Tag Archive: divorce


This post may be somewhat disjointed. I am somewhat disjointed. Out of joint. Bent…

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I’ve been walking a lot lately. Walking is conducive to thinking. Walking is frequently conducive to composing blog posts in my head. Some of which never get written. Some written, never posted. Let’s hope this one passes muster.

I feel like I’ve mentioned, in bits and pieces, that I’m currently in the process of reclaiming certain aspects of my life. Some of which I didn’t even realize needed reclaiming. Some of which I figured I’d leave unreclaimed. Some I thought I already had a claim on. And while it’s frustrating that I find myself still not completely free from certain negative impacts of certain types of trauma in my life, I’m thankful I can recognize the origins of that frustration, roll my eyes and be temporarily exasperated with myself, and move on.

I’ve been telling the same stories over and over again, because I find myself confronted with them. As my housemates were cleaning up my yard, cheerily clearing the brush and treating the arduous labor as a happy task, I vividly remembered walking out to the backyard a long lost married-person mother’s day ago, to find my then-husband angrily hacking at the shoulder-high weeds with a push mower. “Happy fucking Mother’s Day!” Through gritted, angry teeth, was my greeting.

That wasn’t the last time the lawn got mowed, but it was the last time he mowed the lawn.lulu

Needless to say, it wasn’t a very happy Mother’s Day. It wasn’t a very happy anything in my life during that time period. Somewhere around then – I think the same year – my elderly dog got cancer. I was 5 months pregnant with a 3-year old and a surly, unhelpful husband, and my best friend for the past 10 years was dying and I was incredibly sad. The day she died, he helped me load her gasping body into the car and he was the one who sat with her when she was put down, and then it was like a switch was turned and suddenly any sadness I felt about it was not allowed. Was a play for attention. I was being overwrought. I remember being so desperate for some sort of mutually nurturing relationship I went to the pound on the 4th of July – or thereabouts, and finding Twyla curled up in the corner of a kennel with a sign on the cage that said “I’m deaf, but I’m really sweet.” And she was. And I brought her home much to my ex-husband’s dismay.

“You always do the most difficult thing.” He snorted.

“I married you, didn’t I.” I retorted.

My mind is blurry, and I can’t remember if this happened before or after he broke up with me, but that was around the time. I came home on a lunch break from work, hugely pregnant. Hot. Emotional. And he told me he was breaking up with me. I had to go back to work in 30 minutes. Still hugely pregnant…hot…emotional…and single. Little knowing at that time that it would take multiple years to finally extricate him completely from my daily life, in spite of his refusal to contribute emotionally, physically, or financially beyond the bare minimum.

I’m not saying these things because I’m still bitter about them. I’m stating these things flatly. This is my experience. This is what I have lived. These are the things that re-emerge when we do things we haven’t done since that time period. Like getting a new dog.

5c44e4f5-c619-4bce-a177-b6d766f18fa1Even publishing the zine. I recently sent a couple of copies of the last issue of my old zine bAnal Probe to a friend of mine, and I realized those last few issues were done in collaboration with him. I hadn’t even realized publishing a zine was an act of reclaiming…and there it is. Reclaimed. Painlessly. Cleanly.

I wasn’t the best dog owner during those times. I was distracted, at best. The dog never got my full attention. We went for frequent walks and I spent much of my time feeling overwhelmed with everything I was responsible for. I wasn’t a BAD dog owner. I was mostly just exhausted and had no room in my life for another living being. It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve felt sufficiently free of the every day responsibility of nurturing children to really focus on a pet, and this batch of cats in my life has gotten more love than previous batches. For sure. I’m excited about having a dog both who seems to require less effort and for whom I have significantly more bandwidth.

Along with those realizations was the realization that the way I’ve been managing my time is kind of screwy now that I don’t have to think in 15-minute increments as much. It’s time for me to expand my attention span. It’s time for me to have more flexible time for just sitting and enjoying. I’ve thrown away the old system and am working on a new system that allows for that. I hope. I imagine some things will fall through the cracks during the transition, but so far I’ve been spending a lot of lot of lot of time with friends, I’m getting a lot more outdoor time. More movement. A bit more structure. This structure will probably increase as I get used to the rhythm of the dog. When to feed her, when we walk. It’s kind of like having a large, slightly more self-sufficient baby. I’m so glad that she’s at least housebroken. And she sleeps through the night.

And well into the morning. Which is nice.

***

The other thing I was thinking about on my walk is all of the anger and frustration and heartbreak I am feeling for the mamas of Central America and Gaza whose babies are at risk. And of course for the mamas themselves. And the non-mamas, but mostly the mamas and the babies.

I’m sure this is a political theory that has already been written somewhere, and I haven’t taken the time to do any sort of research into who might have already thought of it, but it strikes me that the only way to make free trade not inherently exploitive is too also have open borders. Otherwise aren’t we just allowing the true cost of our low prices to be out of sight out of mind? And when something like a huge influx of refugee children show up at our border because they’ve been suffering that consequence for us, it’s altogether too easy for some people to blame the victims.

 

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Something struck me last night at a presentation I attended with the Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable. Something that I want to write about without a witty lyrical title or any images.

First, I want to emphatically acknowledge that if I wasn’t already aware of the incredible challenges those who are re-entering the community after being released from jail or prison face, I certainly would have been after last night’s presentation. I have no lack of empathy for people who have had run-ins with the law to any degree, and particularly with those who have committed non-violent crimes and are struggling with the co-efficient of mental illness (including substance abuse) or those who have been dealt the short hand of being treated as a second-class citizen in our society for any number of reasons that have been proven to put one in a position to choose to commit (or at least be more prone to being prosecuted for committing) crimes or become dependent on substances…or both.

However, one thing that was mentioned last night and was celebrated as a victory kind of hit me in the gut and has stuck there like a stone ever since. One of the presenters stated that the laws have recently changed so those who are re-entering are able to delay their obligations to pay child support upon release. This is meant to help ease the burden of the formerly-incarcerated, but it made my head buzz. After listening to the panelists talk about the other debt collectors who required immediate attention upon release: bankers, student loan officers, and the prison system itself, which charges for monthly P.O. visits, among other things…it was stunning to me that the person/people who were expected to bear the brunt of easing the burden on the newly-released would be the children of the formerly-incarcerated. How on earth do we justify that? Is there no way to suspend college loan payments, mortgages, or credit card debt for a period after release? Do we really need to further burden the parent who has already been burdened by being the sole provider for a child while the other parent has been in jail? Is this what we call progress?

I guess it’s my experience as a single parent that informs my outrage over this. I mean, it’s bad enough that there are people out there who view child support as “indentured servitude” by the other parent. I hear so many stories of non-custodial parents who haven’t been incarcerated who actually have the fucking nerve to be irritated with the custodial parent for expecting them to, you know, earn a fucking living and pay their fair share of support, as if the custodial parent actually has a choice to do so. And now this from the state – this dismissal of the very real challenge of being the sole financial provider of children who have two TWO *TWO* parents. As a single parent with primary custody, I don’t have the option to opt-out, delay, or postpone taking care of my child’s everyday needs. I simply have to find a way.

And, while I know those who have been recently released from jail or prison have a significantly more difficult time finding a way, I feel if the state is compelled to make it an option for them to opt out, postpone, or delay these responsibilities, it ought to take responsibility on behalf of its recently released inmates and provide assistance to the co-parent of those it chooses to incarcerate. Anything less than that is flat out invalidating the challenges of those parents and children who are the collateral damage of our (in)justice system, and by association – it even manages to invalidate the need for all children to have the support of both of the people who chose to bring them into the world, whether they’ve been incarcerated or not.

I spent the 17th anniversary of being a mother doing nothing much in particular. Cleaning the house, noticing small things, listening to music. Also, stressing a little bit about money while feeling angry that I have to stress about money, because the things I’m stressing about shouldn’t be solely my responsibility to stress over.

There are things about parenting through an abusive relationship that are inordinately difficult. I am silenced by virtue of not wanting to hurt the other people in the equation. I can’t speak as openly as I’d like about the experience, because some of the things I would like to speak openly about would be devastating to my boys. There is a power in being an abuser with children. It’s not fair, and it’s not right. But it is. And the survivor of the abuse shoulders that silence, just as the survivor tends to shoulder all things that aren’t convenient for the abuser to deal with. It’s frustrating beyond measure, and sometimes it really gets to me.

Today, it’s really getting to me. I have fought for so long to give these children all that they need and a good bit of what they want in life. It hasn’t always been easy. There has always been a trade off. When things were easier financially, they were more difficult logistically. Now that things are easier in terms of me feeling like I’m not constantly stressed about work, I’m working really hard to not stress about money. I’ve been through this. I’ve been through worse. I’ll be ok. I find myself saying that out loud quite frequently lately. I’ll be ok. In conversations with others, as well as myself. I’ll be ok. I’ll be ok. I’ll be ok.

And I will be ok, but I’m not ok. I’m not ok with the silence. I’m not ok with pretending. I’m not ok with the fact that there will never be justice, in any form, for the things I’ve experienced. I’m not ok, because IT’S NOT OK. But it will have to be ok. I will have to find another outlet to share my stories. I will shoulder the lies, along with everything else, because the truth is not convenient.

And I have a right to feel angry about that for a bit…before I let it go, take a deep breath, and work to ensure everything IS ok.

All Hail the Non-Custodial!

He who reads your journals,

and holds their fatalistic contents against you

For THIRTEEN.

FUCKING.

YEARS.

He who gives you

Just what you deserve

and more

He who stayed up countless nights,

witnessing crying jags

of an anxious infant

from across the room

on the couch

in his unemployed haze

while you begged to be relieved

so you could sleep enough

for work in the morning

Hail the non-custodial!

For never reading a single book

about parenting

or education

but who is just sure

You are doing it wrong

Who doesn’t want you

to bother him

with the details…

Unless he does.

Hail the custodial!

who complains about

discriminatory courts

Who enjoys custodial rights, but never

custodial responsibility

Who never questions

why birthday celebrations

slumber parties

and pretty much all relationships

exist at the home of the custodial.

Never considers the cost

of creating a welcoming home,

but enjoys the privilege

of not having to pay it.

Hail him! Bow before him!

Prostrate yourself for the crumbs

that barely pay the grocery budget

of a house with two

Growing

Teenage boys.

The same amount

that supported

toddler diets and

grade school needs

can now certainly be stretched

to cover

adolescent appetites

and extracurricular

activities.

Throw roses in his wake,

as he tells you

that’s all you’re getting.

Curse your inability to understand

non-custodial math

as you foolishly add up the costs of lodging,

entertainment,

education,

and logistical expenses.

Make sure he knows how special

and holy

he is.

And always. Always. ALWAYS.

Find a way to make do

without his assistance

Because those in custody

should not have to want

for his wanting.

p.s. The subject

of this poem

is FICTIONAL.

Because

Maude forbid anyone

EVER

besmirch the

good name

of the

non-custodial.

Underdog

 

8 months ago, it was decided that my youngest child would start school this fall, against my better judgment, after having been homeschooled his entire life.

5 months ago, I attempted to initiate a dialog with my ex in order to better facilitate this transition. My ex responded with suspicions of my “agenda” and refused to negotiate with me unless we were in front of a mediator and would end the session with a legal document that could be executed. A legal document that would take into consideration any of a thousand different decisions that need to be made on a regular basis, such as “who will buy pens when he runs out.” “Who will be able to pick the child up at the last minute on a rainy day.” and “who’s going to pay for the field trip next week.” Decisions which, by the way, default to being my responsibility in the absence of agreement, so there’s really no motive for negotiation on his part. Previously, any attempt on my part to request financial or logistical assistance for activities and events has been soundly rejected, with the explanation that since it was allegedly my sole decision to homeschool my children, it was my responsibility to bear the burden of that decision. He ended our back-and-forth email exchange by asserting, in a rare moment of admission of intent, “This will hurt you” (meaning me) “more than it will hurt them.” (meaning my children.) I chose to not continue the conversation.

In absence of this fabled legal agreement that would magically address the myriad of issues that crop up in the day-to-day life of a child, my ex refused to speak to me at all for several months. Any attempt on my part to negotiate was met with either silence or insistence that I communicate through my lawyer (unfortunately, I am not able to retain a lawyer, so there wasn’t a whole lot I could do to get through to him.)

Meanwhile, the date of registration drew closer, and in spite of my attempts to negotiate the tasks that needed taking care of, I received silence. Until, finally, last month, an attempt was made by him to initiate a legal order by which some of these questions would be answered. The very same questions I had attempted to negotiate about a month prior to that.

While we waited for lawyers to pass information back and forth, deadlines loomed. An attempt was made by me again to define roles and responsibilities. The response was unequivocal that absent a legal agreement, I was not to expect my ex to be responsible for the mundane tasks of school enrollment.

Rather than arguing, I took it upon myself to take care of those tasks, now near the deadline for completion. My ex’s response to my lack of response THIS TIME was to call the school to check up on whether or not I was doing what he had already made exceptionally clear that he was not going to be doing.

Let me be clear that I have never once failed to care for my children. In spite of many and varied obstacles, many of which have been caused by my ex, I have always managed to get done what needed to get done so my children have the things they need. It is an abusive tactic to continually act as though a person is unreliable when they have done nothing but prove themselves to be reliable. And it’s an abusive tactic to drag a third party into the thick of things and make it seem as though the target of abuse needs to be checked up on.

Unfortunately, when my ex called to “check up on me” – he was given different information than I was. So now EVERYONE is confused, and EVERYONE is dragged into this endless loop of manipulative and manipulated communication. And after months and months of refusing to communicate, suddenly we are down to the wire and I’m being treated as though *I* have procrastinated, *I* have delayed, and *I* am irresponsible.

Last night, my eldest son was looking at the scores from the standardized test he took a year ago. The one that was supposed to prove he wasn’t learning. The one that he scored VERY well on. He said to me “Mom. I don’t understand how dad can look at these test scores and insist that homeschooling doesn’t work. He’s not dumb. It’s obvious from these tests that homeschooling is working.”

I honestly didn’t know how to respond to that. I’m tired of being put in that position. I’m also really fucking tired of having to be silent about it.

So, fuck it. This is my life. I hope I won’t have to continue to post these frustrated rants much longer. I hope a rhythm will soon be established, these issues will be resolved, and I can move forward and not have to pay so much attention the the negative energy this person attempts to drown me in.

Cross your fingers. Remain calm. Listen to Sly. ❤