Tag Archives: child custody

Tina Swithin survived a Category Five Divorce Hurricane and has taken shelter in her book titled, “Divorcing a Narcissist: One Mom’s Battle” and in her blog, “One Mom’s Battle.” Tina’s ultimate goal is to bring education and change to the Family Court System. Tina resides in sunny California with her fiancé, two daughters and three-legged tortoise named, “Oliver.”

Domestic Violence by Proxy

Domestic Violence by Proxy

A Message from OMB’s President (Rebecca Davis Merritt) and Vice President (Jennifer) about Domestic Violence by Proxy:

You have probably seen OMB’s informational poster about why we advocate not using the term or “theory” of Parental Alienation. We post it once a month encouraging our readers to understand that the controlling behaviors of Cluster B parents in trying to place a wedge between the children and healthy parent is Domestic Violence by Proxy. The emotional abuse of a Cluster B is domestic Violence (DV).

When a Cluster B personality disordered individual enters the family court system they wage war upon the healthy parent. They may have been absent parents never attending school, medical or dental appointments but suddenly they attend everything, preening as the doting father or mother and may push for custody. Custody is seen as a prize. The goal is to hurt the healthy primary parent and save money via child support calculations. As part of that push they groom children to see their healthy parent as untrustworthy and self-centered (projection), with divorce or separation their fault while portraying the Cluster B parent as wounded and needing the children to shower him or her with love and affection. Children often respond to this gaslighting by siding with the abusive parent.

The Cluster B parent often blames the healthy parent for his or her own actions, claiming parental alienation (PA). If the children distrust Cluster B parent based upon a history of abusive behaviors, this estrangement is labeled as PA. The healthy parent, unfortunately, is at serious risk of losing custody  in family court. Men who physically batter their former partner are much more likely to gain custody than the healthy parent.  Courts have been taught that women claiming DV in family court are usually lying and using this false claim to secure custody. Even when DV claims are accepted, courts falsely believe DV only affects direct victim and that abusers can be good parents to their children. Once Cluster Bs have the children away from the healthy parent, they use manipulation and other forms of abuse to convince the children that their other parent never loved them and are untrustworthy.

Alina Patterson (2003) first defined Domestic Violence by Proxy or DV Proxy. DV Proxy is a pattern of behavior where a parent with a history of using domestic violence, or intimidation uses the child (as a substitute) when s/he does not have access to the former partner. Continuing the cycle of domestic violence, the cycle of Domestic Violence by Proxy starts when the victim leaves the abuser and the abuser learns the easiest way to continue to harm and control the former partner is through controlling access to the children.

Once the abuser has control of the children they are able to continue stalking, harassing and abusing the former partner even when the abuser has no direct access. DV can manifest in ways such as threats to the children if they display a close relationship with the former partner, destroying the children’s favorite possessions given by the former partner and emotional abuse. Children are often coached to make false allegations about the parent.

DV by proxy is very deliberate and planned. The abusers know what they are doing and chose their controlling, coercive, and illegal behaviors. The behaviors are usually surrounded by threats and fears and often include “battery, destruction of property, locking children in rooms to prevent them from calling parents, falsifying documents, along with other similar overt behaviors.” As the leadership council suggests, “Calling this behavior “parental alienation” is not strong enough to convey the criminal pattern of terroristic behaviors employed by batterers.”

Unlike Gardner’s discredited PAS theory, the behaviors associated with DV by proxy are visible. Gardner stated the behaviors by the “alienating parent” were unconscious or unseen. This is one of the scarier components in Gardner’s theory because you cannot defend yourself against unseen things. Many healthy parents have found themselves trying to defend themselves against these unseen behaviors.

Family court professionals often fail to understand the presence and implications of both domestic violence and Cluster B psychopathology. Thus family court usually encourages unfettered access of the children to abusers. Family court judges and lawyers often work to punish healthy parents reporting bona fide abuse. Yet, they often seem to believe the victim stories told by abusers. Court officials often seem slow to recognize how family court itself can be abusive, particularly protracted, repeated, unnecessary court hearings used by the abuser to drain the financial and emotional resources of the healthy parent. Children may be placed with the abuser while the healthy parent is discredited through accusations of mental illness or PA. Other professionals involved including GALs, evaluators, therapists, etc. often take on responsibilities that are beyond their skill level. Antisocial and or Narcissistic personality disordered parents with good impression management skills are adept at “conning people, or gaining sympathy, and can win the trust and support of a family court professional while turning that same person against their ex-partner.”

The main goal of the abuser is s/he will end up with complete control over the children and will use this power over his former partner, “who tried to escape the power and control of the once abusive marriage.” They do not care if the children are harmed as long as their former partner is hurt and they feel they have won. It is imperative that the healthy parent and attorney understands how to use DV by proxy to counter and claims of parental alienation.  Joan Meier is an important anti-PA or PAS voice. She is an attorney who understands the power and control dynamics of DV. She is a smart researcher and she understands the quagmire of family courts. If one needed and could afford a DV expert to testify, she would be the one.

The following links may also be helpful:

http://www.thelizlibrary.org/liz/Hoult-PASarticlechildrenslawjournal.pdf

https://www.leadershipcouncil.org/1/pas/dv.html

http://www.dvleap.org/Programs/CustodyAbuseProject/PASCaseOverview.aspx

http://www.dvleap.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=dUauj0V-0Fs%3d&tabid=181

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One Mom’s Battle is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our mission at One Mom’s Battle is to increase awareness of Cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder) and their impact upon shared parenting and the Family Court System which includes Judges, CPS workers, Guardian ad Litems (GAL), Parenting Coordinators (PC), therapists and attorneys. Education on Cluster B disorders will allow these professionals to truly act in the best interest of the children. Please consider a donation to help with our efforts.

History of One Mom’s Battle: In 2011, One Mom’s Battle began with one mother (Tina Swithin) navigating the choppy waters of a high-conflict divorce in the Family Court System. Since then, it has turned into a grassroots movement reaching the far corners of the Earth with chapter all over the world. In 2014, One Mom’s Battle achieved non-profit status which will allow the group to take their mission to the next level. Tina’s books, Divorcing a Narcissist and The Narc Decoder: Understanding the Language of the Narcissist can be found on Amazon.

Divorcing a Sociopath: Another Face of One Mom’s Battle

Divorcing a Sociopath: Another Face of One Mom’s Battle

mom child

Note from Tina: Through this battle, I have connected with some amazing men and women. Some I have connected with on a deep level — and their battle becomes my battle. Today’s guest blogger is someone whose battle  became my battle. This woman is like a sister to me- we met pre-battle and I have cheered her on every step of the way. Her little one is finally safe and because of that, my heart is happy.

Another Voice of One Mom’s Battle:

Have you ever felt truly desperate? Not the habitual yearning for that first cup of coffee in the morning type of desperate. Or the too stressed out, must have a glass of wine (now!) type either.

I mean the soul crushing, bring you to your knees desperation when your life as you know it is crashing down around you. That which confirms you are merely an actor in the pathetic, sadistic existence that is your life. That desperation. Are you feeling me now?

I have felt this way twice in my life. Many times I was at the end of my rope, no place to turn, with no honest means of digging myself out of a particular situation. But twice, I have been on my knees, ready to throw in the towel. To give up. Accept my fate, as long as it was better than the hell penetrating my heart and every ounce of my being.

I was married to a sociopath. The scary type. The type of husband that leaves knots in your stomach morning, noon, and night. The one that makes your heart pound, your hands sweat, and leaves you shaking uncontrollably since you have no control over anything, least of all what he will do next. Everything you have ever known about yourself is now a huge ball of insecurity. You know the type. I’m certain you do.

The first time I ever felt truly desperate was the moment I realized my days were numbered. The instant I knew that if I did not escape that wretched excuse for a marriage, my life and my child’s life would be over.

Maybe not right away. I had slowly been dying for years. Every day was more brutal than the one prior. But eventually, I was going to die in this marriage.

I knew either he was going to kill me, or I was going to kill him. It had gotten that bad. After years of his threats, abuse, and addictions, he threatened to kill me. It was 4th of July weekend 2009. I remember it vividly.

In front of my child, in an extremely drunken rage, he manically screamed at me to, “shut the fuck up, or I will shut you up forever.” I believed him. I knew he was capable of it.

Guess what I did? I begged for help like my life, and my child’s life, depended on it more than anything in my world ever had before.

That night after he had passed out stoned and drunk, and my child was asleep, I shut myself in my bathroom and crumbled into a heap on the bathroom floor.

I prayed like I never had before. I told God that I was empty. Hollow. Broken. And scared. Desperate! I had no idea how I had gotten so deep with a person who controlled every aspect of my existence. I had no idea how to fight for my life.

I asked God for help. I prayed with agonizing certainty that I would not survive if He didn’t show Himself to me and make it absolutely clear what He wanted me to do. I would either end up dead, or I would end up in prison and leave my child motherless if I killed the SOB in a desperate attempt to protect myself and my child.

My mind began circling around me in a dark, swirling haze of fear, hate, and surrender. I was sobbing, yet had no tears. I was numb. I was dying. Inside and out, I was a shell of the person I had once been.

As soon as it began, it was over. I was calm. Scared to death, but calm. A booming voice in my head was telling me, “I am helping you.”

The voice told me that no matter what the monster sleeping in the next room told me from that moment forward, I was not to believe it. If he told me again I was a worthless piece of shit, I was not to believe a word of it.

The voice filled my soul with love and hope. The love I felt in church as a child, that I knew came from a power greater than anything I could ever fathom. The unconditional love of my Maker.

He never left me. I turned away from Him during those dark years, but He never left my side. I knew it to be true. There was no mistaking it. I knew in that instant, my child and I were going to be alright.

Fast forward ten months later. A lot happened in those ten months. I lost my father to heart disease. I left (finally!) the nightmare of the abusive marriage.

I saved my child and myself. I secured a little rental house for the two of us, the dog, and the cat. I successfully filed and received a domestic violence restraining order with the guidance of a women’s’ shelter. I filed for divorce, pro se.

I lived off my part time job without child or spousal support. I got groceries from the food bank at a local church. Had some utility bills paid by the graciousness of a local Catholic charity, just before our water and power were shut off. I borrowed some money from my brother and sister-in-law to make my car payment, which had fallen behind.

Soon after came the second feeling of utter desperation. I had gotten out. But I had no idea what to do. I had no money. Zilch. Just enough to pay the rent on our little house and put gas in my car.

How was I supposed to raise a child on my own, with a part-time income? To put food on the table while fighting a high-conflict custody battle with a sociopathic, abusive addict? To stand, victoriously on my own two feet, when I didn’t even know where our next meal was coming from?

Again, I was on my knees. After I put my daughter to sleep that night, I crumbled on my bedroom floor. When desperate, when you feel like you have no clue how to go on, you crumble. Your legs fail. Your knees give out, and you’re on the damn floor.

Once again, I begged God to show me what in the world I was supposed to do to support myself and my child.

I made a promise to God that night, one that He reminds me of daily when the small voice in my head reminds me where I came from. Where I’ve been. And where I’m going, come hell or high water.

I promised God that if He helped me—provided the answers I desperately needed—I would devote the rest of my lift to serving Him. Some way, somehow, I would dedicate my existence to living the life He intended for me. I pledged, in that desperate heap on my bedroom floor, if He saved my life (again!), that I would be faithful to Him until my dying day.

I dragged myself off the floor and fell asleep crying. I woke up with a clear head, and a clear heart. I could breathe. I felt—wait for it—almost happy. I felt free. I surrendered the fight and gave it to God. He was in charge now. Not me. He would see us through to the end. I didn’t know how. I just knew it was true. I had to pay attention to His signs, really listen, and trust when it was time for me to act.

Fast forward a few months later. My company was advertising a position that was senior to that which I held at the time. I read the job description and knew I was qualified, albeit a long shot. It was located 250 miles away from where my child and I lived—from my hometown.

I applied; what did I have to lose? After a series of interviews, I was selected over 60 other applicants, and offered a promotion.

I was awarded 100% sole legal and physical custody of my child and granted a move-away order in family court. I was going to support my little family on a salary three times what I was making.

We moved. We struggled. We fought. We won.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Desperation brings us to our knees. This life we live is a blessing. It may feel like a living hell at times. In those moments, we have the ability to completely give up ourselves and surrender. Ask for help, receive it, and listen.

I am blessed because I listened to the voice. I gave up control when it was obvious I had no control over anything. What a huge relief, to be able to give the heavy burden to someone else!

I let God guide my actions, my thoughts, and every move I made. It saved my life, and the life of my child. I am forever indebted to God’s grace and mercy.

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Seeking insight, encouragement and advice while divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s book, Divorcing a Narcissist- One Mom’s Battle” is available on Amazon or through Barnes & Noble. Learn how to set boundaries and see the narcissist for who he/she really is. You will learn to forgive yourself and you will begin to heal.

Another Ex Parte – One of Many

Another Ex Parte – One of Many

Another hurdle successfully cleared.

Some may flinch at the word, “Victory” but I am not using the word in terms of “winning”.  That isn’t what this is about.  I feel like I’ve had a victory in protecting my little girls.  A victory in terms of the court finally understanding the severity of this situation.  A victory in that the courts are doing the right thing by protecting my children.

We just left the court.  It was an ex parte (emergency) hearing so we didn’t need to be in the courtroom.  The judge made his decision based on the paperwork that had been submitted by the girls’ attorney and myself.

  • The judge set a formal hearing for February 8, 2012 where everything will be reviewed in greater detail.
  • I originally asked for supervised visitation pending the next hearing.
  • The judge granted a different order: NO VISITATION until the next hearing.

I am relieved.

Finally, the courts are taking this seriously.

Finally, enough evidence has been presented that his true colors are apparent.  The girls’ attorney pulled his criminal record and painted a picture for the court that I was previously unable to prove:

  • October 15, 2011 – DUI
  • June 4, 2010- Drunk in Public which was dismissed if he agreed to complete 15 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.  He completed classes and the case was dismissed on December 16, 2010.  I had been made to believe that they threw the case out because it wasn’t valid.  I had no idea that he bargained for a dismissal in lieu of AA classes.
  • April 27, 2000- Drunk in Public which he was actually charged with and appears on his record.
  • There was also a 1997 drunk driving which didn’t show up on his record and can’t be admitted into evidence but the attorney is aware of this fact as well.

I am hopeful about the upcoming court dates.

We are back in court Monday (January 23, 2012) for child support issues.  Have a hearing to address future visitation/custody on February 8, 2012 and then a six-month review hearing in March.

I am ready for it all– bring it on.



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.

Confirmation- In Writing

Confirmation- In Writing

This morning I went to the courthouse to pick up our court order from last Wednesday.  As I already knew, it was pretty straightforward and stated (word for word):

The Petitioner shall email the Respondent 24 hours in advance to let her know he will exercise visitation, if no email is received visitation is cancelled”. 

This new order protects my daughters from the constant disappointment of waiting at the pick-up location when he doesn’t show up for visitations.  My goal isn’t to keep them from their father– he is who he is and they will figure that out on their own without my help.  If he doesn’t email us to confirm visitation then it allows us to make other plans and go on with our life.  My goal is to stop his ability to rule our lives which is what he thrives on.

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To Re-Cap: This weekend, the X and I had a “stand-off” pertaining the most recent court order.  The problem, I didn’t have it in-hand to prove what the judge had ordered.  We were in court on Wednesday and it usually takes a few days for the order to hit our file.  I am well-versed in the court timelines by this point.  In my mind, the order was pretty clear.  I assumed (wrongly) that he understood the order as well.  I knew it wouldn’t sit well with him because it was another rule that he had to follow– he doesn’t like rules.  He doesn’t like being told what to do.

Friday came and went– no email.  Saturday morning, as expected– he was at the pick-up location and insisting that I bring the girls immediately.  Threats followed– he was calling the police…he said I was vindictive…he said that I was “this- that- and the other”.  The email rant followed the voice mails– accusing me of Parental Alienation Syndrome…accusing me of having Lupus versus Multiple Sclerosis (he MUST be smarter than my doctor who graduated from Harvard, right?)…on…and on….and on.

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Music is therapeutic for me and the right song always seems to come on at the right time– Christine Aguilera’s song, “Fighter” just came on and Wikipedia describes it this way, “This video shows the metamorphosis of Aguilera’s slow, yet steady progression of her inner-strength, from being heartbroken, to becoming unbreakable”.

I have inner strength– that’s what got me through this.  It’s been a process.

I feel unbreakable– that too has been a process.

A Huge Thank You

A Huge Thank You

I started this blog at the end of October 2011– I’ve been working forwards, backwards and sideways to tell my story— to paint the entire picture.  I still have pieces to fill in…in less than 8 weeks, I’ve received over 9,000 hits on my blog.

I’ve received emails and messages from women who have laughed and cried while reading my story.  Women who thanked me because they felt so alone and had no idea that “this” was happening to other people.  In the very beginning, I would have loved to connect with one other person in the world who could tell me that “everything was going to be okay”.  There were so many times that I doubted that.

Today I was accepted as an “Expert” on About.Com and through my research on this topic, I am healing more than I ever thought possible.  Today, I came across an article called, “Staying Sane While Divorcing a Narcissist” and it covered so many things that baffled me before I truly understood narcissism.

These are the characteristics of a Narcissist that rang true in my X husband (taken from Cathy Meyer’s Article)- not one item…but ALL seventeen:

  • Has a need for admiration,
  • A need to be right,
  • A need to be seen as the good guy,
  • A need to criticize when you don’t meet their need,
  • Is charismatic and successful,
  • Lacks the ability to feel remorse,
  • Has no conscience,
  • Has a tremendous need to control you and the situation,
  • Have values are situational…if you believe infidelity is wrong, so do they,
  • Uses a facade of caring and understanding to manipulate,
  • Is emotionally unavailable,
  • Nothing is ever their fault,
  • Hangs onto resentment,
  • Has a grandiose sense of self,
  • Feels misunderstood,
  • Is not interested in solving marital problems, it is their way or the highway,
  • Is envious of other’s success,

Here are some of the things which caused me to have “Ah ha!” moments in the article:

1. When divorcing a narcissist, Dr. Bansckick says, “he completely dismisses any of your needs, or all the years of devotion and mutual companionship that you had built together.

During our marriage, and prior to my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis and having children, I worked between 60-100 hours per week on our businesses.  Sometimes I stopped work at 3am for a 30 minutes cat nap only to wake up and put in another full day.  I did anything and everything to keep our companies thriving.  If you ask him today what I contributed– he would answer nothing and take credit for everything.   In his mind, I stayed on the couch eating potato chips and watching television which is the farthest thing from the truth.

2. A narcissist finds it hard to accept that his influence in your life is over. Whether they file for the divorce or you, the narcissist will attempt to remain in control of his influence over your life. If you have children with this person they will work over-time at attempting to control how child support is spent, how child visitation is handled and every other aspect of the co-parenting relationship.

My X doesn’t view child support as his responsibility in the care of our children– he views it as a way to control me.  Mentally, I’ve recently shifted the way I view his support (which is currently $25,000 in arrears) and it has allowed me to break free from that control.  I am strong and I am capable of providing the basics for my children.  We will have to sacrifice the “extras” such as ballet lessons, gymnastic lessons and other fun treats but they have a well-rounded life and we will be okay.  He doesn’t have control over me and that is a good feeling.

3. Examine your role in the ongoing conflict. The healthier you are emotionally the more success you will have in dealing with the narcissist. You are giving into the narcissists attempt to manipulate every time you respond to him.  

This is something that I came to terms with over the recent year.  He is welcome to send a long, attacking rant by email but it is my choice to read them or not.  I usually skim over it and respond to the valid questions.  I’ve come to view his insane emails as just that– sometimes I just shake my head.  Usually, I respond to the required questions with simple, unemotional responses.  He doesn’t deserve emotion from me nor will he generate it.  I know that’s what he wants and I won’t give in.

4. Deal with the reality of the situation. The world of the narcissist is made up of fantasy, nothing is real, all is a expression of their need to be someone they are not. It is imperative you see the narcissist for who he/she really is and not for whom you wish he/she was.  

This is the thing that I need to constantly remind myself of.  It’s difficult but the reality is- I can’t hold him to my standards.  If I expect him to act in a rational, healthy matter— I am setting myself up for failure.  It just isn’t possible because he is NOT a healthy, rational person.

5. You can’t teach or expect the narcissist to ever respect your boundaries. You can, however refuse to allow the narcissist to cross your boundaries and cause you undue stress during the divorce process. This is done by you controlling what behaviors you will and will not allow.

This is a prime example of the past weekend’s visitation fiasco.  My X interpreted the new visitation orders the way that he wanted them to read because they way they are written gave him even less control and more restrictions.  I made an exception this time but also made it clear that in the future, I would follow the orders exactly as they are stated.

I end this (LONG!) post with a thank-you to Cathy Meyer for an article that resonated with me on every possible level.  I also thank you for reading my blog and for the amazing comments and emails that I have been receiving.

In Gratitude— Tina

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.

Damaging my Daughters

Damaging my Daughters

Today my 6 year old daughter asked me if the upcoming weekend was her visitation weekend.

“It is”, I replied.

She informed me that she didn’t want to go and asked if she had too.  I informed her that she did.

Do I want her to have to go?  Of course not.  Do I have a say in the matter– no.  Do I want her to want to go?  Of course I do.  If she wants to go then that means it is a good situation.  It means my daughter is happy and safe in his care.  I have let go of that hope.

I asked her why she didn’t want to go with her dad.  She was quiet and didn’t really respond.  I let it go and dropped the subject.  I want her to know that I am here for her yet I don’t want her to feel pressured.  I want her to talk to me when she is ready.  It pains me to know that this tiny six year old girl is feeling angst.  

  • I heard a voice from the backseat as I pulled my car into the driveway, “Dad calls you ‘T-Rex”, she said.
  • “What”, I asked…confused.
  • “T-Rex.  Dad says bad things about you to everyone and he calls you T-Rex so I won’t know who he’s talking about”, she explained.
  • “Who is everyone?”, I asked.
  • “To Popi, Uncle Brian and other people in the family.  He says really mean things and I don’t like going over there anymore.  I wish I could just stay home”.

Deep breath.  Another deep breath.  I wish that she could stay home also.  I hate that I am forced to put my children in the care of someone who doesn’t care.  Their own father.

What I wanted to say: “He says mean things because he is a mean, sick  person.  He is an evil, selfish man who couldn’t care less about the damage he does to his daughters”.

What I said instead, “I don’t understand why dad would do that.  That is hurtful to you and it’s hurtful to me.  It’s a poor choice and I will talk to him about it”.

I emailed him.

I won’t get a response.  It will be an excuse– an attack– a denial.

Tina Rex.  I’ll claim it.  I’ll claim it as my role in protecting my children.  Fierce and fearless against evil predators.