I want to apologize right now for the length of this post. Its more like an entire epic novel, I know. This period in my life was probably the absolute worst. My bipolar was out of control, my anxiety and ptsd were not even being addressed. I had lost my job, my income and had been terribly ill. Combined with other problems, it led to a divorce action, and, thank god, temporary loss of my children being with me. I have never written or even talked with anyone about this period, at least not in its entirety. Thanks for giving me a chance to talk about the whole thing, to be able to say my story finally. And thank you for letting me name my ex for what he truly is. I only wished I could have seen it sooner.
Over the last 4 years I have struggled (in chronological order) with having a year long psychotic manic episode, then into a psychotic extremely depressed episode (also for about 6 months) and at the end of the depressive episode, I had done some things I couldn’t believe I would ever have done, and my husband, in return, slept with a friend of mine and walked out on me and our 2 kids. He stopped paying rent, even tho the divorce judge said he had to (for the kids’ sake) since he was still well employed and I was waiting for my SSDI Disability decision and could not work at all. So, my kids and I were evicted, and the only lifeline we had left was my very abusive mother, whom I had just helped leave a physically abusive husband and also helped her relocate near me. Oh, and did I mention it was a mid-west winter at Christmas time when all this occurred?
So while living in the basement of a house my mother rented, where she resumed her incredibly abusive behaviors, I and to a small extent (as I tried to protect them) the children, suffered at her hands. She forbade us from turning the heat above 60 (Iowa winter here folks!) even though we were all living in the basement. She made me purchase a whistle, so that she could whistle for me when she wanted me to do anything, something, or just see if I would jump and come. She expected me to buy food for her, her mother (my granma) as well as for me and the 2 kids on my monthly food stamp allotment. She also expected me to do all the cleaning, laundry, yard work, shopping, and cooking. We were required to eat with her and my granma, even though we had a fridge, stove, microwave, sink and small table in the basement for ourselves. There was a third bedroom for me downstairs, but I wasn’t allowed to use it, as it technically had no escape from the room itself if there was a fire. So I slept on loveseat in the living area, while my kids shared a room. And,oh, yes, my mother kept a tally of every single thing I needed or she bought for me. Including the monthly bills and rent for my portion. She expected me to repay all this to her when I ‘got over my laziness and got my ass back to work like I knew I should do’.
Meanwhile the divorce proceedings were not going well. Prior to the separation with my husband, we had both been on meds and in treatment. Him for depression and me for bipolar. I had been followed by Child Protective Services after one hospitalization. They said that I was abusing my kids because I expected them to get there own breakfast (toaster waffles and cereal) and pack their own school lunch (sandwiches and a piece of fruit and a pudding). They were in 2nd and 1st grade at them time, and were perfectly happy to do things on their own. In any case, CPS started following me at that time, but by the time of the separation and beginning of the divorce, that was closed out. Until the situation at mothers’ was becoming quite intolerable, combined with the lack of any income, as well as my worsening stability, anxiety and depression, plus the fact that my ‘husband’ was pushing for full custody with no visitation for me. This stopped the divorce proceedings, until after a new evaluation was done of me regarding the kids by CPS a second time. They decided that my increased anxiety, increased unstableness, and lack of income was a founded case of abuse. They followed me for 1 year during which a family case court was opened to decide the custody–but first they wanted to determine if I was even capable of being given custody. Hence the CPS following for the next year. It didn’t help any that I was the only one unaware that the family court judge was a friend of my husbands’ family, and that my mother and granma were speaking with the judge ex parte.–and not in my favor either.
During this horrible year, I was able to finally get a low income apartment nearby. Then, even though things were much better, CPS required that I take urine tests every day before noon, and pay $10 each time. They wanted to make sure I was taking my meds, plus that I wasn’t doing drugs. If you got there after noon, they called it a dirty test. If you didn’t have the money to pay for the test, they called it a dirty test. They required (and the judge ordered ) that I attend therapy (duh!) which I already was and would have done no matter what. They also added in that if I felt mentally unwell, I should immediately go to the hospital. What I found out after ward was that going to the hospital when I was feeling suicidal (like they ordered me to) only instead this gave them more ammo to use against me in court. Because I had had to go to the hospital and my granma had to watch the kids. Because if I was sick enough to need to go to the hospital, then I was too sick to have custody of my kids. Basically, CPS and the family court judge and my mother and granma all had it in for me. I was completely railroaded. They said at the last hearing that they were going to strip me of my parental rights and put my kids in foster care, and I would never be allowed to be in their lives again. I went home, called ‘husband’, who had by now grown tired of the midwest and settled in Arizona. I begged him, I pleaded with him, to please, please, take the kids. Please don’t let my mother get them. Please don’t let go to foster care. After a long call, he finally agreed to have the kids come to him. The final family court date after that allowed me to be closed out with CPS and also to have all judgements from family court dropped, since the assumed I would never be able to get to Arizona. So, they didn’t strip me of my rights to have custody. And they didn’t send my kids to foster care. And CPS finally let me go and closed the book on this case, because they too didn’t think I would ever be able to go to Arizona and see my kids again.
My kids moved out Christmas eve. Their dad’s parents came and got them and kept them til the next day when they took them to the airport and sent them to my ‘husband’. I had already been suicidal during all this time, and a few attempts even, some quite close. I was alone with our tree and the kids presents when my mother and granma showed up to gloat. They spent an hour telling me how glad they were the kids were far from me. How they hoped I was never allowed to see them again. How I was worthless, lazy, nothing, a user. And the coup de grace was my mother adding on that I had always been nothing but trash my whole life, and now I was gonna lose everything and have to live in the gutter like the trash I was and how she was glad of it, glad of having never to see me, help me, again.
That was when I lost it. I told them to leave. The kids were gone, so they had no legal right to be there anymore. They refused, so I started throwing all my granma’s belongings and furniture outside into the icy snow. They finally left, because they had to go get it all out of the snow before it got ruined. I threw the rest of her stuff out when they left, so they wouldn’t have to knock on the door the next day so I wouldn’t have to see their faces.
I ended up with a roommate I had met in hospital. We were both just that close to being in that gutter. But together we had just enough to get by. A few months later, I realized the only thing I had in this world worth living for was my children. And if I wasn’t going to be near them, then I might as well die. So I finally started to come out of my paralyzing depression enough to get a ticket to Arizona. I left everything, all that I had in the world, with my roommate. I came to Arizona only with a suitcase. My gracious (irony) ‘husband’ allowed to me to stay on his sofa for 2 months, until I received my SSDI Disability award. He just didn’t feel right about the kids’ mother staying in a shelter. I was terrified that even if got my own place, he wouldn’t let me see them, or let them stay with me. I was terrified he would initiate a new divorce (the first one had been dismissed because the family court had ruled that since the children had gone to Arizona, there was no longer any issue of my having custody.) I was afraid if he started a new divorce, again, I would be railroaded and this time lose my kids for sure.
For the next 9 months the kids stayed with him, after I had gotten my own place. I did see them on the weekends, for which I was so very grateful. Then one day, he brought them over and never asked for them back, only stopping by periodically to take them to eat or get their hair cut or other errands. I kept them for the next 2 yr, living in fear that he would take them back if I so much as asked for a ride (I was not only officially disabled now, but also without transportation) or asked for clothes for the kids, or even if I didn’t look ‘right’ when he might see me. I was terrified of becoming paralyzingly depressed again, or suicidal–that if he even thought for a second I wasn’t ‘fit’ that he would claim them, take them away, divorce me and get custody.
So that was how the first two years of me in Arizona went on. I had them, but I was so frightened of him. Of losing them. In the past 2 years, I decided I had enough strength to fight that fear, to fight him, the courts, the CPS again. I had been on foodstamps and all of us on Medicaid, so there was a record of him being absent and of not paying. So, I contacted the Dept of Child Support Enforcement, and they procured for me my first child support order, requiring him to start paying. On the heels of that order, I filed for divorce, no contest, and showed him he would pay less if he just agreed with my terms than if he fought the divorce and the support was enforced by the state instead.
So, 4 years after we started a divorce, it was finally complete. It has now been a year or so since the final divorce. We have become quite friendly and sociable, almost as if all that was forgotten. We were having a very intimate conversation (about memories, who we were, etc) and for a moment, I really thought he had changed from the man he was then, who was ready, like my mother, to callously throw me to the streets. I confided for the first time how scared I had been of him the first 2 yrs I was in Arizona, thinking he would now say something like ‘oh, I’m sorry you thought that. I would never have done that. I know you’re a good, decent person.’ But he did not. He said the thing I can’t quit thinking about. He said,’ well, the only reason I left the kids with you was because I had a girlfriend with 2 kids, and I didn’t have room. But I would have never left them with you if I hadn’t had that girlfriend. I was never planning on giving them back to you.”
I know he’s my ex for a reason. I know we split up for more than my mistakes during a psychotic manic episode. But were were good together for 14 years. We could read each other’s minds, finish each other sentences, and appreciated the same things, disliked the same things…Even though we didn’t last after 14 years, I would still have thought that we knew each other, knew what each other was capable of, who each other really were. And I never once thought he was vile enough, low enough, to have purposely connived against me to keep me from ever seeing my children again, much less having them with me. Not only did he connive against me in the beginning, he continued to do so, even after having to be convinced to take the children at all. He would have rather let them go to foster care, and me to the gutter, than to let me see them, than to let me have them. If only he hadn’t had that girlfriend, I may never have seen them again. How can someone who knew your soul inside out, knew your dreams, fears, desires, for 14 years simply crush you under his heel with not so much thought even as of a cigarette, at the expense of your own children? Had he kept them it would not have been because he wanted them, it would have been to devastate me, destroy me. How is it that I spent 14 years with such a monster and never recognized his true form? How is it even unto tonight, I still did not see his true nature? And even now, there is no one who would believe me, no one I can tell. I sit with this knowledge, with knowing what vile, devious, form he truly takes, and can do nothing to keep him from releasing his venom on anyone, not even my kids, should he choose to do so, if they trigger him. I have the enormity of this monstrous truth and and still must continue to go on as before, when even during the divorce, I still believed he was intrinsically human, and knew that I had nothing but love for our kids. And I believed the same of him. Until now.
I and my children were not just betrayed by he and I falling out of love. By his failing to support at least them. We were betrayed by being convinced he was human, that he was capable of love. But he is not. He is despicable, he has no morals. He will do whatever he perceives necessary for what he wants. And for those things that he no longer wants, he will utterly crush and destroy them as he discards them from his being.