How Do You Maintain a Friendship With Someone Who Isn’t a Good Friend?

This is a confusing point of my life.  I am in the process of divorcing my husband.  Almost exactly 2 years ago, he began working out, losing weight, dying the hair on his head, and manscaping his body.  In six months, he would turn 50.  He signed up for and completed a Spartan race.  He traded his two year old Hyundai for a 10 year old Jeep Wrangler.  He, also, began telling me all the ways he found me deficient.  I didn’t have an issue with the changes he wanted to make with himself and even our marriage.  I wanted a more active life, too, so I quit my full-time job to go part-time.  We began biking and hiking together on the weekends since I was no longer working weekends.  I began addressing the aspects of my body that he said he didn’t like.  Still, he couldn’t seem to be happy with me and refused to perform any action I thought might make our marriage better(counselling, casual physical touching, working from the office on any day I had off so I would have some solitude).  I knew what these changes meant but chose to ignore them hoping he would just choose to stop.  His personal policy, as he himself has stated, is to deny, deny, deny.  In pursuit of this policy, he concocted elaborate lies and denials even when he was caught flat out.  I will simply state that he was caught in many liaisons with other women and even participated in a swinger’s group.  I don’t know how to justify my having stayed with him through this period of time except to say that I understood his abrupt confrontation with his own mortality and his search for sexual virility, even though I made it clear that I was not OK with it and that we would have to divorce if it continued.

He had long been overly critical, and this was noted by multiple people, but he began criticizing every aspect of my life.  This included my job choice, my appearance, my driving, the way I prepared a cup of coffee for him, and that I failed to greet him occasionally when he came through the door.  It should be noted that he never prepared a cup of coffee for me or greeted me when I came in. Even the way I took a photo of him- “Your instincts are terrible”(said twice).  Any contribution I made to our marriage or lives was discounted.  Mowing the yard, cooking, handling the mail, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, working- nothing rated notice, much less thanks.  He, also, cut me out of parts of his life.  There were no recent pictures of me on his Facebook profile, and I wasn’t allowed to go with him on a couple of trips he took to interesting places.  I know he chose to share his trip to Puerto Rico with some one else, and I found naked pictures of her in the folder on his computer.  He chose to spend our money exploring a new, exciting place with some one other than me.

He says he didn’t want the divorce.  He says he has a sexual addiction, and he says I am the love of his life.  I do love him.  We have two young adult children.  We weathered 12 years caring for a medically fragile third child, including that child’s sudden death.  We have made an effective, loving team in years past.  We have been married twenty-three years, 21 of which I see as mostly good.  We, also, share guardianship of our granddaughter.  The nature of our relationship has to change, but we must still be in some regular contact.  In pursuit of that change and of my own happiness, I have chosen to move back to our home state following the sale of our house.  What I thought I wanted was to maintain a friendship, but I am just now confronting the fact that I would not choose to remain friends with any one else who treated me as poorly as he has.  Even when I try to separate the marriage from the friendship, I have to face the fact that it wasn’t much of a friendship for years.  How much text contact do I want to maintain.  Do I really want to continue to exchange texts where we wish each other good night?  Right now, we have a standing “date” on Wednesdays where I make dinner for him, he spends time with our granddaughter, and we watch  a movie on Netflix together.  I set this up with him for several reasons.  I wanted him to continue to have contact with our granddaughter, I wanted to maintain a friendly vibe, and I didn’t want him to just drop in when he felt like it, which is what was happening.  I told myself that this was only short-term until the divorce process was complete, but the process is long.  I know that distance will help, but it will still be months before I can move.  Yesterday was the first day in a long time that I have allowed myself to acknowledge how hurt I am by the choices he made and that he made those choices knowing they would hurt me.  Deliberately hurting me over a long period of time.  How do I stay friends with some one who does that?  Do I really want to?

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

I believe that saying, I really do.  Once I realized that it’s OK to be a C student in something, I understood that it is better to continue, get that C, and not give up than to just throw in the towel and get the F.  That was a difficult lesson for me to learn, since I had rarely been a C student before college.  After college, marriage, and two healthy children, I found that it worked in maintaining the health and life of our third child, who contracted E Coli meningitis at three weeks and was subsequently medically fragile and multiply handicapped.  He was in a wheelchair, was deaf, was completely G-tube fed, had epilepsy, and functioned at the level of a 12 month old baby until his death, when he was almost 12.  I had been a child protective social worker for 5 years, so I knew how to get him services.  I was very organized with scheduling his appointments with his 11 specialists and with staying on top of his medical needs even though he was completely nonverbal.  It’s difficult to describe him to other people because so much of what I describe involves his health issues and limitations, which someone would have to know in order to understand him.  What really made him who he was, though, was his near-constant joy and happiness.  So many people told me that they wouldn’t want to live life in that condition, and I can understand that.  But, he really didn’t know another way of being, and he was very much a Zen master of experiencing the art and joy of simply being.  He knew he was loved, that if he cried(rarely) someone would take care of him, and he understood the world as a good place.  I really don’t believe anyone was ever mean to him.  It would have been a travesty to hurt him deliberately in any way, and even young children seemed to understand this.  I had a therapist tell me once that there is an order of monks who devote themselves to working with children like him because they believe it’s the closest they can get to Jesus in the real world.  I know that all my efforts on his behalf extended his life, as there were several emergency surgeries that saved his life based initially only on my word that something was wrong, even though he couldn’t tell anyone.  In the end, though, it came as a shock that I didn’t have final control over his life or death.  He died one night at home while we were asleep.  He had been laughing that night.  Everyone played with him while we watched a football game, and when we woke up, he was gone.  He was not quite 12 years old.  That was seven and a half years ago.  We all knew it was a possibility, and that is always how I imagined his death occurring, but it was still a shock.  They didn’t do an autopsy.  I had someone tell me that when the coroner does an autopsy, they’re looking for some catastrophic event that stands out in an otherwise normal body.  Logan’s body wasn’t normal, and it would have been difficult to sort out the one issue that was unusual enough to kill him.  His neurologist said he was a prime candidate for Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy Patients(SUDEP), but it took me a long time to accept that I will never know EXACTLY why my youngest child died.

I, also, had to accept that despite my very great will and efforts, I could not make my marriage work, either.  I tried to fix all the things that my husband said contributed to his unhappiness, but in the end, I again had to admit that I just didn’t have complete control. I had to realize that I can’t make another person be who I want them to be.  If they aren’t going to be that person, then all I can do is decide if I am willing to live with the person they have decided to be.  It wasn’t an easy decision to decide that I wasn’t willing to continue to be with the person he had decided to become, especially since he had been the person I most wanted to be with for so many years  It’s humbling and galling to admit defeat, especially when it is something I want so badly.

Nasty Skeletons Out of the Closet

My daughter, Kylie, called three days ago.  She was driving in from Asheville, where she had been living in her car.  I have no idea how she got the gas money to get here, but she wanted us to buy her a couple of cartons of cigarettes and a tank of gas.  She said she and her boyfriend were on their way to a new detox facility that’s within a 30 minute drive of us and that it will be completely covered under insurance.  That’s good because we’re still paying off her bill from the detox stint in November.  I guess that means she’s been using(heroin) enough to where going straight to a sober living facility wouldn’t likely be successful.  I’m trying to be supportive emotionally without getting my hopes up too much.

I blew up at her last week.  My husband’s, Will’s, mother died.  He had been taking turns with his brother and sister sitting with their mother around the clock during her last days at the hospice, which is in our hometown in another state.  I brought our granddaughter, Kylie’s daughter, up with me and got to see his mother the day before she died.  We were all under a lot of stress.  Faith and I were staying with my father, and Will was staying with his sister when he wasn’t at the hospice.  He had assumed that I would stay with him at his sister’s house, but we’re in the process of getting a divorce.  I just didn’t want to share a bed with him.  Also, Faith is a typical two year old.  Not only is his sister’s house not really safe with its steep stairs and inside balcony walkway, but also I just didn’t think it would be helpful to him or his sister to have her running around, loud, and into everything.  He didn’t want his mother or his extended family to know about our divorce, and it was difficult to appear to be a couple.

Kylie came to be with us.  We had to pay for a hotel for her and her boyfriend since none of our family will let her stay with them because she’s stolen so much from my husband and me.  After she arrived there, I learned from my son that Kylie and her boyfriend had gone to our home in Atlanta two days before and let themselves into our house knowing that we would be gone.  My son said he knew she had gone into our bedroom and had told her that he would tell me.  I felt completely betrayed again.  She knows she’s not allowed in our home when I’m not there, much less our bedroom.  If I know she’s going to be there, I put a padlock on my bedroom door, but I hadn’t even done this before I left.  I was upset because I had no idea whether she had stolen anything from me.  Many times, I don’t figure out what she’s stolen from me until months later, even though I look. I am so tired of being on guard.  When I found out, I yelled at her in front of the relatives that were there.  Luckily, they already knew the score.  She said she and her boyfriend just hadn’t had anywhere else to go.  I told them both that if I discovered anything missing, I was going to call the police and press charges against both of them.  It was a nasty scene, and I felt like a nasty person, but I was sick the rest of the time I was there wondering what might be missing.  I still don’t know, even though I’ve looked through the things she was likely to steal.  Maybe that was the impetus she needed to get into detox again.  Or maybe it’s as simple as the fact that she’ll have a bed and food for the next 28 days.

Rebuilt me

I have my last appointment with the ear, nose, throat doctor this morning.  He’ll be checking the inside of my nose where I had my deviated septum repaired.  I think maybe I should go out and celebrate tonight.  The personal party would not be because I can now breathe so much better, even though I can, but rather because this marks the end of the list of items to fix on my husband’s behalf.  I won’t deny that completing the list has benefitted me, but I was never really bothered about many of them until he told me I should be.

It began with him telling me that I needed to lose weight and quit smoking or he would divorce me.  He said he made a lot of money and had lost weight himself in the last year, and he deserved someone who was more attractive than I was.  So, I quit smoking and lost 30 pounds.  Rather than be happy, though, he said he felt like a chump because it was so easy for me to quit smoking, but I didn’t until then.  It wasn’t easy to quit smoking, but I still did it because I valued our marriage.  I had quit smoking for a period of four years earlier in our marriage, but it was during that time-frame that he had the first affair that I know of- and it was with some one who smokes.  It wasn’t easy to lose the weight, either, and I did resent that, since he and I lost the same amount of weight, but I still found him to be attractive prior to the weight loss.  Later, he stated, “I never actually said you were unattractive.  I may have implied it.”  I, also, exercised and lifted weights to firm myself up.

Then, I had the sunspots on my hands lasered, since he said they weren’t attractive.  I’ve never had attractive hands or fingers.  My hands are rough, and my fingers are wide.  I admire his long, artistic fingers.  But my hands are very strong and have done many years of hard work.  They are capable hands that raised two children to adulthood and changed diapers, pushed a wheelchair, and connected feeding tubes for another child for twelve years.  They are hands that allowed me to plant my garden and become a master gardener, and they saw a lot of cleansers and sun exposure as a result of the gifts and demands of my life.  Maybe they’re strong hands because they’re unlovely.  Perhaps if I had beautiful hands they wouldn’t have had to work as hard.

The deviated septum repair was to address the snoring that he was angry about- and he was angry.  It was almost like he thought I snored to annoy him, and he told me most mornings that I had cost him sleep due to my snoring.  I don’t know whether that was really even true.  Sometimes, I suspected that he just said it to make me feel bad. Losing weight did reduce the frequency and loudness of snoring- for both of us, because he certainly snores, too.  But, it didn’t completely solve the problem for me.  I don’t know if I snore anymore now, almost three months following the surgery to repair my deviated septum, because he’s no longer here.

The Case of the Man With the Too-tight Tie, Sunday Flash #7

clownzI really must tell you about the English gent applying for a position as my boy toy last week.  He was trying to sell me on his attributes, chief of which is an incredibly long life line.  The lady who took his money had explained that this foretold a life where he could pamper a wealthy woman (I was wearing the cubic zirconia earrings) for a long time over her otherwise dreary life. He also implied that I could infer that other attributes were similarly sized.  I responded that I usually don’t like men who wear plaid unless it’s soft flannel that gently brushes over the nape of my neck as he’s massaging it (my neck).  I was also concerned about the bags around his eyes, as they indicated a man who had a lot of drama in his life.  I don’t need drama.  The last five men I’ve had as my boytoys were mewling, demanding creatures who wouldn’t take care of themselves, much less me.  Speaking of which, I had last been to England in my early twenties, and the dental care there at that time was, let’s just say, a bit substandard.  Imagine my surprise when he opened his gob to let me inspect.  In the end, I had a waiting list for the boytoy position that was already too unwieldy, so I had to decline with some mixed feelings.  After all, he did have that long life line.

On Creatures and Cartoons

wyliecoyoteToday, when Kylie and her new(er) boyfriend left, I wanted to have my husband, Will, next to me to share in that sense of loss and sorrow that arises in the wake of her leaving.  I want her to leave, don’t get me wrong.  She’s doing better about cleaning up after herself when she’s here, although she still has to be reminded.  She goes to bed really late, though.  I end up having to wake her up at eleven in the morning, which makes me resentful, since I’ve already been up hours by then caring for her daughter.  I will have to set firm boundaries when she’s next here.  I’m also relieved that I can stop worrying about locking my valuables in my bedroom or what she’s doing when she leaves the house during her visits.

But Faith cries, and I’m trying to comfort her on my own.  I don’t know exactly where Kylie will go.  She says she is staying with a friend.  I, also, don’t know that she’s safe or healthy.  No one really knows that about their young adult child who is attempting, however poorly, to live independently, but a child who is addicted to heroin and likely to be tossed on the street really brings this home.

I miss my husband.  I wanted him to leave, don’t get me wrong on that, either.  There’s just too much hurt between us and too little trust.  I read Cheryl Strayed’s collection of essays from her book, Tiny Beautiful Things.  She talks a lot about that voice that some people hear whispering “Go” and about how no person should ignore it.  I heard that voice many times over the course of many years.  At first, there were so many more voices whispering “Stay” that it was difficult to hear the lone voice telling me to leave.  Gradually, some of those voices whispering “Stay” instead began singing “Go” until I was finally left with only one voice echoing on every register.  And it was telling me to go.  So, I’m going.  I filed for divorce a month ago, and my husband moved out that night.  He says he didn’t want a divorce, but his actions for years prior indicate otherwise.  It’s only lately that I’ve wondered whether he had a voice whispering for him to go, but he just wasn’t courageous enough to do it before he caused so much harm.

One thing that helps me is imagining myself on a long walk.  As I have done many times, I pick up something wild while I study and hold it.  Eventually, it wiggles and gets so distressed that I place it back on the ground or branch or leaf.  We both then continue on our separate paths, with myself a little richer for the experience and the creature no worse for wear.  That is the goal I imagine and am trying to pursue for myself over the course of our divorce and beyond.  I don’t want to become a bitter person, and I would prefer that he didn’t think too badly of me.  I’ve avoided blaming him outright even though I know he blames himself, anyway, and I will try not to speak badly of him to our children.  This is a lot easier to do when we’re not still together, and I think the only way for me to really forgive him is to not live with him so I don’t have to play any part in his deceptions.

I miss my husband, but every time I think of trying to continue in our marriage, I picture myself as a cartoon character who is slogging through a large pit of mud and shit.  It gets deeper and deeper and hardens around me until eventually, I cannot take one more step forward and can’t even move my limbs. I’m sort of a frozen-in-motion Wylie Coyote.  The only way I can move at all is to move in a different direction, and I must move forward at all costs.

Question: Why Hire a Babysitter When You Already Have An Adult Who’s There?

Answer:  Because you don’t trust the adult that is there.  My daughter, Kylie, is staying with me for the weekend.  She’s 22.  Faith is her daughter, and her birthday is this weekend.  I had already hired a babysitter for the night before I knew my daughter would be here, but I didn’t change those plans because I simply don’t trust Kylie.  It’s not that I think she’ll run off with Faith, but I don’t absolutely know that she’ll make good decisions, either.  She was kicked out of her sober living facility about 3 weeks ago because she failed a drug screen, and she’s supposedly living with a friend in Asheville.

Three months after we kicked our daughter and her boyfriend out into the streets with no place to go and no money, I had a doctor’s appointment.  My husband and I had been caring for our granddaughter for those three months, and I asked Kylie if she would watch Faith for two hours.  She took Faith out to the park.  About two hours after I had returned from the doctor’s office, I received a text saying that she had been arrested for using heroin and that I needed to come and get Faith or she would go to child protective services.  I called, and the officer answered.  Both Kylie and her boyfriend, who is Faith’s father, had been arrested for shooting up in the car in a parking lot downtown with Faith asleep in her car seat in the back.  I was so grateful to the officers for allowing us the 30 minutes it took for us to get there.  My husband drove our daughter’s car back home.  I had already been home for two hours before their arrest.  All they had to do was bring Faith back before they chose to drive down there.  What were they going to do afterwards-drive home while high on heroin?

It hurt to tell my daughter that I was still asking the babysitter to stay, and it was awkward for the babysitter, too.  Luckily, she is an adult friend who knows the situation.  It still cost me $60 to pay her so that I could go out to the appointment and to a movie afterwards.  Kylie is supposed to leave on Monday, but she and her current boyfriend, who is also visiting, have already just disappeared, driving off three times for a couple of hours at a time while they’ve been here for less than three days.

The Padlock on the Outside of Our Bedroom Door.

IMG_0508Yesterday, I had to back the screws out of the padlock on my bedroom door.  I had left my keys, including the key to the padlock, inside the bedroom.  It’s obviously not a very secure system if you can just open it by backing the screws out, but I’m hoping it will slow my daughter enough to where she won’t have time to steal anything before I can notice.  She’s a quick, adept thief, and she lies like a politician.  It’s difficult for me to remember to lock the door, hide my purse even when it’s inside my bedroom, and keep the keys.

My daughter is a heroin addict.  When she was living here with her boyfriend and daughter, she stole a heavy gold necklace from my grandmother. My grandmother died about 15 years ago.  I had just bought an antique cameo pendant so I could wear the necklace.  Now, I have the cameo but no necklace to wear it on, since I don’t have any other gold necklaces.  She, also, stole my grandmother’s heavy gold charm bracelet that chronicled her travels.  This was probably worth $2000 with today’s gold prices, and it had incredible sentimental value.  She knew that, but the bracelet is now a melted down chunk of gold somewhere anyway.  What actually prompted me to kick her out of the house, though, was the theft of credit cards and debit cards.

I don’t know how long she had been stealing them before we first caught her.  She would steal our cards out of my purse and my husband’s wallet and then return them unseen.  My husband and I began having money shortages and blaming each other for excessive spending.  We printed out our bank statement and went through the expenditures, each blaming the other for purchases at Walmart, Kroger, and gas stations.  When neither of us had made those purchases, we realized that it was either her or her boyfriend.  This is when we confronted her the first time about stealing.  She denied having made those purchases, and we told her we would contact the credit card company.  The companies would prosecute whomever they caught.  She confessed, but we still didn’t understand the extent of the problem.

Our daughter was twenty when she gave birth to our granddaughter.  She had no job and had just begun her first semester at a local college when she realized she was pregnant.  She dropped out of school, thus wasting the tuition we had spent only weeks prior.  Her boyfriend had a job as a mechanic.  We allowed them to move into our basement, which is fully finished with its own half bath and thermostat.  She was and is still on our insurance.  She gave birth to our granddaughter while laughing at a standup comedy routine on the television in the hospital room.  It was a ridiculously easy labor and delivery that I was privileged to witness.  I cut baby Faith’s umbilical cord.  We knew our daughter had more than experimented with drugs, including meth, before her pregnancy, but I don’t believe she used anything while she was pregnant, and Faith is a smart, healthy child.

The thefts began when Faith was a little over a year old.  Our daughter’s boyfriend had held and lost probably 6 jobs over the time they lived with us, and he spent most of the time unemployed.  They had food stamps, which they frequently forgot to renew, but they had no other money to speak of.  Her boyfriend had been a heroin user and was on methadone for years.  At one point while they were staying with us, he went into a drug treatment program in Florida.  Our daughter was taking online courses at an accredited online college.  We had told her that if she graduated and got a job, we would pay off her student loans.  At first, we believed she was stealing to put gas in her car and to get food when she didn’t have her stamps, even though we made sure to keep enough food that they could feed themselves and our granddaughter.

We reset our pin numbers, and I got a new photo for my debit card.  I wrote in sharpie over my other cards, “Please verify exact ID”.  It didn’t make any real difference.  I was appalled at how many stores still didn’t require that I give them ID, and our daughter was still able to make purchases.  At one point, the fraud department at one of the card companies called me.  The charges they were concerned about were valid, but in the course of that conversation, I learned that four tanks of gas had been purchased within two days.  We only have two cars, and I hadn’t purchased any gas.  She was buying gas for other people on our cards, since she only had to enter our zip code at the pumps.  We told her that we were having financial difficulties due to her thefts.  It didn’t make any difference.  At one point, she stole more money than I made in a month.  We installed the padlock on our bedroom door, but were both still not as careful as we needed to be about leaving our purses or wallets unattended.

The final straw came when I went hiking by myself.  I had been letting her know where I was hiking as a safety precaution in case I failed to return.  The trail that I had been hiking was an urban trail which crossed several streets.  When I was almost back to my car, I watched my daughter’s car drive past the trail.  I called her and asked, “Did I just see your car out here?”  She said no, she was at home 45 minutes away, but that she had been told there was another car that looked like hers in the area.  The car I saw looked EXACTLY like hers, right down to the Baby in the Back sign in the window.  I reached the car and immediately checked my purse.  Two credit cards were missing.  I called her and told her she had 15 minutes to get back to the car to return the cards.  When she, her boyfriend, and their baby in the car seat got there and returned the cards(minus a gift card and the cost of a full tank of gas), I told her she and her boyfriend had two weeks to find a place to live, but she would need to leave Faith with my husband and me.Two weeks later, they left, even though they had no place to go.  I took a leave of absence from my job to care for Faith.  A friend told me that our daughter had offered to “stick” her daughter.  That’s when we knew she was using heroin.

She is a rock. She is an island.

Today, I asked my mother in what I hoped was a sensitive, caring manner whether she had considered that she might have had a stroke at one point.  It’s not that she limps or that the left side of her face won’t work right, and it’s not that she’s reporting any symptom that’s alarming.  It’s that she simply won’t monitor what comes out of her mouth.  She says some really nasty things and then refuses to admit that they were nasty or that she has any need to apologize.  Every time I go through this with her, I tell myself, “Set boundaries.  Limit your exposure.  Talking to her never helps.  It only makes her defensive and angry.  She won’t change.”  And yet, I keep forgetting and keep trying to ease her into becoming a person that I would enjoy spending time with on a consistent basis.  She often is a person I enjoy spending time with- if she doesn’t have anyone to talk about in a negative way behind their backs and until she blindsides me with another nasty comment.  My younger brother has decided to deal with this by just not answering her phone calls or spending any time with her, even though he only lives ten minutes away.  He hasn’t seen or spoken with her for 6 months and says he won’t until she apologizes for something she said to him.  He calls her a “nasty piece of work”.  My older brother doesn’t believe our mother’s verbal dysdecorum is deliberate and is more hurt by the fact that she never remembers his kids’ birthdays.

When people ask me about her, I usually tell them that she is like an inhabitant of a rocky, barren island.  She’s self-sufficient, capable, and not entirely friendly.  I don’t remember her always being like this, but people tell me she was.  When my best friend’s mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, my friend says that my mother told her mother something to the effect of, “You know that is one of the most painful and awful diseases with a really low survival rate”.  Even if that is true, someone who’s newly diagnosed isn’t going to want to hear it.  That would have been before my mother’s heart attack about twelve years ago.  I began noticing the poisonous comments after her heart attack, which made me concerned about a possible stroke.

You’re probably wondering what she said to me that led me to suggest in my thoughtful, diplomatic way to her that she might have suffered brain damage.  We were discussing my daughter, who is currently homeless.  My mother said my daughter should stop trying to get by in life “on her back”.  Now, my daughter is a heroin addict, which is why she is currently homeless.  To my knowledge, she is not a prostitute, and the guy she is currently dating is living in a male sober living facility and doesn’t have a penny to his name, so I doubt she is getting anything from him by being on her back.  In my conversation today expressing my concern for her and desire to spend more time with her, I suggested that if you were to poll 100 people and asked them if it was a good idea to tell a woman that her female child was getting by in life “on her back”, you could probably expect at least 98 to say no.

The profile that’s not on Facebook

What do I have to say that’s worth taking anyone’s valuable time?  Probably nothing worth valuable time, but something worth my time.  If some one else finds what I have to say to be helpful or interesting, then it’s just a bonus.  I’ll give a little synopsis of my current life.  I am 49 and just filed for divorce from my husband of 23 years in part because he decided to join a swingers’ group.  I have two children, one of whom is on the dean’s list at college every quarter and one of whom is a homeless heroin addict.  We had a third child, but he contracted E Coli meningitis when he was three weeks old and was multiply handicapped and medically fragile.  He died seven and a half years ago when he was almost twelve.  My husband and I have legal custody of our granddaughter, and she will be living with me when we move following the divorce.