The Dark Cloud of Litigation

The dark cloud of litigation has been my world for the last year. Any of you who have been continually trailed by litigation, you are heroes in my eyes, especially if you have managed to continue working and caring for a family! While I admit, it does get a little easier and less devastating, the longer it persists. I am no longer afraid as I once was. It is now just a looming dread.

We had a nice agreement in place in July of 2018. The only person who wasn’t following it, was the ex. Nevertheless, he hired an attorney who found a small hole. A hole that common sense should have taken care of. No luck…. this was an opening for an attorney to use the ex’s hate in order to make money. The irony has been, the ex was getting away with not paying his financial obligation for quite a long time. I had to put off hiring an attorney due to finances. When the ex filed a suit against me, it forced me to hire an attorney. So far, the only thing that has been accomplished as a result of all this, is that the ex was forced to pay support. His efforts backfired….he shot himself in the foot.

Hate doesn’t win. The kids are old enough now that they understand the manipulation a little more than when they were very little. They are tolerant of the dad, and want to have a limited relationship with him. I often recall my own relationship with my dad. He was not any part of my life from the ages of 10-18. In hindsight, I think I would have benefitted from the occasional meal with him. That was no one’s fault- that was just the way things were back in the late 70’s.

One would think that by now, seven years after we split, that life would have moved forward and evolved. I watch my 13 year old granddaughter bounce between four different homes. All are family who love her dearly and support her 100%! There is no animosity between anyone. All of the extended family supports and respects each other, and we all work together.

Abusers just don’t stop. They change their weapons as needed. I ignored red flags and thought I was strong enough to endure whatever he could dish out. That didn’t quite work out….

~AoA

Too Many Secrets

I do not like secrets, and the way they eat at my heart. Teen son has started asking about his paternal grandfather’s death. I can not tell him the truth, and it is eating me up! His therapist says that the dad must be the one to tell him. PROBLEM! The dad told him…..a lie! I can not fix this. If teen son knew the truth, he could possibly experience another psychotic break.

Little AoA doesn’t keep secrets either. Her brother has secrets. He has started painting his nails. There is more, but we won’t discuss it here and now. We have not fully adjusted yet. Little AoA started experimenting with nail polish too. I have two kids with very nice and colorful fingernails. Me? Maybe soon…..

~AoA

Trouble Finding My Joy

Why do I feel as though my joy is gone?

I think I might be depressed….

I have fallen into the depths of “I am not enough”…

It could be the ex back in my world…

We do not speak, but I drive the kids an hour away to visit him every other week…

He digs for dirt on me in every corner…

He must push me down in order to raise himself up….

It is the kids who suffer the most…

I remember feeling like he would not stop until he had taken my life….

I want my life back!

I want freedom from constantly being under a microscope!

Life is hard enough without this.

I am not perfect….

My kids are not perfect….

We are doing the best we can.

~AoA

Caregiver Guilt

Sometimes I feel like I just can’t do anymore….

“What’s for dinner?” Comes the question as I am on my way home from work each day.

“Did you take supper to your father?” because he is probably hungry.

“There’s no more room in the refrigerator and I went to the warehouse grocery store today”.

“Why did you go all the way to the warehouse store, mom?”

“I just wanted to.”

“I thought you would come right home from work and unload my car and put everything away and cook supper. I am exhausted now.”

“I had to pick up one of the kids from ball practice. Sorry I’m late.”

“I had to clean the house this morning for the cleaning person. I am exhausted.”

“You didn’t need to do that. She would help.”

“You didn’t do it last night.”

“I didn’t get home from work until 8:00. It was parent/teacher conference night.”

I just can’t do enough…

No matter how many times I remind myself that I am enough, it gets harder to believe.

It is very challenging to try to juggle working full time with caregiving. I have a lot to learn….

~AoA

Court: It’s Still Not Over

The much awaited court date was suppose to be this past week. I had to get permission to take the day off as a personal day in order to go. The day before, I could not focus on work, and teen son had a therapy appointment, so I took off to take him there. It was a blessing.

The evening before court day, I got a phone call. We were postponing court until the end of February. The issues that were falsely brought against me were no longer there. The complaint against me was that Little AoA had not started going to supervised visits yet. I had been following the recommendations of her therapist, which was for a gradual reintroduction to visits. Her first in person visit occurred the same week we were to go to court. It all happened as planned and recommended.

I do not understand why the complaint hasn’t been dropped, other than that the dad wants to try to find something else to use against me.

It has gotten very tiresome over the past several years. I feel like I have been living in a fish bowl. I just keep plugging along each day, doing the best I can.

Kids are not little animals to pass around and rule over. They are humans with feelings, needs, interests, and strengths.

~AoA

Court Again…

It seems that I can’t get even a year in without the interruption of being called to court by the ex-husband. We just finished one go-round that lasted a year and a half, in July of 2018. By August 1st of 2019, he had hired a new attorney (maybe his 10th attorney?), and filed yet again. Little AoA hadn’t started attending supervised visits as we had all expected she would. The dad hadn’t checked on her or supported her for over a year, and she ended up needing time to reconnect more slowly. The irony is, she is on track to start visits the same week we go to court!

Did that encourage the dad to count his losses and drop the motion? No…..

The only winners here are the attorneys.

I have grown to accept that I can’t help the dad in any way. He is not willing to keep his part of our court agreement or communicate in any way that could look remotely like co-parenting. It will have to be a judge who tells him what he needs to do.

I will go to court. I will listen to his attorney make false claim after false claim, because that is all the dad provides. He will claim as before, that he is a great parent, because he and teen son have nice visits for two hours a week at a supervision center. The motion at hand isn’t even about teen son.

The AoA kids want to have a relationship with the dad. They have not been alienated from him. They do realize that the dad has great difficulty parenting, connecting, understanding, and accepting them for who they are. They have asked for supervised visits. Someday, when they are older, they may be ready for unsupervised situations. When they are ready, I will support them.

We have four more years of this for teen son, and seven more years for Little AoA.

~AoA

Life With the Elders – Part 1

Our AoA household is a multi-generational home, with my parents (77 year olds), my youngest kids (11 and 13), and now my adult son (30). We made the decision to enter into this lifestyle, in 2014. At the time, I was at the end of a divorce that lasted 18 months. The kids and I had moved in with my parents after escaping an abusive and unstable situation. We left everything behind. The ex-husband was and is, not supportive of the kids. He wanted (still wants) “ownership” of them. He use to say that he “owned” me because he had “papers” on me. Anyway, my parents were the ones to help me support the kids when we were left without a home or our belongings. I worked as a public school teacher, but it would take time and a final divorce decree to start me back on my feet. During that time, we lived with my parents, and in a 2 bedroom apartment. We all thought that we could save money, and give the kids a better life, if we combined households.

Once the divorce was final, I started looking for a home that would fit all of us. It didn’t take long to find one that I would qualify for on my own. We wanted to make sure that it was something I could manage, should my parents pass away. We also didn’t want to provide any ammunition to the ex-husband, by way of suggesting that I couldn’t raise the kids and provide for them. I might note here, that the ex-husband lives on a 70 acre farm that he inherited (after killing his father-he inherited his portion -another story). He sold off some of the land and was able to have a small house built. When I was married to him, I took over the household bills, and enabled him to pay off the house, and raise cattle. The farm is now worth near a million dollars. No matter, since it is not “earned income”, it does not factor into his support of the kids. That is based on his “disability” check that he gets from the government. It doesn’t make sense to me, but it is the way it is…..

All of this helped us weigh the pros and cons of living a multi-generational lifestyle. The adventure begins! We have had a few ups and downs along the way. There is much to share, as we navigate this journey……

Everyone has a role

Rehabilitation in the home

Driving

School

Outside Help

Trying to do too much

Clutter

Memory Loss

Depression

Traveling

My own grandparents passed away in their 60’s. Neither my parents nor I have had the experience of navigating the geriatric years.

Join me on this adventure!

~AoA

This Did Not Disappoint!

Guess what movie I just saw with the AoA kids?

Star Wars- The Rise of Skywalker!

Star Wars has done it again. I was on the edge of my seat during the whole movie. I laughed, cheered, gasped, and clapped (the kids don’t really like sitting near me- at least there was no singing in this one).

The storyline was creative and very well done. They were able to work Princess Leia into the movie, which was amazing and beautiful. I won’t provide any spoilers, but the ending left me contemplating several theories and predictions.

When the first Star Wars movie was released in 1977, I was 11 years old. I have enjoyed being part of this generation.

~AoA

Outpatient at Home

When it comes to caring for teens who are learning to navigate mental illness, I have found that very little practical advice is available. It is easy to find information about specific diagnoses, but what they really look like in the home, is missing.

In September of 2018, my son spent a week in a mental health center, after having a psychotic break of sorts, during which he fractured my elbow. We started with a visit to his therapist, who helped determine his needs. Next was the local emergency room and being chemically restrained twice. It was heartbreaking to watch. After a night in the emergency room, he was transported by a sheriff, to a mental health hospital three hours away. I had to drive there to visit him, and meet with doctors. The doctors were able to detox him from medication that obviously hadn’t worked, and start him on a medication which they thought would work better. At the end of the stay, there is the question of what to do.

There are facilities to help kids with mental health needs, to have inpatient care. While this may be a workable alternative for some, it can be expensive. The facilities stay full, and for us, the nearest such facility was two hours away.

The other alternative is outpatient care while living at home. We set up weekly appointments with the therapist, and twice a month appointments with a psychiatric practitioner. We opted for homeschooling around this time. The truth is, public schools don’t really work too well with students who have to be out of school once or twice a week for therapy. There were no local therapists who could work with him after his breakdown. His local therapist felt that his needs were beyond her skill set. The therapist we found, was in the next town. We tried to continue with public school, but attendance was a problem, as the school would not accept a letter from his therapist, indicating the weekly therapy and twice a month psychiatric checks. My son was also getting farther and farther behind, with teachers not having time to keep us informed of assignments. It was a year of online textbooks as well, and most of the time, there was some special code or password needed, that my son didn’t have.

It was apparent that teen son was not going to be able to function as a productive member of the family. I was going to have to adjust my expectations and let go of some things in order to support teen son as he worked through therapy and medication adjustments. I don’t know if I did things right or not. I thought about what his days would have been like in a behavioral health facility. He would have three meals a day, some school lessons (which he probably wouldn’t do), and therapy. Well, I had to go to work everyday, so he was home with the grandparents. I taught him how to make his own breakfast and lunch, and set up lessons for him to do. In the evenings, we would do some school work together.

Over a year has passed now. The progress has seemed slow, but steady. I had to shift my own paradigm from one of expecting him to be “typical”, to one of accepting him for who he is. We have had to set goals and find strengths and interests. He does stay in his room most of the time. He joins in family activities if he knows ahead of time that it is coming. He goes to music lessons and therapy. He has friends he talks to about many different things. He has found and explored some areas of interest, and started volunteering at the animal shelter.

I admit, it hurts to think that the dad does not support him where he is. The dad has the idea that teen son is playing games on his phone all day, everyday. This is far from what he is doing. Teen son and I have had some great conversations about technology and how he uses it. His gifted mind takes him down many a rabbit hole. We have open conversations about addiction to technology. It is a reality for many kids in his generation, and something he will face.

~AoA

Christmas Memories Made

Another Christmas has come and gone. More memories were made. Our church had a Christmas Eve service this year, which is only the second year they have done this. Little AoA has become my church buddy, and loves going whenever we can.

We kept our tradition of having a collection of gifts to open on Christmas Eve. This year, there were Nutcracker outfits for Little AoA’s dolls. She had fun dressing them and doing a little photo shoot recreating scenes from The Nutcracker.

My mom and I took gifts to my aunt in a local nursing home. This is the little tree I put up for her. She had lots of sweet little gifts that she had received from visiting churches.

This is my aunt modeling a hat she got from the church visitors. She really loved it.

This is one of my favorite charts, because it is so true! I love socks! I love giving and receiving them to other lovers of socks. Last year I discovered a company called “World’s Softest Socks”. They are a little pricey, but easily become my favorite, “special” socks.

In typical sibling fashion, 13 year old son noticed that Little AoA had more to untapped than he did. She had a lot of smaller things like books, notebooks, and music books. Since October, I had been trying to get teenager to make an Amazon list or tell me what he wanted. He put one thing on his list (which he received), and acted like he was just annoyed with me asking. I had let it go, and figured that he would find some things after Christmas. I spent years trying to make the kids even, and ended up giving teenager things that were never even unpackaged. This is part of who he is. He takes longer than is typical, to process things that are not in his hyper-focused realm. It can be frustrating to deal with, but it is just not worth getting upset about.

Then there are the unpleasant memories that float around in the back of my mind, of the dad walking out on us Christmas Eve 2012. Thoughts then wander to current litigation, which has already cost more than years worth of Christmas holidays and vacations…. what a shame. The frustrating part is, that the whole issue could have been dealt with if the dad would just communicate, rather than go through an attorney (I think this is his 9th or 10th attorney). It should have gone to mediation first, which was not even attempted. It will most likely backfire on him. I can not control what he does or doesn’t do. I know the two kids would have much rather been able to take a trip or gotten gifts from their dad, over being dragged through a field of lies by their dad. I don’t understand why he doesn’t see this, but then, I can’t fix it.

Memories, both good and meh….. new traditions….New Hope…..

How was your Christmas?

~AoA