Last night, as I sat on the floor with papers sprawled in every direction I had an Eminem song running through my head. “You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime (yo!)” — that is the way I felt. This was my one chance- my one shot to make someone listen to my story. During our last custody evaluation I was not prepared. I was still in shock and consumed with the anxiety that goes hand in hand with this battle. Patterns had not been established — we were one year into the divorce process and I didn’t understand what was happening. I felt alone because no one could grasp the stories that I would tell them. I didn’t understand that my story was normal– to anyone who has ever divorced a narcissist.
I stayed up really late preparing- I wanted to have every single thing in order in case I am asked to present evidence of my accusations. By the time I finished, I had an entire box full of detailed folders: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and my huge, pink trial binder. I made one file to take with me into the meeting which detailed my main concerns about Seth. The past four years have flown by and that plastic container holds a huge part of my life: fighting to protect my children. At the end of the night I was left with one question: why is it this hard?
My appointment was at 9:30am this morning and lasted until 11:45am. It seems like a long time but in actuality, it flew by. The mediator is the head of Family Court Services and he is a father. There were a total of 18 things to be investigated. Three involved me and fifteen were extremely detailed and involved Seth. The items that involved me were as follows:
1. Whether mother’s (or father’s) behavior is causing the children to experience fear or anxiety.
2. Whether mother’s blog/website is causing difficulties for the children or is likely to cause the children to experience difficulties or dysfunction.
3. Whether the children have been physically or emotionally abused while in their mothers (or fathers) care?
While I felt extremely confident about those three things, you just never know which way things will go in the family court system. My only concern was how he would react to my blog and book.
While organizing all of my paperwork last night, I came across hand-written letters from Seth where he talks about having a breakdown, not knowing what was wrong with him, drinking to much, the fact that our daughter ran when he tried to hug her (she was 2), etc. I submitted an email from Cleo, Seth’s mother, who described him as “psychologically fragile” and that he “shouldn’t be around the children”. I have example after example of what we have endured for the past 4 years and I was prepared. I don’t know how a person could see all of this evidence and not assist me in protecting my children.
I also showed my many attempts to co-parent and cited Our Family Wizard as a prime example. I covered the cost of my license AND Seth’s license. Mainly, I wanted a place to add calendar events, event updates and report cards which would greatly reduce our need to communicate. Any communication opens me up to a verbal assault. I even went so far as to personally have Seth’s email address added to the school’s monthly eNewsletter. That way he couldn’t accuse me of not keeping him informed of events.
Ironically, I received this email yesterday: “Going forward, I would appreciate knowing about performances and events as you have not informed me about any events or performances either daughter has been involved in the last 12 months.” -Seth
Wait…take a big step back into reality with me. This is the man who stood his (now 7.5 year old) daughter up for her first day of kindergarten and has never once made contact with a teacher or staff member since they began attending school in 2010. Now that there is an evaluator peaking into our lives….now he wants to be involved? Seth is meeting with the evaluator today and I would love to be a fly on that wall. Seth normally takes his father to appointments like this but he will be required to show up alone– and address a lot of issues. The evaluator will then schedule home visits with us.
Oh- my blog and book. Not a concern at all. While I have taken precautions with both my book and the internet, you just never know with these things so I’ve learned to temper my optimism through this process. If I was sitting my daughters down at bedtime and reading it to them chapter by chapter or blog post by blog post….the evaluator may have felt differently. He pointed out that he has multiple books in his office and at home that he wouldn’t allow his children to read.
I am feeling incredibly hopeful. I felt like he understands the issues at hand. On the dry-erase board in his office, a child (assuming it was his son) wrote the following, “Parents, don’t screw your children up”. Amen to that.
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