June 18th, 2012

The Grump’s Ramblings: There comes a time…

Note from Valerie: Noticing I had not posted in a while, my husband hijacked my blog to tell his story.  It’s mostly therapeutic to him, so if you’re looking for food, this isn’t it.  But if you want to see a bad picture of me cooking with his kid, you’ve come to the right place. :-)

…when a person needs to make choices that will alter not only their life, but the lives of others as well.  I don’t mean a choice as simple as a new job or a new house, I mean something that has the ability to destroy someone’s life if they’re not able to adapt.  I had to make a choice like this about 5 or 6 years ago; unfortunately, I made the wrong one and I have 3 children that are still suffering from that choice.  My intentions were good in the sense that in the long run I would be able to improve things for them.  However, as they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  Proverbs, quotes, beliefs, fortune cookies, they’re there for a reason, so others can learn from the mistakes of the past.

Long story short, being in the Marines is not a career move that bodes well for relationships.  My marriage, and most others, are proof of that.  If I remember correctly, the divorce rate in the Marines at the time was about 70% or so of those who were married.  From what I’ve read, it’s only gone up since then.  It’s not that people can’t handle the strain from the stresses put forth, I believe that most can.  What causes it is the changes that people go through.  Most couples change together, but in the military they change apart from each other and don’t recognize the person they once loved.  In my case, I was deployed often and my wife was left either on her own or with family and friends.  Doesn’t sound so bad, does it?  However, the family and friends she was with are those that I rarely got along with, and when I did it was usually for her sake.  I tried working it out.  I probably could have done more, but at the time I didn’t realize that.  When I realized that we were both intentionally doing things to purposely hurt each other, I knew it was time to stop.  Part of me wanted to stick around for the kids but I realized that if I couldn’t be happy, how could I ever make them happy?  Once I realized this, I told her that I was done, that I didn’t want to be married if this is how it was going to be.  We separated and I was served with divorce papers not too long after.

At first things were working out as far as the kids, but that didn’t last for long.  She would often show up late to our meeting places when it was my turn to have the kids.  I don’t mean a few minutes, she was several hours late.  Her family would tell me none of them were home when I called, even though I could hear them clearly in the background.  So on, and so forth.  Eventually, it came to the point where I was never able to see them.  After a few months of this, I made my choice, of which I will not go into details.  I found out later that she had gone to court for full legal and physical custody, telling the court that she didn’t know where I was (the divorce had been over for a while at this point).  I don’t know how she pulled this off, but she did and I didn’t have a clue about it until several months after she succeeded.  By that point I was living around here with all my mail and phone calls to the kids being ignored.  Even the packages I had tracked showed that they were left in the post office.  As I said already, so on, and so forth.  I know of many people who tell me how poor of a father I am by this point, but honestly, I don’t care about other people’s opinions, especially on something that they have no clear understanding about.  Once they’re put in the exact same circumstances, then I will listen to their opinions.

It wasn’t too far after this that I met Valerie.  I already had Ali, so to speak, and that whole situation was a disaster in itself.  You probably have heard bits of it from time to time, so I won’t bore you with it now.  Another long story short (yes, too late, I know.  Deal with it.), we got stuck in a custody battle for Ali, which was refused because of my lack of time with her.  Apparently not knowing where my daughter is, even though I went to the police for help and was refused, doesn’t mean a thing.  I was granted visitation which started at 2 supervised hours a week, to having her almost half of the week over a 2 year period.  We went back to court hoping that we could get full custody for many valid reasons, but the court-appointed attorney for Ali refused to agree to any significant changes and was doing everything she could to get it over with.  Less changes = less time in court.  Even with our own attorney, there was almost nothing we could do without the agreement of Ali’s attorney; this attorney was supposed to be neutral and do whatever was best for Ali, but clearly she was in favor of the mother.  Best we could do was come to another agreement, which doesn’t seem like much but was a win since our attorney did the paperwork.  He adjusted times of pickup so that we actually have her for 8 days over 2 weeks, instead of 7, and also included a couple of clauses that the mother has already shown she doesn’t understand.  If she doesn’t follow them, I can get her for contempt.  Also, the agreement clearly states that Ali will go to school in my neighborhood, which means that if she doesn’t take her to school on her days like she agreed to, then I can take her back to court for that as well.  Frustrating, and not at all what we were hoping for, but it’s better than it was.

On the bright side of all this, I have the support of the most amazing woman that I have ever met.  Well, I say that, but clearly she is lacking in intelligence and common sense because she made the decision to marry me.  I still can’t figure out that one, but hey, her loss is my gain, right?  Plus, I get to see things like this:

The women I love and the food I will get to eat later. How could I ask for more?

So, to sum this all up, I have somehow gone from a life where nothing was working out for anyone, to a life where the only thing that could make me happier is to have my other kids with me.  However, I know I have to wait a few more years until they are old enough to make their own legal decisions.  Until then, I am content with the fact that I was able to see them all face to face and talk with them about everything that has happened, and why I made the choices I made.  They understood, probably better than they let on, and whenever my oldest gets to the phone before my ex, I am able to talk to them at least for a little while.  Meanwhile, I am able to live in a home that actually feels like a home, with a loving wife that does more than I deserve, and a daughter that I am able to be there for.  Things can be improved, but whose life can’t?

In case you’re wondering, I have no idea why I put all this.  I hadn’t planned on it, I just sort of logged in and started writing.  If anything, you now have a brief understanding on why I was so pissed off all the time, which is how I originally earned The Grump as a name.  Now, I keep it because I’m anti-social and don’t like people in general.  Even going to the store makes me grumpy.  But then I get to come home and eventually Valerie puts me in a good mood again.  Cheers.

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