Tag Archives: divorce

At Long Last …

a breakthrough with my kids

This past weekend was amazing. My children came to visit and the most incredible turn of events unfolded.

When we met our kids in the parking lot my oldest son was visibly upset. It looked like he had been crying. I immediately asked him what was wrong. He fought back tears while saying that he would tell me later. We all got into the van with him in the front passenger seat and he immediately burst into tears. I could only imagine that this must have something to do with his father harassing him about his conversion to Judaism. He didn’t tell me right away, but that was part of it.

This is not the good part of my story. It turned out that their father had raged at them during their 30 minute drive to our exchange point. He did his usual song and dance: my wife does nothing, my kids do nothing, I didn’t watch tv as a kid, I rode my bike everywhere, blah, blah, blah. He growled and yelled, accused and ridiculed. This was the very reason why I left with the kids 5 years ago. My son was on the verge of tears, my daughter did cry. Remarkably, my youngest son said it didn’t bother him. My two oldest have those memories of being emotionally and verbally abused. Their father’s unleashed anger triggered their emotional memories. My youngest son was only 2.5 years old when we left. He didn’t retain the emotional memory.

After arriving home, when my son spilled all of this ugliness he confessed as well. He told me that his sister had mentioned something about my husband and a belt, that he had countered with, “that didn’t happen!” only to have his father turn on him. My son cried. I told him that I forgive him and that I understand. It was an incredible, tearful moment.

I soon went to check on my 10 year old daughter. She was moody and angry about not being allowed to play video games. I turned her towards me and hugged her. I told her I love her and I miss her. I apologized for anything I had done to hurt her, told her that it hurt me to see her so sad. It took awhile for her to raise her arms to embrace me, but when she did she collapsed into me, sobbing. She told me that everything was a mess, that there was too much fighting and she just wanted it to stop. We stood for a good 10 minutes in the kitchen, holding each other and talking.

She finally dropped her facade. We finally connected on a deep level.

The sad thing in all of this is that the events we had predicted would occur happened faster than we had thought. My ex is emotionally and verbally abusing my children again. They are living in fear, walking on eggshells. Their stepmom has distanced herself from them. She is not involved in their lives. They are not happy. They are barely getting through each day.

I am sending an email to the guardian ad litem in our case. She needs to know what her lack of concern has done to my children. For her they were a paycheck. For me, they are my heart and my life.


Adult Children of Remarried Parents

It occurred to me this morning that I have been a member of a blended family for nearly than 16 years. I am dense, I know.

My father remarried in 1995, exactly one week before my first wedding. Sadly, I have never met my three bonus siblings. It wasn’t until we all connected on FaceBook that I had any regular communication with them. Proximity is the issue — and money for travel. He was married out of state and wound up relocating to the state in which they were married. I have only seen my father once in the past 10 years for this very reason. Travel is too costly.

I have heard of adult children having issues when their parents remarry, but this wasn’t the case for me. I was happy that my dad had found a new partner. I was sad when they moved away, but as adults that is their choice.

The thought that I am pondering now is how adult children of blended families can try to hold their parents hostage. I saw my ex do this when his father remarried. Not only did he badmouth his future stepmom, but he also felt very put-out that his dad would have a teenage stepdaughter — as if she was usurping his place with his father. It boggled my mind. How selfish can one get? Parents have the right to find love, security, and companionship.

Can it be that even adult children of divorce still hold out hope for their parents’ reconciliation?

Maybe it boils down to insecurity… jealousy… competitiveness. My ex certainly has those qualities — in abundance. Or perhaps it is the belief that the parent is choosing the wrong person. How is it though, that children will presume that they know better than their parents? That is simply presumptuous and arrogant.

I didn’t make those judgments when my dad remarried. I am genuinely happy for him.


Pursuing dreams

When my first marriage fell apart I had to let go of two dreams: having an intact family and becoming a midwife.

I think that is one of the most difficult parts of divorcing. Letting dreams die. Dreams of a happily ever after. Dreams of raising children and growing old together. Dreams of home ownership, developing new interests and changing careers while leaning on one’s spouse for support. And sometimes, it also means letting go of dreams that the other person will change “if only…”

In my quest to be self sufficient I tried out a new dream — being a teacher. It didn’t seem far-fetched. I love working with children. I believe that I have a calling to facilitate the building of healthy families and relationships. Teachers may touch those areas of people’s lives. I enjoy teaching. I don’t love it. It is stressful, exhausting, restrictive, and just downright hard. While it is an excellent career choice … well, maybe it isn’t. The pay is low. The job security no longer exists. One of my motivators in becoming a teacher was to have summers off to spend with my children. Our visitation schedule is still every other weekend all summer …

The truth is, I have a passion for working with moms and babies. Pregnant moms. Breastfeeding moms. Newborn infants. Laboring moms. I am drawn to them like a magnet. They fill me with bewildered awe. I want to assist during the transition of becoming a mother. To be a witness to the birth of a new family.

I need to be a midwife.


Letting Go of my Kids

At one point in our premarital relationship, my current husband and I were both searching for employment. We extended our search to a neighboring state. My kids told their father that we were looking for jobs in an area about a two hour drive from where we currently lived. I received an angry phone call from him. He ranted for awhile and then finished with, “Over my dead body!” His rancor was wasted, we didn’t find employment out of state. I stuck with working as a substitute. My husband found another local maintenance job.

Fast forward … my ex remarried in June of ’09, shortly after my MIT graduation. In order to expediate bonding with their new stepmom I agreed to lengthier visits. They spent full weeks with she and their dad. I knew that she owned a house that was in a rural community — a two hour drive away. My ex also still owned the house we had lived in. Since I had custody of the kids I wasn’t concerned about the distance between our homes.

Unbeknownst to me, my ex had already put his plans into motion.

2009 was the worst summer of my life. I was without employment, having just graduated with my teaching certification. My current husband was looking for work. My ex had stopped paying child support several months earlier. We were renting a large, beautiful house in a quiet neighborhood and we had to leave it. Fast. Our only decent option was to go live at my mother’s house. Not what I wanted to do. I knew how difficult it would be. I cried and cried about it. Not only is my mother a very challenging person, but she lives 6 blocks from my ex. I did not want to return to the neighborhood where I had lived with chaos and abuse. But go, we did.

My ex and I had a telephoned child support hearing during this transitional period. He was livid and put down the phone more than once to walk around and rant to his wife. He specifically told the attorney that if I got the support order he would make my life “shit” and would take the kids from me. Well, guess what?

I bawled my eyes out after that phone call. I knew what he was capable of. I knew how he was about money. Within a month he had brainwashed the kids by telling them that they would have more money and more things if they lived with him. He fabricated abuse and sent CPS to my home. But the worst of it was that he took my kids. I got my youngest son from him. He tried to take him back, but I was vigilant about not letting that happen.

I soon found out that I was powerless to get my children home. We didn’t have a parenting plan. Under our state’s laws there is nothing to protect one parent from taking the children from the other. You simply cannot “kidnap” your own children. There is nothing in the law that requires one parent to allow the children to see the other — in the absence of a parenting plan, that is.

Sigh …

I think it is time to make a long story a bit shorter.

At the time when my ex took my kids we were living only 6 blocks away from each other. It seemed like it could be ok. The kids would be nearby, I could see them after school. I had already enrolled them in school before their dad announced that they would not be returning to me. But he took them to live at his wife’s house. Two hours away. And I was powerless to stop him.

I had to let go of my children. Physically and emotionally. Far earlier than a mother should have to. My son was 13 and my daughter was 9. I didn’t see them or speak to them for more than 3 months. I was utterly heartbroken. I spent many of my days lying in bed, reading and watching tv. And sleeping. I did a lot of sleeping.

I found that the only way to get through it and go on living was to let them go. I had to stop worrying about them. I had to let go of my attachment to them. Part of me had to stop loving them.

I know that all of this seems farfetched and unreal. The sad fact is that it happens. It happens to good parents. It happens to loving moms. It is all too common.


Second marriage, second chance

I stand in awe of my husband. Sometimes I stand in frustration. At all times I stand in love.

My husband is an immigrant to the U.S. He is bilingual. He is biliteral. He is bicultural. He has overcome more difficulties than I can imagine. He truly comes from a world that is foreign to me.

Most of the time he seems just like me. White, middle class, educated …   and then I see him interact with people from his home country, in their native language, and I am struck by the fact that he lives a dual life of sorts — and that with it he possesses a skill far beyond my understanding. He’s had experiences that I cannot fathom.

Sometimes that duality feels like a wall between us. Other times, I think that maybe I will never run out of things to learn about him.

Embarking  on a second marriage is a huge risk. It is scary. Throw six kids into the mix and it is downright terrifying. There is so much at stake in creating a blended family. For those of us who have always dreamed of having a large loving family, but watched that dream die on our first attempt, it is a risk we have to take. I, for one, cannot let that dream slip away without giving my best effort to creating a successful marriage.

~*~~

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”   Ephesians 4:2 New International Version

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8 New International Version

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
1 John 4:18 New International Version


My Faith Carries Me Through

I have spent the past 15 years engaging in discussion and sharing ideas online. During that time I have set rules for myself. The two most important being: don’t talk politics, don’t talk religion. There is one caveat to those rules, I may discuss them if I’m “preaching to the choir.”

I am breaking that rule on my blog. I’m going to talk about my faith. If it were not for my faith in God, I would not be where I am today and I don’t know where I would be tomorrow.

I became a Christian late in life. I was raised by an atheist and an agnostic. I dabbled in Eastern philosophy and considered myself a Hindu for awhile. In my early twenties I developed rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis. These debilitating diseases caused me to frequently ask, “why?”  In the midst of this questioning phase I attended a weekend workshop with Ram Dass (google him). During a meditation we were directed to visualize the person who was our greatest spiritual teacher. Who popped into my head? Buddha? No. Krishna? No. Bhagwan Rajneesh? lol  No. Jesus. Jesus appeared in my mind’s eye. Glowing, hippie-like, dressed in robe and sandals.

“No! What is he doing there?!” I relaxed, cleared my mind again and Bam! he was back. Sigh.

That wasn’t the turning point that led me to Christianity. It wasn’t until about 9 years later that I claimed my faith. Like many people, I actively sought God after losing a loved one. What I didn’t realize was that I desperately needed God to carry me through an abusive marriage. He did just that. At times I was nearly drowning in despair and feelings of helplessness, but I would call out to the Lord to help me and He was faithful. And I made it through another day.

God has worked miracles in my life. At one time during my first marriage I had requested information on teacher certification and a Masters degree from a local university. I looked it over, stuffed it in a drawer and thought, maybe later, when my kids were older. While decluttering my cabinets I grabbed that folder, ready to toss it in recycling. A voice in my head rang out, “No. Keep it. You may need it.” I stuck it back in the drawer.

Two days later my ex went sideways, ranted at my children and I. He was absolutely terrifying. He scared our children, he threatened my life. Within a week my kids and I were out of our house and in an apartment away from him. I took that folder with me. I applied to the program and earned that Masters degree. God had warned me on that June morning in 2006. I am so very grateful to Him.

During those early days, weeks, and months of being a single mom I spoke with God daily. I prayed for strength. I prayed for the well being of my children. I prayed for our safety. Taking care of three rambunctious children on my own was not easy. Being alone was hard. I constantly leaned on God. He frequently gave me tangible evidence that He was there for me and working for good in my life.

About three months after I left my ex he called in the middle of the night. He was drunk and in Las Vegas. I think it may have been his birthday. (He called in the middle of the night on several occasions, always intoxicated. I learned to turn off my phone at night.) He decided to unburden himself to me. He cried and whined about how sad he was. He went on and on, drunk and rambling. I only listened because our relationship was horribly  co-dependent.

The next day he called back and then he dropped his bombshell. He had been having an affair while we were together. For the last three years of our marriage. Before our third child was conceived he had been cheating on me. My life had been a lie.

I hung up on him and went outside. I was crying. I had just walked down the pathway towards my van — I always cried in the van back then — when the orange maintenance cart pulled up next to me. There was the maintenance man, looking at me with a concerned look and then saying, “You’re too pretty to cry.” What a cheesy line! lol  But it broke through my tears. He asked what was wrong and I told him. He then shared that his ex-wife had cheated on him and he understood how it felt. We spoke for a few minutes, sharing briefly some of the pain that betrayal brings. He gave me a little pep talk and smiled at me, told me that my ex must be really stupid. His words made me chuckle and smile ruefully.

I went back into my apartment and prayed. My pain was lifted. I knew that whatever my ex had done didn’t matter. I am a child of God. As a child of God my life is important to Him and He will make all things work for the best for me, my children, and everyone.

What a strange and wonderful blessing God gave me that day.


Evil Exes

When a divorce with children happens, there is always an ex to contend with. Whether the person is present or absent in the life of the child, they are forever intertwined with our lives. I always advise young women to be careful who they choose to have children with. We so often make poor choices and our children suffer for it.

My ex has done just about everything in his power to destroy me. Funny thing is, he’s the one who wanted out. Yes, a marriage is made by two people and I am not blameless. But vindictive? No. Desiring to deprive him of involvement with our children? No.

My evil ex has used our children as pawns. He has used them to get back at me. He has used them to entice a childless girlfriend and two childless wives. He succeeded in taking custody of all three children, simply because I obtained an official child support order. I am not making this up. He is on record at our child support hearing saying that he would, “make her life shit” if the order for support went through. It was no coincidence that abuse allegations were fabricated less than a month later.

I mention three relationships of my evil ex. The first, the girlfriend, was established before my kids and I were driven from our home. I was ignorant of her existence. She moved into our house a week after my kids and I left. Less than a year after our split, my ex married a woman he met online. That marriage lasted less than a year and then he was quickly remarried to a friend from high school. With each relationship he would threaten to take the kids from me. In each relationship the new woman was pronounced better able to care for our children than I was.

All of this was about money. All of it was about child support.

My evil ex is a dirtbag. I cannot count the number of times I have longed to turn back time and change my decisions. Run the other way when I met him.

Our exes can continue to abuse us long after we have removed ourselves from their daily lives. They abuse us with the courts, they abuse us by manipulating our children, they abuse us emotionally, verbally, and spiritually. Any small window of opportunity is thrown wide open and the abuse floods through. We think that by getting away physically we can escape. They don’t let us.

When we start new relationships, evil exes will do whatever they can to impede them. My ex tried threats, bad mouthed my husband to my children, spouted racist comments regarding my husband, and finally, when all of that failed, he fabricated wild stories of child abuse.

He won, in his way. He got the kids. I pay him child support. But he didn’t destroy me. My older children may not live with me, but they are still my children. He cannot take that away.


Losing “the Dream”

I don’t think that I can do this topic justice. There are so many feelings I have that are tied up in my dreams of family. I know that I will need to edit this later, but this is so essential to blended families that I want to get it off my chest and get it out there.

I had a dream of how our blended family would look. We were on our way, things looked beautiful, then it all came crashing down.

Valentine’s weekend 2009. My husband and I took a road trip to visit his family. We had a great weekend, bonded like crazy, enjoyed his family, talked marriage. The marriage thing was settled, we would marry before the end of the year. We had never felt closer or more in sync.

On Wednesday afternoon following our weekend of bliss … call from his older daughter … they are moving in less than two months … 6 states away …

There went my dream. My two bonus daughters were taken away by their mother. My husband didn’t fight it. He was depressed. He was frustrated. Our relationship took a turn. He became emotionally distant. I could not fix it.

Around this time my ex was fired. He stopped paying child support. My husband was able to carry the burden of our expenses. We lived in a big, expensive, rental house. It was ok, but then he lost his job. Boom.  It was summer. I’m a substitute teacher. We had to move.

With no work and no savings, we made a temporary move to my mother’s house. I was despondent. I cried daily while we were packing up. I did not want to live with my mom. I did not want to return to the neighborhood where I lived with my ex. Nothing about it was ok for me. We had no choice.

Shortly after we vacated our rental house my ex and my children fabricated abuse allegations. I lost two of my kids. With no parenting plan in place I could not force my ex to return our two older children to me. In turn, he could not force me to give him our younger son. We lived in a state of extreme stress. I had my younger son, but had no idea where my two older children were living.

This was the beginning of the most painful year of my life. I did not anticipate the outcome. I don’t think anybody who knows me could have.


My custody battle

When my three children and I left our home in 2006 we moved to an apartment in an adjacent town. It is unusual for a mom and kids to leave a home that the family owns. My ex refused to leave. He threatened my life and scared the kids, but he wanted us to stay in one part of the house with him in the other. The house is only 1100 square feet, with one bathroom. He threatened to kill me. How could I possibly live in the same house as him?

For 3 years I took care of our kids. I went to school full time to earn a Master in Teaching degree. I didn’t date until 18 months after our split. The only man I dated is now my husband. I was a good mom and did the best I could for my children.

During that time, their father was arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct. He remarried — twice. He obtained a permit for medicinal marijuana use, as did his 3rd wife. Then he took my children. He invented abuse allegations. He successfully took all three children from us, even though CPS determined that there was no abuse. He ripped our family apart.

I write about this now because my attorney was in court yesterday finalizing our parenting plan. I see my three older kids every other weekend. I get two weeks of vacation with them per year. I have alternating year visitation for spring break. I get half of Christmas break.

The miscarriage of justice is reprehensible. My ex has a history of alcoholism, suicidal tendencies, bipolar disease, and recreational drug use. Who in their right mind would give him custody of three children? He and his wife get high every day.

I miss my kids. I don’t get enough time with them. I am burdened with the stigma of being a mom without custody of her kids. I know what runs through people’s minds when they learn that my children live with their father. I want to cry out, “He manipulated the court system and the guardian ad litem! I am a GOOD mother! I am a Masters Degree holding, state certificated elementary school teacher! Please don’t look at me like I must be an alcholoic, druggie, or abusive mom. I am not any of those things!”

What do you think when you hear from a man, or woman, or kids that dad has full custody? Do you assume negative things about the mom?


Bonus, step, bio, blood — what do we call ourselves?

Politics get into every aspect of our lives. Labelling of our family types is not exempt.

While reading on a message board earlier this week, I came across a post that pointed out to a previous poster that the term “bio” had negative connotations and was frowned upon. Really? I’ve been referring to the children I’ve given birth to as “bio” kids for awhile. I like the sound of the word. I think it is descriptive and accurate.

So, if not bio, what? “Blood?” Yuck!  “Natural?”  All kids are natural.  How about “my children from my previous relationship/marriage” or even more cumbersome and obnoxious, “my children with _______.”  No thanks!

Oh, I know! I should just say “my” kids and “his” kids. I really don’t like that at all. It removes our unity and puts separation in our family.

I have been aware for some time that “step” is not favored. I’ve tried out “bonus,” which has a nice ring to it and I am comfortable using it. But when talking to other people, will they understand me if I talk about my bonus daughters? Probably not, unless they have been reading about blended families lately.

So what do we do? Define ourselves and label ourselves as we like. 🙂