Looking forward to court on the 24th

January 4th, 2013

I am actually looking forward to court later this month. Last month, I was startled to discover that my ex’s lies were being used by his attorney as their legal strategy! Maybe they’re thinking that, because we now have a new judge (the previous judge having retired), they can make claims that won’t be checked.

Thankfully, my court reporter became ill. Not that I wish her any harm, but it cut things short, giving me time to realize what was going on. (Yes, I actually stuck to my guns and insisted on my right to have a reporter present, despite my ex’s attorney hammering on my supposed “craziness” for wanting to document what he and my ex say.)

My ex begged off coming to court this month, on the grounds that it was a “hardship” for him to come because he’d have to leave his job that he’d “just started…yesterday”, being December nineteenth. But he’d told others about it on the fifth of December, and he sent me a letter, dated the nineteenth but postmarked the twenty-first, saying that he’d started on the seventeenth — a Monday, which makes much more sense. Then he sent me an e-mail this month, claiming that he’d lost the job on the twenty-sixth. Riiiiiiiiight.

Back to the “strategy”: My ex’s attorney is actually claiming that, as part of the divorce settlement, I agreed to “forgive” my ex’s tens of thousands of dollars in withheld child support in return for his “forgiving” me the hundreds of thousands (or millions; it depends when you ask them) that I’d owed him under the court order of March 27, 2009.

Unfortunately for them, I have a legible copy of that order. And in one of my ex’s rambling “she a bitch-whore from the pits of hell” screeds, he specified that the 2009 order is the one they mean when they claim that I owed the ex any portion of the income from my business (that they claim the previous judge had declared was a partnership).

I have little idea what I’m doing in court, but I have to say that, with the help of a program I found online (and these years of experience), I’m actually doing better now without an attorney than I ever did with one. How shameful is that?

Learning the wrong lesson

November 6th, 2012

Last night, while driving home in the dark, my son twice had near misses. He’s still learning how to drive, but he’d been warned against his “technique” in each instance.

His conclusion seems to have been that he’ll “never” drive after dark. I’m hoping, once he’s calmed down a bit, that he re-thinks that, and concludes instead that maybe he just needs to start listening to his old mom a little better. Sure, my eyesight is poor and I don’t have depth perception, but I’ve been driving without any at-fault accidents for years. (My last the-other-guy-was-at-fault accident was more than twenty years ago.)

It’s just possible that I have something positive to contribute to his learning experiences.

I won!

October 9th, 2012

My ex has refused to return my non-marital property, despite his own attorney having written the order giving him a deadline of 01 June 2012. He’s even rebuffed all my attempts to retrieve my stuff. Then he started billing me “storage fees” for the stuff he wouldn’t let me get. Then he threatened to sell whatever of my stuff is left, but keep billing me for storage fees.

Yeah.

Anyway, I’d been working on a Motion to Show Cause (why he shouldn’t be held in contempt for keeping my stuff) when I realized that I was about out of time (on his arbitrary and unilateral schedule) for ransoming my things. So I did an emergency hearing at the court, asking the judge for a temporary restraining order preventing the ex from selling or otherwise disposing of my property.

I didn’t get the TRO, but I did get an order saying that the ex must let me come over, must let me in, must let my guys (whoever they turn out to be) move the furniture, and must not interfere. The local police will be allowed to walk me through while I attempt to find the rest of my stuff (like my employment and tax records).

So I didn’t get what I’d asked for, but I was still heard, and I got what I needed. Thank you, all who have prayed for and supported me! Thank you, God! Yay!

He’s driving!

September 12th, 2012

My son started school (eleventh grade) on August twenty-third, a Thursday. On Friday, he brought home paperwork for the DMV (“Department of Motor Vehicles”) related to his drivers-education course. So I took him to the DMV to get the paperwork completed.

Next thing I knew, he was sitting for his written test. Obviously, he hadn’t studied for it. But the little snot got a perfect score! Worse still, he remembered that, five and a half years earlier, I’d reversed two of the road signs on the mix-n-match section of the test, so I’d gotten two questions wrong when I’d tested. He can’t remember to clean his room, but that he remembered. The whole way from the testing area to the cashier, he was dancing next to me, poking fingers at me, and singing, “I did better’n you did! I did better’n you did!” He’d gotten his beginner’s driving permit!

But he didn’t want to drive my car, because it has no brake on the passenger side that would enable me to stop him before he hurt himself. Last Thursday, though, I insisted. He was quite certain that we’d die, but I explained to him that the only “hard” part of the drive was getting out of our apartment complex, where he’d have to turn left across traffic. But there’s a left-turn lane in the middle, and he’d seen me many times pull into that, so he knew he’d only “have” to cross half of the road at once.

I was concerned that he might misjudge his position and not pull completely out of the way of traffic, but the informal driving he’d done with me over the last few years, plus the two drivers-ed classes he’d had, combined to allow him to pull neatly into the center left-turn lane. Granted, he took forever waiting until the gap in traffic was big enough for him to brave the turn, but he finally did it.

After that, all he had to do was wait for another gap, pull into traffic going his way, and stay in that lane until he reached his turn for his martial-arts class, where the intersection had a turn arrow. And he did great!

This week, he drove from his school to his therapist, which involved two lane changes and two left-turn arrows, and he did just fine for that, too. I’m so proud of him!

Control Patterns (1)

September 7th, 2012

Control pattern: I believe most other people are incapable of taking care of themselves.

I would never have stated this explicitly, and I don’t think I ever thought this, at least not that I was aware of. But when so much of one’s life is spent in cleaning up after other people, is there any more-likely conclusion for one to draw? No matter how clearly a problem was not my fault during my childhood and much of my marriage, it was always still somehow “my fault”. Of course I came to act as though I believed others were incapable of caring for themselves: that assumption — that they required me to take care of all of their problems — was the foundation of so much of my intimate relationships. How could I have thought otherwise of my parents or my husband?

In the context of Borderline Peronality Disorder, this may be characterised as being “clingy” or of having unstable relationships.

I can remember one time, when I was a teenage, my parents rented me out to one of their church friends. I can’t remember what the friends needed me for, and I have no idea why my parents consented to letting me out of their sight (and thus their immediate control), but the weekend involved travel out of state and visiting one of the friends’ families.

The trip was over and they were taking me back home. When we were almost there, we had to stop; a tree had fallen across the road. They weren’t sure what to do; this was the boondocks and was well before the era of cellphones. But then we noticed that the car stuck in the road in front of us was my father’s. So we all hopped out and, while they chatted happily with my father, I climbed into the back seat of his car.

Where I found my sister looking anxious. Before our father got into the car, she had just enough time to whisper that we were in big trouble.

It was months, maybe a couple of years, before I found out what had happened. That’s another story for another time. The point is that I was “in big trouble” for something that had not involved me. I hadn’t even been in the same state! But somehow it was my fault, what other people had done and said, and I had to bear the responsibility.

So, yeah, I developed the habit of viewing people as incapable. I’m hoping that, with time, intelligence, and determination, I can learn to view people as just people. We each have our strengths and our weaknesses, and other peoples’ lives are neither my fault, my responsibility, nor my shame.

Low Self-Esteem Patterns (1)

September 5th, 2012

Low Self-Esteem Pattern: I  have difficulty making decisions.

For most of my life, my opinion didn’t matter. Heck, the facts, if I were the one presenting them, didn’t matter. I didn’t matter. My attempts to say anything, on my own behalf or otherwise, met with disapproval at best, reprisals at worst. Is it any wonder that I learned to doubt myself?

But it is worse than that. I learned how not to make decisions at all, how not even to have opinions at all. When one is not allowed an independent existence, when attempts at such are punished as representing “betrayal”, then one tends not to have much “sense of self”. When everything “wrong” is somehow “your fault”, will you dare take the risk of being seen to make a decision, to have an opinion? Of course not! For one’s own safety’s sake, one learns not to think, not to care, not to decide. One only watches. One is ever-watchful for any sign, any hint of what one is “supposed” to think, feel, believe, want.

In terms of Borderline Personality Disorder, this might be characterised as “intense attachment” or a lack of a “sense of self”.

A friend of mine has, for many years, been in quite a few different Twelve-Step programs. He recommended that I try something similar. I’d tried Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA) some years earlier, but hadn’t been ready for it. And I’d been trying therapy, and still couldn’t get past the “give yourself a break” and “give yourself permission” stage. I didn’t “get” to give myself permission. I’d lived nearly five decades being required to get permission from outside sources. What outside source had the authority to overrule that, and give me the permission to give myself that authority?

Yes, it’s very messy inside my head.

In the context of CoDA, I couldn’t get past the “turning my life over to” any sort of “Higher Power”, because that just meant more of the same: obeying people who, in the name of God, told me to do things that hurt myself and others.

This friend asked me if I really thought God wanted me to hurt myself and others. Did I really think that God wanted me to do things, for instance, that profited (literally, in monetary terms) my ex-husband but (emotionally and monetarily) harmed my child? No, I didn’t. So maybe it was time to let go of that idea of “God”, and instead accept the idea of a god that wanted me to do good things, both for myself and others.

And that God did “give me permission” to “give myself a break”. That was what I needed to get over that hump, and learn to start exploring making decisions for myself.

Thank you, Jade!

Denial patterns (1)

September 5th, 2012

Denial pattern: I have difficulty identifying what I am feeling.

My therapist could attest to this one. He has often asked me things like, “How do you feel about that?”, and I’ve honestly had no clue. Other times, I’d been feeling intensely about something, but had no idea how to describe it. Nearly all the time, I “minimize” or hedge. For instance, I’d never be “angry”; instead, I might be “perturbed” or “unsettled” or “displeased”.

Within the context of Borderline Personality Disorder, this characteristic might be referred to as a mood disorder or as an inadequate sense of self.

Throughout my childhood and much of my marriage, I was required not to feel how I really felt. I was told that my (normal) reactions and feelings were wrong somehow, and was often told how I “really” felt or how I “should” feel. After decades of covering, hiding, squelching, and numbing myself, being allowed at best only to hint at what I meant, I finally reached the point of being very much “out of touch” with myself, sincerely having no idea what I might have been feeling in that instant before I’d managed to supress.

While I still believe that we shouldn’t be run by our emotions, I also now believe that we have emotions for a reason. They serve a purpose. If nothing else, they provide additional data. If I’m feeling happy about something, this doesn’t necessarily “make” the thing “okay”, but it could indicate that I’m feeling invested in the thing and am thus deriving pleasure, on more than just an intellectual level, in the success of the thing. If I’m feeling angry about something, this doesn’t necessarily “make” the thing (or me) “bad”, but it could point out that I’m trying (by force of habit) to ignore something that I shouldn’t, or that something is attacking me and I need to start defending myself. (Whether or not it’s acceptable to protect myself is another issue for another day.)

A very kind lady told me many times that I needed to learn how to “feel your feelings”, which made no sense at the time, but she worked hard at explaining. Her first rule was to use basal terms for my feelings. I’m not “perturbed”; I’m not “unsettled”; I’m not “distressed”. No, I’m “angry”, “scared”, or “sad”

As silly as that may sound, just the fact of naming my emotions with such bald terms was enlightening (though scary) and eventually freeing. After decades of being required to minimize and hedge and hide and cover, I was saying, explicitly and with no “shading”, how I felt. And I wasn’t struck by lightning; the world didn’t come to an end; people didn’t hate me; I didn’t become evil. It was okay.

Learning — from experience — that it was acceptable and safe to feel these things, and also to acknowledge feeling them, was one big step in my early recovery. Peggy, wherever you are: Thank you!

Standing up for myself

July 30th, 2012

For three and a half years, I listened to attorneys who told me that I didn’t make enough money to get better representation or better deals, who warned me that I’d better do whatever my husband said (under the “friendly parent” doctrine) or I’d never see my son again, who told me to trust that they were advocating for me regardless of the results.

Leaving aside the facts of that situation, it looks like I’ll do okay representing myself, now that the divorce is (ha, ha) “over”.

My ex refused to comply with the court order’s rules, etc, for providing health-insurance coverage for our child. I waited as long as I dared, after making all the efforts that I could think of to obtain coverage on my own, and then went to court with my motion for an emergency hearing.

My motion wasn’t “perfect” and I wasn’t “supposed” to be allowed to file it, but I was. There was “no way” the judge would hear me today, but he did. My motion was, in the end, stricken, but this was because the ex claimed (amidst various documented falsehoods and a little slander thrown in for good measure) that he had provided insurance two weeks previous, and had provided notification well in advance of (actually, about an hour after) my having filed for relief.

The “coverage” he crowed about is only good for three and a half weeks, of which two are already spent. But my motion is now part of the official record. When (not “if”) I have to go back to court, I’ll have started the record of his obstructionism, laying a foundation, I hope, for increased assistance at some point.

The judge seemed very nice. He’s new; I hope I draw him again.

They lied again

July 18th, 2012

Well, I hadn’t meant to misrepresent the situation, but I hadn’t known that my ex-husband and his current partner had lied again. Rather than getting married on her brother’s birthday, they’re saying now that they’d gotten married nearly three weeks earlier.

Why do they lie about everything? I didn’t even care, other than that he was getting married (because her income helps my case in court). What kind of mind-set reflexively lies, even when there is absolutely no point?

Supervising my love-life

July 15th, 2012

From time to time during the course of the divorce, my (now ex-) husband would make weird references to my “sharing [my time] with somebody special”. But during his deposition of me, he made clear that he planned to attack me during the trial for being some kind of child-abusing slut for having started dating somebody more than three years after he locked me out of the house.

He’s getting married in two weeks.