A Brave Journey

BRAVE-2016-WebAdI have written before about the struggles that I have had in my prayer life and with God regarding the parental alienation situation with my two children, now 18 and 20.  My struggle has been to continue to believe that God will change the situation.  I know that he can change it and I think I believe that he eventually will change it, but I’m very resigned to the reality that it may take 20 years.  This, I am beginning to realize, is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If I think it’s going to take that long I’m essentially giving up.

That said, I haven’t given in completely to that thinking.  I continue to email and call the kids periodically (usually a couple of times per month) — and I track the views of my email (via a program called hubspot sales — google it if you need something like this).  I see through that tracking that each kid usually opens and reads these emails an average of 4-8 times.  That is somewhat encouraging.  I choose to believe it’s the kids that are reading this and not their mom that is repeatedly opening and viewing the emails.  No way to really tell for sure, but that’s the way I choose to look at it.  And I’m also putting together the website with memories and letters and notes and poetry and videos from me in it that I hope will be something they can come to and see that their Daddy really wanted a relationship with them the whole time and he was not the man their mom made him out to be.

All that said, I’ve had a hard time praying about them, I’ve struggled with talking much about it to friends and family and I’ve even gotten angrier about it over the last several months.  I’m not a very angry guy, so that comes out in snide comments to friends about the ex, typically.

My church is doing what they call a “Brave” Journey this Spring where you get in a small group for 6 weekly sessions, the message is about the journey and there’s some individual work as well.  It’s actually pretty cool and I’m leading a group at my house with about 10 friends, some of which are brand new friends for this particular journey.  It’s a great group and as each of us embark on our journey, there’s a support team for us.  Originally, I was going with a “heading” about my finances and getting out of debt.  But then in yesterday’s individual work, there was a line about picking a direction for your journey that you really need God to show up for you to be able to get there.  I realized my financial heading (though needed), was really something I could do on my own — and pray for and involve God, but that there was one really significant thing that I needed his help to resolve:  My relationship with my kids.  THAT was the real Brave Journey.

Please understand.  I don’t have any idea about how to change what I am doing to improve the relationship, but I’m going to follow the process in this Journey, I’m going to aggressively pray for God to change this; I’ve asked about 12 of my closest friends and family to pray every day at noon for this; and I’m praying for God to actually help me believe this can change and will change by the end of 2016.

Some of you will appreciate the level of Miracle that this would be for me.  I’m not trying to diminish the pain and struggle of the terminally ill, but it feels to me like this is akin to praying for someone in Stage 4 cancer to not die and be healed.  It really does feel that drastic to me.

I’m putting this on the blog, because I think it will help me be bolder in this process and I think maybe others of you may need to take a similar coordinated, planned, definite step like this and work hard on your unbelief.  I’m reminded of Jarius, the man who wanted Jesus to heal his daughter.  To paraphrase, Jesus asks him if he believes that Jesus can heal his daughter.  His response feels exactly like where I am at this moment.

“I Believe, but help my unbelief.”  (Mark 9:24)

So I step out in day one of this journey, with no idea where my feet will land, but expecting God to do something miraculous in the next 8 months.

Parental Alienation description

If you haven’t seen this article, it’s a very good analysis by a psychiatrist regarding what Parental Alienation Syndrome really is.  I think the estimate that it happens in 60% of divorces to some degree actually diminishes the harsh reality in the 10% of the divorces where it is absolutely wrecking the lives of children, however.  This is a very thorough analysis with a lot of resources.  If you don’t believe PAS exists, or you’re not sure if the Dad you’re talking to is telling the truth about what’s happening to him and his kids, maybe this is a good place to start.  This is very, very real.

PAS Article

Parental Alienation Syndrome

 

In Between

in between5 dates into a new relationship.  You’re getting to know someone.  She’s into you.  You’re into her.  Sure there’s things you don’t know if you are going to be okay with in the long term, but you’re working through some of them and trying to figure out if it can work.  But in that timeframe, you’ve got someone to kiss, you’ve got someone sitting next to you at the party with her hand on your leg, you’ve got someone to call at the end of the night when you’re on the road.  There’s hope.  There’s excitement, there’s the thrill of getting to know someone and finding ways you complement each other.  It’s all an adventure.  It’s a bit of a roller coaster ride, and it’s exhilarating.  Until the sudden stop at the end.  I’ve had two of the experiences in the last few months and both ended because we were too far away. Needless to say,  I changed my dating preferences to like 15 miles.  Not going there again.  It’s painful.  You invest time and energy and money and you begin to commit and then the rug get pulled out from the table and a few glasses break.

So I accepted the news and agreed.  I had similar thoughts and worried the distance was going to be an impediment and when she confirmed it (and my travel) had been concerning to her, I figured that was reason enough to end things.  So, instead of a date on Friday night.  Volleyball and going out with friends.  It was fine, and okay.  But there’s this nagging feeling of “what could have been.” Not to mention that whole thought process of “How long until I find something?”  So just to be clear.  I’m not desperate at all.  If I was desperate, I would have gone on multiple dates with a number of girls I had the option to do that with or I would be dating someone from my friend group.  They are great people and they are great friends and I truly love them, don’t get me wrong, but it just seems to me that it wouldn’t work with any of these ladies for a number of different reasons.

So that leaves me in between.

Have I mentioned how much in between sucks?  I’m sure there are probably many of you out there right now that are “in between.”  I think to some degree or another, we’re all in between something, right?  It’s that whole thought process we go through about how life will be better when “X” happens.  X can be anything.  Graduation, babies, marriage, new job, new house.  I think X has been all of that for me at one point or another.  So the rest of this blog is not about how in between sucks.  But about what to do when you find yourself in between.

First off.  Re-read the last paragraph.  We’re always in between.  So if you aren’t in between relationships, you’ll be in between something else and it will nag you.  I think that is why I have worked really hard since my divorce to find contentment in whatever situation I find myself.  Yes, the alienation from my kids sucks and I’m in between when they loved me and when they may have a relationship again.  Yes, the job is difficult right now.  I literally made half the income I did last year and gave my ex-wife more money than I made.  Yes I’m not quite finished with the re-hab of my house that I moved into more than 2 months ago.  Yes, I’m in between relationships.

But this is the 2nd thing.  Take stock in what you have.  This weekend (in spite of the “breakup”), I had dinner with 15 of my guy friends and like 20 of their kids for Easter.  Pandemonium in the house, chaos when it came time to eat, kids squirming everywhere during communion we had and the short talk that was given.  But.  Heaven.  Kids, friends, great food, good conversation and just love for one another.  It was beautiful.  Later, went out to hang with some of the ex-girlfriends brothers.  I love these guys and their friends.  I missed hanging with them.  We had a great time and I introduced the old friends to some of the new friends and there was just a good time from everyone.  Then two friends brought over breakfast to the n0t-quite finished house and we cooked  bacon and eggs and sausage and cinnamon rolls.  I did have too many cinnamon rolls.  I confess.  Then Easter dinner with more friends on Easter Sunday night.  Bad karaoke in the living room. Duck lips pictures (of which I did not participate — I do have morals…) and just a great time by all.  I have friends (something i have not had the last few years and something I treasure).  I have a job.  I travel to cool places in that job — San Francisco as I’m writing this… I have a great Cat.  Don’t judge.  He’s awesome.  I have a family who loves me and lets me pontificate about how frustrated I am to be ” in between.”  I have areas to serve at church and people who love me.  I’m a very, very lucky and blessed man.

3rd.  Improve the heck out of yourself.  Get better at what you do.  You have free time that your “in-between” is forcing on you.  Take advantage.  Work out more, pray, find a small group, cultivate better your friend group, join a team, learn to dance.  All of us have these things nagging us in the back of our heads that we’ve always been too scared to do or we’ve dreamed about but never attempted.  Go do those things.  Become a better, more well-rounded you.  Chicks dig that.  Guys love it.  Become a more fascinating person.

4th.  Get back on the horse.  Had a fascinating discussion with one of my girl-friends the other night.  I think I felt I was being a bit judge by being on the dating sites again.  I get the impression that she’s disgusted by it.  But I told her this.  I know what I want.  I want to be in a relationship.  If that’s the case, then I need to go get what I want.  I need to work towards that goal, I need to become the best me I can be in that process, but I also can’t sit around the house and wait for Ms. Wonderful to knock on my door.  I do see a lot of women who either are doing that or have just given up and don’t seem to care anymore.  I think that may be logical for some people, and I don’t judge them for their decisions, but when my friend said, “I’m content where I am, I don’t think I need a man to make me happy.”  I said to her, “So if I told you tomorrow a man would come into your life and you’d begin a great relationship that lasted a long time, would you say, No thanks, I’m good.”  She said, “Of course not.”  And I then told her I thought that was a true indication of what she wanted, and if she did want that she should do something to reach that goal.

I’m not sure if that’s a guy’s approach to the problem or it’s just a personality thing, but I can’t imagine wanting something as important as a relationship and literally not doing anything to pursue that or get there.  So that’s the 3rd thing — get back in the mix.  Whether that means online dating or just going out with the friend crew to places you have a shot at meeting someone, it does mean not hanging at your house wistfully imagining what you are not trying to achieve.  That’s a bit like hoping you’ll win the lottery without buying a ticket.

So that’s what I’m doing while I’m in between.  Anything you’d add to that list?

 

  • Jim

 

The Fight Over Alimony

We can't always control what happens to

As i think I previously indicated in the blog, the wife has taken my 17 year old 3 1/2 hours away from where we lived when married.  She lied in court that she was moving in with her sister and instead, moved in with her boyfriend and his two 20 something daughters.  I fought this in court and obviously lost as I don’t have custody. (Please, please parents, don’t confuse visitation with custody.  If you don’t have custody, you have nothing).

 

So I hired a Private Investigator to prove she was living with him and then filed in court to remove alimony.  In my state there’s a line in the divorce decree that states re-marriage or cohabitation can eliminate alimony. I am scheduled to pay a fairly large sum of monthly alimony for 11 years from 2013.  Over the last year I paid more money to the ex then went into my pockets.  All for the privilege of her living with her boyfriend and alienating my kids from me.  I filed for the removal of alimony in December. And here’s the reason for my post today.  I just found out the date for the “removal of alimony” trial.  June 10.  Six months after I file, I finally get to see the judge on this.

I do believe the judge will be pre-disposed to be incredibly frustrated with my ex.  The judge remembers the case very clearly and how many times she has been trapped in a lie in open court and had to retract stuff.  She also was very clear with her at the last appearance regarding cohabitating if she was granted the move.  I think she knew exactly what the ex was going to do.

But, the ex’s first response to the filing was to rehire the original divorce lawyer and file for an increase in alimony.  Using her boyfriends address as the return address.  How does the judge not look at this and say:  “Are you kidding me?  You’re brash enough to fight the cohabitation and alimony elimination while using your boyfriends address and asking for more alimony?  Rule for ex-husband.  Get out of my court room.  Garnished wages till everything is paid back to him from August when you began this fraud. I’m not wasting one more second on this farce and if I see you in here again, you’ll be charge with perjury and contempt of court.  You’ve taken exhorbitant amounts of this Dad’s money, alienated him from his kids and now you dare file this pile of excrement?”

A guy can dream, can’t he?  That would be justice.  Only for whatever reason, that never happens in the courts here in my state.  No judge wants to find a single mom in contempt of court, or garnish her wages, or even rule against her.  For whatever reason, the default here is that the Mom gets the benefit of the doubt.

So meanwhile, I’m being subpoenaed for every bank statement, every investment statement, every tax return, every employee contract and employment record for the last three years.  I sat through a 90 minute deposition where I was asked every question imaginable about money.  Always, always, its just about the money.  Never anything to do with the kids from her, never any kind of discussion about how we can parent better.  I’ve been completely eliminated as a parent in her mind.  I’m only a cash cow.  Reality was, that was who I was for much of the last few years of marriage.

Now my lawyer says I can go back retroactively and make her pay me back for the alimony paid between filing in December and July (when we will probably finally get a ruling).    I won’t be doing this.  I will not be the dad that garnished his kids’ moms wages.  I will not be vindictive.  It’s about the kids. It’s not about the money.  No kids wants to hear that his mom became financially destitute because Dad sued her and garnished her wages.  Her income will obviously drop dramatically after the elimination of the alimony (and the child support, too, in June as my son graduates high school).  But, then again, she’s got two incomes coming into the home from her boyfriend and her new job, so she’ll be fine.

All this to say — nothing is a slam dunk in the world of divorce and alienation.  I’m confident I’ll win this case in June, but who knows for sure.

I told a friend struggling through divorce today, “We can’t always control what happens to us, but we do have control over how we respond to what happens to us.”  I believe this.  I will live this.

 

 

 

 

167 Red Flags or Examples of Parental Alienation

http://www.brainsyntax.com/Home/MessageDetail/342

           

X

Truth is in a man’s actions, not in someone else’s blind accusations.

This a hugely useful list of all kinds of stuff that Alienators do to separate us from our kids.  I haven’t counted yet, but my Ex has done 76 out of the 167 items. If you take out the red flags she hasn’t exhibited that were flags for small children and flags with step parents (neither of which apply for me), the ratio gets much higher — almost 76% of the items that would apply, have been exhibited by my ex.  That’s a staggering number of red flags.

Might be a useful list for others undergoing alienation…

Jim

 

 

Why Daughters Need Dads

Daughters need dads

 

First heard of this Doctor on Dennis Prager’s radio show (highly recommended by the way).  And I know this to be true.  How do I get through to my daughter to convince her to still want a relationship with me though?  That’s the whole rub of all this for us alienated dads…

Why Daughters Need Their Dads So Much

 

 

 

Should You Not Date Single Moms?

 

cartoon unicorn with speech bubble
Should I Date Single Moms?

Read an article today that really got me thinking.  I tried to read it with as open a mind as I could.  I’ll let you do the same.  Here it is.

“Don’t date single mothers and don’t waste your time with them”- US author writes scathing article…gives 15 reasons why real men shouldn’t date single mothers

Now here’s my thoughts.  I’ve listed Shawn James’ reasons not to date single mom’s below.  Right off the bat, I think the type of single mom he is referring to is the kind that have had 1 or more babies out of wedlock to help increase the Government Aid take.  It’s the only thing that makes sense with most of his reasons.  A woman who has been divorced or widowed does not fit a lot of these stereotypes.  And lets be honest, that’s what these 15 reasons really are.  He’s either had a few “gems” as single mothers that he’s dated, or he is just hearing all the stories from babby daddies he goes drinking with who are whining about their Babby Mammas.

I do think 1-4 are very difficult things for a single mom to negotiate, especially with younger children.  They are worried about how their kids are doing without them.  As applies with most of these other items as well — the same thing goes for single dads.  They struggle with time available and priorities.  I don’t think I’ve met any single moms who think the world revolves around them.  They usually feel stressed and panicked that they are not spending enough time with their kids and worried their dating partner will get annoyed with them for that lack of availability, regardless of how much they enjoy the company of said partner.

As for the ex always being there.  Duh. So is my ex.  I’m dealing with Parental Alienation, so #5-#8 also apply to me as well.  I think Shawn is probably a single dude without kids or he’s got kids scattered all around a 180 mile radius of his hometown and has no clue how to be a parent and places no value on it.  In his defense.  He’s right.  HE should not date a single mom.  In fact, it kinda sounds like 2,3,4,8,9,10,15 could also apply to him…

I have seen many, many women with distorted self-image, who play the victim, who have jekyll and Hyde personalities and who are dishonest and drama queens with baggage.  I think it doesn’t have anything to do with being a single mom.  There’s also a lot of men with those problems.  It’s part of the human condition.

I have seen very few single mom’s dating to make the baby daddy jealous or wanting to get back with their babby daddy.

Maybe I’m a bit naive, but I don’t see the huge issues that this guys is speaking about, but at the end of the day, I think it all depends on your experiences and your viewpoint going into those experiences.  If you go around thinking all single women are drama queens and victims, you’re going to see that everywhere.

So here’s my advice to anyone getting ready to date a single mom or a single lady or a divorced mom or widow.  Grace is very important.  Everyone comes with their own challenges and problems.  If you go into that relationship trying to identify those problems first rather than trying to get to know someone and understand them, you’re going to be miserable.

My pastor has a tatoo that has the yin and yang symbol and the words Grace and Truth inside of it, with a crown of thorns around it.  I think that applies very nicely here.  Start with Grace and you’ll begin to understand truth about that person eventually.  You may decide that you don’t want to go down that road, but you can still treat that woman with grace even after you understand their truth.

Happy Dating all!

 

Shawn James’ 15 Reasons not to date a Single Mom

  1. Never Available
  2. YOU are not a priority
  3. Thinks the world revolves around HER and ONLY HER
  4. Emotionally Unavailable
  5. The ex/Baby Daddy is ALWAYS THERE
  6. The kids are working AGAINST YOU
  7. Those kids will HATE YOU
  8. Entitled Attitude Single mothers think… world owe her EVERYTHING
  9. Distorted Self-Image
  10. Always the victim
  11. Jekyll and Hyde Personality
  12. Drama Queen
  13. In most cases dating to make her baby daddy jealous
  14. Dishonest
  15. Baggage