So the protective order is extended for a year, I leave the courthouse and start calling friends and family to report on how it went, and Brad checks into rehab. His friend John comes over to the house that night to get some more clothes for Brad and we talk for a while. John is having a hard time believing his best friend for 20 years is capable of the things in the affidavit. I tell him that every word is true. “A bungee cord, really?” he asks. “Yes,” I say. He wonders if there is any hope of reconciliation. I tell him no. He’s going to deliver the clothes and personal items to Brad tomorrow and then fly back home. In retrospect, I should have been less open with John about some aspects of the divorce, because it gets back to Brad (duh) and he takes it out of context and gets even madder.
The next step is a court date in April, where we will set out the temporary orders including financial arrangements and when and how Brad will see the kids. I have very mixed emotions about the visitation issue. On one hand, I did not really think through how long it might be before he saw them when I started all of this. I was so focused on getting out and the immediate aftermath, I did not focus much on the next few months. On the other hand, I really thought they were better off without him at some level. Certainly the calm in the house was apparent, no more screaming and shouting, no more violence. I want them to have a relationship with a ‘good’ Brad, but not with a ‘bad’ Brad and accomplishing this is going to be very tricky.There is so much uncertainty in this time frame, it’s very stressful. I don’t know when Brad is going to get out of rehab, I don’t know if he’s going to get a lawyer, I don’t know if he’s going to fight for custody or try to get a lot of money, and I am supporting him at this point because he has no savings and no job.
I am very much focused on safety and just living day to day. One morning, Luke does not want to get dressed for school and he runs outside naked, in the cold, with a toy gun. I could laugh about it later in the day, but at the time I’m thinking “I hope Brad does not have Child Protective Services coming by this morning”.
Luke is definitely quite a challenge at this stage and clearly has his own anger issues he’s working through. I have him in play therapy once a week with the local women’s shelter organization. I find that any form of aggression or push back on my part, even just raising my voice can cause Luke to become angry and violent. He kicks me, hits me and screams at me. Not necessarily unusual for a four-year old, but I am particularly sensitive to it under the circumstances. Bath time, bedtime, and getting dressed for school are all causes of stress, as well as if I won’t let him do exactly what he wants. He’s prone to these violent outbursts when upset and they happen probably twice a week over something or another.
I read books and I try to understand. I begin to realize that when he gets in one of these states the only way to get him out of it is to be absolutely calm and wait it out. Any form of time out, or consequences make it worse. I stay with him to make sure he does not hurt himself or anything else and talk gently to him occasionally. When he is calmed down slightly, I try to make him laugh. After 30-45 minutes, he’ll be fine. This is hard with a 3 year old girl who is curious and keeps interrupting and needing attention, but I do the best I can. Luckily at this stage, she’s fairly controllable.
One day as we are leaving the gym, I see Brad. He appears to be strategically waiting for us. He acts surprised and is visibly shaking when he sees us. (We had a deal about when I would be there and when he would be, but he claims he did not understand the deal correctly). This is the first time he’s seen the kids in probably six weeks. Cassie acts glad to see him and gives him a hug. Luke is much more standoffish and it’s all very awkward for me as we try to chit-chat. Brad accuses me of ‘turning’ Luke against him and he tries to bring up stuff about the court proceedings and the protective order. I do my best to not really answer the questions without making him mad. Later in the day, Luke seems a little anxious and asks “Why did Daddy come to the gym?”
MeAfter that incident in the gym, I make sure to leave the gym before 2 pm as agreed. I check in the parking lot for his car, I am on edge every time we go. In the midst of all of this my lawyer and I come up with a straw man plan for the temporary orders. Brad will only see the kids supervised, Brad will get a job and a place to live, and I’ll give him some sort of stipend, to limit his spending. And then a week before the court date, the hearing gets moved out two months to June 19th. I am pretty devastated by this because it increases the length of the uncertainty period, and I’m upset that it will be two more months until Brad sees the kids. I’m sure Brad will be furious and I am right. He has gotten a lawyer and indicates through her that he wants to see the kids as soon as possible before the June date and that he wants to attend Luke’s birthday party at the end of April. I ignore both of these requests, but not without some trepidation. Right before the party I get Bell’s palsy, probably due to all of the stress.
I really don’t want Brad at the party, my mom will be there and I don’t think I can be in the same room with him on any sort of a social level at all. It would be extremely uncomfortable for me and my mother. The day of the party I am very anxious. It was planned before Brad left and he knows when and where it is. I consider moving it, but decide I should not have to do that. I can’t prevent him from coming to the party, but if he acts at all hostile towards me I can call the police, based on the protective order. My mom and I both have ours eyes peeled, but there is no Brad appearance. I can’t be sure he wasn’t in the parking lot, but at least the day is over and I can relax a little bit. After two weeks, my Bell’s palsy is almost unnoticeable and now I anxiously await the court date in June.