Tag Archives: divorce

Turning 40 and Adjusting My Sails

Turning 40 and Adjusting My Sails

sailsby Tina Swithin

I am not a football fan but I know a good end zone dance when I see one. I am currently heading for the end zone – the end of a decade. This week, I turn 40 years old. At first, like many of my peers, I struggled with the thought of leaving my 30’s until a few things put it all into perspective for me.

  1. I lost some longtime friends over the past year. Not because of a falling out or a silly argument. It was much bigger than that. Several amazing women that I’ve known since elementary school faced cancer bravely but in the end, it succeeded in taking them from their friends, their family and this world. It felt pretty petty to complain about a new year of life when there are people unable to enjoy another day…or another breath. In their honor, I will embrace my 40’s the way I embrace everything. With life. With love. With all of my being.
  2. I could look at the negatives and dwell on them or, I could look at the picture as a whole and focus on the positives  and on all that I have accomplished over the past ten years. Here are just a few of the moments that stand out in my mind over the past decade:
  • I was handed a diagnosis of MS months before turning 30 which at the time, was a devastating blow. I then embarked on a long and windy road filled with numerous doctors, hospital stays, lab tests and various treatment plans. Through this journey, I have taken the lemons and made lemonade while trying to stay positive.
  • Weeks before my 30th birthday, I discovered that I was pregnant with my first daughter. That year, I learned what it meant to be selfless. I learned that the love you have for your child is a love that you can never describe. In April of 2005, I held my baby for the first time and my life forever changed.
  • At the age of 32, the love that I had for my daughter expanded to include a second daughter. During my pregnancy, I wondered how I could love another child the same way I loved my little girl but those concerns were quickly dismissed when they placed a 6lb 9oz baby girl in my arms in April of 2007.
  • At the age of 34, my marriage ended and I embarked on a journey that few will ever be able to understand. I am thankful that they don’t understand because it is a journey that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
  • That same year, I found God. He had been there all along. He wasn’t hiding- I had been. For the first time in my life, I had faith.
  • Months later, and very unexpectedly, I met my best friend. It just so happened that my best friend turned out to be tall, dark, handsome and the kindest, most honest man I had ever met. Thus began a type of love that I didn’t know existed.
  • At the age of 37, I had this silly little idea to start a blog. That blog has morphed into two books and a movement that I could have never envisioned.
  • At the age of 38, I married by best friend and together; we have five children ranging from the age of 25 all the way down to 7. His are grown and out of the house…mine are not. We are the modern day Brady Bunch complete with all the chaos and craziness that you would expect. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
  • Just three months after my wedding, I was successful in my plight to protect my daughters. Anyone who has been in the Family Court System with a narcissist knows how monumental this is. A full 14 months of peace ensued following this life-changing day.
  • At the age of 39, I launched a non-profit organization which will work to educate the Family Court System on Narcissistic Personality Disorder and a coaching business which allows me to educate and empower those in the trenches. I have discovered what it means to “find  your passion” and everything that has happened over the past ten years makes complete sense.

I am exactly where I am supposed to be. It all makes sense. The good times, the bad times and even the times when I waived my fists in the air and cried. The times when I crumbled to the floor and questioned my faith. It all makes sense and I am thankful to be where I am today. I am at the end of a decade and I am doing my own version of an end zone dance.  – Love, Tina

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Seeking insight, encouragement and advice while divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s books, Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle” and her new book “Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield” are available on Amazon or through Barnes & Noble. Learn how to set boundaries, navigate your way through the divorce and see the narcissist for who he/she really is. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal.

 

 

Divorcing a Narcissist: Seth Was Fired…Again

Divorcing a Narcissist: Seth Was Fired…Again

FiredI have suspected that Seth was terminated from his job a few weeks ago.  There have been some weird issues with his phone – he now calls from a private number and when I called his cell  phone…it was disconnected.  Since this was his work cell phone, it has been concerning.

This morning I received a call from our case manager at Child Support Services who verified my suspicions: Seth was fired from his job several weeks ago.

Truth be told, he managed to keep this job longer than most.  He usually has a 3 month lifespan on jobs since our divorce. He continued on his path of manipulation by updating his Facebook page on Sunday with his job title and company — the one that he was fired from weeks ago. I’m sure he is hiding his job loss from his family which has been his pattern with each job loss in the past.  I’m also sure that somehow it will be my fault that he lost his job.

The other portion of the phone call from Child Support Services was to notify me that the girls’ health insurance ends– effective TOMORROW.  This obviously affects us tremendously when it comes to the girls’ counseling sessions, dental check ups and other scheduled appointments.  I am so frustrated today.  Time to “pull up the big girl panties and deal with it”!

The Bizarre Ramblings

The Bizarre Ramblings

Sometimes I have a hard time understanding how my X actually holds himself together in court.  I know where his mind is and it frightens me.  Somehow, he is able to pull it together and “appear” to be a normal, functioning person.

It has been so long that we’ve had any sort of email communication that I forgot how truly bizarre he can be.  Unfortunately, his visitations will begin again this weekend.  10am-4pm Saturday and again on Sunday from 10am-4pm.  The Sunday time conflicts with our church times so I sent an email asking to change the time by one hour.

My email:

Dear X,  On Sunday mornings, the girls and I attend church from 9:00am until 10:30am.  I propose that we shift the Sunday visitation schedule to 11am-5pm (versus 10am-4pm) which would allow me to bring the girls to the designated pick-up location.  If you’d like to shift Saturday and Sunday to this (11am-5pm) time, I am fine with that to be consistent. -Tina

His response:

Tina,  I am not sure about this. Up until you moved in with your new husband, the girls were attending (XYZ Church) in (insert town here) which they greatly enjoyed.  Then you changed to a bible church in (another town) and didn’t even tell me.  – The X

It left me feeling like I just entered the Twilight Zone.  My husband?  I changed churches?  When did these things happen???

For starters, I am not even engaged let alone married.  I have been attending the same church for three years now– in fact, I’ve never even been to another church during my entire adult life.  I am left scratching my head.

This is a delusional man who the courts feel is competent to be around my children.


A Little Pep Talk

A Little Pep Talk

My sister sent me a little card that I keep on my desk as a reminder.  I also bring it with me to court– it stays in my pocket with a few other “reminders”.
A Little Pep Talk (author unknown)

Repeat after me:

I am strong.

I am special.

I can do anything.

Sometimes like throws hurdles in our path, but we just have to keep on going full speed ahead,

looking inside ourselves for the courage to leap over them and never look back.

Always believe in yourself as much as others believe in you. 

You are strong.  You are strong.  You are strong. 

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I am honored and empowered by the amazing women I’ve connected with through this journey– special thanks to It’s All About Balance and A Little Bit Stronger .

Looks Can Be Deceiving

Looks Can Be Deceiving

By all outward appearances, he was normal.  His appearance and the image that he portrays has been the biggest challenge through this court process.

About a year ago, I was sitting in Starbucks working on my laptop.  There were three older men at the table next to me shooting the breeze– they were talking about their wives, the stock market and whatever else older men talk about over coffee.  One of the men mentioned his wife’s shoe addiction and what he would do with all of the shoes if she died.  I laughed because it was funny.  At that point, they included me in their conversation.

While talking to these men about “life”, one noticed that I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring and made mention of his observation.  I explained that I was a single mother going through a hellish divorce.  I didn’t go into details about my story but explained that I didn’t have an attorney and was representing myself.  We continued talking about the divorce and marriage in general– about the fact that you can be married for years but never really know the person.  I told them that there was extreme debt, huge lies and that I didn’t even know who I was married to.

I live in a small town– everyone knows everyone.  I didn’t quite realize how small my town was until that day.

One of the gentleman said, “we should introduce you to a fellow named (X) who comes in here often.  He is also going through a horrible divorce and has even hired people to follow his x-wife.  She’s sleeping with everyone and is just a mess.  I feel bad for the guy.  His daughters are as cute as buttons– they could be child models”.

My jaw dropped.  He was talking about my X.  He was talking about my daughters.

The other gentleman joined in by saying, “Poor guy– he has a lot of money and was Pre-Med before shifting his course.  He is pretty tore up about the whole situation.  Found out through friends that she was cheating on him”.

I just stared at them.  I opened my mouth and the following words came out, “You are talking about my X-husband.  The only thing I can say is that you can’t believe everything you hear”.

Silence.  Awkwardness.

They couldn’t believe it.  This nice girl sitting in front of them was the harlot that they had been hearing about.  The monster that they have conversed about for a year over decaf coffee.  They mumbled.  They asked questions.  They couldn’t believe that this “nice young man” who told them tales of almost becoming a doctor, tales of his fortune and his woes was my X.  I could see it in their eyes– they felt incredibly bad and didn’t even know what to say.  What can you say?  They too had been conned by him.

Truth be told–

  • My X wanted to be a doctor but confessed while intoxicated one night that he changed his course after being caught cheating on an exam in college.
  • I never cheated on him although I was so starved for affection by the end of our marriage that an innocent stranger offering me a simple hug could have been my target.
  • He didn’t have money- he didn’t even have a car at that point.  He drove a company mini-van because all of our vehicles had been repossessed.  Ironically, just a few weeks prior I watched a tow truck drive through town carrying our Toyota Tundra as I ate my lunch.

I left the coffee shop and these kind gentleman wished me well.  They went on about their day.  I went on with mine.


Another Missed Visitation

Another Missed Visitation

This weekend was suppose to be my X’s weekend with the children.  He refused to comply with the orders as they are written even after being lectured by the attorney representing my daughters.  The result: visitation cancelled.

I made the decision to cancel Saturday’s visitation for non-compliance and gave him the chance to see the girls on Sunday.  It’s such a simple order– email around ten am the day prior (24 hours notice) confirming in writing that he will exercise his rights to visitation.   He has a Blackberry and he has internet on his phone.  He also has Gmail.   Last night I described it best: it’s like having a stand-off with a two-year old.

If you are having a stand-off with a two year old then there are resources available to help.  There are parenting books and television shows like the Supernanny.  When you are having a stand-off with a 37-year old man, it’s just plain frustrating.  Like another single mommy who I admire recently said, “Actions = Consequences”.

The bottom line is this: his defiance caused him to miss time with his daughters.  That is sad.

Saturday afternoon, the girls and I went to a New Year’s Eve celebration at our local Children’s Museum complete with a 12pm countdown, balloon drop and apple cider toast.  We made party hats and noisemakers and had a great time.  We went on with our day and that’s what we will continue to do —whether he chooses to participate in their lives or not.

This morning I was talking to the girls at breakfast about the new year and my aspirations– to have more joy in my heart and to live each day in gratitude.  We talked about things we each hoped for and wanted to work on.  My 6 year old daughter looked and me and said, “Do you know what I wish for but I don’t think it will happen?  For Daddy to be nicer to you“.  I didn’t know what to say– I just leaned over and gave her a hug.

There is no manual or script and there are no cue cards or Cliff Notes.  Sometimes I don’t have the answers– just hugs.

Merging Forces

Merging Forces

As I mentioned before, Christmas Eve (yesterday)  was our “new” annual tradition and we decided to spend the day in Morro Bay, California.  We ate breakfast at a little small-town diner called, The Coffee Pot and lunch at the Otter Rock Cafe.  We spent the day walking the boardwalk, shopping for prized shells and then letting the girls play in an awesome little park called, Tidelands.

This was our third year celebrating our Christmas Eve tradition however, it was different this year.

This was the first year that Glenn joined us on our adventure.  In our 2.5 year relationship, we’ve taken things very slow.  He didn’t meet the girls until we were about six months into our relationship– we both wanted to be sure that this was a solid, stable and long-term relationship before we involved the hearts of two little girls.  We got a lot of raised eyebrows from people who thought that we were being overly cautious but I’m glad that we choose the path that we did

This is also the first year that Glenn, the girls and I have woken up in the same house– and celebrated Christmas together.  We’ve very recently merged forces– a single dad and a single mom combining two completely different worlds under one roof.  Glenn is the father of 3 boys (17, 20 and 22) and I have 2 girls (4 and 6).  It’s a huge step filled with learning experiences, growing experiences, patience and understanding.  It’s also filled with love, mutual respect and companionship like I’ve never known.

It was nice to spend Christmas with someone who wasn’t waiting for the last present to be opened so he can slip out the door to embark on a long distance bike ride.  It was nice to spend Christmas with someone who was present in the moment rather than just giving presents.  I yearn for more than material items.  This Christmas, I have gifts that money can not buy– love and happiness.  That is an amazing feeling.

The girls are with their father’s family from 12-7pm today and I have time to reflect on where my life was three years ago and where it is today.  As difficult as the past three years have been– I’d do it all again to be where I am today.

The lesson I’ve learned: while I couldn’t understand “why” while I was in the moment– having faith gets you through the moment and into a place like this.  My heart is happy and content.

Creating New Holiday Traditions

Creating New Holiday Traditions

I am looking forward to Christmas this year and new traditions with the girls. 

Two years ago, I started a new Christmas Eve tradition– we find a small town nearby and spend the day there.  In December of 2009, we spent the day in Cambria.  We sipped coffee (hot cocoa for the girls) at a local coffee shop with our pinkies high in the air (that’s the way princesses do it!)…we ate lunch at Linn’s (the BEST homemade mac & cheese)…we shopped in art galleries…and we enjoyed a carefree day.  We forgot about the chaos of the world around us and we had fun.

In 2010, we spent the day in the Arroyo Grande Village.  We walked on the historic swinging bridge…we saw the roaming chickens…we ate yummy spaghetti at Gina’s Italian Cuisine…and we shopped.  Together- the three of us.  Team blonde– creating a new tradition that we will honor for years to come.  It’s healing and its refreshing.  The girls look forward to it and I look forward to it.

A few weeks ago, my best friend (also a single mommy) treated us all to a weekend in San Francisco.  We stayed in the heart of Union Square and we had a great time.  The girls got to ice skate for the first time and they got to see the sights of a big city at Christmastime.  It was a weekend of great memories and it is my hope to make this an annual tradition for the rest of our lives.

This Christmas Eve is right around the corner and we will visit a new town or village for our third-annual Christmas Eve tradition.  I look forward to fun times, new memories and a day with my daughters.

Merry Christmas (or Happy Hanukkah!)– Tina

In My Perfect World

In My Perfect World

I received a very kind and heartfelt email from a friend who read my blog today for the first time.  Then she asked me a good question– “In your perfect world– what do you want?  What is your desired custody arrangement if the court stepped aside and you were in control?

Great question.

In my perfect world…what do I want?

I want to know that my daughters are safe (physically and mentally) when they are being cared for by their father.  In my perfect world, their father puts them and their best interests first.  In my perfect world, my X gets the help that he needs so that he can be the type of dad that my daughters deserve.  In my perfect world, my X is an active participant and co-parent to the girls.  In my perfect world, my daughters are never held to the standards of perfection that was expected of me when married to their father.  In my perfect world, my daughters feel happy, loved and accepted no matter who they become or what they do in life.        

Until that happens, the perfect visitation arrangement (in my opinion) is the one that is currently in place: four days per month from 10am-4pm.  This allows the girls to know their father and have a relationship with him but there are limitations. 

My goal isn’t to keep my daughters from their father– it’s to protect them from the dysfunction and shelter them from the things they’ve endured for the past three years.  They get to spend time with their dad but they get to sleep in their own bed each night.  For now, this is my perfect world.

Good Karma and Angels

Good Karma and Angels

My Pretend World

Call it good karma, luck or simply angels looking out for me.

I don’t know what to call it but I have had some amazing events transpire over the past two years.  Some of these events still leave me in awe.

In the beginning of 2009, we had a plethora of brand new cars in our driveway.  A Mercedes ML350, a 2008 Nissan Titan, a 2007 Toyota Tundra, a 2009 Toyota Hylander and a brand new VW Beetle which was my company car.  Five cars for two people.

It was simply absurd but went hand in hand with the manic spending sprees of my ex-husband.  I watched day by day as the cars started leaving our driveway– on tow trucks.  Repossessed for non-payment.  Everything was falling apart before my eyes.

I needed a car badly and was holding onto the last remaining car– a VW Beetle.  I knew that the clock was ticking and that it needed to be turned in.  I was on borrowed time and my new job depended on me having a car.  My daughters depended on me having a car.  I took a risk and emailed an angel– the General Manager of a local car dealership that we had worked with over the years.  I gave him my sob story (a short version, anyway) and asked if he could help me.  This amazing man agreed.  I put down a very small down-payment and he provided in-house financing.  No credit check and a payment plan that I could afford– with zero percent interest for three years.

In this day and age, I know this was nothing short of a small miracle.  In my world, this was a huge miracle.  It meant that I could get to work and I could get my daughters to school.  It was something that I will never forget and will remain forever grateful.  I don’t know if this gentleman truly realizes what he did for me but I will never be able to thank him enough.  To him it was just a car.  To me it was a lifeline.  He helped to further empower me in my new world– in my new world of independence.

I look forward to the day when I can pay this good deed forward.