This new year is beginning whether I'm ready or not. In light of what happened on December 26, I'm not so sure that I am.
Bruce, my child's father, took the child out for a few hours that day. When he brought the child back, he stated that he wanted him overnight next Saturday. I said, "Ask C. He's sitting right there."
C said no, very meekly- it was the first time he'd had the courage to stand up to his controlling father.
C: "I don't want to."
Then the tantrum began- Bruce's, not the child's. He ransacked my house, grabbing everything he'd given the child, all the while yelling about what an horrible person and mother I am, how he doesn't even like the child, how he's never going to see the child again, and other such ranting.
He took the flat-screen TV he had given C this Christmas, and tore its speakers off the walls. He wheeled C's bike out of my garage. He took C's favorite possession, his laptop, while yelling for C to give him his iPod and clothing. He tore the shirt off the child's back, and when C re-appeared a few minutes later wearing a different shirt, he took that one as well. Because I had been running through the house trying to hide C's favorite things from Bruce, this took quite a long time. I was trying to calm Bruce down and get him to stop, but it was futile.
Midway through the tirade, I ordered Bruce off my property and threatened to call the police. I can't even imagine why I didn't follow through. It was as if I was paralyzed with shock and fear.
Shortly before he left, Bruce actually demanded that I "put the child in the truck." At least I had enough sense to refuse! What mother would send her child off with a raging madman?
Finally, Bruce threw C's new TV out of his truck into the street and drove over it, in front of the sobbing child who was naked from the waist up on a chilly winter day.
Our lives changed that day. It would be absolutely irresponsible of me to have it any other way. I did call the police after Bruce fled, and filed a report. The next day I contacted a highly regarded domestic attorney. On Wednesday I'm taking C out of school to see a child psychologist.
Until now, I had allowed Bruce to see the child whenever he wanted to even though we had never been married and had no legal arrangement. He paid no child support. That deal could have worked if Bruce had been capable of behaving with integrity.
Acting upon the advice of my lawyer, I informed Bruce (in a public place) that he could either get counseling for himself to learn how to be a loving and caring father, or he could go downtown and file for custody. He scoffed at the counseling, which I totally expected, and he said he'd be contacting an attorney. "It'll be a while, (he'll need time to save up the money for the lawyer's retainer) but I'm gonna do it."
So now I wait. Someday, probably in a few weeks, or sooner if he can get somebody to loan him money, I'll be summoned to court to determine custody of my child. I did everything I could to prevent this, because court-ordered visitation would undoubtedly have meant that my reluctant child would have had to spend MORE time with Bruce than he already was, but now I have no choice. Hopefully now, the judge will see that Bruce has a maturity problem, and visitation will be non-existent or supervised.
Oddly enough, I have felt relieved since this happened- nervous, apprehensive, yet relieved. Bruce had been bullying and controlling me, and to a lesser extent the child, for years. I put up with it, and the lack of child support payments, all for the sake of avoiding a standard visitation schedule. C was usually unhappy with Bruce, especially during his rare overnight visits, and I was willing to pay a dear price to keep it out of court.
Now, for the time being, Bruce is out of our lives. The albatross is lifted. Much to my surprise, I feel like a completely different mother, one who is more responsible, involved, and effective than ever. I never realized how my spirit was being stifled before this happened.
So, Happy New Year. Here's to positive life changes and new beginnings.