I started following Kimmie innocently enough. At the time it was just a deep dive into family history. Her story had fascinated me ever since I was a little girl, and when her journals finally surfaced I admit to becoming a bit obsessed. Not only did I rad the journals, I typed them word for word into my laptop, ostensibly to share with the family.
I should have known something stronger was happening when I spent an entire month creating a scrapbook of her travels. That was the second major step of this journey.
The third critical step was to actually start writing a novel loosely based on her journals. With those three steps my life has been radically altered.
This blog is not the novel–this blog is the story of how my trying to write a novel has changed my life. I do not know if it has been changed for the better, all I know is that it has changed dramatically.
I sat down to start writing this novel December of 2017. I worked steadily at it for 3 months and created the first draft of Part One~13 chapters. During that time I realized exactly how much my family, and to some degree, my friends have no respect for “write at home” time.
I had finally found something that I could actually call a passion…in that if I sat down to write, I could be there for hours on end and not even realize it. It was just like reading for me. Give me a good book and I can sink into it for hours and not even realize I missed lunch, dinner and bed time completely.
The same thing happened while writing….unfortunately for my team..my family could care less that I was neck deep in foreign travel creating new characters and trying to keep a story line intact….they would barge right in with their life needs as I was expected to be there at their beck and call.
I found this infuriating, but despite numerous attempts to change the dynamic it wasn’t happening. So I came up with the brilliant idea for a writing sabbatical. I figured 2 or 3 months left to my own devices and I would be able to draft the next two parts and be well on my way to literary success.
So, I asked my husband for permission to take off to Florida for Jan&Feb 2019. Surprisingly enough my husband agreed, with the caveat that my son, who was 20 at the time and had just moved back into the house after an unsuccessful 2nd semester at college, would not be living in the house while I was gone.
To say my husband and my son do not get along is an understatement. My husband is irrationally jealous of my son. In our entire 17 year relationship he has always resented any attention or love I give to my son. My husband is a hoarder–not just of tangible items, he hoards attention and love as well. I don’t think he got enough in his family of origin so that sense of lacking, or not enough has colored every aspect of his adult life. He is the epitome of root chakra concerns….he never feels like he has enough and this permeates every aspect of his life.
I agreed, figuring that my son would be on his own by then no problem…in my head he would be back in school again anyway. That was in March of 2018. We had just returned from our annual 2 week Florida vacation.
That vacation, all I wanted to do was write. However, my husband being the super needy person that he is, was having none of that. We had left my son at home, he had me all to himself and he wasn’t about to let me crawl into a book. To say I was frustrated was an understatement. But I came up with a solution, he agreed to the solution, and I was bound and determined to hold him to that solution.
I think he promptly forgot all about it.
So after our vacation, I put the book on hold, and took a full time job managing a restaurant for the summer. I knew I would not be happy if I tried to write and work full time…so I just put the book aside to be picked up when I left on my sabbatical. This did not prevent me from researching, thinking, pondering and just generally obsessing over my book. Characters were developed in my head, story lines unfolded, notes were taken, plot lines developed, themes expanded upon….basically from the outside I looked like every other normal person on the planet. On the inside, my brain was a collective whirlwind of activity just waiting for the moment I could settle into a quiet corner of the world and simply write.
In my mind–my going to Florida for 2 months was not going to be a big deal. I was working to pay for it. I was working and saving money to cover household costs and expenses that I usually covered while there, and saving money for long weekends with my husband when he would come to visit. I hadn’t worked a full time job in close to 15 years so the extra money was great. For the first time in 15 years I wasn’t worried about money, we had enough to pay all the bills, pay down credit cards, buy healthy food in large amounts (20 years old eat a lot of food) and have savings.
Looking back at that time, I can say I was honestly happy–working full time, saving money and planning for my future…achieving my goal. By May I had found a room to rent in a nice neighborhood close to my parents in a sleepy Gulf side town in SW Florida. Far away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist party scene. The house looked great from the photos and my soon to be room mate was a 64 year old retired editor for a Christian Book Publishing firm. How serendipitous could it get? The cost was exactly what I had put out as my max affordablility in exactly the neighborhood I wanted.
To say I was ecstatic would be an understatement. I was in awe at how the Universe had unfolded allowing me to seriously start Following Kimmie. I was thrilled and happily relayed the news to my husband.
My husband…was less than ecstatic..in fact, he was extremely angry. He lashed out in a jealous, dismissive manner at that time and never stopped for the next 7 months.
For my part, I couldn’t understand the problem. I saw this whole experience as a positive…all he saw was negative.
I saw me coming down here, writing a novel. I saw him visiting, we would go do fun things and shop for a house to buy with the proceeds from the sale of his house. We had just purchased my house from my parents in 2016 and part of the plan was for him to sell his house so we could buy a place in Florida so when he retired in 5-7 years we could sell mine and move the Florida and have money to travel from the sale of my house and the proceeds from my soon to be New York Times Best Seller. How was this in anyway a negative?
By working full time, I was making sure none of my choices were going to upset the financial apple cart of our lives — I was paying down some serious credit card debt as well as putting money aside to pay for the new deck on the house that we knew we needed. I was also making sure I had enough money to live in Florida for 2 months without having to worry or dip into the Household savings. Again..how was this in anyway negative?
To this day, I still do not understand how this was in anyway a negative–but in his world view it was all a negative….and he let me know that every day in every way.
He refused to actually have a conversation with me about my plans. Every time I brought it up, it was met with anger and a refusal to talk. If he ever brought it up, it was in a dismissive, sarcastic, demeaning quip that certainly did not foster an actual conversation.
So I was left with an impossible situation. There was this giant elephant in the room that was smothering our relationship and he refused to talk about it. Even in therapy–yes we were in couples counseling because of his anger and attitude towards my son. Not that it was a productive counseling because my husband refused to actually listen to what the therapist suggested. Preferring to use the session time to moan and groan about how bad my son was or how horrible it was that I was working–He refused to even address Florida in therapy. The therapist banned all complaining about wives going back to work full time–stating emphatically that he was “not allowed to complain about your wife going back to work”.
So he didn’t complain about my working in therapy–but boy did he complain about town. Every time I ran into someone who knew us both they would comment on how much my husband missed me and how sad he was that I was working. I am not kidding, I went to one event and no less than 7 different people came up to me to mention specifically how much Frank missed me.
I found this to be embarrassing and quite honestly it was a lie. Every time I took time time off to be with Frank, he would drink too much and ruin the time by starting a drunken fight. I am not kidding–EVERY time. Mind you, I didn’t make much time, it was the busy season and time off was hard to come by. But I had two days off every week and every sat morning free. Did he ever make time to see me when I had time off? NO. Again, I am not kidding. My regular time off , he ignored. Not once did he plan a date night, or a meal, or anything….I grew to dread my regular time off, because it was nothing more than me hanging with my son, which was cool, then Frank showing up late– drunk and having attitude that I was hanging out with my son–which was uncool.
He would come home, slam doors, make nasty comments, pick fights, and eventually go to bed…all because Tristan and I were sitting innocently on the couch watching a movie or a Netflix series. This went on for months…
My son hated being home if I wasn’t there, because Frank would just belittle and demean him with the constant verbal jabs and sarcasm. The constant yelling that it was “his” house, “He” paid the bills so he should be able to watch what he wanted when he wanted, not have to listen to other music he didn’t like, not put up with dirty dishes or used towels, parking in the wrong spot, etc…etc..etc…
Frank turned into one big mean, sarcastic, abrasive, asshole towards me and my son at every turn. There was no escaping it if he was home. We would both breathe a sigh of relief when he wasn’t around. Although we knew he was out drinking and it would be bad when he came home.
On the flip side, I knew if I caved and said I wasn’t going to Florida, he would perk right back up and all would be good in the world. But I couldn’t do that. More to the point, I refused to do that. To give up my dream of a two month writing sabbatical for someone who couldn’t even be adult enough to have a conversation with me about what his concerns were, was an unacceptable option for me.
The only thing I had to go on, was he was jealous I was going to go to Florida for 2 months in the winter and he was going to be “stuck at home, in the cold without someone to cook for him or keep the wood stove going.” That is what he actually said the one time I finally got him to actually answer the question “Why does my going to Florida bother you so much?”
He gets 5 weeks vacation every year at his job…as well as something like 12 holidays and another 3 personal days. He can also do comp time hours. So he has the ability to leave work for long weekends….he made $90,000 last year. So its not like he doesn’t have the money to fly round trip to Florida if he chose to spend it that way.
I have come to the conclusion, that he was happier with me not working, at his beck and call. My going to work again and actually earning money was a problem for him.
It certainly wasn’t the time I spent away as evidenced by how he treated me on days off.
He didn’t care that writing my book was important to me…if it required me being away from him and not under his thumb then that was unacceptable.
So what was important to him was no change in the status quo. No son at home, no working, no going on sabbatical,” you will be at home while I dole out my money and only give you $23,000 a year to run the household. If you have no money you cant go and do anything that threatens my little fiefdom.”
He seriously feels that I should be grateful to him for giving me $23,000/year max to run the household when he has earned over $60,000 for the entire 17 year relationship. Mind you…I cleaned the house, I shopped for the house, I cooked for the house, I did the books for the house, I planned every family activity, vacation and date. My parents owned the house with me–so our rent was under market value, we paid $900 plus utilities, or we never could have survived the way we did with the money he put in.
In August–his youngest son died in a tragic motorbike accident in the woods. Truly a horrific loss for those he was close to. And a game changer for our household. My husband chose to deal with his emotions by drinking more and taking prescribed pills. I was never told what he was taking or for what, and it was an accident I was told he was even taking any. Needless to say….things did not get better.
By the time November rolled around, I was desperate to get away from him. His behavior was increasingly belligerent, and erratic. He had forced my son out of the house by calling the cops on him saying he had been “assaulted”. The only assaulting going on that night was his verbal assault directed squarely at me for having the gall to want to go to Florida and saving the money to make it a reality.
In hind sight I should have agreed to the restraining order the Cops offered. Instead I left the house with my son for the night. My son never went back…so there I was by myself with the angry bitter one. My boss asked me to stay thru Dec 6. I agreed. I talked with my new room mate and she was fine with me arriving in December and leaving in April. I had saved enough money for 5 months.
I rented a car on December 7th, because the car he had provided for me wasn’t going to safely make it to Florida. I packed what I thought I might need for a 5 month writing sabbatical and ran away from home.