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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Something Has to Give

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time to be thankful for what you have and who you are. However, I spent my Thanksgiving of 2010 questioning Brent where my Acadia was. He always had an excuse like it was broke down or in the shop. My mom pressured me to call Onstar and see where the vehicle was really at. When I called them, I explained to the operator the situation that Brent had a mental disease and a love for illegal drugs and I just wanted to know if she could tell me the location. At that time, she conferenced called the Louisville Metro Police Department on the phone. I once again told my story. She asked if there was a way to contact Brent. So, without warning to him I called him on 3-way. He stuttered around and told one lie after another. The police told me they would be in contact and the Onstar operator asked me to stay on the line after Brent disconnected. She told me not to go look for the car that once the vehicle is started a signal would be transported to the police and they would handle it from that point.

A half an hour later, an arrest was made. When the police officer called she told me that the car was recovered and I had the option of going to get it or having it impounded. I questioned the part of town where I would need to go and asked her if it was “a bad part of town”. Her answer was “It’s not the greatest!” So, I told her to impound it.

Monday morning my brother took me to the impound lot. It was actually kind of scary. The police officer told me that only I could enter the gates and that my brother would have to stand back. He pointed in the direction the car was located and handed me the keys. I remember when I saw it, I turned around biting my bottom lip (my habit I do when I’m nervous), and Kevin yelled “Just go get it! There’s nothing I can do! Pull it up here by my truck!” As I got closer, I noticed that the tint on my windows were so black you couldn’t see inside. Even the windshield! I opened the door and my body literally went into shock. I started bawling crying and couldn’t control the shaking. As I turned on the car, even the music was creepy. There was needles every where, blood on the doors, about 50 pre-paid cell phones, cigars in the cup holders, some of my jewelry, a transmission in the back, pictures of naked ladies, and just pure filth everywhere. And underneath it all, was my children’s toys they left behind. On the dash a pizza was there untouched and 2 20oz bottles of pop in the passenger’s seat. The car drove like shit! When I finally got to my brother, he just looked at me and said “get out … I’ll drive that car, you take my truck!” I followed him out to his and Suzie’s house where we decided to house the car until we figured out our next move. It was later picked up and transported to the local GMC dealership where the insurance company estimated over $13,000 in repair to be completed. The whole inside basically had to be gutted. All of the headliner, cushions, seat covers, carpet, and whatever else had to be replaced. I was hoping the insurance company would total it out, but it slightly missed the 60% of what it was worth mark so they moved on with the repairs.
Brent found out where the vehicle was at and took the unit without all of the repairs being finalized. In the mail, a letter advising me of the court date that I had to attend came. It stated the guy’s name of who was arrested and what charges he was facing. I was terrified to go. I called the arresting officer and explained to him that I was terrified of the dealers and that if I showed up at court, they would know who I was. It didn’t matter I had to be in attendance. Thank God, Bob, went with me. The dude’s like 7 feet tall and not too many people messed with him. I asked around and was able to get a good description of what this drug dealer looked like, so when he entered the area outside the court room – I knew exactly who he was. He brought along his entourage to intimidate me. I sat with my back to them and was scared to death. The arresting officer started yelling out my name, but I didn’t respond in fear. When he walked in a small conference room, I entered and introduced myself. They asked me some questions, then the prosecuting attorney came in and some other people. Basically, they told me that my husband had traded the vehicle for “something” and they were going to drop the charges and since he served a few nights in jail that they would call it even for the remainder of his charges. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I just seriously put mine and Bob’s life in danger and this dude just gets a slap on the wrist. I was starting to give up on the whole judicial system.

I knew I had to buckle down and get out of this mess, so I was on the hunt for a new lawyer. In dealing with Brent’s, I needed a woman who understands, who was aggressive, and easy to talk too! I’m talking balls to the wall type person. And I thank God everyday I found her! I was very depressed and let time get away from me, so it wasn’t until August that I finally took action.

Louisville is a small town; some body always knows some body. I started asking around for attorney referrals. My brother, Kevin, happened to work with Brian who I used to hang out with back in the day. His mother was a sheriff at the court house and she recommended two. One of the names stood out to me, so I gave her a call to talk to her. My first impression was “oh no, she’s probably heard about this case and isn’t interested.” I’ve literally been told by several attorney’s that Brent and his ex wife’s divorce case was the laughing stock of the court house. She set up an appointment for me to meet with her the following day. I will be honest, the thought crossed my mind to just not go, let him go his way and I would go mine. I felt the system has worked against me this far. But, that wasn’t realistic so I found myself the next afternoon in this woman’s office. Her secretary was so sweet and made that initial visit less painful. When I got into the lawyers office, she listened – not like an attorney, but like some one who could relate, maybe a friend. I don’t know. She started typing up motions one after another and looking into Brent’s court records. I told her about his attorney and she said “Oh, I love her! Don’t take it personal, honey. You aren’t a gold digger if you are driving around in your parents’ car and living out of their basement. It’s just a tactic.” When I left her office, I knew I made the right choice. This was the woman I wanted to represent me! I couldn’t wait for her to get a hold of Brent! Finally, for the first time I felt a victory was going to come my way! The following motions were made:
·         Motion for Respondent (Brent) to turnover tax information for 2010
·         Motion for Respondent to turnover Petitioner’s (me) belongings
·         Motion for Respondent to pay tuition for minor children
·         Motion to restrict Respondents visitation
·         Motion for advance of attorney fees
·         Motion for immediate child support
Over the course of that time, some skeleton’s came out of the closet. I found out that when Brent was in the rehab in Florida, he met another woman and had an affair with her as well. I can’t tell you how many times I made that embarrassing doctor’s visit to check for STD’s and AIDS. I am happy to tell you that I’m clean and would never submit myself to his nasty ways again!

Brent threatened me several times that he was throwing all of my belongings in the dumpster and/or have a garage sale. There was a rumor that an armed drug dealer was working out of the house.
Tommy was accepted to the same school Casie attended the year before and Brent would hold the tuition over my head. Like, “if you spend the weekend with me, I’ll pay their tuition” or “if you do this … or buy me this, I will pay the children’s tuition.” Wow! What did he think I was one of his whores?!? There were times that I did feel sorry for him when he would call me saying he hasn’t ate in days and I would order him a pizza. Other then that, I was catching on to his dirty ways! We had separate bank accounts so I wasn’t worried about him getting my money. The only money I had coming in was what each child got from Social Security through Brent’s disability benefit; which is $199 a child, per month. I also get what’s called spouses benefits since I have a child in my care under a certain age. That money will stop once the divorce is final. We are talking $798 a month and $624 of it goes to Casie and Tommy’s school.

One day, Brent’s bank statement came to my parents’ house on accident. I opened it and was disgusted with what I saw. He went through $10,000 in one month!!! Ten thousand dollars! And I literally have $174 left over every month to live on for me and the three children. I was literally selling anything of value that I had just to get by.

I did go into that house once during the year that I was gone and most of the electronics, valuables, and what not were gone. He told me that he traded them for drugs. The house was bare. Places where TV’s once hung on the wall were empty. My parents had bought us a 70 inch flat screen – it was gone. My Movado watch – gone! The WII – gone. You name it, it was gone! My sweet little step daughters dinosaur piggy bank – smashed and emptied!

The judge ordered us to a hearing in October and referred us to mediation. If an agreement cannot be reached, we will continue to the hearing in October.

Do you think when mediation came around, we were going to agree?!? Nope! Actually, we spoke before and came to an agreement and had my attorney draw up the paperwork. But, when Brent showed up – it was a totally different story! However, we did come to some agreements and not on some others.
It was agreed upon that the $624 for the children’s tuition would come from my account over the ten months of payments. Brent would pay me $424 per month by depositing that amount in my checking account once I began treatment for (in Brent’s words) depression/anxiety, over spending, and honesty. And that his attorney would have access to my records. (I did get help for the depression/anxiety, but haven’t seen a penny towards the tuition as of today.)

Brent was to maintain medical insurance on the children and that uncovered medical expenses shall be paid pursuant to the statue. He was to maintain insurance on me until entry of the divorce. (Yeah, right!)
Provided that he was clean and sober, he may attend any of the children’s school parties, parent-teacher conferences, open houses, field trips, and/or lunches with the children, as long as he completes the criminal background check and education classes that the school requires! (Great, just what every parent wants to hear!)

We agreed to supervise visitation, with my parents being the supervisors, until the court would rule on that at the hearing. (He only showed up when it was convenient for him.)

Neither party would enter the other’s home prior to a written agreement nor is there anyone to take residency in the marital home until my name has been removed from the deed. (He already has had two different women living there – one of those was the one from Florida rehab. That’s a match made in heaven if you ask me!)

I shall continue receiving the children’s money they receive from Brent’s Social Security benefits, plus he would pay me $200 more a month until the judge decides what the calculations should be. (Yep, haven’t seen a penny of that either!)

When the discussion of a hair follicle test arose, Brent had guilty all over his face. My attorney had to tell him several times that it was mediation and not a counseling session. His own lawyer even said “Brent, she doesn’t want you! She wants a divorce. Get over it.” They asked me several times if I was moving forward with the divorce or if there was a chance of reconciliation. I stood by my decision then, I stand by it today, and will always stand by it – I want a divorce! Everything else moved to the hearing.

Ironically, Brent checked himself into a mental hospital on October 9th so the judge postponed it another month, yet awarded attorney fees.

My depression got very severe at that point. I remember spending many nights crying my eyes out to my mom that I just wanted to die. I even went to the extent of researching a quick and easy way to get out of this world. At that point, I had alienated myself from everyone. I remember telling my parents that I didn’t want anyone to know anything. It was my life and I was embarrassed. I missed so many big events; one in particular was my cousin’s wedding. She and I were always so close and we went through so much together – we were more like sisters! I love her dearly, but I couldn’t stand the thought of being around people. It terrified me. I just wanted to be alone. Most nights I cried myself to sleep. The thought of, “wow, I’m a fat blob who turned my husband into a crack head” crossed my mind. I didn’t have two pennies to rub together. My health wasn’t the greatest either. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 2007 and just started seeing a specialist because getting the medications regulated was pretty close to impossible. If you aren’t familiar with that condition, it basically slows your metabolism to a snails paste and your ass gains 20 pounds by just looking at food! I was recently diagnosed with diabetes. The doctor put me on insulin shots and my body rejected it, to the point of I was throwing up every waking second of the day. I started having kidney stones, which might I add is more painful then giving birth. The depression had a hold of me so bad that I didn’t care what I looked like. I didn’t wear makeup because I felt it was such a waste of time – there wasn’t enough makeup in this world to cover me! With my weight rising, I didn’t wear anything other then sweat pants/shirts. What was the point? I couldn’t impress someone if I tried. These are just a few of the thoughts that crossed my mind. Seeking the help from a professional was way overdue. I found some one that was easy to open up to, a Psychologist. Yet, when I found out that Brent’s attorney would have access to my files – I quit going. I reached out to the priest at my children’s school. He was amazing. He went through the same thing I was going through with an addicted loved one and explained “co-dependency” to me. Everything suddenly clicked, I was always there cleaning up Brent’s mess that I lost me! Co-dependency was playing me like a fool. That first visit to him was a good swift kick in the butt to get me back on track. I was afraid how my children would be treated and didn’t want people knowing what was going on. He looked at me and simply said “Why? That’s his problem, not yours or your children!” He was right! I will forever be grateful to him. I finally found the courage to talk to people and you wouldn’t believe the people that are out there that is going through the same thing. It’s devastating. The parents of my children’s friends were very kind and accepting of what has taken place in their lives.

During drug awareness week, Casie asked me if she could talk about her dad. I suggested that it was always good to talk to people that she trusted, but in that situation it would be best if she didn’t blurt it out in front of the class. Yet, maybe pull the teacher aside and talk to her privately. Of course I had to make a mad dash into the school to give the teacher the heads up. She was so sweet!

Tommy didn’t adjust so well to school. He cried most mornings, which literally broke my heart. The teacher he has is the teacher Casie had last year, so I felt a lot of comfort in knowing he was in good hands. On several occasions, he came home with “sad notes”. I didn’t even know there was such thing. Casie never had one! But, leave it to my boy. One day it was for biting, the next day it was for fighting, and then one for peeing on a child! I was ready to flip. Apparently, when the boys were in the bathroom, my little man thought it was funny to aim it at his buddies. Yes, I would be angry if I was the “other” kid’s parent. I didn’t know how to handle it. I’m a single mother and had to potty train a little boy. I figured throwing a Cheerio in the toilet and saying “aim for that” is all I needed to do.

The re-scheduled hearings came around, and guess what? Brent was back in the mental facility. Convenient, huh?!? His attorney ended up withdrawing as counsel and he hired someone new. Well, not really. He re-hired an attorney he used with his first divorce who happened to quit Brent for stealing a document from the court room.  So, once again the hearing got rescheduled. The judge wasn’t thrilled about it and said this was going to happen in December with or without Brent.

There’s a twist to that hospital stay, Brent gave the keys to my mom to take care of the dog. It was time for me to get what was rightfully mine!!!!! I was on a mission!!!!

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