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„My Great Real Life Story“
Life is good.
Everything in my life has always been good. I have the American Dream, living the normal upper class life. I have been a stay-at-home always involved Mom with a wonderful husband, for 21 years. We own a Storm Shutter Company that we started together 21 years ago. Time has passes and I no longer have to work in the business. Ed runs most everything now, we are pretty successful and all the has work in the early years has paid off. We have continuously been blessed in our lives; I get to enjoy everyday at my own pace, doting on my kids and Ed is my full job time. Weekends consist of outings with other families in our neighbourhood; whether it is days on the boat or picnics at the park. We are continuously busy and always happy. We take trips on a regular basis to various tropical islands and European countries. Even though our individual social lives are hectic, we always have time for each other. I have two beautiful daughters that are the apple of my eye. Andrea is preparing to go off to college and start her own independence, while Jenna is getting ready for the big leap into High School. Both girls are well rounded, involved in cheerleading, the church, and are good students.
I come from a big Italian family, so the closeness we all share is nothing new to me. All the holidays are with my family since Ed’s family is not very close. When we married, my family embraced him as one of them. We constantly found reasons to get together; it would usually include my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and all the cousins for large dinners or just hanging out. Everything seemed so perfect in my life from all aspects that I thought nothing could ever change.
I was wrong.
It was a Wednesday night and I was going to Bingo with a girlfriend. Ed called just before I was leaving at about 5:00 pm and told me that I had to come to the office, it was very important and I had to come right now. I was really concerned and uneasy as I arrived. He was packing his desk and he looked extremely upset. I became scared at this point and pleaded him to tell what was wrong. He proceeded to blurt out that he had ruined our lives. He kept repeating that he was sorry and he had ruined our lives. All of a sudden he threw down a stack of papers and pictures that scattered all over his desk, then he proclaimed, “I HAVE A SON!” I was in disbelief and didn’t really comprehend what he was saying. As his words started to sink in, I rattled off all these questions that were rolling around in my head. What are you talking about? When did this happen?? Who?! He confessed to me at this point that he has a 15 years old son and that the only reason he was telling me was because he was now being sued for 15 years back child support. An overwhelming sickness came over me and I felt like I was in a bad movie. The first answer I wanted was, “Who is she?” He actually said, “That is not important”. I screamed back at him “ARE YOU KIDDING, IT IS TO ME!” It turns out that he had a 2 years affair 15 years ago with our secretary, Donna.
Donna was my friend; I worked with her daily, went to her baby shower, and rubbed her belly never knowing it was my husband’s baby. Donna was also married but this was her first and only child, and she had stopped working for us after she had the baby. A lot went on behind my back for a long time and I was oblivious to it all. It seems Donna’s husband didn’t think it was his baby when she gave birth, and he did a paternity test right away. When it was determined he was not the father, he left her. The only reason that she didn’t come forward to me was because Ed had been paying her. Ed has known about Zack all these years. He has been keeping them secret and supporting Zack, the problem Ed had is he always sent cash so I would never find out. The only reason Ed came clean to me was he was now being sued for never paying, since there was no record.
When something like this happens and shakes your world it is hard to know what questions you need to ask, to figure out what is really going on. I basically flipped out, took the portrait of my family off the wall in his office and smashed it on the desk. Running out the door to get home to my children was the only thing on my mind. He followed me frantically; begging me not to tell his girls, which was my primary objective at this point. When I skidded into the drive way, he was on my heels. It was a chaos as I entered the house, both girls were home and I was hysterical. Ed entered crying as well, telling them both he had something to confess to them. When he blurted out his announcement, my heart broke as Jenna screamed “No Daddy, not us, everybody else, but not us!” I made him leave that night.
My foundation was gone, and the person I turned to was my Dad. I called him sobbing and after relaying the entire story; I said “Daddy, what do I do?” He gave the best advice in the world. He said “Honey, you have had 21 wonderful years and a good life with this man. He made a big mistake. His second big mistake was keeping it secret for all these years. If he begs you for forgiveness; like he is begging for his life as if he were drowning, think twice”. I loved my husband and tried to rationalize what my Father had said.
I didn’t get much time though, Dad died suddenly within one week from that conversation. Within an extremely short period of time, I had lost the two most important men in my life. At this point it is hard to remember much of what was happening; people coming and going, the funeral and all the emotions whirling around inside me were making me crazy. We both put aside our entire situation to get through it all with the girls. When the services were all over and it was time to face reality, I approached Ed to talk. I took Dad’s advice because I truly loved Ed. My words to him were “Ed, I love you, and I don’t know if I can get past this, but should we try?” His response was “No, I feel so free, like a weight is lifted off me and I don’t want to be married to you anymore”. I felt like my Dad was sitting on my shoulder and it was very clear, I told him to get out.
This was the start of a different life. My mom was going through her own loss, they were married for 49 years and as in love the day Dad died as they were when they first met. Mom moved in with me and the girls. She needed us as much as we needed her. We had a lot of hormones and emotions living in that house. Here we were, four women who all had different and multiple issues to deal with. This was the grieving for a beloved husband, father, and grandfather, and also the betrayal of a spouse and the disappointment and heartache of a father. No family could have been more tested than we were.
The hardest part for me was not that he changed my future, but that he had actually changed my past. Everything I thought was, wasn’t! Ed didn’t have a vasectomy because he didn’t want anymore kids with me. It was because he didn’t want to risk the chance of having anymore kids. When he went shopping at Christmas time I thought he bought a boy’s bike for a needy child- no, it was for Zack. There were many things that had been different. One incident in particular was when someone had put a garden hose in the mail slot of our front door in the office. The water was turned on and we were flooded causing hundreds of dollars of damage. Ed chalked it up to a disgruntled employee he had fired, but in reality it was her retaliation when he broke off their relationship. The every day episodes kept playing like a rewind switch in my head and things came into focus very quickly. I am a pretty smart woman, but my love for him totally blinded me to actually see what was in front of me, and Ed was an excellent liar.
When we were dating I was getting my Real Estate License and even though I never used it, every two years for our entire marriage I would take the continuing education course. Ed said to me once, “Why do you keep your license current?” Playfully I responded, “So when you leave me, I will have something to do!” How true those words turned to be. Here I was; like so many women, 45 years old and having to figure out how to fend for myself.
My actual divorce took over a year, so I had to do something to survive since he wasn’t giving me any money. Ed did take care of his girls; he paid their school and their expenses directly, never to me. I needed to determine how I was going to pay the mortgage and household expenses even though they were living with me. My girls were very bitter and went through a really hard time; after all they had a brother! As a jilted wife I wanted them to hate him, but as a good parent I knew that it wasn’t healthy for them. So I made a conscious decision to put it on the line to both Jenna and Andrea; “He will be my ex-husband but he will never be your ex-Dad”, I let them know, “He didn’t do any thing to you, he did it to me.”
Fortunately my girls were older and able to put things into perspective. They actually felt bad for Zack, he was a victim. The thing they felt most badly about was that Ed was a great Dad to them and poor Zack had no way of knowing that. It is not to say that they just “got over it”, because they were truly hurting too. But they were able to cope on a more adult level. We were always close, but this crisis in our lives bound us together. We were best friends and confidants. Their support for me was my strength.
I was determined to succeed. Part of what I did all those years in the shutter business was getting permits for each job. About a year before his big confession to me, Ed kept pushing me to do permits for other contractors; since I was doing it anyway I could have a “nice little thing going on”, as he put it. He knew exactly what he was doing because he didn’t want to take care of me when he finally left. Ed was setting me up! The man I knew didn’t exist any longer. His perspective was that it is not fair for a man to have to pay alimony when a woman is totally capable of working. He didn’t like the concept of still having to take care of me. Child support was not an issue because Andrea was an adult and Jenna had only a couple of years to go. I never realized that money was the driving force in his life, more important than family. I had a fight on my hands.
I was afraid to tackle real estate because I needed an income immediately and that would be a slow learning process. I found my niche. Ironically, Ed’s words propelled me into my permit business. I never advertised, yet every time I was at a city someone would ask me for my card because they hated obtaining permits. My client list started to grow and I was doing pretty well with my new little company. I was able to maintain the house and take care of things the entire year until my divorce. Ed was stead fast to get half of everything and no alimony for me. The only thing to move on was threaten his money to get divorced. My divorce would have dragged on for years and I could not have afforded that to happen. I knew my rights and I told him straight out, “I want a lump sum payment for alimony or you will have another lawsuit on your hands. I will sue you for using marital assets to pay for your son for 15 years”! I didn’t want to be dealing with him chasing him every year to pay me what I deserved. The deciding factor was again money, all that caused him a reluctantly agree. My divorce did become final and I finally got my settlement.
I decided to activate my real estate license. I didn’t stop my permit business though, so I was working tremendously. Real Estate is very time consuming, and difficult to do part time. I tried a different angle, I used my settlement and bought a house to fix up and sell. The market was the right and house prices were escalating. I hired a handyman to fix it up and sold it within one month’s time. The profit was a year of working my permits, and I was on a roll. For the next 14 months I kept buying, fixing up and selling. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought my real estate license from 1981 would be used this way. When I look back it amazes me where the strength came from. The only thing that I can contribute it to was survival.
My life of a stay-at-home always involved Mom with a wonderful husband was gone. In its place was a financially independent woman, a business owner and real estate investor.
As for Ed, life has a strange way of dealing the cards. At 58 years old remarried to a 32 year old with 2 small children. He now has 5 children to contend with; my two, his illegitimate son, and his new found children. So, being free is not an option for him any longer. I am the one who is free.
As for my love life; there really is no one special in my life right now, bur that is ok. I am now at a place where I am ready to start to trust people again. It took me a while to get there. I don’t know if I will ever marry again; though I do not know that I will be with someone that loves me and is with me because he wants to, not because he has to.
I devoted the last three years to me. I have come full circle. I thought I always knew who I was, now I truly know what I can become. There is real enrichment in knowing this. I do know that God has looked out for me from day one. From my perspective I had a great married life raising two beautiful girls. We didn’t know anything until the girls were old enough to handle it. Had I have known years ago, my life would have been very different. And now I have a wonderful single life with nothing but possibilities ahead of me. I guess you can say “I have had the best of both worlds.”
I have learned that life changes in the blink of an eye. And you must savor every moment, the good and the bad because you take something from both.
If you had told me three years ago that I would be divorced and so far removed from the life I knew; I would have called you crazy. But I know now; that I can smile and tell you,
Life is good.