She forgot me.

When MonoBoy was in the 6th grade, he played basketball for his middle school and their games were played on Saturdays.  I was very much divorced by then, but I still maintained a relationship with my in-laws and on this particular Saturday, my ex-MIL and her husband were going to ride with me to the gym for the game.  LoverBoy was playing at a friend’s down the street, so I called the house and asked that they send him home.  Then we loaded up into the Suburban and headed on our way.

Without LoverBoy.  Who apparently chased the Suburban a little ways down the street before turning back and sitting in the wicker chair on our front porch, since our front door was appropriately locked.

His absence went unnoticed until we got to the gym and piled out of the car.  “WHAT KIND OF MOTHER LEAVES THEIR CHILD BEHIND?” was all that I could think as I flew back to the house.

Well, folks, let’s just say that I come by that trait honestly and you are never too old for your mother to forget you.

Yesterday was hectic as most of my days are.  I had my very first (and hopefully last) root canal scheduled for right after lunch.  The weather was terrible and I was a little bit nervous about my mom driving around and picking up my sister’s kids, so before the rain hit, I suggested to my mother that she go ahead retrieve my niece from day care now.  You know, to avoid the rain that was expected at 1:00 when she normally picks her up.  She agreed and off she went.

I was planning to take my sister to the Houston Rodeo/Pitbull Concert yesterday evening and knew that I had to leave to pick her up straight from the dentist office, so I jumped in the shower to get ready for the root canal and road trip.  On my way to the dentist at 1:00, my phone rang from a number I didn’t recognize.  Turned out that it was my mom calling from the day care phone because why on earth would she want to carry around the cell phone that I pay for her to have each month?

Instead of picking up my niece at 11:45 as planned, she sat in the parking lot and waited until school got out at 1:00 to actually go in and get her from class.  Please don’t ask me to explain her logic here.  I’m at a loss.  Did she think it would change the rain situation if she waited for it in the parking lot as opposed to waiting in the house?  I don’t know.

She swears that she turned her car off while she waited, but her dead battery indicated otherwise, so I took a detour from the dentist to the day care to pick them both up.  By this time, I was going to be late to the appointment if I drove them home and dropped them off, so instead, I told her to drop me off at the dentist and take my car home.  We decided that she would pick me up at 3:30 on her way to pick up my nephew from school.  Because maybe the rain will stop at that point, right?

In the meantime, I texted my brother-in-law and LoverBoy and asked if they would go and jumpstart the car and leave it at my house so that I could address the battery issue the following day.

I finished the procedure around 3:20 and tried calling my mom to make sure that she remembered the plan.  There was no answer, so I assumed that she was on her way, leaving behind her cellphone, as was the norm.

Around 3:45, my brother-in-law texted and asked if my procedure was finished.  I said that it was and I was just waiting for my mommy to pick me up.  I joked that she must have gone to pick up my nephew first, since she was late.  He replied, “What’s the address?  I will come get you.”  When he arrived, we headed to the day care to go ahead and jumpstart the car.  On the way, he explained that when he stopped by his house to pick up jumper cables, there was my mom and both of the kids.  My car just sitting in the driveway.  He asked her where I was.

“She’s on her way to Houston.”

Apparently, she left the dentist office, picked up my nephew early (in the rain), took the kids home to their house, and promptly forgot all about me.  And then forgot that she forgot all about me because when we got back to the house with the car, she said, “What are you doing here?”

Me:  “You forgot to pick me up at the dentist at 3:30.”

Mom:  “I don’t remember anyone telling me to pick you up.”

Obviously.

Wat-ah

I have a lot going on. Stuff I’m not ready to type out and see in written form. That makes it real, and we all know how comfortable I am living in denial. I love denial more than a fat girl loves chocolate. And let me tell you, I L-O-V-E chocolate.

This week has been especially hectic and I thought I reached a breaking point last night. The local A&M Club was having a meeting for potential students and they were handing out scholarship forms. LoverBoy and my BFF’s son had other obligations, aka being lazy, spoiled-rotten teens, so we went as their proxies. (Let’s face it. Scholarships are more important to the person actually paying for the tuition.)

I decided to stop by my house after work to change out of my heels and freshen up before the meeting. When I went to wash my hands, I discovered that I had no water. I tried another faucet. I checked the backyard for a potential flood from a pipe leak. I asked LoverBoy how long the water had been out.

“What? There’s nothing wrong with the water.” [insert eye roll]

Yes, thank you, Mr. Observant. I couldn’t do it without you.

Since I was running late, I decided to multi-task and call the Water Department on my way downtown. I tried looking at their website on my phone for a phone number, but obviously, they don’t want you to call. When I got to my BFF’s house to pick her up, I asked if she had a water bill so I could get the number off the back.

“Oh, I throw those away as soon as I pay them and I paid it last week.”

What? You don’t feel my insane obligation to keep every scrap of paper related to finances? Wow, you healthy-person-with-a-less-cluttered-house, you!

I called LoverBoy en route and asked him to pull a water bill out of the expanding folder marked “expenses” in my room. “Look in the Utilities section.”

“Geez, there are a bunch of papers in this section. Why am I doing this again?”

Me: “A bunch? Are you sure you’re in the right section? Read some of the names to me.”

LB: “Mom, I’m not an idiot. They say Cigna Explanation of Benefits.”

Me: “Ok, genius, but those are medical expenses. Try the other Utilities section. As in, the ONLY one.”

Finally he finds the bill and gives me the number.  But not without a few sighs of disgust.  As I continue to maneuver my way downtown, I dial the number.

“Wat-ah.”

Assuming that the gentleman meant, “City Water Department, how can I help you,” I launch into my explanation of no water and surely, there is a busted line somewhere.  He disagreed.  He insisted that no other customer on my street had reported a water outage, so I must not have paid my bill and then he proceeded to hang up.  Yes, he hung up on me.

Now I’m no expert on PTSD, but I’m pretty sure that being hung up on is a trigger for me.  My ex loved to hang up on me.  And scream obscenities at me, but that’s an entirely different story.  Another trigger is having my utilities shut off, as I am no stranger to losing my lights or water due to nonpayment.  Or payment with a rubber, bouncing check.  It’s part of the joy of being married to a compulsive gambler.  He pulls the money faster than the check can get to the bank.  I swear to you, though, my utilities have remained intact since I separated our bank accounts in 2008.

As I started to hyperventilate and missed my exit, my friend offered to call the guy back.  I wasn’t sure if I was relieved or even more angry that she got the same response from the guy.  And even though I knew that I had paid my bill, Mr. Can’t-Speak-Proper-English-even-though-its-his-native-language from the Water Dept made me nervous.  When we got to the A&M meeting, I used some of the time that we had waiting in line for an application to log onto my water bill account.  Just in case.  Alas, it clearly showed that the Water Dept had mailed a bill on Feb 1st and received my payment on Feb 10th.  It showed a zero balance due and an “ACTIVE” status.  And yet, I had no water.

After the marathon meeting, I returned home and STILL NO WATER and me with even less patience than before.  I called my sister to ask her if I could come over to shower.  I was expecting our Regional Vice President at work the next day, and I really didn’t want to smell bad.  My mom got onto the phone and said, “Hey, don’t pay it.  I already took care of the past due balance.  It was a lot.”

Me: “What on earth are you talking about?  I don’t have a past due balance.”

Mom:  “That’s because I paid it.  They were here to cut off the water when I was home this morning.  I took the notice down to the city and paid it for you.”

Me: “Mom, there has been some sort of mix up.  How much did you pay and what did the notice say?”

Mom:  “I don’t remember, but I did notice that it had the wrong street after I paid it, so I went back in.”

Me:  “Okay, what did they say?  Do you have the receipt?”

Mom:  “I don’t remember.  I think something said one street and something else said another.  It’s all in my car.  I’ll bring it in when I come home.”

By now, I am livid.  I have realized that the city cut off the water at the wrong house and they are basically telling me that I’m screwed until the morning because they don’t leave their uneducated help-line employee with the tools to verify service.  He basically reads from a card that says, “Call Custom-ah Service ‘tween 8 ‘n 5.”  Click.

While waiting for mom to return, I started firing off emails to the Water Dept.  I’m afraid to go back and read them now, but I vaguely remember sarcasm and abrasive opinions.  Fun things like “not-so-help line” references and a list of my grievances over the inconvenience my bladder was experiencing over their incompetence because you know what happens as soon as you find out you have no water?  You have to pee and it’s all you can think about.

When Mom finally got home and presented me with the red door tag and payment receipt, I verified that, sure enough, they were at the wrong address AND she paid somebody else’s bill.  Someone that I was contemplating visiting in order to use her bathroom because she owed me by this point.

I took a deep breath and called the Wat-ah Dept back and after several, “No, that’s not my address” statements, I convinced Mr. Congeniality to come to my house and turn my water back on.  His parting farewell was that I would still have to call Customer Service between the hours of 8 and 5 to get my mom’s money back.

So I did. I was explaining the situation as the gentleman on the phone looked up my account.  He interrupted me, “Um, ma’am, I do not see a disconnect order on your account.  You are paid in full.”  Keep up, Dude.  I know that’s how things SHOULD be, but it’s not how they are.  He finally turned the page and caught up when I hit him with the fact that my mom had gone to the City and paid the other person’s bill.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.”

IF ONLY.

After a discussion with his supervisor, he said that I could bring the receipt back to the City and retrieve her check.

“No problem.  Just don’t read your email before I get there.”

 

[I need to add an aside.  In January, my ex rented a house TWO STREETS OVER.  On the street where the water SHOULD have been cut off.  Everyone’s first thought, including mine, was this was somehow a mix up with our last names or even possibly that he had used my account to set up the utilities on the account.  Stranger things have happened, but in this case, it was some other moron causing me grief.]

The chicks are back in the nest.

My nerves are finally starting to settle, but it didn’t happen until late yesterday evening.  I’m staying on my toes, though, since we all know that my roller coaster could gain momentum at any moment.

Super Dad ended up buying tickets to the Texas A&M vs Alabama game, so the kids were excited that they weren’t just driving three hours to tailgate and watch the game on tvs outside the stadium.  Since they were leaving at the buttcrack of dawn (The Ex can’t miss a moment of drinking time, I mean tailgating time), they decided to spend Friday night at his house.  No, go ahead and turn the knife one more time, so it’s good and snug.  They came by the house to pick out the perfect outfits, even though MonoBoy said that they would probably buy new stuff when they got there.  Of course, they would.  They were both excited and getting along.

I was surprising calm on Saturday despite the fact that the boys would be trapped in a car with a drinking man who LOVES to bash me, and who knows what would be said.  I went to my friend’s daughter’s soccer game, then went to another friend’s house to watch the game and a movie afterward.  (“Poltergeist” is highly recommended to take your mind off of your own problems.  Now those people had some problems.  I mean, their house was infested with creepy clowns.)  I did, however, constantly scan the crowd of 105,000 people to see if I could catch a glimpse of my two little Aggie fans.

I was going to go to a Octoberfest in the Park event with my mom and sister afterward, but after screaming at the tv over multiple interceptions, I decided that a beer tasting event was NOT the best plan.  I settled onto the couch to catch up on Scandal while I nervously waited to see if my boys would come home.  [Pauses DVR] Was that a car door?  [Strains to listen] I guess not.  The dog didn’t move.

By the time LoverBoy walked through the door, I was watching through my eyelids.  He walked by without saying a word.  Uh-oh.  I asked him what was wrong, and he said that he was worried about how to pay for it.  “College?” I stupidly asked.  “No, the other $24,000 endeavor I’ll be embarking on next year.”

You know, you want to raise intelligent children, but when they are old enough to use it against you, you start to rethink that and wish that you hadn’t read “Goodnight Gorilla” those thousands of times to him when he was a toddler.

LoverBoy has been so stressed out about the cost of tuition.  It started the day that his dad came over to discuss on campus living vs off campus living.  He knows that student loans will be in his future because his parents got a divorce and his dad lost his mind and there’s only so much that a single mom can accomplish.  This known fact has caused more anxiety than you can imagine.  He has a binder of printing out scholarships arranged by monthly tabs so that he can keep track of deadlines.  He’s written more essays than he did his entire three plus years in high school combined.  He has been searching for part-time employment to try to save money.  Although I appreciate his ambition, I hate that it’s stealing his joy.

It’s partially why I was happy for him to make this trip over the weekend.  I wanted him to be there again and remember all of the things that he has to look forward to.  I just didn’t think it through that he was going with The Ex, and that in itself can be a joy stealer.

I told him once again that he didn’t need to worry about it so much and that I was going to do everything that I can to reduce his burden.  “Plus,” I said ever so earnestly, “your dad said that he’s going to pitch in.”  I know, right?  I didn’t even crack a smile when I said it.  I decided to jump on LoverBoy’s dad’s-gonna-pay bandwagon.  Apparently, LoverBoy jumped off the wagon, however.

“No he’s not.  He’s going to spend his money on stupid stuff.  All he talks about is buying season tickets and getting a trailer for tailgating.  He only cares about having fun at football games.  He won’t have any money for tuition.  He’s going to blow it all.”

(Oh, so you’ve met him.)

I asked if he had talked to his dad about some of this anxiety.  “Every time I bring it up, he talks about scholarships as if they are a done deal.  Like someone is going to just hand them to me as if it’s nothing.”  (Seriously, he does think that.  He also thinks that MonoBoy is a shoe-in for admission.)  I was at a loss, standing there and searching for the right words.

“So how much more child support did you get?”

Oh crap, what did he just ask?  How in the heck did he know that?  Oh yeah, three hours in a car with the man who hates me more than Satan.

“Not much,” was all I could think to say.  He doesn’t need to know anything about it at all, let alone how much.

“Will it benefit me in any way?”

Are you kidding me?  Every cent that I get goes to benefit you and your brother.  Have you seen the car I drive?  Do you know when the last time I saw the dentist was?

Is what I wanted to say.  Instead I said, “Yes, the additional child support is going into savings for college.”

Needless to say, I slept none that night.  I wondered what conversation had been had.  I wondered what his thoughts about it.  I wondered if MonoBoy was buying it and if that’s why he didn’t come home with him.  I wondered how I would survive knowing that I have let my child down by not having enough saved for four years of college.

I finally pulled myself out of bed the next morning and went for a walk to try to clear my head.  When I got back, he was up and on the couch watching soccer.  I made him breakfast while he got ready for work.  It was going to be his first day of part-time employment at the facility I work at.  What if he hates it?  What if it’s just one more thing that he blames me for?

I decided to throw myself into some work for the day.  I’ve picked up a side job for extra money, you know, for college.  It helped to pass the time and distract me from my fears.  When he got home, he was in a great mood.  He loved the job.  Whew!

We watched the end of the soccer game together, then as we were watching Sports Center to catch up on the NFL games, MonoBoy walked in.  All of my chicks were in the nest and everyone seemed to be in decent spirits, so I could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

 

 

It was awful, but it’s done.

Have you ever sat by someone that hates you? I mean, really despises you. You can feel the hatred oozing out of them. Almost taste the venom. 

Take that a step further and imagine being in a stressful situation in a public setting trying to make decisions with the person that hates you that much. If looks could kill and the words certainly cut like a knife.

Today the room for child support hearings was packed. It was held in the Jury Impaneling room because of the sheer volume of people. There were probably 6-10 Attorney General case workers, and each one would call out names  and talk with the people about their case. At the same time, some “cases” were called to stand in front of the judge at the front of the room. It was like watching the internal workings of a machine.

I couldn’t sleep the night before because of my nerves. I even spent some time staring at the ceiling, planning out my outfit. I chose a cute teal blazer and black slacks. I thought the outfit was the respectable thing to wear to court, but when I stepped into the courtroom, I couldn’t have felt more out of place in a sea of denim and spandex. I took it as a bad sign.

My ex was already there, so I attempted to be cordial. He gave no response. About fifteen minutes into the process of waiting our turn, he turned to me and said, “This was a great idea. Good job.” Another bad sign.

Luckily, I brought a book to read while I waited. I could drown out my surroundings (or at least pretend to).  The hardest part was convincing my stomach that now was not the time to act up.  Eventually my name was called and I headed to the back where there were round tables set up, each with a case worker and a laptop. My case worker was the same woman that I had frantically called and emailed to get out of this thing. She was a stern, reserved woman that handled her business effectively and efficiently.

She informed me that I have a Domestic Violence Nondisclosure order on my case, which is why she called me back alone l. She asked if I wanted to lift the order. “I don’t know.” She further explained that it really just prohibited the disclosure of my address on the legal documents, and if I lifted it, we could discuss the case together. “Okay.”

She said that she knew I had called and expressed an interest in NOT modifying the monthly support and asked if I still wanted to do that. I was trembling and felt the need to vomit. “I don’t know.” She asked if I would like to know the new amount before I decided. “Okay.”

Y’all, the amount is almost double the support I receive right now. DOUBLE. “Oh, I guess I should modify.” She quickly said, “I’ll go get him,” so I figured that she agreed. The amount gave me an idea of why the AG insisted that this case happen as planned. D-O-U-B-L-E.

I could feel The Ex’s presence before he got to the table. A cold chill ran up my spine. When he sat down, she explained that we were there for a suit for modification for child support and a confirmation of arrears. My ex, clad in his stone-washed jeans, cowboy boots, and Under Armor polo shirt suddenly turned into a lawyer. “I’m trying to understand how this came to be. You know, I just found out about this a short time ago when I was served. I called her (he pointed to me like he was identifying the murder suspect in a courtroom) and she said she didn’t know a thing about it. I need to get to the bottom of how this got started. Who filed this?”

Her: “The Attorney General filed the suit.”

Him: “But why? Under whose order?”

Her: “Your case was due for a review.”

Him: “So you’re telling me that the Attorney General can just decide to review a case willy-nilly?”

Her: “Yes, we’ve been known to do that.”

I wanted to yell “case closed,” but I knew that we hadn’t really even started. She asked him if he brought any of the requested financial information, which he had not, but she said that was okay because she had the amount that his employer reported to the state each quarter.  She asked him how much the monthly health insurance costs. He didn’t know, stating that the boys were on his wife’s insurance and she works for the state. “Oh, if she works for the state, I know exactly how much the insurance is.” (Duh, SHE works for the state.) 

She said that she was entering the numbers to get a new amount and he said it didn’t matter because we weren’t going to change it. She said that she needed to hear that from both parties. Oh crap oh crap oh crap! 

In a voice barely above a whisper, I said, “I’ve decided to move forward.”

Him: “Do what? Are you kidding me? You are something else. Ain’t that some shit. You are a bold-faced liar. You have fed me nothing but lies for weeks.”

Me: “Please stop. You have been insulting me for weeks.”

He was protesting and hissing about trying to get to the truth for weeks.  The case worker ceased the opportunity of a break in his speech (probably to take a breath) and told him the new DOUBLE amount he would have to pay.

He turned to me, crossed his arms, and said with every ounce of his hatred, “Well there goes college. You just screwed yourself. You can’t have it both ways.” I felt as if his actual hands were around my neck, choking the life out of me. I mean, I knew all along he would say that. I even wrote that in my email to my case worker as to why I didn’t want to proceed. I just didn’t expect him to say it so soon into the meeting.

It took everything that I had not to burst into tears. I asked him how he could take away his son’s education, and he kept saying something like “You can’t squeeze sugar from a lemon,” and repeating that he wouldn’t pay a dime to A&M. Then he started ranting that he knew all along that I would screw him. He pointed his finger and tapped it on the desk and said, “I want it on the record that my youngest son has lived with me for 4 months and I have provided 100% of his support.” I corrected him that it wasn’t 4 months, he didn’t provide 100% of his support, and he’s home now. “Only because you called him on the very day I was served and told him that he needed to come home because your mom is sick.”

The room was starting to spin and I felt like I was having an out of body experience. “That’s a lie!”

Him: “No it’s not, he told me so. You are always manipulating them.”

He might as well have smacked me. My mouth gaped open. Everyone  in the room by then had stopped discussing their own cases and were staring at us. He was livid and loud. “This is a joke. You just tell me what I have to pay and that’s it?”

The case worker explained that the alternative was that we could agree to a different amount and she could get the AG to sign off on it, or we could wait our turn and plead our case to the Judge.”

I offered that we could split the difference. “Split the difference? Man, you are a piece of work. We already agreed to an amount. You stood in your living room and said we didn’t have to change it. I knew you were full of shit and would string me along and pull some bullshit like this. We could be out enjoying a golf tournament on a beautiful day, but instead we’re here for this shit. Way to go.”

He was going on and really escalating and the case worker said, “I’m going to have to ask you to leave the table and we will discuss this separately if you can’t stop talking.” He made some snide remark I can’t remember and she said, “I am here to mediate, but we can certainly take it to the Judge and let him decide.”

I again said that I was willing to compromise. He rattled on a bit more, although quietly, and I asked him what amount he would be willing to pay. He threw out a number that was a bit more favorable to him than my split-the-difference suggestion, but I had reached my limit. I asked him if he would then be willing to help with college tuition, and he agreed, so I said “done.” 

I’m sure that my case worker thought I was nuts for leaving so much money on the table. She asked me to restate what I was agreeing to. Then she suggested that we move onto the arrears. She listed the amounts. He disagreed. He’s been paying extra toward them each month. “Yes,” she said, “$50.”  Once again he stated that he wanted it “on the record” that he lost his job for six months and he didn’t run down to the AG to get it changed, and that’s why there are arrears. I said, “That and the following extended period when you did work but refused to pay.”

The caseworker went on to state the amount of medical arrears. “This is such a joke. Where did that amount even come from?”

Her: “The Judge signed an order in 2013 after we received all of the proper documentation of medical bills.”

Him: “So let me ask you this, when the boys have both graduated, we’ll be done with this and that amount just goes away?” There was about a 10-15 minute discussion about the fact that he will have to continue to pay the same monthly sum it until it was paid in full. He was shaking his head in disgust. 

And internally, I was shaking my head in disbelief. I just let him off the hook when I know he could afford and by law SHOULD pay much more. He owes me quite a bit in medical that’s accrued since the 2013 order, but I didn’t go after it. He’s getting off easy, but you will never convince him of that. To him, I am the devil that just screwed him. 

After we finished, I thanked the case worker for her patience, then waited by the window of the courthouse until I saw him get to his car. Let’s be honest, I was scared.

When I got to my car, I sobbed. I cried because it’s frightening and hurtful to have someone hate you so much. I cried because he said so many awful things, most that I didn’t even type here. I cried because I’m embarrassed that I’m not strong enough to fully stand up for what I deserve. I cried because I fear the retaliation and fallout from this. I cried because even though the hearing was over, it doesn’t seem like this nightmare will ever end.  I cried because it was awful.

PTSD sucks

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.