Sunday, October 21, 2018

Good people will show you the way out of Hell...

I've been meaning to write this post for a couple of weeks now.  It's about a topic Bill and I have been discussing, regarding his younger daughter who now speaks to him after many years of silence.

Last weekend, while we were in Wiesbaden enjoying a nice Italian meal, we started talking about Bill's younger daughter.  Bill recently decided to open a 529 college fund for his grandson, who recently turned one year old.  He hasn't seen his daughter in person since 2004, and she was extremely alienated until 2017.  But now they talk somewhat regularly on Skype and they email.  Bill missed out on being able to help his children when they were in college; consequently, it's been more of a struggle for them than it needed to be.

Bill's ex wife has a way of punishing the people in her life when they don't conform to her whims.  Younger daughter decided to go out west for college.  Ex did what she could to make her pay for that choice.  She refused to help her daughter out financially, and the young lady had to turn to her church for assistance.  I don't like Mormonism at all, but I am very grateful to the good people in the LDS church who helped Catherine escape her mother's clutches when Bill and I couldn't.  It was because of church people that Catherine managed to get out on her own, which was what she really needed to do.

I predicted a long time ago that Catherine would be one who wouldn't stick around and tolerate her mother's abuse.  I only met her once, but it wasn't hard to see that she has a mind of her own and is very strong willed.  Sure enough, she told Bill that she couldn't tolerate being at home beyond age 18.  She went to Provo with nothing but the clothes on her back.  It was much the same way for Bill when he returned to full time active duty with the Army.  He decided to come back in after a four year break.  Ex didn't support his decision to reclaim a good job with benefits and better pay, so he wound up in a very cheap apartment with the barest minimum of provisions.  She let him go with nothing more than the clothes on his back.  He was still living that way two years later, when we met in person for the first time.

For so long, I have been extremely angry at Bill's daughters.  On one level, I understood why they were so alienated and hateful.  They were fed a lot of lies and were misled by fractured facts.  On another level, I did not understand how they could be so hateful to Bill, who is truly a wonderful man who simply couldn't stand living with his ex wife anymore.  What's more, she divorced him-- he didn't divorce her.  And then she punished him for his decision.  I saw the children as weapons she used to hurt him and other people, and I resented her for it.  I also resented the children, as much as I tried to tell myself they couldn't help themselves.  I expected them to be smarter.

Since Bill has been talking to his daughter, I think she's been learning a lot of truths.  I wonder how it must feel for her to know that this very kind, generous, above board man was kept away from her and her sister for so many years.  Although my instincts for so long were to be cold and resistant, I've come to realize that the best thing to do is be kind to Bill's daughters and show them empathy.

I haven't spoken to Catherine yet.  If I do, I will be upfront with her and tell her that for a very long time, I was beyond pissed off at her and her sister.  I will also tell her that I felt very justified in feeling the way I did.  It was based on their behavior and what I knew at the time.  However, I also realize that her mother has a very nasty way of triangulating people.  She acts as a conduit to information and diverts the truth until it looks different than it is.  Consequently, people become divided based on faulty information filtered through Bill's ex wife.  Once the people involved share notes, the truth becomes obvious.

Bill is a naturally good, kind person.  He loves his daughters and always has, so it's not a problem for him to offer his grandson a college fund, especially now that he can easily afford it.  He would have happily helped his daughters more if they had been in contact with him and treated him with the most basic level of respect.  As it is now, Catherine is seeing what she missed out on... and that is going to be very damaging to her relationship with her mother.  From what I understand, that relationship is already a bit sour.  Ex expects total devotion and loyalty, but she won't reciprocate.  Other people are mere objects or extensions of her.  When they don't perform properly, she casts them out and expects everyone else in her sphere to do the same.  She's already gotten Catherine's sisters to harass her for leaving the nest and living her own life outside of Ex's control.

Last night, as we were enjoying a very beautiful five star meal at Stuttgart's Airport (seriously), I once again remarked how much cheaper I am compared to Ex.  Yes, it's true that my husband paid for most of my student loans.  It's true that I contribute little to the money flow.  However, with me, Bill is free to do what he does best.  He has a job that he does well and enjoys and lives in a country he loves.  He's rewarded with a good salary, some of which I invest.  We are now essentially debt free.  When Bill lived with his ex wife, he shopped for clothes at garage sales, ate meals prepared out of boxes, and experienced both bankruptcy and foreclosure.  He lived in a money pit house he couldn't afford in a town where he couldn't find adequate work.  His ex wife spent any surplus money on Disney plates, Swiss Colony snacks, depression glass, medical bills, and trips to the nearest LDS temple.  She would forego paying the mortgage or the credit card bills for these things.

Bill said that when he was married to his first wife, he was frequently left with a few dollars in the checking account before each new paycheck.  Ex insisted on handling the finances and she was not good at the job.  Confronting her would lead to a massive meltdown, so he went along with it.  I know Bill very well, though, and I know that having these debts weighed heavily on him.  He enjoys fine experiences, but not at the cost of being broke.  Ex had the attitude that she had to have everything right away.  I was willing to take time to build up to the sweet life.  For now, we're able to enjoy it with little problem and we have enough leftover to help Bill's grandson have a better life.

I share this story, not because I want to gloat.  I share it because I know there are other people out there who are in the situation we were once in, years ago.  When I met Bill, we were both broke.  He had horrible credit cards with extremely high annual percentage rates.  I remember being horrified that one card charged over 20% interest on purchases.  I suppose he was lucky he even qualified, given his financial challenges of before.  Bill now has an excellent credit rating that is almost as high as mine is, and I've never missed a bill.

I write this story to show that if you stay with someone who drags you down and convinces you that you're nothing, you can't move on to a better life.  Abusive people are like dead weight.  You can't flourish when you're stuck with them.  They will not think twice about ruining your quality of life.

I promise that if Bill had stayed with his ex wife, he'd probably still be struggling financially.  He'd also be constantly browbeaten and told what a loser he is.  He would definitely not be making a six figure salary and, even if he were, he would not have the freedom to spend it on things he cares about, like education for his grandson or a wonderful gourmet meal.  Bill didn't have to help me with my loans, but that's the kind of man he is.  I will do my best to make sure the rest of his life is as comfortable as it can be.

The prettiest dish from last night.  Hard to believe it's goose liver.

Last night, I watched Bill's face light up as he enjoyed exotic flavors and beautiful, aesthetic presentations of high quality food.  He would not be able to have that experience in his first marriage because not only would he not have been able to afford it, his ex wife would not have wanted to go to such a place.  She's uncomfortable in fine dining environments.  Not being comfortable in fine restaurants is not what makes the Ex a bad person, though.  What makes her a bad person is that she would deny her husband the chance to enjoy what he loves.  What makes her a worse person is that after the relationship breaks up, she would do her best to destroy her ex husband's happiness for the rest of his life, even at the detriment of her own children's well-being and happiness.

Catherine is now seeing that her mother is a liar who cares only about her own interests.  If she's smart, she won't fall back into her mother's cesspool of bullshit.  She will let good people help her and leave that shit behind, where it belongs.  Catherine can have a great life... so can her siblings.  They just have to find and trust people who can and are willing to help them.  And there are so many out there who will.  That includes Bill and me.  The only price to be paid is basic respect and decency.  We don't ask for any other currency or loyalty.  That's what makes us better than Ex.  I have a feeling that Catherine will soon learn that.  It might make her angry at first, but then I hope she'll realize what she now has in her life again and she won't squander it anymore.

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