Tag Archives: survival

Ch. 19 The Hiatus

Leaving the second husband was probably the easiest decision I’ve ever made and the best. I had gotten the job, finally, in the laboratory as a technician to do research and development on air bag initiator propellant.  It paid decently, but the house that I rented to leave the husband was way too expensive, but I wanted to keep the girls in the school that they were attending. I didn’t want to uproot them again. So I managed to stay as long as I could. I finally found a small condo that I could buy much closer to work and invested my money in that. My daughters got special permission to finish out school in the district they were in and I finally got stable.

Work was difficult at times, I wasn’t one of the most liked employees, I was the only woman doing this kind of work.  The men gave me a hard time. If I complained about any sexual harassment, they counter complained.  I was given more responsibilities without pay or promotion.  But I did finally learn about computers during this time. I had been a little intimidated by them previously, however, it was now that my company decided that I did not need an oscilloscope to gather data from my high-pressure testing and instead bought a computer and told me to make it work like an oscilloscope. I had no clue what do to do.  I had my HAM radio electronics to fall back on, a good education that had taught me to reason things out, and good research skills. I figured it out- alone. I made it work! My test equipment impressed the managers and bosses.  The results were phenomenal.  I had actually created a black box that translated the high-pressure results from systems that were not digital to a digital computerized system.  The results of the tests then started producing better and more efficient igniter propellant for the company.  But my pay was not increased nor was I was acknowledged for any achievements, in fact, after a chemist that had left the company to go work for a competitor wanted to come back, I was told that my position was being replaced by him. He had sold company secrets but was forgiven and rehired.  I was offered a position with the company as a machine operator with a pay cut or take a layoff.

I took the layoff. I’m sorry, I felt it was an insult and degrading to my profession and gender. I tried to sue, but the unemployment office said I had no case. So here I was once again unemployed, a single mother, frustrated and with no family to support me emotionally.  This time, at least my children weren’t babies. They were teenagers.  One just graduated high school and the other was going to graduate in a couple of years.  The teenage years. Oh, MY Gawd!

It’s a good thing I took a hiatus from men after the second husband, all my energies and stamina were needed for this time in my life.

Because I had conquered my fear of the computer during the oscilloscope incident, I now immersed myself in this new technology. I literally had this vision of “knowing” where this Internet “fad” was heading.  I stayed up all hours of the night teaching myself HTML and web design. I often forgot to eat. I did make one friend working at the igniter plant and she did call me to ask if I’d eaten that day.  If it weren’t for her I probably would have missed a lot more meals.  As it was it did get to the point where I was making myself more ill each day, my body was starting to feel the effects of the stress of unemployment and teenage angst

Sending my eldest daughter off to college also started my into that depression of the empty nest syndrome and that didn’t help much.  The child support was now cut in half because she had reached 18 and was “legal-age”.  The ex now gave her the other half to help out with college.  Later she came to me and said, “how did you manage, this doesn’t even pay for books, Mom?”  Thank goodness, my daughter got scholarships and student loans, there was no way, I could afford to help pay for their education and their father didn’t contribute either, except for that “child-support”.  I felt terribly insufficient and lacking as a mother, but there just wasn’t anything else I could do. I was doing the best I could do, I had always done the best I could do for the girls. Every home I moved to was better and every situation had turned out better.  I was just hoping this one would turn out the same way.

 

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Ch.16 – Survival

For three years I had no job of any substance. I worked a weekend job at a jewelry store, I worked a part-time job as a secretary in a custom home builder that wouldn’t pay his contractors. I searched for jobs and was denied because I was over qualified by education but under qualified by experience.  If it hadn’t been for small miracles along the way I would never have been able to feed my children. We ate a lot of chicken liver.  The girls hated it.  But it was cheap. As these small miracles continued to happen at the most unexpected times in my life, my faith in God grew and doubts about his existence started to wane.  I did have doubts. I had major doubts, how could someone who claimed to be a father figure to us let such terrible things happen to me, let me suffer so much, leave me alone and without true love? Why would HE make me so sick and cry so much? I had so many questions.

One day after a dark night of depression and tears, I went to church. I sat in the pew alone.  I had been celibate for so long, but I needed a hug so badly. The congregation was not friendly to this divorced woman, I didn’t understand it.  But I sat there alone, suddenly I felt a very warm and strong physical hug. I looked around me in that pew to see who did this. No one was there.  I felt His presence or the presence of His messenger to let me know I was NOT alone.  I no longer had doubt that there was a greater being in charge. I knew, I just knew then that things would eventually turn around for me.

It was after this I became a lay minister and started speaking to others that were going through similar experiences that I was going through. We were going to survive this together. Eventually, I had to leave this church. I found out that although I had tried to contribute to the church and be the best Christian I could be, I discovered that a gathering within a congregation is not necessarily the most Christian behaving group of people. There are many hypocrites within churches and I decided it’s better for me to have my personal relationship with God and go my own way. You might say I’m a little more liberal in beliefs than organized religion.

I did a lot of soul-searching and growing during these difficult times. I had anonymous benefactors, friends like Teddy Bear that made it possible for me to eat and for my children to have Christmas presents when I couldn’t afford anything.

The numerous little jobs I had taught me more lessons that I didn’t expect. I sold women’s lingerie in home shows.  I learned about another form of “partying” then too.  Sex parties! oh, my.  Another culture shock.  That one made me choke.  I told the wife I didn’t do drugs, and she said “oh no, not that kind of partying”, okay!

Finally, I qualified for a loan, the first step to the light at the end of the tunnel. Fortunately, it wasn’t a train.  I was the first woman to learn how to drive a tractor trailer.  I got a displaced homemaker’s loan with the government and got my CDL. I learned how to drive. Today when they talk about feminism and sexist language, they have no idea how hard it is to be the only woman tractor trailer driver looking for a full-time job. I had the skills and the license, but the innuendo and the language that I had to hear were something else. Fortunately, I also had learned to ignore. It was all part of survival, I had to earn a living and this was going to do it. I finally did get a job driving a 10-wheeler dump truck. The company was reluctant to hire me, but they did. At first, they put me on ancient 1949 truck with 13 gears in a graveyard.  I had to haul dirt out of steep inclines and prove myself. Later they put me hauling gravel out of the local quarry. Then disaster happens, one day, the quarry loads my truck with pea gravel, it’s a very round smooth stone about the size of a pea. They load my truck, however, incorrectly—on only one size of the dump bed.  I pull out onto the road heading out to the highway. As I go down the hill and the curve, suddenly my truck starts to sway, it actually lifts off the tires on one side.  I attempt to recover and think I do. It doesn’t. The truck rolls over with 20 ton of gravel. The driver’s seat is not bolted down and falls on me. This all happens in seconds, but to me, it happens in slow motion and all I can think is “Oh crap!”  I crawl out the passenger side window and out the truck in shock and stand in the middle of the road. A police car comes and the officer asks if I’m okay.  I’m in such shock I want to cry but tears don’t come, I think I’m okay, I only have a scratch on my right hand. The officer calls a friend for me to come and get me, he notifies the company I work for and as we wait and fill out all the necessary paperwork he tells me that usually, he would ticket me and fine me for this accident and for spilling 20 ton of gravel on the road, but seven trucks had done the same thing in the same spot in the previous six months.  The road was cambered wrong and my gravel was loaded incorrectly.  Needless to say, I was fired from my job. Needless to say, I was not unhappy and that’s when another door opened for me. Aerospace and Strategic Defense called my name and my dream of space was within reach. Three years of starving were finally coming to an end.

 

Ch.14 – Turmoil

I just can’t figure life out anymore. I finally think things are starting to settle down, I win custody of the girls, I buy a house, move to Maryland, have a good job, am dating someone. I go back to my maiden name.  I still am friends with Teddy Bear and others from the CB and BAM! The world drops out from under me. I get laid off, the man I’m seeing becomes possessive and wants to marry me, but I don’t love him. I want to have passionate, in love feelings and I don’t have them for him. I know that I may be asking for too much, but I’m not settling for less. I’ve had that once, never again. There’s not a day I don’t think of Teddy Bear, I desperately want to be with him.  I have to refuse his marriage proposal. It just wouldn’t work.  He starts stalking me, calling me every hour on the hour in the middle of the night, he slashes my tires and then leaves flowers at my door begging me to take him back!  He steals my bible out of my truck and then of all things, he throws a gallon of urine on the seats of my van.  It’s totaled.  The insurance adjustor never saw such an act taken on a vehicle before.  And I have no money to buy another car, even with the insurance money for the totaled vehicle.  The van is too old.  I try desperately to clean out the truck.

The calls at night keep me awake constantly, but I don’t dare NOT answer, for fear it’s my mother.  She has a terminal illness and I’m afraid the call may be from home.  I have to do something.  After a month of calls and I log each call, I notify the phone company.  They finally trace them. I take him to court for the stalking.  All the court does is slap his hands and tell him if he continues then they will press charges.  On the way out of the courthouse he asks me to marry him again.  Are you kidding me!?

I’m surviving this layoff on unemployment checks and the ex’s child support, it pays the mortgage.  I’ve been looking for work all over town.  It’s been so hard. I feel like I want so much and have so little right now. I hate to say this I’m getting home sick too, I want to go back to Kansas, but I can’t afford it. I’ve been unemployed now for five months and feel totally worthless.  I haven’t seen Teddy Bear in so long and really need him.  I miss him so much.  Worthless and unlovable.

Finally, the ex has decided to make a reappearance. He finally came to pick up the children at the new house, now, however, with a new wife at his side. Yes, he remarried. He married the girl he was having an affair with, and when I say girl, she was just that a 17-year-old girl and she was very pregnant. Surprise! Visitation has resumed, my motto kills them with kindness.  I was happy, to tell the truth, he’s her problem now and hopefully it will take some of the chaos away from me. But if glares and wicked looks could kill I wouldn’t be here writing this.  At least there was no screaming this time.  Once more I was left alone.  This time after being a single mother 24/7, unemployed, broke and dealing with everything; I needed some time to myself. I needed a break.

 

Ch. 13 – The Verdict

Finally, the verdict came in from the judge, a judge who normally gave joint custody.  He awarded me full custody of my girls.  He saw through the lies and deceit.  Someone finally understood what I went through with this man. He also ordered him to pay all legal fees and court costs.  He did award him every other weekend visitation and Wednesday visits, which I thought was fair.  I finally got the weekends to enjoy my children too.  However, he did not raise the child support of $500 per month for the two girls.  It was barely enough, maybe he thought it would be raised later? I didn’t care, the trial was over, I had my children, I could finally breath easy and I was ecstatic! Now maybe I could settle down and get down to living a normal life again.

The first Visitation Friday came and I thought since everything was settled we didn’t need the church steps tonight. Boy, was I wrong? The scene returned in full force.  He was furious, agitated, absolutely in a state of rage.  He pulled at the children while calling me every name in the book in the middle of the street.  This time, however, I stopped it. No, this was not going to happen again, I didn’t trust his mood or want the girls to go with him in this state.  I told the girls to go inside. They were crying and upset but they did go inside.  I told him to go home and when he could calm down, he could come and pick up the girls for visitation.  He turned around and sped off.  I didn’t hear from him the rest of the night—or the weekend.

I tried calling his house to see if he was coming many times that night and all weekend, but he never picked up his phone.  It just rang and rang.  I figured he was ignoring me. Fine, it’s his problem.  Him being childish is only hurting himself, but I hated trying to explain this behavior to my children. Why their father was not coming to see them.  I had no answers.

Monday, I called his office and his secretary answered. I asked to speak to him. She informed that he had left for California Friday night and was planning to be gone for several weeks. Then it hit me! He had planned to kidnap my children. Planned to take them away from me last Friday night and I had thwarted his plans.

Neither I nor the children saw him for about six months after that.  That doesn’t mean to say we didn’t have our issues.  He fought the courts about the fees, he tried to appeal the judgment but failed.  He had his parents try for custody of the children but failed. So my life was in constant turmoil. But all this time, Teddy Bear was there to calm me down and act as my sounding board when I was upset. He was my rock when I needed a shoulder to cry on.  He was my best friend.  I’d been working in the railyard now for over a year and was doing fairly well and felt stable enough to start looking for houses.  I wanted a more stable environment for the kids and one that they felt more like home.

I found a little house in Maryland, it was only five miles from their fathers if he decided to ever see them again, so he couldn’t complain about that. It was 168 years old and it was affordable for me.  I put in an offer and it was accepted.  But as fortune smiled on me so did misfortune.  The day I signed for the house, I got laid off from work.

 

 

Ch 12. Not Exactly Kramer vs. Kramer

Custody battles I’ve heard can be civil, I’ve heard.  Even Kramer vs. Kramer was more civil than mine.

One day I come home, and my babysitter tells me she has to quit, family matters have come up that are preventing her from sitting for me. Now I have to find another sitter that can come to watch the children early in the morning and get them on the bus for school and be there when they come home. I have to be at work too early and don’t get home in time for the bus in the afternoon.  So my search begins. I interview a dozen different women, finally, the “perfect” girl comes and sits down in my living room.  I interview her and she answers all the questions “perfectly”.  I am delighted.  She seemed just the right person for the job and I hire her.

However, within a couple of weeks she tells me that she lost my check and if I could pay her in cash, she needs to pay her rent, she’ll bring back the other check when she finds it.  I don’t want her missing her rent, so I give her cash, but I make her sign a piece of paper for it.  I did that at least.  Then I notice that all my food in the cabinets is missing on a daily basis.  This is odd.

I confront her at the end of the week and ask her what’s going on and if she could please pick up the house because it’s messier when I get home than when I left it. She just frowns at me.  My cabinets are becoming bare, my house is a mess.

Then my daughter at two years old is outside playing one weekend and casually calls my neighbor a “bitch”.  I am in shock!  I don’t use profanity, ever!  I run to my little girl and tell her this is not a word we use, and tell her to go over to the neighbor and apologize.  As I’m talking to my neighbor I learn some other distressing news.  My neighbor has seen pictures of me naked.

What!  I haven’t taken pictures of me naked! The only pictures I ever had of me naked were the ones my ex took of me when we were married.  How did she see them?  Evidently, my babysitter had them, she had them from my husband.My ex hired her to be my babysitter, he knew what I would ask her, her told her how to answer my questions, he knew I would hire her.  She also invited my neighbor into my house to show her how bad of a mother I was to have no food in the house and how bad of housekeeper I was. I began to tremble. I wondered about the check, I called the bank and found out she had cashed the check.

I called Teddy Bear and we discussed what I should do. I called the police and asked if there was anything I could do, even if I was the one that was stupid enough to give her the money twice.  They said it had been fraud on her part and I could have her arrested. I decided that was exactly what I was going to do. I was adamant about it. I filed the report.  They went to arrest her on her wedding day but was too late, so we got her the day she got back from her honeymoon.  Her husband offered to make good the amount of money she frauded me out of, but I knew I had to have a conviction if for no other reason it was the principle of the matter.  I had to have it legal, I had to do this! We went to court, the judge asked me why I didn’t settle out of court and I gave her this same reason. The babysitter was found guilty of fraud and I got my paltry $125 back.  You may ask why this is important.  Custody trials have witnesses. Some are called as volunteers and some are subpoenaed, in other words, you have to pay to have them come and testify on your behalf.

My ex subpoenaed 10 witnesses against me, I had 10 volunteer witnesses on my behalf. He paid $100 per witness to tell terrible and horrible things against me. I had 10 wonderful friends support me. The only thing was because this girl that came up to the witness stand who said all these terrible and horrible things had committed fraud against me and had been legally guilty by a judge; the judge upon hearing this impeached her as a witness.  In other words, she was NO witness against me, her word was false and misleading.  No one was to believe anything she said.

The other thing about subpoenaed witnesses, sometimes they don’t really benefit your case. Although you might want them to say mean and terrible things, like how emotionally unstable the wife is or how terrible she may dress in those jeans and flannel shirts.  Those witnesses always seem to be more logical than the ex wants them to be.

“Yes, she may be emotional, but emotions are good when raising children, you have to be sensitive to their needs and feelings”, the psychologist says.  “She’s a good mother that knows their needs and know what’s best for the welfare of her children”

He even subpoenaed the man from work that I had dated and asked about my work habits about my clothing.  “Yes, she has to dress that way to keep warm, it’s typical work attire for the work she does.  She’s a diligent chemist and good, and as the secretary of the union, we depend on her to keep the welders safe when working in confined spaces.  We would go on strike if she weren’t there.” Little did the ex, realize this same man had volunteered to witness on my behalf as well.

The trial lasted all afternoon, it was tiring and emotional. By the end of the day, I was exhausted.  My lawyer had done an excellent job and was very positive about the results. He had asked for his fees and court costs as well so I would not have any out of pocket expenses.  Now I had to wait for the judge’s decision.  I said I was willing for joint custody.  The judge was known to give joint custody.  I wanted to be fair.

 

Ch. 11 – Teddy Bear Series

My divorce was finally final that spring, I had been married exactly 11 years. The divorce was final on my 11th anniversary. Custody, however, was not determined during these proceedings. It was yet to be. I had been naive when the ex had moved me out of the home, and I had agreed to share the family lawyer for the divorce. I was so naive.  I was also ignorant of my ex’s income. I had kept the finances while we were married, but found out during the tax audit that he was making a six-figure income.  I had believed he only made $30,000 per year.  I had made all of our clothing, the children’s and stayed home to scrimp and save.  He took everything but did give me $500 per month in child support for the girls.  Needless to say, I desperately looked for another lawyer for my custody hearing. I couldn’t afford one, so went to family court to find one that would take my case and found just the right one. We had a battle on our hands.

Teddy Bear continued to visit me and cheer me up when times seemed their darkest.  He even introduced me to his brother thinking that if I couldn’t date him, maybe I would be interested in Jimmy.  But as much as I appreciated the idea, and thought it was a little funny. No, that wasn’t an option either.  Jimmy was sweet and Teddy Bear and he would come over for coffee and keep me company on the weekends when the kids were gone. We’d talk about things and work. We’d talk about me seeing other people.  I had started seeing the secretary of the union at work, but it wasn’t really that serious.  I did have a date Saturday night and that was going to be interesting, I thought.  It was going to be a party.  I hadn’t been to a party in a long time.

Teddy Bear looked curiously at me and said “party?”  I said, “yes, he invited me to a party, he asked me if I liked to party, and I said I like to go to parties.  So I’m going.”  Teddy Bear got this grin on his face.

That Saturday night I learned why he had that shit eating grin on his face.  I just got my first education on what “kind of party” it was.  I went to the guy’s house and there they all were, sitting in the living room passing around a joint and then passed me one.  I said, “No, thank you, I don’t do drugs, I’ve never smoked a joint”.  He said, “I thought, you liked to party?” Well, not this kind.  I am getting an education and culture shock is setting in.

I left the party early, ran a stop light, realizing what I did, I pulled over to contain myself and a cop immediately pulled in behind me.  I was so upset.  I was crying and rolled down my window to him as I fumbled for my license.  Apologizing like a crazy woman.  He said, “What’s wrong?”  I told him, “I just got my divorce, went to a party where they were doing things I’ve never done before, I’m not doing those things, I don’t have my children with me, I’m just very upset.  I know what I did.  I will be very careful driving the rest of the way home. I’m sorry.”  He just looks at me and smiles gently as he hands me back my license, “Do you need me to help you home?  I’m not going to give you a ticket, and it’s late, you need to be more careful.  I’ll help you if you want.”  I look at him with tears in my eyes, no one except Teddy Bear has offered to help. “Thank you, it’s not far, I’ll be careful, I promise, I’ll compose myself for a moment and go”

My entry into another life has started with more tears.

Ch. 10 – Series Teddy Bear

Turning Points

In every person’s life there comes a time, a crisis in their life that becomes a turning point that tests their soul, their heart, and character.  At this turning point, you have to decide whether you will give in and let the challenges and evil defeat you or—rise above all of the darkness and fight, succeed.  You don’t know how, you don’t know how long it’s going to take, but you know without a doubt that no one will stop you. You know that you can do it.  You know you HAVE to, too much is at stake.

What you don’t know at this turning point is how it affects you for the rest of your life and at the moment you don’t care. Survival is the only thing that matters, you don’t care if you start building walls one brick at a time around your heart.  You don’t care if you stop trusting people.  You don’t care if others think you’re a bitch. You have a job to do, that is to live, that is to be a good mother, that is to raise them the best you can, that is to provide for them the best you can.  That day was my turning point.

Teddy Bear knew it too, he saw the change in me over the weeks and winter, I concentrated on my job, I concentrated on my finances, little as they were. I moved out of that apartment, and got a little duplex, it is more like a home to my girls.  I feel we are improving our life now, I have a babysitter that comes to the house while I am at work to watch the girls after school.  We are attending the small church down the street. I want the girls to have all the experiences they can, that includes religion and bible school.

Teddy Bear keeps in touch with me on a regular, discrete basis and lets me know when the ex is on a rampage. He tells me when to watch out for the ex’s strange behavior, but I don’t need that warning.  The ex came to pick up the children this Friday at the new place in a fury.  I guess he didn’t like me leaving the apartment, out of his control.  I don’t know. But he literally dragged the kids in the middle of the street and started yelling obscenities and calling me all kinds of names.  I can’t let this happen,  the children were crying and frantic, he grabbed them anyway and took off.   This cannot continue!  I’ve got to stop it.

Teddy Bear came over tonight, he knows Friday nights are my worse nights because of the visitation.  I’m really upset tonight, more so than usual. I tell him the scenario that just happened.  He takes me out to dinner and we discuss my options.  His name for the ex is DickHead, I call him Ricardo Cabeza because I don’t want the kids repeating Teddy Bear’s name, but it fits the jerk.  So anyway, Ricardo, I’ve got a plan now to deal with your temper and tantrums. YOU will NOT put my children through this again!

My weekend passes quickly, but I make a phone call to Ricardo.  He is to drop the children off at the church on Sunday now, not at my house and from now on all visitation pickups will be made on the church steps.  I talked to the pastor about this and he is willing to be my witness when the children’s father drops off and picks up the kids. No more scenes.

I work long hours. I need to be at work at 5 in the morning.  I finally got a job in a railyard.  I am the only woman working with 500 men. I am the chemist that analyzes the contents that are contained in rail tank cars. It’s a physically demanding job.  I have to climb on top of the rail cars to obtain samples, I have to go out in below freezing weather to obtain samples from water lines to obtain water samples, my hands freeze and bleed. I have to wear a hard hat, but they don’t provide a lab coat, so my clothes are always getting destroyed by the acid in all these rail cars. You see these rail cars come from a munitions plant and contain the acid used to make ammunition.  I have to make sure that the rail car is cleaned thoroughly so that the welders can go into the confined space and repair the cars. I am not only the only woman but the only chemist and the only thing keeping this rail cleaning facility in compliance with DOD and DOT. I have to wear jeans, flannel shirts, and layers.  It’s so cold this winter.

My first day there was eye opening, a rail car came in and since the workers had not been used to having a chemist on site, they proceeded as usual.  They poured water in the railcar without inspecting the contents first. What a disaster. And what an initiation for me!  Suddenly a big red cloud erupted from the railcar.  The workers ran for their lives and it was determined to evacuate the plant, except for two people. My boss and me.  I was supposed to determine how to dispose of the disastrous contaminated water.  If I could not get things contained we were going to have to evacuate the nearby town. My first real job, my first challenge of a working career. It took most of the evening, but I did it. I discovered the correct kind of neutralization steps I needed to take so it wouldn’t destroy the whole plant’s pipelines, I found the place to haul away the acidic water and the correct kind of tractor trailers that wouldn’t be harmed in the procedure.  I discovered my strength. I discovered I can do this! I can overcome adversity. This was one of many I know, but my confidence in myself had started to build.