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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Small Victories

I wish I could say that all was well, but the truth is Brad and I are headed back to court.   Based on some issues like this:


05/12/12 – at birthday dinner drop off – argued about shield – said he wanted to beat me – would not drop it – said I was a victim – put his fist in my face, pushed door back, was very threatening, kids saw all of this and Luke was very upset, Brad said this was what was wrong with me and that I would not change (about being a victim)

05/16/12 Wednesday at drop-off - threatened to hurt me and put his fist in my face, put his foot up to my crotch, called me a bitch and a cunt - I threatened to call 911 if he did not leave and he said we’d go back to court to prove he’s a better father, all over the shield because I said Luke wanted to bring one shield back to my house, said I had to quit talking about me and my feelings, stayed until he said his peace, Luke was crying, when I asked for Brad to apologize to Luke, Brad blamed it on me told Luke we would not argue if I would stop talking about me and my feelings

07/16/12 Monday – called asked about kids meeting with boyfriend – asked more questions about future meetings, said I was stupid, I hung up – at his house – said “I’m not going to let you get to your car” – physically blocked my way outside, called me stupid, immature, idiot, said “I know you slept with him on the fourth date”, said I was a slut

08/10/12 – at pickup – asked for the third time if the kids have plans with my boyfriend (Jack). I said “no” – he did not like my ‘attitude’ and called immature and a c-u-n-t when I tried to leave, repeatedly said I should act like an adult – said he has to ask the question because I will not volunteer the information. Blocked my way to the car and blocked car door – punched side of door, threatened to key my car. Said my boyfriend would divorce me if we got married because of my attitude, insists on knowing ahead of time if kids have plans with Jack. Kids were in hot car part of this time and Brad would not let me get in to turn AC on.


08/22/12 Wednesday – at my house – kid drop off (recorded) put fist in my face and said “Oh, I want to do that so bad” - would not leave – stepped outside – mad about when I would not answer questions about my boyfriend – said ”Like I said they can find your body somewhere along the roadway” when I said he had to return the kids on time

I discussed these incidents with my lawyer and we to decided to request a new agreement be put in place that will minimize my interactions with Brad - things like insisting he stay in his car when he drops the kids off, and not calling me on the phone   I want him to go to the anger management class again as well, because clearly it did not stick.

At my lawyer's suggestion, I sent Brad an email with some of these examples and asked if he would meet with me and my lawyer to come to an agreement.   If not, I said, I'll be filing it in court.  He replied after three hours that he would "invite an invitation to court".   That barely even makes sense, but the point was clear he wants to make this as difficult and expensive at possible.   

While I was finalizing the paperwork with my lawyer, Brad apparently got his own lawyer and  beat me to the punch, having me served with papers to modify the arrangements.   He's asking for primary custody, which means  I would get the standard visitation weekend schedule and pay him child support.   Of course he'll never get any of that. It's a  bullying tactic designed to be scare me so I will give him what he wants and who even knows what that really is. His actions have just made me furious and less likely to cooperate when he does express what he really wants. It was not a good move on his part.  The fact that he would even consider asking for that type of arrangement is just ridiculous; especially in light of his bad behavior in the last few months.     I have  occasionally wondered if he is crazy enough to think I would actually go for it - which he might be.  

So now I am living with all of this hanging of my head for the next few months and it's terrible. Necessary, but terrible. It's like getting divorced all over again only without the financial settlement. Part of me hopes we'll get it resolved through mediation and not actually go to court - it will undoubtedly be cheaper that way. On the other hand, I sort of want him to have to face a judge and try to explain his bad behavior and why he says he wants primary custody.  

I think the judges are smart enough to know that people like this do not change. His past history, my notes about his bad behavior, the recording I have, and his likely demeanor in front of a judge are all in my favor. I believe he will not come across well in court, but he thinks he will, because his thoughts and behaviors about anything related to me and the kids are truly crazy.  He thinks he has a right to come into my house, to berate me, to threaten me, and to know when the kids are seeing my boyfriend.   I keep thinking something will change something will get to to him and make him realize that he cannot treat me the way he does and get away with it, but it won't work because he is not now and never will be rational about any of it.   

I'm not really worried about the outcome, but it certainly is very stressful.   He clearly has no idea how his behavior will look to a judge.   I suppose he'll deny it all if we get that far and say that it's my word against his.    He does not know that I have that last one recorded and I don't honestly know if that would make a difference.  He fundamentally feels his behavior is justified and that I am the cause of it.    He doesn't get it and he never will.  The good thing to come of this is that he is actually behaving himself a bit better now that he knows everything will be under scrutiny.    He's still made some negative remarks, and gotten mad, and driven by my house to check on me, but overall it's been better the last month since I started all of this.  This sad part is that even his current behaviour is completely unacceptable, but for me it's a small victory and I'll take it.

 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

One Year Anniversary

I created this blog one year ago and so much has changed, and yet so much has not.   When I started this, I had a burning desire to get my story out; I was almost obsessed with getting through to the end.  It was very cathartic to go through my journals and describe all the events and my feelings about them.  My family and friends only knew bits and pieces and I had to get the whole thing, all the dreadful stuff,  out of my system.   This process really helped me heal emotionally. But stepping away from the blog at times and not defining my life a domestic violence survivor has also been very helpful.    It’s good to be able to try to live a normal life.   I’ve started dating and have met someone special.     

My day-to-day life now consists of managing four worlds -my kids, my work, my boyfriend, and my ex-husband - hoping and praying that they do not collide too much.   It can be stressful to switch gears between them and sometimes it’s a little jarring.  I have a fair amount of time to myself when the kids are with Brad.  I try to stay busy and not get sad, but it’s sometimes challenging.   I constantly struggle with the fact that I don’t have my kids all the time because he was such an ass.  It doesn’t seem fair, that I am being punished for his bad behavior.   And yet I know, that at least until something bad happens, it’s best for the kids to have a relationship with their father.   They seem to enjoy spending time with him and I try to foster the relationship as much as I can and hide his dysfunction from them.   
He is still verbally abusive to me on the phone and in person.  He has threatened to come over to the house if I don’t answer the phone.  He has occasionally physically threatened me at my house and refused to leave.  One time recently, I told him I was going to call 911 if he did not leave and he said ‘go ahead’.
That’s the bad news.  The good news is, I’m not married to him anymore and I can hang up on him or he does have to leave eventually, so his opportunities to be abusive are greatly reduced.   He is very involved in the kids' activities, which is good for them, but bad for me because I have to see him so much.   Probably seventy-five percent of the time, things are just fine and he does not make any snide comments or say anything abusive.    The other twenty-five percent varies from slightly annoying to downright scary.  

Bottom line, I am still afraid of him.    That has not changed.   He has not changed.   But how I react to him has changed, because I am fundamentally free of him and am moving on with my life and it feels good.   

I genuinely hope that by telling my story I have helped someone in the same situation.  For me, seeing myself in other's story was a major factor in giving me the strength to recognize that it was not going to get better and that I had to leave and never look back. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Another Milestone

Tomorrow will be the one year anniversary of when my divorce was final.  Yeah!

I'd like to say everything is great, and in the grand scheme of things it is, but there are still 'incidents'.

For instance, working back in time.

Yesterday 3/29 - pretty sure I saw his car go by my house at lunch time  (I was working at home) to check to see if my 'friend' as he calls him was here.  Later at baseball practice he alluded to the 'fact', in his opinion, that I had seen my friend for lunch.

Friday 3/23 - insisted I take my son to the doctor for an x-ray because he had fallen and bruised his elbow during P.E.   I later pieced together that he was mostly furious that the school had called me about the injury and I had not informed him.  He made a big deal about how I 'screwed up' and how I have to 'make a committment' to tell him about these things in the future.   All typical of his verbally abusive behavior.

Saturday 3/17 - saw evidence of beer drinking in his car.  I don't really know what to make of this, but he is supposed to be in AA and not supposed to be drinking.

Friday 3/16 - asked me if I was going out (implying with my boyfriend) Saturday night.  He asks because he is trying to test me to see if I am getting a babysitter other than him.  He is insistent that no one besides him take care of the kids.  It completely infuriates me and I mentioned that it would be different if he was in a relationship - he would not want to babysit on Saturday anyway and he got even more mad.  He was upset that I 'assumed' something about him and went on about that for a while in a demeaning and angry manner.

Friday 3/9 - called about Luke's hair being messy at school.  Said he told the teacher to take a picture and let him know if/when Luke comes to school with bad hair.  Insisted I make a commitment to fixing Luke's hair in the morning.   The whole conversation was demeaning and abusive in tone.

Friday 3/2 - mad I sent Luke to school with a sore throat. Mad I forgot to tell him about open house.  Said I was forgetful and deserved to be yelled at and talked down to until I stopped forgetting.   Said I was selfish and unattractive and boring and that no one should like me.

Monday 2/27 - on the phone with Luke in the car - said "shut up, shut up" and "you're a terrible mother".  He was mad because I had said one of his threats to Luke was a little strict - I did not countermand it - just offered my opinion when he asked.  (He had told Luke he would not get a birthday party this year if he took his seat belt off on the bus again.)  He later said "I don't want your opinion and you never tell me 'good job' or thank me for what I do."  That's rich - he's upset that I don't compliment his behavior....

Sunday 2/26 - asked if I spent the night at my house with my boyfriend.  Asked if the relationship was still strong and told me he was "hoping against it" because "I don't want that man to meet my kids."

So in a little over a month there were eight fairly stressful incidents and a few minor ones I did not mention.   This proves that the abuse will never stop.   

The good news is that he has not threatened to take me to court in a while.  We are able to coordinate getting the kids to extra-curricular activities well enough.  We are at the final stage in the ramp up of his custody and I have given him some extra time at Christmas and spring break that was not in the decree.  I hope he appreciates this, but I'm pretty sure he does not. He thinks it's his right, so anything I give him is just what was owed him in the first place in his mind.   I have to make peace with this in my own mind.

I tell myself that no divorce is without pain and most couples in this situation don't get along even as well as we do.  The level of pain with him is different because it is abusive, but not necessarily less. 

Overall, I'm so glad to be where I am, rather than were I was.   Getting out of the marriage was simultaneously the most stressful, the saddest, and the best decision I've ever made.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Two Years Later

Today is the second anniversary of the day I filed for divorce and had my abusive ex-husband forcibly removed from the house.   The details of that day are here.

Looking back, I wonder how I got through it.   I was terrified and stressed beyond belief.  It took grim determination and an unbelievable amount of courage.   Looking back, I am proud of what I did.  I have not regretted it for a minute.  

I am sad, however, that it had to turn out this way.   Two days ago, I burst into tears thinking about my son and how this has affected him. He's a sensitive kid and some of it seems to be after effects of all the abuse he saw.   Of course, he might have been like this anyway, but I will never know for sure, so I have some measure of guilt that I did not get out sooner. I am sad that my son and my daughter will never know the traditional mom and dad household and  have to go back and forth between the two houses.    

But I do know that it did have to happen.   I take solace in that.   My ex-husband has been better to the kids than I expected, but his anger at me and the whole situation is still very strong.   I know, based on how he still behaves towards me, that he would never have changed.    When I left, I wanted to make sure I was making the right decision - giving up on a intact family is a very devastating thing to do, but it was the right thing. 

Sometimes I still think 'what if?', but then I come back to reality when he says something verbally abusive or threatening.  About six weeks ago he said "I'm going to kill you in front of the kids" - he said that in front of the kids, but I hope they did not hear it since they were in the back of the car and he was outside my car window.   If that does not prove he won't change, I don't know what would.

I've still got a fair amount of stress with Brad, and working full time and managing the kids and the house all by myself is hard work.  I have a routine for the house, and it all manages to come together without too many disasters.    My son can be quite difficult at times, but I deal with it the best I can and I am cautiously optimistic. 

It's definitely not easy, but at the end of the day, I have peace and I am happy.

Monday, January 2, 2012

2011 Year in Review

Well it's been almost two years since I filed for divorce and this year has had some significant milestones.   My divorce was actually final in March - yeah!   And I started dating again in August.  Both of these events have caused a lot of stress with Brad, though.

As far as the divorce, due to Brad's lawyer's incompetence he feels like he never got his 'day in court' and continually threatens to take me back to court - as recently as yesterday (because he wants the kids Superbowl weekend and I did not immediately agree).   His mantra is "50% custody". I am actually very liberal with his time - he gets more than was in the agreement, but anytime I don't do exactly what he wants the way he wants it, he threatens "50% custody".  

I get it that he never got to go before a judge and fight for more time with the kids, but he agreed in the mediation to slightly less than the state standard, and yet has fought it tooth and nail ever since.   I knew he would be a jerk to be divorced from, but I did not expect him to threaten to take me to court almost once a week.   It's so stressful. I have started telling him to go ahead and take me to court, because I really don't think he will, and my lawyer says I am on strong ground.  He should be mad at his lawyer, but instead he is mad at me.  

As far as the dating - this has been truly horrible.   Brad is so scared that if I get a real boyfriend and introduce him to the kids that they will like the new man better than him - or something like that.  It's all very complicated.  He's jealous of me, he's not dating anyone right now, and he sits around focusing on worst case scenario as far as the kids are concerned.   He's already got me married and moved out of the state and 'taking' his kids away, and I've only been dating a few months.   

He's asks really invasive questions about my relationship and implies that I am a bad or negligent mother since I am dating.  Actually, he has always implied that I am a bad mother, but now it's worse.   He says he does not 'trust' me and that he thinks I will put my needs above the needs of the kids.   It's just ridiculous and there is not anything I can do to change his mind.  He is scared of what might happen, and I can understand that. 

What he doesn't seem to be able to understand is that the type of relationship he has with our kids is completely up to him,  not me.   I have no leeway on the custody arrangement unless I would take him to court, which I don't plan to do unless he is violent or verbally abusive to them. I fully expected these problems when I started dating- but it's worse than I anticipated.  I have hope that over time, his insecurity will lessen as he develops deeper relationships with the kids, and that his scrutiny of my life will go away.

When I look back at all that has happened this year I have mixed feelings. It's sad that the kids have to go back and forth from my house to his house, but I am not sorry for one second that I did what I did.  Brad has been better with the kids than I thought. They have started to spend the night on his weekends and it seems to have gone well.   However, my relationship with him is just as terrible as ever and has really deteriorated since I started dating.  I am completely stressed about dating anyway and his verbal and borderline physical abuse of me has not helped at all.

It's so much more complicated to date once you're divorced with little kids that sometimes I feel like it's not worth it; but I do look forward to finding someone to spend time with that will treat me with the love, dignity and respect that was so sorely lacking with Brad.   I know I deserve better, but it's not going to be easy. 

I knew that it would be difficult to find happiness with someone when I left Brad, but I felt that even a lifetime alone would be better than the abusive life I was living with him.  This is a very difficult hurdle to get over when deciding to get out and I really understand why it takes people so long to decide to leave.  I wish I had left sooner, but it's important to be emotionally, financially and physically ready to leave.  I left when I was ready and I'm very glad to be where am I now.  

A year ago, I had hoped to be here, divorced and moving on with my life.  It's taken a lot of courage, emotional pain, and tears, but I'm where I want to be.   It's very gratifying to know that sometimes things actually do work out.