Saturday, October 25, 2008

Crazy Part II: The Divorce

Seven years after my birth, my mother and father sat us down and told us that they no longer loved each other and that daddy was moving out. Mood killer, I know. My father promptly married the tramp he’d been cheating on my mother with, and my mother promptly became the most bitter woman on planet earth. My mother moved us to Georgia, closer to family, and closer to courts who were more sympathetic to wives who had been cheated on.

And because you guys insist on pictures, here was one taken about that time (I know, AAHHHH! ALL DENIM!!!):

We traveled constantly back and forth to see our father in CA (I swear I have flown more miles in my lifetime than anyone I know), all the while dealing with the wretched woman he had decided to marry - the epitome of evil stepmother. No, really, she would call and heckle my mother at 3AM, steal mail that my father’s family would send him, and intercepted the child support payments my father was sending to my mother. She was a redhead named Katherine, but insisted we call her Kitty... yes, really. She was bat-shit insane – seriously – diagnosed sociopath.

Meanwhile, my mother wasted away to nothing after the divorce. She had this tiny, little red dress and shoes made for her right after the split. The shoes were a size 4 and the dress must have been a negative size, because I remember not being able to get it over my thigh at age twelve. She worked her butt off to send me and my brother to a good private school. I know at one point she was working three jobs simultaneously, one of them was an on-call nursing position, and they would call her at all hours of the night. I always admired her for all she did for us during those years.

When I was twelve, my father moved from central to southern CA following a job. He and Kitty fought quite a bit after the move, and (thankfully) they finally divorced. We found out later she had been cheating on my father with another married man. I remember feeling pretty badly for my father for the first time – what he had done to my mother had actually been done to him. He moved to Orange County during all this and started working for a company that he eventually bought to keep it from failing. Kitty pulled a few more crazy stunts (once she tried to break into the house and scared the crap out of my current stepmother), but was finally out of the picture.

Enter Pam. About the time I was turning fifteen, Pam and my father met at a local restaurant. I remember seeing a picture of her for the first time and seeing how pretty she was. My first thought was great, he’s become one of those old guys with the hot young girlfriend – ick. Turns out she was actually older than him, she just looked that good. She tried so hard to be my friend, but I was a bit wary to say the least. When she forked out the cash to buy me a pair of Cole Haan heels at Nordstrom one day, I knew I loved her. She has a crazy life story – born in Canada, lived in Venezuela, dated a prince of Spain, owns a business in Switzerland… and sometimes she still doesn’t get the whole “American thing”. One time I caught her chopping pickles up for something she was making. I started laughing at her, made her stop, and proceeded to describe in detail exactly what relish is and how you could buy it in a jar at the grocery store.


writer chick said...

Hey MJ,
Step parents can be a nightmare or a blessing, it's true. I was lucky in that my parents didn't decide to split until after I was on my own and too the subsequent mates they ended up with were good people and truly better suited to them.

I must say though, despite this obvious tough patch for you in your life you have turned out to be quite a balanced and sane individual. You should pat yourself on the back for that.


Franco said...

Parents! who can deal with them, here's my story when I was 16 my parents started getting crazy and divorced, but guess what!! a week later they made up! but they never bothered to get married again, so Now I have 2 unmaarried parents living's weird.

pure evyl said...

That is some seriously big hair.

teeni said...

Wow - that had to be rough to deal with a divorce and seeing your dad with someone else - especially that freak. Pam sounds okay though since she took an interest in you. Like Annie says, you deserve a pat on the back for being smart enough to turn out the way you did.

bobbinoggin said...

i seriously think you're adding a whole new component to your blog. even when this series is over and your family story is told. i think you should look for more subject matter that has a fun indepth side like this. with the quirky banter and dark humor. it's bittersweet an very interesting.

thank you for sharing this with us!

Rachel said...

My mom came home one night and said she wasn't in love with my dad anymore...they got separated 3 times before I begged them to just get divorced.
Thank goodness no stepparents until I got dad remarried twice...first time he didn't tell me and got married again 5 years mom never remarried.

MJ said...

WC - My brother and I actually went to a mediator/child therapist for a few years before he finally told our parents that they were wasting their money because we were the most well-adjusted kids he'd ever had.

Franco - That IS crazy.

PE - I know! I inherited all that hair, but luckily I tame mine better than that.

Teeni - Yeah, it was rough for a while. I suppose, what doesn't kill you... right?

BN - I have had a lot of fun writing these posts! I'm glad you enjoyed them.

Rachel - My mom never remarried either, but there are so many times that I wish she would.

~alison said...

Thanks for sharing all of this - it is really interesting.

kweenmama said...

It would be hard to deal with the person who helped break up your parents' marriage. Good thing she is out of the picture. How does your mom feel about Pam?

the Grit said...

Hi MJ,

Sorry babe, but this one is just too close to home, and considering how my past came out along these lines, all I can say is good luck and my thoughts are with you. On the bright side, I'm figuring it has to work out better for you than it did for me, and I've got my fingers crossed that I;m right.

the Grit

Peter Parkour said...

My dad left my mom when I was five. I remarried when I was seven. She was rather Kitty like, and they are still together. I will never understand the attraction, but I guess it's not for me to understand. I have never liked that woman, actually spending most of my life hating her. Now I try to play nice as much as possible, but every now and then I snap under the pressure. I always wished my mom and dad would get back together, but I would have settled for a "Pam". I'm loving the pics by he way. ;)

Peter Parkour said...

Ok, I didn't actually remarry when I was seven, my dad did. :|