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dd lost in custody battle ... six months and i don't know how to heal

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 
i think this is probably the best place to post this, but i'm not sure . . .

for the past six months i've been missing my baby girl and i really really need someone other than dh to talk to about it. i thought about going into a long description of the events that have lead to her being taken out of our lives, but i'll just post a link to this thread i started when this all began ... http://www.mothering.com/discussions...d.php?t=579573

long story short: six or seven months ago ex sued us for custody. until two days before the hearing, he said that he only wanted his paternity legalized and visitation on paper. i had no lawyer and begged him to work this out outside of court. i didn't want dd to have to go through this, plus i doubted that the judge in this bible-belt, ultra conservative community would sign with me against ex (i'm a low income sex worker with an alternative family life and he's a banker's son with a college degree and the church elders on his side) ... i signed over temporary custody b/c ex said that if i did, we could forget the court and work it out together. i only wanted for us to communicate openly and understand each other.. i later found out that it was the worst thing i could have done. every lawyer i talked to said that once he had temporary custody it would be near impossible for me to get her back. . . still, i wanted to work things out without lawyers anyway. i kept going back to the parable about King Solomon and the two women (each woman said "this is my baby" but when the king said he would cut the baby in half and give them each half, the true mother who loved her son said that the other woman could have him rather than cut him in half. this is how i felt -- i would rather him have her than her be ripped in half emotionally by our fighting)

we spent weeks and months with him either not returning my phone calls/emails or being completely distant and non responsive. i couldn't have a conversations with him at all. .. . . : so i did the only thing i thought i could, which is sign over complete custody, hoping that i would no longer be a threat (according to his lawyer/aunt) and maybe he could talk to me one on one -- without lying and with love in our hearts.

::sob:: i kept trying to tell him that i want us to be a family -- all of us -- which means to love each other and communicate openly .. but i guess he just doesnt get it. now that he has custody he says that the only way he wants me to be in dd's life is if i go back to school and get a "decent" job and become a "healthy" and "somewhat normal" part of society! even if i wanted to try to conform to his idea of "healthy" (which i consider very very unhealthy!), it would be very difficult for me to do, since i don't have someone paying my car payments, insurance, phone bill, food, housing, utilities, etc.... it's pretty much an ultimatum. he won't let me see her unless it's at his parent's house and i have to be watched the whole time! when i asked why i couldn't have her on the weekends or something at least he said "because i don't know where you'll take her" ! ! ! as though i would ever endanger my little girl!!! ... anyway, all it is is his family's judgments of me and my family. they never liked me and are the kind of people who probably use the term "white trash" behind closed doors. when i was pregnant w/dd they wanted me and ex to get married to save them embarrasment. anyone you could ask would say what a wonderful parent i am. everything i DO revolves around making my family healthier and happier!

ex agreed to go to counseling and even pay for half of it ... that was before i signed the custody papers. now he won't answer my emails at all, let alone to agree on a good time/counselor ... i've decided not to be around dd until we work out some stuff with mine and ex's relationship because he obviously hates me and i'm not too fond of him either. the last time i saw her i could tell that she felt this awful energy and i couldn't stand it! i cried and cried and cried when i got home. i've been crying and crying and crying for what seems like forever...

so i've only seen my little girl twice in six months and ex won't even send me an email telling me how she's doing or pics or anything. i'm in such an awful place right now. i've been falling deeper and deeper into depression. i'm terrified to try to call him or talk to him anymore because of how much it hurts when he won't respond in a caring or even respectful way and how much he lies about things (i'll call you tomorrow, you can see her anytime, we'll go to counseling, etc.). . . i'm starting to accept that dd is no longer a part of our family -- but i'm not the same. i told dh last night that i don't enjoy life like i used to, that i'm not as vibrant or loving or hopeful or childlike as i was before. he said, he knows. i said, what do i do? i want to like myself again!!

i can't be around dd when she knows there's so much tension between me and her daddy. i know she loves him very much and i know he's a good dad even though i disagree with a lot of his beliefs, and that i have contributed to a lot of the power struggles and bad feelings. i really don't feel strong enough to fight anymore, even if i thought fighting was the best way (which i don't). i feel that i have to get on with my life for the sake of myself, dh, ds and our future baby (we're 4wks pregnant -- we decided to stay on the age-spacing schedule that we were planning on). the thing is, i don't know how to do that.

we're moving to Mpls in about a month. we can't stand being here (Myrtle Beach, SC -- where we grew up and decided to move back to in order to try to work something out with ex) for many many reasons and believe that moving will help us start a new chapter in our lives.

all this i know intellectually -- logically. but it never goes away. i'm not the same person i used to be -- i'm like a shell. i just get through each day. i can't stop thinking about her: feeling guilty, wondering if i'm doing the right thing, hating ex. i constantly have dreams in which ex is just nice to me. it isn't even like anything's worked out in the dreams .. he's just nice and that's the best thing i can imagine right now!

i miss my baby so much. she turned my life around in so many ways. she's my hero.

another thing i can't stop doing is comparing ds to dd. like when he does something (say, claps his hands or tries to walk), I always say "oh, dd was just like that!" or "he and dd are so different that way..." it drives me crazy and i know my attention should be on him, not always on his sister.

please, any kind of advice or help or just a hug would help me so much. like i said, dh is really the only person i can talk to about this and he's at as much of a loss as i am.

i know i've made so many mistakes, but all i want in the world is to be a good mamma, wife, friend, and most of all, someone i can like. dh and i both come from emotionally messed up families and although we're really young (22 and 24), we're trying really hard to pull out of this in a good way and not let ourselves sink into depression the way we've seen our parents do.

thank you in advance for anything you can offer ...
post #2 of 50
I couldn't read and not send you a . I am so sorry for your pain.
post #3 of 50
so many

I'm so sorry for you.
post #4 of 50
I'm in tears for you, mama. I'm so sorry. I wish there was something more I could do or say. to you and your DD.
post #5 of 50
I am so sorry to hear how much you're hurting.

Have you given up on winning back custody of your daughter? If you haven't, I would seek free or low-cost legal advice. I don't know what's available in your area, but try the local law school for student clinics (kaw students are passionate and stubborn--very good allies!) or Legal Aid, or even try calling a women's shelter to see if there are other pro bono or low-cost legal options for you to check out.

I have to tell you, if you leave the state you're living in (and your ex is living in with your daughter) custody issues will become a million times more comlicated and expensive. I don't want to make you feel worse, but I want you to be able to make your decision armed with all possible knowledge. Health and healing to you.
post #6 of 50
Thread Starter 
i've definitely given up the idea of doing this through the court right now. later on, when dh and i are more settled (financially and emotionally), it might be a different story, but i doubt it. also, i'm starting to accept that my ideal way of dealing with the situation (learning to understand and care for each other) isn't something that ex wants or is ready to do.

this is by far the most difficult decision i've ever thought i'd have to make. there are so many factors including mine and dh's mental health, where we want to raise our kids (SC is not on my top of the list), how dd is affected by this constant friction, etc. ultimately, we realize that the decision we feel we need to make (based on ex's actions and our current situation) is going to lead us away from dd being a part of our family.

typing all this out has helped a lot. thank you all for the hugs and thoughts. it helps just to be heard ... also, i just thought of something after i finished posting. when dc is born this winter, i'll get to nurse again and i know this will be very healing (because i stopped nursing dd at 8mo because of stress and the fact that she was going to ex's house 2 or 3 nights a week and i didnt have the guts to say it was interfering w/ our nursing relationship -- and i stopped nursing ds at 5mo when dh brought him back to myrtle beach and i stayed behind) .. also, having ds get into his toddler era is going to help me. not because i need to replace dd, but because i've gotten so used to having that toddler energy around and i know i miss it a lot.

thank you all again! i'd love to hear any other suggestions on how to deal with these feelings i'm having. i know a lot of mammas have gone through so much more loss than i have and maybe have some insight.

i don't know what i would do w/o MDC ! i would certainly not be the mamma i am today! hooray for you all!
post #7 of 50
I am so sorry to hear what you are going through. I went through some pretty terrible times with my son, where my ex had him and my parents sided with him. I went about 6 months without seeing my son, other than a few very supervised short tense visits. At the time I was working as an exotic dancer in Fla, and had the same thoughts as you - that there was no way that anyone would side with me. In the end, he realized that he couldn't handle our son, and gave him back to me, quite scarred. (be thankful that your ex atleast is a good parent, because mine was not)

You CAN work it out. Please don't just fade away unless you are ready to accept her being gone. I agree with the PP that suggested that you would loose ground by moving away. That being said, I live in Hemingway, about an hour or so from you, and just moved from Conway (and lived in Myrtle Beach temporarily when we first got here and were looking for a home). I hate it, and I understand so much where you are coming from on the environment. Its sickening to me. I cant imagine how hard it is for you to have to go before people that judge so ruthlessly based on their religion and conservative close minded beliefs, as I've found here.

If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know. My DH is a software developer for Horry Cty and knows a lot of people in county government. Maybe he could find someone for you to talk to?
post #8 of 50
I'm so sorry mama. I hope when your dd gets older she will know why you did the things the way you did.
post #9 of 50
I want you to know I have been in your shoes and things can change so don't give up hope. Long story short, my ex got full custody of ds when he was 6, I went back to court and fought and ended up with joint custody. My son is now 15 and while he still lives at his Dad's I see him regularly on weekends/summers and we have a great relatiobship. He is even considering moving in with me to finish HS.

I know your pain, when my son was first ripped from me I thought I would die but it has worked out.

Gotta run, but please PM if you want to talk. (((Hug)))

post #10 of 50
post #11 of 50
Thread Starter 
thank you all so much, again! i realized today that i've been avoiding talking about this to anyone (MDC or IRL) because i'm so ashamed and feel so guilty about this whole situation. i just keep defending my decision and rationalizing and saying how i'm trying my best ... but i haven't been able to talk about the pain and the doubt and the guilt. . i'm the kind of person (inherited from my mother) who takes everything on myself and assumes that if something doesn't "work out" (the way i want it), then it's all my fault. this also keeps me from knowing how to ask for help when i need it. . i know this guilt is just one more layer that i'm going to have to get through.

but having you all supporting me is such an immense help! a million thanks!
post #12 of 50
I'm so sorry! Similar things have happened to friends of mine. It's a really hard thing to go through! One of my friends is poly and into kink, and a pro-domme and it was all used against her in custody court, so I kinda understand where you're coming from not wanting to go through the legal mess right now. It would be better to fight it before moving, at least file a petition with the court that you signed under TDC ( threat, duress, coercion) and they might overturn it (should be able to file yourself for little or no money) but again, i can understand not being able to at this time. legal stuff is always very taxing... emotionally, financially, and that all takes a toll physically (my mom's a LAWYER and legal stuff takes it's toll on her!) If you DID want to look at the legal stuff just for options, i would definitely look at the NCSF- National Colition for Sexual Freedom, they've got a lot of good info, possibly help. http://www.ncsfreedom.org/ DH and I are TTC #1 and are happy that our parents don't know about our lifestyle (we're also poly and kinky and bi) otherwise things would go from strained to much much worse once we DID concieve. It's totally awful that you have to go through this and you're in my prayers!
post #13 of 50
I know you feel this is hopeless in the courts, but you need to move on this NOW. The longer you wait, the more ammunition you give your ex - it's as simple as "well she didn't try to get DD back or court visitation until now - look at all the time that's passed." I'm not agreeing with it, just saying those are the exact words his lawyer will use and God forbid some judge buys it.

Find free or lowcost legal representation and move on this now, please. I second the opinion of a pp that by moving out of state, you strengthen your ex's position and make it 100% more difficult to ever get or even see your child again.

post #14 of 50
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by devilish_fetish View Post
at least file a petition with the court that you signed under TDC ( threat, duress, coercion) and they might overturn it (should be able to file yourself for little or no money)
i really don't feel capable of fighting this right now for many reasons. the emotional state i'm in, and have realized that i will probably stay in as long as i'm in this town (i have other problems here besides ex) isn't a good one for anyone in our family, let alone dd. i would be interested in a petition about TDC -- i didn't know this is something i could do at this point.

do you know whom i would need to contact to get more information on this?
post #15 of 50
Originally Posted by becoming View Post
I'm in tears for you, mama. I'm so sorry. I wish there was something more I could do or say. to you and your DD.
: me too, I'm so very sorry this has happened mama.

I can completely understand why you don't feel capable of fighting. Is it possible for you to find counseling to help you through this? I think it would help. I hope your family is whole again soon and that your dd is reunited with you.
post #16 of 50
Have you thought about moving to a different part of the state, but not out of state? You will lose a lot of ground if you are out of state. (You may not always feel like you feel now and moving out of state could make it harder for you emotionally once you get there.) You could move somewhere like the upstate. We live in Spartanburg and it is WAY different than the Myrtle Beach area. We have really good schools both for you kids and yourself (if you want). Have you thought about getting financial assistance to go back go school? If you are in school, you almost automatically get assistance like WIC, Medicaid, food stamp, etc. It really could make a difference. I'm really good at these things as far as figuring out a way for people to go back to school. I'd be glad to help. NO judge is going to stand for him not letting you see your daughter. You take that into a court, with a good respected lawyer, and you will at least get visitation rights back, which is what you want right? There are ways to force him to let you have her for visits. You might not have all that animosity if you knew you were protected against being cut out of her life. Anyway, I can't imagine what you're going through, but I couldn't not post those ideas. If you show that you are at least attempting to meet some of his demands, you might be suprised at what a judge would do.
post #17 of 50
Thread Starter 
thank you for the suggestions, but i've really already thought of all that. as far as school goes, i have no desire to go back to college right now (i spent 2years as a philosophy major and loving it ... but right now i'm happy being at home with ds and want to spend my pregnancy as stress free as possible)..

as far as making ex do anything ... no, i don't think that's what i want. i know it's really hard for people to understand, but the way the situation is, i don't want dd feeling like her mom and dad hate each other or are involved in a power struggle. my biggest reason for signing over custody was to show that i'm not going to be involved in a "fight" because we are not enemies, and should be on the same side (dd's side). i feel like "making" ex do anything would just cause him to close up more and resent me even more. what i want, really, is to get into some kind of mediation/therapy and learn to understand each other, but i'm starting to realize that this will take longer than i originally thought. ex obviously has things that he needs to deal with on his own (ditto for me), maybe before he'll be ready to deal with our problems.

as far as moving someplace in state, this is still something that's rattling in my brain, but i'm really not sure... one big factor is that i don't (and don't want to!) drive. i want to live someplace that i have mobility (ie, i can go where i want w/o depending on others), but don't have to drive, and especially don't have to strap ds into the car seat (which he doesn't like -- who does?). i don't know of any city in sc that has any kind of public transportation. also, i really feel like i need to live someplace fairly progressive where i can get lots and lots of support for myself and my family. i don't know of anywhere in this state where i can find those things.

ultimately, dh and i are pretty solid on the decision we're making (we feel we have to make) .... it's not the externals so much as the internals that i feel i need to work on right now, kwim? i know i have to heal (from ex's and his family's cruelty, from losing my baby, from other emotional trauma in my life involving my family) b4 i can be very much good to anyone in my family.

but perhaps i will try to talk to a lawyer (again) before we leave and find out what, if anything, i can do to -- i guess soften the consequences of this move. i dunno . . .
post #18 of 50
So so so many hugs for you Sweetie.

You are so strong to keep doing what you feel is best for her even when it hurts you so much. I know the feeling of wanting that ideal situation and working for it while the ex stabs you in the back... It sucks, and yet you I, we) keep having to soldier on and be the grown up.

I just had to tell you, my heart is with you.

post #19 of 50
i don't want dd feeling like her mom and dad hate each other or are involved in a power struggle.
I totally understand this. That's a hard situation for a young child to be in, for sure. But am I reading right, that you are choosing to just disappear out of your daughter's life instead? Don't you think that will be incredibly painful and difficult for her? She has spent most of her life so far with you -- it's got to be devastating for her. Surely it would be better for her to work out some kind of joint custody, or at least visitation, rather than having you just be gone?

You and ex don't need to like or approve of each other to both be in your daughter's life, being her parents.
post #20 of 50
Thread Starter 
But am I reading right, that you are choosing to just disappear out of your daughter's life instead?
it isn't so much my choice. ex has given me an ultimatum which has less to do with my actions and much more to do with his family's judgments of me and my family and what we "look" like (they're very big on keeping up appearances). it would be ideal for me to have, at least, some visitation, but not if those visits are closely monitored, tense, and not regular (ex has said "you can see her whenever you want, just give me a call" ... then not answered the phone or returned my calls for 3weeks). the last time i saw her it was very painful for me, and i believe for her, too. yes, i think that being with her dad and away from me -- like it's been for her for 6months -- is better than being around both of us in a state of conflict. . . . i might be "wrong" in this (as though these situations could possibly have a "right" answer), but it's really what i feel right now.

no, i don't plan to "disappear" , but i do believe that i need to work on myself so that i can be there for her in the best way possible, not just immediately. like i said, i want to get ex into some therapy and feel like it will be easier for all of us once dh and i are in a better place in our lives (even a few months, i think).

i've had to defend this choice so much over the past months. i hardly ever talk about it because so many people believe that what i'm doing is wrong, that i'm abandoning my girl, etc. those closest to me who have seen the whole thing (dh and a couple close friends) know that i've really tried everything i know how and run myself into the ground trying to work this situation out (both with ex and within myself). anyway, i know everyone is trying to help by suggesting that i do something else, but with the circumstances that we have right now, i feel confident that this is the only thing i can do.

i am terrified that dd will feel abandoned. this keeps me up many nights and makes me want to just crawl in a hole and die! ....
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