Friday, July 3, 2015
On Exhaling. Finally.
For the past ten months or so I've been waking up around 3am every night and finding myself unable to fall back asleep. I had a lot on my brain. Aiden's other parent resurfaced and, although I got a temporary restraining order, things started to turn upside down as we went through the family court system, him seeking an equal visitation schedule and me seeking a way to keep Aiden's life as normal, safe, and intact as possible.
I had a lot on my brain. And I worried.
I worried about his motives for wanting to visit with Aiden, I worried about Aiden's reaction to the visits, and, most importantly, I worried about Aiden's safety during the visits.
I got an attorney who specializes in the family court system and works with victims of domestic violence. She's been knowledgable, caring, and downright kick-ass throughout the entire process, but one the first things she advised me to do -- or not do -- was blog. At least while my case was still in litigation. Her reasoning was that I wouldn't want Aiden's other parent to potentially find my blog and attempt to use it as ammunition against me while we were in court.
It was hard to take that advice. Very hard. Because this place and space has become an outlet for the trials and triumphs and growing pains of single motherhood. This community -- and letting it all out -- has been my saving grace in so many ways.
I've written so many posts over the past ten months. But as I went to hit the "publish" button, all I kept thinking was that he could potentially use any topic against me if he were desperate enough. If I wrote about my relationship with HEB, he could use it to say I'm exposing Aiden to the men I date. If I wrote about the growing pains of single motherhood, he could say that I'm stressed and overwhelmed. (Newsflash: Any parent who is doing this thing "right" would totally be overwhelmed and stressed at one point or another. Comes with the territory.) If I wrote about personal style or fashion or events around the city, it could be perceived as though I'm exploiting Aiden for page views.
Any topic had the potential of being misconstrued. So, for the most part, I've stayed silent.
It was especially hard for me to feel like he was taking yet another thing away from me. But I built this blog up and I knew that I could rebuild it if necessary. A small price to pay for Aiden's life and wellbeing.
I like to think of myself as a warrior and not so much of a worrier. I tend not to dwell on things that much. Instead I pray about it, put it into perspective, and let it go.
But not this time. Not by a long shot.
Instead I'd wake up at 3am and think about the ifs, ands, or buts of the situation. My mind would race to the worst case scenario and I'd try to think about how I'd respond to it... if it were to actually happen. I tried to fall back asleep to no avail. I tried walking it out or working out whenever I felt my anxiety starting to rise, but to no avail.
It's hard to stay calm, cool, and collected when it comes to the well-being of your child.
But I stayed the course. I met with my lawyer in between court dates to strategize, discuss next steps, vent, and cry it out. I took off of work as often as necessary in order to make it to all of my court dates. I provided the court with all the documentations that they requested in a timely manner. I took Aiden out of his extracurricular activities to make sure that he was on time to all of his scheduled supervised visits -- even if his other parent didn't show up. I kept Aiden's appointments whenever he had to meet with his attorney. (Yes, children are given lawyers when it comes to situations like this.) I didn't coach Aiden on what to say before any of his meetings with his lawyer or case worker.
But, most importantly, I stuck to what I believed in and what I believed was right for Aiden. Even when I felt like giving up. Even when I felt like throwing in the towel.
For Aiden's best interest.
A few nights ago, I woke up around 3:30 in the morning and I cried. (Sobbed, really.) But this time it was to cry tears of joy. And tears of I-can't-believe-I-was-strong-enough-and-patient-enough-to-see-this-thing-through. I hadn't cried like that since I first sat down with my lawyer's intake coordinator to tell my story. I'm sure somewhere in my file reads "hot mess express."
But last week, everything changed as the case was settled. I was awarded with sole physical and legal custody of Aiden, Aiden and I were I were granted a permanent restraining order, and, in an attempt to keep Aiden's life as intact -- and safe! -- as possible, Aiden's visitation schedule with him will be limited.
I really couldn't have asked for a better turnout. Someone must've been praying for me. For us. And God really made this entire situation work out in Aiden's favor. For that, I am eternally grateful.