Rebuilding Your Life After Divorce: Freedom Costs a Lot

Everything you thought you had has gone up in flames.

This was actually going to be a post about the rapidly approaching likelihood of insolvency. Insolvency is also known as going bankrupt or ‘going bust.’ But as I stood in the kitchen thinking of how I’d gotten to this stage, I remembered what started the whole shooting match.

It was while having this internal dialogue with myself that I remembered that, despite my current predicament, credit cards have always been good to me. I’ve worked hard all my adult life to get a good credit rating. Credit has allowed me to do and own many things.

My first house, cars, furniture, and when money got very tight, eat. I’ve used them to pay bills so my family didn’t freeze to death in the winter or starve in the summer. I felt like these ‘magical’ cards had saved me more than once from my family getting thrown out into the streets.

I was satisfied that I ran the cards. They did not run me.

Then the late summer of 2010. Things had been ‘over’ for a very long time. I won’t go into the reasons or who might or might not be to blame. The bottom line was simple. We were through.

After one night of staying in the house my ex-wife and I shared together, she stayed God knows where and my daughter stayed with a friend, I packed a couple of bags and left.

Do you have any room? I’ve run away from home.

I went to the closest hotel near my old home. I went into the reception area and asked if they had any vacancies. The lady looked doubtful and  began to check her computer. They did have one room left and unfortunately it would only be for one night.

She smiled at me and asked, “Is your visit for business or pleasure?”

“Neither,” I replied. “I’ve just run away from home and I have no place to stay.”

The reception lady smiled again and said, “Let me see if I can get you some rooms for tomorrow on, then.”

Despite her best efforts, the town I lived in and it’s surrounding area did not have one spare room open. Not in that particular branch anyway. I went into my room and took advantage of the internet service and immediately started my search for a place to live.

What followed was a whirlwind of a week that involved work, looking for and finding hotels that had vacancies and moving from one hotel to the next. My daughter joined me and we shared rooms for just over two weeks. We stayed in some very nice places and some not so nice places. Regardless of the nice factor of the hotel rooms, they all had one thing in common. They were expensive.

I never learned why the hotels in my area were so full those two weeks in September of 2010. There really is nothing of consequence for folks to flock here to see. I’m still baffled by the whole thing.

I took the credit cards with me as my soon-to-be-ex-wife had money at her disposal, I did not. I told her that I would take responsibility for the money already owed on the cards. My first big mistake. The money owed was soon joined by the costs of hotel rooms, food, petrol and replacing things I no longer had access to. On top of that, the internet that was so vital for my search of a more permanent place to stay was quite expensive.

Someone was definitely looking out for me and my daughter though. Because I found a flat to live in about the midway point of my fleeing my previous life. So after two weeks I had my first new home.

Please don’t watch the video all the way through, I only put it up because I couldn’t find a picture of my first new home.

While I was working, finding a flat, moving and trying to ‘carry on regardless’ I found myself going through the motions in a sort of fugue state. Above everything else, I had to be there for our daughter who was still attending university and needed to move again.

The items I needed all came out of the credit cards. Cash for my deposit and the first and last month’s rent. The eight new tyres that I needed to replace because the ‘flat fairy’ visited me often that first year. Paying for items I needed replaced because, apart from the electric items, my clothes, books, dvds, and some files, the only other thing I left with was the existing debt on the cards.

Credit cards also paid for my divorce, easily the least expensive thing I had to purchase that year.

I further added to my scarily increasing mountain of debt by going back to America for the first time in 21 years. My daughter and I both needed the break and there were family members that she had never met. Plus the last time that we were there she was all of nine months old and didn’t remember the family she had met.

Eating a childhood favourite, shaved ice aka ‘the snow cone.’ En-route to my parent’s farm.

The added allure of ‘going home‘ included seeing my son, who I had not seen since 1996 and this was the first chance he had to meet his sister.

Of course while we were there the cards took a further hammering. Motel rooms, Silver Dollar City, and Dallas helped to increase my debt.

Everything spent was worth it. For the first time ever, I had both of my ‘kid’s’ together and it was, sadly, very brief but so satisfying. We came back home and settled back into our new life.

The flat which was so comfy for one person, started getting claustrophobic for two. A mate at work mentioned a house that was for rent and we took it. More expense for the card as I had to use them to make another deposit.

But we now had a garden (that’s yard if you’re from the other side of the pond) and more importantly room!

Our new gardens first snow.

While all this was going on, my daughter and I continued our ‘normal’ life. Work and living. We both still are a little shell shocked by the divorce. We are also trying to come to grips with a few mental and personal issues.

We both suffer from trust issues. We’re both also trying to find out who we are again. It seems that in the shuffle we’ve lost a bit of ourselves.

I don’t know if we’ll ever find all of what we’ve lost or misplaced. But apart from the ups and downs of everyday life, we are still looking.

You can rebuild your life after having 25 years of your life suddenly changed forever and gone in the blink of an eye.

I will say the the journey of self discovery is not over yet. For me or my daughter. The journey so far has been painful, sad, unfocused and sometimes fun.

I stayed in a situation that was miserable for all concerned for far too long. Mainly because of money. I didn’t think it was financially affordable to leave a bad relationship. I now know that you can do it. It has for me been costly, too costly for right now. But I’ll hang in there and get hold of the right people to help me out of the mess I’ve inadvertently gotten myself into.

It seems I was right about it not being financially possible. I did find out though that it’s not about the money or the debt you find yourself trying to manage. It’s not even about the money mess that you wind up in. It’s about escaping and finding your freedom and you. And of course about straightening up the debt.

So, until I  get out of this mess, I’ll continue rebuilding. And along the way I’ll find out new and forgotten things about myself. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some discovering to do.

To infinity and beyond!

Reborn on the Fourth of July

RAF Mildenhall
RAF Mildenhall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The USAF sent me to the United Kingdom in 1982. It was not problem, I had volunteered to go. My first marriage had died a pretty messy death and the airbase I was at held too many harsh memories. My unit commander had suggested I put in a transfer request. He said that he happened to know there was still a place or two left open in England.

Alamogordo Air Force Base in New Mexico was my first assignment in the Air Force. I had just changed jobs and my new commander was a “re-tread” an officer who had been promoted from the enlisted ranks. He was one hell of a guy.

He had been stationed at RAF Mildenhall years before and had loved it. His idea was to get me away from the memories that were making my life a misery. I put in for a transfer and got it. We were a small career field  so it was a bit easier to get ‘choice’ assignments.

I drove my immediate superior’s car to Dover AFB. She was being reassigned to Germany and wanted to ship her car. On my way I stopped by and visited with my son, my parents and the rest of my family. Sad, bitter thoughts kept me from enjoying anyone’s company too much and I was anxious to “get going” and start forgetting.

I flew into England via the “Freedom Bird.” The Freedom Bird was usually a stretched commercial aircraft, stretched meant that it had moved the seats closer together so they could fit more military personnel on the flights. It was cramped and uncomfortable. This commercial aircraft was dubbed the Freedom Bird because it, or another one like it, would be the aircraft that would take us back to the USA when our assignment was over.

The minute my feet hit the tarmac in England I fell in love. Instinctively I felt that I this was the place I had always been looking for. I had conflicting emotions running through my head. I was excited, relieved, expectant, and sad all at the same time.

I was also jet lagged.

England was a welcome change for me. I got the chance to ‘live’ my life again. After a few years I fell in love with a girl from Cambridge. We tied the knot and we moved to The Netherlands for four and a half years. While we were there she gave birth to our beautiful daughter. And we made plans to move back to England when our stint in Holland was over.

Then I got out of the Air Force in 1993 (under the downsizing drill in 1992) and made England my home. I became a British citizen and my visits home had to stop due to lack of funds.

Fast forward to 2011. My second marriage was over. Thankfully for different reasons than my first one, I’d learned that much at least, but it lasted a lot longer than my first marriage. The first thing I knew I had to do was to go home and visit.

My daughter and I flew over for a two week ‘rest period’ and as luck would have it, we would be in the USA over the Fourth of July.

English: Downtown Miami on July 4, 2007
English: Downtown Miami on July 4, 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We spent the holiday at my brother’s house with his family. He went all out for my daughter’s first 4th of July in America. She saw her first baseball game and saw her first firework display at the ripe old age of 21. She fell in love with ‘live’ baseball and America. She will be coming back to live and work there.

She also saw her first Rodeo and got to see a lot of the places I’d lived and visited when I was a whole world younger. She also got to visit family she’d either never met before or she’d only met when she was too little to really remember.

Something else happened on that flight home. Something important.

It started on the flight over. I sat (watching one of the in-flight movies) and my eyes started watering and I got a lump in my throat. I was going home. I hadn’t been there since 1990. It was a little overwhelming. The culmination of this feeling came on the 4th itself.

As we sat watching the brilliant firework display put on by the town of Coppell, Texas tears ran down my face as I ‘taped’ the colourful explosions. I suddenly remembered that I was an American.

It was like being reborn.

I had spent so many years ‘overseas’ that I had forgotten what I was, where I was from, and who I was deep down. I had begun to think of myself as a citizen to of world and of course I was an British citizen as well.  I think that visit helped both my daughter and me a great deal.

We still live and work  in England but life has changed. We both discovered our ‘roots’ last year. My daughter for the first time and I got back in touch with mine. So while I’m setting here writing this, I am reliving last years 4th of July celebrations. The smell of the popcorn and other delicious foods at the ballgame and the sounds and smells of the fireworks.

So even though I was born in September, I was reborn on the 4th of July.

English: A chocolate cake during the 4th of July
English: A chocolate cake during the 4th of July (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Katie Holmes Getting Away From Cruise Control

English: Cropped image of Tom Cruise and Katie...

Is it really a surprise that Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise have split? This May December romance seemed doomed from the start. What’s really surprising is that they lasted five years. It also seems to be following a sort of formula. One that says, the younger the wife, the quicker the split.

We can all remember Tom Cruise on the Oprah show, jumping up and down in adolescent-like glee and shouting to the world that he was in love! All done while he happily showed off the new braces on his teeth. But I honestly don’t believe the split was caused by Tom’s regression into a second childhood. I think the answer may lie somewhere between the Church of Scientology and Katie’s age.

Now it is a well known secret that the Church of Scientology has a congregation whose yearly income could place them firmly in the Forbes listing of  top earners of the world. They are also more well known for being a little…odd. I can’t speculate on either of those two ‘secrets’ but I do know that there have been reports of Katie being followed by mysterious men and cars.

There has been speculation that Katie is tired of being under Tom’s thumb (you see what I did there?) and that she is anxious to win her freedom and custody of their other little one, Suri. There have been reports that Tom doesn’t believe in disciplining Suri and that Katie doesn’t like it. But all these are just speculation.

I have a feeling that Numerology might play a big role in this bust up. All of Tom’s ex-spouses (well two to be exact, but soon to be three) had reached the age of 33 when they left or were booted out. Could it be that 33 is an incredibly unlucky number for Cruise? Is it part of some Numerological calculation that ensures that 33 really equals 666?

I believe that the Numerology theory carries about as much weight as the Scientology theory. A lot of folks are saying that Katie is doing a ‘Nicole Kidman‘ and getting out of the marriage in order to save her floundering career. Really? The very fact that the two actresses are in completely different leagues kind of negates that theory. Nicole Kidman was a ‘heavyweight’ from the start, Katie has always been more of a ‘middleweight’, working steadily but not garnering the type of reviews that Ms Kidman regularly receives.

English: Nicole Kidman at the 2009 American Mu...

Most likely the real reason for the split does centre around the age issue. I think Katie has grown up and Tom is still in second childhood territory.

The Wonderful World of Blogging

Back in 2010 I started my first blog. I wrote a minute post and published it. I then ignored it for almost exactly one year.

I quite literally had forgotten all about it.  I had so many other things going on in my life that I didn’t have time to post to a blog.

I was a literal ‘babe in the woods’ when it came to the wonderful world of blogging.  There were loads of things I didn’t know, except that my daughter hated doing them for her university course. She much preferred the pdf format for her uni work and the blog’s for her own thoughts.

In my mind, since she directed so much vitriol towards the required blogs, I decided that they must be terrible time consuming things best left alone. That belief combined with my own personal version of the Queen’s annus horribilis meant that my blogging days were to be postponed for quite a while.

Our family had been going through some incredibly stressful days/months/years and the inevitable divorce followed. 2010 was a year of running, rushing and realization. It was also a time of starting over.

I spent so much time trying to re-establish myself that I forgot that I also needed to get back in touch with myself. I had completely lost track of who I was and what I like doing. It had gotten to the point that when I looked in the mirror to shave in the morning, I would say, “Hello stranger,” to the shell-shocked face that looked back at me.

So it took me a year to remember that I had started the damn thing. I decided that I would do a minimum of one post per day. I had wanted to be a writer before I’d ever dreamed of doing anything else. I felt that this was a good way to get back into practise.

And before you could say, “Bob’s your uncle,” I was mixing my metaphors with the best of them. I also discovered that when you added something to your blog it was called a post. I still think of them as articles, I can blame Journalism 101 back in the 70’s for that one.

It has been therapeutic, this blogging business. It has helped me get back in touch with my inner child, my raved imagination and most importantly with myself. I am still a bit rusty. Like Dorothy‘s Tin Man, I’ve needed a spot of oil now and again to get those rusty brain cells working in a smoother fashion.

It has also allowed me to ‘vent my spleen’ about things that irritate me and it helps me to take strolls down memory lane.

I’ve also learned that reading other writer’s words of wisdom, wit, opinions and thoughts has opened up a plethora of worlds, cultures and ideology that I otherwise might never have known existed.

I have also learned that if I am writing about something factual, I have to do all the required research before I post the dog-gone thing.

There is one other thing that I’ve found, an almost invaluable tool that I am convinced not everyone uses. At least not as much as I do.

Spell-check.