Ten Years Stalled

Belated realization.

I recently blogged about the feeling I got walking through my new home under construction. It was a feeling of happiness at moving forward again, a feeling of achievement, a feeling of a good future ahead of me. In that post, I mentioned that my life had been stalled not for the 2 years of my ongoing divorce battle but for at least 10 years.

It was back in the mid 2000s that I began hitting hurdles erected by the man who called himself my “partner” in life, the man I was foolish enough to marry after 23 years together.

At the CabinI bought a truck to leave at the cabin so we could come and go by helicopter. Back in those days, I had plenty of money to burn. My wasband never stopped me from spending my money on things he could enjoy.

It all started when I couldn’t get him to work with me on putting a vacation home on our Howard Mesa property. We had two separate sets of drawings made, spending well over $1,000 in the process, before he admitted that he “couldn’t live up there” because it was “too remote.” This was after dumping thousands of dollars into a fence, septic system, and water storage tanks. The compromise was a “camping cabin” that we bought and had brought to the site; I spent much of the summer of 2005 insulating it and framing out the wall between the kitchen and bathroom, joined by him on weekends for other construction work. The resulting structure was used infrequently over the following six or so years — but I still cherish great memories of weekends and holidays there with him and our dog and our horses.

Jack at Howard Mesa
Our dog, Jack, at Howard Mesa. I was always a sucker for a good view; it was the views, the privacy, and the silence that sold me on the 40 acres we bought north of Williams, AZ.

In the years that followed, he continued to hold me back from moving in one direction or another. I wanted to move out of Wickenburg, which had become a sad retirement town that almost all of our friends had already abandoned, but I couldn’t get him to work with me to find a new place. I wanted to expand my business so we could work together, but although he occasionally went through the motions of helping me out, his contributions were so minimal as to be non-existent — and I usually couldn’t rely on him when I needed him most. I spent a lot of time waiting for him to do what he said he’d do. Lots of promises, no deliveries. I was patient — too patient! — but by the winter of 2011/2012, my patience was wearing very thin.

I also wanted to help him achieve his goals — opening a bike shop or developing solar energy products or becoming a flight instructor — but he kept dropping the ball. How many business cards and web sites did I create for him? How many letters did I edit? How many brainstorming sessions did I share with him? I wouldn’t mind if they led to something, but they only led to dead ends. I became tired of putting time and energy into projects that he never took to completion. He wasn’t just holding me back, he was holding himself back.

He was stuck in a rut and he apparently expected me to stick there with him.

Although I didn’t realize it at first, my summers in Washington doing cherry drying work not only made my business prosper but they were a welcome relief from a boring life in a dying town with a man who seemed satisfied to live out his existence in his own daily grind. I made new friends, I did new things. I learned about agriculture and wine-making. I experimented with video production. And I fell in love with the area — with the mix of happy people of all ages, the wholesome farmland attitudes, the river and mountains, the recreation possibilities. There was life in Central Washington — a lot more life than there was among the angry old people in Arizona.

One of the last times I spoke to him, in July 2012, I brought him by helicopter to see the place I wanted to buy and make our summer home. I envisioned him opening that bike shop he claimed he wanted to open along the bike trail in Wenatchee and working there with him on sunny days to rent bikes and maybe even do Segway tours. (I even had $25K saved up and was willing to spend it to buy 5 or 6 Segways.) I envisioned me flying on rainy days, drying cherries, and perhaps doing the occasional wine-tasting flight. I envisioned afternoons spent on the deck together with a glass of wine overlooking the Wenatchee Valley. I envisioned returning to Arizona in the winter, hosting couples with horses in the guest rooms of our house via Air BandB, making a little money while he continued his flight training and realized his dream of becoming a flight instructor.

It was all possible. It was all doable. With our financial situation at the time — a paid for house and very little personal debt — it would have been easy. I saw a great life for both of us — a sort of semi-retirement in our 50s, moving with the seasons between two beautiful homes and realizing our dreams instead of grinding away at unfulfilling jobs and dealing with company bullshit.

Jake, the horse I bought for my wasband before we married. Does he need to see the cancelled check for $1,100 to remember who paid for him?

On that day in July 2012, I didn’t realize that he’d already made his bed with another woman and was planning to cash in on our marriage to finance his life with her. I was a fool to think that he loved me and he wanted a good, honest life. In reality, I was nothing more than a meal ticket, the provider of horses and helicopter trips and fun toys to play with. And because I didn’t play by his restrictive rules, he was finished playing and ready to cash in his chips.

And that’s my big realization.

I realize now that he married me for my money — I was earning a lot of money right before we married in 2006 and had accumulated quite a portfolio of assets. His attempts over the past two years to claim ownership of my personal and business possessions, investments, and retirement funds prove this without a doubt. There was no love, at least not when we married. He was locking himself in, banking on community property law to half of everything I owned, earned, or acquired. Everything he’s done since he asked for a divorce on my birthday in June 2012 proves it.

Phoenix Sunset Flight
Flying over Phoenix at sunset. Who’s he flying with now? He sold his plane so he’s not even flying himself around.

Those of you who have read my other divorce posts or have spoken to me about this know the personal pain my husband’s dishonesty and betrayal has caused — and continues to cause — for me on an almost daily basis. My biggest problem is that I simply can’t believe that a man I spent 29 years of my life with could turn on me as he has. I know he’s mentally ill — the things he’s done to me and said to others and in court are a pretty clear indication of that.

Every day, I face an unbelievable amount of sadness and pity for the man I love. And pretty regularly, that pity is rewarded with yet another personal attack through the court system — appeals, false claims, accusations, stalling tactics. It never ends.

Well, that may never end, but his ability to keep my life in a perpetual stall has ended. I’m moving forward with my new home and my new life. Since 2012, I’ve lost weight and regained my health and self-esteem. My flying business is going better than ever — mostly because I don’t have to say no to out-of-town jobs to keep my wasband happy — and I’ve refreshed my writing career with a series of new videos for Lynda.com. (Meanwhile, my divorce book is on hold, waiting for the end to be written.) I’ve made lots of new friends to keep me company and share my joy and adventures.

Legal fees for the divorce dealt a severe financial blow to me, but because I’m not dependent on someone else for my living — I never have been — and I live within my means, I’m recovering nicely. Although I don’t like living in my RV (the “mobile mansion”) — as my wasband absurdly suggested in a court document — it has enabled me to live cheaply so I can save money for my new home.

Getting ahead means working hard and making sacrifices. I understand that and am willing to do what it takes.

It’s sad that the man I married and still (unfortunately) love has never understood that. All his talk about “making things happen” was just that — talk. I took it to heart and made things happen for myself — and him, for a while.

I only wish that my love for him over all those years hadn’t clouded my view of the kind of man he really is. I could have prevented that 10-year stall by making my exit a lot sooner.

8 thoughts on “Ten Years Stalled

  1. 90% of the unhappiness in my life comes from thinking about things that happened in the past. Of course, what happened in the past shapes who I am today and I should be grateful for that, but there are still some bitter feelings. I feel that I would be a much happier person, but for the past. I sometimes see myself on my deathbed regretting how much time I wasted thinking about the past, but by then it will be too late. There is a lot of research on drugs that help you forget, which would be helpful to PTSD patients contemplating suicide, but nothing that close to being perfected. Concentrating on the present and future is my most promising course for the months and years ahead.

    • My problem is that for months I was in denial. I thought he was merely a very weak and confused man being manipulated by the desperate old whore who took my place. But that just didn’t reconcile with the facts. Oddly, his lawyer asked in court whether I was claiming that my husband fooled me into marrying him and I said no. But that was just me in denial. It’s pretty obvious that I’ve been victimized by a selfish and greedy man who cares more about taking money from someone else and living a soft life than working hard to build something of his own to be proud of.

      As for forgetting, I think that’s possible now. I was being tortured by my inability to reconcile what I was observing with what I thought was going on. Now it all makes sense and I can stop thinking about it. Twenty nine years is a long time to forget, but I’m making plenty of new memories with great people doing fun things. And frankly, the men I’ve been meeting have better attitudes about living life to its fullest. Old memories are quickly fading away.

  2. Plenty of people attempt getting married as a fix when they sense things going downhill. Sometimes it works, no shame for trying to hold onto the life you built together. You weren’t ready to call game over then, so you do what you can to try and make it work. But you sound so much happier than when I first met you. I’m glad for that-you deserve it all.

    • Thanks, Ann. I am happier — my life is so much better without having to deal with his bullshit. But it’s still so sad that a relationship that lasted 29 years apparently meant so little to him.

  3. I can really relate to your situation. Although my relationship was shorter, the feelings for me are the same, especially being used… I really admire your grit and the amazing life you’ve build for yourself. I think your next boyfriend will be amazing and just right. :) Best

    • Sorry you’re going through (or went through) something similar. It really sucks when a man is so spineless that he has to suck the life (and money) out of a woman to feel good about himself. I wonder if he’s getting the same satisfaction with the desperate old woman he’s living with now. Whatever. Not my problem.

      The key is to move forward and do the things you want to do, which, in my case, were the things he was preventing me from doing. I’m free now and I’m moving forward at record speed, anxious to make up for those lost years. My business is booming, my building is going up faster than I expected, I have new friends and do new things. I’m rebooted!

      You have it in you, too. You just have to put the crap behind you and focus on your own goals. Good luck!

  4. In my search through your Howard Mesa Tags, I found this post and you’re a brave woman to write so openly in your own name. I also divorced my Howard Mesa “wasband” under oddly similar situations. He was lazy and lied about working full-time when in fact…he went fishing and camping while I was at worked. He told me he couldn’t contribute to the finances because he was a contractor and needed to save it all until tax time which I ended up paying 2yrs after the divorce since the IRS gave me know choice, ugh.

    If I had not accidentally found out what he was up to, I probably would have stayed and been miserable for a very long time so yeah, I’m feeling vey lucky right now. Thanks for sharing your experiences and I really hope you can contact me because I’m entering a new era of my life and I’m really clueless as to how to handle the property.

    Best Regards, Jackie

    • Apparently, there are a lot of deadbeat men out there who base their relationships on empty promises and lies. So sorry you had to go through this. But heck, we’re both better off today, right?

      As for the property, if you don’t want it, put it on the market. You’ll likely lose money — as I know we will — but at least you’ll be rid of it. Howard Mesa is a beautiful place, but not the right place for a single woman who wants to keep enjoying life. Too remote for full time living alone. (That’s my opinion, anyway.)

      Whatever you decide, good luck!

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