Cool picture, huh? It was the start of our lives together and what a place to start it… New Zealand! We were both well into our 30s and my groom had a complicated family arrangement, so we decided not to have a traditional wedding in Texas. Instead, we planned a month-long excursion to NZ with ceremony at the cathedral in Christchurch. Everything was first class, too…chauffeur driven Bentley to the church, bagpiper to escort us down the aisle, bells ringing in the tower, even Asian tourists taking happy snaps of us as if we were celebrities. And after the wedding, punting on the River Avon (picture above), complete with rose petals strewn on us as our punter gently guided our boat under a lovely footbridge. We were off to an ideal beginning after each of us finally found the person who would understand, accept and support us throughout our life.
Yeah, nothing ever works that way, really.
I’m here today to call out an ex-husband. Total disclosure….I’ve almost had two of those now. The second one will show up next in this three-part series. But first, number 1…numero uno…l’ une.
#1 and I started out fine. We loved each other and settled in well to married life without too many problems, just the normal things newly-married and those who have lived alone most of their lives run into. Having no family myself, I latched onto his very welcoming family greedily, becoming particularly close to his mom and older brother. His mom’s family had a very large ranch in Texas and it was there that we tried to center our lives. Although we didn’t live on the ranch, only about 10 miles away, #1 made it a priority of his time to be on the ranch every day. Nobody could blame him, either. It is one of the most beautiful undeveloped and intact family spreads in the area. I was welcomed by his mom (ranch co-owner with her sister, and whom I always referred to as Barbra Stanwyck in The Big Valley when describing her to others) as an up-and-coming cowgirl apprentice and the future for us looked really solid.
Imagine my surprise the day after Valentine’s Day, not quite three years after we married, when #1 said he was leaving me, but “it has nothing to do with you”. That’s the only explanation I ever got.
Fast forward a while. The divorce was amicable, although I was given only six weeks to get out of our home and very little money. I had nothing but my very fledgling pet sitting business and old car when we married. He had the resources of owning the house we lived in and and other property, plus family to help him. I was so heartbroken by our divorce, but not only the breaking apart of our lives together, but losing the close bond I had grown with his mom and brother, too. In all the time during our separation, #1 remained resolute that he would not discuss the reason for wanting out. It was always, “it has nothing to do with you”. I quizzed him about there being another woman, being gay or bi-sexual, being pressured by his father, whose second wife no one got along well with and whom I had had a couple of run-ins with, too. Each time there was the same non-answer, “it has nothing to do with you”.
So, I did what any cowgirl does, I went West. I landed in northern California and restarted. It was a low time in my life and I knew staying in Texas would only bring me down further, but it was h-e-double-hockey-sticks hard to leave my dear home state. After a few years in NorCal, I moved to Oregon, my home now.
Now we get to the present time, where things are definitely a little more complicated for the ol’ cowgirl. To continue the ranchy theme, I’ve been through a couple or three rodeos and done got busted up a little. That’s life, though, right? You get knocked off your horse, get up and brush off, then get right back on and keep riding. But, there are definitely times in life when you just can’t make it on your own anymore no matter how hard you want to and try to. I’m at that point.
Friends, I’m broke and sick. A few years ago, I was told I have an autoimmune disease that’ll make me tired, painful and dependent on others for the rest of my life. But, it won’t kill me! Woo-hoo. At least, not in the sense that the obituary will read, “she died from an autoimmune disease”. With my illness, it’s probably going to be my heart or lungs that give out, but that won’t happen for years down the road, after I’m in a wheelchair with crumpled up hands, feet and muscles that won’t work any other part of my body. Oh, and the tired and painful part is like TIRED AND PAINFUL. It’s a fatigue so consuming no one can describe it and an intense pain that leaves you breathless at its severity.
I’m not angry about it. There’s a genetic component to it and I got it from my mother. Everybody gets handed something in their genetic code and this is my present. But, the stinker about this disease is that there’s no cure and everyone who has it has it differently than the next person and each day is a new parade. Today, I might be able to take a shower. That might be the last time I do for another 10 days because I won’t be able to stand that long again.
So, as this thing goes, there are peaks and valleys and summer 2014 brought a very, very low valley for me. I had significant disease activity, which has made working as much as I used to impossible. For those who don’t know me, dogs are my business. It used to not be unusual for me to have up to 10 extra dogs around my house, apart from my own cherished three, at any time. I was on my feet a lot, cleaning, playing with, cleaning, feeding, cleaning, caring for…Those days have sadly disappeared for me and, with them, my income. In consultation with my doctor, I have applied for Social Security Disability.
I bet at this point you’re wondering why I told you all that about #1. Well, it seems that for the nearly three years we were married, he somehow forgot to file our income tax returns, even though each year at tax time I asked him if it was being done. Each time I asked, I got an affirmative answer and “don’t worry about it”. Being the trusting spouse I was (why did I have reason to doubt him?), I stupidly didn’t realize I was supposed to sign the return, too. So, when I spoke to the Social Security Administration recently about my disability application, they told me I would be denied benefits because I don’t have enough credits to qualify and the reason I don’t is because there is no income for me for those tax years #1 and I were married.
Readers, this is a terrible blow. This denial means that for the remainder of my life, I won’t be allowed to receive benefits that all working people pay into during their productive years. I started working at 16, as many of you did (or even earlier), but yet that won’t count because the credits have to be earned within a certain, more recent time period. Further, this denial means I won’t be able to qualify for Medicare to help me with my medical costs. Retirement age for me to receive those benefits is another 15 years away. This is a crisis.
I contacted #1 regarding the missing tax returns. He ignored me for three days. Now, what you have to know about him is that he’s basically become as rich as Midas. Through his mother’s careful stewardship of the ranch, the family is making b-i-g bank on royalties from natural gas drilling there. I mean, his income is in the hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars per year range now. Not bad for a guy who lived off his mother’s charity and his wife’s pet sitting business while we were married.
In my email to him about the taxes, I am not proud to admit that I begged for his help. As I said, I’m broke and sick and that is a dreadful and terrifying combo for a single person with limited close friends and no family. I spilled my guts to him about how dire my situation is and told him that within weeks I would be homeless, have my vehicle repossessed, my phone turned off, and lose my pets if I can’t find help. I further asked what remedy he had made for those tax years that were keeping me from qualifying for disability benefits. Here is the reply I received…
“Carol, I am sorry you are going through tough times …. I have never wished you ill will, but I don’t know where you got this notion that I have such “resources” …. our relationship is long over, and I am in no position to offer you any such financial assistance, and that will not change …. you sound as if you are going through challenging times, and I wish you all the luck in the world, but you will have to look towards the many ministries that might be able to help, or state resources, or perhaps your “other” ex-husband, but not me ….”
Yeah, I thought it was pretty condescending and arrogant, too.
As a strong conservative Christian, as he always has claimed to be, it’s really fresh that he suggests I look to others to fix the problem he created for me. And, as for where I got the notion that he has resources, that’s not hard to calculate using information from the website of the Railroad Commission of Texas, the oversight agency for natural gas drilling in the state. I also knew what was being negotiated in the drilling contracts before I left the family.
More than anything, though, what gives one person the right to just be an ass to another for the sake of being an ass?
So, here’s the call out that I promised way back up there (this has become a longer first post than I imagined…): Christopher Cornwall of Cresson, TX, (817-713-0964, Executive Realty, Facebook, email@example.com…be sure to show him some love if you feel like it) you lack character and integrity, son. Apparently, I wasn’t the first to notice this, either. Do you know that people ridicule you for your incessant arrogance? Do you care that others know you wouldn’t have amounted to a hill of beans without your mom always bailing you out? How does it feel to be alone with your money as your only comfort, besides your dogs, at 52? You ever wonder what it would be like to have a true friend you don’t automatically assume is with you just for your assets? Oh, and for heaven’s sake, stop adjusting your crotch. It’s uncomfortable for everybody around you and I know for a fact there’s not enough there to be constantly out of place.
I may not have internet access for much longer (that’s one of the bills I can’t pay right now), but I hope I’ll be able to continue this series with #2 next time. He’s also a piece of work and left me shortly after I got sick. Thanks for your time and attention. Sorry I got so long winded. Love to you all. ~C