Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mr. Sunshine (Part Five) - The Reformation and Resolution

He came back to me, changed and seemingly broken. He appeared to be coming out of his self-imposed delusions and moving toward the honest, somewhat shocking realization of who he really was. He would not consider himself a failure but he had failed, in so many, many ways.

He no longer wanted the hot, sexy young sales girl. He wanted a life with me. He wanted to be a father. He wanted to start going to church, to get a "real" job, to finally be a man and oh by the way, in order to accomplish all of this, we would need to move to Wisconsin.

While the thought had certainly never entered my mind that I might one day be living in Wisconsin. We were losing the house anyway. I had shut down the business and filed bankruptcy on the remaining debt. I didn't really like my new job and I was restless. We had visited Milwaukee many times to see his mom. It seemed like a city on the verge of cool; well at least much more on the verge than Oklahoma City was at that time. Why the hell not, let's do it!

We moved in August of 2000. It was glorious, fresh and new. It smelled clean and crisp; fall, my favorite season, was already in the air. Those first few months were exciting as we searched for a place to live, settled #1 Son into his freshman year of high school and began to explore our new surroundings. Mr. Sunshine had landed that "real" job for a national company, no less.  It took me a few months to find work back in my field. We were on our way, at the dawn of a new life. Time to rebuild.

When December rolled around, we had our first big snow storm. I had seen snow before, but never anything as beautiful as that. The entire place looked like a giant Christmas painting or Hallmark card. I bought snow boots for everyone and it continued to snow. We frolicked around in it and it continued to snow. We made snowmen and had snowball fights and it continued to snow. We went sledding and it continued to snow. By month end, we had received an all time, record breaking snow for the month of December - a whopping 52 inches.

It is the perfect metaphor for how my life with Mr. Sunshine evolved and eventually ended. Some snow is good; in fact, it can be great - a helluva fun ride but 52 inches in one month can put a damper on things.

Sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself.

The reformation of Mr. Sunshine With a Chance of Pain had begun. He started to dabble in politics, his first love and perhaps his only true passion in life (besides his children).  Within two years he was heading up statewide committees, running for county and statewide elected office, volunteering for national senate campaigns, pursuing a Political Science degree at night and making a name for himself among the most conservative of the ultra-conservative-elite.

Taxes are three times as high in Wisconsin as they were in Oklahoma so I was proud of him for his fiscally conservative position; however, he couldn't hang with the big dogs without drinking from their water bowls, much like those poor souls who drank the Kool Aid in Guyana. (Yes, I intended to portray it in such a shocking context.)

Our fundamental belief systems began to sharply contrast. Soon, I found myself on the receiving end of many a diatribe over such things as abortion, gay marriage and family values, you know - things like infidelity and divorce, which a few of my friends were going through at the time.

"You shouldn't hang out with them" he would say, "They are a bad influence". After a long pause the only thing I could think to say was:

Excuse me, but have we met?

In November of 2001 I found I was pregnant again.  He was, believe it or not, a top notch partner during the pregnancy. He had to be when they put me down to bed rest. But after the babies came and the stress of two premature infants became apparent, he was again skipping out the door for work, night classes and political commitments. When someone suggested he run for office, he had to go back and fix an itsy, bitty, teeny, weeny little mistake.

I will never forget the shock and romanticism of it all when he came home from work on my birthday, handed me a gift box and said something to the tune of well, we've had three kids together, we might as well get married now.

The son of a bitch bought me an engagement ring on my birthday to get out of having to buy me a present.

The girls had been born in May, this was August.  We were married the following June.  There I was in the bathroom, crying so hard, knowing I didn't want to be married to him, knowing I would have to wait many years for him to truly grow up, but telling myself - I want to put the bow on this package and make it legitimate.

I wanted to share the last name of my children and I didn't want to have to explain why mommy and daddy were never married.  I walked down that aisle. If you look closely at the photo of me from Mr. Sunshine-Part One, you can see my red nose and red, squinty eyes, swollen shut from the profuse emotion; yet also, perfectly matching my red dress. Does anyone still question why I selected red as an articulation of my bridal bliss?

There were many interesting things that happened from June of 2003 to November of 2004 when I decided to leave him for good. At the height of his political involvement, he was spending most of his time volunteering for the Tim Michels campaign for the U.S. Senate seat held by Russ Feingold. I was invited to attend some events for the staff and volunteers at the Michels' home. It was difficult for me to sit and listen to them go on and on and on about abortion, knowing the man sitting next to me had paid for the abortion of the drug addicted whore he had knocked up.

Let's suffice it to say, I wasn't invited to many more events.  They could smell a social liberal at fifty paces.

Then there was the time they all went out after some rally or something and one of the young paid staffer girls got so drunk, Mr. Sunshine brought her home, carried her into our house, while she was kissing on his face and neck and put her to bed on our couch.  That was a tough one to explain to the nanny the next morning.  "Oh, don't mind her, my husband brought her home last night."

After that, I checked Mr. Sunshine's email on a regular basis and found he had quite the emotional affair (that's all I can prove) with a another young volunteer who was incensed that he had stood her up at a fund raising event he had promised to attend.  As I recall, he missed the event because I forced him to accompany us to my annual company picnic. I didn't feel comfortable keeping up with two babies and a four year old by myself.

It didn't make sense to me why he said he couldn't come with us. Why was a campaign event more important. Then I understood, he wasn't just showing up to support the candidate, if you know what I mean.

In late October, I came home from an overnight business trip to Chicago and woke up the next morning to discover another woman's panties in my bed.  Actually, I didn't discover them, one of my toddler twins had picked them up and placed them on her head.  I grabbed them, checked the size (small, not me) the label (Calvin Klein) again, not me and the smell (most certainly used and NOT BY ME).

Twin was immediately scrubbed down similar to that of a potential hazardous waste exposure.

All of that nonsense aside, I still wasn't totally done until I realized the guy was never going to work a real job, live real life, be a real husband - no matter what I did.  He had been laid off by the big national company when they noticed his head was in the political clouds instead of with them. He had not found a new job, opting instead to start his own consulting firm and supplement his income from county or state elected positions.

All of this cost money. He had cashed out everything from his job, borrowed money on our house and put us in debt, again to the point where we didn't have enough money coming in to cover the bills. When there was no more credit to be extended, he went to his mom and asked her to finance some home improvements, selecting the colors and fixtures behind my back.

I came home from work one night to see carpet torn out, cabinets demolished and new items slated to go back in, which I had previously objected to.  Said objections were not solely a cost issue - I hated the idea of pedestal sinks when you have no cabinetry - where's a girl supposed to put her shit?

It was a life changing moment. I sat at the edge of my bed, looked at the debris around me and felt as if Cher had suddenly walked up to me, slapped me across the face and said, "Snap out of it".

Thanks Cher. You were right. I am 41 years old, I make a good salary.  It was a revelation, a resolution and a glory hallelujah, I was unquestionably resolved. I could support myself and my children without him, I had to if I wanted to survive.

Just as I felt on my wedding day, I was done, so very, very done. However, this time it was "real".


  1. If your life were a book/movie I would think it preposterous....no way could one woman go through all of this and live to tell about it. So glad you made it out alive and, presumably, happy.

    Mr. Sunshine sounds like a real piece of work. I like that you envision Cher slapping you! LOL!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Cathy - Happy Thanksgiving to you as well! It is all quite preposterous but ultimately, I have so many reasons to be thankful for it all!

  3. I dated a guy for way too long that reminds me of Mr. Sunshine. If you lived in Vermont, I would swear you married him!

    It's easy to look back now and think "What was I thinking? Why did I stay for so long? Or after [fill in the blank with any of aforementioned incidents]." But at the time, you thought you were doing what was right for you, your family, your relationship. Giving benefit of the doubt after benefit of the doubt.

    All I can say is, I'm finally glad I ran out of benefits and only had doubts left. And I'm glad you did too!

  4. I think you should buy a book n l wud be the first one to purchase it.

  5. Whenever I read an installment it's the feeling of the sting you get when you rip off a bandaid. Ouch! Crap, I've done this same stuff.

  6. Kaela - Oh, the lessons we learn. Thanks goodness we can blog, share and heal together!

    Yollie - My greatest dream is to channel all of this into a forum that will help other women to grow beyond the challenges I faced and believe in themselves enough to skip the nonsense and watch for the signs directing them to the life they were born to lead. Whether blog or book, I am inspired to make us all think before we leap.

    Julie - Amen,sista! It hurts. But let's learn from it and use it to inspire others.


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