaster was the financial aspect of things.  It was pretty bleak.

The day my spouse told me of His crimes, He had already turned himself in to the authorities and all of our assets had been frozen. I had no money.  I had four children to feed and shelter and I didn’t know how I was going to do it. That was a low.

The government authorities catalogued items for seizure and told me they were not interested in my jewelry.  I rejoiced!  That was a high!  I admit, I love things that sparkle; I always have.  And although I’d never asked for jewelry, my spouse had given me a few pieces as gifts over the years. I loaned them to friends as often as I wore them, and although I didn’t plan on ever wearing my jewelry again, I realized I could sell my jewelry for cash and use it to help support my children and rebuild my life.

Then my roller coaster car took one of those sharp, unexpected turns–the kind you hit just when you think your ride is about over–and started racing downhill again!  The government investigators returned to my home.  They apologized.  They said they knew they told me they weren’t interested in my jewelry and had told me I could remove it from my home but…did I have any diamond necklaces or tennis bracelets?

That day was a low.  That day I discovered my friends, who had worn my jewelry and knew everything I had, were providing lists of my possessions to the government, hounding them to take it,  and the government had to comply.  That day I wrote, “Sometimes I don’t know how I’ll go on.  I work so hard to think, ‘I’ll start over and make a new life,’ I make a plan to do that, and then every little thing the government tries to leave for me, my ‘friends’ make sure it gets taken away.  It’s not for me that I want anything.  It’s for my kids. I just need to provide for them. I want, I want, I want! There is so much I want. So many injustices I’m being dealt and there will never be any restitution to me for any of it.  I am the one victim who is not on the victim’s restitution list.  I am THE ONE who will just have to let go of it, forgive, and go on.”

The government asked me to give them a list of the jewelry I owned, which I did.  And they called, amazed, that I had admitted to MORE than they knew I had!  That was a high for me.  I continued to value my character and integrity above all.

Then I met with bankruptcy attorneys.  They were appalled at how, in their words, “completely bereft” a position I had been placed.  I don’t think they’d seen anyone left in my position, to start over with four kids to the extent that I had been.  That was a low.

That day I returned home feeling very alone, and when I arrived home my daughter said, “Mom.  It’s April Fool’s Day!” The irony completely got me, and must have shown in my face, because my daughter said, “What?  What’s wrong, Mom?”  I just smiled and said, “Nothing.  I’m fine.  I’m great.”  It was becoming my answer to everything.

There were many other financial highs and lows that followed and I eventually learned not to get too worked up in either direction, to wait and see how everything played out to avoid getting devastated time and again.  Sometimes roller coasters can be a bit much, too many highs and lows.

So I rode the roller coaster.  And I hung on.  I don’t recall that I ever screamed but I cried. And although I wasn’t overly successful at enjoying the ride, I had two goals for myself as I rode:  To not hate anyone.  And to be cheerful, happy, and optimistic.  I didn’t want to be anyone’s “downer.”