Yesterday, Bossman #1 was in and out of the office. A collective sigh was released every time he announced he was leaving for a bit.
Nothing personal, but we all had a ton to do and uninterrupted time is very precious when you are in customer service.
I got to work a bit early in hope of cranking out some neglected data entry. I was quite pleased with how much I was able to get completed before lunch yesterday. I looked at my clock, saw it was the designated lunch time and gathered my stuff to go run my errands. I walked out of my office and had turned to say "have a good lunch," to my office mate and ran into Bossman #1. Not physically, but he did stop and not let me pass.
With a scowl on his face, he asked "What are you smiling for?" "Did you think I was gone again?"
In the space between my breathes, I swallowed down an entire single spaced, nine hundred and ninety-nine word essay on how to be a great leader, how to motivate your "team", what the definition of the fucking word "team" means, historical reference of how great leaders inspire, sexual-harassment policy since 1988, verbal abuse, and studies on the death of companies where Micro Management was the backbone of leadership.
I am certain my smile grew even wider as I replied, "Nope, I am just happy I am allowed to leave for lunch!"
I walked around him and exited the cave of despair and walked towards the light of freedom.
I ran my errands which consisted of getting a cashier's check for $500.00 to pay off 75% of what I owe the State Mandated Parenting Coordinator for all of her assistance in my co-parenting with my ex. That felt powerful and fabulous! Then I went to my favorite little hole in the wall, where I was the only person there and had control of the big screen tv. I found a monster fishing show where they try to catch huge tuna that they sell for more than I owe my parenting coordinator and I ate my spring rolls.
A full hour lunch break (escape) is necessary for me to make it through my work day. I am grateful that The State of Colorado has mandatory guidelines about work breaks for anyone who works a certain amount of hours in a row.
Thank you Colorado!
To my ex-husband on Father's Day. I sent this to him back on June 6th.
Some of you will think it was stupid of me to send seeing as he will never really understand who I am, but part of being who I am is trying to bridge this gap I created when I told him I had to leave him. I am still in denial most days that we knew so little about one another after being together for so long.
"What you said to Lana a few weeks ago about us wishing each other dead has really stuck in my head. I have had a couple of dreams about it recently, so I am going to get this out of my head.
When you told Lana that you and I wished each other dead and that the interesting thing would be that if either of us died, that the surviving parent would be the first suspect, I was angry. The amount of detail and thought that went into this analogy for Lana was shocking. Many of the conversations you have with the kids astound me and upset me.
There was so much going on that day, stress, fear, worry, unknown that I didn't want to piss you off when we needed to stand firm together as Lana's parents. You and I stuck in a room together for 5 hours made it difficult to breathe. I left that day with my mind processing all of the information about Lana and school.
But since then in the rare quiet moments, I see you saying to our daughter that there are times you wish I was dead.
I want to be make sure you know that I do not wish you dead. Not even at my most angry with you have I wished you dead. I do not like you as my partner. I am not always thrilled with the fact that you are the father to my children, but it has never crossed my mind to wish you gone. For whatever reason, we were meant to meet and meant to create Liam & Lana.
Have I told the kids you drive me crazy, yes. I have even said you are a huge pain in my ass. But since you are a part of them, I have always tried to tell them stories of good times I have had with you. I tell them about matching you slice for slice eating pizza for most of our early marriage. I tell them that you are one of the smartest men I have ever known. I tell them about how you were on the cutting edge of computers and video games when we met and that is where Liam gets his skill from. I tell them that their ability to learn and assimilate math is from you. I tell them about how we met dancing and how I had hoped to being dancing with you when we were very old. I tell them about your ability to speak and retain multiple languages and multiple instruments.
I hope you live a very long life. Not in a million years would I waste a wish or prayer to make you disappear. I hope that you will dance with our daughter at her wedding. I hope Liam will be blessed to change his first diaper under your tutelage and that you will tell him he is as slow as his mother.
I hope that like my parents, that our kids will grow up to see that the best thing we ever did was have them and divorce. They deserve their mother and their father. They deserve to get to know us as beautifully flawed adults who were doing the best we could.
It may be decades down the road before you can believe this, but I only wish you happiness and love and success. It costs me nothing to feel that for you and I know that your happiness doesn't cost me mine. There is enough out there for all of us."
I read his response and let it go. It is still very difficult for me to accept that I lived and loved someone for 17 years who doesn't get me.
This is my first Father's Day without my dad in this world. He and I have lived on different continents or at least different parts of the country for all of my adult life.
I don't have rituals or family traditions for what to do on Father's Day other than the ones I created for my ex-husband. I don't ever remember celebrating Father's Day as a child.
When I had children we always had a special breakfast and the kids and I would make him something. Last year my anger that he doesn't recognize or help the kids make my day special meant that for the first time since our divorce, I didn't gather items for the kids to make him cards or take them to the store to get him something. I was pissed.
It was stupid of me. I pulled my head out of my ass this year and made sure they knew that this is a special holiday and that I would help them show their dad that they celebrate him.
I am missing my dad. The kids and I had breakfast with him this morning. I put his box of cremains on the table with us. Then I put him on the foot stool while I laid around reading a book. I found that I have a phone message he left for me and saved it so I don't accidentally delete it. I can hear him telling me who he is, like I wouldn't know his voice and then, like in every message, he tells me that he loves me.
I remembered that the kids and I are heading to my sister's in a couple of weeks and that we have talked about doing a little funeral ceremony with all of our kids since none of them were able to attend dad's funeral. Stuff to think on.
Last night after 9 pm, my phone started singing to announce that I had work emails coming through. I opened them to verify that I didn't have any emergencies happening. I was out with a girlfriend and just wishing my boss would go to sleep.
Nope, Boss #2 was still awake and searching for errors and problems. He can't find a lease I had the tenants sign on Monday. It isn't on the server. It isn't on the web based program we use. That is because it was sitting on my desk. I needed to have the owner sign it, but the week happened as it always does and several new problems popped up. I had three basements flood and a ton of smaller issues that sprang forward onto the dance floor.
The email last night from Boss #2 stated that I was to get the lease signed and uploaded into the appropriate places FIRST THING IN THE MORNING.
I hadn't even set my keys down this morning when I was told that Boss #1 was looking for me. I went back and was walked through this error again, and was told to fix it right now.
I went and fixed it.
Then an hour later Boss #1 walked in to our main office area and told me how very disappointed he was that I hadn't pulled up the carpet in a house I had gone to after the tenant moved out. He is so very disappointed that I am not able to put the clues together. "Maybe when I get older than 29, I will attain the brains to be a real property manager."
My last instruction was that if I smelled animal pee in a house to pull back the corners of the carpet to look for stains. This is how we document that the tenants animals ruined the carpet. I did not smell animal at all in this house. I smelled the hell out of it in the detached garage, but nothing in the house.
Yesterday, Boss #1 went behind me like he has on each of the six properties I have cleared so far. Boss #2 just showed me how to pull back the carpet three weeks ago. You could smell dog pee in that house. He said if you can smell it, pull back corners until you find it. It only cost $20 for the carpet guy to reattach it if I am wrong. I have worked for two other companies and never have pulled back carpet. I actually think this is brilliant, but I saw carpet that could be cleaned and did not smell animal.
Now I got the lecture from Boss #2 yesterday (they love to tag team me) on this and how it was such a waste that Boss #1 had to go behind me and find that I hadn't done my job. Even while listening to Boss # 2, I know that Boss #1 will have to have his time expressing his unhappiness too. Public reprimands are horrid to sit through. You can't not listen and be aware of what is going on. I am grateful that my office mates keep busy or give the illusion of working and not listening.
I made it through the not in any way professional "constructive criticism" without crying or making excuses other than I hadn't smelled pet. He advised me to always pull up the carpet when there has been a pet, smell or not. Understood.
Then I went out to look at a tenant's fridge that has a freezer that is not at freezing even after having sent out the appliance repair vendor to replace parts. I took the photos and got the model & serial number of the fridge so we could determine if it is worth putting more money into the fridge. When I returned back I was summoned to Boss #1's office. Very little good happens back there. The private discussions are so much harder than the public discussions.
He started by stating that he is very unhappy with my performance. Very, unhappy. Very unhappy with me. He wanted to make sure that I am aware that this is the last time we will have this conversation. It seems I am not learning from my mistakes. Some of his examples are not correct and I walk him through what has happened. It doesn't matter. I have made mistakes. They actively search night and day for them. Correcting your boss doesn't win you victory, just another nail in your coffin.
Boss #2 is so frustrated with me that he can't stop telling Boss #1 how much additional work I am causing him. Boss #1 is so worried about Boss #2 being so overwhelmed having to manage me and my complete inability to do my job. I am taking as deep of breaths as I can while listening.
Yesterday they sat and explained to me that I use too many words. They would like me to be just like them. I need to stop being me. I need to do what they would do. My heart hurt being told they do not want me to do the job, they want me to do the job like they would.
I have struggled for weeks knowing they do not want a property manager but only an assistant. They want someone to tell do this, this certain way, by this time and write up a full report.
I did this job effectively and with grace for over 3 years for 81 owners or Boss's. I had less than 5 that required weekly attention. I could never have imagined these two men being harder than managing & juggling 81 different owners. I thought I understood Boss #1's old school meanness, but I really had no clue. What I saw as gruff and matter of fact was due to the fact that I did not work for him.
The private office chat was really hard. He doesn't mince words. He is so unhappy that this will be his final, final warning. The next mistake will cost me my job and he will fire me. He likes to try and be jovial while telling you that you aren't smart enough to do the job, that you have no pride in your work, that you can't seem to learn from your mistakes. I don't think he would be very comfortable if I taped what he was saying and played it back for him. I think he would be very shocked at how personal and mean he gets. He wanted me to fight with him. After taking what was probably an audible breath, he told that I should yell at him, go ahead and get mad, maybe even cry. I told him I was okay. Getting out those words without letting the tears stream down my cheeks was very tough, but I spoke them. Then I took another deep loud exhale.
I am still a big fool for listening. I want to hear what I have done wrong. I want to defend the items that are defendable. I want to own and learn, but I also want to throw the bullshit card. But I don't. I just breathe and listen and try to stay present. I did this for over 17 years with my ex. I am well schooled at choking down my feelings and words. I know my face is showing my discomfort, but I just keep eye contact as best I can, acknowledge what is being said to me and I breathe. Small, shallow breaths, but I keep breathing.
It feels like nightmare hellish boot camp to me and I am trying not to be broken. There is no reason to break me.
I state that I understand how much he and Boss #2 are disappointed. He then tells me that Boss #2 is so overwhelmed with his work load and having to hold my hand and review and correct all of my work. Boss #2 is under so much stress because of me that Boss #1 is now worried for Boss #2's (his stepson) wife and children. This is all because I am such a failure at my job.
Then he tells me that the only thing I do that they like and that brings value to the company is that I can write a good letter. Mind you they are too lengthy but the spelling and punctuation are correct. He congratulates me for having a good grasp of the English language.
I got defensive and really had to focus because my mind started wandering to all of the things I have done that were great and correct and just passed by unnoticed.
He can only think of the one thing. Are you kidding me? One fucking thing? This is terribly irritating and aggravating.
My breathing went to my upper chest. My chest felt tight. My face flushed. Tears were filling my eyes.
Then he closed the conversation. Did I understand where we stood?
Yes, yes I understand. As I walked into our shared office, I avoided eye contact with the accountant and just handed her some papers Boss #1 asked me to take to her. I am a very emotional person. I am a big feeler. I am a crier. Except around men, abusive men. I would rather cut my skin, push my finger nails into my arms or bite through my tongue than shed a tear of defeat.
I sat down at my desk and listened to my voicemails and finished out my day. This was my short day.
I walked to my car and sat down and locked the door and let it all be felt.
I have never had a bad review. Always new goals and things to tweak, but I have never been in trouble. I have never not wowed my employers. I almost always have met my numbers and goals. I have never not received raises or promotions or awards or bonus's. Never, not since I started working at 15.
I am trying to hear the universe. Stop accepting abuse. Once you recognize it, stop allowing it to happen. Stop trying to fix it. Stop thinking you can fix people. Stop selling your sanity and soul to make money. If I didn't need the money I would never have taken the job to begin with and I most certainly would have quit the first time I was spoken to disrespectfully.
I will send my resume out to my friends for review again since I didn't get calls for interviews to the positions I applied for and truly wanted. I will get my new resume out there to see if I can find a place to call home where my skills can be of benefit.
Tonight I am licking my wounds and saying thank you to the universe. I hear you. You can stop beating me over the head. You have my attention.
I need to break this cycle of abuse. Life shouldn't be this hard. The people you spend 75 percent of your day with, shouldn't be this mean. Time to find a new career path. One with people who I can support and who can support me.
It is a weekend without my kids, my boy friend is out working this afternoon and I should be hip deep in writing to describe all of the things swirling in my head. Instead I went to the ARC Thrift Store.
Now I am home, all by myself and should be writing. But we are having a nice break from the rain and I decided that I wanted to sit outside so I moved to the front porch.
Then it dawned on me that I could do that "grounding" thing and sit in the yard under my lilac bush and squirrel tree with my feet in the grass so I hauled my chair down to the grass.
Now I am sitting with my feet in the grass wondering how many mosquito bites I will end up with?
Sometimes I can just sit down and write but most of the time, my muse hits me in the late evening or early morning. Unfortunately that is also the time that the people in my life want my attention as well.
I wish I could take a nice walk, but my foot & heel are still bothering me. I get a lot of good juice going while I walk. I went to my acupuncturist again today and after inserting the needles, they hooked me up to a tens machine. He said once a week until the pain stops. I am ready for the pain and the rain to stop. I am ready for my hiking areas to dry up and not be 6 inches of mushy mud.
Maybe I will go for a short walk and just see what fills my head.
Prior to 2009 I had stopped coloring or highlighting my hair. I had grey hairs that were just starting to really pop through.
Then my 20 year High School reunion arrived and I didn't want to look old in a land of the youthful. So I did a temporary color. It was fun. Once you start coloring, it is not easy to stop. Growing out takes so much time and is not pretty. There is a literally a line that delineates your old life and your new life.
From 2009 through 2012 I colored my hair from a box at home. Cheap & easy.
I very much love the vibrant color, but totally dislike the fading and orange tinge my browns became.
Late in 2012 a hairdresser moved in to the basement apartment and he began coloring & highlighting my hair, double processing. Gorgeous, but costly.
Then in 2013 I found another hair dresser who stopped with the overall color and just did highlights for me. I love my natural color, or the color at the base of my neck.
I had thought I was done with coloring and would just go natural again. I am no one's trophy wife anymore. I thought I had embraced just being me, but then vanity smacks me up side the head and I get caught up in wanting to be desirable. Not some old lady with her better days behind her. I am a firm believer in low lighting and do not require bright lights to get ready in the morning.
I asked a friend this weekend what they thought, color or let it keep going? She said whatever makes me happy, but that she would go with me to Sally's if I want to color at home again. My budget dictates some give and take.
Today is the first time I have sat down to really evaluate where the growth ring has reached. Wow. Dramatic, very dramatic. 6 months since I last had highlights applied.
Decisions, decisions, decisions.
I cried again today at work. I really hadn't meant to. I had a very busy but generally good week last week. I felt good going into the weekend, like I had turned a corner and that my employers were noticing that I am capable.
This really is like being in an abusive relationship. I have lost so much confidence.
Essentially today, I was asked to not make any more decisions on my own regarding who we lease to. This is curious as last week I presented my options to my boss grouped into the "couples". I presented who I thought was our best option and discussed money with my boss. I was told to contact them to see if they were good with the larger security deposit as they have a cat.I contacted the prospects and talked to them about the security deposit and pet deposit.
They wanted to see if we could break up the pet deposit into two payments and I said I would present that to the powers that be.
I did and was told no. Either bring in the lump sum before move in or it was a no go. I was told to do the Verification of Rent as well. I did the VOR, and the information was good. I spoke to the prospects and all though it makes for a tight month, they agreed to pay the full deposit at once. We set up a time for today to meet and sign the lease.
This morning the powers that be asked me what was I thinking as we had never discussed really offering them the lease. I responded as calmly as I could that I was had reviewed the application, declined the people who didn't qualify and was presenting the next stage to the prospects. We spoke of money and came to agreement and then I set up a lease signing time.
It seems I remember things differently from my employer. It appears that I was to do one more step after speaking money with the prospects and send one final email asking, "Is it really okay for me to rent to this couple?" I was asked to never set up a lease signing time or make an offer without receiving that final, final explicit response of approved. I was asked if I realized what I had done?
I thought I realized what I had done. I thought I had set up an appointment to have prospects sign a lease. As nothing had been signed, I HADN'T done anything. He could have called the tenants and told them I had overstepped my bounds and had not been authorized to make an offer. Yes, that would have sucked for everyone involved, but he could have stopped my humongous overstepping of bounds.
If I live to see another lease, I will be sending this request for final, final approval via an email so I have documentation. Not that it does any good to prove your employer is incorrect. It just pisses them off when you do that.
That was part 2 of my really serious, awful, fucking terrible bad day. Part 1 happened moments before. Our maintenance man called me to tell me that the paint color that I had written in the work order was wrong. He painted it up against the trim and damn if it wasn't the same color as the trim. The trim and the wall are two slightly different colors. Everything is documented in the system, so one never has to color match or guess (that was the sermon from two weeks ago. Except for when it is documented wrong, or when a tenant paints a wall another shade of white or when you aren't entirely sure if the finish is egg shell enamel, flat matte, satin or flat enamel.
In my current state of incompetence, I quickly assumed it was my mistake and stopped listening to the maintenance man and started trying to pull up the email from my boss that I had copied and pasted the information from.
The next thing I heard was that he had purchased 15 gallons of the wrong paint, $550 worth of paint.
Then my work phone started ringing and it was my boss. Part two of this mess took place. After being told to stop being a property manager and just be an assistant, I had to tell him about the conversation about the paint. I didn't mention how many gallons we have of it as it will get used somewhere, right? Or stored blocking the emergency exit in the hallway? It's all good.
I finished the conversation with my boss who was going to dig again down through the 200 property documents on the network to see if he could figure out where we had gone wrong with establishing the paint color.
About 10 minutes later the maintenance man called me back.
The first thing out of his mouth was that he had just been fired over the paint problem. I didn't realize how strung out I was until I started crying and telling him I was so sorry.
Then he told me he was just joking.
Jeannie out of bottle, cork ain't being wedged back in. I couldn't stop the tears.
I know they can run this company without me. It is only 120 properties, but their zealousness to run the company like they are means this is their cap. This is as good as it gets. Maybe that is okay for them.
I remember that less than 90 days ago, I was really freakin' awesome at exactly this job that they won't let me do on my own.
Later this afternoon, the nice couple came in to sign their lease which I couldn't print because my boss's approved copy had been left it open on his computer. I printed out a draft and walked them through that while checking several times to see if he had closed the document. He didn't. An hour after they arrived I explained that I would send out a copy via email tomorrow so they could sign it online. I accepted their security deposit and did the hand shaking congratulations thing.
On my drive home, I opened an email from Boss #2 asking had I really had both tenants in the office and hadn't had them sign the lease. I responded "yes that is correct." I couldn't print a clean copy of the lease as you had it open. I knew at 1:30 pm today that I was screwed if I printed the lease draft and had them sign it or if I let them go without signing.
Somehow this will be elevated to Defcom 1 and there will be a sermon tomorrow by Boss #2 who will be in town.
Or maybe I will be fired tomorrow and then I can skip the speech and the painfully condescending discussion about what part of not thinking or doing on my own am I not getting? I need to find a 12 step program to help me move from survivor to thriver.
I am so torn because each time I disappoint them, I really want to show them badly their system is not working. I should be thriving with them.
I hear Theresa telling me to stop trying to get them (my ex) to understand. They can't. They won't. I know she is correct that not everyone sits down each night and thinks about their portion of what is not going right in their world. I hear you girl, but it is hard for me to accept.
Boss #2 has been very clear with me that they are very content with their way of doing business and that they are not interested in change. They won't or can't trust.
I don't like giving up. I don't like crying at work.
I haven't felt like writing about the past few weeks as it all just seems like a dream, a weird dream. So much has happened that needs to be processed.
But I need to get it out of my head, so out it goes. Here is what happened on Court Day two weeks ago.
When we first arrived the Lawyer came over and went over our paperwork. She asked if we were in agreement about what the State of Colorado had determined for the new child support modification. We both stated "no". He mentioned that it didn't take into account the $1600 a month he pays for health care for him and the children. I supplied my pay stub that showed my new wages at my job. I also stated that having to prepare for this court, I had noticed that my alimony was to be paid through August 2015. While the State of Colorado had told me I was on my own in collecting the 20 some months of back due alimony, I asked that we address the fact that he still owed me 4 months alimony.
This was how I was able to get the Lawyer and the Judge to address the alimony.
In the State of Colorado, if he owes me child support, even $1 and alimony the State will enforce the alimony order. If he doesn't owe me any child support then the State turns a blind eye and has no assisted process for me to force him to pay the court ordered amount. As I was the one ordered to pay child support, the States only concern was if I was current.
The Judge came out and it was a different Judge than we had the first 3 times. This judge didn't know me as the awful home school mother who had illiterate and below average children. To her I was just a divorced single mom with two kids in public school.
I sat at the same table as my ex. We had less than a 2 feet between us.
It was okay for the first bit as he felt in control and confident. He went up on the stand first. The Family Support Registry's Lawyer walked him through all of the standard questions. Who do you work for? How much do you get paid? Then it always veers into the subjective part. He presented that I am underemployed and that property managers in CO make around $80,000.00 a year. He had documents to back that up. He had done some research on my behalf of what I should be making as a property manager and what I could be making if I went back to web design. He compared our skills and school level and implied that as I had just as much opportunity to make $50 an hour like he does.
He stated that it was odd that he had gotten this new job, making more money and suddenly I was coming after him for child support.
Then the question about why he hadn't paid me the court ordered alimony for the past 20 some months came up. I had been holding my breath waiting for this moment. Wondering how he would explain and twist it to come out okay.
Without blinking he answered that he couldn't afford it and that his parents had been helping him financially and when they found out that the money they were sending him was going to pay me, they cut him off. I still cannot believe he just laid it all out there. They didn't feel I deserved it, so they stopped paying.
No one told me I would be cross examining him.
All of a sudden the Judge asked if I had any questions for him. I did, a million. But I knew all of the thoughts going through my head were not appropriate. Instead I asked if he had any college education. He said he did. I asked how many course hours. He replied 21 (can't remember the exact number). I asked him if I had any course hours from college. He said not that he was aware of. I asked if his big break had begun when he was given free Oracle Training at while he was on a government job? He said yes. Before he had that training he was making about $30,000 a year. That training and certification was his first big legitimate certification that propelled him into jobs where he could learn & practice & hone his skills.
I asked him if I had any certifications? No, not that he was aware of.
Then my turn on the stand. I know I was flush and not breathing. A flood of horrible memories hit me regarding the last time I had sat in the exact seat.
The lawyer ran me through the same group of standard questions. Then she stated that my ex believed me to be purposefully underemployed. I stated that was incorrect. I work as a property manager and make $26,000 a year. That works out to about $13 something an hour. The couple before us the wife worked at a Safeway and made $8.00. I felt really good about my $5 more than minimum wage.
I was able to explain that the reason we were here at court was that my ex had been messing with me being able to pay my checks or money orders to him. The checks seemed to get lost by the mailman & the money orders were not cashable by his bank. So a friend has suggested that I pay him through Family Support Registry. When I looked into that it was easy to send them my check and somehow they received it every month with no problem. I explained that while I was there I had inquired if they could help me collect the back due owed and was told that they couldn't. I asked that since they couldn't help with that, could they help me by having our finances looked at so I didn't have to pay him child support any more. That they could help me with. That is how we ended up in court. When you take into consideration that he wasn't paying me $2000 a month, it made me not owe him any money. To not have to pay him every month sounded fabulous.
Then the Judge asked me why I had waited so long to bring him to court. I explained the repercussions of him telling the kids what is going on, what I was doing to their dad and that it had been easier to just not rock the boat. The Judge was not happy with me letting him get away with this.
Then my ex had his turn at questioning me.
The best thing for me in court is for him to not have a lawyer to speak on his behalf. He comes off very condescending. He restated my underemployment, he graphs and documents proving what I should be making and I again stated that I had only been able to earn $20 an hour 13 years ago because he did all of the database work for me. He asked me how many pages my big clients web site had been. I stated about 31 pages. He asked how many of those were "my work" and how many were "his work". His work was one page, mine was the other 30. He acted like this was a big deal. My 30 to his 1.
Then I stated that my 30 pages were static pages with content, his was the biggest part. People went to the website to look for properties and his one page was the one that linked our web site the the county realtors website making our web site searchable. My 30 pages were all fluff. His one page was the whole reason for the website.
I stated that I did not have him currently to help me with the database side, nor did I have current skills.
He asked what programs I had used and then he explained to me that those software products are the exact same one that are used today. I got in a really good jab by replying that I no longer had a husband who could get me pirated versions of the expensive software that I had been using. I no longer had a husband who could create and manage databases for me. I no longer had a client who fed me their clients either. What I had back in 2002 was fabulous, but I explained that I did not have the time or resources to create a new business and support my family.
Then he started in on me again about being underemployed in my current chosen field.
I explained that I had made $12 and hour plus really good bonus's when I worked at an apartment complex but they required I work a rigid 10 am to 6 pm schedule and weekends at the complex. I explained that I had left that job to work as a property manager for another company so that I could have a flexible schedule and work from home on weekends and do occasional showings of top end properties. No bonus's or overtime, but I was afforded the flexibility I need as a single mom with two teens going to school in Woodland Park while I work in Colorado Springs.
I had the opportunity to explain that I am proud of the work I do and my ability to provide for my family. I work very hard in a very demanding profession.
I did have to explain that I do not know a single property manager who makes over $40,000 a year and that I would guess that if they are making $80,000 a year that they have their Realtors license. Which I don't have. Honestly, I don't know a ton of Realtors who make $80,000 a year.
After he finished his questions, I had to go sit back down next to him at the table.
The Lawyer and the Judge started working calculations to see if they could agree on the modifications. The Judge started stating she was going to keep the alimony active. My heart sank. Alimony is not enforceable.
Then she said he would pay me $59 a month child support. That was what I needed.
Child support allows me to have the State go after him and collect the money from his wages. I wasn't aware I had tears streaming down my face, but the Judge asked me why I was crying. I told her that while this was a huge victory, it would cost me so much with my children because he would tell them what I was doing to him.
Right then and there the Judge ordered him not to speak about the finances with our kids anymore. He started arguing with the Judge and she advised him that if he talked to our kids about these proceedings that she would put him in jail.
All the while the energy at the little table we were sitting at was vibrating. He couldn't sit still and was tapping his feet. I was within arms distance and very, very scared. You could just feel the anger coming off him in waves.
He started arguing that he hadn't expected to get a "new" Judge and had hoped Judge Colt had understood our situation since he had been there since the beginning. Then in the same breath he stated how my first lawyer had screwed him by presenting a ludicrous dollar amount as his annual income. (We used his tax forms.) He didn't explain to this Judge that not once in our 2 subsequent court appearances did his lawyers argue on his behalf to have a different figure accepted as his income.
He kept arguing with the Judge about what he could afford and what his expenses are and how at almost $9000 a month, he is barely making ends meet.
You could feel the hatred and anger building less than two foot away from me. I just sat tense & poised to move if he moved my way. Neither the female Lawyer or the female Judge would have been able stop him had he come at me. There was no Bailiff or Sheriff or anyone with a damn gun or night stick in the room.
The Lawyer tried to start wrapping the meeting up by stating she would send us copies of the new orders. She asked to verify my address and then she turned to my ex to verify his and he started ranting over and over again that he was going to lose the house now. He had barely been able to afford it and now he would lose it and they would be homeless. He hoped I wanted the house, cause now I was going to get it. All I could do was freeze and be ready.
Then all at once it was over and he was standing up and then I was standing up and he was leaving and I was following him. And then I stopped. I don't know what made me stop, but I did. I let him leave the room and the door swung shut behind him. I waited maybe 5 seconds and then slowly opened the door.
The counselor at the women's shelter had told me several years ago that the scariest time for a woman was in those moments after leaving court. Those are the moments when women die. I do not want to die.
I stood at the top of stairs and watched him exit the building and then he walked by my car and then went on to his car. I stood there for a good 5 minutes and cried. I won. I WON! I did not owe him any further child support. But most important the Judge took the time to express what bad choices he had made in not following the court orders.
After 20 months, finally someone stood looking into his eyes and told him what he had done was wrong. His parents weren't telling him that. His friends mustn't be telling him that. Our Parenting Coordinator sure isn't holding him accountable for thumbing his nose at the court order.
That is what I wanted more than anything. Just for one person of importance to tell him what he was doing was wrong. No valid excuses to make him not paying me acceptable. As smart as he is, all he had to do was file a motion to modify the support based on his new income. They would have accessed the situation. He didn't do that. He just decided he was above the rules. Or he felt I wouldn't have the balls to take him to court. Sadly it took almost two years for me to find my courage.
Then I saw the Lawyer come down the steps and she said she was glad I had waited for him to leave. I asked her if there was a way for me to forgive some portion of what he owed me as I hadn't come to court to break him. I did not want him to lose the house as my kids would blame me. I want them happy and healthy in both of their homes. I don't want them to have to change anything.
We hadn't been out of court 10 minutes and I was feeling guilty for making him accountable and trying to figure out how to fix this for him. To fix this for me so my kids wouldn't hate me. I have been beating myself up for weeks now for not being able to fix this for him.
I turned in my initial paperwork to get this ball rolling August 2014. I didn't get the paperwork notarized and turned in the State until February. Making this decision has cost me sleep and peace. I beat myself up for letting him treat me like I don't matter. I don't want my kids to repeat our cycle. I am choosing to be a strong example and knew it would be a painful road to walk, but still there are days I wish it would stop being so insane. It is always so much harder than I expect to be strong and do the right thing. It is always so hard to cause my children more pain and sadness by requiring their Dad to do the right thing.
Knowing how filled with rage he was, I called our Parenting Coordinator to tell her what had happened and to ask her to make contact with him to help him calm down as it was his night with the kids. I told her I was going to forgive $20,000 of what he owed me and asked her to tell him so he would know I wasn't trying to screw him.
It is in these moments of reflection that I realize how much work I still have to do to be the strong woman I know is inside me. I am so stuck in old patterns. I want to fix things for my ex and smooth it over when he hasn't given one thought to the struggle I have had to live to survive financially. He doesn't waste time thinking about my struggle. Had he paid me what he was ordered to, he would be free and clear this August. No more alimony ever.
The Judge ordered that I be paid every dollar the original Judge had agreed for me to have based on my need and my ex's ability to pay.
I met with Family Registry last week to close my case number where I was the one paying child support. My case worker was stunned that the Judge had forced in this new order. She said I was very lucky.
Then she explained to me that I would not be getting the $2000 alimony and $59 child support. That they would have to work with him or in her experience he would quit his job and just give up, feeling overwhelmed.
She can't tell me how much I will end up getting each month. Her job is to work with him to create a plan that he can afford.
I asked for the form to forgive a portion of his debt. She asked me to wait until they worked through the process with him.
Will I be getting the spousal support? Nope, the State will work out a plan with him based on what he can pay. I have known for a while that I won't get the money he owes me. That was never the intention.
I won the right to stop paying him!! And I am now the proud owner of a court order that states that I am not underemployed and that my ex can't unilaterally decide to no longer pay. He will also have to submit proof of insurance every year, no more messing with me on that either. I just received my first insurance card for the kids last month. I should have had copies of it since 2011.
The bad news is that he notified me that due to what I have done, our son can't go on the paleontology trip this summer. My ex and his parents have decided that the most important thing is that he doesn't lose the house so all money will be funneled there. I offered to pay a portion of the remaining balance and he notified me he had already cancelled it.
"Due to what I have done." It seems very foreign to me that he has no ownership in his choices. I have to let that go as it isn't mine to fix.