“Change is constant. But no amount of change will turn the attitude of vulture to that of eagle.”
In this day and age of Facebook, we can rely on a trusty little app called Timehop to remind us of what we were doing a year ago, three years ago, seven years ago. For the most part, Timehop is a sweet little memory jog to moments we just might have forgotten; a fun evening with friends, adorable children at the pool, a toddler who has ripped all the books off a shelf and is grinning with pride.
But when one’s life implodes and does a complete 180, being reminded of what your life was like a year ago, five years ago, eight years ago can be jarring. According to this little function, I spent much of the middle of June of years past hanging out with friends, celebrating summer, traveling to the beach. I wrote things like Wonderful Day! or Loving life!
The thing about Facebook is that most people post the good and the funny. They alter the bad. This was also true of myself. Occasionally Timehop throws me what appears to be a lovely memory – such as recent pictures from two years ago of my narcisisstic, lying, cheating ex with our kids on Father’s Day for the obligatory Father’s Day shout out. What it doesn’t show is that he was doing shots of whiskey at 11am and became belligerent and drunk and basically ruined the day.
Or, if we’re going old school timehop, the recent box of pictures I found that I had printed out for my daughter to make collages out of. There is a picture of PC and I, last summer, dressed up and ready for a fancy dinner out to celebrate a friend’s birthday and jokingly throwing our upcoming anniversary into the celebration. I remember the night clearly. I remember the date. I remember the couple we joined…the Trollup and her then-boyfriend.
I remember months later reading cell phone records and seeing that Trollup and PC had been texting all afternoon, all evening, into the wee hours of that morning. All the while her and I split a good bottle of red over dinner and discussed our kids and sports as if we were emerging friends.
My point: if you were to have told me a year ago that this would be my life today, in June 2017, I would have laughed.
If I were one who made candid, over-sharing posts, my Facebook over the past week would have included some pretty awful stuff.
The picture I posted of my daughter last weekend at her recital? Could have been accompanied by what type of selfish father tries to prevent his child from attending her recital to punish her mother? Or, well I only had 10 minutes to get her ready thanks to her drunken father and his girlfriend, but we did it!
The picture of my kids reading a book together on the bed of my daughter’s new bedroom? I am so worried about these two kids, but for the moment all is well. Or I took this picture to remind myself that I’m doing something right, because right now I feel like I’m failing them both.
I took my daughter berry picking. I didn’t share the photos, as I usually do. What could I say? She threw multiple tantrums because she’s acting out thanks to her father’s abandonment and lies? Or nice day for strawberry picking, but I’m not enjoying it because I’m worried about my son who is with his father, likely being grilled. But, ya know. Yay strawberries.
If you would have told the me of June 2016 that in a year I would deal with the following things in one week I would have laughed. And perhaps had a subconscious hint of what was to come.
In one week I have:
Racked up about 3 billable lawyer hours on phone calls and emails, you know, just another grand in the big tally of my father’s retirement that is being spent on me and my children. There’s a lot of guilt there.
Had a child calling me, sobbing, saying those primal words Mommy I want you and there was nothing I could do about it. I could not go to her and I could not help her.
Watched another woman comfort my child who wanted me. Saw someone else’s unfamiliar hands on FaceTime wiping my child’s tears and then sat on my best friend’s porch while we both cried.
Have had a surly, rude 9 year old that will not talk to me and who I cannot get a smile out of. Who just tells me he’s “fine” when he is anything but.
Have had both children repeat lies that their father told them, the most notorious being “Mom is trying to keep you away from me.”
Watched a grown man, a friend, explode on my child for being rude and disrespectful. It was a reaction, and my child was being rude and disrespectful. He deserved to be yelled at and under normal circumstances I would have had an attitude of “well, that’s what happens when you back talk.” Instead, my heart broke a little because his attitude is absolutely being fueled by his father.
Have had multiple conversations with Trollup in which she has informed me that in her eyes I am the cause of my children’s bad behavior. That it could not possibly have anything to do with her and PC because “we’ve only been together a few months. You’ve been parenting them since birth.” Well, thanks for the heads up Trollup. Oh, and by the way, you forgot to count the months before November when you and my husband were having an affair. No biggie.
Have said several times, to Trollup and others: the demise of my happy, relatively well adjusted children is a direct result of their father abandoning them, throwing them into this new living situation with no preparation, and dumping them on Trollup while he goes about his life, just has he always has, selfishly. Irresponsibly. Carelessly. With his mind set on himself and destroying me, whatever the cost. Even if the cost is the hearts of two small children.
The attitude of the vulture never changes. PC is a vulture. He feeds on negativity, a quest for power achieved by belittling and wearing down others.
He has tried everything to feed off of me. Verbal threats. Financial threats. Ridiculous demands. He’s tried to hit every area of my life in some way: verbally attacking my family, stating lies about my friends (“drunk drug users”) belittling my job (“you’re a no-job pathetic mother-of-the-year”), financially (“scumbag golddigger”.) He has cost me a small fortune legally because of his behavior and his nonsensical legal demands, such as wanting all the furniture, planning some imaginary vacation to ruin mine, telling me he will “sue” me if I don’t move out. And now that I’m basically moved out, its comments about my new place “you think you’re so great living in a house your father bought because you don’t have a job”. No, PC. You could not even imagine what this house is, but that’s another story for another day.
All that? Is awful. But I can keep standing back up. I’m learning to not react. I know in my head he is a miserable person, a joy-stealer, an energy vampire. I know that he’s probably raging with jealousy. A vulture.
But now you’re going to use my kids? YOUR KIDS? And just because you are not physically abusing or neglecting them, just because the ways you are hurting them are manipulative and not tangible, there is very little I can do about it. Except to deal with the fallout of now having not one, but two children who are struggling in the giant web of consequences of your decision to leave them and I, because, as you said, “I deserve to be happy”.
Well, PC. I sure hope you’re fucking happy, because neither one of your children are.
A year ago, I watched my son make a goal in soccer for the first time ever. I watched him play so well and had so much pride in how far he’d come. I watched how proud his father appeared to be (realizing, now, that much of it had to do with PC himself…my son made a goal I taught him to play). A year ago we, celebrated my son and enjoyed the day as a family. We went out that night and I distinctly remember sitting at the outdoor bar of one of our favorite restaurants, enjoying everything…the summer night, my wine, the friends we ran into, and the conversation about how proud we were of our kid.
Last night? I left a kids’ movie night early because my son repeatedly sassed, back-talked, and mouthed off to other adults to the point that one of them reacted and yelled at him in a way that caused tears on his part and upsetness on my part. I had to pull my daughter (who had done nothing wrong) from an otherwise fun and relaxing summer night to leave. I had no one to help me. I put both of my kids to bed and told my son how disappointed I was in him.
And then I sat on the porch of my new home, which I love, and cried and chain-smoked for an hour. The me of a year ago wouldn’t have even understood the depths and hardness of such emotions.
But. I am not a vulture. PC is a vulture, and like vultures are always there, circling, waiting, so shall he be. And if we’re going with animal analogies, the mama bear in me is ready to unleash, to throw my kids up in a tree and fuck some shit up. The inner part of me wants to be the eagle-secure, strong, and confident.
With the knowledge that this, too, shall pass.