As any parent will tell you, my life drastically changed the moment my son was born. Just six weeks prior, I returned home from Iraq where I was deployed for the U.S Army. One month after being honorably discharged and moving cross-country, I was holding my son without a clue of what life had in store for me.
I was just 22 years old, a high school graduate, a new veteran, and now a proud dad. Looking at this smiling little boy as he tried his best to focus on the new world around him, I assured him dad would always love him. With that promise I got a new job, moved into a new place, and began my life as a husband and a dad.
Every night, after working long days and driving an hour each way to work, I put him to bed and then prepared for the next day. Every night, without fail, I was there. My wife, taking powerful medications, was unable to care for him at night. While I struggled to balance long work days, a long commute, and a young child with little help at night, I never thought anything of it, but now I realize how much it did strain my marriage. I lived on very few hours of sleep, sometimes broken into segments best measured by minutes. I was never happier though than being able to watch Nathan grow, to see his first steps, and to hear his first words. I have so few pictures from that era but every one of them had a smile on my face.
In the summer of 2001, when Nathan was 3 1/2, we found out Rebecca was coming. With a growing family, we were going to need to move again as we were in a two bedroom apartment. Instead of moving closer to work, we moved back closer to her parents causing me to resume my hour-long commute each way to work. While I was initially opposed to this move, I was really just focused on my son and my soon to be daughter. I worked long hours after work to completely remodel a home along with working full time an hour away, finishing just days before Rebecca was born in April 2002. The long days and sleepless nights were so worth it once I saw her face for the first time. I can remember so many naps taken with her in my arms and wouldn't trade it for anything.
Now with two kids, a busy work schedule, a long commute, and no help with night routines it was no wonder I was soon headed for divorce. In the fall of 2005, we filed for divorce. At the time, my plan was to just keep the kids in their home and Nathan in his school. I left the home in effort to make as little disruption in the kids' lives as possible. I knew this would be a big change for me and my children, but I was also determined not to let it change my love of being a dad for them.
For nearly five years, we had a decent co-parenting situation going on. I was seeing my children constantly and was involved in their schools. However, a little at a time, my duties as a dad were being taken away and off-loaded by my ex-wife onto my ex-in-laws. I used to come over nearly every day, and for a long time, continued to put them to bed multiple times a during the week. Slowly, those days started to become fewer and farther between, until eventually she was using the court order - one we hadn't used in years - to limit me to Wednesdays and every other weekend.
I had gone from an every night dad to four nights a month. Even those days began to get taken away due to sudden "illnesses" or being told "the children don't want to go with you this weekend". I was devastated. I had so little time with my children. In my pain, I began isolating myself from my friends and family. I continued going to the same job I had now had for over a decade, but it was little more than a distraction from how depressed I was becoming.
This revocation of my parental rights was being executed systematically as revenge by my ex-in-laws for leaving their daughter, who was incapable of providing for herself or the children alone. I showed up to school events and softball games, but it was becoming harder and harder to spend time with them. My work was not only a distraction but I knew that my ex-wife had never worked a day in her life, so the children were wholly dependent on my support and insurance. I kept going to work every day and doing my best to see my children, but it was so difficult to balance.
At this same time, my ex-wife came into contact with her old high-school boyfriend and just a few weeks later, he was moved into the house with my children. A complete stranger had just entered my children's lives and was living in the house I was paying for. A complete stranger could see my kids every day but I was not welcome. A complete stranger my ex-wife had zero contact with for 15 years suddenly just moved in, unannounced. I did not even have a name for this person who was now living with my children.
I was told by my ex that this person's name was Mike and anything else was none of my business. I called lawyers and the police but was told unless there was a danger to the children or it was in my divorce decree, it was of no concern to them. Without even having a full name for this person, I was at a loss. How did I know he wasn't a danger? I was eventually able to get a name and I immediately did a background check on this stranger and I anxiously awaited the results.
As I had feared by the few encounters with him up to this point, the man now living in the house with my son and daughter was a convicted felon, having served prison time for fraud, had records of arrest for domestic abuse and assault, and history of running from the cops. He had a current warrant for child support in another state. He had a suspended driver's license and was driving our children to school daily in an unregistered and uninsured car that the bank was looking to repossess. Armed with this information, I sent it to my ex-wife who's only reply was "you don't know him". Well, neither do you...
Soon after, at the end of my very next (and what would be the last) visitation with the children, and with my very sick mother with me, this felon exits the safety of the house and throws himself in front of my car as we are backing out of the driveway. Clearly, he found out about me updating his new address for his warrant, and was very angry. He attempted to open the car door and reached through the open window. I spun the tires and drove the car closer to the house in an attempt to get away, giving him no room and forcing him to let go of the car. I left with my sick mother in tow, and thought the worst had just happened.
It hadn't. A few months later, and with no warning, two police officers arrested me at work for "felony assault with a deadly weapon". They walked into a meeting in progress, cuffed me, and read me my rights right in front of my co-workers, including my supervisor. No police report or statement had been taken from me as to what transpired and there were no phone calls to contact me between the incident and the arrest. I would later find out this was due to her parents connections to the police department and my ex-wife purposely giving them old contact information so that it would appear I was eluding the police that resulted in them issuing a warrant for my arrest, thus the police decided to arrest me where they could find me - at work.
With this arrest, I instantly lost my engineering job of 12 years and subsequently my house, my car, and everything else I had worked for. The charges were immediately thrown out in court, but the damage was already done.
At this point, I really hit bottom. I couldn't see or talk to my kids, I was unsure where I was going to sleep from night to night, and I was for the first time in over a decade, I was unemployed. That incident was the last time I saw my children. I did not know then that it would be the last time.
I did not have a name to describe what was happening to me but couldn't fathom that parents would not be able to see their children. I was hired back at my previous employer under a third party contract and immediately tried putting the pieces back together. My ex used the arrest to get a temporary order taking away any and all visitation time, while at the same time petitioning for more money, even though all charges had already been dropped. It was a long and costly process to basically get back to where I was before this lie that got me arrested, and at the time I could not afford it. That somehow was eight years ago.
Over eight years of not seeing my children, or being able to even talk to them. My only view into their lives is through social media but that is not a regular occurrence. Sometimes I feel like they let me view their lives, and then for whatever reason they will cut me off.
I did get to see my son Nathan briefly just after his 21st birthday in August 2019 but my ex-wife would not let Rebecca come to the door. Nathan parroted the typical brainwashing and beliefs of an alienated child, speaking of details of the divorce he had no way of knowing at the time as a child. My own son called me Michael and not Dad. He spoke of me "abandoning them," and he was not interested in hearing anything that didn't come from his mother.
Learning about Parental Alienation, I knew these words and these stories would be coming, but it is still difficult to hear coming back from your own child. So with this, I want them to know I will always be there for them and I will always answer the phone when they call. I will continue to heal and to grow as a person and as a father so I can be the best parent for them when they are ready.
I love you Nathan and Rebecca,
This blog is written by those living through parental alienation. Some authors have chosen to remain anonymous. Silence breeds abuse.
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