Readers' Submissions

An Ordinary Life – Part 7





An Ordinary Life Part 1 — Setting the Scene
An Ordinary Life Part 2 — The Bad Years
An Ordinary Life Part 3 — Her Point of View
An Ordinary Life Part 4 — Aftermath: The Effect on Family
An Ordinary Life Part 5 — Aftermath: New GF, Good or Bad?
An Ordinary Life Part 6 — Some Other Thoughts

This is Part 7

What? Part 7? You must be kidding, there can't be more; the story's run out of puff …

A reminder of the characters in the story.

Ian Yours truly; in my late 50s; an honorable man, but apparently a complete bore
Dawn My ex-wife; a Thai national; 3 years younger than me; a "good girl"; a university graduate
Peter First born son; now 21
Paul Second born son; now 18
Mary I don't have a daughter but if I did she would have this name
Mitch The husband Dawn should have chosen
Udang My current partner
John Udang's son; now 16


When you read Part 6 you thought I was finished, right? I had nothing more to say and some of you told me exactly that.

At the time I thought it would be interesting if I gave a summary of people's reactions — feedback and analysis from the hundreds of responses I received.

But I wasn't contacted by hundreds of people, more like dozens. To be precise I had 43 responses from 29 individuals across a 6-part story. I found these messages insightful and valued every one of them. Some were from Stickman luminaries, people who submit to the site on a regular basis; I was pleasantly surprised these people took the time to give me their thoughts. I also received feedback from quite a few who said "I never do this, but …" Many of these said they recognized something about themselves in my story. Among them I've developed one close email buddy. We share some, but not all, parts of my story. However, he generally says exactly what I'm thinking — it's uncanny. I hope we stay in touch.

While I didn't receive as much feedback as I expected, across all the responses 70% were positive, 21% were neutral and 9% were negative. When I started writing I was warned I should be prepared for negative feedback. I guess receiving only 9% negative feedback is good. And even the negative feedback was presented nicely; no one sent flame mail or wrote something I found offensive. The most negative comments were "you need a kick in the head"; "you are out of gas"; and "can you say SUCKER?" Reasonably polite stuff.

The thing that surprised me most was the negative reaction to Part 5 where I said I was happy to be with Udang. I received overwhelmingly negative feedback to this submission. I thought the Stickmanati (based on the word Twitterati, meaning regular readers of the Stickman site and those who participate in the discussion) are an enlightened lot who understand the difficulties of a woman abandoned by her husband or boyfriend; after all, the ladies we meet in our travels generally have the same story. Most of them are fun for a while but aren't appealing as people so we use their services and move on. Every now and again we meet someone who seems more genuine and stands out from the crowd. Over time these can be disappointing, too. But surely among all the ladies we meet there are some nice ones? Even just a few?

75% of all the negative feedback came from Part 5. The general theme was "What's wrong with you? You're having a relationship with a prostitute?"

Really? Is that what so many of you think?

In this case I'm surprised by the reaction of the Stickmanati because I don't see Udang that way. I've been with her for a few years now and I see a good person who was dealing with a difficult situation. She's considerate to other people and hasn't harmed me in any way. The old expression is you can take the girl out of the bar but you can't take the bar out of the girl. Maybe there are some girls who shouldn't have been in the bar in the first place. Udang is one.

Life Moves On

It's about 6 months since I wrote my story. Here are the big developments in that time.

I continue to provide financial support to both Peter and Paul. Because they're full time students I pay their tuition, accommodation and a monthly living allowance. I want them focused on their study, not their next meal.

However, I cut off financial support for Dawn. She broke up with the boyfriend she had during the separation and divorce (outlined in Part 4). She started up with a new guy and this was a clear violation of our separation agreement as he moved into the apartment I was paying for. I was paying her rent, utilities and other household expenses while she was entertaining a new guy. As a result I told her I wouldn't be contributing to her new arrangement. I won't go into details of the discussion but let's say her reaction wasn't gracious. And remember, this behavior is from someone who is normally described on these pages as "a good girl".

Peter spent the first 6 months of the year in a student exchange program in Canada. His time there was an apparent success. He did well in his studies but the stories that came out of the trip seemed to revolve around significant consumption of alcohol. He traveled around the country for the last 2 months of his stay and I'm really pleased he enjoyed himself. He lived with some other students while he was there and I was proud he showed some independence. My only disappointment is when he returned he didn't maintain his independence but went back to stay with his Mom … and the new guy. I didn't think he would tolerate staying in an apartment with his Mom while another man was living there. I was wrong.

Peter is staying with his Mom, I'm paying for his accommodation but not paying her rent — how does that work? I decided to pay 1/3 of the rent to Peter directly; he can choose to pay that to his Mom as his share or he can keep it, that's up to him. I'd prefer he leaves home and shares accommodation with others but while he stays with her this seems like an arrangement that's fair to everyone.

Paul graduated from school in Bangkok and was accepted into colleges (universities) in the US. Unfortunately I couldn't afford the fees of his #1 choice so he had to go to his safety school — where I can afford the fees. He went there recently and I was pleasantly surprised when he asked me to accompany him to get started in college life. I was able to help him by driving around town getting supplies. It turned out if I wasn't there it would have been difficult for him because he doesn't drive, so it worked out well. He was happy for the help and I enjoyed the time. Actually I was thrilled about it. How often do you hear that about parent-teenage relationships?

And Udang? As implied above we're still together. We've had a few arguments. This is unusual for me because I don't like confrontation and in my experience most Thai ladies don't either. (Or is that just the type of lady I'm attracted to?) The arguments stem from the uncertainty caused by seeing each other only three or four times a year and by some insecurity on my part — in most places in the world she would be 'out of my league'. But the result has been good and I'm happy with things. In Part 5 I said "If it's too much I'll cut my losses and walk away. As long as I keep that mindset I think I'm OK." I still feel the same way. In fact, after the arguments I think we're closer than we were before. But I can walk away if things aren't going well.

My view is that in life, unlike a soapy massage, you rarely get a happy ending. If my family history is anything to go by I probably have 20+ years left in this world and I expect more ups and downs along the way. But at the moment I'm content. Given my ride so far that's pretty good for me.





Stickman's thoughts:

Thanks a lot for the update. It sounds like you've passed the difficult period and that things have developed nicely. Long may they continue….and do consider sending another update in a year or so or if anything major happens / changes.