My Blog

Collateral Damage

When I started this blog, I had planned to leave this subject alone.  I wanted my blog to be a place where words are encouraging, inspiring and delightful! Words have so much power, I want words to heal, promote and do good things for the reader or listener. This world has enough negativity in it already.

About two months ago, an opportunity arose to write a series of articles on a subject I do care passionately about: our children’s welfare. And I prayerfully decided that if I do not share this subject with you I am not being truthful or authentic with you and my calling here. We CAN discuss difficult subjects without being overtly negative. I feel we can encourage each other even if the topic is not “warm and fuzzy”. We simply cannot change what we refuse to acknowledge!

So let’s dive in, shall we?

In America today, marriages are a mess, divorce is a disaster and in to many situations, children are the collateral damage.

It is the children who suffer, first and foremost, the breaking of family ties as a covenant relationship is destroyed… I don’t think anyone plans to get divorced as they contemplate marriage. I know I did not, I already had fantasy’s of grandchildren swimming in our pool while the cookies baked. But for me this was just that– a fantasy.

My marriage dissolved in a dysfunctional stew of alcoholism and codependency that was as conducive to “happily ever after” as a nuclear bomb.

It was not what I intended to have, it was not what I wanted, but it was what I got.

Due to his illness, I was a single parent long before the paperwork officially said so. I had struggled through years of baseball games, parent teacher conferences, church events, dance recitals, doctor’s appointments alone…I was adept at making excuses to any and everyone who knew I was a Mrs. but had no Mr. present.

It was once the paperwork was official that the real battle began. I had let him keep the house with the pool, I agreed to his “parenting time” demands: one day per week so as not to interfere with his work schedule, no summers and one holiday, if he had the time off… Even though I did not want the full amount of child support due per the income calculator and kept detailed records of how the money was spent with receipts for the two months he actually paid child support, nothing satisfied him or stopped his relentless accusations.

My husband showed up at our final divorce hearing, voluntarily unemployed, and insisted to the judge he could not pay ANY child support (and had not been paying throughout this divorce process he dragged out a year and a half, AND had canceled the medical insurance on our children 9 months prior to this date). The judge set the child support amount at $500 for two children, this would have been the amount owed on a full-time minimum wage paycheck for two kids in Texas. Then he informed my husband that “this was ridiculous!” and ordered him back to work in his actual profession and to return to the court in 30 days with a paycheck stub so he could amend the amount.

My now ex-husband responded by leaving the state.

I did not know that at the time, and I thought that with the paperwork officially filed in court, and the Attorney General of the Great State of Texas now in charge of collecting my child support that all problems were solved and I could go on with the business of raising my children and re-building our shattered lives.

I was wrong.

Even as I sit here typing this, years later, the arrears owed to my children for child support are in the tens of thousands and they have never received any medical support. I am owed close to ten thousand in medical bills alone and have one child facing surgery again.

I had no idea that in America you could throw children away like an empty beer can and legally get away with it.

My quest for answers to this baffling situation have put me in touch with single parents, MEN AND WOMEN from all over our great country in the exact same boat. I have attended support groups and participated in online forums.  The stories I have been told are heartbreaking, the arrears statements are horrifying…

The lack of attention to this subject by our elected officials and the media is mystifying. How can it be that in America children are throw away toys, Easily discarded when you are done playing with the other parent? To allow your precious flesh and blood to do without while you have cigarettes, smart phones and vacations? For your child to have to give up a beloved sport because you refuse to pay for half of the participation cost, uniforms and other expenses?

There arrears nationally are now over $115 BILLION DOLLARS– 30 states on record with over a billion in arrears on the books. According to the most recent Report to Congress from the Federal Office of Child Support about $30 Billion of that is owed back to the federal government for children receiving TANF,EBT and Medicaid benefits who would not have needed or qualified for any of that if they were receiving court ordered child support by their parents.

THIS is how we treat children in AMERICA?

Wow, let’s “adult” for a moment, take the “battle of the sexes” out of this: if you helped to create a new human being with another person, you have a connection to that person! Like it or not, it’s TRUTH. Children are not pets, or cars to be traded in on a better model. So let’s “adult” and do it right! I don’t care who cheated, lied, spent all the money, was on drugs, drinking, got religion, or who is just a lousy miserable human being that you cannot stand to share air with for another second!

Is your CHILD that person?

Of course not! So don’t make your child pay for your failed relationship! If you “punish” your ex by withholding support or paying late or inconsistently who do you think is REALLY paying the price?  As yourself, “Did little Johnny get a yearbook this year?” or, “Was little Sally able to go on her field trip?” or even, “I wonder why Johnny quit playing soccer, (baseball, piano, debate team!)”

ADULTS– anger is NEVER an answer, and it’s not something we need to carry around with us or dump on other’s. Especially our kids. We can do better! And for the sake of future generations we need to “do better” quickly.  The family courts and IV-D courts are a failure. WE MUST DO BETTER– our kids are depending on it…

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.       1st Timothy 5:8

For further information please read:

http://momsfightback.org/true-cost-unpaid-child-support/      This article shows the effects on children of unpaid child support.

 

http://momsfightback.org/115544338886-billion-counting-child-support-america/                   This article highlights the status of divorce in America, the history of child support and why arrears are now at over $115 billion dollars nationally…Contains link to the most recent Report to Congress from the Federal Office of Child Support showing arrears by state.

 

http://momsfightback.org/money-weapon-using-child-support-tool-abuse/           This article highlights cases where child support, paid and unpaid, has been and is being used as a tool of abuse. #endfinancialabuse

 

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/end-silent-crisis-unpaid-child-support-and-aggressively-enforce-collections-procedures-court-ordered-cases-now            If any of this touched your heart as a parent, or your pocketbook as a taxpayer, please consider signing this petition to end the non enforcement of child support that allows the states to continue to collect federal dollars while single parents suffer financially.

 

http://josidenise.com/a-letter-to-the-father-who-wont-pay-child-support/           This is a heartbreaking blog post from a single parent that highlights what it is really like to do it all alone. Children are not throw away toys…

 

https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/partial-listing-problems-facing-american-children-youth-and-families      poverty does not make for many good outcomes for our kids…..

http://www.janeandjohnqpublic.com/blog/child-support-it-was-never-fair      Our family courts and IV-D courts are in a complete mess…

http://stopabusecampaign.com/adverse-childhood-experiences-study/    My friends, we simply MUST do better by our children. The time is NOW, to stop ALL forms of abuse and raise our future.

 

I would personally like to thank the editor’s at MomsFightBack.org for having a platform for sharing all issue’s that affect our children and the hard work being done by them to improve our kids lives! Please visit them online and join them and  all parents working to make this world a better place for children! BRAVO MFB!    http://momsfightback.org/

 

 

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/end-silent-crisis-unpaid-child-support-and-aggressively-enforce-collections-procedures-court-ordered-cases-now   One more time! Please sign and share! We can be heard, our kids NEED to be heard! Thank you!

 

 

 

Life lessons from an Unwanted Teacher

Lessons we need to learn are often taught by the most unwelcome of teachers. We have all been schooled in time management by Professor Procrastination, crushed by Coach Chaos, and a lot of us have  been instructed in the art of love and war by Dr. Divorce…

I had an incident last year and have been under the tutelage of chronic pain. She is the most miserable instructor I have ever encountered, she will not be getting positive feedback from me! But I am slowly learning lessons that are helping me in this situation and are applicable to other area’s of life.

DO NOT GIVE UP!

Whatever your situation, do not let the pain, the injury, the illness define you. You are more than a symptom, more than a diagnosis. YOU ARE MORE! There are still many things for you to enjoy and take advantage of. Focus on those things.

Keep a pain log. Use this tool to effectively communicate with your doctor so you can graduate this class as soon as possible! But keep it simple, and short. Use adjectives to describe the pain type: burning, stinging, moves around, pressure, throbbing. This will help your doctor help you.

Do not focus on the log! What you focus on becomes your world. You do need to keep track of what is going on but keep it short and simple. A sample entry may look like this: “Sharp, throbbing pain in hip after PT, lasted all afternoon, used ice after PT with minimal relief.” That’s it! Don’t write a novel, jot a note and move on!

ALLOW YOURSELF TO REST WITHOUT GUILT.

Take advantage of this time to do something most of us never really do, rest. Before I was wide open 23 hours a day. I loved every crazy minute of it. I did not ask for this “break” nor did I want it, but here it is, so I’m using this time to catch up on quiet activities: The stack of books on my bedside table, movies I never went to see… And much to my surprise, deep restful sleep is actually good for me! The world continues to spin on its axis without me running at top speed. And that is ok.

PAINT BAD PICTURES WITH GUSTO!

Distraction can be very effective therapy for pain. So what soothes you? What activity would you like to try? If you love to read and are a social person you could start a book club from your couch. If movies are your thing, put together a watch list and arrange for all your favorite movie snacks to be available. You could have a “junk food list” and “healthy snack list” and invite friends to join you. I have always wanted to paint magnificent watercolors. I am currently using watercolor pencils to create the most awful seascapes! It’s fun and it takes my mind off of negative things.

MUSIC HAS POWER!

Music is a great distraction and way to relax, re-focus or get yourself moving. William Congreve wrote in his play, The Mourning Bride, “Music has charms to soothe the savage beast, to soften rocks, or bend the knotted oak.” When the pain makes me feel like a savage beast or knotted oak I lay down and listen to “WholeTones” by Michael Tyrell.

Music also has power to energize the body. Make a playlist that includes all the music that makes you feel like a million bucks! My energy playlist includes; “All Fired Up” by the incomparable Pat Benatar, “Keep the Faith” by Bon Jovi along with many others. “Defying Gravity” from Wicked inspires me to fly above whatever is trying to pull me down!

ALLOW OTHERS TO HELP YOU…

This may be the most important, yet hardest of all. I have always been a giver, not a receiver, but I know how much pleasure I get out of giving and doing for others.

Are you going to be selfish and deny that pleasure to others?

If you need help, take it. My daughter now pushes the grocery cart and loads and unloads everything for me with a smile on her face. It seems insignificant, but it’s a big deal right now. For both of us. If you can’t drive accept that ride! You can write thank you notes from your bed while eating your neighbor’s amazing peanut butter brownies!

PRACTICE GRATITUDE FOR THIS TIME, THERE IS A GIFT IN EVERY SITUATION.

Use these tips to move up your graduation day. Take the time to rest and so something new and you will triumph over this course! Then take what you have learned and help someone else who finds themselves in this class.

 

My very first meeting…

I had mentioned, back in September, in a post called Books Matter, that I would post about my first twelve step meeting. I’ve gotten a lot of requests to tell on myself since then!  My behavior is a source of hilarity to me NOW but at the time…

Well, let’s just say I was a little bit nuclear bomb angry,  fearful and lived in a cloud of constant anxiety and heart palpitations. I was not at this meeting of my own free will. As previously mentioned, one of my dearest friends had finally grabbed me by both shoulders and told me, “If you do not go to that meeting tonight I will come get you, duck tape your fanny to the bumper of my car and DRAG you there!” I could tell by the flashing of her brilliant blue eyes that she meant business. She was done with the never-ending nonsense caused by the chaos in my life. Her knee’s were sore from praying for me and it was time for some action.

So for my friend, and mostly because I was scared of loosing my friend. I went.

I walked into the room at church set aside for family members of addicted people. I was petrified and numb but I do remember feeling shock at the number of people who were there. There were at least thirty people sitting around in a huge circle. As I slowly walked closer I realized, I knew at least half of them!

How could this be? I had had no idea they were dealing with the same thing I was. I thought my misery, anxiety and fear had marked me and was following me around like an invisible cloud of dirt. I felt that everyone who came in contact with me could see the dirt cloud, or maybe smell the shame that rolled off of me. How was it that these people were roaming around with no dirt cloud?

I hesitantly sat down, keeping my purse in my lap so I could make a quick get-a-way. My anxiety level was through the roof and I was sure the person sitting next to me was getting nervous listening to my heart pound. The kids were safe in child care, but what was going on at home? Was he there? Was he drunk? Was he angry because I was not there? Was he thrilled I was not there so he could drink in peace? What mess was I going to come home to when this dang meeting was over?

I did not even hear the opening remarks because I was so consumed with what was going on in my mind. And the anger I used to protect myself started welling up– a nice hot balm to cover my unbearable anxiety.

People said interesting things as the talk went around the circle but I only half listened. Everyone here was so calm! No one could possibly know the unbearable anxiety I lived with on a daily basis! No one here was even angry!

The books got passed to me and I looked at them in amazement. For an avid reader who loves books I could not focus on a single word.

Then everyone was looking at me expectantly. It was my turn to “share”. I still had no concept of what I was supposed to “share” or do and between my now boiling rage and the skin crawling anxiety I could not hold it in anymore.

I jumped up in that circle and yelled, “I don’t need to be here! I am not the one drinking away my marriage! I am not the one drinking up all our money! I am not the one the kids don’t even know! I am not the one with a problem! HE IS!”

It was a very bizarre as it was like I was an observer to my own performance. I had never embarrassed myself in public this way! I was at church for Pete’s sake! Sit down and SHUT UP!

I quickly did sit down and waited for the explosion, the laughter, to be asked to please leave.

Nothing happened.

The conversation simply moved on to the next person who shared about how these meetings had helped her deal with the toxic emotions caused by trying to walk on eggshells around the addict in her home.

My rage abated under my acute embarrassment and I actually managed to listen to her even though my skin was still crawling with anxiety. My heart pounding rendered cardio unnecessary for me in those days. But as I listened to her, and then the rest of the people in the circle my heart did seem to pound a little less.

Finally this embarrassing thing was over and I jumped up quickly to leave, but I was stopped by a kind older man. He thanked me for coming and sharing and asked me to come back.

He was joined by several other’s who also asked me to come back and to my surprise I said I would. They were so kind, so sincere, I felt like I had to after my “show”. I would come back next week and behave myself this time! I wanted these nice people to know I was not a psychotic maniac!

I wandered away slowly, wondering what had just happened? Why were these people being so nice to me? Why was there such an air of calm in this room? Why was I feeling calmer?

For some reason I felt no rush to get home to either clean up a mess or try to prevent one. I wanted to enjoy this calm feeling. I wanted to come back.

So I did.

And I kept coming back. It works if you work it!

 

I dedicate this post to everyone “out there” suffering under the weight of another’s addiction. There are rooms full of experience, strength and HOPE available for you too! Contact me, I’ll help you get hooked up! xxoo-Alana