Tag Archives: single moms

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.

Refusing to Comply with Court Orders

Refusing to Comply with Court Orders

When you are dealing with a person who refuses to follow orders, it gets to the point where you just want to bang your head into a wall.  That’s how I was feeling this morning.

He is still refusing to comply with a very simple order: email 24 hours prior to a visit to notify us if he plans to exercise his right to visitation.  He doesn’t like following rules.

This morning, I finally reached out to the attorney who was ordered to represent my daughters.  He was also frustrated and doesn’t understand why its so difficult to follow a very simple order.  He called my X directly and read him the order verbally.  He assured me that there shouldn’t be any future problems (yes, I am knocking on my wooden desk right now).

The attorney also confirmed the bottom line: if he doesn’t comply then there is no visitation.  Period.  I knew this but it also helped to hear it from someone else– especially someone who was appointed to work in my daughters’ best interest.

$24,958.99 in Arrears

$24,958.99 in Arrears

There is a looming court date in January.  This one doesn’t cause me stress– it’s a date put on the calendar by my X to lower his “current” child support amount.  This is not my battle to fight nor do I care too.  I leave everything between him and the local Child Support Services office.

The long and short of it all: he lost another job.  I should clarify what I mean by “current” child support amount.  Technically, there is no current amount nor has there been since May.  There is a past-due amount that keeps accumulating each month.  In 2010, he hid income by failing to mention large bonuses that he had from his employer.  These issues were addressed in court last year and now he is in arrears.

The past due amount currently sits at $24,958.99

He lives in a luxury condo in San Francisco paying two-thousand dollars per month for a single bedroom.  He always has new clothing, shoes and carries a Blackberry yet he has never asked if the girls need school clothing, groceries or if I need help with their health insurance.  It’s been difficult for me to understand how a man can do this.

I recently read an article by Karyl McBride, Ph.D. in The Legacy of Distorted Love .  Here is an exert from the article which sums up the current issue at hand:

Their entitlement needs get in the way of fairly dividing property and money and in the end they do not think of what is best for the child or children. They think about what is best for them. 

His goal is to hurt me by finding ways to beat the system and to avoid paying child support.  He will inevitably find jobs under the table or borrow money from friends and family.  He really isn’t hurting me.  He’s only hurting his daughters.  In the end, we will be fine and I will make things work just like I always do.
In all honesty, it’s been quite empowering to discover that I can make it without his financial support.

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.

Torn

Torn

We were in court just last Wednesday and I asked for the current court orders to be modified.

He fails to show up for visitation a lot lately and it is very difficult on my daughters.  I asked that he be required to call us when he is actually at the pick-up location (Starbucks) and that we would drive down there at that point.  The judge made slightly different orders.  His orders were that “He” was to notify us 24-hours prior to each visitation if he planned to have the girls.  This allows us time to make plans or to alter our plans if needed.  It saves the girls from being disappointed constantly.

I emailed him Wednesday night with the dates for the 2011 visitations and re-caped the details from court– specifically the 24-hour notification order.  He was supposed to notify us by 10am on Friday morning.  Friday morning came and went– no notice.  I finally sent an email on Friday afternoon (4pm) asking whether or not he planned to pick up the girls– no response.

I checked my email several times this morning– still no notification.  A complete violation of court orders.  Scheduled pick-up time was 10am.  10:05am– he began calling my phone.  Several times.  10:30am he emailed– one of his normal, attacking rants.

I was torn.  Do I follow court orders or do I let him continue to operate with no regard for the judge, court or orders?  If I do not hold him to the orders then in essence, I am also violating the orders.  His mother began texting me.  He began denying the order existed and created his own version of the order.  I sent him an email stating that I would make an exception this time however, moving forward I planned to follow the order as stated.

I sit here listening to Pandora radio as I type this blog.  A song came on that is very dear to my heart– John Mayer‘s “Daughters“.  It makes me cry every time I hear it.  Fathers have such a huge impact on the lives of their daughters.  In our situation, that isn’t a positive thing.  It makes me want to work extra hard to be a strong role model for my daughters– to counter the negatives that lie ahead of them.

Sometimes it feels like it will never end.

It feels like he will never change– and always feel above the law and above court orders.

Why I know I am stronger

Why I know I am stronger

I recently met a woman who reminds me of myself 2.5 years ago.  She is in the beginning stages of her divorce and she has the same look I used to have– the scared, caged animal look.  The constant fear– always looking over your shoulder.  Never knowing where the next “assault” was going to come from– email, text, phone or in person.  Never knowing if “he” was going to be lurking in my neighborhood or peering through my window.  It’s not a fun way to live and my heart goes out to all of the beautiful woman who have recently taken their first steps on this journey.

I don’t have the answers but I wish that I could explain to these women what I do know:  You will look back on this one day and feel strong.  I wouldn’t have believed it at the time but I know it as truth. 

Today, I feel strong. (Yes, that warranted a “BOLD” command)

I opened my email this morning and there was an email from “him”.

Not too long ago, I would have cringed at the sight of his name in my inbox.  My heart would have started pounding as I skimmed the email for anything important.  I would have started shaking as I read the series of assaults– attacking my looks, my weight, my significant other, my family, my job, my lack of a college degree, etc….on…and….on.  I would have forwarded it to my family members and then I would have been “on edge” for hours. Shaken.

Not today.

Today, he doesn’t have that power. I am strong.

I opened the email and it was almost predictable– an intro about tomorrow’s visitation and then a series of  threats and attacks.

I had emailed him this week about calling me T-Rex in front of the girls.  My email was very brief– I said that obviously, he is entitled to feel anyway he wants but please don’t talk poorly about me in front of the girls.

He acknowledged that he calls me T-Rex and then dove straight into his normal ramblings and threats:

  • He accused me of quizzing the girls about their visits so they feel they must “tell” on their dad.  They are confused.  That is why my daughter told me about his name-calling.
  • I am purposefully creating a Parental Alienation Syndrome.
  • He is planning to report me to Child Welfare Services since the judge won’t listed to his complaint about my blog.

Why I know I am stronger– I see through him.  I can almost predict him.   He doesn’t affect me any longer.  I opened his email and it didn’t bother me at all.  In a way, I feel pity for him. 

1. He spins everything back and is unable to accept fault for anything.  This is who he is to his core.  He admitted to calling me “T-Rex” but then spun it around so that it is my fault that my daughter told me about it.  I watched him do this in every situation through our marriage– with employees, banks, family and friends.

2. His threats don’t work anymore.  Child Welfare Services?  Parental Alienation Syndrome?  Please.

3. He then went on to attack me for still using an email with my married name in the address.  “Do you have another email that does not have (my name)  in the address?  The judge gave you back your maiden name months ago”.

I saw the email…I read the email…I closed the email.  No feelings elicited.  No heart pounding.  Nothing.

I see him for who he is and I’ve given up on the hope that he can act in a healthy, rational manner.

I have come a long way from that caged animal look that I once wore.  I am strong today and I will be strong tomorrow.

Releasing Toxic Emotions

Releasing Toxic Emotions

My goal is to rid myself of the anger and resentment that has come from this divorce.  The marriage and divorce were both toxic.  I feel like an emotional hurricane has just ripped through my world and now the I am dealing with the clean up efforts.  My goal is to rid myself of those toxic emotions which will be mentally freeing on so many levels.  I need to find the rainbow after the storm.

Two months ago, I sat in my therapists office and I told her that I have been in “battle mode” for so long that I haven’t had time to feel.  I spent two years preparing for the next court date and going through the motions.  Many times I felt robotic.  I had to think of each court date like a project– and leave the emotions behind.  Now in the aftermath of court, I am left with a TON of feelings that I need to process.  The feelings are of anger and resentment.  They are toxic and I want to free myself of them.  Those feelings are not in my job description– I am a happy, fun and loving person.  I am balanced (the Libra in me!) but I don’t want to balance good and bad in this case.  I want to overflow with good.

I am taking steps to rid myself of the negative.  With each post I write, I am able to re-live the experience, feel the feelings associated with the experience and then release the experience into the cyber-world.  (Warning- step away from your computer screen as you don’t want to be in the line of fire!).

I watched a video this morning from Deepak Chopra on releasing toxic emotions.

Click here to watch the video: Deepak Chopra Releasing Toxic Emotions

Below is an excerpt from the video above: 

Toxic emotions can cause toxicity in the body. Toxic emotions like anger, resentment, anxiety, guilt, fear, depression…
What is anger? Remembered pain from the past.
What is fear? Anticipation of pain in the future.
What is guilt? Directing pain back at yourself.

7 steps to handling toxic emotions by Deepak Chopra

  • Take responsibility for your emotions.
  • Witness them without judgement.
  • Label them. Is it anger? Is it resentment? Is it guilt? Is it jealousy…
  • Describe it. Describe it in the first person. Describe it from a second person’s point of view…a third person’s point of view. Expression.
  • Share them with someone you trust.
  • Release them through a ritual.
  • Celebrate. 

So, I will continue on my path of releasing these emotions so that I can begin to be “me” again. 

Happy, fun and non-toxic…just like the crayons that I love so much ;)

Focusing on the Angels

Focusing on the Angels

While writing this blog has been therapeutic, it has also been difficult on occasion.  The blog gives me a voice that was previously forced into submission.  I’ve been able to break free from the choke hold.  It’s empowering.  I don’t want to be seen as a victim– that’s not who I am.  There were times in this story that I felt like a victim but that’s not what I want to be known for.  I would go through everything again to be the strong, confident woman that I am today.  I would do it again to find the strong friendships with the people in my circle because I was previously lacking that.

One gift that I’ve been given is the ability to look at a situation and see the positives.  A very wise friend once told me that the story has already been written– it’s my job to walk it out.  I want to walk out my journey with a glass that remains half full at all times.

I’ve received a lot of feedback on my blog from random people and others who are very near and dear to my heart.  I’m listening to all of it and taking the comments to heart.  I appreciate the opinions– the good and the bad. 

I want to stay true to myself with the blog and staying true means remaining grateful for the angels who have appeared in my life.  When things look dim, I try to look for little bits of inspiration– a quote on a coffee cup, a song on the radio or someone who comes into my life at just the right moment.  It’s amazing how the simplest thing can stop a pity party dead in it’s tracks.

In 2010, I met with an attorney in Morro Bay, California who reviewed my case and actually offered to help me for free.  While he could not represent me– he offered his assistance in reviewing my paperwork and giving me advice.  At the time I was incredibly appreciative however, I had a difficult time accepting free help.  I went on my way– court date after court date and loads of paperwork to prepare for each.

In the beginning of 2011, I had reached a breaking point.  He wasn’t showing up for visits, he was violating all of the items in our parenting agreement and was ignoring my attempts to finalize the divorce.  I went back to the attorney and explained to him that I could see the light at the end of the tunnel however, I was out of steam.  I needed to prepare my trial brief which was overwhelming and I didn’t know where to begin.

The attorney and his wife (my two angels) offered to help me once again.  He met with me and reviewed my case.  He gave me pointers on my trial brief and then offered to review it and meet with me again before court to prepare me for trial.  His wife helped me to subpoena the records I needed and helped me with the proper forms.

I went home and I went to work.  I worked night and day on my trial brief— and then again the next day.  And the next.  My final trial brief was 47 typed pages.  FORTY-SEVEN typed pages.  I drank a lot of coffee and I got a few new wrinkles.  My bedroom floor looked like a paper factory exploded.  I didn’t sleep very much during those two weeks– I went to work during the day….I was “mom” in the evenings and after sunset, I became my own attorney.

I met with my “angels” a couple of times for further review and additional pointers and then…I went to trial.  With my 47 page document in hand and my game face back on…Pro se legal representation is defined as advocating on one’s own behalf before a court and that’s what I did.

Forgiveness – and Pepper Spraying Myself

Forgiveness – and Pepper Spraying Myself

That is a big word to me right now.  Forgiveness.  It’s a word that I struggle with. 

I’ve never “hated” anyone in my life.  It’s a new feeling.  It’s a feeling that I don’t like. It’s a feeling that I want to get rid of but I don’t know how.  I believe that to forgive...I have to stop hating. 

I also believe that time helps to heal wounds and in my case– there is no time to heal because every week, there is a new occurrence to hate.  Last night he called…for the third time since last June.  In six months, he has made only three attempts to call.  Within 30 seconds of being on the phone, the narcissism took over– he talked about himself– his race tomorrow in San Francisco.  He made sure to ask my six year old if she was the fastest runner in her class– that is what is important to him.  She admitted that she wasn’t and he didn’t know how to handle it– he laughed…uncomfortably.  It was painful to listen to.  I hated it.

How do you not hate someone who hurts your children over…and over…and over?  How do you not hate someone who has put you through living hell?  Someone who causes you to live in constant fear for your life– for your safety.  Someone who has told lies to win– and someone who’s entire goal is to “win”.  A wise person once told me that you have to love your children more than you hate the person you are divorcing.  I have that going for me.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t.

“True forgiveness is not an action after the fact, it is an attitude with which you enter each moment.” David Ridge

I am now living in a safe environment.  It’s the first time in over two years that I can sleep through the night.  It’s the first time that a noise in the middle of the night doesn’t make me bolt upright, start praying…and cry.  I lived with an industrial strength Mace as my bedmate for two years and a smaller bottle as my constant companion in the house.  It’s not a fun way to live.  I don’t recommend it.

Post traumatic stress- it isn’t just for veterans of war.  It’s also for women who have been through divorce with a scary and unstable person.  I am jumpy and I have anxiety on occasion– it’s getting better but it’s still there.

I want to learn how to forgive and I want to know how to stop hating.  I am trying but I feel like I am failing.  

*************

Note from Tina:

This blog is therapeutic– it’s helping me to heal.  It’s helping me to find my voice and share a story that I have kept bottled up.  Normally, I am funny– I make people laugh and I like to laugh.  Reliving this story is hard.  I am trying to find balance in telling this hellish story but not loosing myself back into the dark hole.

On that note, I must share a little bit of “me” and how dangerous it is for me to keep a bottle of Mace as my constant companion.  I am blonde and anyone who knows me can attest to my blonde moments.  I embrace these moments– they make me who I am.  I had a funny blonde moment with my Mace about 6 months ago and I must share–

I was carrying my Mace through the house and read the bottle which said to “test periodically in a well ventilated area”.  Brilliant idea, I thought!  I’ve never actually “tested” it.  The front yard of my condo was long and narrow– with a wall on each side.  I walked outside and pulled the trigger – a huge burst of red spray shot forth and covered the wall.  I panicked and grabbed the hose– quickly trying to clean the residue which was sure to stain the wall.  In my haste, I ran straight into the cloud of Mace and essentially, maced myself.

You have never truly coughed unless you’ve been maced.  You know that bad cold that turns to bronchitis?  It has NOTHING on a mace cough.  I gasped for air, I cried, I choked…I thought I was going to DIE.  It lasted forever.  and ever.  Once I could breathe, I called my loved ones who proceeded to gasp for air…while laughing.

It get’s better– I also maced my neighbor.  The poor guy next door was in his upstairs bedroom and heard me coughing and gasping.  It walked to the open window to check on my well-being…only to inhale the red cloud as it drifted through the air.

Moral of the story: when they say, “use in a well-ventilated area”…they really mean that.  

Celebration of a New Life

Celebration of a New Life

Today, I am having a divorce party. I’ve been struggling with the title…”A Divorce Party”.

Turns out, there are actually businesses popping up who plan your divorce party such as the Divorce Party Planner.  I don’t plan to celebrate to the point of needing a planner but it’s good to know that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the United States!

I tried to wrap my mind around WHY I was having such a hard time with the title.  I didn’t want those around me to get the wrong impression.  I care a lot about what people think- sometimes too much.  Most people in my world have no idea what I’ve gone through in this process.  I took the high road and chose not to speak publicly about the specifics of my divorce.  The people in my life—“my people”….they know.  They have been on the sidelines, in my court and sometimes in the trenches with me.

If I wasn’t already struggling with what others would think about my “Divorce Party”…I got an email which confirmed the outside thoughts.  The subject line: Divorce Party?  The message basically said, “I will not be able to attend your party.  I hope you know that I think highly of you however, I must confess that I am disappointed to see that you are so publicly celebrating the loss of your marriage”.    

I am not celebrating the loss of my marriage—BUT I am celebrating a new life.  I am celebrating the end of a nightmare and the beginning of my new life.  I have been through battle and I’m not naive enough to think that it’s over just because I have a piece of paper.  I am celebrating the end of a huge court battle that was always on the forefront of my mind.  This was a court battle that kept me up late at night with mounds of paperwork.  A battle that I thought about day in and day out.  I didn’t have an attorney to go to battle for me.  I had me.  It’s over and I am celebrating.

The milestones that I lived for had to do with the next court date—or the next filing deadline for the next court form.  As much as I WANT to “live in the moment” and practice what I preach when it comes to enjoying life…it’s been impossible for me to do.

So…tonight I will celebrate this new life with my closest friends and my people from the trenches.