Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Blue Xmas

It is with some trepidation that I’m firing this blog up again after more than two years, but I think it’s time. Let me say this up front: I’m not writing this post to rant or disparage anyone, and I have little interest in relating all of the events that happened. None of it is ancient history to me. I am still dealing with the consequences of what my ex did. It’s painful for me to even talk about, so I generally don’t.

So I’m posting this mainly so I don’t have to tell my story again and again… people’s mouths tend to drop open and their faces go blank when they hear it for the first time. I haven’t socialized much lately. Some of the people I haven’t seen in a while don’t seem to be in the loop – I’ve hardly commented about any of it on Facebook etc., and when I have, I’ve noticed by the tone of some people’s comments that they don’t know what’s going on or what has happened. I do feel it necessary to get my thoughts out about why I haven’t posted anything in over two years – there are legal as well as emotional reasons, as you’ll soon see if you dare to keep reading this.

Those of you who know me well also know what I’ve been through in the meantime. My life was turned upside-down, dumped on the ground and set on fire. I made it through, but I am not whole and I don’t know if I ever will be again. I no longer really expect people to really grasp any of that. I understand now that what happened to me is beyond most people’s experience or ability to really understand. That is OK! I wouldn’t wish what happened to me on anyone… well, maybe a very bad person, like Rush Limbaugh. Of course he’s been divorced three times I think, but he’s not only a bad person, he’s also a rich person. He can take it.

But I am neither a bad nor rich person, and it still happened to me. It was very much a worst-case scenario. There was literally nothing in the world she could have done to hurt me worse than what she did, short of harming Simon in some way. I don’t say that lightly. I’m not even trying to imply that she really meant to hurt me, though she did, and will tell you herself without hesitation that everything was my fault. I am simply stating a simple fact that I’ve learned about myself, and I have the therapy bills to prove it!

I also learned a lot about the type of person she is. It’s strange that I learned more about her in the past 2 years than in the preceding 8 years that we were together. Even when my marriage was really starting to fall apart, I never thought that she would do the things that she did. Then she did those things. I stand corrected.

Lest you think I’m being dramatic or spiteful, please consider that I’ve lost my son, my house, my finances are ruined, and I’m now living in my parents’ basement at age 40. I was ordered to pay her for the privilege of all the above, while she was telling half-truths about me, trying to manipulate the system and enabled by the financial support of her new lover. She left Simon behind with me in Colorado to move in with the guy. An invasive child/family investigation was done. I was drug tested. I had to answer hundreds of questions. And through extreme financial pressure, courtesy of the thoughtless judicial system in Adams County, I was forced to reach a settlement, the terms of which directly contradicted everything in the court’s own CFI report recommended.

For all this, I was duly congratulated by Judge Ted Tow for agreeing to give up my son for 9 months out of every year. Magistrate Stapp had the nerve to say a year ago at the hearing, to my face as he ordered me to pay 80% of all legal costs, “I don’t know where you’re going to come up with this money.” Due to this decision one year ago, my finances deteriorated rapidly. My lawyer withdrew for non-payment of my account – though I probably could have retained him somehow, the problem was that under the court’s order, the court would have taken a very dim view of me being able to pay my lawyer and not hers. I had nowhere to turn for legal counsel – of course the court was indifferent to my situation.

I was served with Discovery shortly thereafter (Discovery is an extremely expensive, intrusive legal process, like most legal processes), and I was facing a divorce trial versus a very aggressive lawyer, whom I was paying, in a court that I felt was hostile to me and the idea of Simon remaining with me. And of course the ultimate irony was that the CFI investigation was pretty devastating to my ex and all the stories she told about me. Had I gone to trial, it probably would have gone my way, but by the time I negotiated the settlement I had absolutely no faith in the court system or its reasoning.

I have been asked by friends and family many, many times about the court's "reasoning," and I have no answer.  Magistrate Stapp did not elaborate beyond his insightful comment. I only know that the court engineered this outcome and then congratulated me for being reasonable enough to settle. I only know that the court seemed to have no idea what it was doing. I only know that the entire system seemed to be biased and no one seemed to listen to me. I only know that I will never trust the legal system again. I only know that the Adams County Court does not seem to have the slightest concern regarding legal outcomes for people who aren’t rich, or their children either.

Can you imagine if the circumstances had been reversed, and I had left my ex for a girlfriend I had known only for a few months, moved out of state and demanded custody of our son? Would the court have ordered her to pay most of my legal bills? The financial hardship was not symmetrical. In addition to the legal bills, she also left me with some thousands of dollars in delinquent taxes, childcare bills and debt. I was unable to afford staying in my house, while she pulled up stakes and moved in with her new boyfriend, in a very nice neighborhood in Michigan.

Unfortunately, I do not have a lover to support my cross-country move so I can live rent free while I try to extract custody of Simon and other concessions, as she did. And of course the biggest hardship is that Simon is no longer with me most of the time.

The divorce was finalized on May 14th of this year. I drove Simon out to Michigan in July. I got the house ready to sell and moved into my parent's basement in November. The house went on the market and sold just last week. I expect to make a minor gain on it, so there is a silver lining. I'm going to use the gain to pay down the lawyers and then pay back all the money I owe to... let's see, my family, the bank, Simon's former school, my therapist etc, etc.  This windfall is entirely spoken for already.

Yes, I know this is all dirty laundry that is painful to read. Can you imagine how painful it is to type? Can you imagine living through it? I have a lot of rebuilding to do. It’s just a simple fact. I will never be the same.

On a more positive note, we are civil these days. Simon seems happy in Michigan and is very excited about Christmas. I see him via Skype two or three times per week and he came back to Colorado for two weeks over Thanksgiving. I even had a girlfriend, Lisa, for a while. Though we broke up a while back, the breakup was not hostile and being with her showed me that I still have the capacity to be in a relationship. My band Governors broke up too, but I’ve been playing in a new cover band for some time now. I’m exercising 6 days a week and crave it.

I have been seeing a great therapist for more than a year in order to deal with the emotional trauma and figure out strategies for co-parenting with my ex going forward. I am trying with varying levels of success to not be that bitter, vengeful divorced guy -- we've all met one of those, right?  We are cooperating fairly well in parenting Simon, whom I love more than ever -- he's really been through a lot lately and seems to have held up well, for which I'm so thankful.  He's such a sweet, big-hearted kid. I'm grateful that he's mine.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m trying to look forward to the time when my finances settle down and I can have Simon with me all summer long. I'm trying to end on an upbeat note here and I'm sorry if any of this makes your Xmas a little less cheery... it's just kind of blue for me.

On the bright side, for me, next year cannot possibly be worse than 2013. I assure you, I’d much rather write about music or… well anything but my divorce! So I’m going to start posting regularly again… it’s been years of hell for me, and I miss putting down my many other thoughts on the Interwebs.

I’m back. Thank you and best wishes to everyone who reads this!