My Ex Showed Up For Court
I’m not sure how many of you remember but in July I paid Mr. Attorney Man (in single dollar bills, in a duffle bag, in a parking lot, because WHY NOT?) to take my ex back to court due to his continued nonpayment of child support.
I was coming off the heel of yet another failed attempt to get him to pay; a failed attempt that included me agreeing — in the hallway of the courthouse — to a ridiculous deal that would let my ex pay me what he owed, over the course of the next 5 years; a deal made in an attempt to keep him out of jail so that he wouldn’t lose his job, and take with it any chance of me ever getting paid.
I had left court that day upset that I had agreed to allow him to finance his children, and upset that once again he would face no real consequence from the years of his repeated failure to be responsible for his children. As the months wore on and he did not keep up his end of the deal, I got angry (and rightfully so). But the funny thing was, I was less angry at him, and more angry with myself. I was angry because by continuously making deals with him, I was not handling the situation in a way that I would look back and feel proud of.
What matters to me is standing up to my ex.
What matters to me is not even proving anything to him, because I don’t care about him, but proving to myself that I will not be pushed around anymore.
What matters to me is being able to tell my children “I tried.” It matters when they ask me why they can’t have what the other kids have, or even have enough of what they need, that I will at least be able to tell them “I’m trying.”
What matters to me is showing my daughter that you don’t let a man walk on you and be expected to accept it.
What matters to me is not allowing the only lesson that my son ever learns from his father to be that you can throw your responsibilities away without any consequences.
What matters to me is that I don’t want to forever be the woman who watched her husband walk away, but rather I’d like to become the woman that waved good-bye as she steps over him on her way out the door.
What matters to me is finding my voice after so many years of silence.
What matters to me is finally knowing that I’m not a victim of my silence anymore.
I don’t care if I win my court case, I care that I tried.
I’m at least going to try.
I don’t plan to spend the rest of my life chasing down a man that is choosing not to be a part of our family (and shouldn’t be), but as a parent I need at least one time where I stood up to the man who abused and abandoned all three of us, and know that I didn’t let him weasel his way out of the consequences. I need at least one time where I can tell my kids, “mommy tried.” My kids already have a lot of questions as to why their dad isn’t here and as they get older, they are bound to start asking about my role in how everything played out. As a mother who is trying to help her children through a situation that they don’t understand, I want to be able to tell them that daddy may have left, but mommy didn’t let him forget what he left behind.
The only thing that my children will ever truly know their father for, is being walked out on by him.
I want them to know that I not only stayed, but that I also fought for them.
They deserve that much.
They deserve to know that I fought for the recognition of their existence.
So I’m going back to court and this time, we are doing things my way.
I may not win, but at least I’ll know I tried.
I made my intentions abundantly clear to Mr. Attorney Man, and then I didn’t worry about it anymore. I wasn’t even sure where my ex was living, so the chances of him even finding out that we had a court date seemed pretty slim (although he was served at every previously known address). Because of that, I resigned myself to the fact that I would probably walk in with my case and walk out with a warrant for his arrest…. and then I would wait. Wait for the system to find him, wait for him to randomly be pulled over for speeding, or wait for whatever else the world might have in store that would cause the police to arrest him. Either way, I was prepared for nothing more than the tiniest step in the legal process, but in the bigger picture (and the one that was more important to me), I would walk out of court with the knowledge that I had stood up for myself, and the right to be honest with my children in the future that “yes, I did try everything.”
So when the court date was set, I didn’t think about it much. It didn’t seem like anything monumental was going to happen, and I was determined not to let my PTSD brain steal any more of time worrying about it. But the morning of court, when my alarm clock went off, I freaked out.
And then it was our turn.
My ex started to (fake) tear up and plead his case to the judge. He claimed that he had tried to pay me, but the child support system didn’t work. Then when the judge asked him why he hadn’t sent a check to my house, or gone down to the child support office, or even let my attorney and I know what the situation was, he changed his story to how his car was going to get towed and he really needed the money, and then started to whine that he didn’t actually have any money, and as he went on and on, I grew increasingly frustrated that I had to even waste my time listening to anymore of his lies.
So did the judge.
He gave my ex a list of paperwork that he wants that will either verify his story or discredit it, and continued the case to the first week of March.
Now I wait.
And although I wasn’t nervous while waiting before, I’m nervous as hell now. Not because I’m still scared of him, or because I’m afraid I might lose the case, but because for the first time in the 4 years that I’ve been going through this process, I’m scared for a different reason.
After four years of hurting, crying, healing, reminiscing, and chatting with you guys, I really am amazed at how far I’ve come. And I was confronted with exactly how far that really is, when I realized that seeing him now brings up a totally different feeling in me.
Now, I am not scared that he will attack me in court, but rather that I might actually lose my fucking mind and punch my ex in his stupid lying face, in front of the judge.
It wasn’t seeing his glare that reminded me of all the times that I looked into his eyes and thought that I might actually die, that got me riled up. Or seeing him clench his fists and remembering how much they hurt. It wasn’t seeing the arms that held me down while he raped me, or even seeing the lips that used to say the most horrific things to me; things coming from the mouth of the one who should have loved me most.
Nah, not anymore. Unsettled, yes. Traumatized, for sure. But scared of him in the courtroom? Not a bit.
Now, I just want to punch him in the face. Which I know, as a DV survivor and someone who now works in the DV community, I probably shouldn’t even be saying that, but this is a place of honesty, so I’m going to be honest.
I’d really like the opportunity to punch him in the face.
But I won’t… hopefully.
Because that would be wrong. I guess.
When I first started the divorce process, I was so hurt and angry that my ex had not only broken me, but then also left me, that I used to constantly repeat the motto “handle yourself with dignity and grace” anytime I felt like I was going to flip out. I’d seen couples in the courthouse hallway screaming at each other, and I’d seen friends tear their former spouse to shreds in front of our other friends, and while it may been pretty justified if I had chosen to do the same, I realized that the only control that I had in a situation that was totally out of my control, was how I was going to handle myself.
So dignity and grace is what I chose, and I’m pleased to say that even though he probably deserved whatever I would have liked to throw at him, I didn’t throw anything at all; literal or otherwise. In fact, a post popped up on my Facebook TimeHop feature the other day that alerted me to a status update I had posted three and a half years ago. It said “a lot of you are asking me about my ex and what is going on. I know that this is a situation that naturally brings about a lot of curiosity, but it is not one that I’m choosing to broadcast at the moment. I will tell you that my ex has chosen to leave our family, and that I am getting a divorce. I do not know where he is, but I do ask that despite whatever it is that he is doing, or wherever he may be, that you keep him in your prayers as much as you are already keeping me in them. I can’t imagine why he did what he did, so please take the opportunity to pray for someone who is clearly struggling.”
And that is how I have continued to live. I ask others to have grace for him, not because he deserves it, but because I do not want to surround myself with people who feel anger for me. I do not want my kids growing up surrounded by adults who feel angry around us. There has been so much anger already, that I don’t want to breed anymore.
So while I would like justice to be served and am pursuing it in the court system, anger is not what I want to feel towards him. Not because he deserves my grace, but because I realize that this is not about him, it’s about me.
And so this court date? It’s about me, and my kids, and how I’m choosing to handle things, and I hope (and pray) that when I see my ex the first week of March, that I can remember all the work I’ve done in the last 4 years to not become the crazy screaming ex.
Because between you and me? I kinda want to punch him in his stupid lying face.
Wish me luck, and please pray for grace.
Lord knows I’m going to need a helping hand for that one.