Sunday, August 7, 2011

Only In My Dreams

I dreamt about my middle son early this morming. He was older, probably 16. This was different for me because when I dream of my kids they are always the ages they were when I saw them last, or younger.

In my dream he was taller than me, but his body and his face looked like it did when I was last with him, when he was 14, and still thicker than my other two children and his face round. I was staying at my best friend from high school's house in Washington, but the house was like a hotel, and she no longer lived there. My head felt cloudy, like I was sick with flu. My mom and sister were staying at my friend's with me. We were all getting ready to leave, it seemed to be check-out time, and they got irritated and left without me. I had no car and no money. I had to get back to California, and it was urgent. I needed to get back to California. I'm not sure why it was urgent in my dream. I felt abandoned and helpless, angry at my mom and sister.

In real life my attorney had told me to go to WA and live with my mom and put my house up for short sale, and then shortly after she told me get back to CA as soon as I could so I could try to get custody or at least visitation with my kids. And this whole time--in real life--I had no money, and no resources.

It was that kind of urgency in my dream. I was in a panic trying to figure out how to get back to California. And then my son, Keegan, walked into the room. I still hadn't seen him in four years, and it was like he didn't know I was there. He came into the bathroom as I was brushing my teeth. He seemed a bit surprised to see me, but not much. He was out of it,hungover, acted pretty drunk. I was thrilled to see him, amazed at how different he looked, but he was still the same Keegan, just drunk. I didn't want to scare him off. I didn't hug him as I wanted to, I wanted to throw my arms around him and not let go. He was taller than me and bigger. There were boys outside the room calling, "Hurry up!" I told him I was happy to see him. I commented that he must not be feeling too well. He asked why I would say that. I told him I was hungover all the time when I was a teenager. He grabbed a toothbrush and began to brush his teeth and I moved out of the way. He was not running from me, which I figured was a good sign. I initially expected him too--he had in real life. Part of me was panicked--how could I stay in his presence as long as possible? I asked if he would like to have lunch. I said that his grandma and aunt would love to see him too, it had been so long. Even though I was not sure at that moment where they were. He continued brushing his teeth, but seemed to be thinking it over. His friends called for him again. The room was dark and I began rolling up a sleeping bag, wondering how I would take all my stuff with me. He said, Sure, I guess we could have lunch. And he was my Keegan again. There had been a wide gap between us, anxiety and panic in my heart as I waited for his answer, but now I felt comfort, connected again.

If only it was that way in real life. And if money and homelessness did not matter, choices could be reversed, resentments evaporate and vanish, wounds miraculously heal. But in dreams, at least, I am with my children.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fight, Fight, Fight

I wish I would have had the money and the guts to fight for my kids. My ex just wanted me out of his life, and the kids' lives completely, once he understood we were no longer going to be together. Anything it took to get me completely out of their lives he was going to do. And he did it.

I am not saying I am a perfect parent, or I did everything perfectly. I have made many, many mistakes. But I believe it is a child's right to have both parents in their lives. Unless there is a good reason for that not to happen.

I know my ex left a message on my daughter's phone on her eleventh birthday saying I was on drugs, and that my 'boyfriend' was a criminal. I know because I listened to her message which ordinarily I didn't do. I wanted to encourage her to stay in contact with her father, and when we were going through the separation and she said she missed him I told her to call him. If he wanted to come over, I'd go out so she and her dad could hang out.

A month before we separated we had gone up to Oregon for spring break to spend the Easter holiday with my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and my mom and step-father. We drove up from California, with my daughter and eldest son. My middle son wanted to stay home in CA with his grandma, and my ex-husband agreed against my wishes.

We got to my sister's house where we had spent much time during many summers. My daughter was happy to see her little cousin Maddie, and her aunt, uncle, grandma and grandpa. My oldest seemed pleased to be there too, but mostly interested in his video games.

My ex decided on Easter day to leave me at my sister's and drive back to California. We were just getting the table set up for Easter dinner. Apparently, he had heard me discussing some of our marital problems in the kitchen with my mom and sister. Next thing I knew he was loading his suitcase in the suburban. I ran outside, baffled and scared. He said, "That's it. I'm divorcing you!" I asked him to stay, to discuss it. I said I was sorry I'd been discussing our problems with my mother and sister. He said he was leaving.

He told our son and daughter to go with him. I told them it was up to them if they wanted to stay or go. I was shaking from head to toe, feeling like jelly on the inside, but I willed myself to stay calm for the kids. My family seemed on the sidelines, out of vision. I heard a few pleas of, "Jim, calm down. Come eat some dinner." I'm not sure who said it, but I'm pretty sure my sister, brother-in-law, mom and step-father all did.

My daughter clung to my waist while her dad begged her to come with him. Easter dinner was on the table and our eldest son was in the passenger seat of the suburban ready to go. My daughter said, "I'm staying with mom." She had been put in the middle, stretched like a rubber band, put in a position I didn't want her to have to be in, of having to chose. Her dad kept saying, "Come home with me. I want you to come with me."

My daughter and I stayed at my sister's for the rest of spring break. The weather was nice and we went kayaking on a lake nearby, rode the horses, played with my niece, and enjoyed getting to be around family. My daughter didn't ask too much about her dad, but became very anxious if I was out of her sight.

My family didn't seem that surprised by my ex's behavior. They put it down to an extreme over-reaction. My mother didn't tell me until we were in the process of divorce that Jim had called and left a message on her phone the night he left. His message was that in the event I needed to be hospitalized, (apparently assuming I would have a breakdown because he left) would my mother please ride on the airplane with my daughter to bring her home.