So this is the conclusion to one of the more difficult weeks in a long time. Legal battles began this last February of 2012, and hoped things were getting closer to a resolution. Having to start over with a new attorney could not have happened at a worse time. I was with Rebecca, and the legal players we were saddled with could have been taken directly out of a John Grisham novel, while the judge and lawyers talked, not once looking at her records, or asking questions, nothing. When he did speak, it was disparagingly at her because she dared to defend herself because he was not… and when he scolded her, it was in front of everyone. I briefly saw into my future meeting with this guy on the following Thursday and I was pretty worried. Ugh… just chalk it up to the long list of small town injustices I have witnessed this year.
Not much less is left to surprise me anymore. That day I called the attorneys office and asked if he was ever going to call me and go over my case, and I asked if I had any of my retainer left… Within 20 minutes I received an email and this guy had already withdrawn himself before I even met with him to discuss anything. He sent me a check and now I have no attorney. Awesome. I have spent over $4k already, and I honestly cannot afford to hire anyone else. So that is that, I put in an application with the Legal Aid of Southern Missouri, and she called me back today. It looks like they might be able to take my case pro bono… but there was some ‘not so good news’… She does not think they will have a resolution by June… so if ANYTHING happens to me during the transplant… anything bad I mean, the law requires that as long as their father is alive, and he has not terminated parental rights, the children will automatically go to him, no matter what I have down in my advance directive, or who has power of attorney over my affairs.
Sooooo this tells me of course… I better not die or I will be pretty pissed, haha, so let us all just pray I do not die. haha… No pressure… but luckily, I had not planned dying anyway because I have WAY TOO much to accomplish. I would have to set a plan in place to send my kids underground all over the United States, pretty much like their father does when he evades personal responsibility… lol It should work right? This is how it generally goes, and people over the years have wondered why I did not divorce this guy sooner? The attorney in Florida said she has seen guys like him drag these things out for a few years, in order to evade any liability. I am only 1 year and 1 month into it so far… now ya know. haha
Rebecca and I were discussing what Divorce feels like… Divorce by itself is horrible and akin to ‘death’ in my opinion, and I do not think that anyone would ever get married if they had any idea that they would be in a position where it could happen. Then you add abuse, add children to the mix, and it is a nightmare to get through. She describes hers as being hit by a truck or train (I cannot remember exactly), dragged several miles, managing to get up and walk again, but with a broken arm and leg and still attempting to walk away from the wreckage, and having a swarm of bees chase her relentlessly… I can relate to her feeling on many levels because the very first years of my marriage felt exactly like that.
Unfortunately for me, mine spans over 15 years, akin to facing a mountain that I inadvertently helped create. I walked into a trap, but by the time I saw it for what it was, it was too late… but this was only because I did not have the emotional tools to know that I could have gotten out sooner. A gradual losing of self, a gradual handing over of all power to a very sick and twisted individual. Each time something bad would happen, it would create a jagged rock pile that I would set aside, and that rock pile filled me with fear and doubts, and I started thinking of ways to prevent another pile like that from forming because in the early years I was more concerned with ‘appearances’ and did not want anyone to know that I could have been that stupid to get myself into a situation with such a monster of my own free will.
It kept happening, and the further it piled, the harder it was to see where I needed to be in this life and what my purpose was, because I was trapped at the bottom of this hill. It gradually formed a mountain, and each time I tried to leave, another child came along, although I know he believed it would only serve as a weight to keep me from leaving to keep me financially dependent. What he did not realize was that those children were Gods way of showing me what real love & hope was, what real purpose was, and it gave me the strength and courage to fight even when he was destroying me inside and out. As the mountain formed, every year it got a little harder and all I wanted to do was take them and climb over, leave that mountain behind us, and between us, so we would never have to live or breathe the same air again, pretend it was a really bad dream, so we could have a new life.
Right when I could see a way over and where we needed to go, we would go. Unfortunately I rarely made it beyond a few hundred feet from the top, because he was standing at the bottom with this invisible rope tied to my ankles, it could have been the years of emotional & psychological abusive, such as being forcibly detained in rooms for hours until I broke on repeated occasions, the isolation from family and friends, or the jobs and living instability that came from relocating every 2 – 3 years and never having ‘roots’ anywhere. Then it came down to him withholding finances for the girls and his knowledge of my crippling fear of poverty. These things made the mountain sides slippery. So we would slide down, and I would get pummeled by falling rocks and break limbs as went go down, when I fell to the bottom, I got the same lecture from him… “Did you learn your lesson this time? Are you done trying? I told you divorce would ‘never’ been an option, we need each other. Can’t you just accept this is what it is and you will never be free of me, I will be wherever you are, because we have them now, and I will never let you go.”
All the while I can still see the top, and each time I see the mistakes I made to sabotage myself and generally it involved my believing anything he ever said. With each counselor I learned what was happening inside of me and why I allowed him to have so much power… I could never figure out how to take the knowledge and put it mentally into action inside myself any time he was near me. Every day felt like an episode of Criminal Minds or Law and Order SVU, because he had his own reality, and we were all just there to play the part he gave us. Each time he left I started to see that we were so much better without him… But now there was a huge mountain or wall between where were and where we need to be, and I was no longer responsible for just myself, I had three children. Like I have previously said, I somehow inadvertently created this mountain, however naively, however innocently, I gave him the power and took all the blame, and even gave him all the tools to continue manipulating and controlling me no matter how far I was away. I can see now, that climbing it is not an option anymore… I need to MOVE it or go around it. It has taken much longer, it has involved starting below the bottom, it has been without much dignity, it has been hard, but the reality is that this had to happen, because I was supposed to be here for everything that followed. This past February, KY called and harassed me daily about the case, wanting me to make a ‘deal’ and bring it all to a conclusion, I was briefly excited, but was promptly warned that the only thing he has ever done to me is lie. He agreed to a pscyh eval and to giving me sole and physical custody, if I would agree to ask for no child support or maintenance, and just let him pay off the vehicle and the cell phones instead. He asked me to fill out this handshake agreement out of court… outside of court because he could no longer pay his attorney to defend himself and he wanted this all over. He lied very convincingly that he still did not have a job, and had no clue when he would get one. I said I would be willing to accept his deal but only until January 2014 (giving him time to find a job), and I asked that he at the very least place $100 a month per child into a separate mutual funds or savings account for the girls for their future… He said NO and accused me of being all about the money and forcing him to continue dragging this out and said that if the kids got no support, it was because I was being defiant and refusing to drop the divorce settlement terms. The main issue with his $800 deal he wanted to give me was only to pay off the van & cell phones and it would do nothing to help or support the girls… the vehicle is not in my name, and neither are the cell phones, so I cannot even do anything with either, without going through him to do it. His scheme was to send me the money, so he would be able to tell the child support enforcement people that he was sending ‘child support’ when that is not what it would be at all. What he wants is to keep that attachment in place, he wants me to call him and ‘ask’ for things, he does not want the state just ‘taking it’ and sending it to us. I have tried to explain to him that a divorce in a normal situation would be ideal if he was a decent man, capable of real love and compassion for his children, I would be 100% supportive of having a friendship with the father of my children if it was in their best interest. But our situation is not like that, he is very unwell, and very harmful to all of us. I want a complete severance from him, zero connection if possible, at least until I see that he is willing to get help, but I know from 15 years experience, if he wanted help, he would have gotten it already and he is 40 years old, there is no changing what he is. I cannot abide by his terms so he can continue to keep this sick connection between us by using the children as a tool. I have told him until the divorce and custody situation is final, I will not speak to him at all, and that is what lawyers are for, to which he replies that I am a ‘petulant child and a coward’ because I want a ‘lawyer’ to tell me what to do, instead of working out ‘agreements’ out of court with him… We have to have rules and boundaries in place before I can open myself up to communication or negotiations of any sort. Then last week I found out that for at least 2 months now, he has been working on a new government contract in Chicago, just another lie… I wanted this resolution so badly because I felt I was running out of time because I will be going in to the hospital soon. All the lies to the attorneys about moving here to be near the kids, yet only managing a single visit in 18 months, then moving farther away… the games are exhausting. Last weekend I also received a text message saying he had talked to his dad, and that his dad told him I had cancer. This did not make me happy at all… I worry now his resolve to drag out the custody and financial withholding will last even longer just to see if I will give in and start calling him to ask for help. ’ I hate to tell the guy that if I were on fire, I would not even waste my breath to ask him for a drop of water if you want to know the truth. My only source of income is social security disability, and my insurance is medicaid. If I had any other kind of insurance, I would not be so far along in my treatment as I am right now, and my chances of survival would not be as good as they are. This covers all the bare basics we need for the time being, rent and utilities. This does not help with any other living expenses. Which is fine as long as I continue going to school, and for at least 9 more months, I will have my partial GI Bill to draw from in addition to student loans, but the problem is, I am accumulating more debt with the student loans. I was informed by social services that my income with the SSI is too high, so they cut back on food assistance, and I no longer qualify for cash assistance. I asked her why that is, because if my rent is $800 and SSI is only $854, and I have no support from their father, and I cannot earn an income, how is that making ‘too much’? She said they do not count what you pay out, they only count the amount you have coming in and she has no control how that is calculated. So… If I get a part time job, my benefits will reduce even further… but maybe I could do some freelancing to bring in extra income? Every time I suggest the job thing, Colleen tells me it is worth the stress, because I will be in the hospital in less than 2 months… Plus I need to be focusing on the girls right now… I suppose that is a logical statement… She is funny that way… soooo logical. I do not particularly want to ‘need’ anything from him, but at the same time, the girls at least deserve to have some type of support so I can buy them the things they need. Their most recent need is summer clothes, so it is either I figure out a way to grow summer clothes in my back yard or I let the court attempt to get something from him. haha So, now he has this job, my experience is that he rarely stays employed for more than a year at a time, and then each time he switches jobs, we have periods of no insurance coverage, which makes my life even more difficult. The lawyer says if he keeps moving, and shifting money from account to account, or if he has a family member holding it for him so it is untraceable, he can continue doing this for a long time. I wonder what it would take to get him to sign over parental rights? Would that not be better for all involved? The assistance I get, albeit inadequate, is guaranteed and I would not have to worry that year after year we could lose it… but again, this seems very unfair to the girls. A father can decide he wants children, even though in my case it was a means for control… He can just stomp his feet like a little boy that lost his toys and walk away with no responsibility. Either way, I just wanted to be able to support them on my own if I could, this is where my disillusionment came in because I thought this was all taken care of. If the state could get something from him, that would great… but I do not feel comfortable counting on it. I just want to UNHITCH this wagon… His newest allegation is I am being greedy because when I left him in the past, I swore if he would let me go that I would not ask for child support if he gave me custody. So that now makes me a liar, his first wife did not make him pay, so why should I? I find that so amusing, because no matter how much he made, he spent so much on himself that we were always living pay check to pay check, and he left every job before he could get any benefits anyway. There is not any amount of money in this entire world that would have made what he did to me and those girls worth any of it. I just want to settle down somewhere (preferably near a beach) and to raise my kids without being controlled or afraid… that is all I want… not all this. I do not have time or energy to waste on him because he has stolen too much from us already, and he should not be allowed to keep doing this year after year. What I do know for a fact is that he has underestimated my resolve, he has underestimated my support network, and he thinks he knows he trained me well enough, that I will choke when we get face to face… I cannot wait to show him otherwise. However, this needs to happen as soon as possible. I have a very serious procedure coming up and I will be unable to focus on anything other than survival for at least a couple months. Now… if I was a different woman… I might have given up by now. Giving up is just not an option, but I do experience fatigue, discouragement, and disillusionment. I am very confident that this will all end eventually. There are times I sit in silence with Rebecca, and we both know there are no answers and nothing warm and fuzzy to be said… much like when we first met, we were sitting on the landing behind the shelter, in the middle of a situation that was unfathomable, tired and shell-shocked. But it means a lot to know that we are not alone in it even if we would give anything to make it all end for either of us. Then we switch on the jokes and the sarcasm and are able to navigate the emotional minefield for a short time at least and move on. I think the hardest part is the powerless feeling of ‘waiting’ for someone else to decide what we can do next. People say… anything worth having is worth fighting for… so why don’t we have it yet? lol Colleen drove me to Springfield today, because it is now officially getting more difficult to make the drive without getting super sleepy. I met with the spine doctor and had X-rays done. Everything looks great he says, he showed me how they removed an entire vertebrae and where the cage and titanium plate is attached, it looks creepy, but cool at the same time. I do not have to go back for 6 months for a follow up. I have another follow up in a few weeks with my Radiation Oncologist, I guess she will order some other X-rays to make sure all the cancer cells in my neck are gone, and check the site of the radiation… it actually does not look bad, it is just a tan rectangle on the front and back.. more of a sun burn appearance, but I no longer sound like Cher or Stevie Nicks, so that is cool. During the drive, with my captive audience I went down my laundry list of complaints about how ‘nothing’ is working out like it is supposed to… and whaa whaa whaa…. She listened, laughed and gave me some of the best stories in her Boston-Infused-Missouri accent… always a positive and rational word about the big picture, and what seems huge now, is not as big as it feels especially if I put it next to the whole ‘cancer’ thing, and it is all wasted energy to worry about things I can do nothing about right now. What seems insurmountable in a moment in time, is not really insurmountable, but most likely it is something that I need to go through in order to make it through ‘whatever comes next’… I am thinking to myself… “I do not want WHATEVER COMES NEXT” Just sayin’. There better NOT be anything else coming… I mean… Geez O Pete. She tells me if I could just see how far I have come in this past year, if I could just recognize the power I have inside myself that I would not be so worried about how things are playing out, if I could walk in that strength, and express myself the way I want to, with the knowledge that I know what is right… I would be a force to be reckoned with… I am sure I made some dismissive noise… I never quite see this strong person she tells me I am… and I am exceptional of reminding her of all the flaws and all the things I am ‘not’… lol But when I am behind a keyboard, I do feel pretty courageous and intelligent… or full of crap… haha. We called Rebecca and had her on speaker, and told her we were going to stop by her new place because she got her a house warming gift… Then Colleen asked us both to pray for the exes… She said we both needed to FORGIVE them and to ask God to intervene, touch the hearts of these men in such a way that they just stop trying so hard to punish us… that they can let go and soften their hearts in regards to the damage they are doing to their children. We both laugh when she asks us to stop ‘hating’ them especially when she and I can actually sit together and think of many things that we wish upon them and the least of those is that the earth would split open and swallow them both whole… but we listen to her, because we respect her, and because she has been down the road we are both on, and she knows what she is talking about… This is a very loosely paraphrased quote from Colleen that I think was said in parts over the better part of the last two weeks: You girls have got to “Keep the Main Thing, the Main Thing.” “Basically, do not allow any person to have that power over you, your thoughts, or emotions, this includes the amount of anger, frustration, and negative energy you let yourself think or feel when it comes to them. The only person we hurt is ourselves when we rehash the situations and the ‘what ifs’ over and over. The main thing is for us to be empowered enough to make sure we and our children maintain physical, mental & spiritual health, and our safety… those are the MAIN THINGS… the rest of it is small in comparison.” She gave us both books to read… I guess we will have a book report due next week. haha God bless her for loving us so much. New topic (remember, I am on Dex & it is Tuesday): lol Last week I found the first of 5 brown recluses in my house. My immune system would not be able to handle getting bit by one of those spiders, and Kimberly is allergic to any type of biting insect… I do not even want to imagine what a bite would do to her. I called an exterminator, and was instructed to unpack and remove all cardboard boxes asap because they just ‘love’ those things, and wash any clothing or bedding that might be in those boxes… during this process I will still have a risk of finding more. Needless to say, procrastination and newly acquired arachnophobia has overtaken my previously strong urge to organize my basement. My cats literally stay at the top of the stairs and DO NOT even go down there anymore… I would say… that is a bit of a bad sign… but I have to wash my laundry down there… so I just scurry down quickly, pop the stuff in and scurry back up, all the while… side by side my two furry ladies “Princess & Queen Tubbington” watch me… not budging and inch… hmmmm. I am too scared to turn off my lights at night when I sleep and I know that sounds crazy because I do have the good little guard cats. This house is very old, and there are many vents and openings where they could enter into our upstairs from down in the basement. It is just a level of anxiety that I really wish I did not have to deal with on top of everything else. There are multiple things that I wanted to have done with my house before I go in for the stem cell transplant in June… painting was one of them, but I am told painting or fumes would not be the best idea because of the cancer… I still need to finish the unpacking downstairs, building shelves, and the unpacking and cleaning upstairs. I have decided I need to switch rooms with Courtney, and move myself to the room closest to the bathroom, because I will be probably needing that when I get home from the hospital. Funny thing is, the power went out in her room and I have no clue why, (her closet light works, just none of the outlets in the room or the overhead light) just last week Kaitlyn & Kimberly’s room was flickering, and there is no power in their closet… The house needs a lot of work… and sometimes I have these remorseful moments wondering if I should have found a smaller apartment, that was newer and cleaner, because at least then I would not be worried about the ‘cleanliness’ factors’ and the astronomical utility bills because of a lack of insulation, or whatever else could be causing the heat & air to cycle rapidly no matter how low I keep it. My very first utility bill was high and I have to call my landlord because he asked me to turn them on before signing the lease… (this is something I did not realize was an abnormal request) I turned them on on Feb. 20, and signed the lease on the 22nd, but I did not officially move in until March 5… I spent the first two nights at Colleens, because the water heater was broken and the meter was read on March 8… my first utility bill was for $234, so during those two snow storms, while the house was empty, he had the heat cycling like crazy and he NEVER did any of the work he said he was going to do, but I am supposed to get billed for all that? Somehow I have come way out of pocket for many unnecessary expenses and he is showing no signs of wanting to reimburse without me having to force him. I have to call the man, and be assertive (yay), and ask him how we are going to settle this situation. I even paid $2200 to move in and paid $160 to clean the carpets, and $75 to take care of the spiders, and it will be more if I want the follow up treatments… It is just frustrating, because I think he is fully aware of these problems, but is looking to dump this house and all the problems on the first sucker willing to take it. At the time, that sucker was me. I am not saying I regret my choice in the house or the location, because the house is super cute, and we have plenty of room. I just get irritated at my luck with the issues he failed to disclose even when I told him I was a single mom with terminal cancer BEFORE he agreed to rent this house out. And my little nagging issue with speaking up for myself with these sorts of people. No time like the present to put on my big girl pants and tell him what I think should happen, and if he refuses, I guess I will just have to make a complaint to the city hall and figure out a way to get out of this lease and move… which would just be so fun for the girls I am sure… We will see how that goes. Anyway, I realize I have had less positive and upbeat things to say these days, but it feels like it might be turning a corner again?… at least for the moment…haha, the corner could lead to a cliff though lets just sit back and watch shall we? haha Anyways… looking at the BIG PICTURE… I still have plenty of things to appreciate and laugh about. It is just circumstances being as they are not making much sense yet. I rarely want to go anywhere socially because I feel guilt or anxiety that my attitude is not right. I am also very aware of my weight and other side effects, which makes me extremely uncomfortable in my own skin, and I realize rationally that thinking is really silly because I am the only one that obsessively notices my every single flaw… but there you go. Even with my girls, I do not like my attitude, I want them to see strength and victory, and grace… lately, I am not exuding those qualities. Gosh, what a Whine-Fest… I forgot to hand out cheese and crackers… but hey… I feel better. It has not been one a literary masterpiece, that much I know for sure. I am sure very few of you will make it past the first 3 paragraphs and that is perfectly ok. hahaa