Archive for August, 2011

Don’t kid yourself.  There are no secrets in small towns.  In fact, I don’t believe there are secrets in big cities either, there are just more people so word of mouth has more ground to cover.  Think about it, isn’t this how all the politicians get caught in their shenanigans and how the self-righteous religious leaders get caught with their pants down?  Sooner or later, a secret comes to the attention of someone who knows it is wrong and is willing to step up and make it public.  Sadly, the people with the moral fortitude to come forward are few and far between.

Secrets, and “not airing your dirty laundry” in public, are how predators get away with their crimes.  Statistics tell us that only 30% of sexual assaults are reported.  They also tell us that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys will suffer sexual abuse by the age of 18.  90% of those crimes are committed by people known to the victim.  (See http://sex-offender-registry-review.toptenreviews.com/protecting-teens-from-sexual-abuse.html)   Open, honest communication about any type of personal issue is a must if we are going to protect our children and bring about change.

Airing our dirty laundry?  I don’t call it that.  I see it as making people aware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing.  It is my belief that this is our responsibility.  To know of a crime being committed and to do nothing about it is in my book making yourself an accessory to that action.  People are arrested every day as accessories to various other crimes (not nearly as damaging in my opinion as any crime against a child) how is this any different?  The worst part is, the people committing these crimes against children are predators.  The behavior doesn’t stop.

Over the years, I have managed to compile quite a list of people who are aware of the behavior, or who have been sexually involved, with my husband‘s ex.  Believe it or not, I haven’t had to dig for this to happen.  People just talk.  Due to my profession, I am out in the community almost every day meeting and interacting with people.  It usually starts with the statement, “Are you related to … ?” to which thank God I can answer NO.  It is then followed by the “do you know…?” stories and comments.  I will never forget the time my husband and I walked in and sat down with a banker who happened to be one of my husband’s former students.  Apparently, this guy was often at the home of my husband and the ex.  Right there in the middle of the bank he says to my husband, “Just so there are no misunderstandings, I want you to know that I was never involved with your ex-wife.”  OMG!  I wanted to die right there on the spot!  This has happened too many times to count.  I just write it all down, add it to my file, and send it off for safe keeping.  You may think all this information is welcome.  It isn’t really.  I am long sick of hearing about all the disgusting things that have gone on.  It is embarrassing to me that I have any connection at all to a person such as this.

You see, this is what I find so disturbing.  That so many people can come to me with stories and names, yet nothing has been done.  And it has gone on for years.  So many lives affected.  So much damage done.  It is way past time for all of this to come out in the open.  The children are older now and have heard the rumors at school first-hand.  Can you even imagine how devastating that must be?  We have done our best to shield them and give them a safe place to come and share their feelings.  As they grow older, they begin to understand what has gone on in their home.

Here is my plea:  Please don’t contribute to harm done by predators.  If you know the “dirty little secrets” then share them loudly and persistently with someone who can effect change.  Will it be easy?  NO.  Will you experience adversity for standing up for what’s right?  YES.  Is it worth the headache, the heartache, the frustration?  ABSOLUTELY.  Your only other option is turn your head and allow the behavior to continue.  How can you possibly sleep at night if that is you?  Please, air the dirty laundry.  Get it out there for everyone to see.  It’s the only way we can make a difference and hold these people accountable for their crimes against children.

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Websters dictionary describes justice in this way:

1

a: the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments b: judge c: the administration of law; especially: the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity

2

a: the quality of being just, impartial, or fair b (1): the principle or ideal of just dealing or right action (2): conformity to this principle or ideal : righteousness c: the quality of conforming to law

3: conformity to truth, fact, or reason : correctness 

The best fit for my personal definition of justice is number three.  Conformity to truth, fact or reason seems like common sense to me.  Correctness a must.  But how often do we see TRUE justice?

This is a topic that is often on my mind, but more so ever since this past weekend.  On Saturday, my husband and I drove south to visit my daughter.  She was transferred a few months ago to this minimum security facility which is a little over three hours from home.  My husband and I enjoy our time together and road trips are no exception.  Sometimes we have great discussions.  Other times, we just enjoy the quiet and the nearness of each other.

On this particular drive down the mountain, I caught up on reading information related to the release of the West Memphis 3.  The more information I read, the more questions I had.  How did these boys end up in jail in the first place?  Why wasn’t there more investigation into family members?  And now years later, when they have proven that there is no DNA evidence to connect them to the crime, why do they have to take a guilty plea to be released?  I didn’t live in Arkansas when all this happened, but my husband did.  From his point of view, he said it was a “witch hunt.”  I don’t see justice here.  And what about those three little boys that were horribly murdered?  Where is their justice?  Someone, or maybe even more than one, who brutally assaulted and murdered three little boys, has walked around in society for almost twenty years.  Free as a bird.  Most likely has been around other children.  There is certainly no justice in that.

As we sit in the prison visiting area, we often talk about what people have done, how much time they have served, how much time they have left.  Everybody has a story.  Sometimes, I understand.  Most of the time, I don’t.  So many women locked up.  Most of them on some type of drug charge, many of them because they were involved with the wrong people, making the wrong choices from simply not knowing any better.   Is it really justice to lock these women up in prison right off the bat?  Many need rehab, many could serve time in local county jails closer to their families where they could see and maintain some type of contact with their children.  Yes, I believe some people truly belong in prison.  But I also believe it should be the punishment of last resort for many crimes.  Specifically, non-violent offenses.

I have watched the joy experienced as mothers are reunited with their children.  I have also watched the anguish as those children are torn from their mothers arms at the end of visitation.  I have heard the guttural sobs associated with this separation.  You cry too.  You can’t avoid hearing the heartbreak.  I don’t believe we are doing our future generations any service by not getting to the root the problem.  For them, this is not justice.  People are not disposable, yet perhaps it will seem that way to them.

Then, there are the people that walk around every day, never convicted of any crime, that have done and continue to do harm to humanity.  They are a curse to society.  Clever enough to not get caught, or lie their way out when they do.  Many times it comes down to who has the shadiest lawyer, who is the best liar.  None of that is justice.

So how do we go about getting things changed?  I don’t know all the answers, but I do know this, we can all do something.  However small, an act in the interest of truth goes a long way.  In our case, I don’t know why or how all of this hasn’t come out before now, but I know it will.  A friend commented the other day that all of this is so much a part of me.  Yes, it is.  How can it not be?  Look at all the wrongs that have happened (just that we KNOW about), all the damage that has been done to my personal property, the stress on my children and my stepchildren, the attacks on my marriage, the incredible financial hardship over the years.  You damn right it’s part of me.  And I intend to see that justice is done.

What kind of person would I be if I didn’t see this through to the end?  Isn’t it our duty as members of society to value the truth and bring it to the light?  Whether it be a hugely sensational case such as WM3 or simply a teacher having sex with students who continues to make a mockery of our family court system, none of it is right.  People need to get involved.  There needs to be justice.  You never know when it could be you who needs it.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”Martin Luther King Jr.

This wasn’t always the case.  Some of my long time friends and work associates will tell you that at one point I considered a funeral and a wedding nearly the same event.  I know, it is morbid, but that’s how I felt.  In my eyes, it was a certain death, either way.

Blame it on my background.  My mom and dad divorced when I was three and my dad quickly disappeared from the picture.  Actually, he disappeared from the entire state to avoid having to pay child support.  At that time the State and Federal child support programs didn’t exist.  My mother remarried.  I spent the rest of my childhood working my butt off in some twisted real-life version of Cinderella.  Only there was no handsome prince.

During my school years I could best be described as a bookworm.  I read daily, I wrote, I painted.  Books, art and animals were, and still are, passions of mine.  Dating was something I didn’t do until I was out of school.  And then, sparingly.  I was a free spirit interested in learning about people, places, things.  Come to think of it, I still have those free-spirited tendencies.

Having watched my mother’s marriage to a very controlling man, I always thought there was no way I would marry a man like that!  Well, at the tender young age of twenty-one I ended up pregnant, and then married to a man just like that.  For the next twelve years I was like a caged lion.  Pacing, pacing, pacing.  Work and my children were my constants as my husband and I lived vastly different, and separate lives, out of the same home.  The only “real” marriage I had to use for comparison was my Grandparents.  But those were different times, right?  And what would happen if the children didn’t have their father?  This thought in particular tormented me.  I only wanted the best for them.  At the time, I thought that had to be two parents.

Now, being married to someone you have no desire to spend any time with does have its perks.  Almost every weekend I took my children on outings; children’s museums, children’s theater, events with their favorite characters…we had so much fun.  At work I excelled in whatever projects I was given.  I was focused and driven.  I was well paid.  But still, at the end of the day, something was missing.  When I looked in the mirror I saw a woman who lived a big, fat lie!

I finally screwed up the courage to divorce him.  No easy task mind you.  The one thing I learned during my divorce is that controlling people tend to get a little crazy when they lose control.  But in the end, when it was over, he disappeared too.  No contact with our children at all.

To give us a fresh start I bought a new home.  A small house outside of town on an acre.  Lots of trees.  Gravel road.  Quiet.  A good place for a single mom to raise two beautiful children.  Work was going good.  The kids and I were back to our weekend adventures.  It was grand.

So who can blame me when my daughter and her best friend started bugging me about meeting their Science teacher and I told them both to get lost?  I wasn’t interested in dating someone.  Why would I mess up this great little life I had going on?  And to top it off, he had four kids.  Four small children and an ex-wife.  No thank you girls!

Thankfully, I didn’t stick to my resolve.  After about six months of pestering, they wore me down.  I gave in and agreed to meet this man.  It struck me that my daughter was so insistent that I would like him.  He couldn’t be all bad, right?  I could at least enjoy a cup of coffee with him.

The rest is history.  Two things moved me that morning; my husbands obvious love for his children, and his patience.  As we sat and swapped stories, compared history, talked about our marriages and our divorces, I couldn’t help but relax.  He touched my hand and he touched my heart.  Eleven years later he still touches my heart.  More than ever in fact.  Even after we have gone through so much.

How is it that I can have a bond this strong with a man who I met while my heart was so hardened?  We often say that it is because our first marriages were so unhappy.  Maybe that is some of it.  It takes more than simple appreciation but I believe that goes a long way.  I know I am thankful every day to be so blessed.  Thankful for the love he shows all of our children.

This marriage bears no resemblance to my first save perhaps the real legal document filed at the courthouse.  My husband and I have no biological children together.  We simply didn’t feel the need or the want to add to the six already here.  Maybe that is a big part of it.  We don’t have any “ties” that bind.  We are together because we want to be together.  We are together because trust each other.  We respect each other as separate and independent people.  We allow and honestly encourage each other to pursue our goals and dreams.  We have freedom.  Freedom to embrace who we truly are and that which is important to us.  That to me is the definition of true love.

Recently, I made a trip to my local big box hardware store.  The service was terrible.  The help anything but helpful.  As I stood at checkout I was voicing my thoughts to the woman cashier.  She quickly changed the conversation to the paint I was purchasing, telling me that the blue and the orange represented the colors of her son’s school.  Really? I asked, my son too.  Maybe our sons know each other she says.  Her son, she tells me, is a football player.  My son, I say, has autism and is in a special education classroom.

As we continue to chat, she tells me what a heart her son has for people with special needs.  She is proud of him.  This is all wonderful from my perspective.  I have loved people with special needs long before I had my son.  To hear of a teenage boy with this in his heart brought me joy.  What she said to me next made me angry and sick all at the same time.  She told me that her son had learned about people with special needs from what happened to his cousin, her nephew.   It seems that the young man (the nephew) had done something deemed a punishable offense in our local high school, during the last year before it split into two schools.  One of his teachers thought the appropriate “punishment” was for this young man to eat lunch for two weeks with the special education students.

My legs began to shake with anger, and my mouth – which usually has no trouble spitting out words – was suddenly silent.  What do you say in response to that?  Dumbfounded, I asked her to repeat what she had just said to me.  Unfortunately, I heard her right the first time.

What is it with people?  Why do so many of us fear and despise that which is different from us?  Or that which we don’t understand?  In the instance of people with disabilities, it seems especially heartless to me.  Maybe that’s because of my son.  I don’t know.  I have been around people with special needs most of my life.  The first special needs person I remember interacting with was a girl my age named Linda, when I was in second grade.  Linda had Downs Syndrome and was severely affected.  When I was finished with my classwork, I was allowed to go down to her classroom.  I guess it was a sort of “buddy system” and I think we both benefited from our time together.

Different is not bad.  It should be welcomed and encouraged.  Whether it be intellectual ability, race, religion, whatever.  Why would any school system continue to employ a so called “teacher” who would see the above behavior as appropriate?  Ah, I guess for the same reason they continue to employ a teacher known for having sex with students.  We wonder why society has the flaws it has and where our morals have gone.  What can we expect when this is the type of example we have as role models in our schools?  What can we expect when administrators know and refuse to do anything about it?  And let’s not forget the parents.  Shame on them for knowing what goes on in these schools and not doing anything about it.  If more people would speak up and come forward with what they know and have seen, change would be forced.

I do not know the name of the teacher who issued the above “punishment.”  But  I do believe in karma.  I do believe that when we choose to victimize others that comes back on us with incredible tenacity.  To the credit of the young man who was forced to sit with the special ed kids, he chose to remain with them.  I am told that for the rest of the year he ate his lunch with them.  Hopefully he continues to share his experience in a positive light.

What I Wish I Knew Before Marrying a Man with a Crazy Ex-Wife.

Great article by a woman who obviously knows what she is talking about from personal experience.

This article also provides links that are helpful in understanding the high-conflict, abusive personalities such as Borderline Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder.  Very helpful.  Wish my husband and I had this resource years ago.  The doctor is right on the money in giving warnings about these women and their destructive, manipulative behaviors.

Today has been a hard day for me.  I’m not gonna’ lie to you.   It started off with me thinking about working on taxes (we asked for an extension) because my husband‘s ex smells money and wants an increase in child support.  From there it went to two articles in the newspaper.  One on how hard it is for felons to become gainfully employed once they have served their time; the other on women in prison and how art helps them cope.

Both of these are pretty touchy topics for me.  Do NOT misunderstand me.  I am all for child support to the custodial parent.  Actually, I favor shared parenting where possible.  In our case, it is not an option.  I do understand the cost involved in raising children and my husband needs to contribute his share.  I try to give too for that matter.  I love these children.  Have known them since they were small.  Even raised them in my home for three years.  What I have a HUGE issue with is the fact that this woman actually has the balls to take my husband back to court at all, much less for child support.

Of the four children born of the marriage, three belong biologically to my husband; one does not.  The one that does not is the third child.  When the ex became pregnant with this child my husband questioned her because of rumors that were going around town about her having sex with students.  Fast forward ten years.  That child isn’t my husbands.  Which means she is most likely the product of one of the affairs (yes, ONE of – there were reportedly at least a couple of boys) with one of the students.

There truly is NOTHING to envy or be insecure about when considering this woman but I am still going to sound like the “catty” second wife when I say this – This woman in nuts!  So, to protect the children, WE had OUR attorney draw up a sealed court order forbidding paternity to be discussed with the children outside of a counseling setting.  We didn’t want it yelled at the kids during one of their mother’s fits.  We wanted to be able to sit in a supervised setting – all of us together – to share it out in the open and offer love and comfort to all four children.  Did that happen?  NO!  The mother absolutely refused to continue counseling and has used that sealed order against us at every turn.  She sure doesn’t want paternity of this child discussed in any way, shape or form.  Now, let’s add this sick little twist to the story.  We now know that the mother told all four children the truth about paternity the day we had their cheeks swabbed.  She KNEW that child didn’t belong to my husband.  Furthermore, she had already TOLD the children before we even went to court.  And they were so young – 14, 12, 10 and 7 years of age at the time. Not only has this woman made a total mockery of the family courts in our county, she clearly believes she can continue to make a fool out of the Judge.

This brings me back to the issue of child support.  Why in the name of God should this woman be allowed to collect one red cent from my husband for child support when she REFUSES to find the father of the third child and collect child support from him???  He isn’t in High School anymore.  He is now in his early thirties so should be able to hold down some type of employment.  It is clear she doesn’t want to identify the father because there would go her teaching license.  She hasn’t been fired for all the boys she has had sex with here in this area but proving that a former student is the father of her child would be the end of her teaching career.  And it should in my opinion.

As for the prison articles.  How can I be anything but upset?  My daughter was an excellent student.  Perfect, no.  She was like any other teenager.  But she didn’t deserve to be bullied at school for speaking the truth about a teacher having sex with students.  She didn’t deserve to be in the office every week defending her actions or right to talk about it.  She didn’t deserve to be suspended for simply speaking the name of this teacher on campus.  My daughter fought to do the right thing.  She reported an adult abusing their authority over the students in a most despicable way.  No one could or would help her.  She lost faith and headed down the wrong road.  It cost her future.  At times I thought it might cost her life.  I hope she is strong enough to change this into something positive and go forward to help others.

But what about this teacher?  WHY won’t anyone speak up and do the right thing?  The school board knows.  The superintendent knows.  The students know and many parents know.  Why do people accept this type of person even having access to their child?  And why isn’t she being hauled in to court and raked over the coals for her many violations of the court order instead of being allowed to use it as a weapon against us?

You see, hard day.  Too many questions to ponder.  And I can’t help but wonder what someone like Oprah would say about this mess.  Would she find it as unbelievable as I do?  Would Oprah be bothered by the inequality of a young girl who used someone’s credit card and spent $4500 being the one sitting in prison while a woman who has violated many young men, damaged so many young people, and destroyed whole families by her predatory behaviors stands in a classroom?  I believe she would be sickened as any normal person with half a moral compass would be.  But where are the people who have the backbone to stand up and force change?  Where are they?

Like I said, it’s been a rough day.

This week, while I waited on my husband to have a root canal, I browsed several of the groups I belong to related to paternity fraud, child support, Father’s rights, etc.  My heart broke when I read an especially touching post by a father who is not allowed any time other than standard visitation with his children.  He heart-wrenchingly wrote of being without them and not even being allowed to talk to them every day.

This got me thinking about pain.  Actually, in my mind I was comparing physical pain to emotional pain.  Weighing the two against each other.

Physical pain:  I have given birth naturally – no pain killers what so ever – twice.  I had my legs seriously damaged in a head-on auto accident – one leg was crushed.  The worst part of that story is that the ER doc was a quack who sent me home telling me there was nothing wrong with my legs, I was just sore he insisted.  Three weeks later I am having emergency surgery after seeing an Orthopaedic Surgeon who clearly sees on the ER x-rays that my tibia was shattered into hundreds of small pieces.  The pain was horrifying.

Emotional pain:  I cried when my son was diagnosed with autism.  He was born a healthy baby, developing normally up to a point.  Then, I watched in horror – taking him to every specialist and getting him every therapy I could arrange – while he slipped away from me into his world.  Years later, I sobbed inconsolably as I sat in the courtroom and watched my baby girl be sentenced to prison, cuffed with her hands behind her back and taken to a bench to await transport to jail.

For me, hands down I will say the emotional pain was worse than the physical.  Is it the same for others?  Surely it is.  Unlike physical wounds, we seem to remember the emotional wounds at a deeper level.  Rarely do I think back to the pain I felt after my accident.  And even when I do, all I can remember is “it hurt.”  A lot.  Yet the smallest thing can jog my memory when it comes to my daughter and my heart breaks all over again.  I remember with sorrow how my son would use his words while he played with his favorite toys.  Seventeen years after the words disappeared, my heart still aches to remember those times.

That whole “sticks and stones” thing is a bunch of crap.  Words and deeds can and do hurt us.  They can hurt us deeply.  Shattering our self-esteem, tearing away at our confidence.  Relationships are built up or torn down by our words and our actions.  Obviously, relationships are ruined when there is physical hurt but isn’t there as much damage done by what we say or do?  I believe those wounds to be just as permanent.

It’s a new day…a new week…a new month!  Take time to stop and count your blessings. In all circumstances, you are loved!

“This is when the magic happens: right when you feel like everything is going wrong, shift your attitude to accept that it’s actually going right. Our judgments of how we think our life should be are preventing us from reaching our Highest Potential. If you’re going through a storm, hold the belief that it’s the perfect storm for you to be going through and that you’ve been given everything you need to weather the storm. When the chaos subsides you will experience the Truth that is forever true; you are always taken care of, exactly where you need to be and your efforts are rewarded exactly when they need to be. Remember this Truth the next time a storm is on the horizon and you will grow wings and be able fly right over it and towards the calm waters of Trust and Universal love.”

– Jackson Kiddard, author