His Wife Told Him She Wanted To Separate For The 2nd Time In Less Than A Year.
First off, I am a man. When my ex wife told me to leave the house, that she wanted to separate (for the second time in less than a year), I was terrified. We have two kids together. What was going to happen? Would I see my kids? I couldn’t lose them.
I had to move in with my parents. It was embarrassing. I had been on my own since I was 18 (mid 30’s now) and having to move back in with my parents made me feel less than human. They were (and still are) perfectly understanding and we have a good dynamic going. I actually rarely see them due to conflicting work schedules. About a week into the separation, my ex and I met up and discussed custody. We went with a 50/50 split. It was at the moment I picked up my kids and took them back to my parents house after not seeing them for a week, that I understood one thing. I am getting divorced. This wasn’t going to be just a trial separation. Even if she came back to me and asked me to come home, I wasn’t going to do it.
I realized something in that one week away, and then having my kids. It was not a healthy relationship. I was always one who would go along to get along. I was controlled. I was verbally and mentally abused. After a lot of reflection, I noticed a pattern. I would avoid conflict, even on things I felt very passionate about. I avoided it because I knew that if I disagreed, or voiced my opinion, it would turn in to a week of silent treatment, or an argument where I would be asked lots of leading questions, of which I was not allowed to answer or justify.
I was never unfaithful, I didn’t lie, I was never abusive. So why was this happening? Where did I go wrong? A ha! rewind that. Where did I go wrong? I didn’t. That was residual self deprecation learned from years of being subjected to verbal and mental abuse. Everything was my fault because she couldn’t be wrong. Ever. I didn’t do anything wrong. She was unhappy, and the only person that can fix that is the person themselves. Click, the first tumbler falls.
A few weeks went by and I felt better every day. I started taking better care of myself. After reflection, I realized that I was on the verge of becoming an alcoholic in the months leading up to the separation. And not to place blame, but I drank because she drank, a lot. I found myself resenting her when she would drink (nightly) and be annoyed with her. So I drank as well in order to deal with her.
I quit drinking. I wanted a clear head. I started going on daily walks. I started to see a therapist. I spent a lot of time doing the things I like doing that I wasn’t “allowed” to do before. I started to draw again, going fishing when weather permitted, and playing guitar again for the first time in over a year. This was all on the days I didn’t have my kids. When I had my kids, I made it a balance of them being my world, while not being a helicopter parent. They needed to know and believe that they can do anything, and that I will help them up if they fall, but I won’t always be there to catch them.
Fast forward 3 months. My ex and I had been fairly amicable. We didn’t talk much, and when we did, it was about the kids, how they were doing, things we both felt they needed to adjust. One night she called me after I had just put my kids to bed. After the mandatory awkward 30 seconds of “hey, how are you, good, oh not bad”, she said that she had been wanting to and debating on calling me to come home. I didn’t think, it just came out. “If you did, I wouldn’t”, I said. in the two seconds it took to say that, it felt like taking a winter coat off that it was just a little to warm out to wear. My whole body felt like it took a giant breath and exhaled. There was about 10 seconds of silence, and then she hung up. I wasn’t going to take the bait. I was not going to call her back. At that point, I had drawn a line in the sand.
Over the next few weeks, more and more often it seemed I was getting texts and calls about something I did “wrong” when dealing with the kids, such as what they were eating, their bed times, movies and TV shows they watched, even down to getting a bug bite. Suddenly, I was the bad guy again. I was the one who did everything wrong. I adjusted and began to “fall in line”, but then my son said something to me. “Daddy, why don’t we do fun stuff anymore, like go fishing or have movie night?”. Click. Another tumbler fell. Maybe I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Maybe what I was doing was right? Or at least not bad? Maybe I was being controlled again.
I went back to being the parent I am, not the parent someone else thought I should be. I taught my kids things like, its OK to disagree with someone. You aren’t always going to get what you want, and that is OK. It is OK to be angry, but not OK to be mean. You have to talk to people you are upset with (yes even if its daddy), not clam up and refuse to address it. I felt again like I was back on track. Then, bombshell.
I went to work as normal one day, and my ex had the kids. I get a call in the morning from my ex, and she began to lay into me about how I was a terrible father. My daughter had a medical issue in the diaper region (wont go into too much detail). This was my fault. I caused this. I wasn’t taking good enough care of her. She was in pain. My ex had to take her to the doctor and she was in so much pain she was screaming non stop. The rest of the day was filled with long drawn out texts verbally and mentally abusing me. She was going to call her lawyer and get full custody of the kids. I was never going to see them again.
I was an absolute mess. I couldn’t function. How could I be such a bad father? It was all my fault that my baby girl was in pain. My work day ended, and I was a shell of what I had been even that morning. Mindlessly I walked to my car. After sitting in the car for about 15 min, I started my drive home. I passed several bars, grocery stores, and gas stations. God I wanted a drink. I wanted nothing more than to sit down with a bottle and just escape. As I was pulling in to the town I live in, I get a message from her asking me to come to the house. Nothing else. That was the only thing she said. As I was driving, I just used my auto response via my car to say yes. I turn around and head back, being filled with more and more dread the closer I got.
As I pull in to the neighborhood, I see a police car parked in front of the house. An officer is standing in front of the front steps, my ex is sitting there crying. My first thought is, she called the police on me. I have no idea why, or the justification for it, but that was my thought. After I pull in, the officer approaches me and pulls me to the side. He asks me who I am, and then proceeds to inform me that when she picked up our son from daycare, the workers observed that she seemed intoxicated. They could smell alcohol on her and her behavior was erratic. The center called the police while she was still there, but she was able to leave before officers arrived. Unfortunately, they informed me they are not legally able to keep the kids there.
The center gave the officer her address, and he drove there to perform a welfare check. He went on to explain that he could visually tell she was heavily intoxicated. He performed field sobriety tests (with my children watching through the front door), of which she failed all of them, while catastrophically failing the breathalyzer (.214). He was not able to leave the kids in her care. He asked if I could take them (which of course I could). Then, I was subjected to a breathalyzer test in the front yard of the home we had built together, with all of our neighbors watching. While I should have been embarrassed, all I wanted was my kids. My kids saw me and were ecstatic. Yelling “Daddy is here, Daddy is here!, Can we go with you daddy?”. My daughter informed me that she had a dirty diaper and asked if I would change her. Of course baby girl, daddy has your back. So I took her inside to change her, while my ex was still sitting on the front steps. As I am changing her, I hear from behind me “I feel so small right now” I turned to see my ex standing there. “Don’t” I said. “I bet you feel so big right now huh?” she said. Click. the final tumbler falls.
“You will NOT put this on me. I didn’t do this. You did this” I said. “I only had one beer” she said. “You don’t blow a .214 on a breathalyzer after one beer. Doesn’t happen.” was the last thing I said to her before walking out, daughter in tow (while my boy who wants to be a police officer asked endless questions of the responding officer). After getting my kids into my car, the officer informs me that as they did not actually catch her driving, there was nothing legally they could do, however it had already been turned over to DHS/CPS, and I would be getting a call from them within a week. The day after all this happened, I called my daughters pediatrician. I asked about her visit the previous day and the severity of it. They explained it was not bad at all, and is actually not uncommon in little girls being potty trained. What I saw when changing her diaper did not seem bad at all. I asked her if she was hurt down there, and she said no, she felt fine.
I had my kids for about a month/month and half. I informed my ex that she needed to get herself right before she could see the kids again. I had several calls with DHS/CPS, during which I gave full transcripts of what happened that day leading up to the unfortunate event, as well as copies of all the texts that were sent, of which, some were pretty telling of her state at the time she sent them. After a week, the DHS/CPS worker informed me that they had concluded the investigation and had taken steps to provide my ex with outreach. There was to be no legal repercussions, however they are and will always will be aware of what had happened, and that will play a factor in any outcome should anything like this happen again.
About 3 weeks into the month/month and a half I had them, she asked to meet with me. I agreed, and we met up. She informed me that she was in AA, and seeing a therapist. I was so happy to hear this, overjoyed actually. I told her as much and that I am proud of her for taking that step. “You drive me to drink. My trigger is you”, is what she then said. “Excuse me? I thought you were in AA? One of the first things you learn in AA is that an alcoholic only drinks because of one person. Themselves.”. I informed her that it was in fact unforgivable, but for the kids sake, I am willing to work past it. It will always be a shadow hanging over head, and I don’t think I will ever feel 100% that they are safe with her. We would be getting divorced, no chance at reconciliation.
In the time that followed, It really came to light for me just how much she drank, and I was an enabler. She would already be drunk and ask me to go buy more booze/beer/wine. I would say no, and she would get mad at me. I always broke down and went and got more. It got to the point where I would look at the bottles before leaving for work to see if I needed to buy more on my way home, just to avoid a fight. There were several nights I was cleaning up vomit from the bedroom floor, bathroom, and even once the hallway walls and floor leading to the bathroom. I even recalled a time where she had passed out drunk on the couch. I woke her up so she could go to bed, and after yelling at me for waking her up, she went to go up the stairs and fell down them about 3/4 the way up. At the top of the stairs was my then 4 year old son, who had woken up when he heard her yelling at me. “Whats wrong with mommy daddy?” Oh sweet Jesus. Recalling that still twists a knife in my heart, hearing my innocent little boy ask that after watching his drunk mother fall down stairs because she could barely walk. I then remembered the time she was drunk and took a shower. She fell in the shower and cut her head open, but refused to go to the emergency room.
A lot of repressed memories of our relationship began to surface. Times where she would be on medication for depression, and she would say “I think I can ween myself off of the meds. I think I am better now”. Now being medicated myself, I understand that cannot happen.
She had gotten an attorney. I met with her and her attorney and was given the full run down of what she wanted/expected in the divorce. I was told I can get a lawyer and have them review it. I advised that I would be willing to look over what they had in place, and if there was anything I disagreed with, I would present it, and if we could not come to a peaceful resolution, at that point I would get an attorney. 50/50 joint legal/physical custody was presented. On one hand, I still did not trust her with her alcoholism, but on the other, I did not want to take my kids’ mother away from them. Is that me still being controlled/manipulated? Maybe, but honestly, I do believe she is getting the help she needs, and all things aside, I do know that she loves our kids. That being said, I will not hesitate to take them full time (legally through the state and DHS/CPS) if needed. She wanted the house. I stated that while I do not care to live in the house anymore, we have quite a bit of equity in it, and in order for her to get the house, she will need to buy out my half of the equity. I stated I do not want anything from the house other than my tools, my guns that were passed down to me from my grandfather (all are un-fireable at the moment due to me taking trigger assemblies/bolts/ammo one of the times I went there, and in a locked cabinet that only I have the key to), as well as a few other family heirlooms. These stipulations were agreed upon.
She does make considerably more money than I do, but I was still pleasantly surprised when I was informed that she would owe me child support. My intent is to have it auto deposited into savings accounts for the kids when they turn 18. During the stipulation process, I had put down a value on the house using the county assessor’s office assessed value. I understood that this was lower than what it was actually worth, but again, me being me, I wanted to do as much as possible to avoid further confrontation. Plus, as stated, there was already quite a bit of equity, and at the value I had put down, I would get a sizeable amount for a down payment on a new house for myself. She did not agree with the value I had put down, and insisted it was worth less. It then came down to, she wanted to have a “friend” of hers who is a realtor come give a fair market value on the house. To this I said, “No, if we are going to do that, it has to either be a realtor we both know (the realtor who sold us our first house, sold our first house for us, and sold us the second house), or a realtor neither of us know”. Her attorney stepped in at this point and informed her that how I had put it is the way it needed to go as there would be a conflict of interest having her friend do it.
The realtor we both know assessed the value of the house…..for 10k more than what I had put down. EVERYTHING IS COMING UP MILHOUSE! (to quote the simpsons). Somehow, I managed to come out of all of this alive, and not getting screwed. I have no legal fees (but dear god, get a lawyer if you are getting divorced, do not just hope your situation will turn out like mine), I have my kids 50% of the time, I am to receive child support, receive half the equity of the assessed value of the home within 1 year of the divorce being finalized, and am on my way to being whole again. The judge signed off on our decree, and we are officially divorced. All tumblers engaged, The lock is off, the door is open.
I am free.