Stuck in a Hostile Hostage Situation

cartoon

July 16, 2019, Chris and I begrudgingly attended Bailey’s custody hearing at our local courthouse. I must admit that I have never been more nervous and scared in my entire life. Whatever the outcome of the situation (that Bailey’s mother and grandfather had created) was to be, it was obvious that our family and Bailey’s life could change forever. For months, the ex and her father had emotionally manipulated Bailey to believe and to say that she wasn’t happy at home with us. There aim was to have SOLE custody, yet Bailey had not lived outside of her home or away from her father at all in her young twelve years.

We arrived that morning, wearing matching outfits. I don’t know why I felt that we had to match. Chris’ polo shirt matched the hint of turquoise in my dress. I longed to CONTROL something albeit just our attire. We were the only hearing scheduled that day, so when I walked in, the left side of the room was filled with the ex’s extended family members. I hurried to the left side, drawing an invisible line in the sand that remains to this day. On our right side of the room, there simply sat: our family friend, my mama, my grandmother, our aunt, and two witness. However, on her side, sat Chris’ grandmother and grandfather. I cannot fathom how it felt to have the woman who raised you decide to have herself subpoenaed in order to testify against you.

This woman who I had respected and known my entire life sat on the wrong side, and she, to this day, does not support our family or Chris’ custody of his daughter. As soon as we entered the room, the NASTY chatter from the opposite side began. I hear the word WITCH and LOWLIFE. I see these people, who I have never even met much less have talked with before, mouth obscenities and spit HATEFUL words at us. Had this coparenting situation really come to this? OH YES, IT HAD.

Chris and I reached the lawyer’s study and meet with our lawyer who informs us that the ex’s lawyer subpoenaed Bailey at 8 pm the previous evening. I hopped up to get her from my aunt who volunteered to keep Bailey and Liam, our eighteen month old son, for the day. I brought Bailey a dress and shoes to change into. She looked frightened and shaky. We sang songs and drove to court without much to say. Ever since we were served with the custody papers, we made a point to not discuss the situation in front of the children. I took that same approach with our ride to Cochran that morning, and she stared ahead with a blank stare on her face.

Bailey and I finally reached the steps of the building and climbed the stairs to the courtroom law library. I hugged her and asked if she needed anything, and I walked away from the little girl who has become the love of my life. What would happen to her? What would happen to us? I returned to the lawyer’s study, and I noticed tears swelling in my husband’s eyes. We would know what she said to the judge soon because he was speaking to her privately. I waited for news while shaking my foot and gnawing the side of my hot, parched lips.

Both lawyers went into the judge’s chambers to hear what Bailey had to say as well as be informed of his decision. Our valiant lawyer returned and said, “Jennifer, she said exactly what you said she would! She said she loves all of her family which includes her brother, sisters, and stepmother. The judge has dismissed the case and awarded Chris child support.”

Soon the realization and the relief flooded my mind. I turned and said to Chris: “it’s over.”  Yet, I was wrong. The ex renegotiated and gave up two of her weekends to Chris in order to keep from paying child support. We convened inside the courtroom where Chris and she were sworn under oath, they agreed to the terms, and the hearing ended. Unfortunately, the turmoil and manipulations from the ex wife and her father will never end.

That same evening that we took Bailey home to continue with the new agreement, and she text me wanting to speak to Bailey. She texted three more times; I ignored them. The next day her father texted my husband and threatened him.

Herb
The Ex’s Father’s Text on 7/17/18

The order read that our weekend started immediately, and our lawyer assured us that we were correct to keep Bailey. Her father texted seven more times that evening. The harassment will not seem to stop. On Tuesday of this week, the court reporter who transcribed the hearing found Bailey’s grandfather plundering through her mail at her home. He stated he would not leave until he had the transcript. He had to be escorted from her property. That next morning he called her stating he had to have the transcript this week because “Chris is holding Bailey hostage.”

Bailey was sick Monday, and her mother wanted us to take her to Chris’ grandmother’s house for the night and next day although we have custody of Bailey. Chris said “No,” and surprisingly her father was found trespassing and rifling through a mailbox that very next day. Will this ever end? Will I ever have a good night sleep again? Will I ever forget the horrible words his ex wife’s family members said to Chris and I on their way out of courtroom? They alleged we had stolen Bailey from her mother. One of her aunts informed Chris he could never again patron her business. The hatred was palpable. The harrassment endless. Chris says to not be afraid of him because that’s what he wants, but when you are the mother of four children, how are you to be carefree?

The DEVIL travels in a polka dotted suitcase

There has been one child I haven’t written about as of yet because I really didn’t know what to say or even how to get my feelings out to the blog page. I have not yet written about my beautiful stepdaughter, Bailey. Even now as I sit at my writing table inside the camper while Liam sleeps on the camper sofa, I see Bailey running and playing in the yard. She looks lovely with beautiful tanned skin and sun-kissed blonde hair. She appears so carefree and innocent from a distance.

Every few minutes she stops playing and pokes her head in the camper: “You still writing a story. What is happening in it?” I must say that she is the most inquisitive child. For every action, there is a set of questions in Bailey’s mind. 🙂 I remember the first day I laid eyes on her: she was the sweetest, cutest little Bailey I ever did see. Chris had, unbeknownst to him, named her after my grandfather: Bailey Carroll Greene. My stepdaughter’s full name is Bailey Caroline. I knew from the first moment we met that I was destined to love her.

The journey of love has been ragged, jagged, and tiring, yet it has been one of compassion and understanding nevertheless. She has serious learning disabilities, and I found myself in denial for many months. The teacher in me believed that I could tutor the disability right out of her. I just knew that the more we worked that the more she would learn, but I soon understood that the more we worked the less fun she had. The more tired she became. I cried so hard that day that we left her IEP meeting, and I had her IQ written in the report in my hands.

Denial broke housekeeping that day. A new stepmother grew out of denial’s leaving. We still played and worked, yet we focused on other concepts. The concepts would be to help increase her adaptive life skills so that she would be better prepared for the working world. Twelve year olds probably do not think about jobs and careers very often, yet Bailey does. Her dream is to become a cashier at Walmart, and I plan to ensure she achieves that dream. Unfortunately, I cannot say how much time I will have to work with her because my time with her may soon be limited.

Her mother and mother’s father decided in December 2016 to begin working on a custody suit that they filed in December 2017. We have spent most of 2018 dealing with lawyers, worrying about court dates, and trying to raise a young woman who cannot fathom the severity of this situation. Some days like today, I steal away from the others and cry. I ask myself questions like: what will become of our family? how will she make out away from Liam and the girls if custody changes? what will I do with myself? how will Chris handle things?

I search for someone to blame. Someone to hate. However, blame and hate are not welcome in my heart or my house. Bailey is still the same loving, caring beautiful young woman she has always been. She deserves all the love and support I have to give her regardless of these sad circumstances. Thus, I will blame it all on the pink polka dotted suitcase in the back of our Ford

Focus. 

pink polka dotted suitcase

The polka dotted suitcase arrived at our house at 2 pm today, and at 2:02 pm I escorted it outside and banned it to the back of the Focus. Bailey asked a million questions: why can’t I have it? can I just get my things out of it? where’s it going now? Ultimately, the bag has done nothing to Chris nor myself. Have mercy–it is simply a bag.

On the other hand, the bag represents all the hurt, abuse, and miscommunication that we have had to endure for the last seven months. Her mother packed a bag for her to take with her on our vacation next week despite of the green polka dotted bag that sits on Bailey’s bed right now filled with clothes from her drawers or toiletries from our house.

The “Indian Giver” sent a bag that must be returned, which insinuates that we cannot provide clothes and toiletries for Bailey ourselves. A text preceded the bag which stated: make sure that I get the bag and all the stuff in it back after vacation. The Indian Giver also insinuated that we do not provide clothes for Bailey in a previous argument with my husband. Chris takes such pride in his ability to provide for his family; in fact, he doesn’t even complain much when I ask for money to make a clothes or shoes run to Target. Believe me these children can outgrow clothes and shoes like the wind. A man, a father, or a husband deserves to be treated with respect, and it is a basic principle of why a man works to support his family. When someone belittles a man who works hard and supports his children well, it is disrespectful, hurtful, and never forgotten.

With all this background information in mind, I must leave my feelings in the trunk with that damned bag. I am the angel of the home; (eighteenth century women would scoff at that remark) I am the voice of reason; I am the MOTHER. Motherhood already demands that I remove my own feelings at the front door along with any bad habits, mood swings, or personal desires. I may not always succeed at motherhood, but I attempt to get it right weekly, daily, and hourly.

I will lock all my aggression, sadness, confusion, and emotional responses inside that bag before Chris drives it back to its owner. Bailey deserves an impartial stepmother who focuses on her best interests, not my own.  Even my thoughts as Chris’ wife must take a backseat to Bailey’s best interests. So, I will stand in the driveway and wave farewell to the pink, polka dotted suitcase. I will send my feelings, thoughts, and prayers with it when it goes. The devil may be inside that suitcase, but I refuse to let him out. My Bailey is more important than symbols real or imagined. My Bailey is more important than the chaos that surrounds us. She is my child, real or step. The love we share overcomes a multitude of sins so my grandma would say. Pray for us. If you can’t do that, then think positively because the devil went for a ride in the back of a candy blue Ford Focus while zipped inside a pink, polka dotted suitcase. That is where he will remain.

The End.

**Indian Giver is used as a pseudonym to protect the innocent :-).