toxic mil’s

Think you’re alone in having an anxiety attack before your MIL arrives to town?? You’re not. There’s thousands of us out there and, I swear to you with everything that I have, I refuse to become that person when my boys marry.

Right in front of your face.

Why is it so hard to face facts when it comes to emotional connections? Why does the heart tell you different things than what your brain says?

My heart and my brain play this tug of war every day and some days one wins and I’m not an emotional mess and some days the other wins and I keep asking myself, “Why me?”. It’s tough. I’m just thankful that my brain is usually the one that wins out and my heart has been winning less often lately.

Then there’s days like August 21…his birthday.

My Irish Idiot’s birthday.

It stung so much that we weren’t celebrating together. I had a huge party in the planning stages before I found out that he cheated on me. I missed him so much, even though my brain told me that he doesn’t deserve even one tear. But my heart won on this day.

I’m not quite sure why I am in the place that I’m in, considering that I’ve done nothing to deserve being deserted, cheated on and lied to, and more, by my Irish Idiot and his sad family, especially considering I took a cheating husband back after I found out what he had done and wanted to move toward repairing our marriage.

It’s right in front of my face that I should shut these toxic people out of my life immediately, yet in my heart of hearts, I just want my husband back. The husband that was here before his toxic family came to town. It’s a battle between my heart and my brain, continually, and probably will be until I start to see some justice for what he’s done to me and the kids.

All about ‘ME’.

My soon-to-be-ex continues to not take responsibility for his actions and none of his family has shown one ounce of care toward the situation that their son/brother has put me in. All they care about is how this will affect them…how often they will see MY daughter…how much my Irish Idiot will have to pay me (aka his mother because they can’t stand on their own two feet). No one can look at this from a place of clear perspective to really reflect upon what’s happened and who’s been hurt by them, including innocent children.


But…I guess that’s who they are. That’s who his mom raised…must be the morals that she has because they all act in the same manner toward women and she was the parent that was the main influence in their lives. Her kids, that have been so reckless with their lives (excluding the one that wants nothing to do with the older three) that they have destroyed others emotionally, financially and otherwise, and they don’t care. They show no remorse. They treat me as though I shouldn’t be upset. And if anyone has a right to be upset right now, it’s me.

But I’m treated as though I should be as emotionless as they are. That I should be able to walk away from the love of my life with ease. Sorry – YOU (In-Laws), you are the ones that are not normal. It’s not normal to rip someone’s life apart and then blame them for it.

It’s sad what this woman has done to these men that are now almost all in their 40’s (or darn close to it). If I had three children that couldn’t take care of themselves and couldn’t hold steady relationships or jobs, I would cry myself to sleep and question what I had done wrong.

But not my special MIL.

Nope…she has only said sorry to me once for her sons actions and it’s because she knows how much he messed up that night and she didn’t want to lose the second relationship (out of two) with a grandchild, because her sons are emotionally destructive to themselves and others.

And now, instead of doing what anyone else would consider as ‘the right thing’ to do, by trying to avoid destroying a woman, that has already been destroyed enough by her own son, that did so much for her son, she’s chosen a dark path…the unjust path. The path to help her son get what she thinks he deserves…only what SHE wants. She’s just as selfish as the boys she has raised. And just as big of a bully because she thinks she can bully her way into her granddaughters life by paying enough to an attorney to try to shut her own granddaughters mother out.

What you should have done, if you cared enough about your granddaughter, was to shake your son into his right mind, kick him out of your house, make him stand on his own two feet, force him to realize that when a man marries a woman, the new wife is more important than the mother, and tell him that he needs to fix what he’s done wrong. Because it’s the right thing to do. Because that’s what the little redhead needs. Refuse to allow a third son to become another ’emotional-support-child’ to help you through life.

But then again…not my special MIL.

None of that was ever done. Nope – she told me in the middle of my drama that they don’t talk about things. No one discusses issues. Heartfelt, deep, meaningful, conversations are never had. So why do I think that things would be different for my situation?? Because I thought she cared. Because she told me that she loved me, cared about me…all empty statements. Because I thought that she loved her granddaughter enough to step outside of herself and tell her son that he needed to fix this, for her granddaughter.

History has a way of repeating itself though. I don’t know a ton of details because they always glossed over everything (and that should have been a big clue to me) but they were the ‘victims’ of losing the first granddaughter apparently. According to them, the relationship is strained because of every reason that the other ex-wife has done. Not them. They’ve done nothing wrong, if you ask them. Nothing. I can only imagine that will be the same story that they tell about me in 10 years. “Poor, poor Erik. Staci’s so horrible.”

Never willing to take responsibility for their actions. It’s really sad.

Word to the wise to whoever the next McDonnell wife is…good luck. You’re truly on your own. They change afterward. They’ll give you a month, maybe two. Then they expect you to become their mom…someone who is emotionless, someone that knows that he treats women with disrespect but is expected to suck it up ‘like mom did’, and someone that will always take a backseat to the MIL…you’ll always be second.

If I knew what I now know, I honestly don’t think that I would have lasted six months into the dating relationship.

…AND there…

…you have read the emotions behind a divorce, just a small snapshot of what one feels on a daily, sometimes less, basis. It’s draining. It’s not fun. This is what you do in your spare time (9:00 pm – bedtime) thinking about because you’re raising little ones in the meantime.

I’m just thankful that this is the first that I’ve felt this emotion in weeks. It just means that I’m realizing who I was married to, who the family is, who they really are, and who I’m now embarrassed to say that I share a last name with.

I’ve started to accept that I was married to a man that I was deeply in love with but that he was more deeply in love with himself and his mother than me. I know this sounds sick but I’m really not trying to turn this in that direction. It’s just that it’s a weird…really weird…situation. Someone that leans on his own mother at 39 years old more than his own wife…that is weird…and all she did was encourage this behavior.

This stuff called ‘extended family’ is tough. If you can honestly say ‘I love her like my own mother’, please understand that you have a special relationship with your mother-in-law. From two marriages, I’ve learned that boys have a hard time leaving their mothers. And I think that this is caused, this feeling of guilt (or whatever it is), is drilled into them from birth. I have yet to have a man in my life, (other than my father and brother in law) that has truly ‘left’ the umbilical cord at home and can stand on their own two feet. When I do, that’s when I’ll truly know that I’ve found a man instead of a boy.

At this point, I can only use what I’ve experienced to enrich my sons lives, the good and bad. I’ll help them to grow to be good men, with great ethics and outstanding morals.

my kids are a little nutty – mid-week motivation

All I can do is laugh

I’ve said it before so forgive me for repeating myself but I love to laugh! This is the last week before school starts which means that by this point in the summer I’m driving my boys nuts and my boys are driving me nuts and my little redhead has entered the terrible two’s early. So at this point, all I can do is laugh because I’m an ugly crier so I try to choose to laugh.

Lately it seems like every time I turn around the kids are doing something that makes me question my sanity or laugh. The choices that they’ve made this week have me wondering if I’ve taught them anything or if they just decided to turn their ears off all summer.

So I thought that I would put my week to meme’s to give you a chance to laugh. Your kids may have been able to top these but I thought I that I would share so that you could commiserate with me or laugh with or at me. This stuff really happens…unfortunately on a regular basis, in my household.

The last 7 days with my kids…in meme’s

sleeping in the middle of the bed

Last night I did something that I’ve never done before…or at least in the last 13 years. I slept in the middle of my bed. That may not sound like a big deal to some but to a girl getting ready to go through a divorce that she doesn’t want…it was a big deal because I enjoyed every second of it and it was something that only I was able to enjoy.

My Bed

I have an incredible bed – it’s very cozy and the duvet makes it that much more luxurious to climb into each night. My husband and I picked the bed out about 18 months ago and I can say it’s one of my favorite purchases that I’ve ever made.

When two people sleep in a bed, night after night, there are natural indentations that occur over time, which started to happen shortly before my husband moved out. And my OCD self gets annoyed at the ‘ridge’ that has started to form in the center. Maybe I’m too detail oriented but it annoys the heck out of me so last night I decided to start sleeping in the middle of the bed to even it out.

Sleeping in the middle of the bed last night was also after I took a few hours yesterday to pack up all of the Irish Idiot’s stuff that was in our bedroom. I TOOK BACK MY ROOM! It made crawling into my amazing bed that much more glorious.

My Sanctuary

And maybe some of you will understand this and some won’t but I don’t even let the kids in bed with me…because my bed is a sanctuary to me. I love them, but their beds are sufficient, I share everything else I have with them including food off of my plate and bathroom trips (because they can’t wait a minute to ask a question) so keeping my bed to myself is my one way to enjoy peace and solitude…even if that’s just when I’m asleep.

The Irish Idiot’s actions have caused a ripple effect and I’m having a hard time trusting people that make promises to me. Lately, I tend to doubt that promises will be fulfilled and that people will actually step up to the plate. The silver lining is that when people do fulfill their promises, I get even more excited and happy than I would have six months ago. With that said, I know very well that it will be a long time before I want to even think about relationships and marriage and having a husband in that bed; I want to enjoy every penny that I spent on that bed. So I want to even it out and make it ‘mine’, all mine. Because it’s okay to focus on what I, alone, want sometimes, and I’m learning how to do it again.

So when I walked into my bedroom yesterday afternoon, I forced myself to look at the room through different lenses…lenses that focused on my new life. I’m going to make this bed all about me and all about what I want and no one else gets to have an opinion. I get to sleep in the middle of my bed without having to share it with anyone. I get to enjoy the solitude and luxury ALL.ON.MY.OWN. And when I looked at it that way, I was excited to go to bed last night.

For the first time in weeks, I didn’t go to bed with my laptop in bed with me. For the first time in weeks, I didn’t have clothes that I needed to fold, laying on the Irish Idiot’s side of the bed. For the first time in weeks the Irish Idiot’s side of the bed was reclaimed as mine…and no one else’s. This is MY bed. MY life. MY future.

center of the page pic_bed.png

My New View

Ever since my life spiraled out of control a couple of months ago when I found out I had been cheated on, I’ve been looking at things in my home, heard our favorite songs, drove past restaurants that we went to, remembered places that we enjoyed going to, as tortuous. Things that I will never have again with the one person that I loved with everything that I have. And because he’s gone, I had begun to focus on those great experiences never being in my life again. It’s painful not just because the love of my life is gone but also because I didn’t want it to be gone and I have to come to grips with it and it’s been hard to want to do that.

Last night, though, I made a choice to accept what was gone and look forward to what is coming because I know that it’s going to be great. And I no longer have to share my ‘greatness’ with a selfish idiot that took me for granted.

I get to choose who is in my life, my children’s lives…my ‘bed’, and I don’t have to share any of it with anyone unless I make that choice. That’s a pretty big concept to digest but also a pretty freeing concept to enjoy.

So last night I got to sleep in the middle of my bed. My king-sized bed. All by myself. And I was able to spread out, toss and turn, take all of the covers…all by myself.

It was simply amazing.

I encourage all of you to enjoy doing something today, even something small, for no other reason than YOU want to enjoy it. Whether it’s downloading your favorite song from 1996 and forcing your kids to listen to it in the car simply so you can relive the best summer of your life, or it’s watching an entire Gator football game in a few weeks because that’s your favorite team to cheer on, or putting the kids to bed 15 minutes early so that you can read…do it.

Just do it.

when they try to intimidate you…

I was going through my first divorce and was traveling for work when I was taking one of my training class attendees to dinner. I mentioned something having to do with my eight year old son having a cell phone and why it may sound pretentious and very  ‘privileged’ but in reality it was very much the opposite. It was a small added expense that I shouldn’t have taken on but I needed to do so, so that I could talk with my boys without having to talk to their father first. I avoided a lot of conflict this way. The recipient of this information had been cordial to me until I said this and then the flood gates opened.

When I was sharing this piece of information with this associate, it became an open door…an open door that apparently she needed. She was under so much stress about the custody and time sharing of her children that we connected as soon as she realized we had a lot in common when it came to our personal lives, especially because her kids played hockey too.

Her children’s father was trying to intimidate her into giving him all of the time sharing that he wanted because…he was the original ‘bread-winner’. That he could pay for hockey; that he could pay for school; that he could create his work schedule to adhere to theirs; that he was forcing her back into the workforce after years and she would have to bend in order to keep her kids lives the same. How sad. How incredibly manipulative. How pathetic of a man to think that he could continue to control a woman’s life and their children’s lives because of money. To think that money is what makes a child well rounded. To think that money is what makes you more powerful. Pathetic.

And this is why I started this blog.

Within my circle, I was very open about what I was going through but publicly I tried my best to keep my drama to myself. If you knew/know my ex-husband then you know a smidge of what I went through. I wasn’t shy about sharing much…if you asked.

So I decided to open up, publicly, to help others in the same shoes, to feel empowered. This is my life story and if someone can get something positive out of it then more power to you and I want to be the one to help. I want you to know that you can get through this and you WILL get through this…no doubt about it. I want women to feel empowered and not bullied…as so many do when they go through this process.

From my observations from many friends going through the same thing, when men feel out of control of a situation, they resort to bullying.

As I opened up about something that I thought would be so embarrassing (my divorce), I came to find that there are a lot of women out there just like me. Strong women, sometimes the bread winners, sometimes the stay at home moms, but left to figure this out on our own. Our married income showed that we did well, yet on our own, we were a little screwed. And that’s all that matters on paper in A LOT of cases. Government anything, scholarship anything, tuition anything, financial anything…we were dependent on our spouses. Regardless of who screwed up.

The divorce process for me became a cat and mouse game…who could prove more about a certain financial situation than the other. Isn’t that sad? And now I’ve been on both sides of the fence.

During the Big D #1, I was the financial supporter and I was the one that called it quits because of his mistakes. I was screwed in the end because I did well for myself even though I have more custody. I still pay child support…makes sense, right?? Not to me…but now to the Big D #2…

During the Big D #2, I have had no income for the past year because we decided as a ‘husband and wife’ for me to leave work. And HE cheated. Twice. And HE decided that he wanted a divorce, and HE left me…with every bill. And what do I have left to argue with…just ‘what is right and what is wrong’ and he argues with ‘I do what I want’ and ‘if you don’t do what I want then I won’t pay anything’. Sounds fair, right??

When I left my ex-husband, I supported the kids, I kept the kids housed, I paid for everything even when he kept draining the checking account, I kept the kids lives as close to ‘normal’ as possible.

When my current husband left me, he moved out, left me with no expectation of if I would be able to pay the bills to keep the kids lives the same and now he only shows up in the little red-heads life when he wants. He will call me (because I refuse to answer texts any longer) and demand to FaceTime with her when he’s ready to do so. Sounds about selfish, right?? Seriously, he hasn’t been in contact with me for numerous days, yet he demands that I, and she, drop everything that we were doing and adhere to his schedule.

Who are these men that think that they can bully a woman into their lifestyle? Who raised them to think that this was ok? Who are they raising to think the way that they think?

I know what I will teach my boys. I know that they will be stronger after this. I know that they will know that they need to learn that even though the ‘right way’ may not be the easiest, that they will do the ‘right thing’ always. It’s as simple as that. It’s pathetic that there are women out there that call themselves mothers that will bail their sons out of turmoil at age 39 and still blame the entire situation on the wife that was ‘abused’ in some way shape or form(s).

So tonight, when I received the phone call about FaceTime and then the follow up, abusively manipulative bullying texts trying to get me to adhere to his schedule, I…ignored all of them. I answered his call, hung up on him when he didn’t like my answer and then ignored all of his text messages.

It’s sad that he thinks that a daughter, or anyone, should be dependent on his schedule, but that’s who my soon-to-be-ex-husband has become. I just refuse to allow my daughter to be used to make his ego bigger.

Spouse’s going through this…don’t let the other spouse bully you. You have just as many rights as they do. Just because they are the ones that add to the income every two weeks, doesn’t mean that they can tell you what to do during the divorce process. Remember the common sense that you have…take care of your kids…and remember that at this point, it’s all about keeping the kids safe, secure, happy, healthy, and progressing to the next ‘checkpoint’ in life. That’s what makes a difference. Not money.

Just because someone is the loudest doesn’t make them the smartest.


There have been a quite a few of you reach out to me because of similar situations in your life or a friends life…so I’m starting a prayer list. Because sometimes, that’s all you have. I’d like to extend this invitation to you – if you have something that you need a prayer for please go to the ‘contact’ page and in the comment section on the contact page, give me the details that you’d like for me to know, if any, and I’ll add it to my prayer each morning.

You will get through this. I promise and God promises.

Much Love,
Staci Beth

no more pity parties

Oh. My. Goodness. Did I have a pity party for myself or what a couple of weeks ago!?! I needed to express my frustration and my anger about my current situation dealing with the Irish Idiot (my husband) and thank goodness my mother is a saint because she got the brunt end of it simply because she happened to call at just the wrong time. She let me have my moment, which was very kind of her, and then afterward I collected myself, apologized, and kept moving.

It’s been three years since I was a single parent and it’s tiring. My daughter has now hit the world record in the number of times a child can say “mom” without taking a breath and I’m convinced that the boys are determined to draw blood from each other this summer. And I’m drained and stressed and emotionally a wreck. So I broke down and had a pity party…a six hour pity party. At roughly the six hour mark, I had had enough and I stopped, took a deep breath, prayed, and decided to keep chugging along at my new life.

That day was kind of a turning point for me for some reason. Every day since, I’ve had moments during the day that could have caused another break down, but I’ve been able to keep it together and not focus on the rough stuff and focus on what I do have. Trust me, it’s not easy at all, but I have to for my sanity and for no other reason.

It’s easy to get sucked into yourself and the situation that is looming over you, especially if you work from home or are a stay at home mom and/or wife. When you see the same four walls every day, you forget that there is life outside of the house but having other distractions that can really help you through the rough stuff.

So today, I’ve decided to preach to you the need to stop the pity party, especially if you have a divorce looming over you, as I do. And this is why…not because what you are going through isn’t tough and horrible, but because there really are things happening in your friends or family’s lives that really are worse. It’s all about perspective.

This week I spent some time with a friend that is dealing with some tough stuff with her son. The school system is failing him and it’s heartbreaking to hear her tell the story because there’s not a lot that she could do, at the time, to help her son. When you’re a parent, the last thing you want is to see your child hurting and you can’t do anything to fix it. After listening to everything that they are dealing with and the lifestyle changes that they are making in order to cure a problem that should never have been there to begin with, I realized that I would rather deal with my Irish Idiot any day than to see any of my three kiddos experience pain that I can’t fix.

That’s perspective.

Now, let me contradict myself, after telling you to remind yourself that there are people going through worse things than what you are dealing with.

I love my best friend. She’s wise beyond her years. I met her, as a volunteer, at a camp in Maine, Camp Sunshine,( whose sole mission is to provide an opportunity for children that are experiencing life-threatening illnesses, and their families, with the opportunity to rest and enjoy relaxation and recreation…and just be a kid and have fun without having to explain why they don’t have any hair, or why they are in a wheelchair, or why they can’t shake hands or give hugs to anyone. It’s an incredible experience for the families and even more so for the volunteers.

When you volunteer, you are bound to walk away understanding the value of life, family and a smile. You also are reminded how incredibly great your life is, even when you go home to the rough stuff. Knowing that all three of my kids are happy and healthy, is so much more than what these families can say. And for that I thank my lucky stars.

When I was going through my divorce, my best friend called me one day to tell me that one of the children that she had become close to at camp had just died because of their cancer. When my phone initially rang and I saw her name pop up, I was thankful because I thought I was going to get to unload on her all about what my ex-husband had done that day. Instead, I did my best to console her.

I made the statement that what I was going through did not even compare to the loss of a child…and then she said the most comforting thing that anyone has ever said to me. She told me that it’s ok to feel the way that I felt about my situation…that everyone is handed different things in life and it’s ok to be upset even if you think that it’s small in comparison to the tragedies happening in families, each moment, all across the world. She told me not to be ashamed to be upset for what I’m going through, even though I wanted to diminish my emotional mess after hearing what this family was dealing with.

So in one breath, I’m telling you to feel your pain and in the second, I’m telling you to not throw a pity party and then sit in your pain forever.

I had to feel the pain that my marriage is causing me, deal with it, accept it, and then choose to keep going with life. It’s hard to say that because it sounds like I’m saying it is simple, but trust me, it’s not. I have to force myself to take each step, every single day.

My point, is simply don’t get stuck in step 1: feeling the pain. And I have to remind myself of this every darn time that my husband is in the house and sometimes I’m successful and sometimes I’m not, but each day gets a little better. I do celebrate with a little fist pump when he leaves if I’ve either been successful at not letting him get to me or if he does push my buttons, I celebrate if I’m able to collect myself quickly.

Get out of the house every once in a while. Break your routine so that you have to focus on something new. Have coffee with a friend that you haven’t seen in a while and don’t bring up anything about your issues until you’ve really listened to what their life story is at the moment. It really will help you gain some perspective on your situation.

For more information about Camp Sunshine if you are interested in volunteering, donating to, or attending as a ‘family’, visit: It’s an incredible experience and life changing in so many ways.