So much has happened in the past nine months. Three significant and life-changing events all at once: My daughter has been in a course of therapy to help her manage her behavior issues, I have a relationship that has grown to the point where we are going to get married, and Buster has taken his campaign to “co-parent” to the point of a custody battle.
M is doing so much better. We were so fortunate to find a wonderful therapist that we both trust and connect with, and it has helped M immeasurably. She has been learning tools to help her cope, and she has someone “all her own” that she can talk to and get guidance and the understanding that is so critical to one’s self-esteem. I recently found the book “The Explosive Child,” that has helped me so much, too.
I have a lot to be grateful for. I am able to take care of my daughter. I have a safe, beautiful home, a stable job, and my health. I also have the most wonderful man in my life now, and the comfort and joy that he gives me is impossible to adequately describe. I know that I’ve never before had this level of partnership with another person, or the depth of affection and trust. That he’s also funny and kind and smart and dependable is just magnificent. What’s remarkable is that he and M have formed a tight bond, as well, and she adores him. In every way that counts, he is the daddy that she’s always needed.
This brings me to Buster. Last spring, when he moved to the area and wanted to see M, I offered him time on an “every other Saturday” schedule. I did NOT have to do this, and in light of his history, the offer was more than generous. But in classic Buster style, he took this as a sign of his entitlement, and has waged a crusade of demanding more and more outrageous “rights.” The more I tell him that he needs to slow down and proceed gradually, the harder he pushes.
He has demanded that he be allowed to have a say in decision-making. This from the man who has been essentially absent for the past eight years. Who has been seldom-employed, rarely has his own residence, and has no defined life plan. For the past several months, he’s been renting a two-bedroom third-floor apartment that is almost completely empty. I’ve been there once, and M confirms that it hasn’t changed. He sleeps on an inflatable mattress on the floor. He has the kitchen table that I gave him when I left, he has one kitchen chair, a couple of empty bookcases, and that’s it. But despite making absolutely no attempt to make a space for her, he has demanded overnights. She’s never spent the night with him in her life, and his demand was for several weekends a month.
I have retained an attorney and filed a petition to be granted sole parental responsibility. I should have done this years ago, but I really didn’t think he’d ever do this, and I wouldn’t need to. As part of the official court paperwork, he “discovered” that M is on meds, and so therefore sees a psychiatrist, and he used this to declare that I’m “endangering” her. We had gotten to the point in the process where we’d scheduled court-ordered mediation before he got himself at attorney of his own, however. Now, we have two more Saturday visits before we have our first mediation. I dread the four-hour session. I am glad to know my attorney will be there with me.
My life has taken on an uncomfortable pattern. As Buster’s Saturday looms, he sends me emails regarding his plans for the day. If I question anything, he sends lots of responses, not waiting for me to answer before he sends another one. I try not to respond. Then, the day arrives, and M gets up and gets dressed, expressing conflicting emotions over going with him. He comes to the door and she leaves. Sometimes, I hear from Buster during the day. He brings her back in the afternoon. And then I sigh in relief, and prepare myself for the avalanche of emails that follow until the next Saturday two weeks later.
This weekend is a “Buster-free” weekend, and we are at my man’s house, where we are all relaxed, even though we have to pack for the weekend and maneuver around not being at home with our stuff. Here, with two dogs in the yard, we are content and at peace. The driving back and forth is a pain in the ass, as is staying on top of laundry and such when I’m not home every other weekend, but we are making it work for now.