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Monday, January 9, 2012

Here Comes Santa Claus

I guess it’s fair to say that its only natural for those on the outside looking in to judge, but in any situation, regardless of its severity, NO ONE knows what they would do until they walked in your shoes. Personally, it felt like I was mourning the death of my husband. He was gone and it was obvious he would never be back. This was a new guy that took over residence in his body and soul and was a horrible, horrible person. I made three beautiful children with this man and I will always love him for that! My children need to be free to form their own opinion of him. They know that Daddy has been bad and has to pay the consequences. When they speak highly of him, it drives me crazy because I know what he’s done, and what he hasn’t for that matter. But, I try to refrain from speaking ill of him in front of them.

On the day of the hearing, I was scared and nervous. My parents went with me to the courthouse, the baby stayed home with my niece, and a friend who I’ve known forever who’s children go to the same school as Casie and Tommy was going to bring them home. We stood in line on a cold, wet morning waiting to pass through the metal detectors. When it was my turn, the sheriff asked me to remove the fork and knife from my purse. I was thinking “awww, funny guy making fun of the fat girl”, but he was serious!!

Back in the day, my sister in law and I used to go out and party. We thought it was funny to leave with the margarita glasses and what not. So, when we were at Old Chicago a few weeks before – she stuck a place setting in my purse for old time sake. When I removed it to hand over to the deputy, I couldn’t help but laugh. I blamed my brother and his friend Jay. Never could I imagine my sweet little sister in law would do such a thing. It was only weeks later that she fessed up to it which made it even funnier.

The elevator ride took forever to reach the sixth floor of the Family Court building. All the seats were empty and every little sound was piercing and on the other side of this large room sat one person, Brent. My immediate reaction was head to the rest room. I couldn’t stay in there forever, so I text paged my attorney who said she was on her way. It was time to make my way to the secluded area my parents were patiently waiting. It was of much comfort having them there. They gave me my room to grow and learn through this whole experience. It would have been very easy of them to just let go, like most other’s did. But, they stuck right with me and allowed me to make my own decisions. I’m sure at times they didn’t agree, but they supported me and let me live my life. For that, I knew their love was unconditional and I will always appreciate everything they have done for me and my children!

Brent walked over to me and handed me a green envelope and said “this came for Tommy in the mail”. I took it and saw that he already opened it, but said thank you and never made eye contact. It was a thank you card from one of Tommy’s girl friend’s birthday party. Then, he asked “can we talk?” Before I could even think about it, out came the word “NO” He walked off and then I saw his attorney step off the elevator. I smiled at him and gave him a quick wave because I always thought of him as a nice guy. He shouldn’t be faulted for doing his job. It wasn’t much longer until my lawyer entered the floor and took my parents and me off to a small conference room inside the court room. Then a loud voice told her “he’s ready”. That was our queue from the sheriff that the judge was ready to begin. We made our way to the respective tables and examinations followed by cross examinations were quickly played out. Brent claimed he was clean since January. At the end, I was still officially a married woman, but the judge ordered Brent to leave the court house and go to a medical lab in the city to have a hair follicle test conducted.

I called the real estate agent that Brent suggested who turned out to be a very sweet lady. I told her that we agreed to sell the house and that Brent bought it out of foreclosure, or at least that’s what he claimed in court.

The days that followed Brent told the real estate agent that she couldn’t get in the house because his girlfriend that lives with him just had oral surgery and he was taking care of her, then a few days after that, it was him who had the surgery. Then, it was that he didn’t have a court order yet telling him to sell the house and it wasn’t ready anyway because I stole his tools. And then, finally, the last excuse was that it was a non-marital asset and her services would not be needed.

I’m sure I drove my attorney and her secretary crazy. I called every day asking if the judge made a ruling and if the drug test results were in. My attorney called the court’s social worker and was told that the results were negative. I couldn’t believe it. How could it be?!? Other then the fact that he was in the mental hospital on and off for about 2 months, there was still no way he was clean! I started researching on the internet about hair follicle testing because I honestly didn’t really know much about it. There was an ad that popped up that claimed it was a shampoo that would detoxify the hair follicle in order for you to pass. Then, on another page it would say how the hair follicle test can not be fudged. That the products they sell are a waste of money that there’s nothing to remove the toxins from the follicle. I was confused, yet not surprised. This guy could weasel his way out of anything. He was good at it.

A couple of days before Christmas, a big box showed up on my parent’s front porch. It contained three boxes, one for each child from “Daddy”. I called the children up from the basement and let them open their gifts. They were so excited and couldn’t wait to see what the box held inside for them. Tommy was first, it was a silver plated train piggy bank that had “Christmas 2011 Love, Daddy” engraved on the side. He looked confused and said “what do I do with it” and tried to drive it around the floor. It was beautiful, but it wasn’t something the child could play with. So, I explained to him that it was a nice keep sake and we would put it in a special place and keep it forever. The girls started tearing their boxes open and it contained similar gifts. Casie’s was a horse and carriage snow globe with the same thing engraved. And Marissa’s was a unicorn snow globe with the same quote. When the children realized it wasn’t a toy, off they went to the basement which has turned into a big toy room. I knew Brent wouldn’t have thought of something like that. It was probably the girlfriend, but I was happy that they at least they got something from him and it was something that they could keep forever.

My children and I were invited to my cousins Gail and Pat’s house in Bloomington, Indiana to escape the madness. Their home is beautiful, it has everything imaginable, it’s situated on a very private lot, and there’s just something about it that is very, very relaxing. I felt bad because Gail worked her ass off cooking for us. She and her husband are very accommodating hosts. There was no drama, no talking about anybody – it was just a LOT of fun! The kids played well with their cousin and I finally had some “adult time”. Of course, my cousin’s daughter, Lauren is the cousin I told you about before that I was always really close to and missed her wedding. She is a freakin’ blast and drove up from Bedford to spend the weekend as well. The house is massive, so there’s room for everyone. I got to meet her husband which I loved instantly. Those two are a perfect match! I met him before, but this time I actually got to hang out with and talk to. It was such an amazing feeling knowing that I was surrounded by my family. Even though I dropped off the face of the Earth and missed so much, they were still there and loved me no matter what. My sister in law, Suzie, and niece, Katie went with me and we had a blast. After the children went to sleep, the adults sat out by the fire pit and drank. We had a freakin’ blast. The Vegas slogan came into play. “What happens in Vegas (Bloomington) stays in Vegas (Bloomington).” Only we will know the stupid and funny ass things we did and said. It was a much needed, over due good time and I was so happy to spend it with every single one of them and couldn’t wait to return.

Christmas Eve everyone always gathers at my parents’ house. It’s kind of funny because you really never know who is going to show up, but it ends up being a house full. It was a lot of fun and I had so much to be thankful for, my three beautiful children and my amazing family! My siblings and I still have friends that show up at my parents house to visit them, even if we aren’t there, they still come and holidays are no exception. If you are friends with any of us on Facebook, I’m sure you’ve seen the check-in’s at “Big Mama’s House – Child Care Services”. (lol) Since this was my 2nd Christmas without Brent, it wasn’t that bad. But, I started to worry about what was going to happen with visitation. What if the judge orders supervised visitation at the court house? Brent used to pick up and drop his older kids off there and it was scary! I couldn’t imagine dropping my children off with strangers and that fool not even showing up! I worried so much that I literally got sick. Before everyone arrived, my attorney and her husband invited my children, parents, and me to their home to celebrate Christmas. It was lovely and their home was beautiful. This lady is such a sweetheart and I really enjoy talking to her and her husband was the exact same way, even her guests were lovely people.

We couldn’t stay long because people started showing up at my parent’s house. A tradition we have is since Santa is so busy distributing the toys to children all over the world, someone in the family dresses up as him for the younger children. We gather every one in the living room and read “The Night Before Christmas” and then some where during the story, Santa arrives. I couldn’t help but laugh as I told my cousin Julie that the two dogs have never been around to see this and will probably attack “Santa”. Well, usually the guys do it, but they passed the torch to my oldest sister Janelle. The dogs went nuts, Marissa was terrified, the adults were laughing their asses off, Tommy hid behind my Dad, and Casie announced to everyone that Santa’s pants were falling off and had on pink panties! The kid will probably never be right after that!!! But, it was so freakin’ hilarious and to add to it Santa had a little too much rum and diet coke, but the children didn’t know that part.

Christmas Day was very relaxing. We just chilled out and the children were busy with all their new toys. It was a great day!
The following day, the caller id showed up a call from my attorney and she had good news! The judge made his ruling!

Brent’s urinalysis results were negative, but his hair follicle results showed exceedingly high levels of cocaine. The court finds that the children would be seriously endangered unless Brent’s visitation is immediately suspended. They will consider reinstating supervised visitation once he can produce a negative hair follicle drug screen through the court appointed facility and demonstrates sustained compliance with his mental health treatment, including taking his medication as prescribed.

In order for Brent to pay his part of the tuition, (which to bring him current on his part totals $2,120 – I haven’t seen a penny of since I had to front that to the school) I had to sign a medical release form to his attorney to access my records at the Psychologist office. The letter I submitted from her wasn’t efficient.

Brent was ordered to bring his agreed child support obligation current; he gave me $300 cash and was $500 in arrears (I received today).

Because I’m caring for a child under the age of three, the court does not find me to be voluntarily underemployed at this time. Therefore, the Kentucky Child Support Guidelines would require Brent to pay support of $1,373 per month. However, since I receive the Social Security Benefits for the children, that is credited to him. Therefore, the Court orders him to pay the difference of $775.10 per month, effective with the entry of that Order (haven’t seen a penny of that).

The Order also read that “The parties agreed to sell the marital residence and that Brent shall continue to pay the monthly obligations.” I had to provide a complete accounting of the items I removed and shall not remove any additional items.  And in reference to the GMC Acadia I sold, I had 30 days of the entry of the order to provide a complete accounting of how the proceeds from the sale were applied.

People have asked why I’m being so “public” with my situation. I feel that if I put it out there I may help someone. Even if it’s just one person, I would still make a difference. With that being said, as I started to compile my lists, I started to think back of what I had to do to get to this point. The embarrassment I felt going to the Dare to Care facilities to get help with food and clothing. Of course my family helped a great deal, but I had to take those humiliating steps still to get by. I sat in government buildings applying for Food Stamps and the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) program. I ran into old class mates and felt ashamed that I was on the other side of the desk begging for help. I applied for jobs and submitted my resume all around town. When that wasn’t getting me anywhere, I tried to go back to college to further my education. But, right before I was to start I was told that I had an outstanding balance of $800 that needed to be paid before I could start class. I didn’t have that kind of money, therefore I couldn’t start. Bills came in from the hospital visits from my children. Yes, they have insurance still through Brent’s company but the copays I couldn’t handle. Kosair Charities helped me greatly and helped me with the financial aid. They were phenomenal.  At one point in my life, I could go to the grocery and buy what ever I wanted or needed. Shit, right before I left Brent I bought an $1800 Coach luggage set (which was one of the items given to the drug dealers). Now I was cutting coupons and counting every penny, buying cheaper brands, and only the necessity. It was a “need” situation, not what I “wanted” anymore. I would be so embarrassed at the check out counter pulling out the WIC card or Electronic Benefit Card (EBT), aka food stamp card. You ever heard of rags to riches? Well, I was the exact opposite. Saying it was humiliating doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. But, I did what I had too to get by. And when the children would get invited to birthday parties or needed money at school, I would sell what I had to make sure I had the money. My children do not have a clue of any of this. I wanted to ensure they had a nice life and were happy. But, I will make this pledge here and now that when I do start making money I will repay my parents, Dare to Care, Kosair Charities, and the other places that helped me out.

This is my life now and as long as my children are happy and healthy, that’s all that counts. I will probably always hide behind a smile, but inside I am damaged of what has taken place this far and what is still to come.

New Years Eve came around and we headed back to Bloomington. Gail and Pat know how to throw a party and have a good time. But, what was the most special about it is that I was amongst people that I loved and loved me.

It was calm before the storm, and Brent started his New Year out pulling the same shit! Hold on, here we go again!

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