How I came to live like I do.

I have lived on both sides of the fence in most cases.  I have lived an ultra religious life and an agnostic one.  I have lived both rurally and within an urban core.  I have lived  politically conservative and liberal.  In some cases I have lived in the grey area between extremes.  I am most content in the extremes, it seems.  I would never live a suburban life, that just does not suit me.  In fact when I leave the city and go into the burbs I get ill at ease.  I am fine out in the rural farm areas or wooded areas.  It is that place between the urban and the rural that set me off.

When I write about life experiences, one must understand that I was raised right-wing religious and rural.  I chose socialistic urban agnostic.  So my outcome is very different from someone who moved the opposite polars.  For me understanding my own values was the hardest thing.  I live my life currently based on those ideals that I value most.  I volunteer at an urban farm collective, I bike, I sail, I try to shop locally, I try to make my purchases mean something.  These are all things that I would not have cared about many years ago.

Let me take you back to a time in my life when I was living June Cleaver’s life.  I married my husband at age 19.  We bought a house before we got married.  I think we paid $36,500 for a single lot three bedroom, two-story home.  Front porch and a dilapidated garage included.  We lived there for 9 years.  I raised my kids there for 7 years.  The problem with being June Cleaver is that you always say “Yes Ward, dear.”  You never question the direction you are traveling or the financial decisions being made for you.  By the time the divorce hit, we owed nearly $88K on this house.  It is quite mind-boggling how you can have such a small purchase price escalate to 2 times the cost, plus some.  Do not ask me how this happened, I cannot explain it.   What I do know is that he wrote the checks for the bills out the minute they hit the door.  He held them until we had the funds, but still to see my checkbook in the negative nearly $1500 at any given time is stressful.

To this day I do not balance my checkbook.  I simply check my account to see if all the checks and normal automatic payments have been made before I purchase anything.  Back then I would have to beg to get groceries.  It may be partly why I bought in bulk.  Once every other year I would buy a side of beef, some whole chickens and some pieces of pork from a local butcher.  This usually occurred right after tax refunds.  I could stretch that out until the tax refund the following year.  Ok so we ate a ton of boxed food.  As a child my mother would never have bought hamburger helper, his parents lived on the stuff.  I got sucked into that mental model.  Oh how I remember those days.  Thinking I was feeding my family healthy foods, when the only thing healthy was if I had used the beef from the butcher.  You see, it was a grass-fed calf.  Every two years he would butcher the steer for his aunt and buy her a new one to keep this small field mowed down.

A box of chemicals does not a nutritious meal make.  Just because you can add nutrients to it, does not make it healthy.  Just like diet soda is probably worse for you than regular sugar, simply because it is a chemical sweetener.

Anyway, back to being Mrs. Cleaver.  I worked all day, got the kids from daycare, made dinner, shopped if it needed to be done, cleaned up the house, mowed the lawn and did laundry as needed.  You see my husband thought he was the man, he should not do any housework.  He also pulled the, “I work long hours, I cannot watch the kids or take care of the yard” card almost daily.  Ahhhh, yes I remember now why he became my ex. Oh the joy of freedom.  Not having to wear dresses, and work where he said, not being his household slave, yet mandated work outside the home girl.  Oh yeah, I need a martini now!

You see, this was an abusive relationship.  I had no idea.  If he would have hit me, I would have left him years ago.  But no, instead of physical abuse, mental torment was his tool of trade.  “You are the cause of our financial problems”, “Your going to school will be the end of this marriage”, “You have no financial planning skills”, “You do not work enough”.  Yes I heard them all.  No wonder I drank myself stupid for the first two years after the divorce.

So my escape was short-lived.  I had this idea planted in my head that I could not survive without a man.  I could never financially support myself, I would never be happy alone, I needed to rebuild my life exactly as it had been.  Oh for some reason, I did not learn the first time around.  It took me 3 times to figure it out.  Fortunately the second and third time did not involve a piece of paper and a judge.  I did learn that much, marriage sucked, but divorce was so much worse.

I remember the week we finally split for good.  I had been getting some attention from some men at work. I liked it.  I was attracted to someone at work, who talked to me and treated me as if I were actually human.  I realized I was falling for this person.  I knew it was bad, and that I needed to fix my marriage.  I told my husband that I was no longer in love with him.  He needed to help me fall back in love with him.  I was lonely and he paid no attention to me.  His response to this was to move out.  Uhmmm, that so did not fix my loneliness issue.

I pause to mention that this man also would go out after work with the “girls” and stay out all night, so that I had to pay for daycare.  Yeah, buddy I really want to have 10 more little mongrels with you!  You BETCHA!

It took me years to figure it all out.  I think in 2007 I was definitely on my way to figuring it out.  In 2009 I totally got it.  When I came back from a trip to NYC, the water and power were slated for disconnect.  Why?  Because my most recent ex had neglected to pay the bills since February.  It was mid-May.  Yeah, I know I pick some real winners.  But hey, I have a huge learning curve.  I got it now.  I figured out the answer to life, the universe and everything.  And no it is not 42, it is simply self-reliance.  Once you figure that out, nothing else really matters.



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