Is the Legal System Really Doing What “Is in the best interest of the child”?? *May Trigger*

A non-custodial parent. That is what I became with a signature from the court. I had a mental illness and a free attorney. They other side had one of the best attorney’s around and financial backing.

When it all began, I did not think that I would lose the kids that I had stayed home with and had raised. I trusted the judicial system to be fair and to listen to all sides. Boy, was I mistaken.

It started from the beginning. No one wanted to believe that someone who saved others for a living would abuse their wife and kids. On top of that, he came from money and had a lot of support. Even though there were pictures of bruising, the court seemed to look over them.

This is all coming from a place of reflection. At the time, I was lead to believe that he was the better parent. That he could provide for them and was more stable.

I on the other hand was left to pick up the fractured pieces. I was trying to keep the symptoms of my mental illnesses at bay while going through one of the most stressful times in my life.

My children were all under the age of 8 at the time. The court had appointed someone to look out for their best interest. Except, the home visits never happened and I am not sure that she ever even met with the kids. He took them to a therapist that he paid for and the court believed that she was impartial. The final decision was made based on much of her opinions.

The kids are grown at this point. They are leading lives and dreams of the future. What is scary is what I recently learned from them. Out of the blue they began to describe that time period. I heard of threats, beatings where they could not sit down, and many other things that if the court had known may of made joint custody or more possible. They were little kids who were scared to tell the truth for the fear of what could happen to them.

How many other little kids are out there and are scared to tell the truth? How many courts will not accept the photos of bruises and fail to follow up when a parent says that there is clearly something wrong? Why is having an illness looked at as a weakness?

I realize that I need to be a voice for all of the kids who are scared. All of the kids who will not come forward because they are being threatened. It is happening across the country. Maybe, I cannot change my past, but change someone else’s future. The courts need to listen to the kids. They need to not think that money is everything and look at the relationships the child has with each parent. Threats need to be prevented as much as possible. Maybe if that would have happened, my children would have had it differently.

It’s Really Over

My therapist recommended a book that I read and made a decision that I could not take care of my abusers or make arrangements for them when the time came. At least I thought that they may want to see me. Maybe I was overreacting in thinking that parents could hate or even resent their child. If I had any doubt at all that is gone.

My mother called the other day to tell me that they were ok after repeated messages had been left on her machine. She asked about only one of the three kids. The only one she has ever asked about or even wanted to watch. I asked if she would have lunch with me. I even offered to pick her up and stay near her home. She refused stating that she did not really eat anymore. The only person that she admitted to going out with was my father’s godson. When I asked about being their only living child, she started to talk about the two kids that she had lost and how they were the ones that she wanted. I almost think that they are glad not to have a relationship with me. They can be by themselves in their home like they always planned. They can ignore or even pretend that I do not exist. That is what they want.

That conversation confirmed everything that I have been saying in therapy. If I remember that correctly, then is everything else also correct about what they did? That is scary to think about in a that really happened to me sense. She clearly does not want anything to do with me. Why didn’t she just give me up at birth. Maybe we both would have had better and more productive lives.

Not Horrible

The Christmas party yesterday was not as bad as I thought that it would be. People were talking about different subjects then I thought they would. It was ok. I did not like being out of the house that was the only bad part.

I did my sleep study last night. The box kept talking and waking me up. I thought that it would just me one night. The company called this morning and wants two nights. I cannot believe I have to go through another night. Apparently, the data produced some concerns.

I also have to work on therapy and homework. Talking about my parents is not easy when everything inside is telling me to protect them. Family asks if I have heard from them. That would be a no. What they did in some ways is just embarrassing. In other ways I feel like I will betray them. Who treats their kids the way they treated me?

Still waiting for a meeting with my ex to see the kids. I am sure he wants to put it off for as long as possible. He told the kids that they would not see me before January. Meanwhile, the psychologist can meet this week. He is just a mean individual. That is not changing.

They Just do not and can not Get IT! **may trigger**

IT! The feeling of loneliness, emptiness, despair, anger, relief, and it seems like everything else all balled into one. Why children who have been abused still love their abusers? Why molestation survivors blame themselves? How one person becomes the focus of support and caring? Why one loss can make a difference so powerful that it changes the course of one’s life.

People who have not been through shit, and there are many types, just do not get what it is like to have been abused, molested, put down, ridiculed, and treated like a mistake by the people who were supposed to care and make you feel safe. Sometimes, it is hard to believe that there are those out there who had a good child and good memories. Whose parents loved and encouraged them. Who had a two-parent household.

IT, is why I have a passion for going into the field of social work. Understanding the experience plus having the knowledge of the process enables me to be able to make a difference. I do not know exactly what that is yet. I know that I will have to choose one area, yet I do not know where I want to focus. Personally, I have been through many categories of topics that could turn into research and change. Right now, I am trying to decide where to focus. Recognition and signs of abuse and neglect, prevention of child maltreatment, family therapy for those who have been affected by violence, domestic violence, parenting skills, a woman’s right to choose….  Yes, those are all going through my head at any one time.

Being passionate is advantageous when studying and researching. It is also a hinderance in that I want to do more than I can. I want to make the most impact in whatever path I choose to go down. I want to know IT. That subject or area that only I lived through. I want to become an expert on the researchers, laws and policies. I want to become involved and informed. Most of all I want to help in whatever way I can. I do not just want to sit back and talk about changes, I want to make them. One small step at a time. I know that I will get there because others have that have come before me.

 

More Questions than Answers

I know that memories are not 100% accurate. Some change with time, yet when more than one person remembers the same thing, I am pretty sure that it is somewhat accurate.

Apparently, my mother was always offstandish. She would just sit and scowl at people without participating in conversations. She had an entire life that she never told me about. No one is perfect, yet she made it seem as though certain people were evil.

I really wonder where the lies start and the truth stops. Why she really stopped talking to people? Why she choose to hide her life from me even after I became an adult?

Some of these questions I will never know the answer too. I know that I miss being part of the stories and get togethers that all of the other relatives have to share. I feel like a stranger sometimes. I am glad that I have a relationship with my family now and that my kids will have memories that I did not have. They will be a part of the future stories. They will not have to wonder what went on to make someone end a relationship with another person. They are not going to have people going in and out of their lives.

I will never know why my parents made the decisions that they did. I know how it had impacted me and my life and I have to deal with the fallout. It seems like that is the story with most things with my parents. Having to work through the consequences of their actions.

When Studying Makes it Worse! ##May Trigger##

My ultimate goal is to becom a Social Worker in a child welfare division. Right now, I am still trying to process my own traumas in therapy. To get through all of the things that happened to me.

I had a reading this week for one of my classes on how a certain targeted group is treated by a group of professionals. Of people who we should trust. It made me sick. To know what year it is and that people still have antiquated attitudes.

Class talks a lot about oppression. This just reminds me that there are certain companies that will not even hire me based on the fact that I have a mental illness. Then there are the interviews that I may get. I have to make sure to cover the scars from all of my self harm.  

If I ever do get hired, I will need to listen while people talk about their families, while I cannot talk to mine and they do not want to talk to me. Holidays are hard. Birthdays are hard. 

Having a mental illness is somewhat invisible. Sometimes that can be horrible. Times when people talk negatively about anyone who has a mental illness or says that they are not as bad as they seem. I am guilty of trying to hide my panic attacks and pretending to be ok when I am falling to piececs.

I have thought a lot about self harm lately. About how it would relieve some of the pressure and hopelessness for at least a few minutes. Then I think of my kids and my goals. As bad as I feel, I have to keep going and maybe one day, if I get out of the other side I can tell someone that it does get better. It is hell and fighting along the way. One can slip and fall down. It is definitely a rocky pass with obstructions. Yet, a long way down where they may not be able to see is a light at the end. It starts as a speck. That is where I am. I hope the light get bigger and brighter. I want to give others hope that abuse does not define them. That it does not have to keep them back. That their abusers are not the ones with the power any longer. 

My abusers are still there. They are still active. I am still going through my dark journey. Sometimes it is not pretty. I think I spent my entire therapy session last time just yelling that I felt that no one cared or could see me. So, things are a struggle. They are hard. Everyday brings something new. Negative or positive. There are so many pints where I want to just stop and say that is enough. No more!! I cannot say it always is better or that the days are always great.

Reality is that there are triggers everywhere. That I have to just breath to get through or leave the room for a few moments. That is my reality.

Hard Conversations

As I have written over the past few weeks, my ex has let one of my kids choose to live with me for the summer. For him, that means telling that child what he/she is missing everyday and reminding that child of how good it is at his house.

For now, at least my child has someone to talk to. I will love him/her no matter where he/she chooses to live. Last night was really hard. There was a lot of crying and feeling guilty involved. He/she is afraid of making the wrong choice and upsetting someone else or upsetting themselves. There is not a right or a wrong choice. 

Being young can be so hard. I know. My mom decided to not do anything for my 11th birthday. Not even to acknowledge the day. I know what it is like to feel like you have shattered and cannot break anymore just to have something else break you even more. 

That is not what I want to happen in this situation. It is so hard to go through this because the flashbacks for me are terrible, yet I need to be there and be strong. That is all that I can do.

***Trigger ***Warning*** Growing Up

As my kids have grown, there have been memories that were brought up. I started thinking about what would have happened to me. I would have been hit for doing that or sent to my room all day without any food.

Ideas were imposed on me. There was not a choice to talk to someone or not, it was what my parents wanted me to do. By contrast, my kids go to other people homes and have sleepovers. They have friends. The idea of a friend is pretty foreign to me.

Now, the kids are teenagers. Yes, it brings up more memories of abuse. It also brings up the fact that my mom did not know how to handle it. She would not let me do the simple things that all of the other girls were doing. I wore undershirts well into my middle school years.

My daughter is growing and maturing like a normal child her age. She is interested in nail polish and lip gloss. She is starting to ask about ways to take care of her body. I know that the discussions that I am having with her are different than those that I had with my mom. I am open with her and let her know her limits with make-up and nails. Right now, we are starting with lip gloss. She is growing up and it is a nice feeling knowing that she can come to me and confide in me.

She has personal boundaries. My boundaries were broken time and time again without anyone helping me even when I told. Right now, I have to take it one day at a time with her and keep reminding myself that everyone out there is not a predator.

Two Pre-teens and a Teenager **May Trigger**

My kids are growing up so quickly. Sometimes I do not even realize how much until I look at photos. At other times it is right in front of me. They do not want to socialize with people they do not know or they hate school and do not want to do their work. They want their hair and shoes to be the latest style. Their interests are starting to peak out in the form of the shows they watch and the web sites that they go on.

My daughter just went through puberty education. She would have rather skipped it and done something else. All three kids feel that they know everything and will tell me all about it.

This all makes me think back to when I was a teenager. My mother did not care about name brands. I was lucky to have clothes on my back. I was being told that my parents did not want me by my parents. At school, I was bullied relentlessly. 

My mom made out like my 11th birthday did not exist. I could not do anything right. No matter how many awards or A’s that I got it was not enough. I could not live up to their standards.

These were the same years that I decided that I was not going to be like them. I was not going to ridicule and beat my children. I would be there for my kids if I ever had any. The abuse was going to stop. Another generation was not going to have to endure what I did and what my parents did before me.

That is one promise I have kept for going on thirty years. My kids come to me and talk about what is bothering them. I never could have done that. Even though I know that things are not perfect for them and they are upset by the divorce until this day, they have an outlet. Therapy is ok. Feelings are ok. 

A Math Problem ##MAY TRIGGER##

I do not remember what class it was in high school, I only know that it was a math class. There was a problem about digging a hole. The problem went something like the person dug three feet and two feet would get filled back in. How long would it take to dig 10 ft. That is how trauma work feels right now.

The only problem is that the hole gets filled completely in or there is a mountain on top of the hill. Spring is supposed to be a good time. The weather is warmer, summer break is around the corner, and my husband even booked a wonderful vacation for us to a spot that I love.

Memories. The memory of being told that I should have died, the memory of having to just get over everything while my mother talked for hours and days about her two stillborn children, the memory of being molested. Other memories of being bullied or wearing long sleeves in 80 degree weather to cover up bruises on my arms.

Right now the past sucks and the present does not feel much better. True, there are some things that I do have control of. Then there are those things that I do not have control of. My ex wanting more child support. My body feeling to weak to be able to dance, yet pushing through.

This has all led to thoughts of suicide and self-harm. I have been trying to get “better” for 12 years now. There are days when there are glimmers of hope. This time of year those days are few or do not exist at all. 

How do I explain this to the people around me. If I had a stomach bug or the flu others would understand. People cannot be inside my head. They do not know the flashback and the exhaustion that comes along with all of this. Most people do not want to hear about negative things.

Where does that leave me? Feeling very alone and frustrated. Anger has built up inside me. I feel like screaming that I just need a break. There is no break from my mind. I cannot turn it off.