some names have been omitted in this post
this post contains language
It was chilly in the family courtroom… I’m pretty warm natured but in court I nearly always need a sweater. Sitting on the stand in the 360th family court room, the opposing counsel was quiet for a change… he just sat there across from me with that monster I married staring right at me with zero expression and emotion. Dealing with opposing counsel is often the equivalent of trying to deal with a snake and pit bull all rolled into one… some attorneys play dirty and will go as low as humanly possible in their remarks when fighting. When it comes to a narc opposing counsel is often no better than our ex. I really had zero respect for attorneys in general at this point... when it came to the family court system you were deemed guilty until proven innocent… a sociopath is capable of manipulating those in the court room and committing perjury because for whatever reason perjury is not taken seriously in family law. You can lie your pants off and say your son is suicidal like my ex did, produce zero evidence of such threats and yet everyone listening will swallow it as gospel and shake their head with sorrow and give him a collective puppy dog expression of sadness.
Yet you? You, the normal functioning person is not believed when you point out incident after incident of parental alienation and any evidence you do have is waved off and dismissed. Family law doesn’t operate how it should and I question how attorneys sleep at night... people sell their souls but will guaranteed want an air conditioner in hell.
Directly before me sat the court reporter typing as quickly as possible and I could swear she had steam coming out of her ears she was under so much pressure. She took the time to give me an occasional look of disgust over her glasses as she clearly deemed me the worst mother she’d ever come across. Whatever, lady… I thought to myself… you have no idea what I’ve been enduring…. don’t be so fooled by the bs you’ve been fed. It was a lovely day as any day in court always is; the sun was shining brilliantly and I would have loved to have been anywhere but there. Instead of opposing counsel attacking me as was the usual way this time it was courtesy of the amicus Susan Duesler who took the lead and continually berated me with a line of brutal questioning and demeaning verbal abuse. I sat there continually trying to fight back but as the questions and attacks grew harsher with her actually having the gall to state she cared more about my son than I did… tears sprang to my eyes and I choked back tears.
I then looked over to my right at my attorney… he sat there uselessly quiet not interjecting or fighting for me. Staring at me in stony silence I realized due to him becoming suddenly mute I was screwed. Hindsight was he was allowing me to get annihilated on the stand and had virtually given up. My other attorney who sat to his right looked sadly at me… her expression of seeming pity and what appeared to be blaming upon me… like a scolded child; if I’d only done what they had instructed for me to do prior to trial in their office the night before… where they had demanded compliance from me; where they had chastised me over and over again like a three year old because I refused to have my photo taken with my ex and his new wife for our daughter. Like my daughter gave a shit. My daughter knew it wasn’t a good situation. She knew her dad had cheated. She knew her dad had alienated her brother against me. She had witnessed all the horrible things her father had done the past six years. And yet I was supposed to play a fake part and pose for a photo with a man who was emotionally and verbally abusive toward me and had stolen my family away… who had brainwashed our son against me. The truth was... it wasn’t my job to pose for a photo. At the end of the day it was all a farce and a photo did not address the TRUE issues going on. A photo did not address the fact my ex ignores most of my communication on Our Family Wizard. A photo did not address the fact that he refuses to return the children’s passports even though the decree states I’m to hold them. A photo doesn’t address the fact that he’s continued to alienate our son against me. I didn't hire two attorneys so I could be reprimanded like a toddler. My attorneys were trying to make something, namely a photo my issue when their job was to fight back FOR me, not roll over like two pushovers and play pathetic. An attorneys job is not to make nice in the courtroom because of future cases and the irrelevant need to be liked by the various personalities involved yet that’s often what happens.
No…. no…. I wasn’t going to play ball… I wasn’t going to pose for pictures and act like everything was pretty and ponies pooped rainbows and confetti. Sorry but not sorry. I wasn’t going to send my daughter the message of “its okay when people screw you over… you just bend over a little more; you stand beside them and smile when the photographer says cheese.” No… I wasn’t going to do that either. I wasn’t going to disrespect myself and demean myself and pose for a photo and make everyone else comfortable because they didn’t believe the truth and they found what had really happened either impossible or too uncomfortable to embrace as reality. So I stood up and from the stand I pointed right at my two attorneys and screamed...
“GET OUT!!! RIGHT NOW!!! YOU’RE FIRED!!!
BOTH OF YOU! You don’t want to fight for me?
Get the fuck out right now!!!”
It was only a daydream on my drive home but the truth is that’s how I should have handled the situation. That’s what they had deserved. And if I had it to do over again I would. As empaths we give people that have shown us who they really are or at least hints here and there... those glimpses of reality of their character way too much benefit of the doubt. I had initially erroneously believed the case had meant a lot to them... but looking back the lack of actions had said otherwise. We doubt our instincts and succumb to the fact they must really truly have our best interests at heart when they are really just screwing us over.
I don’t cry defeat... I might realize I need a break here or there or may realize I just need to bide my time before it’s best to act... but give up? No... and if your attorney is giving up because they can’t get you to pose for a photo.... they aren’t a very good attorney. It’s their job to review what you have and come up with a strategy. It’s their job to handle it and find what loopholes, what weaknesses the other side has and to attack mercilessly. It's their job to sift through the evidence and come up with the appropriate line of questioning needed for your ex. If they aren’t doing that then they are as useless as last months packet of coupons now expired. If they aren’t deposing who they should for trial, if they are not familiar with your case, if they are failing at their job because they didn’t even try then you have every right to pull the plug and fire them on the spot and without feeling any guilt.
Stop feeling guilt over people that don’t deserve it. We aren’t talking about a pet parakeet for God’s sakes... we’re talking about our children... and we shouldn’t feel guilt over telling someone to take a hike(!) when they aren’t looking out for their best interests.
I stepped into the dim front foyer of my home and my black heels clacked on the floor... the foyer table was graced with pretty crystal candlesticks, a stone bowl for knick knacks and two traditional buffet lamps that gave off a glow of low light. The mirror above the table reflected the space and I glanced in it at my disheveled bun atop my head... I was exhausted and yet it was time to have one of the most difficult conversations I’d likely had in forty one years.
”Mommyyyyy!!!” Came my daughters shriek and dressed in dark leggings and a robins egg blue top she came running up to me like always and gave me a tight embrace around the waist.
“Hey, sweetpea... how are you? I missed you today!” I told her and squeezed her back affectionately. I could hear water running in the kitchen and we made our way past the living room we didn’t really use with it’s gray sofa, round coffee table with hardback books on renowned artists and vases in hues of nature. Once in the kitchen I greeted my mother who was washing romaine lettuce for her salad.
She and I caught up on our day as I placed the groceries I'd picked up on the way home in the refrigerator and pantry. Then I led my daughter to the oversized taupe couch that compassed the den and both my mother and I flanked her on it. Wrapping my arm around her I pulled her close and spoke
"I wanted to talk with you.... okay?" I spoke and she nodded.
"What happened with court? Did you find out what the judge decided?" She asked me curiously.
I felt tears springing to my brown green flecked eyes and tried to blink them away... usually it worked but not this time... like tiny pools they filled and threatened to spill over. I hugged her tight and spoke "We did... She decided to give most of the custody to your dad." I told her.
She physically pulled away and began crying... tears rolling down her cheeks and using her hands to cover her face. She then leaned back against me again and sobbed, her blond brown hair shielding her wet face from me. Between sniffles and wails she spoke "But why??? Why did she do that?! I told her I wanted to live with you more!"
I sat there feeling helpless, both of us victims of a system that had failed us and also two attorneys that had left us without a paddle. We had been targets of my ex for six years and now this was the outcome of his continual unrelenting child custody litigation. This was the sad and unnecessary outcome... a girl completely beside herself because she knew she had been brave and spoken up for what she needed to with the judge and had been ignored. She had watched as her mother had fought and fought and yet now sat beside her crying as well. She had witnessed time and time again how her father had gone after her mother in family court with zero cause other than to punish her because she had been brave enough to walk away and leave him.
"I know... I'm sorry sweetpea.... I don't understand it either. It's the system... they don't care. And your father lied on the stand. He said you had read the blog and they believed him." I told her.
"But I haven't!" She protested emphatically. "He just lied and said that to get them to side with him! To get them to pick him!" She exclaimed with mounting anger.
A false witness will not go unpunished,
and he who breathes out lies will perish.
I had been the mom who when the kids were younger and we were an intact family I went to the effort to alternately bake a chocolate cake with my daughter because chocolate was her favorite and making a vanilla one with my son because that was his favorite... I didn't want anyone to feel like their preference wasn't heard or important. I was the mom who stayed up till one o'clock in the morning working on handmade scrapbooks for both children so their memories would be saved and intact as adults. I was the mom who volunteered in my daughter's kindergarten classroom on computer day and ensured each child's laptop was set up for them to have computer time. I was the mom who quizzed each child on their story they read to ensure comprehension and encouraged them individually to always read because reading opens the door to so much information and knowledge. I was the mom who fought for more special need assistance for our son because with Asperger's he needed to have access to all the necessary resources to lead a full and thriving life. I was the mom who didn't give blanket statements of "you're so smart!" but "great job at trying!" because I realized they wouldn't always feel smart but they would always feel good that they tried. I was the mom who read Thomas the Train stories until I was blue in the face and ensured they always used their manners no matter what. You look back and see the work, the energy, the time, all the late night hours and love poured into your children... knowing you'd do anything to ensure they were safe and cared for both emotionally and physically and you feel defeated. You lost and it really wasn't your fault and yet you feel responsible. When our kids are young they look up to us like were invincible; like we can take control of any situation and fix it... as adults we are supposed to know what to do and be able to rectify things. Unfortunately that doesn't always happen and then we feel as though we failed our children. And that's the worst feeling ever.
"I'm so sorry, sweetpea... he and his attorney did whatever they could to get what they wanted. But I've fought.... I've fought and fought... you know that... " I told her with exhaustion, "I have kept fighting... and I've spent all the money I've spent to fight because you're worth it. I'm going to keep trying." I told her. I was out of money... between the divorce itself and the continual child custody litigation I had spent well over a hundred thousand dollars... money that was to be invested for retirement... money that was to be grown and watch thrive. But now it was all gone. It was such a mess and such a bitter pill to swallow... I had lost my son, I had lost all my money and now my daughter too. For absolutely zero justified reason. And what was even scarier is I'm one of hundreds of thousands of other good parents who have gone through the exact same thing.
No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord.”
I am not a lone ranger... but one of an increasing army of angry outraged parents who want the truth exposed in pure light... who want their situation repaired and justice to be served... and will not stop fighting for the truth to be exposed; the truth of who we married and the truth of a broken and corrupt family court system. We will not remain silent. We will not go quietly. We will not give up.