STORIES OF MY EX-WIFE – PART 1* – Jammyjaybird

Picture it: Tall, sexy, legs up to her neck, an apple bottom that swings a bit too sexily when she walks in her designer jeans. Twenty-three-year-old American girl with a big mane of blonde hair, and she has a swagger, like she knows that everybody is always looking at her. She’s right. They are.

On our first date, two other guys try hitting on her when I go to the bathroom. I can’t blame them.

Second date, we bang for close to three hours. She’s on the pill and we go bareback and she’s incredible. After, I pass out and she cooks me fresh pasta. This can’t be real. She’s hot and she bangs like a minx and she cooks for her man.

But she’s blonde, and I like brunettes. Still, who am I to complain about this gift that has fallen into my lap.

I find out that she’s funny too, which is rare in a woman. She literally makes me laugh out loud—hard. How many women you know can make you do that? Today, I understand the humor was just a mask for her aggressive nature. But I didn’t know that then.

She works part-time near my apartment. Couple times a week, at lunchtime, she comes over for food and sex, in whatever order. One day, she says that we ought to be exclusive. I quickly agree. In my mind, it’s never going to get better than this. I’m happy. She’s happy. After almost a decade of dating—I’m thirty—the world feels reborn.

After a month, she goes home to visit her mother and father. I’m going to marry this guy, she tells them. I find this out years later.

We become inseparable. She’s a highly emotional person, reactive, full of laughter. This is not my usual cup of tea, but for some reason—that starts with ‘p’ and ends in ‘y’—I decide to strap myself to this rocket and see how far it goes. I’m entranced by her personality, her body, everything.

Halloween comes. I dress as Hugh Hefner, she’s a Playboy bunny. Bustier, fishnets, heels, pink ears. Out on the streets that night, we draw a thousand stares. Aw, who am I kidding—they were all looking at her.

We buy tickets for a journey to South America. Two weeks, no tour guide, just us and our combined weak-ass Spanish. We barely have the money to afford it but who cares. It feels like the world is our oyster. Photos from that trip still pluck a heartstring. It’s the best memory I have of our time together.

I know your next question. If she’s your ex-wife, weren’t there warnings signs?

Of course there were.

 

THE RED FLAGS

  1. The tramp stamp on her lower back. What a classic tell. I knew what it meant then, just like I know what it means now. I just didn’t care.
  2. The screaming fits when her desires cannot be fulfilled. On a couple occasions, I have to hold the phone away from my ear, the bellowing is so loud. My justification: It’s a phase. She’s seven years younger than me. She’ll grow out of it.
  3. The closet crammed full of designer shoes and designer clothing. On a part-time fifteen-dollar-an-hour wage.
  4. The Sex and the City ringtone on her phone. That damn song haunts me to this day.
  5. The way she walks a step ahead of me. She will not let me lead.

I knew these were red flags. I didn’t care. Here’s why.

  1. Her parents had a strong marriage. High school sweethearts, fun people, very loving.
  2. Her parents also liked me. A lot. Her dad gets drunk and falls off a roof into a pool the first night that I meet him. The second night I meet him, he tells me he loves me after I go around finishing other people’s cocktails in a tiki bar. Honestly, I loved that guy too. Everybody does. He is the life of the party, a larger than life character, an absolute force of nature. The type of guy that they will tell stories about for decades after he passes away. You know the type.
  3. I have total confidence in my ability to overcome relationship problems through the force of my own will.
  4. She’s smart. I assume I can reason with a smart person. (You know what they say about assumptions.)

I don’t remember how this happened in my head, but a year and a half of this rapturous passion goes by, without dimming, and I decide it’s time that we should get married. I search for and find a travel package – only $1000 for a winter trip for two to Vienna, Austria, plane and hotel included. She’d always wanted to go there.

I suggest the vacation. She gives an enthusiastic thumbs up. I purchase the package, then give her a card a day later. Inside I write: Do you know what’s going to happen in Vienna? As she reads it, I hold her eyes.

“What’s going to happen?” she says.

“Let’s go shopping this Saturday,” I reply.

Now she’s all excited. “For what?”

“You know for what,” I say.

Her eyes light up. She’s running around like a beautiful but overstimulated rat. That Saturday, with her at my side, I purchase the seven-thousand-dollar ring of her dreams, on credit. That was two months’ salary, more or less, at that time. Yes, I followed the classic advice for chumps, not knowing any better. (Today? It would be an eighty-dollar ring, or maybe just a kiss on the cheek.)

Interesting thing, though, was that I was the driver of the engagement and the marriage, not her. This is not typical. Usually men have to be dragged into a relationship. I guess it shows how certain I was that we were meant to be together.

Regardless, when we come back from Vienna with a pair of rings on our fingers, I have no idea of the absolute shitshow that was about to enter my life. And she is going to be the star.

 

Coming up in Part 2: How it all went bad.

 

*some identifying details have been changed.

  • Jammyjaybird

 

Book 1 Chapter 1

As their boat neared the shore, Ulaf gazed at the dark forest just a few paces inland. Having just attained his status as chief of the war-band, he was not yet as confident as he was sure he one day would be. Especially seeing as how he was leading a large group of his tribes’ best warriors to help a traditional enemy.

What was it they said, the enemy of my enemy is my friend? He was not completely sold on that idea, but if the reports of the Chauci were to be believed this great foe was the worst terror to ever appear. Ulaf and the other war leaders had listened to the envoy’s tales of whole tribes slaughtered, their men butchered and women and children sold into slavery in the direction of the sunrise.

They had been given promises of peace, which in all truth was only worth the empty air the words spun through, but the possibility of these Roman terrors subduing the southern tribesman and then turning their attention across the north seas to their homelands had roused the men to action.

The call had went out for the war-bands to assemble. Fish had been smoked or salted, water stored in barrels and blades sharpened. The men of the north would go to the aid of their southern neighbors.

“So here we are,” Ulaf roared to his men on the beach. “We have heard of the threat of these Romans. We have weighed the balance and decided to come fight. Not out of fear or the promise of plunder, but out of the noble desire to protect our homes and our families.”

Ulaf snatched his spear from where it was tied across his back and jabbed it into the sky, emphasizing each word with the blade.

“We will stop this scum. We will destroy them. We will make sure they never look this way again. And we will return to our homes, safe in the knowledge that our children will be safe.”

“Not all of us will return, but what better way to join our father Wodin than carried by the Valkyr to his side? Men are not made to cower in fear, but to go out to the enemy and if he die, die with a blade in his hand.”

“We are hardened by our winters and by our struggle to live. Our people are the strongest of all. We have never been subdued, never enslaved. So, let’s go show these southern goat humpers how real men conduct warfare.”

The answering roar crashed off of the thick trees and scattered birds from their nests.

 

*   *   *   *   *

Arminius welcomed Ulaf into his tent. Actually, tent did not do it justice. It was a tent in that it had a canvas roof, but the walls were of packed sod and logs. A fireplace crackled at one end, with a long table half covered by papers and a large map taking up the center of the room. A bedroll was adjacent to the fireplace.

Arminius himself was a striking figure. Tall and muscular, with blond hair and striking green eyes, he was surely beloved by the women. But most arresting to Ulaf was the intelligence that caused the southern leader’e eyes to sparkle.

As Arminius spoke, Ulaf also noted flashes of rage that crossed the man’s face as he recalled the unspeakable acts taken against his people.

“I was assigned to Varus because I had served the Romans faithfully since my youth. What other choice did I have? And, besides, I was fighting against people other than my own. I thought what I was doing could benefit us down the road, but I should have known better.”

“Rome’s appetite for conquest is insatiable. They have not suffered a setback in generations, so they believe it is their destiny to subdue all before them. It was only a matter of time before they attacked my home.”

Arminius reached out and gripped Ulaf’s shoulders, “Do not for a moment think that your people are safe. If we are defeated here, Rome will in time grasp for your lands. The sea is no defense for them. They have conquered lands across the sea before. In Africa and Brittania. They will come for the north lands.”

He released Ulaf’s shoulders and strode to the long table in the center of the tent. He picked up a scabbard and blade and turned to Ulaf, holding out the handle to the northman.

“I need your men. I need their savagery and unbreakable will. In return I offer you the best of my weapons and equipment. I also offer you security from attack by all under my control. This can mark the beginning of a new age between our peoples. An age of peace and security. Together, none can conquer us. We will be free.”

Ulaf’s gaze moved from the blade to the man. He stared into Arminius’ eyes for a drawn-out moment, then reached out and accepted the blade.

“I haven’t come all this way to turn back now, Arminius. We will fight. As for afterwards, well, what happens happens.”

Grinning the two men embraced, then Ulaf left the tent. It was time to prepare.

Changing Habits Big and Small

You are a bundle of habits. They come in many sizes. Some you are aware of, many you are not. They are behaviors that survived long enough to become ingrained and are therefore on some level successful – but probably not optimal (though they may have been when you developed them).

Habits – good habits – are beneficial because they solidify successful behaviors while leaving your conscious mind free to work on more novel problems.

Your habits are reinforced by one another and the environment in which you life and move. An action prompts another action which sets the stage for another. Habits form a stream of actions that sweep you along rather smoothly. After all, when the transition from one action to another is jarring it is soon replaced with something easier.

You are a bundle of habits, and sometimes you want to change.

But that’s not always easy.

Your habits feed into each other. Each habit is maintained not because of its usefulness to you but because of its usefulness to your entire behavioral system. Like a stray cat it will stick around as long as you feed it. Unlike a stray cat it will bring along a friend, who will bring another friend, and so on.

Behaviors may be thought of as costing two things; time & decision-making. Time is a hard limit; we have so much in a day. Decision-making is a “softer” cost but mentally taxing and therefore annoying.

A behavior that becomes a habit does not cost less time (though you will probably figure out a way to do it faster), but it does cost significantly less decision-making.

And because that habit is always part of your behavioral system it will smoothly feed into the next decision-minimized habit, and so forth until you run out of time for the day. When the alarm rings the next morning the stream of habits begins to gush again, rushing you through the day until you trudge back to bed wondering what happened.

You are a bundle of habits, and sometimes you want to change.

Changing behavior is easy in theory but a new behavior must replace an existing habit – an existing habit that has already been optimized for easy transition. The new behavior will be a jarring one because it clashes with the existing flow.

How to make it happen?

Repeating the new behavior until it becomes a habit is the obvious answer. The comfort of routine will help with most anything once you get it going. If you keep it up it will eventually become an element in your behavioral system.

But remember that your behavioral system was optimized for the lifestyle you had before the new behavior. Unless the transition to the new behavior is as or more smooth than to the one it replaced you will find the new behavior jarring. Someday you might slip back into old habits. It’s always easy to justify the first lapse, but it is the beginning of a trend.

According to the book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, people find it easier to quit smoking while on vacation. Why? The schedules and triggers developed over time are absent on a vacation, removing many of the prompts that lead to a smoke.

If you want to make changes in your daily life, consider the following guidelines:

  • Change the beginning of your day. Your behavioral cascades probably begin with an alarm. By making changes at or near the beginning of the processes you will face fewer triggers and expectations set up by prior actions and habits.
  • Make big changes rather than small ones. Because your habits and actions form a reinforcing system, a single small change will often seem uncomfortable and out of place. Replacing large sections of your behavioral system allows you to construct something that reinforces itself.
  • Identify keystone habits that set the stage for everything else. Changing these will have disproportionate effects downstream.

Conclusion

We like to think of ourselves as rational and independent beings. If we want to see real results we need to lay our egos aside and look at the real mechanisms of our lives. One of those mechanisms is the habit.

Habits and environmental prompts are inevitable. Rather than fighting them or pretending they aren’t there, use them to your own advantage.

Every new habit dwells in the ruins of an older habit. If you want it you have to earn it.

Love Is in the Air

The gentleman with the pomaded hair steps out of his Prius and casts furtive glances around the bar’s parking lot. He sees the cracked asphalt and the beat-up motorcycle pulled up beside the door to the establishment.

He nervously jingles his keys and almost drops his phone when it buzzes. He looks at the screen. “Honey pie” is displayed on the screen, along with her flabby arms and protruding gut. He taps the side button twice to cancel the call, then turns his phone off. It’s time for action.

Screwing up his courage, he walks to the front door, stopping only long enough to spit his mouthwash out into the bushes alongside. Then he steps through the door.

He’s greeted by the sight of a long wooden bar. To his right, a row of dartboards on the wall. To his left, an open area that could be a dance floor. Restrooms are past the dance floor. The light is dim and a haze fills the air. This place is obviously vape friendly. Good.

A chirpy older lady smiles and greets him as he walks up to the bar. She is weather beaten and has a bit too much makeup on, but seems nice. Her shirt says, “I found the Hole in the Wall.”Interesting. Could mean several different things. Did she find a way to extend her youth? Is she referring to the name of the establishment? Does she have holes in need of filling?

No matter. I have come to have the hole in my heart filled with meaning. No longer will I be shackled by the expectations and demands of this cruel world. I will find respite in the presence of one who has the answers.

These thoughts run through his mind and pushes him to utter, rather breathlessly in his heightening anticipation, “Is Nicholas in?”

Justice in the Courts

Watch this, pay close attention around the 3:00 mark. Uber driver was accused of sexual assault, he showed videotape to the contrary. The women just wanted to get the guy for asking them not to smoke in his car. The police told the Uber driver that “there was not enough evidence that they lied to prosecute”. His life could have been ruined. I am not so ticked off at the women, they are what they are. I am ticked off at the law system that gives women a pass for perjury.

Government School Alternatives, Part 4

As a strong proponent of homeschooling I suggest that all parents at least consider the practice, but homeschooling can have downsides as well – potentially big ones.

Because homeschooling can have downsides it is important for parents to keep their eyes open both when considering homeschooling and while continuing in it.

Finances

The most obvious downside of homeschooling is its financial impact. Supplies and activities cost money that would otherwise be covered by tax money. Most homeschooling schemes require a large commitment of time from one parent, potentially reducing income. These two considerations will work hand-in-hand to strain family income. Furthermore, a single-income household is exposed to having 100% of its income at risk of an unemployment event while a dual-income household has half the exposure.

Solution: Talk to other home-schoolers to determine average and unexpected costs. See if hand-me-down curricula are available. Verify it can be done by living on a single income before homeschooling while socking away money from the second job.

Parent-Child Relationships

Homeschooling adds a new relationship between mother and child, as well as more pressures on each. Parenting will not become easier because of it.
The teacher relationship is different from the mother relationship and the two roles can come into conflict. So also for the child, who has to switch between student and son with the same person.

Solution: ensure that explicit boundaries between school life and home life are made at the beginning and respected by both mother and child. Lines will change as the family figures things out but they must be clear.

If the child already has a difficult relationship with his mother homeschooling may serve as a source of resentment, conflict, or just too much time together. Alternatively, an overly-dependent child will find it easier to not learn independence.

The mother’s relationship with her child can see similar stresses. The additional exposure and demands may push a successful relationship into damaging territory.

Solution: know not to force a square peg into a round hole, and have backup plans in case what you are doing just doesn’t work.

Only Fish in the Pond

The traditional home-school environment can be isolating in unexpected ways. A student without a classroom peer group to measure himself against may develop an incorrect – and inflated – view of his own abilities. While overconfidence can be an asset in some situations the inevitable crush that comes with the truth will be hard to take.

Solution: Ensure your child has exposure to people and challenges he cannot easily compete with. Recognize hard work and commitment over aptitude-based results.

A child who grow up in an overprotective environment will have a lot of catching up to do when he enters the real world. The shock of transition can lead to social withdrawal or inappropriate compromise. The naif will be the recipient of ridicule and abuse, especially if male.

Solution: Be sure to expose your child to the realities of the world. Mothers will tend to overprotect – it is their nature – so ensure your child has opportunity to learn the rougher customs of the world and how to navigate them. Peer-group slang and innuendo is an important survival skill.

The tiny environment of the home school can nurture the perfectionist, who will spend too much time at his skill level when he should be pushing the edges of his abilities. This looks good in grades and science fairs but is of little value in the adult world.

Solution: Live a non-perfectionist life in full view of your child. Make sure he understands that mistakes are the stepping stones to success.

Rebellion

Most children rebel. It is an important part of becoming an adult and etching out an identity. Handled well, relationships will weather the storm and become stronger (though different) on the other side. Parents who do not have the knowledge or maturity to handle rebellion will amplify it and the damage will be greater.

The causes and solutions to rebellion are difficult topics with no universal answers. Overbearing parents and too much family time can be issues in the home-school environment.

Solution: Do not exasperate your children – there is no correct way to control a child into a healthy adult. Children need a certain amount of space to make mistakes.

Another connection between homeschooling and rebellion is exit from and entry to junior high and high school. Children pulled from school with feel the loss of their peer groups and can feel like weirdos. Children put into government schools from a home-school environment do so without a network of relationships in the new environment to draw upon and are alien to the school’s many cultures.

Solution: Homeschooling should be a voluntary choice on the child’s part if possible. Try to avoid disrupting social connections during the teenage years, when non-family social connections are deeply important.

Stress

Both parents and children can become over-stressed as homeschooling progresses. Because education takes place with family members in the physical space of the home it will tend to “grow” until stress itself provides a boundary. Mothers especially will feel stress because they can always do just a little bit better if they sacrifice just a little more.

Solution: Physical and time boundaries are essential, as are a good relationship between husband and wife. Clearly defined goals will relieve a lot of stress. There is a reason why good enough is called “good enough.” The most important lessons in life are taught by living.

In an attempt to do just a little bit better mothers may be tempted to shift goals as children approach them. Not only does this create increased work it consumes time and exasperates children.

Solution: Children need consistent boundaries. This includes educational goals. If children complete their work early let them enjoy the reward of their labor (usually free time).

Conclusion

Homeschooling and other alternatives to government school are important for any parent to investigate, but they do come with certain drawbacks and challenges. By learning those challenges ahead of time you can better build an education that works well for your family and your children.

The single best piece of advice I can give is this: don’t go alone. Find others in similar situations for comradeship and mutual support.