Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It Could Happen

I work with kids.  It is both horrible and wonderful.  It forces me to relive the experiences with my kids when they were the current ages of the children I work with.  It compels me to remember when  I am trying to forget.

It is too painful to relive the memories when my children have just vanished from my life completely.  Children are never supposed to just be gone from your life.  They are supposed to move out as they reach adulthood and live their lives, but never just vanish.  They call, you call.  Hopefully you hear what they are doing in their lives.  I talk to mothers I work with whose kids are in college, and they talk about how they text back and forth.  Some complain the kids don't get back to them right away.  They always ask do I have kids.  I say yes.  I nod to what they say, but I have no input to give.  I don't know what it's like to have a kid in college and text them. I am not about to go into Parental Alienation with every parent I meet.  They would not understand.  Those I have told don't understand.  It is a stigma.  Unspoken.  'What have you done that you have no relationship with your children?  I could not live like that.  Why aren't you dead?'  In the first several years I really wanted to be dead.

I have not worked with teenagers.  The oldest I saw my kids as teenagers was ages16 and 14.  The beginning.  I did not live all the years.  Working with teenagers would make me sad too.  All that did not happen.

A few select people I choose to tell.  I cannot not relate my experience in raising children, and going through the stages, to working with kids.  I am trying to let go.  To accept what is.  I cannot change it.  I have tried.  Living in pain, daily regretting the past, thinking if only I didn't get divorced this would have never happened.  Changing the past in my mind in order to change the present.

 I live in my mind, in the past so much.  In my head I still do the things I last did with them: Pick them  up from school, drive them home, make yogurt smoothies. They watch TV in their bedrooms, my daughter always watches Spongebob and Icarly, the boys play video games while eating their snacks, my middle son has his friends over who I make snacks for also and my son's friends like the smoothies more than he does. Then my daughter does her homework at the kitchen table as I start dinner. I make dinner in my sunny kitchen for a family of five.  My oldest does his chore of walking the dogs.  We have three.  He walks each dog one by one, separately, around the block.  He and his brother fight over who is going to pick up dog poop from the back yard and who is going to take out the trash.  My daughter objects to her chores of cleaning her bird cage and cleaning her room.  Her brother says, Why doesn't she have to do chores?!

I spend these times in my head, the last times I had with my kids.  These memories play over and over.    My last times with them.  Frozen at ages 11, 14 and and 16.  What are they like now?  I have no idea.  Changed.  Young adults. My daughter, 16.  No longer little children.  I can't ask other parents, What's it like?  Do your kids totally change?  Are they still the same to you as when they were children?  How would I even phrase that?  Even friends I know who I still talk to, mothers whose daughters played with my daughter--I don't know how to put into words what I wonder.  Part of me thinks it's best if I don't wonder.  Sometimes I think it would be uncomfortable for them to talk to me about it.  People don't know what to say.  And people become afraid of losing their own children.  Of even the thought.  It could happen.They knew me as a mom at home, whose life revolved around her kids.  It is possible.  It could happen.  These friends are also divorced from their husbands.  But they got primary custody. Their husbands have partial custody.  They share their children.  It didn't happen to them.

I love working with children.  And I hate it.  I love discussing children and at the same time it is the most painful thing in the world to talk about.  And I am surrounded by children every day.  It is my job.  Why?  I don't know why.  It is where I ended up.  I enjoy working with kids.  But it is a constant reminder of the loss of my own.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mother and Daughter

I'm leaving in a few days to fly to Washington to visit my mother.  So my thoughts have been dwelling on my kids, especially my daughter.  Of course, they do anyway.  But contemplating a visit with my mom got me thinking of the relationship between a mother and daughter.  And also the circumstances of my separation.  Because within the first six months of my separation I went to stay with my mom.

Shortly after we separated, my husband stopped paying the mortgage on the house and did not put any money into our joint bank account.  He did not follow temporary court-orders to continue paying the mortgage and pay me spousal.  And my attorney told me, do not, under any circumstances, get a job. (With the assumption I would be awarded spousal support when the divorce became final, since for seventeen years I was a stay-at-home mom.)

After I had sold all my jewelry and used up my remaining credit to try to pay bills and stay fed, I panicked.  I was in fear every day, because of the unpaid mortgage bills, that cops would come knocking on the door to kick me out.  I panicked. And thinking I had no other option, I went to WA to stay with my mom.

My kids were already at their dad's after having said they wanted to live with him.   I think of how they must have felt when I went to Washington.  Abandoned, unloved, alone, afraid.  How their dad would have used that against me, "See your mom doesn't love you.  She doesn't care about you. She abandoned you. She left you and went to Washington."  Put pain and anguish and loss into their hearts.  I feel guilty thinking that by leaving I made them feel abandoned and unloved.  How much pain and loss and fear I put into their hearts.  Especially my daughter.  Only eleven years old and a mommy's girl.

I will be in WA again, soon. My sister and her family live there, too, just a few miles from my mother.  I will be there for both my niece's and my sister's birthdays.

I started thinking, when was the last time my daughter saw her cousin?  My daughter and I went to see my sister soon after she gave birth.  Just the two of us.  I have photos of my daughter holding her days-old baby cousin, cradling her carefully in her arms, beaming into the camera.  She was so excited to have a baby cousin, especially a girl cousin, being the only girl with brothers. My daughter was nine years old then.  I didn't know I had only two years left with her.

My daughter and I had driven from the Portland airport together  to her aunt's.  My sister lived in a remote part of southern Oregon.  It was about a five hour drive.  My daughter brought her enormous stuffed horse with her on the trip.  My sister had five horses that my daughter loved and got to ride when we visited.  My daughter's stuffed horse's name was Coco and she was a Bay.  On our long drive back to the airport, Coco became a TV newscaster horse.  She talked about all kinds of things as a TV newscaster.  She was also a weather reporter, and an interviewer, and she interviewed both my daughter and I.  This was the entertainment for much of our five hour drive.  My daughter as Coco was very engaging, funny and quirky.  We laughed and laughed.

During the time at my sister's, my daughter and I had gone to a nearby lake.  We brought a raft boat with oars, and a picnic lunch.  My daughter refused to help oar and instead demanded that I get us around to different parts of the lake.  So  I oared and if I wasn't going as fast as she ordered, I would get into the lake and push the boat kicking my feet wildly.  She enjoyed getting mommy to do her bidding.  On shore we feed bread to the ducks.  A large flock of happily quacking ducks gathered at our feet, but then geese came and scared the ducks away.   My daughter didn't want to give the mean geese any food.  I didn't either.  So we began throwing rocks into the lake as if they were bread, and giggled deviously as the geese dove down to get the 'food.'  My oldest son would have said that was not nice, and not respecting the geese's feelings.  But my daughter and I found it most humorous to trick the geese.

I found a bracelet she made for me today while starting to pack for my trip.  I know where all the things are that she made for me, but I try not to look at them because it always makes me cry.  She made the bracelet from a jewlery kit.  It is a black band, like a watch strap, and on it silver letters spell "MOM" with a heart on each side.

Monday, August 6, 2012

What Causes Parent Alienation?

Parent who alienate have serious unresolved personal issues.

"What causes a parent to want to damage the relationship of their own child with the other parent at their own child's expense? Intentions differ from one parent to the next, but psychologists have suggested the following as potential motivators:

* An alienating parent may have unresolved anger toward the other parent for perceived wrongs during the relationship and may be unable to separate those issues from parenting issues.
* An alienating parent may have unresolved issues from their childhood, particularly in how they related to their own parents, which he or she projects onto the other parent (whether or not it's factually accurate).
* An alienating parent may have a personality disorder, such as narcissism or paranoia, which makes him or her unable to empathize with the child's feelings or see the way their behavior is harming the child. Such personality disorders may also make the alienating parent more likely to be jealous of the other parent's adjustment to the breakup and cause the alienating parent to have extreme rage toward the other parent.
* An alienating parent may be so insecure as to his or her own parenting skills that he or she projects those concerns onto the other parent, regardless of reality.
* An alienating parent may be so wrapped up in their child's life that he or she has no separate identity and sees the child's relationship with the other parent as a threat.
* Sometimes new spouses or grandparents push the alienating parent into inappropriate behavior for their own inappropriate reasons, and the alienating parent isn't strong enough to resist them."

"Children do not naturally lose interest in and become distant from their nonresidential parent simply by virtue of the absence of that parent. Also, healthy and established parental relationships do not erode naturally of their own accord. They must be attacked."
-- Michael Bone and Michael Walsh, Florida Bar Journal, March 1999

Thursday, July 26, 2012

 I tell my husband stories about my kids constantly. They are happy, funny stories to me. Then I get sad. My husband says the memories keep my kids alive for me. He also says that I think if I am in pain I am maintaining a connection with them. I discount that comment a bit. He may be right. But this is a man who has never had children. How can you explain to someone who has never had kids that the umbilical cord is never fully cut?

The stories I tell him about my daughter I have told over and over. There is the story about how she named her kitten, Meow, when she was two years old, because, well, it said, "Meow." And how she named her parakeet, Chirp, (she was older when she got her bird) for the same reason. And that she named her puppy, Berlioz, after the kitten in the Aristocats. And her next parakeet, Leonard, she named after the barn kitty she loved at my dad's. And how she brought a baby chick home from school. A mom  brought a box of baby chicks to school after Easter to give away (and no, we did not live in the country.) 

I tell my husband how she named her chicken Drew, after the actress Drew Barrymore, and how she kept Drew in a box in her bedroom. How Drew as a chick, would ride around on her shoulder, and eat risotto out of a bowl at the dining room table. Soon Drew got big and moved into the garage. Then we noticed she was growing bright green tail feathers that seemed a bit colorful for an ordinary chicken.  Not that we knew much about chickens. And a large red comb on the top of her head. And started going cock-a doodle-do early in the morning. So my daughter's chick named Drew grew up to be a rooster. Unfortunately, in the suburbs they frown on roosters crowing in the morning. So the rooster my daughter named after Drew Barrymore had to go live on a farm.

We had many more animals because of my daughter and her love of them.  And one of my favorite stories is of my daughter naming her cat, Meow, and her bird, Chirp, and her dog after a cat, and her bird after a cat, and her rooster after an actress.

And who else am I going to tell the stories to?  If I was with my daughter we would probably tell each other.  When I was married to my ex-husband we would reminisce together over each stage of our children's lives. And when you are together as a family you have shared memories. 

Now I tell my husband.  Who has never had children.  He laughs.  He listens patiently.  He doesn't like to see me cry.  But he doesn't understand how my children grew in my womb and the roots are still there.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Reunification Therapy Dreams

My ex had said again he would take our daughter for reunification therapy with me. He had said that back around Christmas time to get me to sign for her I kept on him about it. But yet I am the mother who doesn't want to see her kids. Who doesn't care about them. The mother of a daughter who told the friend of a friend, "My mom doesn't love me, doesn't care about me." God, it is so hard to write those words . Nothing could be further from the truth. Not a day goes by that I don't think about my kids. I found a reunification therapist--which is hard to is a specialization and not a lot of therapist do it. I talked with her, told her I hadn't seen my daughter in five years, no it was not court-ordered currently (although it had been at the time of our separation and divorce), and that my ex had agreed he would take her--again. The therapist asked, "What makes you think he'll do it this time?" I said I really didn't think he would, but I had to try anyway. She discussed with me what she would do in the event that he did take her. She said she would first see my daughter alone, and that there was the chance my daughter would not want to see me, would not agree to have me come into therapy. I said that was ok, of course that's not what I wanted, but I wanted to get help for my daughter. She said she would need my ex's consent as well as mine to see my daughter because she was a minor. Could I get that consent from him or would I prefer that she talk to him. I said he would probably prefer to talk to her instead of me. We set up a several potential tentative appointment in order to give him many options. She then said that I could give her information to my ex-husband, and I also gave her his number. She said to tell him that if she didn't hear from him by Friday that she would call him. This was Wednesday. I texted my ex-husband all of the information that Wednesday afternoon. Within an hour he called the therapist. I had told her he would. I said he would love to talk to her so he could tell her all about me, how awful I was. She chuckled. She had been doing reunification therapy for quite a long time. He then set up an appointment with the therapist which were none of the dates I had offered. She called me after she had spoken with him. She told me she had stressed to him the importance of getting help for my daughter, even if the sessions did not include me, so that she could have some resolution with things. She also stressed how this could negatively impact all her future relationships. He did set up a date. I agreed to it. Also I would be paying for this therapy out of pocket. $200 a session. I really didn't (and don't) have the money, but I would figure out a way. (Since my divorce I have been broke.) I told the therapist any date he set was fine, I would show up. In desperation. Desperation just to look at my daughter. See her in person. See her walk by into the therapist's office. He soon canceled the appointment. He said our daughter had an orthodontist appointment. He told the therapist, not me. He said he would check with his daughter and see what dates were good for her. This took another week. He then set another date. Which in a day or so he canceled too. This time he said she had finals. She is a sophmore in high school. I didn't even know they had finals. The therapist then set another date with him. Each time she called me to let me know of the appointment and the subsequent cancellation. This next time he canceled he said she had honors classes that went late, something like that. I texted about a week later to tell him to pick any date and time that was good for him and I would be there. He did not respond for many days. I texted the same message again. About three days later I got a text stating, "We will not be going with____. You will have to pick another therapist that is closer." I texted back asking him where he would like the location to be. Again, no response. I waited awhile and texted again. A part of me was telling myself the whole time, don't get your hopes up, he is never going to take her. He is going to do his best to keep the kids away from you forever. Again, I called asking the location he preferred. I have actually called rather than texted many times. He does not answer and I don't know really why I try. I keep hoping if he answers I can talk sense into him, plead my case. And again a huge part of me says, talking to him will only make you feel crazy. On the off chance that he would answer, he would tell you how wrong you are, or be manipulative and try to make you believe he is so reasonable and the situation is all the kids' choice. I researched and found another reunification therapist a few miles from his house. She did not seem as experienced as the first one, but she was close. He texted back that he was on a business trip and would contact me when he returned. I was wondering, what business? As soon as we separated he began taking 'business trips' all the time. I suppose it's possible, but last I knew he was a trash man. With a weapons business on the side. Yes, weapons. He is a licensed FFL gun dealer. That is why when we separated and he threatened to kill me, people were actually afraid. He had, locked in a gun safe, about 25 guns. Anyway, no call after this 'business' trip. And I don't expect there will be one. I suppose I have false hope. He will take her to therapy. She will suddenly want me in her life. She will not feel she is betraying her father. The years of brainwashing will be erased from her mind. But no call. Just canceled appointments. The knife twisted in the wound.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Another Un-Mother's Day...some hope

Another Mother's Day came and went. Without a word from my kids. I've come to dread Mother's Day. Just like I dread every holiday now. Including my children's birthdays. Because I know I will feel sad, I will be depressed. I will feel even more empty inside. The emptiness will seem as deep and ravaging as though someone I loved dearly had just died. And that is how I felt every day at first. Now it has lessened. These days there may be few hours that pass when I don't think about my kids. But still my children are always there..on my aching in my heart. And I'M SICK of hearing myself talk about this subject. Yes, I don't have my kids. I haven't seen them in five years. Now my sons are 19 and 21. Poor me, poor me. I am the broken record player, the needle stuck in the same groove...on and on...nothing changes...I am on repeat, over and over. I haven't wanted to write on this blog for a while because nearly every time I do, I cry. I hate to think about the situation. I feel the absence of the missed years with my kids. I am stuck in 2007. My children are still 11, 14 and 16 to me. And I still feel as though I am bound and caged, powerless to help them. I can see them from my jail cell, and I stick my hands through the bars but I cannot reach them. I watch them being hurt and abused and I struggle against the bars but I am powerless to help them. I have been crippled from doing my job as their mother. I now know I will live no matter how much pain this has caused me or continues to cause me. I guess that is the hope. And I can convey that to others. I spoke with a grandmother the other day. Her daughter is in a similar situation to mine. Her daughter's ex-husband sounds very similar to mine. The grandmother misses her grandson terribly, worries about him. He is ten, almost eleven. (The age my daughter was when I saw her last.) It has been eight months since she's seen her grandson. Part of me wanted to say, "Eight months?! That's nothing! Try five years!" Of course, I didn't. I told her she wasn't alone. I told her I felt for her pain. I wanted to tell her to have hope that she'll see him again...but I didn't. I don't know if she will. When at first I didn't see my kids for a few weeks it was agonizing. I kept praying, any day now, I'll see them. I'll talk to them. It didn't happen. Weeks became months. Months became a year. A year became five years. And I know for a teenager, five years is a lifetime. So the only hope I could give her was the small hope I have. That the pain will lessen with time.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Parental Alienation Support shared a link. Monday April 25 is Parental Alienation Awareness Day These are characteristics of an alienated child. 1Like · · Share 2 people like this. Parental Alienation Support ‎"I am a psychotherapist who has treated families affected by parental alienation for many years in King of Prussia, PA. I also am a woman. I also am a mom. I also am a targeted parent. There are as many mothers as fathers who come to me with lives profoundly scarred by this terrible form of psychological child abuse. Women are equally as vulnerable as men and deserve our support and understanding. " The article offers a lot of informed responses to misinformation-- evidenced by comments that stem from the tender years presumption. Monday at 11:27pm ·

Monday, March 5, 2012

So I'm a Crack-Head

I have found out I am a crack addict. Not really. That is what my ex-husband and his wife tell people. Turns out my ex's new wife is good friends with an aquaintace of mine, who is friends with some of my good friends. Small world, yes, indeed. So apparently the story is that I am a crack-head loser who doesn't care about her children and is unsafe for them to be around. I am crazy. I left my kids for a drug addict loser boyfriend. So goes the story. My first thought to that was, if I was on crack wouldn't I at least be skinny? (I am not in the least skinny. More on the chubby side. And I look like a mom.) I'm wondering why my ex didn't pick a more likely drug I might possibly do if he's going to make me a drug addict. Like pot. People like to eat when they're stoned, right? And no, this isn't funny, it's outrageous. Especially since I've been sober 23 years. I was sober when I met my ex. I don't drink, I don't do drugs. My daughter has spent time with this acquaintance. My daughter told her, "My mom doesn't love me. My mom doesn't care about me." It breaks my heart. That is what she has been told. She's been brainwashed all these years and she believes it. The new wife has been told that I am crazy, I am unsafe, I will harm her and the kids. She believes it. My ex is very convincing. I know. I believed him. His new wife is only 26. He is 47. I don't understand marrying someone so much older than yourself who has kids who are closer to your age than your spouse is. Our oldest son is 21, our middle 18, our daughter 15. The new wife would be more appropriate for my sons to date. And she is raising them. I have heard my middle son moved out and hates the world. I don't blame him for hating the world. I would too. Sometimes I do now. I try not to hate my ex-husband. Mostly, I don't. But when I found out he tells everyone I am a crack-head loser who doesn't care about her kids and is out of the picture by choice, I felt hate. Hate that he would do that to our kids. Especially our daughter.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I still don't know how it is possible. I still say to myself constantly, How? Why? Why? I never wanted the kid's dad out of their lives. Ever. I never would have even tried. Why?

I think about what I did do. What is it? I search and grasp, trying to understand. I try to put myself in my ex-husband's place. What would make him want to cut me out of our children's lives? Why would he want to raise them himself? He said to his attorney that our daughter went through withdrawals from me. In the beginning. In the first six months he said she went through withdrawals. His attorney told my attorney. My daughter was only eleven. Why would he want to deal with that? Why would he want to put my daughter through that? I couldn't imagine wanting to go through that. I would be calling the kids' dad. I have tried to imagine what would be going on in his mind, in his soul, to make him act that way. I can't.

Then I imagine the kids. Why would they be so mad at me they don't want to speak to me? Why would they hate me? That is easier to see. I had an affair. I cheated on their father and then asked him to move out of our home. Shortly after that, I moved my boyfriend into our home. Then a few months later I put our house on the market and moved to Washington. And abandoned them. That is how they would see it. That is how their dad would tell it to them. And that would make perfect sense why they would hate me. Be so angry at me. An anger that would keep growing.

One of the therapists I was able to speak with in the beginning, that my ex did take the kids to a few times when I was supposed to have reunification therapy with them, told me the kids asked why I couldn't just get an apartment and a job like other divorced moms.

I didn't see. And they didn't see.
Why couldn't I just get a job like other divorced moms?

I was a stay at home mom for seventeen years. I had no job skills to speak of. I was afraid. My attorney told me not to work until the divorce was final. She thought I would get spousal. And since we assumed the kids would live primarily with me--child support. I didn't think I could take care of myself let alone my children. My ex-husband did everything financially. Paid all the bills, handled all the accounts. Then he cut off my access to the accounts. He emptied the bank accounts and did not give me any money. He stopped paying the mortgage. I sold everything I could sell. And the bills kept coming.

I don't understand the why and how myself. I'm sure the kids don't understand. I don't.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Passport to Europe

My ex contacted me two days after Christmas. I have had no contact with him for a year and a half. He texted that our daughter was going to Europe in February and, "she needs you to sign the form for her passport. Please choose a notary that is convenient for you so I can drop it off for you to sign." Just that. No, "Hi, how are you? The kids are well." No, "Gee, we'd really like you to do this."

He needed me to sign the form because she is a minor and I still have legal custody. That's all the text was. No explanation about the trip to Europe. No aside about how the kids were doing. Nothing. My first thought was now he needed something from me. Never has he responded when I've asked about the kids...except on the rare occasion I've mentioned going back to court over custody issues. Then he's responded to threaten me. In a year and a half all I get is this one text. An order. Do this now. On his command. My next thought was, if he wants something from me can't he at least ask nice? I texted back, "We will probably need to discuss this trip." I'm thinking, if I am going to sign for my daughter to get a passport to go to Europe, I would like to know something about the conditions under which she is going. I am her mother after all.

My ex has always made commands. He texted, "This is the only thing your daughter has ever asked of you." I responded that it wasn't her asking it of me, it was him asking it of me.

I then received a text from a different number, "This is the least you can do. I do not wish to speak to you. And I would appreciate it if you would sign the form for my passport so I can even go. So please give me the name and address of a place I can take the form to." I texted back to ask if it was my ex-husband. I got a text back from the new number, "No."

I called the number to make sure the message had come from her phone. I haven't had the kids' numbers for a long time. I really hoped she would answer, but I was very nervous. What do you say in all that time? There is uneasiness, hostility, ugliness. She has written, "I do not wish to speak to you." It was her voice on the message. I still recognized her voice, mannerisms in her speech. She sounded sweet, and a little flippant. I left a message saying, "Hi, this is your mom. It is nice to get to hear your voice. I am excited for you to go to Europe, and I am happy to sign the form for you to get your passport. I would just like to know a little more about the trip. I love you and I miss you very much." She soon texted, "Are you going to help me or continue to hold it over my head?"

This is my child. The daughter I have not spoken to in four and a half years. She has gone from a child to a young woman. The daughter who has grown over a foot since I've laid eyes on her. My child.

Because I am her mother and I share legal custody they needed my signature for her to get a passport. I would've have liked to have used that signature to my advantage. I said we could meet in person and I could sign it. I wrote that to both her and her dad. She said she would take that as a no, and my ex said never mind. I wrote that I had never said I wouldn't sign it. I said I was happy to. My ex wrote, "Great. I think this'll be a big step in getting you two back together. I'll even set up reunification therapy when she gets back from Europe." My stomach flipped, a surge of joy ran through me. And my head said, "Don't believe it." How often had he dangled that carrot before? He dangled carrots all through our divorce, pretending to be reasonable, agreeing to do things he never did, or that he did the exact opposite of, signed court orders he then defied. He'd actually dangled carrots in front of me our entire marriage, and then snatched them away as soon as I got close enough to take a bite.

I ended up asking him to send me the information of where to to go to sign the paper. I would do it for my daughter. I did not want to give her father any more ammunition to use to poison her against me. I hope she is safe. I hope she has a wonderful time.