Thursday, June 5, 2014

Breaking the silence

Sullivan is a writer. Those words both made me proud and stung at the same time. I have always been a writer. It’s how I process. Many people say I should’ve made it my career. But I fear my passion being stifled. That’s a lie. I am my own worst critic. I don’t want to fail. But I do recognize this gift I have passed along to my child. And I know my failures. Sullivan thinks I’m a superhero. Batgirl. The pink Power Ranger. A writer. A dancer. When I get down, I need to be doing those things. But I have not been writing. Nor have I been dancing. And it is to my detriment. So, here goes…

I won’t go into all the failures of our marriage out of respect for my former spouse (and best friend) and my child. Let’s just say it got ugly. I did things I’m not proud of. It cost me a lot…financially, emotionally, physically. But, in the end, we all realized family comes first. Sullivan is penultimate and his needs come first. So, we are doing our best to get along. It’s a struggle, but worth the fight.

Throughout our marriage – and in our lives before it – was a common theme. Both my ex and I march to the beat of a different drummer, so to speak, from our families. The difference is that his family accepts it. Mine does not. I never did things the same. The right way. Different church. Different political beliefs. Different style. Different interests. Hence, wrong. I was always an outcast. Shunned. Even our marriage was not accepted. I wanted so much for Sullivan to have his blood relatives in his life that I sacrificed. Maybe even my marriage. I was always close to my family…I even practically raised my nephew. Yet, I never quite fit in.
Fast forward a few years (yes, I’m intentionally leaving out loads of bs) and I am getting divorced. It is not taken lightly. There has been no intimacy…virtually no relationship for years. In hindsight, I see a lot of it is due to the strained relationship with my family. I want to be close. But not too close. Spouse wants to be far away. We fight. We all lose. Constant battle. Mostly with myself. In the end, divorce proceedings begin. It’s contentious. All on different sides. All out for ourselves. We all lose sight of what’s important.
After all the struggle – in bizarre fashion – ex and I grow closer. Maybe a better relationship than when we were married. We work it out. We’re all happy with the strange modern family relationship. We all move on. Or so we think…until…

In a nutshell, my family is suing us for visitation. I. Shit. You. Not. I – writer or no writer – can’t bring myself to hash out details here. But the basis is that they are not happy with the amount of time they get to see my child. I get it. The kid rocks. But, who doesn’t have people they want to see more often? Heck, can I sue my ex so that I still get invites to all the parties I attended when we were together? Can I sue friends who live far away to come visit? Can I force a hot guy to hang out with me? Can I sue the government for deploying a loved one? Can I demand that I pick the college for the nephew I cared for as a baby?

My family just basically doesn’t agree with how we do things. I work a frivolous job. We eloped. We divorced. I had sex outside of marriage. I’m not a Republican. We go to art shows. I practice yoga. We don’t believe you have to see your family every day…or that family only means blood relatives. We are not horrible people. Or bad parents. Just different. And, despite our struggles as a couple, on the same page with regard to how to raise our child.

Consider this. Can I countersue? My family should get out more. Attend cultural events. Be involved in the community. Eat better. Exercise. Dress differently. Change careers. And religions.  Meet me for my sunrise walk or yoga. Preposterous? So is this lawsuit.

The attorney is so perplexed he even blogged about it. He says the law is on our side. Unless they prove that our child is not being cared for properly – that we are unfit – they have no rights. They didn’t even suggest that in their pleading. Yet, a judge did not dismiss. The attorney did say I gave a very compelling argument and missed my calling (go me!) but we still didn’t win. So, as it stands we are being forced to comply with the judge’s request for discovery. Lots of money. And time. And effort. We are requesting they drop the suit. If they lose – which our attorney believes – they will have to pay our fees, which continue to rack up daily. It will also likely be a year before trial. And we have ceased contact in the meantime.

The worst part for me – that we are all losers. They say they are doing this for Sullivan. But how is that possible? If they win, we either risk not fulfilling a court order or losing precious time with our child for their selfish desires. If they lose, they will never see any of us again. Family is not blood relations. What they have done is unforgivable. They threw us under the proverbial bus. My mother – who admittedly lied to police, as well as legal and mental health professionals to supposedly protect me – has lost all credibility and sympathy in my eyes.

In some ways, I have never felt so worthless or hopeless. In hindsight, I see that so much of what has transpired the last few years has been due to my family. They want to “help” as they see fit…and as long as I do things exactly according to their plans. They said their goal was for Sullivan to be happy and healthy. He is. I have never intentionally kept him from them. We just don’t do things their way. We are just busy living our lives the way we see fit. As a family.

So, goodbye hopeless and worthless. As the shirt Sullivan gave me says, I rock. I am Batgirl. I am the pink Power Ranger. I am Mommy. We are a family. Sullivan is happy. Healthy. A joy. A writer. A dancer. And so am I.  


  1. Clearly I'm behind on blog feed reading. You're a rock star...I can say that the kid you are raising is most excellent, and I'm sorry your family is being so destructive. Our raised in feelings of familial guilt are hard, huh? If any of y'all need anything I'm here. Hugs.

  2. Oh my goodness. I/m clearly behind on your blog, or blogging in general. I hope things work out in your favor! I'm so sorry you are dealing with crazy family members.

  3. Hi Stephanie,
    First I want to say that I think you are one terrific writer. I can relate to your "not wanting to ruin" a good thing. When I was younger, I was afraid of "ruining a good hobby" if I were to be a full-time artist.

    The details and circumstances are different, but the feeling of not fitting in was with me ever since I was in high school, so I can really relate to what you have been going through for much of your adult life.
    Mine got worse in my late twenties. I've been fortunate to have a supportive family for the most part, but why wasn't I "normal" ? Why was my life not like others my age, married, secure job, having kids, buying houses, la-di-da-di-da.....Deep depression. And back then, nobody knew to recommend medication. It was "make a list of what's right and what's wrong" with your life, your, job, whatever; pick yourself up with the proverbial bootstraps, and get a grip.......

    I could go on, but the point is that I see myself in much of what you've been experiencing emotionally. As I said before, On the surface, the details of our lives have been radically different. I was a mess in my 20s and 30s. I refer to "me myself and I" more often than I can count. I always feel more comfortably expressing myself in writing than in speaking.

    Gotta stop and work....nice t-shirt order.....BUT keep on keepin' on. You will find as you get older that "fitting in" is far less important than learning to be yourself and to LIKE yourself as you are---and others will like you all the more as yourself being yourself, rather than being what others thought or expected or wanted you to be.
    Cyber-hug rather than physical hug,
    Deborah Willard