Think I Could Pull Off the Bag Lady Look?

Today I am back in court. Again. No, there won’t be a divorce anytime soon. (Oh how I wish!)

Like so many things, I have to be careful talking about this situation on my blog until it is a matter of public record. My ex is trying to use anything and everything he can against me, so I try not to hand him too many bullets if you know what I mean. Anyhow, I am setting this to publish at 9am, so by the time this goes up, we should be in the courtroom, and shortly thereafter you’ll know if I am homeless.

Yeah, you read that right.

About a month ago, my lawyer quit. After a year of insisting I do NOT go back to work, I need to stay home with my kids, etc etc, he decided he had to be paid before our May 20th court date. Maybe this is some fancy trick they teach you in law school, but in my world, no work = no money. When I had no way of coming up with a year’s worth of legal fees in the 4 days notice I was given, he quit and filed a continuance for my divorce hearing.

I won’t lie, I was floored.  As I asked him before I left his office, how do you not tell, but insist that it would be a terrible thing for your case to go back to work, do not enforce the status quo order that was put in place nearly a year before but has been ignored, and then expect them to pull $10k+ out of their ass? Especially when you’d been telling them all along that you would be asking the court for him to have to pay those legal fees.

I walked out of his office more than a bit disillusioned. I decided going back to work was the first order of business, and I needed to get a lawyer who didn’t believe in magic money fairies.

The next day, the day my divorce should have been final, a continuance was granted, and we had a new court date set for October 20th.

That same day, the ex had his lawyer file a motion to have me kicked out of the house.

Shocked? Stupidly, I was. I should have seen it coming. Back when I was in the hospital for having tried to commit suicide, part of his going after custody of the kids was that he wanted me removed from the home, and that part was denied. That’s when he upped and moved the kids to his parents house, because I was ‘too dangerous to be around them’. Not too dangerous to be alone with them the day I got out of the hospital mind you. Not too dangerous that he insist I give them their baths that night because ‘he’d been doing it for 4 days now’, and certainly not too dangerous to get them up and off to school the day of that hearing. But once temporary custody was granted? Shit, I became a walking grenade who could just explode at any second and take them with me.

Guess my brand of crazy is just special that way.

Only it turns out, I’m not actually crazy. After the ex was given temporary custody of the kids, I went and had an independent evalution done with a psychiatrist at the center when I see my regular therapist. It was her opinion that my trying to off myself was a one-off thing brought on by massive stress, and that I do not show any symptoms of having any mood or personality disorders, other than my depression, which is stable.

Not only am I the only person you’ll ever know with actual paperwork saying they don’t have herpes (based on my ex’s apparent brush with the Herpes Fairy, which he is still currently suing me for) I now also have a letter from a psychiatrist saying that for the record, I’m not insane. Some people hang their diplomas on the wall, I personally plan to frame and display these documents in my next home. Should make for great conversation pieces.

Anyhow, in his motion, my ex is claiming all sorts of rediculous bullshit. I should be removed from the home because….

1. He claims I have not been trying to take my visitation with the kids. Clearly his herpes-addled brain has forgotten not only the ridiculous hoops he has tried to make me jump in order to be ‘allowed’ to see them, but also the times that when he disagreed with the person I picked to supervise the visit (as outlined in the court order), I was turned away at the door and he threatened to call the police. This happened on not one, not two, but three of my visitation days.

2. That I ‘carried on an open affair with another man’.  Yes, I had an affair, but let’s face it, this is NOT news. I filed for divorce a YEAR ago. We have not lived as man and wife in any sense of the word since then. And a year after the fact, my kids still do not know Paul exists, so clearly this is not detrimental to them in any way. The only place this is ‘open’ is online, and if he wasn’t so busy stalking me online, he wouldn’t know what I was doing.

3. My personal favorite..through no fault of the ex’s, I caused my attourney to withdraw, in a ‘blatent attempt to put off the divorce hearing’. Yeah, because that whole not having access to the bank account for a full year..had NOTHING to do with not being able to pay my lawyer.

4. He is claiming I have other places I can live. Nevermind we moved here from another state, nearly two hours away for his job, to be near his family. I’m sure somewhere in Mobile I have another house, and I’ve just forgotten about it, right?

5. I am going to quote this one, because it’s so funny and the legal jargon is so impressive- “That basically all the plaintiff is doing is sitting around, has not attempted to gain employment, and is living off the income of the defendant, which in turn has put the defendant in a financial hardship having to maintain two households without any help from the plaintiff.”

‘Basically all I am doing’..which semester of law school was that taught in I wonder? Anyhow, this one is so riddled with bullshit I’m not even sure where to start. I’ve emailed and faxed my resume to umpteen different places in the last 6 weeks, with a resulting 4 interviews. None of which hired me, but we have a 9.8% unemployment rate here right now, and the job market is incredibly tight. Still, the effort IS being made.

And the financial hardship thing? He may be under financial hardship in his mind, but clearly his wallet doesn’t think it’s having too hard a time to continue buys the kids toys and video games left and right, or that iPod Touch he bought his mother for her birthday recently. What do those run, $200? Must be tough being that broke.

So now I get to go into court, and hope the judge sees through all his bullshit. I’ve seen first hand how screwed up this court system can be, but then again given the motion to kick me out was filed as a direct result of finding out I no longer had a lawyer..well, the intent of taking advantage of the situation doesn’t get any more blatent I don’t think.

Either way cross fingers for me today. If I can’t stay here I may be sleeping on your couch soon.

****Update July 6 11am. Back from court, and no decision yet. I know this is typical, my old lawyer said the verdict is usually given later to keep people from fighting or whatever in the courtroom. Could hear something today, might not be for a few days.  Will update as I know anything.

The Truth Shall Set You Free…Part IV

(Fourth in a series of posts, best read in order. Part I, part II, part III. )

The first time I found out I had to be tested for herpes, I was scared. The second time I found out, I was incredulous. What the ever-loving fuck?? Seriously? Where’s the hidden camera? Hadn’t I already passed this test with flying colors the first time? My lawyer objected, based on us the fact that I’d already been tested and they already had the results of that test. The two lawyers went before a judge, and from what I got third-hand as I wasn’t there, it was apparently insinuated that I’d somehow scammed the system, and hadn’t actually taken the test. The judge granted their motion that I be re-tested, but I was allowed to do so at my doctor’s office again, and at the ex’s expense. I would arrange to do it after my return from Ireland, and before mediation on December 19th.

On December 6th, I once again boarded a plane to go see Paul, this time on a 17 hour trip overseas. The flight was long, as was my layover in Houston, long enough I was able to read the bulk of the first Twilight book for the first time. I got off the plane in Ireland to frost so heavy I’m still not convinced it wasn’t snow. December in Ireland is much I imagine like December in the States, as long as you are close to the Canadian border. Meaning I thought I was going to freeze to death every time we left the hotel. I loved Ireland, and I can’t wait to go back one day, but this southern girl couldn’t even begin to imagine living there. As for the visit, again, a huge blur. Seeing the town he grew up in…meeting his family…spending time together…It was magical, it was beautiful, it was familiar-foreign, and it was truly one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

Once I got home, the ex was angry at me, and made one or two remarks, but surprisingly was able to leave it at that. With mediation coming up, I think we were both focused on getting to the end and getting it done with. I went for my 2nd herpes test, and within a couple of days had my results back.

December 15th, 7 months after possible exposure, and 3 months to the day after my first test, I again tested negative for herpes.

Although this then raised a few questions for me, namely if I didn’t have it, where had my husband picked this up?, I just mostly felt an overwhelming sense of relief. Relief I didn’t have it, relief I couldn’t have given it to anyone, and relief I would no longer be dragged through the mud over this.

I have said ever since the night the ex found out about my affair that I did this, and I was going to take my lumps like a big girl. I haven’t tried to deny any part of it, and I never will. Paint the big scarlet A on my forehead if you like, I made my bed and as such I will lie in it. But…all that said, the herpes thing bothered me for the simple reason that once we knew I was negative, I was still being accused of something I hadn’t done. I had expected for that lawsuit to be dropped after the first test and was shocked that it hadn’t. Being forced to be tested again was a bit insulting, but I was eager to prove, once and for all, that I was innocent of this much at least, and that’s exactly what the test showed.

On December 19th, we went into mediation armed with that info, which the ex and his lawyer did not have yet. We were not in the same room, nor were either of us allowed to be in the room with the other person’s lawyer at any time. This meant that when my second set of test results were presented, I don’t know what was said, save for what very little my lawyer has told me. I *believe* what happened in mediation as far as the offers were considered confidential, so I won’t go into detail here, other than to say we presented an offer, they declined, they presented an offer that we declined, and somewhere in all that the other lawyer allegedly threw a bit of a shitfit when he saw my second negative test results. We walked away from mediation with not even a hint of an agreement. The whole thing from start to finish was less than three hours.

With Christmas around the corner, we stayed in limbo, waiting for word of our next court date. The holidays were uncomfortable for both of us, and the tension between us could have been cut with a knife. Paul called me early Christmas morning, and we unwrapped our gifts to each other and spent time together on video chat before my kids got up. It was hard on both of us not being together, but we tried to make the best of it.

At some point in late January, I got a call from my laywer regarding court. Our date had been set at a mind-boggling 4 months away, and oh yeah, btw, that herpes lawsuit? Still there.

To be continued…

The Truth Shall Set You Free…Part III

(Third post in a series, you can find the first part here, and the second part here.)

Herpes?? O.M.F.G.

When the ex told me he’d tested positive and it was obviously a result of my affair 5 weeks earlier, I was stunned beyond belief. We’d had sex only the one time after I got back. Paul and I hadn’t used condoms that weekend as I’d gone on the pill. Surely, surely Paul would have told me he had herpes. But what if he didn’t know. Even worse…what if this was something I’d already had and didn’t know? What if I’d somehow had it, not known, and I’d passed it on to both of them?? The sheer amount of guilt and self-flagellation that can go through a person’s mind in the space of a few minutes is immeasurable, as I found out that afternoon. I knew, KNEW that one way or the other, this mess was my fault. Similar to the oddity of being more afraid of the PTA women than my ex’s anger, it never really dawned on me to be concerned that I had somehow gotten herpes. Instead I was torn between worrying about the two men concerned- the ex, for if my affair was now causing him more grief than just the end of our marriage, and Paul for if it HAD come from me and the possibility of giving it to him.

Truly, I really should find some way of monetizing guilt; I’d be rich by now.

I called Paul crying my eyes out. Poor guy was in the bathtub preparing for a business trip to England the next day with FuelMyBlog. I expected..Fuck, what does anyone expect when you call them with news like this? I didn’t know what to expect, but my biggest fear was that this would be what pushed us over the edge. That he would say this was just one drama too many, and he’d kiss me goodbye. Once again he surprised me. After assuring me he’d been tested less than a year previous and was negative, he went on to tell me that no matter what, this didn’t change a thing. He very calmly explained that no matter how it went down, the fact is we’d all three likely had been exposed, and beating myself up over something that may or may not have come from me would be pointless. He still loved me, and he wasn’t leaving me over something so stupid.

A few days later, after he got back from his trip, he booked tickets to come to the States for a visit. He felt like we needed the time together to recharge, and I couldn’t agree more. At the end of August he flew to Mobile and stayed for a week. I saw him during the day while the kids were in school, and a couple of times in the evening. (Obviously I didn’t tell the ex he was here, and I didn’t bring him near the house or my kids. We made the decision early on that if we made it that far, he wouldn’t meet my kids until the divorce was final and things were settled. Their world was going to be changed enough with the divorce itself, they didn’t need any other confusion thrown in.) It was wonderful to see him again, and he got to meet a couple of my close friends while he was here.

Somewhere around September 12th, I had a meeting scheduled with my lawyer. Our court date for the divorce was to be on November 6th, and I assumed we were going to start preparing for that. When I got in we chit-chatted about this and that, and then he handed me some papers, saying they had just received these from my husband’s lawyer, and I needed to read them. Completely clueless as to why he looked so grim, I started to read.

the ex’s lawyer had filed an amendment to the divorce, counter-claiming for medical damages and physical and emotional distress due to my reckless and wanton behavior which he claimed had resulted in the appearance of an STD.

My husband was suing me for giving him herpes.

Remember that part above about guilt and self-flagellation? Take two, with a side order of hysterical panic attack, to go. Literally, I called Paul again, crying like someone had died. As usual with these things, the timing was terrible, as he was back in Denmark for a day to deal with his own court stuff. In the brief call we were able to have, he calmed me down, and pointed out the obvious- A. We didn’t know if I even had herpes yet, as I had been advised to hold off on getting tested previously, and B. If I did have it, we had no way of knowing who’d had it first, so proving such a thing in court would be near impossible. As he also quite sensibly pointed out, while the ex was trying to get custody of the kids, the court was not going to hand them over to him based on contracting an STD. I got off the phone feeling much better, and headed home to make an appointment to get tested. (My lawyer said I’d eventually be ordered to be tested, so we might as well be pro-active with it.) I went in on I believe a Friday to get the blood drawn, September 15th.

I was nervous as hell waiting on my results to come back, and I was told it would be about 5 days, so I was surprised when 3 days later I got a call back from my doctor’s office.


Shock. Confusion. Relief. Anger. General WTF?!?… All there. Though we’d been very close to filing a settlement that week, I backed off and said no. The agreement would have meant allowing child support to be reduced by half, and I realized then that with the fear of the herpes thing off my back, I had no reason to fear going to court.

In the meantime, Paul was going through his own legal roller coasters with his wife. She was fighting the divorce with no end in sight, when he realized there was another way to get his own legalities passed through easier. In what can only be called an insane stroke of genius, Paul had his lawyer abandon his paperwork, stop the process and re-file. I’m pretty sure on that day he became one of the only people in the world to file for divorce on the legal grounds of adultery. His OWN adultery. This involved a form being signed by me, him and his wife, all acknowledging that he and I had slept together. This might have been odd at any other time, but given that I’d already at that point had to stand up twice in court and admit what I’d done, signing this piece of paper was pretty darn easy. Once that was filed, it would just be a matter of time until his divorce was processed. I wished mine would be so easy.

The stress of the legal stuff, the distance, and everything else began to get to us, and Paul and I began to argue, often over things so trivial they seem almost laughable now. I can’t even remember what started it, but on October 2nd we got into it so bad I said fuck it, I can’t take this, and broke up with him. It was his 30th birthday, and though we patched things over the next day, the big day itself was ruined.

November 5th rolled around, and I hadn’t heard anything from my lawyer. With court the next day, how were we supposed to prepare for this? Apparently we weren’t. In the most random decision ever, the judge on the case decided to order us to mediation. I went from about-to-be-divorced to waiting for a mediation date of December 19th. I was dissapointed, but kept my fingers crossed we’d be able to work something out. I didn’t relish the idea of court, and I doubt the ex had either.

On November 12th, I turned 30. Paul and I had been talking about the fact that in December, the ex was taking the kids to Disney for a week. Previously a family vacation, it would now become something he would do with his family with the kids. They enjoy it, so I had no objections, but it also meant I had a child-free week on my hands while the kids were out of state. Paul wanted to see me again, so for my 30th birthday, he gave me a round-trip ticket to Ireland for the week of the kids’ vacation.

the ex was understandably angry about the trip, claiming that I was abandoning the kids. A few months before I’d probably have given in and not gone (the same reason I’d canceled my sponsor-paid trip to BlogHer in July last year), but the fact is they were going to be out of state, and I had already told them I was flying to Virginia to see my best friend. My lawyer advised this might look bad to the court, but I couldn’t see how sitting home all week alone while my kids weren’t there somehow made me out to be a better mother.

Early the first week of December, I got a call from my lawyer. the ex’s lawyer had filed a motion claiming that due to the upcoming mediation date, it was urgent I be tested to find out if I had contracted herpes due to my affair.

They wanted me re-tested, and the case was not being dropped. Despite testing negative once already, I was still being sued for giving the ex herpes.

To be continued…

The Truth Shall Set You Free..Part II

*Second post in a series, part I can be found here.*

When the plane touched down in Chicago, I kept flashing between excitement and nausea. Months of talking over text, voice, and video chat had left few stones unturned as far as getting to know each other, but I was still horribly nervous, because for the first time we would be seeing each other in person. We both said we were going in without expectations, but that did little to help my nerves. This wasn’t some random hookup, neither of us would have been willing to do something like that. We went to Chicago to meet and find out if  our love for each other was real, and worth acting on.

I wish I could even begin to recapture that weekend in words. When we got back to the hotel, before anything happened between us, we stood for a moment and held each other. He has told me many times since then that that was the exact moment he knew that what we had was not something he could ever walk away from, and that he go to the ends of the earth to be with me. The rest of the weekend was a blur of conference activities, the high of being together, and those pangs of nervousness I would get calling home. The last night in Chicago we talked a lot about the future, and how we knew it would be awhile before we would be together(he planned to file for his divorce in October) but we would make it work. We would get the legalities done with, and he would move to the States to be with me. (My moving was never considered, due to the kids and my ex’s family being here.)

I got home the next evening to the ex barely speaking to me. There was no hug, no kiss, no “How was it?”.  After spending a weekend with someone being so loving and affectionate towards me, his usual indifference and lack of interest in the conference felt like a slap in the face. The next morning he was quite insistent about having sex. I didn’t particularly want to, but it was easier to give in and be done with it than have a huge fight over it. If I’d known later what was to come of things, I’d have taken the argument.

That evening I had to run to Walmart to pick up some things for the PTA for Teacher Appreciation Week. He and I argued before I left, one of the reasons being what had happened that morning. I told him if he couldn’t be bothered to do more than use me, just don’t bother. I was walking around Walmart about 20 minutes later when my cell phone rang, and it was the ex.

“I just read your email, I know what happened with you and Paul in Chicago. Get home, NOW.”

I don’t know if it was shock, relief, or just plain disbelief that I responded the way I did- “I’m happy for you. I’ll be home when I’m done shopping.”  Looking back, that was probably not the smartest thing to say. It’s also possible that that I should have gone home then, instead of continuing to shop for the items on my list. As odd as it sounds, I was considerably more scared of facing the PTA women without the stuff we needed than I was heading home to face the man who’d just discovered my affair. At that point I was just in shock.

Due to the legalities of it, I will offer nothing here other than a summary of what was presented later in court.

When I got home from the store, the ex was waiting for me in the driveway, allegedly to talk to me about what he’d discovered. The kids were in the house asleep, as it was around 9pm at night. I took the stand and testified in court that I was pulled the from the car to the ground and kicked repeatedly on the backside. His testimony stated that he took my keys, I lunged at him, and fell to the ground, hitting my backside on the step into my car. Pictures of severe bruising to my backside and minor bruising to my ankle, arms and shin were entered as evidence, along with a report from the doctor I saw the next day. Several police that came to the scene testified that I was hysterical and changed my story, the detective on the case testified that I was consistent and the bruises he observed were in his experience exactly in line with what I claimed happened. The judge on the case said due to the lack of witnesses and conflicting testimony, there was reasonable doubt, and the ex was acquitted of any charges.

That incident occurred on May 5th. On May 7th, I filed for divorce on grounds of general incompatibility.

the ex and I talked quite a bit the night all that happened, and the following day. To his credit, he told me more times than I can count how much he loved me, how sorry he was, and offered everything from marriage counceling to getting his vasectomy reversed because he thought maybe having more kids was what I was after. It’s hard to explain, but I don’t hate him for what happened. I don’t trust him(as I’m sure he doesn’t me) but I can’t say what I would or wouldn’t do when confronted with the information he came across. Anger and shock can be very powerful, and in the heat of the moment, I think emotions just ran too high. I don’t forgive him, and I certainly don’t condone anything, but in a small way I think I can understand.

When I told the ex I’d filed the divorce papers, he then focused on (and succeeded in) making sure Paul’s wife knew what had happened in Chicago.

This was probably the worst part of the entire ordeal. I knew that Paul had told me he loved me and that he planned to divorce his wife. I also listen and read enough to know that this is a common line for people in affairs, and though I wanted to believe it, I was still numb and running on auto-pilot dealing with police, my lawyer, and everything else. I loved him, but given the circumstances, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he decided it was too much to deal with, and stayed where he was. Working on his marriage would have been considerably easier than divorcing and moving to another country. During this time he was in contact with most of my friends, making sure they knew they could get in touch with him, and trying to be sure as best he could to make sure I had the support I needed, despite him being over 4,000 miles away.

A good friend emailed him and made it clear she would be extremely upset if he didn’t stand by me through all this, and that he’d better not just be stringing me along.

He responded by sending  her back with a copy of the itinerary for his one-way flight to Ireland the next week.

In what I can only imagine must have been a very difficult time, Paul returned to Ireland from Denmark around the third week of May, and filed for divorce less than 2 weeks later.

I knew in that moment no one has ever loved me like he has. I knew in that moment I’d never love anyone the way I love him.

He had made his choice, and he wasn’t going to walk away from us, no matter how hard the circumstances.

Three weeks later, the ex came to me and told me he’d tested positive for genital herpes.

To be continued…