Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How Scary Was It??

I need to say something here, and pardon me in advance for being redundant or painfully obvious.

I am so sick and tired of this bullshit. Seriously wearing thin.
But what's breaking me down isn't just the hostility and continued manipulation. It's not the bitter insults and accusations about to be hurled at me. It's not even the angry allegations that I am unfit or poisoning the children against him. Things which are so ridiculously untrue don't bother me.
What bothers me is his absolute devotion to proving his actions were justified. Putting so much energy for nine months into proving he had to chase me into the house to defend himself. Being so dedicated to proving I deserved it. Conveniently forgetting that even he thought it was wrong until I reported it and showed the bruises and confided in fear to a sheriff what I suddenly realized he was trying to do....kill me.

I am relatively sure he never meant to threaten my life - I think that part even surprised him. But the reality is that he lost control, attacked me, let go, chose to attack me again, and folded me into little bits until I could not breathe. Waited until no more sound was coming out to let go. It was, in a word, terrifying.

I didn't think it would take such drastic measures, but I really believe that unless he ever has someone yank his arms behind him, put him in a full nelson, pressure him into a choke hold, and hold his body immobile until the breath is squeezed out of him and his neck is millimeters away from being snapped, he won't ever understand how terrifying it was.

He told the court that the restraining order was 'unnecessary'.....which is pretty revealing about how far we are from ever reaching a point of understanding.

It's his determination to prove that I deserved it which scares me the most. Nine months of probation and half a year of DV classes have done nothing to change his opinion of his own perpetration of violence.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Makes Me Pukey...When being a parent involves fending off the wolves...wait...are wolves narcissistic?

I am ill. Not legitimately, bonafide pukey ill, or migraine ill, or aching ill - all of these things tied up with a bow.

I've written about the confused SIL; the one was involved in the attack on me by her brother. Truthfully, I had underestimated her crazy. I thought we'd be able to speak like adults to one another by now. I refused the offer to put her on a restraining order because, at the time, although I felt betrayed and shocked beyond belief, it seemed to reason that she would come around and accept her part in the debacle. And that she would understand that violence was wrong. I had watched his personality degrade for months, but I had more hope for his sister. She had supported me over the many years we watched her brother's temper and temperament flair. She cringed when she watched him scream at our daughter. She apologized for both of her brothers and their inherent contempt and glaring disrespect for their wives. She sainted me one year, saying that I had 'stayed the longest'...and I think I told her then I couldn't take it anymore. But in their family, statements like that are to be ignored, and the one ignoring the statement is entitled to dismiss the one making the plea.

Last week, I went back east. My family lives 2.5 hours away from his family. Back east. His mother is ill. She deserves to see the children. My mother offered to drive me there to bring the children to see their paternal grandmother. I paid a bit extra and purchased tickets out of that city instead of Buffalo. There was one caveat and potential bump to this plan however...the aunt, 'Deedee' lives with the grandmother. I was convinced by a friend who adores my daughter and wanted to help bring some resolution and peace to her life, to offer the aunt another chance to apologize. I had said to her months ago that she would need to address and acknowledge the incident with me like an adult should before she would be considered safe around the children. She had made some poor choices, this was evident. But was she willing to work through that with me or just leave me wondering if she really believed her actions and lack of protective response were acceptable? Months before, I had asked her some obvious questions. Not easy ones, but obvious ones, such as, "Why didn't you pick up the phone and call 911 when I begged you to?"

She never responded.

So last week, on the BoS's generous and objective suggestion, Deedee was offered the opportunity to please apologize to the family (especially Supergirl, to whom she was so close and who feels confused and betrayed), or to choose to be gone during the visit. We were not going to allow or invite a spectacle or a conflict into what was intended to be a visit to grandmother.
Deedee chose to be gone.
Then she said she would be there, but that she and I should 'talk' or 'hash it out' at that time. I found that to be an appallingly inappropriate attempt at railroading the childrens visit and my pure intentions in facilitating that visit, and a revealing glimpse into her own instability. I mean seriously? Their father had to apologize for his behavior, why not the aunt who was part of the violent attack? I asked her to apologize so my children could move forward from this hell, and she refuses to apologize and wants to have a little talk with me instead? In front of the children???? Has anything at all sunk in for her?
The answer appears to be 'no'. She even told my friend that I had caused too much damage for her to have a relationship with me (even for the children). Yes, I had caused too much damage.
I would like to point out yet again- that both Deedee and Ex-man were horrified at what they had done, and begging for forgiveness....until I reported the incident to the police. I suppose that changed the violent act from a horribly poor choice into something I imminently deserved.

In the long run, she agreed to stay away, and I told Supergirl in a very gentle way and without judgment (because I actually DO have her best interests at heart) that her aunt simply was not yet ready. It was very sad and hard for her and she just wasn't ready to make the apology like Daddy yet but I was sure she would be someday soon. Supergirl understood but was able to emotionally prepare herself for the reality and not keep wondering if she would see her aunt. So when I received an 'okay fine you win I'll apologize to them whatever' email from her just hours before we were to leave, I had to decline. My kids aren't yo-yos, and Supergirl is no fool to be spoon fed an apology full of crap. She knows that when Deedee is really ready, it will happen.

So in yet another fabulous display of family solidarity and narcissism, Deedee (and her infinite historical bank of paralegal wisdom) pulled a lovely little maneuver and asked her brother to ask the supervised visit therapist to please allow her to apologize. I had to give a minimal explanation of what she had already refused to do. Interesting channel, though. Applause!!!

Which almost makes me want to publish every single word from the most recent phone message I received from the other SIL; the drunk one who reveals all of Deedee's plans.

But I won't. Because I am better than that.

Let me just say this:
The children had a lovely visit with their grandmother and so did I. I appreciated that the aunt kept her word and didn't show up. Because that would have been awkward for my gentle giant brother who had been instructed to swoop up kiddos and leave if she had.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

USAir Hates Families

So, I went back east. The kids came too, since we go pretty much everywhere together.
I needed a(nother) root canal, and Supergirl had a cavity which needed to be filled. No dental insurance + a brother who is a dentist + three roundtrip tickets back east = less money than California dentistry.
Except it turned out that Supergirl actually had insurance. It's just that nobody tried to tell us that when it was relevant and she was covered. Under her father's job. Which he mysteriously lost just days after being ordered to pay child support (which he must have interpreted as one of those 'optional' court orders, as evidenced by my empty mailbox). Strange thing is, he only disclosed the information that the kids were insured when we were about to fly back east. Too bad it wasn't sooner, as in, when they were first covered, because then she probably would have avoided the extraction. Father of the year, I tell you.
When I arrived in the tundra known as Buffalo, NY, it was about -6 degrees. Yes, that is a minus sign before the 6. I would have cried about it, but it was cold enough to freeze saltwater, and tear-sicles are very uncomfortable.
I would like to announce that my children are star travelers. Seriously. People would get on the plane and stare me down when they realized they had been seated near children. But at the end of each flight, those same passengers would inevitably be the ones to praise my children and their good behavior.
In fact, they were better behaved than some of the adult passengers and USAir staff I encountered on my first attempts to fly across the country. When I purchased my tickets I saw that they had seated me rows away from each of my children, aged 8 and 4. I called right away and asked for a seat change but was told they could only help me when I arrived at the airport. I've heard that one before.
When I arrived at SFO, I headed for the nearest agent, even though I had already checked in online. She spent a good deal of time trying to get us seats together, so much time in fact, that I was starting to get nervous about getting through security. She finally said there was nothing she could do, but they would be able to help me at the gate. Again, heard that one before.
By the time we reached the gate, the plane was already boarding. I talked to the gate agent, showed him my tickets, and he replied, "Why did you come at the last minute if you wanted to switch seats?"
"Whhaaaaaat?" I stammered, explaining that I had been at the airport for over an hour! "Why didn't you seat me with my kids?" I fired back.
"I wasn't the one who did that." He snidely replied.
"Ummm.....okay?" I looked at him expectantly.
He shoved my tickets back at me, disgusted. "Those are all middle seats - nobody will want to switch with you and we can't legally force anyone to switch. Plus, there's another family trying to do what you are doing."
"Ummm....okay?" I repeated...."Trying to do what I'm doing? Like sit next to their kids? I can't let them sit 10 rows away from me!! What should I do?"
He waved me on to the jetway. "Good luck with that."
I made my way down the very crowded jetway and down to a flight attendant. She looked at my tickets and said, "There's another family ahead of you trying to do what you're doing."
"So I've heard," I muttered back at her. I felt as if I was being accused of trying to sell cookies and wrapping paper to strangers on the plane. Or worse, was being accused of trying to light my underwear on fire (a joke I could not make in the airport!) ....not just trying to secure seats next to my minor children.
The exasperated flight attendant disappeared and came back to the jetway moments later. "Nobody wants to move into middle seats, and we can't legally force anyone to move from their seat."
I laughed and said, "You have got to be kidding me, right? I mean, okay...I guess it would be fine...I mean I haven't had a six hour break in I don't know HOW long...I guess I can just hand his electronics to the complete strangers sitting next to my four year old and pick him up in Philadelphia (connecting city)." At this point I may or may not have cackled maniacally.
"That's really not that funny." She said, dryly.
"WHAT??" I exploded. I had used up all my patience and humor. "You wouldn't let me put this four year old on a plane without me unless I hired an escort for him but you don't think it's FUNNY that you want to seat him practically in the LAPS of complete STRANGERS?? I think it's fucking HILARIOUS!!"
She handed my tickets back to me.
"Not my policy. Just enforcing it. Sorry, but there's nothing I can tell you. Nobody wants to move."
"That's IT???"
"I'm afraid so." And she left me standing there among a throng of passengers who were relieved that THEY would not be asked to switch seats and therefore sympathetic.
I walked back up to the gate; two kids, three backpacks, one stroller.
"Now what?" I asked the anxiety-plagued gate agent, as I handed back my unused boarding passes.
"Well....we can get you through another city but I have to check and see if I am allowed to do that, since your bags are already on the other plane and it could be a security problem."
"Not MY policy...." I muttered.

And so I was re-routed on another plane, through Charlotte, NC. Where it was a balmy 30 degrees.

So what happened? Anybody else ever experience this?
I have some ideas....
Now that USAir and most other airlines are nickel and diming us to stay in business (pay for bad snack food, pay to check baggage) they have to come up with new and creative ways to make more money than the tickets we already purchased. So some marketing WIZARD came up with the brilliant new plan of charging passengers $5 per flight to reserve a 'premium seat'. 'Premium seat' actually just translates into: A NON- MIDDLE SEAT. So basically, the message is that they hate families. There, I said it. USAir is anti-family. On top of the three full price tickets I purchased, they wanted an extra $5 per family member to ensure we would be able to sit together, instead of placing my children in the virtual laps of strangers.

They call it marketing.
I call it child endangerment.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Bubbles and Apraxia, continued

Today Bubbles asked me to sing a song to him and I didn't know what song. He kept gesticulating dramatically saying, "Blue skies!! Rainbows!! You gotta sing it like that!!" and apparently the blue skies and rainbows song which I know is the wrong one.
Finally he said, "I am trying to tell you the song but my words aren't working. They all tangled up!"
"Your words are tangled up??" I repeated, because he has said his words were not working before but this was a new one.
"Yes, my words is tangled up in my throat with string. The string is all tangled up."
This statement amazed both myself and his speech therapist, who thought it the most accurate description of what it is like to live with Apraxia and the word retrieval and other frustrating components of it.
His ability to describe the frustration is so articulate that it's almost counter-intuitive to the affliction!!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Another moment in which I put my doubt aside for the greater good...

I am not sure how to feel about this.
My children were offered a heartfelt apology from their father.
The therapist who is supervising visits helped him prepare an appropriate and much-deserved apology, and he told them how sorry he was, how wrong his actions were, and how scary he knew it was. He told them he would never do it again to anyone.
Bubbles has been pretty direct with him, "Daddy, you have to be nice. You can't hurt people!"
This apology means a lot to him. It also means a lot to Supergirl, who has been conflicted about how she should feel about her father, her beloved daddy, since he hurt someone and didn't seem very sorry. They needed this, to be sure. And I appreciate that they got it.
But don't they also need sincerity?
What kind of father agrees to deliver a heartfelt apology to his children, while simultaneously planning for a custody hearing in which he hopes to prove that his actions were defensive and that I deserved it. Not only did I deserve it, but I don't deserve to be a mother. You know, after how many years plus the last 8 months of single-mothering. How does apologizing to his children for doing something terrible while he is trying to take their mother away from them translate into sincerity? Won't the kids eventually figure that out?

I really hoped that the co-parenting class would open up his eyes. I know, I know...that would require putting his children before himself - a tall order to expect.
Every single time I have entered Family Court, he has manipulated the court's time to re-frame his criminal court conviction. THEY DON'T CARE, but he effectively reminds me (and anyone else present) that I deserved what he did to me. This is in the name of the future our children - who are, you know, the reason we are going to Family Court.
Every single professional involved in this case has recommended that the children see their father with supervision, yet he insists I am the only one behind this, and that I am doing it to 'to retaliate'. (retaliate? against?? being choked??) I want to move forward; I hope the therapist he is seeing is helpful and that he is ready and willing to exact change in his own life.

But I have had it with the game playing and the pawn moving and really, it's enough. Everyone can see through it.
Is it worth it anyway for the children to receive an apology, even if it isn't sincere?
Because this isn't about my doubt, but it is about our children and their ability to heal from this, I have hope; I think it is.