Category Archives: 2009- Fighting For My Children

Delusional

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“Delusional” – It’s one of those words that is thrown around and overused.  I am the first to admit that I am guilty of that.

The true definition of Delusion is as follows:  A delusion is a false belief held with absolute conviction despite superior evidence. He was convinced that I was sleeping with every male that I encountered.  He believed it.   It was the furthest thing from the truth.

It’s still ironic to me that he agreed to the divorce in the beginning but when he realized that I was moving on– he lost his mind.  In his mind, I was a possession.  He owned me.  How could I NOT be throwing myself at his feet and begging to work it out.  He felt rejected.  That was not a feeling that he could handle because in his mind, he is superior.

In April of 2009, and a local wedding coordinator had bought me a gift basket for being a part of the wedding party.  It contained lotions and body sprays.  At that time, we were co-existing on the weekends yet we were separated.  He made a snide comment about “men already buying (me) gifts” to which I explained the true story to no avail.  He believed the story that he created.  He was convinced that a man had bought me a gift and there was no way that I could change the story in his head.

In June of 2009, I started dating.  I didn’t go into it with the intention of dating– I was looking for new friendships outside of my circle.  This was the first “date” that I had been on in over nine years– it was an innocent cup of coffee at 9am.  It turned into another innocent cup of coffee again at 1pm that same day.  Two-plus years later– it is the most solid friendship that I’ve ever had.  There have been lots of cups of coffee since then– lots of love and mutual respect.  I was successful in my initial quest for friendships but there was a bonus– I gained the most healthy, loving relationship that I’ve ever had.  Since the day we separated, this the only person that I have been with.

In his mind— I have been with 190 men in 42 days or less.  The scary part– he really believes this.  He wanted the courts to believe that I was starting the equivalent of the Red Light District in my neighborhood.  On one occasion, I went to a concert with a girlfriend.  At that concert, we saw a male friend.  We posed for a photo with him.  The entire interaction was less than five minutes in length yet he was sure I was having an affair with this person.  He told everyone that would listen about this affair.

Another day, I was wine tasting with friends and there was a group photo taken.  According to him, I was having an affair with someone in the group yet we’ve never even shaken hands.  Months later, I was at another concert– another affair.  I’m sure that the male bank teller at my financial institution was on the same list…along with the man who I passed on the freeway at 70mph and the one who I bought broccoli from at the local Farmer’s Market.

There was an email that he blasted to people in the community titled, “Three men in three months“.  In this email, he played the victim– the man who’s wife had been having numerous affairs with three men over three months.  He put pictures of the men in the email and his aunt’s handwriting narrated a story that they had concocted.  It was surreal– like I was living a bad dream.  It was humiliating and I couldn’t stop it.  People would approach me and tell me that they encountered him drunk in a bar– rambling and crazy.  Everywhere I went– more stories.

It got so bad that I started hearing about these delusions from notable people in the community.  The attorney who offered to review my court paperwork personally received a phone message from my ex-husband stating that I was going to start throwing myself at him sexually in exchange for his free services.  The owner of a local car dealership who kindly helped me with a car purchase– he received a message from my ex stating the same thing.  He was actively trying to “ruin me” in the community and while truly believing the delusional stories in his head.

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Disneyland is not always the Happiest Place on Earth

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November 7th, 8th and 9th, 2009– His weekend was November 7th and 8th– he informed me that he was taking the girls to Disneyland.  It was always difficult to drop them off with him — even harder when I knew they were leaving the county.

The girls returned from the weekend and I dropped them off at school as usual on Monday morning.  At 3:20pm, I arrived at the school for pick up and was stopped by one of the preschool teachers.  They were concerned about a picture that my oldest daughter drew that day.  I arrived at her classroom to talk to her teacher.  She brought out a picture that depicted both girls and their father at Disneyland.  In the picture, she was crying and under the picture, she wrote: “Im fileeg sad so I want to call my mommy”.

The teacher said that she wrote this on her own and they probed her about the meaning.  She didn’t seem to want to talk about it.  All she said was that she was sad at Disneyland and wanted to talk to her mommy.  The teacher explained to her that they  loved her and that she was safe at school.  They encouraged her to talk about anything that was bothering her.   She did not elaborate on the issue so they did not push her.

At dinner that night, my youngest daughter said, “Daddy hurt (Daughter #1)  at the cookie shop”.  I turned to her and asked her what happened…this was our conversation which I documented:

“I hit (my sister) and daddy was angry at me”.

Me: How do you know that Daddy was angry at you?

Because he squeezed my wrist really, really hard and make me cry a lot.

Me: Can you show me how daddy squeezed your wrist?

(At this point she took my arm and squeezes as hard as she could while making a mean, distorted face).

Me: Ouch.  That hurt.  Did it hurt a lot or a little when Daddy squeezed your arm?

It hurt a lot –like when daddy squeezed me at the Hillcrest house.

…..

I was confident that this would have a huge impact on the Parenting Evaluation.  The school kept a copy of the picture.  I also copied the picture that she drew and filed it with Family Court Services.

Again…I was hopeful that they would be able to stop the damage being done to my daughters.

My Tiny Apartment

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October 15, 2009- With the help of a friend, I found a tiny little apartment for the girls and I.  Keyword: Tiny.  It was upstairs and in my mind, that meant there were no opportunities for him to be hiding outside and peaking into my windows.  It was old and it was tiny but it felt safe.  I told myself that it was temporary and I could make it work.

If I sat and thought about it too much then I got depressed.  I felt like I was regressing in life.  One year prior I was in a 4,000 square foot house and now….my entire apartment was the size of my old kitchen.    Sometimes I questioned God– what did I do to deserve this?  I just didn’t understand.  I was a good person.  I helped those in need.  I loved and I cared about those around me.  Why was this happening?  Hellooooo, God!  It’s little old me and I’ve had enough.

I always try to find the positive in every situation.  Since he stripped my house bare, I didn’t have a lot of “stuff” to move— (this one was really a stretch and I am half- joking).  Gotta keep my humor.

Manpower: Glenn and two of my good friends arrived bright and early on moving day and successfully moved us into our new home.  Even though it was small– it was mine.  I did it without help from him and it felt empowering.  It was the first step forward into my new life.       

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Creating a home: Someone from my church gave me a bed since “he” had taken my bedroom set.  I couldn’t bring myself to sleep on the toddler bed that he so graciously bought me.  We didn’t have a kitchen table so we got creative for a while.  We ordered pizza more often than I’d like to admit…there’s something to be said about sitting on the floor and eating a pizza.  It’s not so bad, you should try it sometime.  We used a small table from Ikea and explored the art of Japanese-style dining– cross legged on cushions.  The girls thought it was fun so that was good enough for me.

I knew it was temporary and my goal was to move within a year.  When I set my mind to something- I make it happen.  That goal and mindset helped me to be at peace with our temporary home.  We had a roof over our heads, food on our table…err…I mean, floor and we were healthy.

A Glimmer of Hope

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October 14, 2009- Court: the first of many to come.  The anxiety leading up to the day.  I remember the drive to court– stomach in my throat.  A nervous feeling like I’ve never experienced before.  The anticipation of a man on a bench– hearing 20 minutes of our “story” and making a decision that affects the lives of my daughters.  It was almost to much to bear.

I sat in the courtroom and watched case after case.  Accusations all the way around– drugs, abuse, etc.  By the time we took our places and were sworn in– I felt like the odds were against me.  By all outward appearances– he looked normal.  He looked healthy.  On paper– he looked like the star father.  He dressed the part- he was educated.  He was in sales.  I was fighting a battle with someone who was detrimental to my daughters (my opinion) yet he looked and played the part of a great father.

We had been ordered to attend a mediation session through Family Court Services.  We met with the mediator and he came into the room manic and acting crazed.  She quickly realized that having us together left me a trembling, shaking mess and was unproductive.  She asked me to wait in the waiting room while she met with him first.  They spend about 45 minutes together before she called me in.

She didn’t ask me any questions– she knew from talking to him that there were issues.  He obviously said or did something to cause her concern.  I sat down and she stated the following: “I am going to recommend a psych evaluation.  The courts can’t order him to take it but it will serve as a ‘red flag’ to the judge.  I will walk you back to the waiting room– take a seat and I will call him back in.  After I take him in the room– go home”.  I could tell that she was concerned for my safety as well.  I had a glimmer of hope– if she saw through him in 45 minutes then surely the courts would also.

We went back into the court and the judge ordered a full parenting evaluation– to address concerns of anger and parenting in general.  He actually told him to get a handle on his anger in the courtroom.  We had 30 days to report to Family Court Services and complete the necessary paperwork to start the process.  I was told that this would be a full evaluation– by a social worker.  This person would interview everyone who knew us as parents– the preschool teachers, nannies, babysitters, friends and people who could testify to our parenting.  I was hopeful– finally…someone would see the issues– notate the concerns– dive into the anger issues, the stalking and the parenting issues.

In the meantime, his visitation remained the same– every other weekend.

I filed my paperwork.  I waited.  I called their offices weekly– he wasn’t complying with orders.  Month after month went by– court was in February.  November…December…January….no attempt on his part to follow through.

This has to be a sign to the court- or so I hoped.

Not in front of the Children

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 Saturday October 10, 2009- I took the girls to meet him at Starbucks – our normal pick up location.

As I got out of the car and started to help the girls out of their car seats, he handed me a piece of paper.  The paper detailed a new visitation schedule he was proposing which was centered around his triathlon/marathon training schedule.  I briefly looked the paper over and told him that I was not going to sign the document.  I told him that we could address this situation in court on Wednesday.  He looked at me and said, “You are an idiot”.  My response, “this is inappropriate in front of the children”.

As I continued to remove the car seats and children’s items from the car, he said, “You are a pathetic human being”.  At this point, my daughter started to cry and repeat that she did not want me to go.  She became hysterical and I took her over to a bench to comfort her and talk to her.  She said to me, “I don’t like it when Daddy is mean to you and I don’t want you to leave”.  He said, “Tina- this is divorce and THIS is your fault”.  I replied,  “Divorce does NOT need to be this way.  You are causing this situation in front of the children.  Please stop”.

My daughter continued crying for about 10 minutes repeating over and over that she didn’t want me to leave.  After 10 minutes, I explained to her that I would see her first thing tomorrow morning.  I gave her a hug and turned her over to him — she cried for me over and over as I walked away.   My heart was breaking with every step that I took.

As I drove out of the parking lot, tears streaming down my face– I received a phone call from my friend who was driving behind me and witnessed the entire episode.  We drove to a side street, got out and hugged in the middle of the street.  She felt my pain and I feel that God put her there at the moment I needed a hug the most.

A Few Very Dark Days…

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August 29, 2009 6:30am- I made the call to the Women’s Shelter.  I drove my pink-pajama clad little girls (ages 2.5 and 4.5) to a local parking lot to meet an intake volunteer.  We then followed her car to the shelter- a hidden residence where we would be safe.

Have you ever “almost” been involved in a car accident that leaves your legs shaking so badly that you can barely keep your foot on the gas pedal?  My leg was shaking so badly as I drove my car to the shelter that I could barely drive.  I vividly remember that my teeth were actually chattering due to my nerves.

How did my life come to this?  I thought I was making the right choices.  I got married to someone who appeared stable and successful by every sense of the word.  He was smart– he went to a good college– his parents had been married for 30 years.  What was happening?  Nine months ago I was living in a brand new, 4,000 square foot home in a gated community.  Today, I was taking my children to check into a shelter.

Shelter.  That is what I’ve tried to do for my daughters.  I’ve tried to shelter them since our world started crumbling.  I could barely look at them through the rear view mirror as I drove my car across town.  I was trying to keep them safe but I felt like I was failing them as a mom.  “Where are we going?”, I heard a little voice ask from the backseat.  “We are going to a hotel for a few days…we are going to a special hotel…a Women’s Hotel.  It’s going to be like having a slumber party with other moms and their children”…I answered through my tears.

We were taken to our room– it was actually a little house away from the main house.  We had privacy– we needed to go into the main house to use the kitchen but had our own space which I was grateful for.  Three little twin beds…I remember the girls jumping on the beds and giggling.  They thought we were on vacation.  There was a little playground…and a handful of mothers with their children.  I felt alone- like I didn’t belong here.  A million thoughts going through my head (why, how….I was a good person….why was this all happening to me?!).

These were the darkest two days of my life.  I would have paid a million dollars for a hug.  I wanted my Aunt…my dad…my sister…my friends…Glenn.  Anyone.  I cried during the day- and sobbed during the night.  I was overwhelmed.  I had a million court documents to prepare since he had stolen everything I’d been working on.  I worked late into the night and I put everything I had into those documents.

September 1, 2009- The Judge awarded me “exclusive use of the home” barring him from entering the house.  Prior to that, the police had told me that they couldn’t keep him out.  Now I had a court order, a hammer and mace.  I checked out of the shelter and went home with a false sense of security.

September 2, 2009- I took my laptop and went to a local coffee shop.  He entered my home while I was away.  I called the police- they came and took a report.  They called him and told him that they would arrest him if he came onto the property.

I was devastated.

He was above the Judge and he was above the law– he has no regard for either.

My sense of security was gone.

The Women’s Shelter

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August 28, 2009- I couldn’t go home.  I was terrified.  I wasn’t afraid that he would hit me– he had never even raised a hand towards any of us.  I was afraid he would kill me.

This was a Friday night.  The Friday night that I was supposed to leave the girls with him for the weekend.  I no longer saw that as an option.  We stayed with friends again and I notified him by email that we would not be home.  He drove to the house anyway.

I received a phone call at 10pm –duration 2 minutes and 7 seconds. 

He was angry and clearly drunk.  Threatening to “wreck” me in the community.  Threatening to email 3,000 local business owners to tell them what a slut I was.  Stating that my daughters needed a life without my influence (I don’t have a college degree…he has a BS in Physiology/Cell Biology…therefore, I am a disgrace…essentially worthless).  He closed the message by saying, “8am tomorrow…have my daughters here or you are DONE”.

August 29, 2009

2:16 am another voicemail came through–duration 1 minute 48 seconds.

Angrier and more intoxicated.  Rambling that he will wreck me in the community.  “there is karma in this world and you will just have to deal with that” he went on and on.

2:32am another voicemail came through- duration 41 seconds.

He was furious and drunk.  “YOU ARE WHITE TRASH…YOU ARE A LOOSER” and on….and on.

August 29, 2009 at 6:30am

This was one of the darkest days of my life.  I checked into the San Luis Obispo Women’s Shelter.  A place that I had volunteered for in the past and a place that I collected turkeys for each year during the holidays.

It was the most humbling experience of my life.