Being Served

I was still going in the process with the case from my arrest and the domestic violence charges the state brought up against me, the child support case and now, I was starting the process of divorce. As many would say, I had a lot going on and I have to admit, at the time I did. Everything was happening fast and at times it felt as though I would lose my mind completely. As a matter of fact, I was so overwhelmed with everything that I really didn’t care if I lived or not. Not saying that I wanted to die but I had lost my will to continue. Sometimes the only thing that kept me grounded were my children. I knew I had something to live for and I was determined to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

It took about two weeks before he received the divorce papers. I found out he received them because he called me and told me he had them. He was not happy about it at all. It’s as though he felt like he could handle me however he wanted and I was supposed to sit back and allow it. I’ll admit, this was the first time that I had actually stood up to and challenged him and I know it was a huge blow to his ego. My intent was to never cause him any hurt or pain despite all of his efforts to destroy me and take away livelihood. I only wanted to be free from the marriage and the toxicity that was therein. He took it as a way of me getting back at him for putting me on child support and although me being put on child support gave me the push I needed to file the papers, it was never a way of getting back at him. I am not nor have I ever been a vindictive person. I was just tired of being mistreated and taken advantage of. I would say that I am pretty passive and I hate conflict. This however, was one fight I was willing to engage in.

The most hurtful thing that happened during this time was when he found counsel with someone in whom I considered a sister. His attorney was a woman that I danced and fellow-shipped with in ministry. Her and I danced many years together and when she accepted his proposal to represent him I was devastated. In spite of that I knew I had to proceed. I had my attorney talk to her attorney and things were beginning to move forward. It took months for me to reach this place and I’ll admit, for a moment I reconsidered the divorce all together. I decided to give us another try but that wasn’t a good idea at all, especially since he started dating someone else and I found myself in a far worse condition than I had been when I left.

The Filing Process

When I started the process of filing for my divorce, I had no idea of the complexities that accompanied it. There were lots of papers that needed to be submitted and honestly, I didn’t know where to start from. That was the moment I decided to hire a lawyer. Thankfully, my job offered lawyer services for a small monthly fee. The issue with the lawyer services was the fact that I had to wait thirty days before I would be able to utilize the services. I had to wait. Of course, I was not happy about the delay but nonetheless, I had to do it. I was on timed schedule and my wages were being garnished.

Once the thirty days were up, I went ahead with my plans to file for the divorce. I sought after and found a family lawyer but there were some obstacles that I faced. The first issue was the child support case and the other issue was filing for divorce. There were two cases that I needed to pursue but I only had enough hours from the legal services to cover one. I was advised by my lawyer to focus on the divorce and during mediation I would be able to revisit the child support case at a later date. That was not what I wanted to hear but that is what needed to be done. I paid the filing fee and my lawyer submitted the paperwork. I didn’t know how long this process would take but I was happy to have taken the necessary steps in order to be divorced and move on with my life.

Time to pay up…..

Once I returned to my regular schedule at work things, were beginning to look up. I no longer needed to report to my supervisor or submit the times that I worked. While work was going well, in the back of my mind, I often thought about the child support order. Although there was a judgment in place for me to pay child support- which was equal to half of my monthly salary- the deductions were not happening at that time.

I remember one night, while I was working overtime, I checked my pay stub. There it was. The child support deductions were in full effect. I wasn’t shocked because I knew it was going to happen sooner or later. I was more upset that we had come to this. There was no reason for me to be placed on child support especially since my children were a priority, in spite of how my ex felt about me. My decision to leave was a decision I made for me. It was no longer about making him happy nor the people who were around me. It was time for me to be happy so I did what I had to do for me and he couldn’t understand that. He took my leaving him and looked at as in I was leaving my children. That was never the case. As a matter of fact, I had the opportunity to move to London and start a new life, and although I did consider it, I could not leave my children behind. I could have ran away because I knew that my life was not about to get any easier but I stayed and I decided I was going to fight back in spite of how I feel.

With the child support payments being deducted from me, my ex felt as though he had sole custody of the children and with the injunction in place he felt like he had all the power. The injunction stated that I had to stay away from him but it did not say that I could not have any contact with my children. Once I was released from jail, he also went to court and tried to file a restraining order on me and made some bogus allegations. One of the allegations were, that he was in fear for his life and he felt as though I would kidnap MY children. The court date arrived and he did not show up causing the judge to throw the case out. After that, most times when I went to pick up my children or when they wanted to spend the night with me, he would tell them things like, “If you go with your mom she will go back to jail”. My children would come and say things like they don’t want to get in trouble with their dad or they didn’t want me to go to jail so they wouldn’t come. I tried to pick my kids up with the police and I was told that as long as my kids are with their father, they couldn’t make him release theme to me. I was taking hit after hit. The thing that hurt me the most was looking at my children knowing there wasn’t a thing that I could do. I honestly felt like I had failed as a mother and for a brief moment I almost regretted leaving. Not because I wanted to be with my ex but because I wanted to be with my children. Those moments of doubts showed me that I could not give in but I had to fight even harder. I knew God was a fair God and it was only a matter of time before the sun would shine on me again. I knew that it was a process that I was going through and I knew that I would make it. I knew that my children and I would be together. It was at that moment that I decided to push forward with the divorce.

Free Yet Bound…..

But you said you loved me. That must have been a lie…..

Paulie

My court day came and left. I officially accepted the program offer and all that came with it. That included going to a parenting class, going to a domestic violence class, and paying fees. I also had to check in once a week with the pretrial release program and report my progress. That too came with a fee. I was paying all these fees because I was arrested for defending myself against a bully who was making it nearly impossible to be with my children. I remember there was a day when one of my daughters wanted to come with me but because it was a church night he would not allow her to come even though she was in tears because she wasn’t feeling well. It wasn’t really about her going to church opposed to him wanting that control in saying what she was allowed to do and what she was not allowed to do. I did what any mother would do. My sisters and myself went to the church and picked my daughter up and took her to where I was living at. This did upset him because it made him look bad in front of his peers. I did not go to the church to start a fight. I respected the leaders of the ministry. I went there to pick my daughter up and that is exactly what I did.

There was also an injunction put in place where I could have no contact with my ex directly or indirectly or go within 500 feet of his property. That small piece of paper was all he needed to keep me in compliance and he would use that as another form of ammunition against myself and my children. The injunction also stated that I could not be around any weapons, therefore, I was put on light duty at my job and I was assigned to work in the mail room. I was of course grateful to still have my job, but because my regular shift was twelve hour shifts, I was losing time because working in the mail room was an eight hour position. I asked around and I learned that I could ask the judge to modify the injunction so that I could go back to working my regular shift. Once my court date came around I did as I was told and even though the prosecutors tried to fight it, the judge granted my request and I was able to work my regular shift. That was a small victory for me.

As I got back on shift I was happy to be working with my co-workers again but I was still in a dark place because the parenting class took place on nights that I worked, I needed to be adjusted so that I was able to keep my same hours and I wouldn’t have it count against me. I am grateful to say the my supervisor at the time was very understanding and he granted my those days as long as I had the proper paperwork. The work aspect of my life was in order but my home life was about to take a turn for the worse.

Walking the straight and narrow

The next morning I was released from jail. Since I had never been to jail, a program was offered to me that would allow me to be released from jail without posting a bond. At the time I really didn’t understand what committing to this program meant, however, all I knew was that I was ready to leave and face the consequences of my poor decision. I went before the judge and I was told that I was going to be released on pretrial. Pretrial was a program that offered individuals, such as myself, to be released on bond that is covered by the program in exchange for me agreeing to following the requirements that was offered. In other words, I had to agreed to check in weekly, go to a domestic violence class, and also attend a parenting class since I had minor children and upon completion of the program the charges would be dropped and I could have the record of arrest removed from my background report. Not to mention I had to pay a fee each time I went to the classes. At the time it seemed like a good idea so I agreed to the terms that was offered to me by pretrial. Later on down the line I learned that I didn’t need to take that route.

That afternoon when I was actually able to leave the county jail I was given a change of clothes that included a pair of shorts that was far too big for me and a white t-shirt with some shower slides. I was also given a bus pass as a means to get around since I didn’t have my cell phone or any money. I was so scared because I really didn’t know where I was of how I was going to get to the other jail to retrieve my belongings. That’s when I came across an angel in disguise. There was a girl that too was in jail. She knew her way around and she showed me how to get to where we both needed to go. So I followed her lead. I was completely embarrassed to take the bus in the clothes that were given to me, mostly because everyone who has been to jail knew that I was just released from there. Once we got off the bus we had to walk for what seemed like forever to the jail where our belongings were and when we arrived there, to my surprise, my mom was waiting there to pick me up. I was completely relieved to have seen her. I retrieved my items and was on my way home. The girl who was with me went her way as I went mine.

Immediately after I got my cell phone I called my children to let them know that I was out of jail. The second call I made was to my employer. I was told to go in and bring all of the papers with me that I received from the court hearing. I was really nervous because I heard that the Chief was a mean person who didn’t really care for his staff. However, I knew that it needed to be done and I didn’t want to prolong the process. The next day I went in with all of the documents and I gave it to him and after he looked over it he told me that because I was arrested a month after the police report was made and based on the police report saying that there was no injuries, he told me that I could continue to work but because there was a new restraining order in place that I could only work in a light duty position until the restraining order was cleared. His words almost brought tears to my eyes because things were becoming really hard for me. I just moved into my apartment and a few months after that, the judge had granted my ex husband child support that would have me at paying him nearly half of my monthly salary. I didn’t know how I was gonna survive. I was grateful when the guy from England told me that he would help me out financially until I gotten everything settled and worked out with my ex husband.

I had a brief moment of relief after being let out of jail but that only lasted for about a week. I had to check in with the program that I agreed to take part in upon my release. This was going to be another situation that I was not prepared for. Especially after learning about all of the requirements that I needed to follow in order to remain in the program……

My night in jail…..

After I was hit with the news that I was going to be arrested things felt like they were starting to move in slow motion. The arresting officer grabbed my car keys and my cell phone before I could even react or process what it was that she was saying to me. All I could think about were my children, my job and how he had gotten exactly what he wanted. He wanted me to lose everything I was working so hard for. He was trying to destroy me and I really didn’t understand why. I knew that my leaving him hurt him however, I left him because of mistreatment and lack of respect and although I was not perfect I held him to a standard that I had not held any other person to in my life. At that point, sitting in the police station I knew I was going to be forever changed. I knew my life was not going to be the same any longer. What I didn’t know was just how much of a turn my life was about to take.

If I only knew then what I know know I probably would have chosen differently

Paulie

I really needed to sit back and think about the things that were taking place in that moment. I didn’t want to overreact so all I did was cry. I cried until I had no more tears to shed. I couldn’t be angry, I couldn’t be upset, I was my hurt and devastated more than anything and on top of all of that, I had no one to talk to. I was all alone. I had never been to jail before, I was never handcuffed. I think I just about had a panic attack. In my mind I felt like he was gaining a sense of gratification. Like I said before, he felt like everything that was happening to me was God’s “way of dealing with me” because I left him. In his mind he felt vindicated, he felt like I was getting what I deserved and he was going to ensure that God’s justice for him was going to happen because I left him so I was the one that was out of order. At that time he wanted to play God and he wanted to inflict pain on me be any means necessary. I guess he forgot the scripture Romans 12:19 says. VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY SAYS THE LORD. I knew better than to try to avenge myself, I also knew to never wish hurt or harm to another person because I may find myself in that very position that I am wishing someone else to be in. While he was telling himself that everything that was going on was somehow God’s was of “getting me” he failed to realize that all of his actions were just pushing me closer to a divorce. Seems like those moves were not moves that favored him in saving his “family”.

Once I arrived at the county jail I was escorted to a room by myself and that was due to the type of work I did. I couldn’t be around other people. It was a safety precaution to say the least. I got processed and after hours of sitting in the cell I was told that I was going to be moved to another facility. I was not the happiest, I could not contact anyone. I didn’t have a chance to talk to my mom or anyone else and on top of all of that I was afraid that I was going to have to spend the whole weekend in jail. Thank God that wasn’t my reality. Even though I was in a very bad predicament I met some pretty good people along the way. I was treated very kind while I was in jail. I got brand new clothes and I room to myself. They locked the entire jail down when I arrived there so no inmates could see my face. The room that I had to sleep in had a new mattress as well. I actually slept pretty good. Maybe it was because I was emotionally drained from everything that had taken place or it could have been the fact that it was real quiet and no one bothered me during my stay there. Either way I rested, I felt a sense of calm during the storm. I didn’t think about my ex, all I thought were my children and how me being arrested was going to effect them. Those were the thoughts that brought tears to my eyes and even though I had peace and solitude around me, those were the thoughts I was left with as I cried myself to sleep…..

And It just keeps getting worse….

Before I actually decided on the divorce some major events happened. The first thing that happened was when he applied to have me put on child support. That was a huge shocker to me especially since I endured so much during my marriage. I dealt with his drug addiction, his alcoholism, him be neglectful as a father and through it all I never even once thought about child support or anything else that would degrade him as a father. As soon as he saw me in a vulnerable place he attacked me where he knew it would hurt. He knew that I was looking for a new home for me and my children. I never expected him of all people to behave like that. The second major life changing event that happened was him having me arrested for domestic violence.

Even before all of the court proceedings happened with the child support case, as if seeking child support wasn’t enough, he once again did the unthinkable. He had me arrested on a domestic violence charge. The memory of it all is still fresh in my mind. My daughter called me to take her to the library to print something for school. At first I told her to go to her grandmother’s home to print but it was no printer ink there. When she called me I asked her was her dad there and she told me he was not at his mother’s home. The reason why I asked was simply because I didn’t want to run into him because our encounters were becoming more and more difficult. Once I pulled up to his mother’s house he had gotten there. I’m not sure if he was told that I was on my way there or not but he was making it difficult to have any interactions with my children, even going as far as telling me that they can’t come with me or visit me at my mother’s house where I was living at during that time. Soon as I got there I see my son, who, I had given instructions to stay away from his grandmother’s house because of some issues that I was having with his uncle’s and his aunt. I walked over to my son who was sitting on the passenger side of his dad’s car and I was talking to him. At this time my husband wasn’t outside but I guess he saw me and he came out. He walked to the side of the car where I was standing and began saying things like his son isn’t going anywhere with me and he’s with his dad and I can’t tell him, my son, what to do. At that time I was fed up. I could not take anymore of his bullying and antagonizing behavior. He was in my face and I was so upset that my first reaction was to hit him and that is exactly what I did. Yes, I should have never put myself in that position or given him that much power over me to get that upset but I lived it and I learned from it. 

Once I hit him, and keep in mind, it was a light hit. He had no bruises or marks what so ever. He immediately began yelling saying that he was calling the police because I had assaulted him. If I would have known the events that I was about to go through because of a small hit I surely would have tried to do more damage. I asked him why would he call the police especially since he did many things to me and I not once threatened to call the police. The main reason why he called the police was because of the line of work that I was in. He knew that my employer had a very strict policy when it came to domestic violence and his intentions was for me to be terminated from my job. He later admitted this to me. Once he said he was going to call the police I didn’t know what to do so I got in my car and I left. I probably should have stayed there to give my side of the story but I didn’t. I went home in fear and in tears. I have never been to jail in my adult or been in this situation. I called him and begged him not to call the police and his response was that I was going to jail and I was going to be fired from my job. I was completely distraught. If I could write my emotions so that they could be felt I would do it.

Well, he did call the police but he didn’t press any charges which was silly and a waste of time. I didn’t go to jail that night. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even get arrested until a month later. I received a phone call from a detective and she told me to come in so that I could give my side of the story. I later found out that that was not the reason why she called me in. She called me in with every intention of arresting me. So I went to the police station and gave my statement and she said that my story didn’t match his story so I had to be taken down to the county jail.

My first time being arrested and it was by the hands of a man that I thought really loved me…..