Kids Should Not Have to Choose

When parents get divorced, in most cases, joint custody is awarded. There are exceptions. Mental illness, addiction, distance, who has more money, etc. Then the other parent becomes non-custodial.

In some ways I have been lucky. I still get to see my kids on holidays and am able to go on school trips. The kids are old enough to ask now and I have had the fortune of being asked twice this year.

Sometimes it is horrible. I have to account for almost every minute that they are with me. All the other parent has to go is plan the trip and go. Because the kids have passports, they can go out of the country and I do not have a say.

The other thing that I hate about my custody arrangement is that the other parent and their new spouse speak negatively about me. I am a bad parent, I do not pay enough money, I do not care about them. That can really have an affect on a teenager. Sometimes the child feels like they need to choose a parent.

I am looking forward to when they are 18 and can make their own choices. Maybe, I will be able to see them more often. Also when they can drive. Maybe they will come to visit. All I do know is that I feel like a bad parent all the time, yet I do see them. I need to work on that. All non-custodial parents want to see their kids.


A Mentally Ill Parent

A parent with a mental illness is still a parent. If the person is in treatment and is stable, they should be able to see their children. Instead, we have a damaged court system that takes custody away and is some cases only allows for supervised visitation.

As a patient I have to often white knuckle it so I will not need to go inpatient. If I go inpatient, I need letters from doctors and a meeting with a separate psychologist just to see my kids again.

Thankfully, all of my kids will be 18 within the next 6 years. At that point it will matter what they think and how they feel about seeing me. There will not be a visitation schedule or a holiday schedule. I hope that the kids will still want me as part of their lives. That is to be seen.

The other aspect of being a non-custodial parent is that it is public record. Any parent can look up and see that big black dot and not want me around their children. No one ever did an assessment of my competence to take care of my kids. They just assumed that I would not be able too. I think my kids are the ones who have been hurt the most.

Visitation Only

Even though I have been divorced for a number of years, the custody issue is ongoing. The county that I live in believes in giving a parent with a mental illness visitation. After the first agreement was reached I thought that the battles and stress were over.

Fast forward to a hospital stay where I came home to a letter that stated that seeing the children was detrimental for them. Almost a year of lawyers and court went by before I was able to see my children again.

I hate having to go inpatient, even though I know that it might be for the best. After I get out of the hospital there is a list of steps that I have to take to get to start to see my kids again. That can take months waiting for documentation.

Sometimes it is hard. I have to report everything to my ex. When, where, how long for any type of vacation. I cannot even take the kids somewhere in the state overnight. Meanwhile, he can leave the country with them without any problem.

The bright side to all of this is that I have less time ahead of me than behind me. I already anticipate another court case coming. That will be another day.

A Path

At one time I was going to school for education and even had a job as a schoolteacher. I had kids and stayed home with them. Then, the mental illness hit with all of its challenges.

So, I tried to stay stable and went to nursing school. That would have worked out had it not been for a physical illness. I was so let down at that point.

Then, I worked for years with my doctor to start Social Work classes. I had no idea that I would not last even 5 clinical days in my placement when I was told that I did not fit in. Social work just was not right for me.

As I sit here writing this post, I have absolutely no clue where my life is headed. What do I do now? Where do I go? No one is going to tell me, I have to figure this out on my own.

For now, I am taking a DBT class. It is interesting and has given me a different way to look at situations. It is still the beginning. Time will tell. I still see my therapist as well. I am not even sure what we are working on at the moment. I think grief and loss.

I have been able to see the kids twice so far. I enjoy spending time with them. Now that they are older they get sarcasm and humor. They still put a smile on my face. I will not ever stop being in their corner.

So what is my path right now? I think that it is to discover what I am made of. To take each piece and event apart and examine it in order to move on and be able to stop allowing it to run my life.

There was a time that I did not think that I could get away from the abuse. Then there was the realization that handling 120 students was not for me. I had a trying marriage and a terrible divorce.

In that time I have also learned to fight for what I believe in. Even though I do not have custody, I make sure to see the kids every time that they can visit. I am still taking my medication as prescribed and being honest with my treatment team. Sometimes they never know what I will say.

Right now is another time to dust off myself and figure out where I am going to go with my life. I have a few ideas, yet I need to see if that is really what I want to do. Therapy tomorrow. Hopefully one more step toward a life that I can be proud of.

How Do They Know?!? **May Trigger**

You will feel better soon. You have to get through this to lesson the pain, anger, etc. This group/treatment should help. How about a new medication?

Really!! None of those things has worked. I still feel horrible. Yesterday I told a close friend that I do not feel right without an open wound on my body. That would feel better. It would be better than feeling like a failure everyday. I feel like I let so many people down when I could not even get through the first month of grad school.

Now, I am just lost. I am not sure where to go or what to do. Am I so messed up that I am not able to live a “normal” life. I have thought about that. What are some alternatives? I have thought about writing. I am not sure about that one. Then there is the addiction counselor. I know that an eating disorder and self harm are addictions. Maybe helping others get through their dark and challenging days. Right now, I am just not sure.

At least I am able to see the kids again. They keep me going. I do not want to leave them with just their father. I am not sure that would be good for any of them. Just a few more weeks until they will be able to spend the night again!!

Lately, I have felt pretty bad. Like I do not want to get out of bed or off the couch bad. I do not see the point of all this therapy and treatment if I still feel like crap. Then again maybe I need to go through this to get to the other side. Feeling better would be good.

School and work are on the back burner for now. My goals are to try to process some of the things that happened to me in order to decrease their impact. That looks so good on paper. In reality it feels like crap and does not seem to be getting better.

A Late Holiday

I had a meeting with my ex and I have the kids today. I am excited to see them, yet I feel weird after not seeing them for two months. I am not there to know their friends or even the little things that they are doing. I just found out today the my son wants to do a certain program in high school.

Being a non custodial parent is hard in that I always feel like the kids can be taken away at any time. They are amazing kids. I just do not feel like a good enough mother to them.

Somehow I got Through

Christmas is a holiday with conflicting memories. I used to have a great time at my Aunt’s house, yet I remember my parents being forced.

This Christmas was the first Christmas that I could not see my kids because I had to go into the hospital. I felt like I was being punished and that I could not even hold it together enough to be able to see them. I had to go inpatient. I needed the staff and the support.

In two days I have a meeting with my ex to see about when I can see the kids again. I hope it will go well. Who knows with my ex.

Christmas at our home was great. I was able to see the cat stick her head into a treat bag. I received some cool art supplies and a bubble light. I was able to spend the day with my husband just relaxing.

I hope to get my kids back soon. I miss them. They at least still talk to me at night.

DBT is going well. I like keeping the diary cards each day and keeping track of my symptoms. Right now we are focusing on mindfulness. After the new year we will begin emotion regulation. I know that I need it and that I am going to need to work really hard to be able to use it.

My sleeping is like it always is. I found I get more sleep without taking sleep medication. I am going to see how it work out for the next few nights.

The holidays are almost over and for the most part they have been good. Let’s see how the beginning of the new year will go.

Not this Year

I went into the hospital to get help. I got out and am not able to see my kids until letters are written and meetings are completed. I am hoping to see them in January.

I was supposed to have them for Christmas this year. All of their gifts are wrapped and ready for them. I feel like I am being punished by choosing to get help.

If it was a medical condition I could see my kids. Yet, it was a mental health issue. My ex went so far yesterday to that suicidal = homicide. I am not sure who is giving out that information. It is not true. Especially for a people who voluntarily go into the hospital.

This is beginning to be a weird Christmas. I just hope that it can be salvaged and that my husband and I have a good day together.

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.

Things are Healing

My injury is healing. I go back to the doctor tomorrow for a check up. Physically, I have a wound and scars.

The problem is mentally. I still feel like I am just walking through the day getting the things done that I need too. Even that is at a bare minimum.

I am still trying to get my ex and all of my doctors together in order to see my kids. I was fortunate enough last night that I was able to see one of the kids in a concert.

Getting my medications has been a bit of an adventure lately. I call a refill in and give a time when I will pick it up. Then, usually after that time I go in to pick it up and it is not ready. I am told it will be 20 minutes, yet if I had not called it in the wait time would be the same. Solution: just walk in and save the phone call.

It seems as if I have began to snore so loudly that it is waking my husband up. This is a problem when he needs to get up in the morning. I made a appointment with the doctor to see what is the cause and if anything can be done about it.

There are still some loose ends that I need to tie up with school. I just am scared to even go to the neighborhood where the school is located. I am going to have to take a deep breath and just do it.

My therapist wants me to feel the feelings that were repressed around events when I was a kid. I am scared to show feelings to anyone. He wants me to write about it between now and Friday. Hopefully I can get some words onto the page.