In yesterday’s post about Susan, she shared how and why she and her husband are separated but not divorced. One of my first questions about this was what about the money? How do they work out child support? Turns out that Susan does get something akin to child support but she’s also trained as a CNA and started her own business since their separation. Here’s Susan:
My ex has the house and that’s because at the the time we split, I realized that if he was going to be able to have any relationship with the kids, there would have to be minimal stress in his life. The house is paid for so he lives there under the agreement that whenever it is sold, I get half.
My ex is on disability because of his combat PTSD and brain injuries and because of that the children up until age eighteen or completion of high school, receive disability on behalf of their father. So I see that as in place of the child support there would have been, had we gotten divorced. My dad has also been living with us and he contributes part of the household money. I’ve always been good at handling money so financially the kids and I have probably been better off and for me, living apart has been a lot less strained despite having to manage two households.
For the last twelve years, I’ve worked at a glass blower supply company. It was just the best job and they treated me like gold. Unfortunately, we merged with another company right when we were having the recession and in the fall they had to lay off quite a few people. That just pushed a lot of my buttons about feeling insecure and feeling financially unstable.
I was telling a friend about this and I just heard myself being all whiny and sounding so like a victim. That was a turning point. It made me ask myself what I could do that would put me in a situation where I didn’t have to depend on the job staying viable and not depend on my dad staying with us.
So I went back to school and got into a fast program for a CNA license. I had started nursing school when the kids were little but back then, I didn’t have the stamina to work full-time, raise the kids and do well at school so I’d put it on the back burner. But my whole life I have taken care of people. I have a lot of empathy for people, and since working with CoDA (Co-Dependents Anonymous), I have a better handle on managing that now.
I have just lost my job but right now I’m taking a couple of months off and then I’ll see what’s out there for a CNA. I haven’t taken any real time off in years and it may be a long time before I do again so I’m relaxing and enjoying this time.
What’s supporting us this month is the income from my online ‘peace feline’ bookstore I started back in ’05. What got me going with that was that I knew moms who were separated or divorced who couldn’t even afford fresh fruit for their kids and I didn’t want that to be me. I didn’t want to have to tell my kids,
“I can’t afford to buy you an ice cream,” or
“I can’t afford to take you to the movies,” or
“I can’t afford to drive five miles across town to your friend’s house.”
The books are mostly out-of-print editions and I get them from lots of different places. After a while, people know you sell books and they give you books they don’t want instead of giving them to a thrift store. I’ve probably been given well over 1,000 books but many of them come from estate sales, thrift shops or yard sales. The library has a really good sale a couple of times a year and I pick up a lot of stuff there.
What’s really funny is it’s so much fun. I just love it. It almost doesn’t even feel like work. I’ve always loved books, my whole life. There’s this infinite variety, there’s so much to learn and I’ve met so many people. Because I look at 1,000 books a week, I’m constantly exposed to new ideas.
Then there’s the thrill of the chase. I’m not really hung up on money beyond the point of making sure we have enough to eat and a place to live but it is fun if pay ten cents for something you can turn around and sell for $25. It’s a little like gambling, only really low-stakes gambling.
I never thought it could end up being something that could support us but that is my goal now. I would love to make my living this way. It’s amazing!
The Divorce Coach Says
I know Susan makes it sound easy but the key here is taking charge of your own destiny, refusing to be a victim. Susan saw that she wanted to have money for the extras so she started her book business, a business that was based around something she loved and one that she could balance with her day job and children. That’s career advice 101. But it’s not easy. Sure, Susan’s living off the income from her book store this month but it’s taken her five years to get to this point. I’m sure there’s been lots of ups and downs along the way but she stuck with it and now has a viable source of income.
Training as a CNA was also a very smart move. She saw the writing on the wall and got her Plan B in place. And again, her new career, is centered around an interest she’s had for a long time.
It’s good timing for me to read this and think about this. I’ve been having some technical issues with this blog baby of mine and it’s. very. frustrating. I want to focus my energies on the writing part but have to spend time on the technical stuff. I’m getting contradicting answers from people about how to fix the problems. It’s not making much sense to me and because there’s isn’t much income from the blog, I don’t feel I can just go out and hire someone to sort it out for me. I think I need some of Susan’s medicine … can’t just ignore it, have to work through it … and this too shall pass.
Photo Credit: moonlightbulb at Flickr