Tag Archives: fighting for my children

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

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.

Family Court Services- Today’s Court Date

Family Court Services- Today’s Court Date

Today was another day in court.  I woke up.  I felt confident.  I felt strong.

I had three items on the agenda:

1. Change our pick-up/drop-off location.  It’s not fun to drive one-hour round trip when the other party doesn’t feel that showing up for visitation is a great priority.  I asked for the location be moved to a coffee shop less than five minutes from our home.

Verdict: Granted.

2. I asked that he is ordered to notify us if he plans to show up for visitation. I would rather not subject the girls to disappointment and waiting at a coffee shop if he doesn’t plan to arrive.

Verdict: The judge ordered him to notify us 24-hours in advance if he plans to attend his scheduled visitation.

3. T-Rex.  I spoke to the attorney who was appointed to represent our daughters and he agreed that this is harmful and must stop.  At today’s hearing, the attorney passed out the emails in which “He” admitted to calling me this name in front of the children.

Verdict: The judge agreed that it needs to stop.  The attorney agreed that it needs to stop.  I agree that it needs to stop.  The judge then went on to voice his concern by saying, “Nothing that I order seems to matter.  I’ve already set this order into place.  The orders are not followed and on top of that, ‘Mr. P’ sits in my courtroom and lies to me (referencing the last court date and string of lies)”.

We all agree that it’s harmful.  We all agree that it should stop however, the judge doesn’t even have faith that “he” will abide by orders.  What’s the point in more orders when the initial ones aren’t followed?

What I learned today:

Have patience.  The truth will eventually prevail.  It took 2.5 years but the courts (Judge and attorney) now see through him.  There were times when I felt like giving up– when the odds seemed to be stacked against me.  I did what I do best- forward march.  The truth is clear to everyone involved.  The Family Court System does want what’s best for children but it takes a while to sift through the “muck” and come to the truth.

What else I learned today:

“He” announced that he has once again been fired from a job.  I learned that I have one person in the world that I can count on to financially provide for my daughters– myself.

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.

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.

The Big Court Date: Part Two

The Big Court Date: Part Two

September 14, 2011 Something came over me in court– the same sense of calm that I had felt the night before.  It was a feeling that went to my core– I knew everything was going to be okay.  I was in court alone this particular day– in the past, that alone would have normally caused me anxiety galore.

Today, it didn’t cause me anxiety.  For the first time, I felt like I was in control and I had this one.  I did have this one.

I brought up the fact that he was lying about my children’s whereabouts on the weekend visits.  In fact, he was lying about the most recent visit.  He claimed that they were in San Francisco all weekend.  I knew they weren’t.  In the past, it would have been my word against his.  Not this time.

The judge asked him where the children were residing.  He replied that they were staying at his condo in San Francisco.  The judge asked him to describe the weekend visitation– what time he picked them up, what they did after that and so on.  He claimed that he picked them up at 3:30pm.  This was true.  He claimed that he took them to Avila Beach for Farmer’s Market.  This was true.  He claimed that they had dinner and drove to San Francisco afterwards.

The judge pressed more– what time did they get to San Francisco?  What did they do Saturday morning when they woke up?  What did they do during the day on Saturday?  Saturday night?  Sunday?  You get the picture.  Speaking of pictures, he painted a huge mural using a colorful palate of lies.  He claimed that they arrived late Friday night– he carried my sleeping daughters to his condo around 11pm.  They woke up the next morning and went to a Starbucks in San Francisco…then to a park…and so on…and so on.  An entire weekend of fun and games in San Francisco.

I waited for him to finish.  I raised my hand and said, “that is not true”.

Ironically, the judge asked, “Does anyone have GPS to prove who is lying”?

“I do” – I answered. ..and I did.

I pulled out my GPS reports which showed my daughter’s location every hour on the hourall weekend long.  They weren’t in San Francisco– they were four hours south of San Francisco.  They were staying at his brother’s home the entire time.  It was another lie however, this time he was lying to the judge…to the court…and to the attorney.

At the advice of two friends in law enforcement, I had purchased GPS about two months prior to the weekend in question.  It gave me peace of mind to know where my children were at all times and he had no idea that I was tracking them.  The night prior to court, I printed out sheet after sheet of GPS reports and I was ready.

The judge called a recess.  The attorney and I along with the other people in the courtroom were dismissed for a 15-minute break while the judge reviewed the paperwork.  The attorney asked me why I hadn’t told him about the GPS and there were two reasons:

1. I had called his office and emailed multiple times with no response.

2. I knew that my only chance in proving him to be a liar was to catch him in the act– in the momentin the lie.

Court resumed and we were allowed to take our seats.

The judge stated, “Mr. X, I have told you on multiple occasions that you have lost all credibility in my courtroom.  Today, you lied to me…you lied to my court and you lied to Mr. (Attorney).  There will be sanctions for this.  I am awarding full legal and physical custody to Ms. Swithin.  There will be no overnight visits– visits are restricted to 10am-4pm on two weekends per month.  Ms. Swithin will be able to sleep at night knowing where her children are– in their own beds.”

I stood up and tears started to stream down my face.  I could barely see to open the little gate in the courtroom.  I looked up through my tears and the people in the courtroom….complete strangers were silently clapping with their hands and smiling.  One woman was holding her heart and I could see tears in her eyes as well.  I completely forgot that these people were there.  I went into a “zone” and I became Mama Bear.  These people who I had never met had felt my pain and they were cheering me on.

After 2.5 years of fighting to protect my children, I did it.  I succeeded.  My daughters still get to see their father and I get to sleep at night knowing that my daughters are safe in their beds.  This court battle has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.  There were times when I wanted to throw in the towel– when I didn’t understand why the system was failing us time and time again.  I kept my game face on and I gave it everything I had.

I never lost sight of the goal: protecting my daughters.

My Girls: Despite everything they’ve been through— they are happy, healthy and they are thriving.  They are my girls and until I am confident that he is a healthy addition to their lives— I will always wear my battle gear and fight for the two most important people on Earth.