I was served with #divorce papers, on a quiet Monday evening, by my friendly neighborhood sheriff’s deputy. I’d been napping because I was feeling a bit under the weather that day. So, I was, really, NOT in the mood for this latest episode of legal drama. I set the papers aside, and told myself I would deal with them in the morning.
OK, fine. Realistically, I probably wouldn’t have touched those papers again for a week. I did have 20 days to respond, though. So, I figured, why rush to read something that would, undoubtedly, only serve to piss me off? The logic seemed totally airtight, to me.
It was a stroke of unbelievably good fortune that my father’s curiosity had been piqued by the sudden and unexpected arrival of these particular documents. Even more so, that he decided to give the contents, of my husband’s discarded divorce petition, a quick once-over, to satisfy that curiosity.
Well, it just so happened that an important and extremely time-sensitive document was discovered, cleverly sandwiched among the pages of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. My father, being the wise man that he is, immediately brought the document to my attention.
I held the paper in question up to inspect it. As I read, the temperature of my blood suddenly dropped. By, at least, 30 degrees. I stood in the middle of the hallway, frozen, as I stared down at the words typed neatly across the center of the page.
Notice of Expedited Hearing
for Husband’s Ex Parte Motion for Temporary Custody
Expedited. Meaning, skip to the front of line.
Ex Parte. Meaning, without the other party. Without ME.
Custody. Meaning……….. I’m going to kill the bastard.
I’m not sure I can accurately describe what I felt, in that moment. Reading, and rereading, those words. Fear and dread were definitely major players. Was there any chance in Hell he could actually get custody of the kids? No, of course, not. He was beyond unfit. Any judge would see that…..right? But… what if they didn’t? Then what? How could I possibly protect my children?
A little bit of panic started to rise… *deep breath* … “Not now. I don’t have time to panic.“
I could feel the stinging sensation of hurt, somewhere deep within. Just the faintest echo of a feeling, really… coming from that particular place that had been repeatedly rubbed raw, over the past decade.
Truly, he never loved me. Not that I hadn’t known that already. But, had there been even the tiniest shred of doubt left in my mind, this would have wiped it away. No one could do something like this, to someone they loved. Shit- most people couldn’t do something like this, to someone they hated.
*Another deep breath*
The hearing was set to take place in less than 48 hours. Fuck!
How was I supposed to prepare a defense in such a short period of time? But, I guess that was the point of sticking the hearing notice in the middle of the divorce packet, wasn’t it? To make sure I DIDN’T have time to prepare. Or, more likely, with the hope I wouldn’t see the notice at all.
Hmmm. I already dislike this lawyer. Slimy little thing, isn’t he?
Next, time to see what my husband’s reasoning was for trying to con a judge into giving him custody. I opened up the packet, and began to read the long list of reasons why the court should grant full custody to my husband.
The more I read, the more I could feel all my previous panic, fear, and hurt, dissolve. In their place, a white-hot rage was mounting… and it was only getting stronger, as I continued to read.
Un-FUCKING-believable! I was no longer reading whole sentences. My eyes were quickly scanning, picking out choice words & phrases, throughout the page…
“…history of addiction…”
“…refuses to provide the children with medical care…”
“…physically punishes the children…”
“…verbally abuses the children…”
“…failed to protect…”
“…assaulted her 80-year-old mother…”
“…history of domestic violence against the husband…”
“…requesting supervised visitation…”
I could feel vomit rising up, burning the back of my throat. My stomach heaved. This was sick. I was going to be sick. It felt like the venomous words on the page, had somehow been absorbed into my body, just by my reading them. My brain seemed to be stuck on repeat: “This is sick. He’s completely psychotic. This is sick. He’s completely psychotic.”
I had fully expected that my husband would paint me in the worst possible light. I expected him to cast himself as the poor, innocent victim. I even fully expected him to tell outright lies about me. But…this? No.
No. Nothing could have prepared me for this.
The shock was all-consuming. I was frozen in a state of absolute disbelief. My eyes kept gravitating back to the words on the page…as if, somehow, by sheer force of my will, the words wouldn’t really be there, this time. Typed out, neatly, in black and white.
As though this might all turn out to be some really twisted joke. Some cameramen would jump out, and laughingly reveal to me how this was all a ruse. I was being punk’d, or some other improbable nonsense.
I believe it to be a testament to the totality of my shock, that I actually glanced around the room to see if, perhaps, anyone had magically materialized there. No such luck, of course. This was really happening. Those malicious, hateful words were real.
He had already attempted to poison my family & friends against me, by contacting them to spread this filth. Fortunately, I am blessed with true and loyal friends, who know me through, and through.
As my bestie stated, when she told me about the disgusting letter my husband sent her (I’m paraphrasing); “I’ve been there during your worst moments. And, no matter how wrong, or messed up, or crazy you acted… you never lied about it. You always owned your shit. No matter how bad it was. He can accuse you of whatever he wants, my only response would be; ‘I know my friend…and she DOESN’T lie. Unlike you’.”
My friends are the best. Seriously…and thank God.
Still… not believing my husband’s lies, doesn’t erase them from having been told. The words are out there. They’ve traveled over telephone lines. Through email servers. They’ve been written down. Typed up. Filed. Mailed. Served.
And, now… they’re permanent. A scandalous piece of public record.
It seemed incredible; how my husband managed to destroy my reputation, before I even had the chance to build it. WTF? How can a person even be allowed to make such wild allegations against someone, (and publicly!), without a single shred of evidence to back their claims? It’s insane.
Eventually, the overwhelming force of my rage moved me to action. At best, I had 36 hours to prepare my defense. Thirty-six hours to learn the court’s rules of procedure, find any relevant documentation that proved the allegations against me were false, make copies of all relevant records, gather & print out evidence of my husband’s true character, and organize/number it all (along with a list of main points not to forget).
All that, while still attending to my three children, and their magical ability to become uncommonly needy/accident-prone/defiant/messy/etc. when I most need them to…Just…Be…Cool.
I was totally screwed…