Thursday, February 23, 2012


I apologize for leaving the "story" hanging, but after that horrible lawyer meeting I just didn't feel like revisiting that entire evening in writing; it upset me enough to send me into a two week funk and the worst episode of Meniere's (vertigo) I've had yet.

I'll say this, my husband came to support me, didn't say a word through the entire thing. We let my lawyer do most of the talking, but my ex did address me directly several times, and even though I shook from head to toe through the entire meeting, I had clear answers for him, and he was stumped. My husband actually said he was impressed with how well I handled what was thrown at me (like my ex saying my son needed to be with him more considering the way my son has been behaving at home, which is a whole different blog post). My ex was livid, shocked that I was unwilling to come down to his offer, and left angry. I was actually worried for my own safety, and so glad my husband was there...I pictured him waiting for me outside the meeting. I don't know why, because he has never harmed me in any way, but he was so angry that it scared me.

Since the meeting he has sent over another low offer, and I countered and was rejected. So as of right now, we have a hearing for a temporary order set up in 2 weeks, in which I will have to go before the court and testify, and listen to my ex testify against me.

This is just one aspect of crisis in my life right now, and the only one I can discuss here. I will just say this: nothing, NOTHING could have ever prepared my husband and I for bringing him in as a stepfather to three kids with a dad they are close with. Nothing could have prepared me for the stressful dynamics that occur when three children are your only children, but you are not their only father. Nothing could prepare me for the unbelievable stress that comes with every aspect of blending this family, as smoothly as we thought it was going and would be. I feel constantly torn---I don't know what is best for everyone, and I don't know if that is the same thing for everyone, and I feel like it is all on my shoulders to decide.

Life is an ebb and flow, I do realize that happiness and smooth sailing is never guaranteed. I have no doubts that I will turn this around, and I spend every day right now trying to figure out how to do that. Knowing that I've done it before and can do it again is just about the only thing keeping me sane. I am lucky to be surrounded by the most amazing friends anyone could ask for, and one in particular who is no stranger to crisis, and is my touchstone during times like this. She reminds me to do what I can every day to care for myself, and get myself better so that I can be there for those who need me, like my husband and my children. There have been days lately when the most I can do for myself is get showered and dressed, and some of those days, that has been in late afternoon. My doctor has me on additional anxiety medication which is helping with the vertigo most of the time. I haven't worked out in 3 weeks, which is the longest I've gone in several years. I'm trying to practice what I preach and eat nurturing, healthy foods that won't make me feel worse but perhaps better. On days when I feel like I can take it, I turn on the cheesy pop music of my youth and listen to it. My husband, who is also struggling right now, and I try to watch as much funny tv as we can.

It took me 3 days to muster up the emotion to finish this post. My court date is set for March 8, and I am in survival mode until then. My husband and I have a small vacation planned for spring break, just the two of us and our dog, to try and strengthen our relationship so that we can better face this situation, all of it. I'm hoping that with further stress management and this little break, the vertigo will dissipate and I can once again return to my saving grace-exercise. Until then I will focus on doing what I can each day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Re-Divorce

I'm sitting in my health class, staring at my desk, listening to my teacher drone on and on about something health related that neither I nor he cares a lick about.

I have recently turned thirteen years old. My life up until this point has been easy; my family was tight, I had a happy childhood, and the worst problem I've known is being a poor, invisible nerd dressed in plaid jumpers my Grammy made for me, in a middle school full of Cavarrici's and Guess. I wear thick glasses, I have not yet figured out how to control my frizzy curls, and I have silver braces across my teeth.

But recently, there has been some sort of strange and unspoken upheaval in my life. My mother began losing weight, stopped doing anything, and just sits and looks miserable most of the time. I recently overheard a conversation between my Dad and his best friend, and I hear the word for the first time that will eventually become an ongoing theme in my life: depression.

I have just recently been informed, with almost no explanation, that my brother and I will be moving in with my grandparents. My grandmother will now take me to school everyday. I won't be seeing my mother for quite some time, because she needs a break to get better-from what, I'm still unsure of.

As I sit in health class, I feel what is now becoming a familiar squeeze in my stomach. I realize that I am going to be sick soon. I will the sickness to please, please just wait until the bell rings so that I can make it to the restroom without attracting any attention, but my stomach is stubborn and I realize that it won't wait. Why, WHY does my last name have to start with a D, which landed me in the front row of this and many other classes? Why can't I have a cool Polish last name that starts with a Z, like my friend Steven, and be in the back row every period? I am already ridiculously uncool. Now I must stand up and walk out of class, from the front row. Hopefully the teacher will realize what is happening, because he is an adult, and adults are supposed to understand us kids. I am a straight-A student, never uttered a word in class or put up any kind of trouble; he will know that if I am leaving, that I MUST leave, and he won't embarrass me further. I put all of my faith in this, and I rise to my feet.

The teacher stops teaching immediately, freezes mid-gesture, and everyone in the class has their eyes on me, including him.

I turn, and as calmly as I can, defy him anyways, walk through ten rows of desks, and once I reach the back of the room, look back at him. He is absolutely stupified and still frozen, mid-gesture. I don't think he even knows my name to call out to stop me. It is as if he and the entire classroom of 40ish kids have realized for the first time that I even exist, and why the hell is she leaving mid-lecture? Has this quiet, mousy girl been sitting here all along, planning a riot? Should we all follow her out of the classroom?

I then look directly at my teacher, hoping that by doing this I am blocking everyone else from seeing me, and put my hand up to my mouth. It finally dawns on him, and he finishes his sentence. I turn and race out of the classroom, mortified, and if for a second I thought I would make it to the bathroom, that chance is gone now.

I am running down the hall when it happens, sick all over my Grammy's plaid jumper. THIRTEEN! I scream at myself in my head. YOU ARE TOO OLD FOR THIS.

My mother picks me up from school, it is the first I've seen of her in several days. She is the same, maybe thinner even, and doesn't even seem to notice that I'm sick. We pick my brother up from school and she takes us to Arby's for dinner, even though I have just vomited at school. I try to fill her in on the mortification of my day, but I hold back almost all of it, because she already seems so fragile, and I don't want to make it worse by having her worry about me.

This pattern continues for six weeks or so. It's strange to only me that I can't seem to get rid of this stomach bug, because everyone else is so worried about my mom that I am the only one to notice that I'm sick just about every week. Not just my stomach, but fever and chills, and body aches.

Eventually, my mom's depression passes, and we move back home and life returns to semi-normal.

It is only when I am nearly thirty-two years old and writhing in stomach pain while my husband moves his things out that I realize that I have learned to internalize my stress to the point that it has no choice but to present itself physically.

It's like clockwork now. A situation presents itself that is so overwhelming that I just can't take it, and my stomach begins to cramp and feels like knives are penetrating it, and my body temp shoots up to 100 degrees. Every muscle in my body tenses up so that I am literally in a ball.

The past two weeks have been that kind of overwhelming. The child support issue seemed to compound upon itself and branch out into new and ridiculous shit storms that threatened pretty much everything and everyone that I love. The conflict that I despise so much has been a part of my every day. I tried to disappear into a ball in my bed, but then I remembered the story from earlier, and how my mother was so caught up in her depression that she couldn't even see me, just like everyone at school, and I hung onto my children for dear life....they would not suffer because I am suffering.

Today, at 5pm, my husband and I will drive together to my lawyer's office and sit across from my ex husband for a meeting. We will be telling him at this meeting exactly how much I will be filing for in child support-which is almost triple what he is currently paying me and double what he has offered. I haven't sat in a room with my ex husband since almost 3 years ago, when he sat across from me in my office and cried because he couldn't afford child support. I was weak then, and I agreed to the tiny amount, and two weeks later he afforded himself a week-long fun trip to NYC.

There is stress. So much stress. The stress of standing up for myself when I so prefer being invisible. The stress of wondering if this will cause him to alienate my children from me, considering the power I already see him with over my 13 year old son. The stress of wondering what- not if - but what he will do to retaliate; file for 50/50 custody? take us to court? tell every mutual friend of ours what a C word I am? put my children in a car and disappear with them? All of the above? The stress of possible conflict between my new husband and my ex husband; will my ex say something to upset my husband or vice versa, and a shouting match break out? So much resentment between the two of them on so many levels, will having them in the same room involved in the same discussion bring all of that to the surface, and what will the repercussions be?

I just want this meeting to be the end of this chapter in my life. I want the child support money for my children to have what they need from both me AND their father. I want to go back to not thinking about my ex except for when I'm forced to face him at soccer games and school events. I want the fevers and stomach pains to go away, and to get back to exercise and eating and life. I want to be able to concentrate on my children and give them the attention that they need. I want to stop feeling like I am getting divorced all over again.

Please, let this meeting be The End.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I'm standing in the kitchen, in a bathrobe, and suddenly realize I am leaning on the counter for support or I will fall, and that I have been staring at the same spot out the window for the past 5 minutes.

It's quiet today. My five year old is home, playing happily in the living room with makeup and toys and singing to herself. My husband is in his office working. I should be working. But I am not, because it is too quiet, and I feel it bubbling, about to boil over.

My husband, who is taking a break from his work, walks into the kitchen and finds me there, staring, still in my bathrobe at 12:30pm. I meet his eyes, waiting to see disgust or question or puzzlement. But my eyes are met with recognition, with sadness, with helplessness.

"What can I do for you?" he asks as he pulls me into his arms.

I look up at him and wish I had an answer. He has done everything he can, this wonderful man who adopted so much baggage by choosing me as his wife. He has held me and told me it will be ok. He paid for the lawyer that I could not afford on my own. He reassured me when I questioned myself. He believes in me, in my goodness, and knows that I tend to believe and stress over what others say about me.

"I wish I weren't like this. So weak and pathetic." As I speak, I remember back to all the hardships I have been through-my dad's surgery, my divorce and all leading up to it, my parents' divorce. I remember friends and even strangers commenting to me how strong I am. I realize now, as I stand here in my bathrobe, that I am ridiculously weak....not strong at all. Not even close. When the going gets tough...I can't function. If being strong means just continuing to be alive everyday, then sure, call me strong.

He kisses me softly, and releases me back to my leaning. I continue to stare out the window, unable to move, because moving would not only hurt, but it would interrupt the battle raging in my head. Am I asking for too much support? What do I actually need? Am I being money hungry? Did I do the right thing? I know I'm not a C word or a bitch, but am I wrong? Does he have a point? Should these rules apply to him? Should I have at least tried to work it out first?

I answer myself with common sense. My common sense is in control in all of my actions. I let the lawyer file the petition and send my ex the waiver. I cooperate with everything that I know is right. But my thoughts: they are at war.

The next morning, the texts and emails begin to flood in. He has been contacted by my lawyer, and he is freaking out, combative and irrational. I am awoken to emails from the lawyer saying that he has been calling, that he wants a transcript of our conversations, that he will be hiring his own lawyer, that he'll be seeking joint custody. My texts are a barrage of guilt and threats and It's Not Fair's.

I want to answer every text. I want to EXPLAIN why I had to resort to this. He thinks I am being greedy and immature. I want to tell him that I have spent the last 3 years waiting for him to contribute his financial half. That I cannot go by his promises anymore, only his actions. That if he had been paying his half of everything like he had promised before, things would be different now. That it's not fair to me to have to beg and plead for him to pay me for his children all the time.

But I don't. I refer him to my lawyer, and then I sit on my feelings and my answers. And this causes me great stress, and turmoil, and I end up back in my bathrobe...this time curled up in the fetal position on our outdoor couch, which I now feel guilty for having.

I wonder about my best friend, whom I have watched endure a similar situation for the past couple of years. I text her and ask, how in the hell did you do this? How do you not answer when your intentions and integrity are attacked? But I already know the answer, because I watched her put her head down and protect herself as best she could. But I'm even more in awe of it now that I am living it.

So I come here to write, in my bathrobe. I realize that most who will read this are friends or friends of friends and will get it. But I want my voice to be heard somewhere. So I release these answers to the universe and hope that maybe someday they will reach his head and his heart.

I AM NOT A BITCH. I am the mother of your three children, and they are my whole world and purpose for everything in life. EVERYTHING.
I have paid for everything, you have paid for almost nothing, despite your promises to do so in the beginning.
I am not ok with splitting expenses because you promised to do the same thing last time, and you did not follow through. Actions speak louder.
You not having money is your own problem and your own foolish choices. You are insanely irresponsible with money. Cigarettes and happy hours and lunches and dinners out are your priority, not paying the bills for your kids. And you know it.
Having them 50/50 would mean you either pick them up from school on Wednesdays and Thursdays (and every other friday), or having them in daycare. How do you plan to pay for that, if you don't think you can afford child support???
And by the way, NO WAY IN HELL I'M LETTING YOU HAVE THEM 50% OF THE TIME. I spend enough time undoing your brainwashing and damage as it is.

Back to sitting on my hands and waiting for this nightmare to be over.