Archive for September, 2011

Do you know anyone in prison?  I mean, do you actually KNOW anyone in prison?  Up until the time my daughter went to prison I did not know anyone in prison.  Never had a face to put on the mental image I had of an inmate on the very rare occasion I did give thought to someone being in prison.  I never gave much thought to the people in prison.

Furthermore, I never gave much thought to what prison was actually like, although I was certain it wasn’t TOO horrible.  I had in my mind the idea that there was constant supervision, that the environment would be monitored throughly and controlled.  Perhaps I even believed some of the ignorant emails that float around and tout prisoners getting three free meals a day, being able to hang out and watch TV, spend their time getting a college degree and working out at the prison gym.  Much like the majority of the political emails I get, whoever wrote them doesn’t have a clue about the reality.  It has been my experience that you may think you feel one way about a situation, but when that situation becomes personal and effects you or someone you love, your opinion is likely to change.  Suddenly, you develop an understanding that you couldn’t have had without the experience.  You grow.

When my daughter was first sent to prison she went to a maximum security facility.  Not because she had done something so horrible as to deserve that, but simply because that is the only facility this state uses as the intake center for women.  It is a very scary place.  When you drive up you see the facility across a field.  Big.  Cold.  Surrounded by layers of fencing topped with rows and rows of razor wire.  There is razor wire in the fields should anyone possibly make it over the fences or through the doors.

When a woman arrives at the prison, the first sixty days are spent on what they call “Hoe Squad.”  You get up early and walk out into the fields and do exactly as the name implies; you hoe.  Or you chop with a sickle.  The armed guards on horseback watch over you.  If you happen upon a field rat or snake you had better not run.  They warn you before you ever go out that it will be determined that you are trying to escape and you will be shot.  Rain or shine, out into the fields you go.  The only exception being very severe weather.  It’s not easy.  Then again, it’s not meant to be.

There is no privacy in prison.  You use the toilet and shower with other women.  They search you thoroughly in places I prefer to keep private.  My daughter tells me you grow used to it.  This would be a stretch for me.  Then again, if you have no choice, I guess you get used to a lot of things that are outside of your comfort zone.  After visitation the searches are especially invasive.  Unfortunately, many times this is when inmates receive contraband.  It is unbelievable to me but I understand that many times easier to to get drugs on the inside than on the street.

For the most part, the day is pretty structured.  Inmates have jobs in prison.  Depending on their classification (behavior/danger level) they are assigned to various areas.  Kitchen, laundry, legal library, field work, maintenance to name a few.  They are not paid.  If they have classes, they are in the classroom half the day and work the other half.  Classes can be focused on personal behavioral issues such as anger management, or parenting skills.  Or they can focus on helping the inmate learn a skill which will allow them to be released back into society with knowledge that will help them be employable.  For some of the women this is cosmetology or culinary skills.

Mail is precious when you’re in prison.  That connection to friends, family and the outside “free” world is often one of the few things to help stave off depression.  Prison is a scary place.  Even to visit.  Some of the women here are very dangerous.  Thinking about this is enough to make me cry.  My daughter is 5’4″ tall and weighs about 125 lbs.  There have been many instances that have caused us to fear for her safety.  As a mother, there is no way to not worry.  It is difficult to think of my baby girl inside those razor wire fences, in a cement block building.

Every Sunday I talk to my daughter.  Every Sunday a little piece of me grieves.  Every Sunday has a little crying time.  I wish you knew my daughter.  She is smart and funny.  She has a big heart and is always trying to help people.  Now that part of her is forever overshadowed by terrible decisions made while under the influence of legally obtained prescription medications.  It is heartbreaking.  It has been two years since she went away.  It is still so surreal.  How did this happen?  Why did this happen?  Is she going to be okay?  Why is she in jail over others who have done much, much worse?  These are questions I wrestle with constantly.  She has two more years to serve on her sentence.  Two more years of limited contact.  Prepaid phone calls.  Two more years of visiting under the watch of armed guards.  We drive down to see her when we can.  Two more years of praying night and day for her safety.  And more than anything, we pray for her healing.

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One of the highlights of my morning is putting my son on the school bus.  Not that I like to see him go.  Quite the contrary.  I enjoy every minute of our time together.  What brings joy to me every morning is the little, smiling faces already on the bus when it comes to get my son.  Beautiful faces with bright smiles.  Little hands that wave to me as the bus pulls away.  I love these children.  Pure.  Innocent.  Full of love.  Love the way I believe it was meant to be.  Accepting.  Non-judgemental.  Genuine.

I have long admired the love that comes from my son and other children like him.  Those with “disabilities.”  I don’t know.  Are they really the ones with the disabilities?  It is true in some cases they are not able to do the many things we take for granted.  Many have trouble walking.  Some do not write.  Or speak.  They may have difficulty understanding instructions.  Many need care and assistance for even the simplest daily tasks.  But what I see are beautiful people with hearts of gold.  Able to do what very few of us can even comprehend.  My son could care less whether I drive him around in a beat-up, old pick-up truck or a Mercedes Benz.  Doesn’t matter does it?  As long as we get safely where we need to go?  If I serve hot dogs for dinner or steak, he is happy to have food and eats heartily.  Clothes from Wal-Mart, a consignment shop or the Gap?  He could care less!  As long as he is in soft material that is easy on his skin and has his favorite colors, all is well.  How I long to have more of his character.

Over the years, I have learned much from my son and from other people with different abilities.  I trust my gut more when meeting people.  Maybe I am a little more present when I am with those I love, really taking the time to take them in and appreciate them.  I give thanks every day.  On the rare occasion that my son gets upset with someone or something, he makes his objection known, and then he lets it go.  He doesn’t hold a grudge.  He will welcome your apology and offer you a hug or two.  How I need to learn more forgiveness.

I always say I have two heroes.  Oprah and an my son.  Oprah because she inspires the world to change for the better.  My son because he inspires me to do better.  He is just so full of love.  So full of joy.  Such a gift to me and those who know him.

Thank God for allowing me to see the beauty every weekday in those little angel faces.  Thank you for allowing me to share my life with someone so much wiser than myself.  Please watch over all people with different abilities.  Help the world to see and embrace all they have to offer.  Amen.

Ever notice how people squirm when you catch them up to no good?  It can be comical, unless you’re the constant target.  I read an email this morning from the ex to my husband.  It was l-o-n-g and full of things to deflect the real issue.  This is typical of all the correspondence I have read from her over the years.  She tries to be witty.  She will throw in stuff that is entirely off topic.  Many times she is just plain insulting.  I suppose she does this in an attempt to show herself superior to my husband.  It doesn’t work.  My husband calls these diversionary tactics “smoke and mirrors.”

In reality, this is an accurate description of her behavior.  Where there is smoke, there is fire, as the old saying goes and this woman can really puff up the smoke. I have learned over the years to stop expecting it to change.  It is very predictable.  When she is caught, or if things aren’t going the way she perceives they should go, it sets her off.  Sometimes, the behavior is simply annoying.  Continuous calls or a chain of emails.  There are always a lot of threats, usually some accusations.  The court order is a weapon for her to use against us, to threaten us and try to control us, yet she has violated it in too many ways to count.

An example of smoke.  Many years ago, when my stepchildren were little (11, 9, 7 and 5 yrs) and they lived with us, we were trying to decide whether it was better to buy a different home or add on to the current home.  We spent many Sundays going to open houses and looking at various properties.  One Sunday, we drove out to visit an open house just a ways out of town.  As we drove up to the house, all the kids started talking about the things that had gone in the house.  Unpleasant events that occurred when they were left unattended with the young siblings of the student their mother had been having sex with at the time.  There were times they told us they were locked out of the house without access to water or the toilet while “Mom and X were inside talking.”  The youngest girl reported that she had been tied to the bed with belts and locked in the bedroom with the doorknob removed.  Needless to say, we did not go into the house.  The kids were upset enough just driving by.  That all sounds pretty horrible, doesn’t it?  Very incriminating against the mother wouldn’t you say?  Well, when she got wind of it and knew what we KNEW, she called up my husband yelling and screaming.  Threatening him with exposing this in court as if he was the one who had allowed all of this to happen.  Telling him she was gonna’ rake us both over the coals in court!  See what I mean?  She was caught so she had to stir up some smoke.  Of course it was discussed in court, but not quite the way she imagined.  And thankfully, the kids had been to the court appointed counselor and everything had been documented because after midweek visitation with their mother, everything suddenly became “a dream” to the kids.

Mirrors.  Even after all this time, I continue to be amazed at how easily, and apparently without any remorse, she can take the truth and twist it up like a pretzel.  Suddenly she is the victim and everyone is out to get her.  Flash back again.  This time to before my stepchildren came to live with us.  My husband went over to pick the kids up for visitation.  The girls (remember, age 7 and 5 yrs) were upstairs in the mother’s bathroom showering.  They came down wrapped in towels.  One of the little girls went over and whispered in my husband’s ear “Daddy, X is upstairs in Mommy’s room.”  My husband told the kids to get dressed and ready to go.  He asked the ex to please step outside, where he confronted her about the teenage boy, then a current student, hiding in her room upstairs.  Lot’s of smoke and then, she turns it all around on him.  She was just trying to be considerate of his feelings by having the boy wait out of sight.  She was just tutoring him, after all.  Why would he always think the worst of her?  On and on and on…  The kids come outside, see the mother crying and clearly upset, and then don’t want to leave.  He doesn’t make them as that would only further upset them.  The next day, he follows up with an email, asking that she keep this student out of her home and away from the children.  He also cautions her on losing her teaching licensure.  She responds by telling him the kids are fine around “X” and why is it his business anyway.  She tells him “You don’t want me but you don’t want me to have anyone else either.”  Really?  Are you kidding me?  We’re talking about a HIGH SCHOOL boy here!

Beware of the smoke and the mirrors.  Tread carefully, but know that you have struck a nerve.  Document, document, document everything.  We have every bit of correspondence.  Hard copies are locked away in a safe deposit box.  Electronic copies are in various places and in the hands of a few trustworthy people.  Limit your phone contact and if you must communicate via phone, follow it up with an email documenting the details of the discussion.  Sounds like overkill doesn’t it?  In truth, I think it’s utterly ridiculous and a fabulous waste of time and energy.  That being said, I am sure glad we have done all of it.  It has saved our bacon time and again.

Stake your boundaries my friend.  And enforce them.

http://drhelen.blogspot.com/2006/06/walking-on-eggshells-dealing-with.html

Please take time to check out this website. Very helpful information.

http://www.shrink4men.com

A Shrink for Men

Company Overview
A support site for men in relationships with abusive women and the non-abusive family and friends who love them.

Mission
To educate and empower men who are being emotionally abused by their wives, girlfriends or boyfriends. To help people realize that love isn’t synonymous with control, shame, pain and guilt. To remind people that it’s never too late to break free of the trap of abuse and find happiness.

How is it decided who gets punished for which crimes?  This is a question often on my mind, based on several different instances I am aware of, but none more often than when considering the crime of fraud.  Why does it seem that so many cases of fraud go unpunished?

Fraud is defined to be “an intentional perversion of truth” or a “false misrepresentation of a matter of fact” which induces another person to “part with some valuable thing belonging to him or to surrender a legal right.”  The synonyms are almost as descriptive as the definition: cheat, deceit, deception, swindle, fake, trickery, sham.

Fraud is a serious crime.  A felony in criminal courts, actionable in civil courts, in many cases a Federal offense.  It is rampant in our society, yet much of the time appears to go completely unpunished.  Why?  Shouldn’t someone be punished for “an intentional perversion of truth” especially when it costs another?

Paternity fraud is, in my opinion, one of the most despicable crimes there is today.  I have watched first-hand the damage it imparts.  Financially, mentally and emotionally.  Men are held hostage paying for children that are not biologically theirs; women are rewarded for their cheating, lying and continued deception.  And this is just on the surface.  The ramifications of this behavior runs deep.  Not only for the men and their families, but also for the children being raised in an environment with a woman who would do this.

In our case, we have been in court many times related to the children.  My husbands ex named all the children as biologically of the marriage in their divorce.  She collected child support for that child KNOWING it wasn’t my husbands.  When we had the DNA testing done, unbeknownst to us she told all four children on the day we had their cheeks swabbed that my husband wasn’t the biological father of one of them.  She defrauded the court by keeping all of this knowledge hidden when WE asked for a sealed order to protect this child.  The ex has used this sealed order as a weapon against my husband and myself since it entered into the file.  She KNEW she had already discussed this with all four children when this was written.  Is that not fraudulent?  Obviously, she does not want the biological father of this child identified because it confirms she committed a crime and although she cannot be criminally charged due to statute of limitations in this state, she would most likely lose her teaching license.  One would hope anyway.

When my husband and the ex were separated but not yet divorced she wanted a new car.  She had been driving a sedan, something appropriate for a woman with four small children.  Apparently sedans are not very attractive to teenage boys.  She went behind my husbands back and bought a Mitsubishi Eclipse.  We have a copy of the signed contract where it is obvious she forged his name.  This didn’t come to light until my husband and I were married and unfortunately by then too much time had passed to have her prosecuted.  When he confronted her about it she laughed.  At that point there wasn’t a thing he could do.  What really stinks is that in their divorce, my husband got stuck with the Eclipse because all four children couldn’t be safely transported in that car and she, being the “custodial” parent needed to be able to haul all four kids.  He had to give her the SUV.  How is this fair?  Why wasn’t she ordered to trade the vehicle and then forced to suffer the consequences of her own stupidity?  What really upsets me is that I know my husband isn’t the only man this type of thing has happened to or will happen to.  That is just plain wrong.

You know, here is the way I see it.  If any of us lied on our tax return and defrauded the IRS out of thousands of dollars the way my husband and many men like him have been defrauded, there would almost certainly be jail time.  At the very least there would be thousands of dollars in interest and penalties on the money and you can bet your bottom dollar they would see to it that every penny was repaid.  How is this any different?  Working men and their families need that money more than the IRS yet we knowingly allow them to be defrauded.

The thing to remember is that it doesn’t stop.  These people feel a sense of entitlement that is unbelievable.  What has to happen for us to stop allowing this behavior?  When are we going to treat paternity fraud as the crime that it is?

My son was born a healthy baby.  Full term pregnancy.  I did not drink, smoke, or take drugs of any kind.  Nor did I have a history of this behavior.  I didn’t drink caffeine, eat fresh water fish or any other food that could have elevated mercury.  I stayed active.  I gained 35 lbs with this, my second pregnancy.  Labor was induced by breaking my water during the week of my due date as a result of pregnancy induced high blood pressure that had made an appearance the week before.

The birth of my second child was so exciting to me.  There are five years between my two children.  I waited until my ex-husband was comfortable with the thought of another baby.  When we made the decision to get pregnant, I started prenatal vitamins.  I did everything humanly possible to make sure an easy pregnancy and healthy baby.  Believe me, I have analyzed this under the proverbial microscope a million times.  I believe most parents of children with disabilities go through this.  “Did I do something wrong?”  “Could I have done something differently?”

A chubby, happy, breast-fed baby, my son was the picture of perfect health until around a year, which was shortly after I stopped nursing and switched him to formula.  Then he began to have a series of ear infections, upper respiratory infections and continual sinus drainage.  Developmentally, between his first and second year, he began to lose ground.  In between his second and third year, he lost all of his words and became non-verbal.  It was due to not feeling well I was told.  “Don’t worry”, the doctors said, “he will catch up.”  After one particularly memorable series of vaccinations, given to my son while he had an upper respiratory infection, things took a turn for the worse.  I remember asking my doctor if we should wait and vaccinate when he was over the infection.  She told me it wouldn’t hurt him as the two were not connected.  For four days after those shots, my son ran a fever, wouldn’t eat, was incredibly irritable, and would just lay in his crib moving his head from side to side as he cried.  Looking back, I will always remember this as the time that my son’s life changed.  It’s hard to believe, but that was almost twenty years ago.

Raising my son has been an incredible journey.  There have been so many ups and downs.  No please don’t misunderstand, my son is one of the greatest joys and blessings of my life.  He is pure love.  But I would be lying to you if I said it has been easy.  And I don’t mean caring for my son, I am really speaking more of the feelings, thoughts and questions you have through the whole process of first getting, then dealing with, a diagnosis.  I remember the first person to say the word “autism” to me.  My reaction was to get angry.  Autism?  My son?  He was very interactive, loving.  He didn’t sit in the corner and bang his head.  This was my limited, stereotypical view of autism up to that point.  Fear.  Complete and utter terror.  That is what I felt when I first heard that word.  A whole new world was about to unfold before me.

At first, I spent a lot of time crying.  What did I do wrong?  This had to be my fault, right?  I stuck my nose into every book, every bit of research available at the time.  I hauled my son to one of the leading developmental centers in the country only to be told that he did NOT have autism and that he would develop just fine given time.  I enrolled him in therapy:  speech, physical, occupational therapy.  The opinions of the therapists were as different and varied as the health professionals.  It was so confusing and upsetting.  Was I doing everything I could for my son, or was I obsessing needlessly?  Judgement from others ran rampant.

Over the years we have tried just about everything.  Most of us are easy targets as parents anyway, always wanting what is best for our children.  Throw in a disability that remains a puzzle, with so many variables, and we are open season for all the cures, treatments, aides.  You name it, if it could possibly help, we will try it, buy it, promote it.  And through the years I have.  We have modified diet more times than I can remember.  We have done all of the therapies including music and horseback riding.  We have tried a variety of vitamins and supplements.  Has there been improvement by any of these?  Yes.  The most from dietary supplements and from chemical free products.

Today, my son has grown into a wonderful, young gentleman.  He is my hero.  When I consider everything he must hear, see and feel during a day due to his sensory issues I am amazed that he can keep up such a happy disposition.  He is almost always smiling.  He has plenty of hugs and kisses for those of us in his life and he will go out of his way to offer a hug or a handshake to a total stranger if he sees someone in need.  How he determines who is in need of a hug is a mystery to me but he is always eagerly embraced.  He is beautiful.  To me, he represents true unconditional love of others.  No judgement, just acceptance.  If only we could be more like him and other special people.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t worry about my son and about his future.  There also isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for the privilege of being his Mother.

“You’ve developed the strength of a draft horse while holding onto the delicacy of a daffodil … you are the mother, advocate and protector of a child with a disability.” -Lori Borgman