4 Wheelers Don’t Have Feelings

The AoA kids have been working hard to reconnect with their dad. Currently, only Teen Son goes to visits with him, and they are at a supervision center. Little AoA has a gradual goal involving steps from letter writing, to short phone calls, to visits- to happen over the course of months. Progress was being made as quickly as it could be, based on the dad’s cooperation and participation. The dad went an entire year not checking on Little AoA, but only on Teen Son. He went text silent when I would send information about doctor appointments and out of state trips (as I am required to do). When visits resumed with Teen Son, the dad assumed that Little AoA was just part of the package, but in reality, she wasn’t ready.

The dad had an attorney already in place to fight me, six months before visits needed to resume under an agreed deadline. Visits were to resume by July with Teen Son. When we made the agreement, we all just assumed that the dad would be living up to his part of the agreement- getting the help he needed, checking in with child therapists every other month, and supporting the kids financially. We also assumed that if all went according to the agreement, that Little AoA would be ready. The first day of August, he had his attorney file a suit against me, because only one child was ready to resume visits.

Three months have gone by since that was filed. It has cost me $2000 to retain an attorney to respond and represent me through this complaint. Some legal formalities have been done, like responding to the complaint and counter filing for contempt for lack of child support. It is just sitting in limbo right now. I just wait for the other shoe to drop. It is a constant state of uncertainty that at any moment, our lives may be disrupted by impending court dates.

In the meantime, the dad has started doing damage to the relationships that were developing after much therapy and counseling. He sent a letter to Teen Son’s therapist, basically insulting Teen Son’s interests and educational needs. Teen Son was given the letter, and by the next visit, had realized that the dad was not connecting with him or supportive of him.

At the next visit, the dad went all out, and violated the visit center boundaries by sneaking a letter to Little AoA into a bag of candy he was sending home with Teen Son. The letter was heavy on the guilt trip for Little AoA…staying that “the 4 wheeler misses you”, and repeatedly saying how much he loves her, misses her, and prays for her. Well, it was all too much for Little AoA, and she ended up breaking down that night in a fit of crying and sobbing. A developmentally delayed child can not withstand the amount of guilt heaped upon her for things that are out of her control!

After a visit with her therapist and much consoling, Little AoA has taken steps backward in her readiness to resume visits.

When we first saw the note to Little AoA, Teen Son was very surprised. The visit supervisor checks everything that is given to Teen Son at the visits, including any notes, letters, or cards. I reached out to the visit supervisor the next day, to see if she was aware of this letter. I have gained a little trust for her over the last several months of visits- she has always let me know that things sent home have been seen by her. The night this letter came home, it was dark and rainy. We were late getting to the visit, and I thought maybe she checked everything before Teen Son arrived. Well…..she was as surprised about it as Teen Son. She asked me to send her a copy of it, and she would decide how to proceed.

It wouldn’t have taken much to comply with the visit center’s boundaries. What did he think he would gain by crossing this boundary? He has violated the kids’ trust that needed to be rebuilt, and put the visits at risk of being canceled by the center, which would halt visits until a new center was found.

It was difficult when we first divorced, for me to stand back and not try to fix things for the dad. However, after being lied about and threatened over the last six years, I have lost any desire to help him. The kids are getting old enough now to understand that it is not ok to violate boundaries. This is not the way to build trust and rebuild relationships.

I appreciate this space to process my experiences and thoughts.

~AoA

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