My life has been really crazy but it’s starting to settle down now.

I came from a poor, abusive home and married into a rich, abusive one.

Seven years later, I managed to escape but do you know what matters in custody disputes? Money. I lost. The judge refused to hear about domestic violence as he felt it “wasn’t applicable to custody.” DHS testified about abuse against the children and my ex sued them till they dropped the charges.

It remains the greatest tragedy of my life.

Every 18 months like clockwork, he sues me for something. More child support, more time, more anything at all, just to keep me poor and off balance.

I’m trapped halfway across the country from my family so I can stay close to my kids who are now 10 and 7. I do everything I can to stay involved in their lives, from being the treasurer of the PTA to calling them as much as I am legally allowed.

I’m going to be 35 in a couple of months.

This is what I have to show for it.

Bad Stuff:

1) No money in my bank account. Actually, no bank account. Mine was closed after some auto-drafts bounced. Oops. I’m using PayPal for money.

2) No car. I had a car, a 1995 2-door car that I bought with my own money after the divorce and loved. It was in a fatal (to it) accident in December. It’s sitting in the driveway to remind me of my failings.

3) Terrifically overweight. Do you know what happens when you’re diagnosed with Grave’s disease and have radioactive treatment to kill your thyroid and then immediately lose your health insurance and take a desk job? You gain 100 pounds, that’s what happens. I’ve lost 25 so far.

4) Generalized anxiety disorder/depression. The therapist says it should really be PTSD but until the complex PTSD diagnosis comes in the DSM-V, I’m stuck with anxiety and depression as my diagnosis.

5) No real job. This is sort of deliberate. I kept losing my jobs after the divorce because the ex would call DHS and report non-existent abuse and I’d lose time to interviewing with social workers to prove nothing happened. Also, the lawsuits, that takes a lot of time. Depositions, court cases, whatever. Then he got remarried and his wife cancelled their afterschool care because she can watch them, so I had to figure out how to get afterschool care for only 1-2 days a week. The entire thing was a recipe for failure. And every time I lost a job he sued for sole custody because I couldn’t support them. It was awful. Now I work as a freelance writer and my income has been incredibly variable as a result.

6) Major health problems. You lose your healthcare for several years and bad things happen. I’ve been chipping away at this, though, so the only real things left are the massive pile of dental work and the weight situation. Possibly cholesterol.

7) Debt. Mostly I owe my sister for the last court case, to the tune of 25k. But I also have student loans and my husband (see below) has a ton of debt himself.

8) Everything in the house is falling apart. The appliances are breaking, the floor is torn up, our furniture is mismatched and decrepit.

9) The remaining car we have is old, too, and is starting to fall apart.

But that’s not all there is, I also have some good things.

1) New husband. I like him. He’s not abusive, he loves the kids, he has a reasonably good job.

2) I get to see the kids on a regular basis.

3) I now have really amazingly good medical and dental coverage.

4) We own the house, albeit in a crappy part of town.

5) I have a therapist I like that is good to me and is covered by my insurance, so after a 9 month hiatus I get to see her again.

6) The new in-laws (unlike the first set of terrible human beings) are supportive and loving and kind.

7) Despite my ongoing issues with faith, I have found a religious institution that I feel comfortable at and that the children enjoy.

8) The last lawsuit settled in December, so I have at least a year before I would expect to get sued again.


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