PTSD sucks. I mean, it really, really, REALLY sucks. I’m trying to figure out how to explain it.
It makes mountains out of mole hills. Normal situations feel like 9-1-1 situations. For example, seeing your ex’s name on your Caller ID might cause you to roll your eyes. The sound of his voice might feel as annoying as nails on a chalkboard. That’s understandable with a messy divorce. In my world, the sight of his name with a text message makes my stomach immediately cramp. I can taste bile, and the urge to throw up is great. My shoulders become tense and I find myself panting or breathing heavy, or alternating between the two.
The reaction just isn’t normal. Of course, neither is my relationship with my ex.
Sometimes I am strong. I can shrug off his contact and roll my eyes like normal people. This is not one of those times. You see, on the day that MonoBoy moved home, my ex was served with papers to appear in court (next week) for a review of his child support and arrears. I saw a missed call from him that day, but I thought it was about MonoBoy, and since he didn’t leave a message, obviously I didn’t call him back.
He called me again on the following Monday and I answered the phone. In the words of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, “Big Mistake. Big. Huge.” I didn’t know about the serving of the papers and I’m sure I looked like a deer in the headlights. He asked if I had filed for a review. I panicked and said no. I just wanted to get off the phone as quickly as possible to throw up.
In truth, way back in May, I received a letter from the OAG asking for verification from the school of LoverBoy’s graduation date, as he will no longer have to pay child support for him after that date. I got the information to them, and as a follow up, they sent me the standard “You are entitled to a review every three years or if financial circumstances have significantly changed.” I get those letters every so often but I have NEVER requested a review. I did ask them enforce the child support order when he was working and not paying it (resulting in almost $10,000 in arrears due), but I never wanted to place any additional burdens on him by increasing it.
In all actuality, when we first divorced, I agreed on child support based on his base salary, excluding his bonuses and overtime as a gesture of generosity. (I secretly still wanted him back then. Gag.) And when we went to court to reduce the visitation, my attorney told me that I was generous for not increasing it with his new job and lack of visitation. At the time, I didn’t want to rock the boat any more than I had.
I can’t explain my momentary lapse in fear and generosity back in May. Perhaps it was that MonoBoy woke up from surgery and told me that he hated me and I blamed my ex for it. Perhaps it was the fact that I knew I would soon lose child support for LoverBoy, and HELLO, college is expensive as heck. Whatever it was, for the first time in seven years, I checked the “yes” box and mailed the form back in.
I was probably proud of myself for half of a second, and then forgot about it.
Until two weeks ago when my ex confronted me and SURELY there had to be some mistake. Pant, pant, pant. I called the Attorney General. I called my previous attorney. I begged anyone that would listen to please get me out of this. Make it go away. I don’t want this to happen. I’m not strong enough. This will turn out bad for me. It always does.
Things are too volatile with MonoBoy just coming home, and LoverBoy already nervous about college tuition, researching scholarships and financial aid on a daily basis. Just a few weeks ago, he asked me if I thought his dad would pay for half, like he promised. I said, “You’re putting me in an awkward position here. What matters is what you think.” He said that he wanted my opinion, which of course, is NOT NO, BUT HELL NO. Although, I was thankfully able to refrain from stating it that way. He asked me what I was basing my opinion on, and I simply said, “The past.” He asked me to give an example, and I mentioned the medical expenses. He responded with, “Yeah, but he doesn’t see the value in paying medical expenses. This is different. He’s proud of me for this. It makes him look good.” I simply ended the conversation with, “You are certainly right about that, and I hope he does contribute to college.”
Now I have given him the perfect scapegoat. “Well, I was going to help pay for college, but your greedy mother took me back to court for more money.” It’s on the tip of his tongue. I know it is.
Of course, right now, he is too busy berating me about my “knee-jerk reactions” and how I thrive on drama” and so on, etc. It’s more important to him that I lied when he asked me about it, than he is about the actual event. He LOVES that I made a mistake. Today, I think that I received a total of twenty texts in less than five minutes, full of snide remarks about it. Oh, excuse me, those statements were “factual” not snide remarks. He corrected me on that when I asked him to refrain.
Look, I know that I haven’t technically done anything wrong, other than the lie I told about not checking the box on that stupid, stupid form. (I have kicked myself a zillion times for that, so I certainly don’t need him to remind me every twenty seconds.) I also know that I am entitled to a review of child support every three years or with financial circumstance changes, of which BOTH apply here. Normal people are thinking that I am absolutely crazy for giving this a second thought. It’s the law. It was created for a purpose.
But being well within my rights of the law and being able to stand up to a bully and not believe all of the terrible things that he says about me and to me, are worlds apart. No, galaxies apart.
He probably won’t believe it, but I have done everything I can these past two weeks to make this go away, despite my therapist friend telling me not to let my PTSD make decisions for me. Today, the Attorney General told me once and for all that there is no way out of it because he still owes $8,000 in arrears.
Yeah, well, that’s news to him. I mean, this is the guy that paid me $200 and thought that his 50% portion of the $1400 medical bill was done. He remembers things in his own way. The World According to Him is galaxies away from reality as well.
So for the second Friday in a row, I have been accosted through texts. I have swallowed back the bile that threatens to spew out of my mouth and I have furiously wiped away the tears that have spontaneously erupted from my eyes. He’s off on Fridays and has nothing better to do than harass me. Or “get at the truth” as he sees it.
The truth is that we go to court on Thursday. We could go in there and calmly agree NOT to increase the monthly child support despite what his new W-2 and check stubs say. My PTSD is certainly pushing for that. Or he could present his financial records and we could let the court decide.
My therapist says that there is no wrong answer. I could let things go in an attempt to save LoverBoy from potentially being pulled into the middle, or I could stand by my rights and force The Ex to do the right thing for his kids. I seem to be the only one in the world that holds that man to task and forces him to do the right thing. It’s not like it wins me any points. It actually wins me the title of “Vindictive Bitch.” Do I really want that role? My PTSD says no. Stay the same compliant, good girl who generously keeps the child support the same despite rising costs and increases in his pay. Don’t rock the boat.
But I did, and these choppy waters have me extremely seasick.