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.