10/21/15

Always Something There To Remind Me



The receptionist at the dental office looked at me over her glasses. When she spoke, her voice wavered slightly somewhere between exasperation and incredulity.

"What do you mean, you don't know his address?" Her brightly painted fingernails hovered above the keyboard of the computer where she'd been entering all the facts and figures that would become my son's patient chart.

I felt stupid, and petty, and also kind of incredulous myself. Why the hell would I know my ex-husband's address? It's not like my kids spend any time there. I don't send him cards or flowers. It's kind of like asking a person if they know the address of a long ago lover. Someone with whom they shared a lot of history, but nothing current.

I gave her my own look. The one that, in my head, says I dare you to say something about how lame I am for not knowing this man's address but in reality probably says something like aughhh you're right I'm the worst parent/ex-wife of all time! Condemn me please! Judge me! And please, pretty please, tell me to get over it already!

She kept her eyes on me and told me that she needed it. "We can't take him on as a new patient unless we have all of this information." 

I wanted to tell her that this wasn't the worst part of my awkward and dysfunctional co-parenting situation. I wanted to tell her about the time we ended up in a courtroom in order to ensure that he would be the one who'd provide health insurance for the kids. I wanted to tell her how it befuddled me, his strong and unrelenting insistence to have the kids on his health insurance until a friend explained things to me, things like "tax breaks" and "write offs" and "people who love money so much they'll do just about anything to save it".

Instead what I did was pull out my phone and in a sheepish, shamed voice said, "I'll Google it." And Google it I did, standing there in front of the receptionist with the tanned skin and the shellacked nails. I Googled that motherfucker and tried to act like it was the most normal thing in the world.

Hey Jenny! What are you doing?
Aw, hey there friend. I'm just Googling my ex-husband!

And there, in between pictures of him from his company's website, in between a sickening blurb that said "Big Daddy and his wife Secretary live in Adultery Valley with their four children" (uh, note to the webmaster...time to update that bio)...there was his address. I read it out loud to the receptionist and when she was done entering it she sighed and said, "I suppose you don't know his date of birth, either." 

At this point I was hulking out just a bit and said back to her, "Is that a question or a statement? Because I do know his birthday." I rattled that one out to her with only the slightest pause (because he and my former BFF were a day apart and I always confused them...) and then she handed me the standard clipboard with instructions to fill out the front and back and turn it in when I was done.

These are the kinds of situations you find yourself mired in when you're divorced. If you had a sane, amicable one, the kind where both parties truly parted on good terms, I suppose it makes sense that you'd know each other's addresses and social security numbers and maybe, just maybe, even stats about the new spouses.

A few days prior to the above-referenced appointment, I'd called to see if my son's insurance was accepted there.

It's not bad enough that every time I look at the kid's insurance cards I have to see the name of the woman my husband dumped me for. It's lost the shock value after all this time but part of me still winces. Her name also appears on the child support payments, which again brings up some pangs but also some wtf as well. But to add insult to winces, when I call and arrange appointments for any of the kids there's almost always the barrage of questions about her. The insurance is provided through her employer, therefore it's her information they need.

No, sorry. I don't know her date of birth. (if I'm in a joking mood I'll add, "all I know is that it's like twelve years after mine, hahahahahahahaweep")
Nope. I also don't know the name of her employer or that address or anything else other than the fact that my ex insisted on providing their insurance and now I have to do this song and dance a few times a year.

I don't know much about her other than the fact that when I see or hear her name, all I can picture is her, bent over a desk and my then-husband standing behind her. Sorry. A friend of mine told me a story once, about someone opening an office door and stumbling upon that very scene and I have never been able to erase it. It's half-hysterical, half-tragic and for some reason it's the thumbnail my brain keeps on the file marked "Them".

There was an article somewhere, not too long ago, about divorce and the length of time it takes to recover from one. As usual, there were comments on it from people who were adamant about "getting over it" and admonishing those who expressed sadness or anger or anything other than a giant Xanax smile about being divorced. Lots of "let it go" and "you should really move on". And yes, I agree with them. Somewhat. I believe it's possible to get over a divorce, even a bitter, hurtful one bearing the scent of betrayal and lies and deep wounds. You can get over it. You pick up the pieces, wipe off the blood and shit and take inventory of what you have left and you wake up every day and get the frick over it.

But just like that sweet 80's jam by Naked Eyes taught us, there's always something there to remind me. Some days it's easier to let those reminders bounce off, roll off our backs and slither down into the gutter where they belong. Some days, it's not so easy.

Please be kind to those you know who have gone through this crap. Know that when they do let it get under their skin, it bothers them and it's definitely not them wallowing in it.

And if you're the one, like me, who sometimes lets these little reminders become big fat thorns in your side, please be gentle with yourself. Our reactions to these triggers depends on so much and just one little bump in the road can make it all that much harder to bear: maybe you've had a harrowing morning with the kids, maybe you're PMSing, maybe you were road-raged on the way to the appointment. Maybe you're just plain exhausted. No matter. The thorn will work itself out, and you'll be wince-free again. Until the next reminder comes along. But that next thorn will be just a fraction smaller and duller, and you will find yourself plucking it out with greater ease with each passing year.

Hang in there, my friends. You are not alone in this.

This post dedicated to Kristin J. and all the others who have sent emails thanking me for letting them know they aren't alone. You totally aren't, Kristin. xoxo






40 comments:

  1. Sorry you had to go through that. You are an awesome mom and I know you love your kids. I hope your son's actual dental appointment went better than the filling-out-the-paper-work side of things. *hugs* One more awkward situation down - one more step toward apathy. This too will make you stronger.

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    1. Thank you MM! The appointment was fine, poor kid needs a crown. We had a sketchy dentist before and now we're finding things that weren't done properly. Stinks but glad we caught it!

      Thank you for your sweet words. They mean a lot.

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  2. The only reason I knew my ex's address was because I sent him medical receipts for our daughter every month. The kids did go there in the beginning. But now, my youngest has graduated high school, started college, and child support is done. I don't have to know anything about my ex anymore. And in some ways, that is weird to me, after spending half my life with him. But those reminders do get easier with time, and eventually go away altogether.

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    1. I bet it's weird, Staci! I'm excited for the day we won't have to acknowledge each other but also know that with four kids that means four chances for weddings and grandkids. It's going to be easier seeing him knowing he can't eff things up anymore, though.

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  3. Gosh. I think my divorce will be quite amicable, mostly because there isn't much to fight over. But I have been a big fan of No Contact so I think I will opt the route of not knowing where he lives or who he is with or any of the sort. I like that I get the option of never ever seeing him again (after May when he moves to a different continent). I can't imagine having to deal the with seeing the OW name all over the place.

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    1. No Contact is a beautiful thing. Probably not the coolest, as far as providing good relationship role modeling, but for me, the healthiest option.

      Congrats on the different continent thing! That's pretty sweet. I'd be happy if mine was in a different time zone :)

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  4. Since my ex's OW kicked him out of her place, he's been homeless. And that, my friends, is why when I'm filling out forms for the kids, I say silent prayers of gratitude for the words "full legal custody".

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    1. Oh my. Homeless? Is he sleeping in a vehicle or couch surfing?? Full legal custody was my dream but alas, while my ex was happy to give me sole physical custody that legal part was important to him. He even had the clause put in there prohibiting me from moving or giving the kids a new last name in the case of remarriage. LOLOLOLOLOL. #priorities

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    2. My ex decided he'd rather be homeless and jobless than to pay for child support or alimony. He is currently doing a combination of couch surfing and living in his car. So thankful that the insurance is in my name since I'd have no idea what to write for his address. I'm thankful for kids who are all in their teens and twenties so they can make their own decisions about seeing their father when he decides to contact them every 8 months or so.

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  5. That song is from the Police, by the way. Maybe Naked Eyes did a cover of it? I remember listening to it as we set up tables where I was a waitress during college, and everyone joking it was about herpes (because AIDS wasn't on our radar yet and herpes was the worst thing we knew).

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    1. No way. Die hard Police fan right here and I have to disagree! Respectfully of course, my dear SC.

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    2. You're right! I don't know why I thought that.

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  6. Nope, Not The Police!

    Love you Jenny!

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    1. Ladies Ladies. Always Something There to Remind Me was from waaay back and written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David back in the 1960s when it was a big hit. It was when Naked Eyes meant no eyeliner, and the Police meant an officer. FYI: I was with my now-ex for 40 years (36 of them married) before he left for another woman. Love your blog.

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    2. I am loving that this was written by Burt Bacharach! Having grown up in the 70's, I remember him on so many of the old timey "variety" shows. And of course, in Austin Powers.

      Thanks for your kind words!

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  7. What kind of person, one in a customer service job, shames someone like that? I would complain about her because many people don't know their ex's address or anything about the person. Also, no way is that a Police song....another die hard fan just saying it can't be;

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/(There%27s)_Always_Something_There_to_Remind_Me

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    1. That's exactly what I was wondering! I think that receptionist was WAY out of line and I'd complain too. Knowing me, I'd probably have torn her a new one along the lines of "How should I know his info?? We're divorced and NOT on good terms so just drop it OK??!!" and then immediately felt like a horrible evil raving bitch. That wouldn't have been exactly helpful or mature behavior, so more power to you for not going there! Still, Jenny -- so sorry you had to deal with that. And I'm glad you're being kinder to yourself when these little reminders of the ex get under your skin...it is so normal and human. Oh, and indeed "Always Something There" is by Naked Eyes. It was a cover -- Burt Bachrach originally wrote it.

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    2. Everybody is against Jenny.

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    3. Grenee, I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. Bad day? PMS? Lol.

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    4. JCS: good old Burt Bacharach! Who knew!

      Meh. I can't count the times I've had to do this sort of thing. Every school year brings stacks of forms, every dr appt, etc. one of my angels has been giving me a hard time lately and I let that stud bug me more than it normally does.

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    5. Aww anonymous. Not everybody. Just you and a few others. But thanks for stopping by! ♥

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  8. Every time I read your blog, particularly any entry about big daddy, I say a prayer of thanks that my marriage blew up after my children were officially adults!

    I don't have to know the ex's address or anything else about him which is just fine with me! I'm sure it sucks to be reminded that big daddy continues to convert oxygen to carbon dioxide but this shit is finite, I promise.

    Love your blog. Awesome post, as always!

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    1. Yes, although it's never fun to go through this crap I bet it made things a little bit easier to take without having the kids to "share".

      It does suck and OMG I can't wait for it to not matter anymore.

      Thank you so much for your kind words!

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  9. I just invented, "Punch a receptionist in the face!" Day for you!

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    1. LOL. I'm totes a pacifist (except for passive aggressive blogging, ha) but thank you, anonymous. She did leave for the day shortly after our exchange so maybe I was that annoying last minute customer.

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  10. Please show a little kindness here. It's not easy being a home wrecking whore. Until you've had to bend over a desk, with your skirt hiked to your waist and your thong down around your ankles getting banged from behind by the married man you're trying to hook, don't judge. It is not an easy life, so by damn show some respect. Whore's are people to........Keep it up Jenny, you are loved.

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    1. HA! She really has given it a solid effort, hasn't she? What a trooper.

      Thank you, anon.

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  11. I hope your kid's dental problem got taken care of, and I'm thankful for you that your kids have dental insurance. I bet BD and Secretary are proud to announce to the world that they are the responsible parties here: provided dental insurance to these kids out of the goodness of their heart, successfully negotiated child support payments to the barest minimum amount, eased out of involvement in any part of the children's lives, mastered the art of convincing themselves that they have not done anything wrong, and they deserved to be happy. But, alas, one cannot escape consequences of the magnitude of their choices, since it will forever be the wrecking gift that will never stop, not even just with your and your children, even down to grandchildren.

    And I'm sorry, that you and your kids have to go through all this over and over again. Be strong, okay, keep on being strong. I so want you and your kids to make it.

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    1. Well...poor kid needs a crown which I cannot pay for so we're awaiting word from Dad to see if he'll foot the bill (I'm sure he will, if nothing else he is really good about covering these kinds of expenses). And yes, I am beyond grateful that they do have insurance...although at the time of the "insurance battle" the coverage I had for them was so much better. But that's old news.

      And yes. Yes, yes and yes. In fact, one of my kids recently sat down with me and told me about how the two of them really just want to do what's "best for everyone" and how I need to be willing to work with them to do that.

      I almost bit my tongue off.

      It's because I know this will never end that I keep my mouth shut (or at least, try my hardest to do so). The kids are all old enough now that they have pretty much figured things out. They are good people, though (the kids!!) and I'm hopeful they'll have some form of relationship with their dad someday.

      Thanks for your sweet words.

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  12. It's funny you write about this.. you Doc has been married before..Oh gawd the stories I could tell.. including the news station showing up at the signing.. His ex had many tricks up her sleeve. Anyway.. we have been getting these weird calls lately.. Professional enough, I took down the number for him to call.. I honestly believe, his ex is having people call to get our credit card numbers or asking for money orders for past medical bills and stuff like that. And, yes they have my information , as his current wife. She and I share the same initals , KAR. So we now ask to send copies or bills thru the mail.. of course we don't get anything.. I know there are scams out there.. but this "feels" like her.. it scares me to think we are forever connected..she has most of my information and of course his.

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    1. Kel I always forget Doc was married before!! OMG, for real, a news station??

      That is beyond creepy. They didn't have kids together, did they?

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  13. You articulate the slings and arrows of breeding with a fuckwit so well. BTDT.

    Oh, and on the insurance? My son once wound up in the ER and his father refused to give his SS# (even though he held the insurance). Had to look it up on my old taxes. Then last April, he just dropped him from his insurance. No word. It's up to me to chase him down... and yes, know his address. Even though he moved to another state, and hey child support enforcement can't help because it's not THEIR state anymore.

    I swear the system is fucked.

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  14. This makes me so angry. The receptionist was out of line. I guess she needed his address for billing since he provides the insurance, but still. I don't know my ex's address either because his ex-wife doesn't want me to know where they live. He's also changed his cell phone plan a couple of times and neglected to give me his new number. What do you do?

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  15. I hear you - I am not 100% sure where my ex works, though I know the exact address because he's still in the house we shared when we were married and the damn mortgage company won't take my name off the mortgage. Grrrr. Some people just don't get it. I do sometimes find it strange how little I know about the life of a man I shared 15 years of my life with.

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  16. I'm very upset that customer support people would treat you that way. So many people nowadays come from nontraditional families. Many people don't know their family medical history (which is arguably more important than a physical address when visiting a doctor). There is no shame in that, she needs to work on that.

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  17. Jenny, I swear you are always channeling my life. I took my son to the Orthodontist last week for his consultation. My ex husband met us there. (you and I have exchanged a few emails---last one had the Daniel Craig reference-- so you might remember my back story) My back story is very,very similar to yours. 20 plus yr marriage, children, husband left for 13 yr younger co-coworker he married. We didn't speak at all for 7 years and just now have managed small talk due to his over due apology. Anyway, similar situation at the dentist office. I believe the entire first page front and back were dedicated questions about my marital situation. I did rip into my ex husband a bit about the crap I have to go through on these forms and he suggested I just write down he's dead. (which I'm not going to lie... I've thought about doing many times). Also, a side note...I work in a similar office... no one ever looks closely or checks any of what you write down except the insurance info and dates of birth. You could of laughed inside at the snooty receptionist behind the desk (you know the one who thinks she'll have the perfect husband and marriage some day but who really hasn't a clue of what reality is) and wrote down made up street names :) Keep up the writing... we all love and enjoy it so much. You definitely have a gift and I personally hope it pays off financially for you big time some day soon.

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  18. I haven't commented in forever, but this one... Ugh I feel ya! Mine refuses to give me his address (even after the judge chastised him for this & said not to pull it again) and moves often so I've had this moment. But I've worked in the dental office so I knew they didn't need it so my response was "Look, he's court-ordered to provide it but doesn't, my sons are right here and don't need the reminder - should I ask Dr. So&So if he truly wants me to take the $thiusands in dental work elsewhere because you want an address you don't need?!" (We'd had other moments, and shed already asked this before, so I know Ms. Charming-Receptionist wasn't just having a bad day.) but still, it really does make one feel 2" tall not to have that info - I'm so sorry! I love the reminder to have grace for those having tough moments and being graceful w/yourself. You're such an encouragement to so many!!! (And I love seeing you in HP more often and how many people have found this blog, now!!! You deserve it, awesome lady!!!)

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  19. I just read your article in the Family Circle December 2015 issue. At least I think it was written by you, because the by line referenced this website, but the tone of the article was quite different from the tone of your current post here.

    Soooo, I'll simply say that with Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching, I liked what you said in the second to last paragraph, about, "Life can be hard" and not letting things that are "meant to be enjoyed become dark and painful" instead.

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    1. Hi Anne! Yes that was me. Yep, the tone on this one (and several other posts here) is quite different from the Family Circle article, but all the tones come from the same place. Sometimes life is hard, and sometimes I handle it better than others ;)

      Honestly, stuff like the situation in this post are not really meant to be enjoyed, more to be endured. A lot of women who read this blog go through very similar experiences and it's always nice to commiserate. Hence the sometimes less-than buoyant tone. I do try to keep things positive, and in person I promise I'm really sunny and happy, but every once in a while a girl's gotta vent. It's not as nice to read, I know.

      BUT. I'm so glad you did stop by. Seeing the Christmas essay in Family Circle is so exciting and YES I'm super stoked for the holidays this year, even though the kids are so old now I'm the one waiting for them to wake up on Christmas morning.

      Now I have some guilt over not having a happier piece up here to greet newcomers. I will have to get cracking on that tonight...thank you for the nudge!



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