Okay, a slight exaggeration. But I’m going to do something now that you rarely see me doing on these pages: I’m going to air a little dirty laundry. I’m not going to make a habit of it, but this has been a long time coming, and it will be a relief to write about it publicly and be done with it. I won’t use any names, only relationships, I won’t provide any links or addresses, and I will try to be as general as possible. This isn’t a vendetta; it’s merely getting something off of my chest that has been burdening me—and us—for about five years now. Sit back and relax, because this is going to be a long entry.
Some of you have noticed the countdown clock on the upper right of this blog. (It has served its purpose, so I’ll be removing it soon.) I titled it “free of negativity.” This was the date which signalled the end of our financial commitment to Ken’s kids from his previous marriage, but it signified much more than that. I want to make it very clear that any strife and discord was never about paying support. NEVER. Ken never missed a payment, even shortly after the divorce when he was in pretty dire financial straits. More on that in a moment.
Only a handful of you know about any of this, and I don’t believe any of you know the full extent of it. It was assumed that I told anyone and everyone in the blogosphere about all of this, in detail, but that is simply not true. I never sicced anyone on Ken’s ex or asked them to leave comments on her blog, and I believe the one and only comment Ken ever left on her blog was to tell her to stop harassing us on our OWN blogs. We had several nasty comments from her, her mother, and her sister. (Remember the epic Anonymous battle about my being pro-choice? That was the sister.)
As far as we can tell, her anger with us started in the spring of 2007. Up until then, over a period of six years, we had all maintained a decent relationship based upon the best interests of the two kids. I listened and sympathized and tried to be supportive when she was going through a divorce (the third one), and this was not a pretense. Ken was fine with this, but merely cautioned me to “be careful,” because there is a history of intense friendships and equally intense blow-ups and break-ups. He was so right. The point of no return seemed to be when our friends Kim and Steve decided to come out from California to spend a week with us. Kim and Steve were close friends with Ken and his ex when they lived in California, and after a brief hiatus in the friendship, Ken resumed it shortly after we met; we’ve since continued and expanded our friendship. Despite the miles between us, we truly enjoy their company and try to see them as often as possible, even spending a vacation with them every couple of years.
Anyway, the friendship between Kim and Steve and the ex ended quite a few years ago. Although they didn’t go into a lot of detail, there were several incidents that made them decide to pull away from the friendship. When she called Kim and Steve, she began hanging up if Kim answered; she told Steve he was her “soulmate,” and at one point called him and told him she was in the tub drinking wine. (Steve said, “The only woman I want calling me naked from a tub is my wife!”) She eventually sent them a long email about her gripes about the friendship and against Kim (and then blamed it on her third husband, who she said hacked her account...but that doesn’t explain why she then called and apologized for sending the email, saying that she did not mean to send it). When she found out that Kim and Steve were coming to visit, she said that she didn’t want the kids seeing them (they are the kids’ godparents, by the way). I spent an hour on the phone with her as she cried about the loss of the friendship and about how much she’d love to see them. I asked if she wanted me to mention it to Kim and Steve, and she said, “Yes,” and that although she didn’t want the kids coming here for the weekend to see them, she would be okay if they were to drive over and meet at the halfway point (which was our arrangement to pick up the kids at that time). She went on to say that she’s changed, and that if she were the person she is now, her and Ken would still be married.
Well, I was a little taken aback by that, as you can imagine! But I discussed it with Ken, we agreed that we would present Kim and Steve with her wishes, but would say that it was entirely up to them. We would not be upset with them one way or another, whatever they decided, and if they wanted to reconnect with her, we were cool with that. They discussed it, and told us that they had decided to not renew the friendship. I believe their remarks were something to the effect of “The fact that she is trying to use the kids to blackmail us into seeing her tells us that she hasn’t changed at all.” That they decided not to contact her seemed to upset her very much, and things really started to go downhill at that point. Another thing that seemed to upset her was that that summer, we took the kids on a two-week vacation: a week in Florida followed by a week on a cruise, something we’d all been saving up for for several years (we’d asked the kids to save, too, and they contributed $250 to the cause, using the money we gave them for doing chores). I know...it’s pretty awful of us to subject the kids to something like that!
That fall, we got a court notice from her that she was looking to increase the child support. We had no problem with that; although the amount Ken had been paying up until then was commensurate with his salary right after the divorce, his salary had gone up since then. Then we got a second notice that she was filing a motion to get almost $150,000 in back support, and if Ken didn’t pay it, he could be thrown in jail for up to six months.
THAT we had a problem with! I’ll talk some specifics here. The divorce decree stated that Ken would pay $3200 per month for family maintenance, which would terminate upon her remarriage. That happened two months after the divorce was final, and Ken and the ex made a mutual agreement that he would pay $1600 per month going forward (which he did faithfully). She was saying that he unilaterally agreed to drop the payments to $1600, so she was entitled to get the rest of that in a lump payment as back child support. The judge considered this for all of five seconds and said, “Nope.” The ex’s lawyer tried to argue, but the judge again said, “NO.” The child support was increased to an amount in line with Ken’s salary at the time, and again, we had no problem with that. The problem we had was that she would try to get money that she was not entitled to under the decree, and that she would actually attempt to put Ken in jail if she didn’t get it. Seriously??
As I wrote, Ken never missed a payment, and the $1600 was in line with his salary at the time. He also paid many additional expenses, including new glasses, new clothes, fees for extracurricular activities and field trips, and we took them on vacation every other year, with additional small vacations close to home in the off years. Ken was portrayed as a “deadbeat dad,” but I beg to differ. He was about as far from a deadbeat dad as a dad can be!
I was told that in my writings here in which I alluded to various aspects of this, although again with no specifics, I was being “mean and unfair.” Let’s talk about “mean and unfair” for a moment, okay? Just as Ken and I have been writing our blogs for several years now, the ex and her fourth husband also had blogs. We’ve also gotten emails and seen a few other snippets of information here and there. Here is a sampling:
- As I mentioned above, Ken was called a deadbeat dad and accused of abandoning them all. He was the one who left, but he wasn’t the one who filed for divorce. He never missed a child support payment, and he paid at least $1600 per month and eventually $2100 per month. There was also a percentage of bonuses paid, often to the tune of $6000 per year. He paid additional costs for other expenses before the increase in child support, and that was not insignificant. We have been accused of “hiding money,” but if we have a hidden bank account, I’d sure like to know about it! Financial disclosure statements shows that only a few hundred dollars of the child support was going directly to the kids. The rest was going towards bills.
- It was said that the kids’ toys had to be sold in order to put food on the table. We heard otherwise...that they were sold to finance a trip to England to meet up with an online “friend.” And if you can’t put food on the table when you’re getting $3200 per month, you’re doing something wrong.
- The ex has written that we are both compulsive liars and that we have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Never mind the fact that several years ago, I took the MMPI (a comprehensive psychological evaluation test) when I was going through some counseling, and I have no such thing. The psychologist told me, “Other than a slight tendency towards addiction [no surprise there...I smoked for 20+ years], you’re perfectly fine.” I also dated a guy in Indianapolis for five years who was diagnosed with NPD, and believe me...Ken is NOTHING like him! Ken works in nuclear, and so he had to take the MMPI, as well. He also got nothing saying that he has NPD. So let’s just put that silliness to bed, shall we?
- We have been called “scumbags” and told to “go feed the squirrels, asshole.”
- Because I have never had children, I have been called selfish and barren. Yes, barren. What is this, Old Testament times? Although I have never talked about why I didn’t have children (it was mostly just a matter of timing), it’s astonishing to be called a “barren wife.”
- I have also been called a “Stepford Wife,” but then accused of influencing Ken like some sort of Jezebel.
- We got numerous emails from the ex threatening legal action. Everything from “if you don’t send your tax return within 7 days, I’m contacting my lawyer” to threatening a “slander” lawsuit (I think the word she wanted was “libel”) for what we wrote on our blogs.
- Ken has received emails signed “Wifey No. 1” and telling me to “stay my place” and stay out of it. Sorry, but if you file a motion to get $150,000 from me and my husband, and if you don’t get it, you want him to go to jail, I AM INVOLVED.
- I have been called Ken’s “whore wife,” a malicious bitch, and a passive-aggressive cunt. Ken has been called an asshole and a fuckhead.
- It was suggested that when the kids were present, I walked around here in short shorts and no underwear. That’s just damned creepy. My “minimal mammary glands” were also mentioned, as in they were “hanging out of” my shirt. Not sure how minimal mammary glands can do that, but whatever.
- It was said that we really didn’t want the kids “fucking up” our lives.
- My profession (and all of my friends who share it) was dismissed as my being a “bench chemist.” I don’t even know what the hell a “bench chemist” IS, but that is an insult to all of us who have worked hard in the laboratory to provide quality results to every patient. I did three years of college courses in what was essentially a pre-med program, followed by a full 12-month internship in all areas of the clinical laboratory, including yes, Chemistry, Hematology, Blood Bank, Immunology, several other areas, and what I would eventually focus on, Microbiology. I take pride in what I learned throughout my career, and I take pride in the fact that I did my best to care for every patient. “Bench chemist,” my ass.
- It has been said that all I care about is “books, beer, and football.” Yes. Everyone who reads this knows that I care nothing about anything more than those three things.
- We were accused of forcing the kids to do housework and yard work. Any tasks we asked of them were not strenuous, and were a chance for them to earn some money while they were here. We eventually stopped asking and we never forced them to do anything.
- We were accused of “abandoning” them and never wanting to come to any of their events or football games or competitions. After the cruise, both Ken and I sent numerous emails to try and keep in touch. I would have to send reminders for Ken’s birthday and for Father’s Day. Ken called often and usually had to leave a message; the calls were never returned. On occasion, he would talk to the ex and ask for the kids. She’d say, “They’re not here” and would hang up. He sent many emails asking about when he could come down for a game, and would get “We’ve got an away game this week, and I don’t know my schedule beyond that.” When in Columbus on a business trip, he tried to get over to see them, and was told “They have previous commitments and won’t be able to see you.” One of the last times he went to see them, one kid decided that they didn’t want to see him...but now we get “You never came to see me.” We have evidence of the ex signing on and posting as both kids, so we wonder if they got all of those emails, or if they were deleted and they never saw them.
- Ken got angry letters from both kids saying that they didn’t want him in their lives.
- We were told that the kids decided to change their emails, and we were never provided with new email addresses in order to contact them. However, on the ONE occasion when we DID check their email accounts (which were on our main AOL account), as we were deleting them for lack of use, we saw emails from the ex to the kids stating that they were no longer to use those email accounts, and that new ones were being provided for them.
- When discussing things with the ex in the driveway of their home, she tried to pick a fight with Ken, and when he decided to not listen to it and drove off, she stood in the driveway, flipped him the double bird, and yelled, “Fuck you, Ken! Just fuck you!” Stay classy!
- It seems that she contacted my ex-husband...the one I divorced over 20 years ago. To find out what? That in my twenties I was a party girl? I wonder if he told her about how he slept with someone else a month after we got married, when he went to Texas for officer’s training school, while I stayed with my parents? I’m guessing that Mr. Born-Again didn’t mention that part!
- The ex called my parents “pseudo grandparents” and wrote that they should not contact the children anymore, that she didn’t know them and didn’t want them disturbing her home. When I attempted contact with the kids to let them know that my Dad had died, she wrote that the kids don’t care, that my Dad didn’t love them or care anything about them. That was probably one of the more vile things she ever wrote, and it was completely untrue. My entire family took them in as their own, and I have a very kind, loving, and generous family.
I guess that’s enough. You get the idea. It has been five years of incredible nastiness, a vile litany of hatred and bitterness. But I’m the “mean and unfair” one. I have heard from fellow bloggers and friends that she contacted them and sent long emails full of rants against me. One friend said that he had to quit reading her because she was nothing but bitter and boring.
Oddly enough, she seems to hate ME more than she hates Ken. The only thing we can figure is that there was some sort of hope there that they would eventually reconcile, and as long as I’m around, that won’t happen. Well, I’m guessing that even if I were out of the equation, that wouldn’t happen!
There is certainly one thing that we both regret: not pursuing visitation more aggressively when all of this started going down. We had gone down to one visit per month instead of two, then the decision was made by the ex to stop meeting us halfway. This meant a 10-hour round trip on Friday evening and Sunday. We did this a couple of times, which was a two-night hotel stay and spending the day with the kids on Saturday, mid-morning to early evening. That was it. Based on their school activities, on the level of conflict they seemed to be experiencing about all of this, and on the total cutoff of communication, Ken made the decision to step back and let them do their high school thing without conflict. I supported him on that. It was a mistake on both our parts, because it allowed the propaganda machine to kick in. If we had forced the issue and gone back to court, I believe things might have worked out differently. The decisions made were primarily about trying to remove conflict and stress from the kids’ lives. We are both sorry that the anger we’re seeing was the result of that decision. That being said, phones work both ways, as do emails. After several months of a complete cutoff of communication, you kind of get the message that someone doesn’t want to talk to you...at least that’s the conclusion we came to!
They are both adults now, and if they ever decide to make contact again, our address, our phone number, and our email addresses are the same. Those never changed. We’ve always been here, and have always been open to communication. Even if they don’t want any communication with me, that doesn’t mean that they can’t contact their Dad. We would both welcome that.
However, if I never have to deal with that particular ex again, I will be eternally grateful. I have never experienced such an angry and nasty personality, or anyone who was so willing to let her anger and bitterness get in the way of her own kids’ well-being. Situations were distorted and history was revised; Ken and I have both been portrayed as some sort of monsters. It’s astonishing to see yourself painted as a manipulative, controlling woman, when that couldn’t be further from the truth. On other occasions, KEN was the one portrayed as manipulative and controlling. So I guess we’re manipulating and controlling each other...? It makes no sense.
So that is our tale. There may be further developments in the future, but I hope it doesn’t involve any interaction with this person. It’s been a rough and stressful few years as we’ve tried to deal with some of this stuff. I’m happy to say that we never turned on each other because of it, which was some advice that my Dad gave us. “Don’t let this come between you.” I never forgot that, and we never let it happen. Now we can move ahead with our plans, as we get closer to being retired together. Good advice, Dad, and I’m proud that we took it to heart.
Thank you for reading and letting me get this off of my chest.
Now...onto the next adventure!