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Finding Your Best Self Podcast

My name is Tracey Lewis-Stoeckel and things haven't always gone my way. I have gone through some crazy obstacles on my road to finding happiness. Every obstacle has taught me something about myself and I want to share my story with you, and share the stories of other women who are going through or have taken themselves from crappy to happy. By sharing, I hope that we can lift up and support one another, so we can each find the positive and find our own best selves in the process.
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Jul 6, 2017

In Episode 5 Tracey talks about why you should consider saving your current marriage/relationship...especially if he is willing to buy you critters!

To learn more about Tracey and the podcast visit the Finding Your Best Self website.  Once there you can opt in for access to special episodes and updates, and join the Finding Your Best Self Facebook page, a special community just for women who are striving to find the best versions of themselves. 

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Show Notes: 

I know that my platform is that I am happier after my divorce than I could have ever dreamed.  It's true, I am.  But, that doesn't mean that I am promoting divorce IN ANY WAY, shape, or form.  I believe in marriage, I will never do it again, but I believe in the sanctity and the tradition…it is part of the reason that I was so mad when my own husband cheated.  I stood in a church and made a vow before God and every single person that I loved that I would be with that jerk for the rest of my life…  Admitting that I had made a mistake, that the vow would not be fulfilled…that was HARD for me.  Still is!  Yesterday would have been my 23rd wedding anniversary.  I was in a funk all day…it just is hard to feel like you failed at something so HUGE.

Gary decided he was done with me over a matter of months.  Looking back now I can see how it played out, although at the time it seemed sudden and very shocking.  I lost my job in May of that year.  I was fired, but the reality was that the company wasn’t doing well.  They were closing offices around the country and firing me for supposed cause was going to be easier on them than laying me off and paying unemployment while I found a new job.  Gary didn’t buy that…  You see, in his opinion, I have always been lazy and had a poor work ethic (despite working two jobs and running a business for most of our marriage).  He decided that I was a loser who couldn’t hold a job.  At that same time we were using a new daycare provider and he was spending more and more time with her at drop off or pick up…and starting to pull away from me.  I noticed it big time in July of that year when we went to spend a week with his family camping in Wisconsin.  He barely spoke to me the whole week and once when I tried to get him to go for a walk with me into the woods, he pulled back…disgusted.  He spoke on the way to and from camping, and briefly about the kids and small things, but he was avoiding me.  There was no question about it. There was the bathroom incident in October, but it really hit me at Halloween (I know…I am a slow learner).  We took the kids trick or treating and he ended up spending the evening walking with another family…I took the kids home and we camped out in Mommy and Daddy’s bed waiting for Daddy but he never came home…or if he did, he slept on the couch.  It was only days after that at a birthday party I threw for him that he announced in front of everyone that he wanted a divorce…and then the ugliness started.

I begged him to give it some serious thought.  I pleaded with him to go with me to get counseling.  I knew somewhere in my heart of hearts already that he had cheated, was currently cheating, and probably would cheat again…but I wanted my family together.  I wanted my kids to have everything they deserved.  I asked if he was using drugs.  Begged him to go to the doctor…  Anything!  He claims he did go to the doctor and the doctor said it wasn’t him, that it was me. Yeah, cuz doctor’s do that.  But the bottom line is that I would have done anything that it took, at the expense of my own happiness, to keep my marriage and my family together.

I am not saying that is the right thing either.  Mental health is a very big deal and you need to be able to be happy to live a long and fulfilling life.  BUT…  I think we are sometimes too willing to throw away what we have in favor of what might be out there waiting for us (or, in his case, what we might have already found).  You have heard that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.  I think now with Facebook and other social media forums it is easy to think that everyone else has it so good…they are all so shiny and happy…maybe we need to get out there and get some of that.  Right?  Everyone on Facebook has super perfect lives, so why am I unhappy.  Maybe if I had that guy who buys flowers and plays with the kids so sweetly….  This might hurt your feelings, but Facebook lies.  People (well most people, not me…because I am just out there for all to see) but usually people just show you the pretty, and they hide the ugly.  So if you are thinking about leaving your relationship or your marriage to find your Facebook perfect life,   Let me be the first to tell you…the single life after marriage SUCKS!!  Online dating is scary and stupid and they are all fucking crazy!  I have stories…I will share…CRAZY!  Maybe not all of them…but 99.99% crazy.

The worst is the simple fact that if you divorce with kids…you now have to share them.  You get to see your kids on half of their birthdays, half of their holidays, half of their good nights and good mornings (maybe more and maybe less depending on your custody situation).  Some women love this…it frees them up to go out and to date and…whoop it up, but for the rest of us, those of us who feel that separation from our children in our very beings, it SUCKS! Spending Christmas without your children is the worst.  That never gets easier.

There is also the financial strain of going from two incomes to one…  Making ends meet on one salary is extremely difficult in this day and age, even if you are making really good money.  Of course, we know that typically women do not make as much as their male counterparts so in my case there was a pretty massive disparity in our incomes.  Which is what child support is for…right?  Yeah, good thought.  So the idea of child support is that it takes both parents incomes into account to even things out for the children.  The courts don’t want to see the child living in the lap of luxury at Dad’s while they are eating tuna out of a can at Mom’s or vice versa, let's not be sexist.  So the court orders child support to even the playing field and help with the expense of housing, clothing, feeding, and “growing” those kids.  And Dads (usually its Dads, but sometimes Mom makes more) Dads are always happy to pay it, right?  Well, I can only speak for my own situation, but no.  They are not happy to pay it.  They don’t grasp that the money is for their children, and they do not want to pay it…some even complain to their kids about having to pay it, which is not helpful.  Or they might decide that your second-hand Coach purse that your mother got you for your birthday from a garage sale means that you are flush and they can just stop paying it…  That could happen too.  It took almost three years for child support to even be ordered in my case.  Three years in which I supported those kids on my own, much of it working only part time with generous hand-outs from my parents.  Once it was court-ordered and coming straight out of his paychecks, things got MUCH easier…  I started sleeping at night, and taking full deep breaths…that was fun!  Until he quit his job.  But again, I digress.

These are all things that you need to consider before you decide you want to end your marriage.  Can you survive on your income?  Because trust me, you cannot count on child support coming your way, even if it IS court ordered.  Can you leave your kids to work a second job if you need to?  Will you need to downsize your home to ensure you can afford it, or that you have time for upkeep, lawncare, etc?  It has always been my dream to have a hobby farm with a hundred critters…but that is not something I can do as a single Mom working two jobs…maybe you want to keep the imperfect guy, so you can have all of the critters…I probably would. What? I probably would.

There are all of these arguments for staying together for the kids, or not staying together because of the kids and my answer to all of that is…I have no fucking clue what is better for the kids…except for one very important thing.  Keep them OUT of it.  If you do decide to divorce their father, tell them one million times that it is not their fault…tell them that Mommys and Daddys sometimes just decide not to live together and it's okay because you both still love them very very much and you will both still see them all the time.  And then shut the hell up.  DO NOT ask them what they did at Dad’s.  Do not ask questions about Dads new girlfriend (other than maybe, do you like her and is she nice to you—those things seem important).  Do not tell them that their Dad doesn’t pay child support, doesn’t want to spend time with them, or even worse, that he forgot to pick them up.  This one is hard…but sometimes you have to cover for that asshole with your kids…sometimes you have to pretend that he didn’t forget to pick them up (I know I dwell, but, that one still sticks in my craw) and you have to tell them how much their father loves them, even though his choices say the opposite.  Sometimes you have to reprimand your child for being disrespectful when talking about that shithead.  You will choke on it, but you do it because you love that kid and want them to be emotionally healthy and grow into a good adult human.  Bashing the other parent to your child does two things:  1) It hurts your child, and 2) it forces them to form stronger loyalties to the parent who is being picked on.  I am almost grateful that my kids have had to defend me so incredibly much over the years…it has done nothing but make us stronger together and bonded us even more solidly in trust and understanding. (well except what it has done to their insides).   Your kids are not a party to your divorce.  They are Switzerland and deserve to have their peace and their sweet innocence preserved, even when your life is in the fucking toilet.  Kids are not pawns…  End rant.

There are a hundred other reasons to consider saving a marriage/relationship.  Being alone sucks.  Cleaning the toilet every single time it needs cleaning is a bummer.  Having to be all things to all people at all times is very stressful.  I wonder how I can even hold a job.  My youngest is in activities year round and I am always having to duck out early, or come in late, or sleep under my desk from sheer exhaustion…no not really…but I wish.  Having someone to chat with when you lay your head down at night before you close your eyes is a gift that should not be taken for granted.  The value of a safe and reliable sexual partner should also not be underestimated.  Having someone to share your hopes and dreams, to be by your side at special events, and even more importantly, bedsides and funerals, and to whisk you away (or you whisk him girl—you are a strong independent woman) to exotic vacations or a roadside picnic…  These are things that make up a life.  Everything is better with someone…make sure you give your someone a healthy chance before you decide to hoe the row alone.

But if alone is how it has to be…you know we will find a way to make it the best that it can be. We are in this together. Until next time!

 

 

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