Tuesday, September 10, 2013
As the Jewish people just ushered in the year 5774 on the Hebrew Calendar, we are at the time of year when we celebrate, as well as repent for any sins during the previous year. The Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah is followed by the Day of Atonement – Yom Kippur. During the synagogue service, as we chant the prayer asking for forgiveness, we gently pound our heart as a symbol of sincerity of the intentions of our prayer. I chant all the prayers as well, but have a real problem with forgiveness, but only toward my former husband, who has abused my children in the name of vengeance.
You often hear of the parents of slain children forgiving their child’s murderer. Whether an accident or a single criminal act caused their demise, the offense could be deemed bad judgment or attributed to mental illness. In most cases the perpetrator did not wake up that morning and announce the name of the person he was planning to murder. I am certainly not condoning a killing, but there is a difference between a horrific spur-of-the- moment or nameless choice versus a premeditated and purposeful act of cruelty. As the convicted perpetrators sometimes apologize to the family professing their remorse, one can only hope the sincerity they are conveying is genuine. As their admittance does not give them a lesser sentence, I would tend to believe they are sincere.
It is with that same tone of sincerity that the father of my children uttered the lies he has fabricated endlessly throughout the years. Sometimes I will be questioned about his side of the story, and I reply that I cannot answer, as I never know what he is going to say, as his accusations often change, and are always untrue. It is difficult to determine if he really believes what he says, or if he is internally gloating as to the way he has manipulated and brainwashed my children. Another part of me wonders why I am so important to him that he has carried out this constant alienation since our 1997 divorce. He did not find himself homeless. He did not lose his job. He did not have to pay child support. He was already in another relationship. He did, however, lose me. I guess that was enough to anger him and vent his anger to the children. They would tell me, “Dad says he cannot stand the sight of you.” Or when I was pregnant, they would repeat the sickening utterances from their future stepmother, “Mariann says that the baby is going to be born blind and deaf.”
Trying to justify the lack of importance of forgiveness is unnecessary, as these are two soulless people and beyond repentance. I do not know much about Mariann’s religious upbringing, only the fact she brashly ignored many of the Ten Commandments and brazenly flaunted her marital indiscretions. My ex was raised by his adopted Jewish family. As his birth mother was Jewish as well, he was recognized as a member of the tribe. But, as a narcissist, he could never fit in with the Jewish community. As a narcissist, he wanted to be viewed as omnipotent, but Jews believe there is only one God. Catholics believe in the trinity, not the quartet.
So he had to find other individuals who would treat him as a God, as the leader of their pathetic little group. He fit in by being the one with the best weed, the one with the cocaine, the most successful fornicator, and the daring rule breaker. He laughed off every indiscretion, every arrest, and every discarded woman. He found his mass love outside of the societal norms. Still, the nagging knowledge that he was not renowned within the Jewish community became a personal affront, so he would mock the Jewish faith. He could not respect the religion that would not view him as a leader, and would go against each tradition as retaliation. Marrying a woman who embraced her Judaism, enabled him to often taunt and devalue the traditional beliefs, raising him to the standards he considered higher, and more important. When he mocked his religious and its values, it made him feel as if he was on a larger playing field, and above those who followed an organized religion.
It seems as if an individual with outspoken sacrilegious actions, belief and words, and motivated with bad intent should be met with swift and complete punishment. But it appears that God has a bigger plan. Upon the day we are finally judged, I do not believe forgiveness will be shown. I do not believe I will share my eternity in the same place as my ex. A narcissist finds it hellish when people do not put him in a position of power, and do not listen with rapt attention to his words, or laugh at his pathetic attempts at humor. Hell for a narcissist is a room where the audience is bored with his performance. Hell is a lack of attention and applause, and perhaps even leaving the narcissist to perform in agonizing solitude. Something about that vision is deliciously just and almost worth a peek. But I have already walked out on that show.
Monday, August 26, 2013
PARENTAL ALIENATION: Just because YOU were a failure as a spouse doesn’t make ME a failure as a parent.
I was a good mother. I cherished my role. Even from the very beginning my nurturing abilities were instinctive. I nursed my children instead of giving them formula. I prepared their first meals with natural ingredients in my food processor. I took them on daily outings. As babies and toddlers, they enjoyed weekly playgroups. Their medical and dental care was always up-to-date. They were always bathed and dressed in freshly laundered clothing. There was nothing they lacked, except for paternal interaction.
Their father frequently proclaimed that because he worked during the day, he should not have to take care of the children. He considered them “work”, and announced their activities “boring”. His life centered on his job, getting high with his friends, spending time on his boat, dalliances with other women and his drug dealings. His choice of lifestyle greatly conflicted on my family values. I always believed that family came first. I always anticipated dinners, activities and outings with my family. Instead, I had solitary meals with my children. I had no access to money, so our activities were limited to my creativity. Everything in my life was controlled by my husband’s rules and temper. I bore the brunt of his anger, but my sons were victim as well. They wore the marks of his beating, and endured the scars of his harsh threats. I was too frightened to call the police, as I felt it was my fault for my inability to stop his attack on my sons, and feared he would next turn his anger on my 2 year old daughter, and surely killed her. I thought I would be punished for his abuse and lose custody of my children.
Night after night, I would pray for a way to be rescued. I found my escape in the form of an inheritance from my great uncle. Having my own money meant freedom, and I eventually used every penny to leave and hire a divorce attorney. Life without him meant peace. My heart palpitations stopped, as did my stress. I viewed my lifestyle changes and going back to work as a small price to pay for being able to breathe again. I had no anger toward my ex husband; I merely did not want him as a life partner.
The fact I filed for divorce meant much more to him than the dissolution of a marriage. Divorce meant he had failed as a husband and a father. To view it that dramatically was not unusual for a man who met all the components of narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder. It is not uncommon for two personality disorders to merge, but when they do, it makes for an extremely dangerous individual. The narcissistic sociopath believes the world revolves around him, is concerned with only his needs, feels societal rules do not apply to him, and has no empathy toward others. Severing a relationship with a narcissistic sociopath, creates a reaction that is severe and retaliation that is cruel. They are incredulous that someone would leave someone as wonderful as he believes himself to be, and evokes the need to prove to the world that she is actually the crazy person.
Despite his years of disinterest in the children, he filed for custody. Serving as his accomplice was a woman chosen solely for her willingness to obey his directions and provide childcare, so he would not have to alter his lifestyle. Along with his lawyer who had previous sanctions for unethical practices in custody cases, he was prepared to implement his punishment to the mother of his children for ending the marriage.
It seemed impossible that a judge would actually award custody to this man, yet, by using her unscrupulous tactics, his attorney was able to find a judge who changed the custody. It did not matter that he had a criminal record, was a drug dealer, and batterer. He denied everything – even the submitted pictures of his fingerprints on my neck after he strangled me; and appallingly he was awarded sole physical and legal custody.
I was granted liberal visitation, and did not have to pay child support. Although heartbroken from the unfairness, I continued to parent successfully, becoming extremely resourceful in juggling my meager salary to provide a loving lifestyle for my children. I rallied and began to experience many positive changes. But each happy occurrence was like a thorn in the side of my ex husband, causing him to retaliate in some cruel ways, usually to the detriment of the children. He did not allow them to bring clothing or toys to my home, he stopped their medical and dental care, and he cut off my daughter’s long hair. Each joyful event in my life was punctuated with another malicious deed, even a physical attack when I was pregnant with my new husband’s baby.
But anything he did or said could not erase my children’s memories of the loving mother that used to tuck them into bed each night. So, my ex had to take more drastic steps. He filed false criminal charges against me, and brought an ex-parte motion into court on my birthday to halt my visits; resulting in the outcome he desired, lasting more than four childless years, based on a lie. During that time, he would show court documents to my children and tell them, “Your mother did something very bad”, tainting their memories.
After years of fighting the judicial system, I was reunited with three strangers, who had become teenagers during the lost years. Although parts of their memories were unblemished, their father had created doubts. Despite the loving thoughts that may have sustained them during those vacant years, reservations were thrown into their young minds creating confusion of what they really remembered.
As we slowly began to rebuild a relationship, my ex requested we forget the past and start fresh. Agreeing for the sake of the children, I should have realized that he had not changed. He still viewed each positive change in my life as a dagger of his own defeat. The more the children enjoyed time with me and their younger sister became the trigger my ex needed to build upon the chain of maternal negativity he had been creating for years. And this time it had to be final.
He used every method of negating anything I did for them, as well as taunting them that I only cared about my youngest daughter and spent all my money on her without revealing she received monthly stipends from her late father. One by one, they broke off communication with me. They would never reveal why they were doing so. Any calls, letters or e-mails were ignored. My final attempt was an e-mail I sent informing them that their only biological grandparent had passed away. My sons ignored the news, but my older daughter, who had once written a note to me in crayon stating she wanted to live with me every day of the week and not just weekends, sent a cruel message indicating that she did not feel it was important to go to her grandmother’s funeral because the relationship she had with her “wasn’t pleasant”. Despite my attempt to inform her that attending a funeral was to support the living, her responses were bitter, unbending, and gloating of her “wonderful life” with her father.
I can only feel pity for three children whose memories have been replaced by bogus horror stories fed to them since childhood. I can feel sadness that they have been raised by someone seeking vengeance rather than offering love. My ex has not changed his ways. His lifestyle still revolves around himself and his desires. In contrast, my youngest daughter has enjoyed the benefits of being raised with unselfish love. She attended private school, summer camp and has traveled to
. Her medical and dental care is up-to-date,
and she has embraced her religion. She
has grown up with all the traditional support and values celebrated within
wholesome family environments. Israel
In predicting the future of my alienated children, I fear they will be faced with a myriad of problems and obstacles. From behaviors I have witnessed, I see years of counseling. Should they choose to seek answers, it will mean looking at themselves and their past, something that many people are too frightened to learn. Maybe they will then turn to me for answers. I hope that the truth will bring some clarity to them and dredge up the memories of the mother who cared for them, and the father who was seldom there. I hope they will come to their own conclusions; for if they chose to alienate their father, it will be of their own decision, and desire to erase the demon of their past.
Monday, June 10, 2013
As a writer, sometimes, it is a challenge to decide what word best suits the emotion you are trying to express. My writing often revolves around topics that evoke a variety of sentiments. I love the thesaurus. I love finding alternate ways to describe something. Often, although the meaning is similar, the words bear a slightly different tone. Recently, I looked up the word pity, and found many synonyms: shame, disappointment, misfortune, sympathy, and compassion. These words mean the same thing, but each word has a different flavor.
For example: A glamorous
movie star recently underwent a double mastectomy to prohibit the growth of the
cancer cells her medical history dictated.
As a high risk woman she opted to take somewhat drastic precautions to
avoid the disease. I have compassion and sympathy for a surely difficult decision,
but I also have admiration for her bravery.
Pity is not a word I would use in connection with Angelina Jolie, for
she is a survivor.
Heinous crimes are always in the forefront of our news. The most recent one is the Jodi Arias trial who received a Murder One verdict for the heinous murder of her former boyfriend Travis Alexander. When the jury could not reach a decision regarding the death penalty, Travis’s family broke down in tears. Watching them, I felt empathy that justice had not been given that day. My heart ached for them and for their pain. Pity is not a word I would use in connection with the siblings of Travis Alexander, for they are survivors.
Pity is a word used for situations that appear to be unchangeable. Pity is used for those in a downward spiral, or stuck in their circumstances, stagnant, and unable to find the strength to question, move or rectify. I would use the word pity for the starving children of the infomercials, living in horrible conditions. Pity is induced toward the suffering victims of handicaps or deformities. Pity is also called to mind for children of hostile aggressive parenting or parental alienation. This behavior is not visible like the Save The Children infomercials. This is a secretive occurrence that happens behind closed doors, hiding the atmosphere of revenge, and the methods used to prompt the children to hate. One can only have pity for them at the unfairness of being estranged from a loving parent, and being betrayed by their other parent, who is selfishly utilizing his own anger to promote revenge. What a horrible childhood it must be when the one person you trust is lying just because they are angry that their former spouse who wanted a divorce. My three oldest children have the misfortune to be such victims. They were exposed to continuous vitriolic verbiage since a very young age. If they did not hear it from their father, they would hear it from their step-mother, who was equally misguided and cruel.
This was confirmed years ago when the nine-year old seated beside me at the ballet school, questioned my identity after seeing my daughter wave to me from her dance class. After I told her I was Arielle’s mother, she stated, “Oh. I’ve heard all about you!” She was the niece of my daughter’s step-mother. Why would a 9 year old be privy to any conversation about me? My ex was constantly spewing evil, and I wondered what was going on in that house that allowed young children to hear, and easy remember his sordid words. It was happening in a house where the secrets were concealed.
To date, my three oldest children (now 21, 22, and 24) are fully alienated by their father’s cruel ways. Nevertheless, they have been continuously feeding his narcissistic supply, as he is the money giver. Regardless of what he does, they worship him. They have no sense of speculation. They have no questions regarding his gleeful slander. He has erased any reasoning abilities from their minds. They are, in a sense, malleable puppets, on this earth to do the bidding of a malicious sociopath. Pitiable.
Saturday, June 1, 2013
Today I had a yard sale. Being very analytical, I debated over each detail – when should I hang the signs? The day before, or the morning of my sale? And where? And how large did they need to be? Tape or nails? Should I post pictures online of the items I was selling? Should I run the ad in other publications? Should I bring a sign to the location of other yard sales in the area – so perhaps they can send their customers to my house once they’re finished. I know I can make myself a little meshugana worrying about silly points – but I like knowing I put 100% effort in each endeavor. I was so worried about this yard sale, as it seems like such a new and foreign event to plan…..until, for some reason, I remembered another yard sale I hosted…17 years ago.
I was moving out of the house in
How naïve I had been in believing that my ex husband was going to buy
another house after renting for a year – in an attempt to alleviate his
non-payment of taxes for over 10 years.
He had sworn he would never live in Newton – only because he knew that’s where I
wanted to live and raise my children. He
had to be the decision maker…as well
as coming up with the original idea. How
stupid was it to agree to live in a rental house for 1 year, just prior to
going on the market? But, we all make
mistakes….and we all digress…..
At that time, all yard sales ads were printed in local newspapers. My ex was living with his mistress in her house and I was planning on moving further North with the children, which was closer to my new job. He never read the paper, but he relied on his source of information from my (former) best friend. They had an ongoing affair and she reported everything I was doing or planning. So, it should have come as no surprise when midday during my yard sale, he pulled up in his
4-Runner and screamed out the window, “You can’t have this sale! You’re selling marital assets!”
Ironically, there was a woman there chatting with my mother, who was helping out. The woman looked up when she heard the yelling. “Who is that?....He looks familiar…” My mother told her who he was, as the woman happened to be a former teacher at
. Upon hearing his name, the woman nodded her
head. “Yes, I remember him. He was extremely problematic. Your daughter is lucky to be away from
him.” Needham High School
The event was actually something I later laughed about. On drives with friends, if we saw a yard sale, we’d yell out the windows, “Get away from those marital assets!” and then burst into laughter. It never ceases to amaze me that the more I learn and reflect on the characteristics of a scorned narcissistic sociopath, the luckier I feel to be free.
Today, my yard sale was not as successful as I would have liked, but it was a start in unloading some unwanted items. It was a quiet and peaceful day with no unwarranted interruptions from a crazy man yelling at me from his window. But, I had already unloaded that unwanted item 17 years ago.
Friday, May 24, 2013
Within the past few years, there has been an overabundance of rabbit sightings. Almost everyone I know have told me about the bunches of bunnies they see in their yards. Everyone seems to love bunnies. Of course, they are so cute, hopping through the grass, or just sitting with their little noses twitching. These small mammals seem to be the perfect pet for someone who does not want to walk a dog or change cat litter. I do not mind the latter, so I never entertained the thought of acquiring a rabbit as a pet. But the emergence of these cute little animals hopping through the yards reminded of the time my children begged me for a bunny.
“Can we get one mom, please?” The children were begging me to buy the bunny for sale at a country fair. I was torn between wanting to please them, and disappointment. I wondered how my children’s father would feel about having a docile, pet that required little care in comparison to a dog or a cat. I remembered his reaction years ago when I suggested getting a dog as a pet for the children.
“Okay,” he had said; then added, “but I want an aggressive breed – not a stupid terrier like your mother has!” Wow…there was SO much wrong in his answer. In suggesting a pet for my children, I had assumed he understood that we would get a breed that would be gentle with children. I did not have my heart set on a particular breed, but I did wish for certain traits. Aggression was not one of them. And with that, our discussion ended.
Now faced with their pleas for a bunny, I wondered how he would react. I decided to try to call him. When he did not answer, I left a message and waited for a return call. It was not unusual for him to ignore my call as he called only if he needed something from me. Oddly, when picking up the children from a visit, he would greet them with fabricated concern, “I was so worried about you guys!” despite the absence of any check-in calls. As a worried parent would have called, his comments were strictly to plant a seed of fear with the children. Cruelly calculated, as he was smug in knowing he only had custody due to his attorney’s unethical behavior and my record was spotless.
“It will be fine with dad!” The children assured me. “He said we could have a pet!” Really? Well, his wife had an old cat. So perhaps he was ready to introduce a new pet, prior to the inevitable death of the cat. And it was only a small rabbit that lived in a cage. So, against my better judgment, I bought them the bunny and the cage. I stress it was against my better judgment. However, when a good mother is victimized by her batterer within court, and loses custody inexplicably, she tends to over compensate to her children’s wishes.
On the ride home, the children talked excitedly about their new pet. They debated about what to name her, and talked about the fun they had that day – the music, the hayrides and the food. As we got closer to
, their demeanor began to change. Their chatter had stopped. Their voices were no longer enthusiastic. They sounded strained and nervous. When we got to the house, they were downright
frightened. Halfheartedly, they took
the caged little bunny and closed my car door.
Suddenly, their father ran out of the house. “Give that back to her! You can’t have that here!” Natick
The children started screaming, “You said we could get a bunny!”
“I’ll get it for you, not HER!” he shouted. Turning to me, he snarled, “You better take that with you.”
Reasonably, I said, “I left you a message and you never called me back. But if you do not want it, let me know tomorrow and I will find a home for it.”
My ex, a narcissistic sociopath was selfish to a fault, often cruel, and lacking empathy for anyone but himself. He could not listen or accept reason as he was the one who had to make the decision or have the final say. But, at the moment, he was stuck. “YOU can’t just get them a pet without my approval. I am the one in charge of everything.” He declared pompously, in an attempt to let me know that he relished in being allowed to have some control over me.
Sweetly I replied, “I will find the bunny a home. Now, I have to run because I have a date.” And I drove off. My last comment was like sticking a knife in his gut. I could not resist because the thought of me with another man made him livid. I knew I was risking some sort of retaliation, but for the moment, the look on his face was priceless.
I called the children before I went out that evening. I wanted to make certain they were safe, and their father did not take his anger out on them. They gleefully told me that their step sister had a friend who had several pet bunnies and welcomed one more. Their voices reflected the relief that they would not have to bear the burden of their father’s anger.
At least for that night.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The 10th Annual Battered Mother’s Custody Conference was held the weekend of May 10th, 2013. I was honored to be a presenter among a distinguished, brave and respected group of people. Upon reviewing the list of workshops, there were several I was interested in attending. My own experiences as the wife of a batterer, and subsequent victim of him and his unethical attorney in the family courts, led me to select only a few workshops to attend, as I could not bear to endure an overload of listening to tragic cases of abuse, unjust custody and brainwashed children. Too many stories or ones with similar themes still bring back flashbacks of horrific incidents, and evoke bouts of panic. While not full-blown post traumatic stress, listening to comparable events can cause quickening heart beats and rapid breathing. My sporadic attendance did not keep me from hearing the experiences from some of the attendees. Every case was shocking and unique yet contained some nuances of what I had endured, either by my ex husband or in conjunction with his (former) second wife. But listening to others, serves as a reminder that your own story is just as compelling, and your participation as a supporter and survivor is truly valuable.
Hearing the cruelness other women endured by their ex always cause a painful remembrance, yet there is renewed validation as well. It is common for batterers to either deny the abuse, or place the blame on their victim. When living with a batterer, it is not uncommon to become prey to gaslighting. Taken from the 1944 movie Gaslight, the term is used to describe an abuser’s behavior of accusing his victim of false deeds, as well as ensuring her isolation. It’s a way of creating self doubt, as well as forcing her to lose her independence. A victim can often question herself when under the control of an abuser. In writing my book, “…Until You Die”: The Narcissist’s Promise, there was the slimmest thread of uncertainty. It was not until I was in class for domestic violence advocacy certification, that I even heard the term gaslighting. The description of the term was a revelation as well as the final piece of validation I needed.
During the conference, when one survivor related a time her abuser utilized a mocking tone that left her feeling sickened and helpless, which induced the exact pit-in-the stomach recollection after hearing that same nauseatingly mocking tenor from my abuser, as he continued his harassing deeds that continued for years. There was a tremendous tale of survival from a young man who fled from his sexually abusive father, finding his freedom by emancipation with a young marriage in
. Another story reminded me of
my ex’s cruelty toward my children with his second wife as a willing
accomplice. Hearing of the perverted glee of tormenting the children
brought back these heinous memories. Even during the conference, I began
to wish my oldest son had the same courage after his step mother exposed
herself to him, and his father openly made lewd and lascivious comments to her
teenage daughter. It was a house full of cruelty, perversion, abuse and
intense fear. My children were terrified, yet too young and unable to do
anything to change their situation. Nevada
Many of the women attendees were interested in making modifications in our family courts so abusers will no longer be able to freely manipulate the system. When that was brought up in the workshop I was conducting, I explained that our courts need a complete overhaul beginning with something as minor as administrative errors. For example; the report written by the guardian ad litem in my case did not include anything that warranted losing parental rights. The judge denied my ex’s motion for a change in custody. If our court had accurate ways to track motions that were previously heard, his unethical attorney would never have been able to judge shop and present the motion two additional times until she got the answer she sought for her client. In essence…I lost custody of my children due to an administrative mistake. And that’s tragic.
If all the work, dedication, support, and solidarity can someday bring about significant changes in our family court, our children will not have to endure the same fate. Many of us are fighting despite the fact our children may be gone as well as severely damaged. But, as loving, strong and fabulous mothers, we feel it’s our responsibility to continue to fight this battle, even if our children have been lost.
I am thankful everyday for the daughter I have with me. In comparison with my three older children who were ultimately raised by an abuser, it is crystal clear on who succeeded as parent and who failed. Sadly, the products of failed parenting will probably be facing their own court battles, as they are no longer emotionally healthy individuals. And if we are successful in changing our family courts – in their future, they may find themselves in the unenviable role of a non-custodial parent.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
In the movie, “The Crucible”, Daniel Day Lewis, who plays John Proctor is faced with either admitting he was consorting with the devil or go to the gallows. But in saving his own life, he would be putting his name on a piece of paper, for everyone in the town to witness. He passionately screams out, “Let me keep my name!” But his options are non-negotiable. He chooses to hang, rather than live a life in the shadows of the only name he’s ever had, forever blackened with a false admission.
I faced a challenge with my name when the attorney representing my ex in court, pointed at me and demanded to the judge, “She is using MY client’s name! She still wants to be married to him!” Unlike John Proctor, I bore the name of my ex with indifference. My matter-of fact rational was merely sharing the same surname as my children. The fact it was his name was of no consequence to me, as I had long ago lost any feeling for this man due to his abuse and control. That name held no respect, but after losing everything in my divorce, I still used the name to prevent further distancing from my children
I was engaged to my second husband before the ink on was dry on my divorce documents. My ex husband mockingly asked what name I was going to use? It seemed logical to hyphenate both surnames, so I still had a connection to my children, as well as my new husband. Unfortunately, due to longstanding issues he could not conquer, my husband suddenly disappeared when our daughter was barely three months old. After a year without contact, I again pondered the issue of names. My choices were to use the name of a man who was missing or a name associated with cruel abuse. I chose to claim my own identity.
The name battle had been raging in the presence of my children when their new step-mother would scream at them, “Your mother is using MY name!” It was more important for her to adopt a new name and ignore the name bond she shared with her daughters. My children were inordinately stressed from her constant badgering. I thought my decision would alleviate some of their tension. At first they were confused and my daughter asked if I would still be her mommy. “Of course I’ll always be your mommy! But I think it will be easier if I have a name that’s just mine.” They understood.
I began to think of what name to select. My mother’s maiden name was Robinson, which would be a bit redundant I though of surnames started with “R”…but it seemed too contrived. How could I just pick a random name? Should I use my maiden name of Schlager? I never liked the throaty sound of 4 consonants coming together followed by a guttural “G”. It did seem natural to select a name beginning with “Sh”, a bit simpler than “Sch”. During a random perusal of an obituary page in the newspaper, I noticed announcement for Shaye, an elderly person from the Jewish community. I tried out the name and repeated, Robin Shaye. It had a pretty sound…but also sounded familiar. Suddenly, I remembered the movie, “And God created women…” The remake starring Rebecca DeMornay (also a name changer), who played a character named Robin Shea who was an incarcerated musician and escaped from jail. It was almost metaphorical of my life. I, too, was a musician, and had escaped from my jail of being married to an abuser who was so controlling I had renamed him, and called him the Warden.
Analytical and wanting to be sure, I did a quick numerology check on the name. Utilizing my full name, the numbers added up to a lucky 7 – just like my birth date! Not only that, Shaye sounded like an anglicized Schlager. It made sense.
I was excited to legally receive my new name. After standing before a judge and stating my reasons, I was granted with a document imprinted with my new name and emblazed with a gold foil seal. It was especially beautiful because it symbolized a new beginning for me as an independent woman.
My baby had been using her father’s surname for about a year. Because of his absence from her life, I thought it was be less complicated to explain different names when she got a bit older. I learned she could use the name Shaye without going to court. I informed her daycare and pediatrician that she would be using my name. Even her public school allowed her to use Shaye, instead of the name on her birth certificate. When she was eight years old, her father resurfaced. He had been crushed by years of self abuse. It took him over a year to dredge up the courage to telephone our daughter. He died two months later. His death opened the door to a legal name change yet her father’s name is also her birthright.
I will leave it up to her if she wishes to change her name legally. Whatever path she takes, I will support. She still is joined to her father’s family by a grandmother, siblings and uncles. I am hoping she may someday experience a strong familial bond with her father’s family, regardless of whatever name she claims as her own. In the future, I see a strong young woman who may never want to take the name of her future husband. She is showing the signs of young adult independence as well as a self pride. I am hoping I had a little to do with that.
Friday, March 29, 2013
Once upon a time there was a mother who had three beautiful children – two handsome boys and one beautiful girl. They were everything to her. The rising sun and setting moon could not measure up to the love she had in her heart for her children. She made everyday an adventure. Although she had little money, she always came up with creative ideas to make each day fun and special.
One day, the children didn't see her. Their father had appeared and introduced them to a new house belonging to a new woman he said would be a better mother than the one they would no longer see. The children were bewildered because this new woman was unpleasant. She yelled at them all the time. She never took them on outings. She never sang to them or read them stories. But, she was all they had, so in time they accepted her as a mother. They clamored for their father's attention, but when he was there, most of his conversation centered on what a terrible person their own mother was and how lucky they were to be away from that terrible person. In time, they started to believe it as well.
There came a day when they finally were able to see their mother. In the time they were apart, the mother had a baby. They were so excited to see her and meet their new little sister. Her hugs were as warm as ever, and she spoke to them in loving tones. The fog that had grown through the years slowly dissipated as the children began to remember. But their happiness was soon shattered by their father who daily told them that she only loved her youngest daughter and gave her all her love and possessions, while denying them with her lies.
Saddened, the children began to draw away from their mother. Seeking a maternal figure, they grew closer to the woman who was now their father's wife. In time, they did not ask about their mother and eventually they did not want to see her at all. They coldly turned away when their mother tried to see them. When their grandmother died, their mother again reached out to them, but they cruelly refused to attend their grandmother’s funeral.
It was then that the mother had to make a difficult decision. She could not think about her three older children any longer. All of her attempts to talk to them were futile. They were too frightened by their father to ask the details of their childhood, and and terrified to learn the truth, thus exposing their father as the liar. So the mother devoted her life only to her youngest child, promising her she would no longer try to contact the older children because it made her sad, and her daughter did not like to see her mother unhappy.
Years went by and the children went off to their own lives and families. One day the three oldest children learned that their mother had died. They went to the funeral and approached their younger sister who was standing there, her grief visible. Approaching her, they briefly murmured condolences, and then turned to leave. "Wait!" their sister spoke. "I have a copy of Mom's will." The three turned back, each remembering suddenly how much their mother had loved them. Emotions welled up as the pain of all those lost years came rushing back. She was their mother and they abandoned her. They asked no questions. They never stood up to their father; and instead cried confused tears into their pillows. "We're sorry," they cried. "We loved Mom! We're sorry we left you too!"
As their tears flowed, their sister read from their mother's will: "To my two sons and oldest daughter- I loved you more than my own life, but you turned from me and never returned. It made me sad that you chose to ignore your mother. However, I did not want to leave you out of my will. I want to give you something so you will always remember me....therefore, I leave to each of you one dollar. This is so you will never forget that you only have one mother.”
The youngest daughter folded the will. “She left me everything else. But I would give it all away if she could have died knowing that you loved her as much as I did.” She turned and walked away as one. She would strongly stand as the one person who was fortunate to have her mother's love, which she knew would always be there.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
As I have preparing for the 10th Annual Battered Mothers Custody Conference in May, where I will be presenting a workshop on Narcissism, Domestic Violence and my book, “…Until You Die”: The Narcissist’s Promise, I have been lax in my blog. During this time, I have been consumed, obsessed, fixated, et al on the Jodi Arias trial. As I’ve written about this trial in a prior blog (“Trials on Television Vs. Reality” 2-13-13), appalled that she is using domestic abuse and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as her defense for killing her former boyfriend Travis Alexander. This alleged defense is the reason she shot Travis in the face, stabbed him 29 times and slit his throat back to his spine. Obviously, utilizing this defense is sickening – especially for actual victims of batterers who, in their attempt to leave their abuser, ended up losing everything; their home and their children, only because our family courts do not fully understand the many components of domestic violence. Could this really be happening in our criminal courts as well?
To date, on the witness stand is a Dr. Samuels, a psychologist for the defense, brought in to confirm Jodi Arias is indeed suffering from PTSD; and her alleged “memory loss” of the damage she inflicted with the knife to Travis is not uncommon with an individual in the throes of a traumatic event – supporting Jodi’s claim of “self-defense”.
In the past, Dr. Samuels has incurred sanctions because of inappropriate conduct with a former client. It is becoming apparent that Dr. Samuels has crossed the line of appropriateness with Jodi, and his appearance in court is slanted for her benefit and not as an objective evaluator.
This struck me with the sickening familiarity of how narcissists have the ability to charm a professional assessor to the point of disregarding the reason for the assignment.
The same captivation occurred in my own custody trial, where my former spouse charmed the guardian ad litem to the point of writing a report full of contradictions. So enamored was she, that she testified that she did not feel certain exhibits or investigations “were necessary”. Chillingly ironic, these were the same words used by Dr. Samuels in the trial of Jodi Arias.
The GAL in my case ignored the 50 pages of journal entries I gave her in support of my sole care of my children and an abusive husband. She deemed them “unnecessary”. Also needless was knowledge about the woman my ex was living with, even though she would be caring for my children. The crux in her report was a statement, “Robin’s friends had nothing to say about J, as he was never home.” This followed his claim that he was always home and the only caregiver for my children. My journal entries were filled with pages of how upset I was when he chose to spend time with his friends away from the house. How could she deem this unimportant? This is how a professional can get reeled in by the compelling act of the narcissistic sociopath.
Dr. Samuels has seen the gruesome pictures from the murder of Travis. I have seen them as well. Looking at Jodi Arias and hearing her soft voice, it seems impossible that she bears that kind of evil. But the pictures alleviate any doubt of the sociopathic core this woman possesses. Dr. Samuels has the same quandary as the GAL in my custody case. He is torn between a charming, attractive woman and the unforgivable result of her actions. But, he has allowed his attraction for the narcissistic sociopath to cloud all logic, enabling him to twist the facts enough, turning this villain into a victim.
In contrast, when a GAL, judge or family worker are ignorant of the allure of a narcissistic sociopath, they routinely turn the victims into villains; doling out the punishment of losing custody of their children.
I am hoping my workshop at the Battered Mothers Custody Conference will bring attention to these injustices in our judicial system, and ultimately stop the victims from being punished just for seeking justice.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
I recently took my youngest daughter to visit her paternal grandmother, who is now residing in a nursing facility in
. A once vibrant woman, she is now quiet, and
offers sporadic random words…trailing off with her loss of memory. Conversation is bursts of news from us, or
making successful guesses at the few words she utters. Although her scant memory does not allow her
to contribute much, their time together will be treasured, and someday shared
with my daughter’s own children and grandchildren. Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Reflecting on this made me think of my three oldest children and their grandparents. At the time of their birth, they had three living grandparents. My first born was their first grandchild. The news of my pregnancy was met with a joyful reaction from my mother, a hearty congratulations from my father-in-law, and a bland response from my mother-in-law, accompanied by a sour face. Abruptly, her weekly phone calls stopped, indicating her lack of interest in the pregnancy or her yet-to-be born grandchild. When my son was born, she declared her desire to be called by her first name instead of any pseudonym for Grandmother. It wasn’t until her daughter was expecting her first child that I witnessed any emotion. She squealed with manic delight when she told us the news, just pausing long enough to add that she wanted to be called, “Grammy”.
A year later when we visited her home in
Needham, she had replaced a photograph of my
son with a picture of her daughter’s son…in the frame we had given her. I didn’t understand why she could not buy
another frame and display pictures of both
her grandsons. It was not just a random oversight
because years later when there were five grandchildren, any image of my three children
were absent. Displayed on the
refrigerator and around the house were just the pictures of her daughter’s children. It seemed to be a confirmation for a brewing
thought that my husband (and his children) was not as important because he was
not her biological child. Although I did
not know it at the time, unreciprocated love toward a child plants the seeds of
This disorder grew within him, and developed into the need for control, and ultimately abusive behavior. Although my children had a biological grandmother who adored them, my husband’s quest for maintaining control along with severing supportive ties, he marred my children’s relationship by creating animosity and fear. He encouraged terror toward my mother’s dogs, who were barkers. He would warn that a barking dog was a prerequisite to a biting dog, enforcing a high level of alarm anytime a visit to her home was planned.
Upon our divorce, he forced a relationship with the parents of his girlfriend. My children soon replaced their affections on her parents instead of their own biological grandmother. Although my ex was no longer with the woman by the time her mother died, my children kindly attended her funeral. Yet a few months later they refused to attend their own grandmother’s funeral. My daughter, who was 20 at the time, sent me an e-mail on behalf of herself and her brothers stating they were not attending because she was not involved in their lives, the brief interaction was “not pleasant”, and she disliked her “lack of effort” to be a part of her life; either ignoring or not understanding her father prevented interaction, and encouraged hostility toward her grandmother.
Despite my daughter’s harsh words, I only felt sympathy that she had developed into such a cold, heartless young woman, without the ability to see past what she had been programmed to feel. I felt profound pity for her hateful words that bore no merit. Considering her father had banned me from most of her life, her intense anger can only be attributed to what he had instilled into her developing mind for so many years. His bitter revenge probably offered him satisfaction believing my children’s absence hurt me. However, I told my children about the funeral for their benefit to pay their last respects. I did not need their support.
My three older children have been denied all biological ties, except for their father. With so many adoptees seeking a relationship with their biological family, it is profoundly odd that my children limit their ties to one person. But, since their father is a narcissistic sociopath, his desire is not uncommon. He always craved utter equality, regardless if it was a boat, the size of a closet or the number of orgasms one should be allowed. Therefore, it is not strange for him to deny his children a relationship with his biological grandmother, or mother for that matter, as he never enjoyed that relationship. And that is just one manifestation seen in a narcissistic sociopathic individual.
My youngest daughter was fortunate as she had a relationship with her maternal grandmother since birth. Although her relationship with her paternal grandparents began late in life, I chose to foster that relationship so she could have some biological tie to her father, who died before she could meet him. The saying that it is better to give than receive does not just apply to a tangible gift; it is putting someone’s needs before your own. Doing so for your child demonstrates what it means to be a parent; undoubtedly a lesson handed down by a grandparent. These generational life lessons of decorum create the foundation of becoming a loving and gracious adult.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
After experiencing the injustices in family court since 1996, I hoped that someday I could make a change in what was happening within our legal system. At one point I was preparing to attend law school, anticipating position as an attorney would allow me to identify the continued abuse of the victims of domestic violence inside the courthouse. A change in my circumstances halted the funding of law school, where I’d have the luxury to pick and choose my cases. Staying on that career path would incur hefty academic loans, forcing me to accept every case in order to payback these loans in addition to supporting myself. I could not bear the thought of compromising my morals, values and ethics by possibly having to represent a batterer and destroy a family to satisfy my financial obligations. So, despite my careful planning, I walked away from the legal profession.
Years later, I still find a great fascination with the law, specifically trials. In addition to reading about true life crime (I’m a huge Ann Rule fan); I have become an avid armchair court watcher. I barely missed a moment of the Casey Anthony trial, as well as the analytic programs in the evening. The outcome was heartbreaking, but the reasoning was logical. It was a chess game. It was strategic. It was not based on honesty…it was based on performances. This was something I had learned from my divorce trial. Sadly, the idealistic belief that our legal system is respected by all is not so.
When I heard that the Jodi Arias murder trial was going to begin, I was anticipating the start. Preferring that to local programming, I began watching. Jodi Arias is a 30 year old woman on trial for killing her ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander in 2008. She stabbed him 29 times, slit his throat and shot him in the face. After initial denials, Jodi admitted she killed Travis in self defense. Although she allegedly stole a gun belonging to her grandparents, dyed her hair during the 100 mile drive to Travis, borrowed gas cans to anonymously fill her tank during the long trip, rented a car (insisting on an “inconspicuous” color) and manipulated the license plates, she denied her actions were premeditated.
To date, Jodi is in the midst of her testimony where she described Travis Alexander as an abusive, hypocritical Mormon man, who had pedophile tendencies. There is not a shred of supporting evidence – no pictures, no journals, and no police reports. Her robotic revelations reek of discrepancies and incredulous statements, none of which could be an excuse to stab a man 29 times, slit his throat and shoot him in the face.
I am particularly interested in this case because I was a victim of domestic abuse. All I wanted was a traditional family lifestyle with my husband and our three children. My needs were simple, and focused on conventional values and my children’s happiness. But, I was married to a controlling abusive man who mocked religion and indulged the lifestyle of a single man. Our relationship was very different than Jodi and Travis who appeared to enjoy a great deal of cohesive couple time and shared ideas. Yet, Jodi’s accusation that Travis abused her, resulted in a vague description of an alleged strangulation evoking panicked thoughts of being unable to breathe.
Experiencing the trauma of hands tightening around your throat does not allow one to cognitively reflect on the effects of being strangled - I know, because it happened to me. When my husband was strangling me, I was unaware of anything, and was unable to move. When he stopped, I was numb. I barely remember getting off the ground and walking into our apartment. The shock of seeing the marks on my neck jolted me into the reality of documenting the event by taking a few self-portraits. One thing I remembered was later trying to pick out the gravel from our driveway that was embedded in the back of my scalp.
Because of the inability of the Norfolk County Probate Court to understand all the components of abuse, even with the pictures, the judge said he did not believe I was strangled. The unethical attorney representing my husband basically used the Jose Baez, a la Casey Anthony ploy. She threw enough shit out to deflect the judge from the truth of the case…that I had been severely abused in every way possible. Despite that, I was an exemplary mother; while my husband was a batterer and absentee father. Because of her lies, fabrications and ranting, she won custody of my children for their father….who has damaged them beyond repair.
If Jodi Arias is able to beat her crime using an abused woman defense, I would say that our system is brutally flawed. Jodi Arias could very well be given that “get out of jail free” card for her animalistic killing of Travis Alexander. The verdict is not in, but it makes me angry to hear some of the analysis after the testimony and the anticipation of the “experts” who will provide support in Jodi’s claim of being a victim of domestic abuse. This is making me feel that all the women I know who have been through similar situations and lost their children in the process have merely been swept under the rug because we did not stab our abusers 29 times, slit his throat and shoot him in the face.
Is that what needs to be done in order to have experts recognize the effects from years of domestic violence? Many women have avoided taking the law into their own hands because they are decent women who had a belief that our courts would recognize what they had endured, and make the appropriate recommendations instead of ripping their children away and giving them to their abuser. Because I am a survivor…and a strong one at that…I have taken my own path in this journey for justice. Although my children are destroyed, I have written a book as documentation with supporting evidence as to the gross mistakes made in Norfolk Probate Court. I can only hope that the changes I wanted to make as a prospective attorney will be recognized as errors in the system, so the real abusers will face their deserved punishment, instead of the victims.
And what will happen to Jodi Arias? The case is not over. I am praying that she is not labeled as a victim of abuse, for if she is, it will denounce the real victim’s plight, and in fact, she will be getting away with murdering an innocent man, the same way my abusive ex got away with the freedom to continue his abusive ways on me and our innocent children. And if Jodi does walk, she will be leaving the memory of Travis as an abuser who was ultimately murdered because of his “behavior”. If so, shouldn’t other abusers share the same fate, instead of being given the right to continue to live and abuse their former wives and children as allowed within the halls of “justice”?
Thursday, February 7, 2013
I was married in 1987. We shared the important personal commonalities that would create the foundation of a successful relationship. Our lifestyle was energetic and fun. Overshadowing our happiness was his need to be the center of attention and be viewed as “unique” was often disclosed without blushing. The hints of troubles began on our honeymoon when he refused to pose for the typical “newlyweds” pictures, or sleep in the same bed. Instead of seeking a marital bond, he found a friend who he incorporated in our together time. I hated my honeymoon.
Our marriage started off with highs and lows which I attributed to adjustment. Instead of enjoying our time together, he prioritized his days in the company of his friends, and admitted he believed his own desires took precedence. Normalcy was putting your own wants first, was the mantra of the man I married, the words of a narcissistic sociopath.
In the fall, he ignored birth control and threw caution to the wind. By Christmas I was pregnant….and ecstatic. He reacted with moans of annoyance. He complained of the morning noise as I ate crackers to quell my nausea, grumbled about buying maternity clothes, and expressed irritation of purchasing baby furniture. His disinterest in the pregnancy was clear as he did not want to feel the baby kick, attend prenatal visits, and mocked our childbirth classes. During my three days of labor, he offered no support, encouragement, and incredulously left the hospital, returning hours later too stoned to be allowed in the operating room for my emergency C-section. The birth of our son did not elicit a kind word; only a gleeful whisper that I wouldn’t be “all stretched out”. Without experiencing the journey toward parenthood with my husband, I was now a mother.
Recently, I saw a gorgeous portrait of a woman on the beach. She was partly reclining, leaning into the man seated behind her, holding her in a protective embrace, their hands entwined and resting on her pregnant belly. The picture conveyed love, caring and the sharing of a beautiful moment that I missed. I only experienced blatant indifference during pregnancy #1 and #2, and a frightening demand to abort my third pregnancy. I fought for the life of my third child and was blessed with a beautiful daughter, who, at 21 years old, ironically puts her father on a pedestal, despite his order to terminate her life.
He claimed our children were interference to the life he wanted, and choose to pursue that rather than be a father. His appearances at home were rare, his knowledge of his own children were vague, having to often defer to my expertise. His limited times alone with the children were almost disastrous, and I maintained my role as sole caregiver. Nevertheless, when I filed for divorce, he decided to retaliate by demanding custody. His lawyer was the daughter of the attorney who represented him in the 1980’s for cocaine possession. Her unethical way of practicing law did not hinder her conscience to present him as the perfect father, business owner and securely living in the house belonging to the woman he had been dating during his marriage.
Money talks in many ways. It spells success, regardless if it’s obtained legitimately or criminally. Money buys what you seeking in the family courts. It erases any former drug records, photographs of physical abuse, and infidelity during a marriage. In the courtrooms of justice and family, the more money you have, automatically makes you the better parent.
It makes no sense that the probate courts are also called “family” courts. The word family evokes a picture of two parents happily enjoying life with their children. It does not conger up a picture of a man strangling his wife, ignored the cries of his children, reveling in his reputation of dealing marijuana, and or beating his children. Logic would immediately dismiss such a man as a custodial parent, until they peak in his pocket. Some mothers have who lost custody due to illnesses, or temporarily relinquishing custody, or a prior past of substance abuse. My past was not marred by anything. I was a stay at home mom who provided meticulous care, love, and a variety of activities for my children, despite having no income and no access to money. I wore maternity clothes throughout my marriage while my husband spent his money on boats, cars, a wine collection, other women, and his designer wardrobe. Despite that, I was a survivor for my children, yet…without money, I was an easy target for the probate courts to steal my children and give them to a drug dealer, batterer, liar, philanderer, and thief.
I will never see a portrait of myself being protected by a partner. I have realized that it is not something I need. And it’s a trade-off as any picture of me demonstrates personal strength, independence, and the will to reveal in my ability to sustain sanity, and share my story. And as to my qualifications of being a mother…one only needs to see my youngest daughter (from my 2nd deceased husband) to confirm how I have excelled there as well….on my own.
Monday, January 28, 2013
Traveling east on a secondary road in
Dedham, Massachusetts, one is treated to a tree lined street
framing beautiful old Victorian homes.
Even at the traffic lights, a sign of a entering a commercial area, the
appearance of a court house on the left is majestic. The probate court house of ,
architecturally magnificent, stands as a symbol of justice. Many believe that the building serves as a
haven, a sanctuary for those seeking protection from abuse, and end to an
unhappy marriage. Walking into hallowed
halls, high ceilings, and marble floors almost demands whispers, voices softly
encouraging and comforting those enduring an emotional life transition. But in contrast, the echoes in these halls
are an agonizing amplification of the injustices in the court rooms. Equally picturesque, the dark wooded
courtrooms, with intricate detail, are the mask of what is actually a torture
chamber, with judges freely stamping their gavel on decisions with the
intensity to crush families. Norfolk County
The well utilized basement area of the courthouse looks more like a prison holding area, where everyone waits for their cell assignment. It’s dark and crowded with limited seating. It’s an agonizing wait as couples are called into the small rooms with the hopes of coming to an agreement to bring in front of a judge and expedite the process. The first time I stood there, I heard conversation around me. Once woman was stating she had been coming to that courthouse for 17 years. I couldn’t imagine the reason. In my mind, you go to court, arrange the common visitation schedule – every other weekend, one weeknight – and an amount for child support. Simple, easy and quick. My naïveté was due to my idealistic belief that people respect what the court stands for; truth and justice. Lying in court, or perjury, is only committed by seasoned criminals. Sadly, I was mistaken.
Prior to going to court, my abusive ex told me he was warned by his family that I was going to accuse him of sexually abusing the children. To me, that was not only shocking, but ridiculous. You don’t lie in court. You don’t make fraudulent accusations. What I had to relate about my ex’s vile behavior was enough – I didn’t need to fabricate anything. But he did…..and the court allowed it.
One court worker was enamored, finding my ex so compelling, she loudly related her empathy to his latest fabricate complaint to another court worker. When I boldly interrupted her, she merely replied, “Well, that’s what he said.” And I retorted, “Considering the source, you should know it’s a lie.” There are many positions which demand discretion. Information is respected privacy and should remain out of earshot to non-staff. Therefore, how can a court allow their workers to discuss cases, and vocalize their own misguided opinions where anyone can listen?
The only thing missing from the pictures of the
courthouse, are the mothers who gathered outside, sobbing after a judge removed
her children from her care, merely because her abusive ex displayed the calm
demeanor often seen in a sociopath, while she showed emotion at the thought she
was going to lose what she loved most.
And the court, offering the same lack of empathy as the narcissistic
sociopath, with unconscionable ruling, did as she feared most.
The probate court has since moved to an industrial area in an antiseptic brick building. Have the demons that once lived in the imposing structure followed along? Well, that’s not my story to write. By the time I had to utilize the services there, I was much more savvy in the ways of the court. I did not need an attorney, because I could represent myself. I was no longer intimidated by the unethical attorney I faced, and found ways to get around her objections; by testifying to evidence she was afraid to allow me to submit, for it proved the trail of injustices allowed in my case. I was finally able to stand up and tell the judge I refused anymore abuse by my ex, his attorney and the Norfolk Probate court. And after years of battle, my case was closed, and I felt as if I had won. I did not win the deserved custody, as my children were almost grown, but I won the freedom from my abusive ex, and the freedom of facing false accusations in that court.
But in attaining freedom, and access to children gave my ex carte blanche to do whatever he desired; to manipulate, to degrade and to destroy, and control his children – their thoughts and deeds, in the way he wanted. And that’s what he desired most….his own freedom to continue his abuse away from the eyes of those who judge….because someday he knew, they may not be judging in his favor.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
When I became a mother, my diligence to my son’s daily care was just as significant as the extras I provided. My innate awareness grew from my intense love which meant putting his needs before my own. From my first days of motherhood, I thought of making each day special and began with daily walks in the fresh air. As years went by, I incorporated activities for my three children by daily outings of visits to parks and playgrounds or playing in the leaves and or snow in our yard. I was a mom who happily endured the cold to create snowmen even if the children opted to gleefully watch from the warmth of the house. Their happiness was my happiness.
During my separation from their father, I maintained our lifestyle. My children barely reacted as they were used to his lengthy absences. However, my routine had changed and sometimes I utilized the help of a babysitter, for a job interview or work, and occasional socializing, which I intended to keep from my children. But sometimes when you least expect it….
…To digress to a summer dinner at my house with several friends, and an unexpected addition of someone new, young and very cute. Undeniable mutual attraction, including my older son captivated by this kind and gentle man enthusiastically playing catch in the yard, something never experienced with his own father. The next month, I reconciled with my ex, and informed my son his father was moving home. With tears in his eyes, he expressed his preference for this new man instead of his father, apparently favoring a willing and doting “father figure” rather than his own, sensing his indifference and infrequent appearances in the family home.
But, a divorce was inevitable, and I steadfastly maintained propriety, keeping my social life away from my home. It was important for my children to be excluded from this, yet it served as an important process in my own healing as I began to discover men who did not believe the world centered around them.
But, my ex rushed the children to his girlfriend’s house, calling her fiancé and her teenaged daughters “stepsisters”. Although he had been dating her during our marriage, she was a stranger to my children; yet they were forced to sleep at her house, and share a bedroom with a stranger.
Never addressed was how these young teenagers reacted to the abrupt intrusion in their lives. After all, without preparation or introduction, the day after their father moved out, their mother brought an outsider into her home and bed. Recently I learned that this event stayed with these girls for years, as they expressed their disdain with a comment, “(Mom) never told us about moving (him) into the house.” I was appalled.
In 1996, the guardian ad litem suggested my children live with this woman without investigation. She relied solely on what my ex told her, and never sought to substantiate the information by anyone else, signing her name on a report advising my children live with a woman who clearly thought only of herself, and acted in a way that was anything but motherly.
Who takes the blame for this? The charismatic sociopath who masterminded everything, much in the way Charles Manson choreographed the most horrific murders in history? Or do we punish the puppets? The ones who obeyed either in stupidity and selfishness as the girlfriend; or with blindness, ignoring the authority they were given yet overlooked their responsibility? And a huge question still stands of why would someone disregard the job they were paid to do when the lives of three innocent children were at stake?
The lost children of the Manson family were troubled individuals, looking for acceptance, much in the way of my ex’s girlfriend. Believing they found someone so special, they would do his bidding without thinking of the legal or moral ramifications. But one would trust that an educated woman would not routinely allow herself to be charmed enough to ignore the standards of a GAL. Perhaps her husband, the former judge, isn’t keeping up his end of the bargain and she is seeking a replacement albeit in fantasy? Still working for the courts, she is guided by that same demon methodically destroying other children, the same way she devastated the lives of my three beautiful children.
Imagine how many lives would have been saved if the Manson family members refused to do his bidding. Imagine what it would have been like if the GAL laughed at the allegations of a narcissistic sociopath and did her job correctly. Her hands would have been clean. The girlfriend would have been abandoned, as she no longer served her purpose, but her daughters would have been spared of the knowledge that their mother was uncaring and promiscuous.
Still, I fear my children would not have been reprieved. Like Charlie, my ex had many resources to accomplish his deed which has been proved over the years. I fear the fate of my oldest children was tragically sealed on the day I recited my marriage vows.