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What matters most

I was pretty devastated with the divorce and the circumstances around it. After I got served the divorce papers, my first priority was to get the hell out of my house and away from all the bitterness and anger. And there was a lot of it. Once I moved out and got somewhat settled, my next priority, and what mattered most, was my son. The divorce hadn’t even begun so I had to arrange visitation time with my ex. This was a very difficult process. She wasn’t exactly keen on visitation at this point.

The divorce

Time went by very slow for a while. We settled on a visitation schedule until the divorce was final. A lot of new information came out during the divorce. I’m not going to go into detail because it is just tedious information. My ex and her mother tried to prove that I was an unfit parent because of my disability. That stung quite a bit. That didn’t work out for them in the end. The most important part was that I got my son half the time and I am the primary residence. This is important because I am the one who receives the extra money for him from Social Security every month, on top of my main paycheck. All things considered, I made out pretty well in the divorce. It took a little over a year for the divorce to be final.

After the divorce, things were still not well between us. There was still a lot of anger and there was no cooperation at all. It was a very tense time. I did try my best to be cordial and try to cooperate and co-parent. Whether that was equal is up for debate, my story would be different than hers of course. There are always two sides to every story and we believe what we want to believe to make ourselves feel better about ourselves. That’s just human nature.

Lightening up

After a while, things started to lighten up. She was becoming easier to work with when it came to our son. Her demeanor and attitudes were changing for the better. She is now remarried and I have my girlfriend. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it. Admittedly, I was kind of scared during this transition to niceness. Thoughts that she was plotting something because of my previous experiences with her and her mother were in my mind. So far, nothing has happened. What matters most is that our son is happy. My son still mentions that he would like us to be back together, but I think that’s normal. He will grow out of that. It is still hard to hear him say that though.

My goals

My goals were still not clear to me during the divorce. I still struggled with what to do with my life. Having a family filled the holes I had and I didn’t really think too much about personal goals. I thought about going back to work and even applied for a few jobs. Nothing really panned out and I had to think about my Social Security.

Social Security

When someone receives Social Security disability benefits, you are not allowed to work unless you make under a certain amount. Any job that I could have got, my social security benefits would have ended, or my earnings would have been deducted from my benefits. I had a private insurance disability benefit that I had to consider too. Money would have been deducted from this insurance payment too. Basically, whatever money I earned would be deducted, which would leave me in the same financial position whether I worked or not, unless I found a job that paid a lot of money. That wasn’t a realistic option.

It’s kind of a complicated scenario with a lot of different aspects to consider. My benefits would have stopped if I became gainfully employed. If it turned out that I couldn’t continue working because of my disability, I would have had to reapply for benefits. That is a two year process.

My goal at this point was to figure out a way to survive on my disability payments. For the most part, they covered my expenses but I would live the rest of my life on a tiny fixed budget. After the divorce, this fact became increasingly clear to me. I had to figure out a way to change my circumstances. There were a lot of sleepless nights worried about what I was going to do. I knew I couldn’t just get a job. Being 50 years old, disabled, and no recent work experience meant that I would start at the bottom again. I have a home to maintain and 2 children to think about.

Light switch

I don’t have any idea what triggered the switch that went off in my head about going back to school. My disability benefits were still coming in and I wasn’t working. Going back to college could lead to a better paying job, or career field I enjoyed. There was no way I could return to the career I had prior to my accident, so what career field did I want to get into? Yet another question I needed an answer to. Never a dull moment. Life keeps changing and I keep adapting.

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