I had been so prepared for this fight.
Two years ago, my ex-wife began her campaign of causing me as much harm as she possibly could. Throughout this journey, I’d been exposed to some of the worst that she could offer, but the most damaging had been through the kids. All in the name of doing what was best for the kids, she’d been able to convince everyone that I’d been a horrible husband and an even worse father – and yet, she kept me around as a punching bag, as someone she could inflict mental and emotional harm on whenever things in her life did not go her way. And every time, I fell right into her traps because I did not want to seem like the bad parent or the uncooperative person in this post-divorce relationship.
She certainly had some problems crop up in her life since our divorce. I no longer felt any pity for her. Some of it was undeserved for sure. But a lot of it, I believed that she deserved, and still deserved more. If she wasn’t blaming me for something trivial such as being unable to fix her car, it was on something else. I did not appreciate that she blamed our son’s behavior on my genetics making him hyper a lot.
Yes, she blamed me because our five year old son was hyper all the time.
I wouldn’t say that I was completely innocent in our marriage, but I didn’t want to fight anymore.
As much as I hated the situation, I did realize that she held the power. But the moment she told me that she intended to take our children and move from Minnesota to a new home overseas, I knew I had very little time to act. Unfortunately, no matter how much I ranted and complained about it, it seemed that very few people had an inkling of just how serious this situation really was.
But not too long after I filed a motion against her, she removed all of the mutual friends from social media. She suspected someone amongst her friends of telling me details of her post-divorce life.
We had a schedule to adhere to in our divorce decree. The false protective order she had kept on me for the two years since our divorce had expired. But the child that I used to be married to would not allow me to call. I was given a different excuse every time I asked to speak with the kids. None of them had been valid.
When I’d finally arrived to court, I should’ve expected something to happen, given my brand of luck. With my binder of evidence stacked in the bench next to me, I rose as the judge called my name to be present.
And then he called ex’s name.
I frantically looked around the courtroom.
Neither my ex nor her attorney had been present.
I started to think that perhaps I had won by default, though it was unusual that neither she nor her attorney would show up. I figured that her attorney would at least show up because there had been no change in the court date to my knowledge. The judge was obviously calling our hearing today – unfortunately, when I was brought up to present my hearing, the judge wouldn’t proceed.
There was something unusual about an attorney not showing up.
I admit that I wanted Lydia to be there, so I could look her in the eyes as I exposed two years’ worth of lies that she had built up. When it was brought to me what it was that Lydia had been defending herself with, I really wanted to throw all of her lies out to the courthouse. And if her fiancée had been there, I wanted him to see the kind of woman he was getting married to. I wasn’t very vindictive and Lydia certainly didn’t want her fiancée to be involved in the dispute, a request that I might have agreed to. She often told me to never get him involved, but the foolish child had been involving him for well over a year by this point. She bragged about their plans to have him become their father, or having me sign paternity papers as a favor to the kids. I’m certain she never told him about the gifts I’d been sending the children, or the weeks I spent begging her to let me call the kids.
So, I hoped he was there.
I wanted him to see the evidence in the court of law.
It was true that I could’ve contacted him on social media. But I figured he would’ve been defensive and my actions would’ve caused more harm to me than anything. The potential drama wasn’t worth it, especially if my righteous anger put a dent in my fight for the kids.
I wouldn’t seek him out.
I would wait until I had an opportunity to present the lies in the appropriate place.
Unfortunately, it would not have been that day when my opportunity would come. Instead of giving me a ruling by default, I would have to wait until a new hearing was set for us. The only positive that would come out of that horrible news was the information that Lydia had filed. She had made claims that she left her contact number with me and told me that I could call the children starting back at the beginning of March. She had personally written on her response that I could call her directly to speak with the kids.
And then I saw what her attorney had filed.
It made me sick to my stomach.
They wanted me to start paying her alimony support now that she was no longer fully employed. The justification had been that she was a full time student, therefore it should’ve fallen on me to take care of not only the two children whom she was not allowing me to see, but to also start providing her additional money to support her current lifestyle.
She even dared to have it written that the kids had not left her custody.
It was an outright lie. At the time, the kids were staying with a family friend, in another state. They had been doing so for nearly six months, away from her custody.
And the fact that her attorney was endorsing this meant that either they were supporting a lie, or that they’d been lied to.
I couldn’t fathom what it was running through her head, nor would I ever begin to. She was an irrational person, unable to understand how to leave issues in the past and start working towards the future. She’d rather our kids suffer, believing that somehow, she would be the lone exception that the kids would always clamor back to her side once they learned the truth of how she alienated me from them. I warned her that I would always remember everything, and she should’ve known that I kept copies of every single exchange between the two of us.
The battle in Oklahoma never occurred.
The judge ended up recusing.
But the war for my children was not over, not by a long shot.
For as long as I kept drawing breath on this planet, I would never stop fighting. On my way back from the courthouse, I felt so angry, so frustrated that I lost what I believed was a golden opportunity to reunite with my kids. More than those feelings, I had felt as if the legal system was being used to its full effect against me. An overwhelming sadness came over me…
But there was a small beacon of hope that came in the form of a text.
“Don’t lose hope.”
In my moment of weakness, when I could not access my social media, when I was too embarrassed at the time to talk to my friends because I feared that I somehow failed them after all this time, all I had to do was look at my phone to find inspiration. My girlfriend at the time, worried about me, took time out of her job to just talk to me. She called after I told her I was sitting in my hotel room. For those 10 minutes when I didn’t want to leave my hotel room, I only had a person on the other end of the line to chat with, and they filled me with hope.
She reminded me of the importance of this fight. My fire had rekindled. I would keep bringing the fight for as long as I could. Nobody takes my kids from me without a fight.
Author: Deval Lee