2006-05-24 - 10:23 a.m.
The #1 Issue Couples Argue About is MONEY.
Westley and I are indeed a normal couple perhaps in this fact alone! (HA ! HA)
Of course we likely have MORE issues surrounding money than MOST couples...
Anyway... I was given Westley's credit card to do grocery shopping.
I Admit I did just NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT the fact we are on a budget and have been shopping within it for a while now! OOOPPS... I went OVER the budget. I then also filled my car with gas (on his card!) and that was the straw that made him very upset!
To make amends I gave him a check for the gas... HOWEVER I POSTDATED it and asked him not to cash it until next pay day.
*He usually DOES fill my car, but the issue for him was that I PRESUMED this was OK and made the transaction without consulting with him. He is reclaiming his credit cards as his own and has re-established that I need to ask before using them (which was not always the case! But both finances and our relationship is different now!)
He was REALLY ANGRY and left saying "I'm going to cash it now, I don't give a damn about your attorney"
HE knew that if he cashed the check I handed him that my check I mailed to my attny LAST WEEK would bounce!
Now I SHOULD KNOW by now that when angry Westly has this evil habit of making meaningless threats that he doesn't carry out. I SHOULD KNOW that they really needn't have any power over me! However this time I WORRIED.
So I went to TARGET and RETURNED some of the beautiful clothes I bought for Katerina! Enough to cover the check for gas should he cash it (AS BOTH WESTLEY AND I KNOW THAT AS OF LAST YEAR A CHECK IS GOOD EVEN IF POSTDATED! The practice of postdating has been legally nixed!)
I thought I would be OK with that--- feeling insulated from any ACTUAL attempts to REALLY make me feel the pain he threatened, thinking I would be INSULATED from the attempted psycological abuse of trying to instill in me WORRY.
But instead I FELT ANGRY! I told him I was angry last night and we had it out in what I think was actually a VERY HEALTHY ARGUMENT about our relationship. We were both MATURE in this adult communication devoid of passive aggressive attacks and abusive tactics!
And this morning I went shopping to find the items I returned were not only in the store, but FURTHER DISCOUNTED! So I was able to buy them back and ALSO pick up a THREE MORE things for Katerina and spent $10 less total for twice as many clothes than I originally had on the initial purchase of the same three items I returned!
Isn't that a riot?
In the end the result of the strange passsive aggressive abusive tactic to instill psycological harm ended up SAVING ME MONEY and also getting TWICE as many lovely new clothes for Katerina!
Then when I got home (I had the luxury of shopping ALONE when I left this morn for my Dr. appt), I called my bank to check my account and the first DIRECT DEPOSIT OF AN ARREARS PAYMENT showed up in my account today! (I mailed the paperwork in for direct deposit a few months ago!)
YEAH! I called Westley to tell him to go ahead and deposit my check today so he could have the cash to go toward the credit card bill, since there is now money in my account. He said he would give it back to me and also give me the difference I need to go pick up my sewing machine that is ready after having been repaired.
He is indeed learing to forgive and move on. I am also trying my best to learn to respect his boundaries (even when they don't make sense to me-- I can RESPECT them in order to re-build trust!)
I am learning to not make ASSUMPTIONS that he will think like me and agree with MY VIEW of things. That means not making decisions on my own regarding things that are in some way his and assuming he will be supportive of my choices. That means consulting with him and allowing him the ability to participate in choices when he has requested I do so.
I am trying very hard to learn to allow him to have control over the things in life that he has claimed as his own so that he feels secure and then doesn't act controlling of me and those things which are my own!
And we are both continuing to work on that concept of OURS which indeed requires WE EACH give up some degree of independence and allow another view to be heard, and EACH compromise- something WE BOTH have at times had difficulty with.
As far as taking care of things of my own, I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me before. but I placed a call to my attny to tell her of the discovery of the NY CPS report no one (except of course the law guardian!) even KNEW ABOUT-- which in fact pre-dated even the very first trial date! I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before, but she IS INTERESTED in this. I don't know that it makes any difference after the fact of the settment at all, except that it DOES shed light on the situation and the court's and law guardian's perspective, and indeed there WAS an inappropriate judgement made at NY CPS which investigated and wrote NONE when looking for any alleged injury to Katerina and SOREN. The law they included with the report CLEARLY states that a founded report of child abuse or neglect MUST include the action or inaction and LINK IT WITH THE CAUSALITY of HARM . There can be no finding of abuse or neglect when there is in fact no harm of children.
That is not particularlly FAIR in some ways, as it is sometimes DIFFICULT to qualify HARM when in fact CHILDREN ARE HARMED by psycological ramifications of psycological abuse. However the allegations and finding claim EXCESSIVE USE OF CORPORAL PUNISHEMENT which can ONLY BE FOUND in cases of PHYSICAL HARM FROM CORPORAL PUNISHEMENT.
So I realized this just yesterday that I should at least have my attny review the document I received.
I will consult with her as to what she thinks about it. It is VERY INTERESTING as the content of the NY REPORT is INCONSISTENT with the content of the written letter and verbal conversations that the VA SOCIAL worker at VA CPS, Dept of Family Service who actually investigated the whole incident had with myself, my attorney,law guardian and everyone involved.
I am hoping that I can just take care of this effectively and have this corrected. If I can't then I will tell Westely to write and get his own copy and then he will have time to do so as well as they only give a certain amount of time from which notification of the results of an investigation in which one can appeal the decision. In this case neither WESTELY nor I nor our attorneys WERE EVEN AWARE THAT NYS HAD OPENED THEIR OWN FILE! We all thought they DEFERRED to VA and basically passed it on to the VA DEPT of Family Services. We received letters and correspondence from the VA guy *after I requested it! confirming that he had investigated and deteremined no services were required and closed the file thanking us for our cooperation in working on our issues in a timely fashion. NEW YORK State basically opened a file and had a finding without EVER NOTIFYING US.
I really wouldn't be surprised if the kids grandmother is friends with the social worker.... she likely worked for the schools, or with the schools for years and I am willing to bet there was some manipulation going on there that contributed to that happening.
Regardless, I think I should first try to take care of this, and then if I fail tell Westely and let him take it up. That will actually give us MORE OPPORTUNITY and time to address it. I realized yesterday that the time is ticking during which I have to file an appeal to NYS of the determiniation. I however am not DISPLEASED WITH THE DETERMINATION OF UNFOUNDED in regard to me personally. What is of interest is that a court CAN NOT REMOVE CHILDREN FROM A CUSTODIAL PARENT WHEN THERE IS NOT A FINDING OF NEGLECT OR LACK OF SUPERVISION OR OTHER ABUSE ON THE PART OF THE PARENT.
So the fact MY CHILDREN were taken FROM MY HOME by a temporary order WHEN IN FACT the actual NY JUDGEMENT showed UNFOUNDED regarding all allegations of me not providing adequate care and supervision and appropriate parenting, and ALSO STATED THAT MOTHER ACTED APPPROPRIATELY IN ENSURING CHILDREN'S SAFETY BY PROTECTING FROM STEP FATHER
Which further explains why this document wasn't actually PRESENTED before. Because legally it is ACTUALLY more in MY FAVOR than not in the eyes of the law. However instead it was INTERPERTED for what it DID SAY REGARDING WESTLEY which was this inappropriate "FINDING" and IGNORED FOR THE POSITIVES THAT IT DID STATE REGARDING HOW I PROTECTED MY CHILDREN.
The law guardian KNEW that to introduce it would be problematic LEGALLY. She felt she was doing what was RIGHT regardless of the law based on HER interpertation of it. She also must have believed that I WAS ACTUALLY AWARE OF THIS NYS FINDING which is why she then didn't believe a thing I said as I had consistently told her that there was no judgement against Westley ANYWHERE. IT ALSO EXPLAINS WHY SHE ALSO BELIEVED THAT WE LIVED IN NY! THAT WAS SOMETHING WESTELY SAID AT ONE POINT THAT THEY ACTED LIKE THEY THOUGHT WE WERE IN NY. NY Child Protective couldn't have made a determination about anything out of their jurisdiction- but the address of the KIDS was given as their grandmother's and they indeed ACTED like the kids were NY residents from the beginning!
What surprises me about the law guardian was that SHE BELIEVED that alcoholics can change. It IS BELIEVED THAT substance abusers can change. IT IS BELIEVED that not only can Mental Illness be OVERCOME and lived with functionally well, but even that it is possible that a diagnosed mental illness can CEASE TO BE A PART OF ONE'S LIFE AT ALL
So the court was willing to entertain all those ideas in order to grant custody to their father yet they will not take that leap of faith when it comes to abuse.
And I REALLY DO UNDERSTAND THIS. I AGREE IT IS A VERY DIFFICULT LEAP OF FAITH TO TAKE TO BELIEVE AN ABUSER CAN LEARN TO CONTROL AGGRESSION
INDEED I WATCH THE STRUGGLE OF WESTLEY TO NOT BE ABUSIVE! I WATCH HIM SLIP in the area of psycological and at times verbal abuse.
Reading the report I read really assisted me in understanding why the law guardian felt she was so justified in her decision DESPITE THE FACT OF NO EVIDENCE. Because she thought I LIED about knowledge of the report itself, LIED about where we lived, and therefore I was not seen as at all credible and she ASSUMED that many of the EXTRANEOUS ALLEGATIONS were in fact true.
She really BELIEVED that she was saving my children (and not from the REALITY of verbal abuse and at times psycological abuse of an imperfect step-parent who USUALLY was nurturing and supportive of them but SHE BELIEVED SHE WAS SAVING THEM FROM LITERAL BEATINGS AND REGULAR SYSTEMATIC PSYCOLOGICAL AND VERBAL ABUSE! I don't think she really has any more faith in the ability of alcoholics or substance abusers etc than she does in the case of abusers... BUt I think what she was well aware of was that in the end my children were being taken away from me to live with their Grandmother. No matter how else it was PRETENDED to be, I think the law guardian KNEW OTHERWISE which is WHY she wasn't so concerned about their Dad.
SHe was convinced that it was justified for the kids to be taken from my home to live with grandma because HER FEAR Of WESTELY WAS SO GREAT.
FEAR can do that to people! Make them believe invented reality! And FEAR certainly informs many decisions which would be made differently if it were not a factor.
Finding the report in NYS really made it all so much clearer how I essentially had the children taken from my home on a temporary order and then essentially lost custody of them to their grandmother.
It was the greatest tool in this whole case. The thing I hadn't even know existed - This report was a tool which was very effectively used to instill A GREAT DEGREE OF FEAR of Westely.
That FEAR was also nurtured by Grandma in KAterina and Soren (although not REALLY... but enough that they said the RIGHT THINGS at the RIGHT TIME to the RIGHT PEOPLE which really helped with Grandma's wonderful orchestration of her plan. )
But not really as both Katerina and Soren STILL talk fondly of Westely.
And in the end I think that is really all that matters. That the kids WERE NOT REALLY HARMED by him and that THEY HAVE A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE IN THEIR OWN ASSESSMENT OF LIFE WITH US HERE AND THEY HAVE A SENSE OF BEING LOVED BY US ALL.
In the end, that is really THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. The kids know that they are loved.
They also know now about their dad going to AA nightly as he finally told both of them what his meetings are for.
The kids know now that they are living with grandma. They kids continue to have their own experiences with her and they will know if she continues to do things like discourage Katerina's interest in the math program, or discourage Soren from being involved in boy scouts which he USED to like, or if she ENCOURAGES THEIR INTERESTS THAT ARE NOT HER OWN. They will in the end KNOW who brought them to music lessons, and plays consistently and was willing to take time and money to support the activities THEY LIKED EVEN WHEN HE DIDN'T And they will recognize who really is most nurturing and loving toward them. Sometimes it is not the one smiling with open arms but can be the one who grumbles and is onery but who FOLLOWS THROUGH and IS THERE when they have interest in something. SOMETIMES it is the one who BELIEVES IN YOU, AND ENCOURAGES AND SUPPORTS who is most loving. SOMETIMES ITS THE ONE WHO PUSHES YOU THE MOST TO GROW, EVEN IF AT TIMES SAYING "Don't be lazy"
EVEN IF IT HURTS when sometimes the ones who love you HONESTLY POINT OUT YOUR FLAWS and CALL YOU ON IT WHEN YOU LIE, or WHEN YOU CROSS PERSONAL BOUNDARIES( AS I HAVE DONE AT TIMES!)
Sometimes the people who love you DO TRY TO THWART YOUR GROWTH And TRY TO PRUNE YOU TO GROW THE WAY THEY WANT. But the kids will recognize that even though when here they had to dress in certain clothes for school, and had expectations of certain manners, decorum, behavior, chores and responsibilities that are now lessened, that SOMETIMES the greatest freedom is not found in lack of structure-- BUT IN FREEDOM TO TRULY BE AND ACTUALIZE YOURSELF.
And that is much deeper than the clothes you wear, but really has to do with one having freedom to choose their interests and activites and friends.
I think maybe the kids will realize that they are in an environment now where I see (at least Katerina) STRUGGLING TO BECOME HER OWN PERSON and HAVING HAD TO FIGHT FOR HER INTEREST in a program that she was so thrilled about, and having to convince THAT SHE IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR IT.
And I see her STILL HAVING A LOVE OF VIOLIN which she plays... but not with a teacher or with any real VALUE PLACES ON IT. I see her being told "If you don't really love soccer I don't think you should play" while she has gained weight and is now truly unhealthily overweight.
I see SOREN being supported and THRIVING as he happens to have a LOVE AND GIFT OF THEATER which is encouraged. But I also see OTHER ASPECTS OF HIM that are not being nurtured but being pruned away.
And when I look at the big picture I know that someday the kids will do so as well.
And as for now, I am just really pleased that SOREN fondly told me a story about WESTELY REALLY BELIVING IN HIM. HE told me how WESTELY gave him some tests and games to do and then shared the results with SOREN and said that "I CAN DO ANYTHING I WANT." and how Westely showed him the result on a drawing and drew a group of people and said this is the ability of most people in the world, then drew another smaller group and said "This is a group of people with really exceptional academic ability and talent and they go on to be engineers and Doctors and professionals" and Soren then beamed as he said "Westely then drew ME. And he said AND THIS IS YOU. Notice there is only one of you in this whole big picture." And the joy in Soren was unmistakable as he said "And he told me Your the type of person that is the mad scientist. You can discover and create and do anything you want, and no one else will understand or be able to even come close to understanding what you have ability to know and do. So they at times might think you are crazy-- but after a while they will come to understand and recognize that you are just so far ahead of them. You can do virtually anything you want"
Now Soren REALLY WANTED me to tell him what that test REALLY WAS . HE said "IT was an IQ TEst right?"
I said Yes- but refused to give the results to either him or Katerina.
But I did affirm to Soren that HE TOO has academic and in particular mathamatical ability and yes he too could choose to try for the Gifted Math Program if he wanted to- or any other opportunity he finds. I told him that he might want to think about what he would like to learn and be able to do and see how he can nurture all his talents. I told him that while he is in a wonderful school that if he ALSO had interest in math and science that he could persue those as well and ALSO find opportunity to continue to nurture his artistic talent as "Buffalo has a very enriched cultural community with many opportunities in the arts."
So overall I feel good about both Katerina and Soren. And as Katerina demonstrated, they can assert themselves and actualize their talents EVEN IF they face opposition. They just need the continued support and encouragement to discover their talents and make their voices heard.
I think KAterina has indeed been confident in asserting herself and persuing her individual goals. And her getting into the gifted math program demonstrates that she will actualize her potential DESPITE at times the failings of we adults in her life (as I too failed her in support of that as I mailed the registration check late for the testing ) !
Soren is very proud of his accomplishments and also very clearly believes in his ability not only in the arts but academically as well. As a testament to him, his teachers told him HE HAD TO BE IN THE SPRING MUSICAL and TO AUDITION and they would find a way for him to get home. The upcoming musical in fact INSPIRED his father to save and buy his new car the week before rehearsals began! Soren decided NOT TO BE LIMITED by the adults in his life, but to persue his goal and achieve his potential and did so -- and the adults came through in support! I think that demonstrated that he too is becoming self actualized and comfortable in asserting what is important to him.
That belief in themselves will indeedcarry both kids into discovery of who they are meant to be- Both despite, and as a result of careful pruning of all of us adults in their lives!