Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It's Back to Court They Go

A month ago Prince Charming filed violation papers against Maleficent.
After three years of trying to make things work in a civilized fashion, only to be slapped in the face repeatedly, he's finally taking the advice of his lawyer and Cinderella's law guardian.
They warned him after he won sole legal custody that Maleficent WOULD push the envelope and she WOULD screw up and he WOULD HAVE TO bring her back to court until she finally accepted her reality (while also cautioning that she may NEVER do as is typically the case with people suffering from untreated bipolar disorder).
Like me, he thought it could be avoided.
Like me, he thought they could work things out like adults.
Like me, he thought she would put Cinderella's needs and well-being above her own pettiness.
Like me, he was WRONG.
He tried. I tried. And Maleficent "tried" - but for only as long as she was given her own way and allowed to play the victim doing WHAT she wanted WHEN she wanted.
On the rare occasion she was told NO or expected to step up as a parent, things quickly went south.
Now Prince Charming has learned what Cinderella is being exposed to as a result of Maleficent's tantrums.
Lies. Disparaging remarks. Cursing and name-calling. Parental alienation.
His daughter is being mentally and emotionally abused at the hands of her "mother."
He can no longer look the other way or try to rationalize. He needs assistance.
Papers were filed in early January with the promise of a court date and notices being sent to our respective homes ASAP.
We waited. And I worried.
I worried that Cinderella would be with Maleficent when the court notice was delivered and that she would be exposed to her mother's rage.
Then Prince Charming was told the notices would be delivered during the week of Cinderella's late drama rehearsals. She would not be with her mother that week.
I was relieved. Hoping that would give Maleficent enough time to calm down and Cinderella would be spared any further harm.
That week came and went. No court notices arrived.
Prince Charming was then told the notices were going out the week of Cinderella's school break. Cinderella was home that week as well.
Again, I was relieved.
Still no notices came.

It took a personal visit back to the court house for Prince Charming to find out that a court date HAD been set, but that the judge changed it and NO ONE was notified. So the paperwork sat somewhere and the case was never reassigned on the calendar.
PC was promised this would be taken care of this week.
I wish I could stop myself from worrying. That I could have been spared spending the last FOUR WEEKS filled with dread for Cinderella knowing that I was helpless to protect her from any further abuse at the hands of her "mother."
(No matter what our personal feelings are, we have never said a single bad word about Maleficent in front of or to Cinderella.)
(If only she was able to do the same.)
I am trying to remind myself that everything happens for a reason.
That while this situation might not be proceeding as we WANT it to, it is proceeding as it NEEDS to.
Whatever the reason might be.
Maybe the delay is so the right judge can be assigned to the case.
Maybe Cinderella is supposed to be with her mother when the notices are delivered so she can learn HOW to speak up to her.
Or maybe it's because Maleficent is destined to do something so horrid that she will lose everything once-and-for-all.
(Prince Charming has been warned of suspected questionable activity at Maleficent and Diablo's house. None of which Cinderella has confirmed but PC is still concerned and watchful.)
This last point fills me with the most dread for as much as I would like to see Maleficent finally get her come-uppins I do not want my stepdaughter to suffer any more.
It is that fear that's kept us out of court for this long.
It is out of this fear that Prince Charming and I have done as much as we have over the years to get along with Maleficent.
And now I fear that in our efforts to placate Maleficent's delicate emotional state and protect Cinderella that we may have done nothing more than postpone the inevitable.

Of course, I could be just a tad melodramatic here!
I mean ... without the melodrama, would this blog be nearly as interesting??
I think not.


loonyhiker said...

I know exactly what you are going through because I have been there. We never said anything bad about my girls' mom no matter what, even though she had plenty of bad to say about us. It was really hard but it will be worth it in the distant future and your actions will be rewarded. Mine were.

Anonymous said...

Going back to court is never fun. You can never count on a outcome of any sort and you have no controle over how nasty the other party makes it. But it's something you have to do. Because if you don't and Maleficent does "do something so horrid that she will lose everything once-and-for-all" you will always wonder what if you hadn't tried everything you could to stop it. Good luck.

Mommy S said...

Court is nothing any parent wants to pursue, but sometimes you definitely get cornered into doing it. I know it's tough and easy to worry. Courts are very unpredictable. It's sad when sometimes the outcome depends on the mood of someone like a judge, instead of the facts.

Just do right by your kids, that's all you can do. You'll know you have a clear conscious at the end of the day, no matter the outcome.

Wicked Stepmom said...

I am not worried about what will happen IN court. My hubby's case history is long and damaging enough (for Maleficent) that I have no concerns over the courts judging in HER favor.

My concerns are all for Cinderella, and I worry over how Maleficent will react towards her/expose her to, as a result of being dragged back to court.

dragonmctt said...

"I do not want my stepdaughter to suffer any more."

I don't know if it is because we have rounded year 10 of this chaos, or if it is because the boys are teenagers now, but I have totally abandoned my concern for what the boys go through with BM anymore. What happens happens. No matter what we do, no matter how we react, the boys suffer due to her actions. That will never change. The boys will suffer in their relationship with her their entire lives. And. There. Is. Nothing. We. Can. Do. About. It.

We will continue to try to teach them skills to deal with her without sacrificing themselves. We will continue to uphold the court orders until they are 18. But I will no longer twist myself up into a knot over something that may or may not happen. And if it does happen, the boys will have to deal with it - she is THEIR mother, not mine.

I used to think that DH and I could provide the life the boys deserved to have. And that what we did could undo/counteract what she does. We can't and it doesn't. Yes, it gives them another perspective, but they will always have her warped sense of reality swirling in their brains.

We, too, waited a long time to go back to court - 8 years, in fact. The chaos continued no matter what. She behaves the way she chooses to behave, regardless. It is hard, because we as adults can barely manage to deal with her behaviors, how on earth can we hope a child will? But they learn, part from our example, part from only taking on what they can handle. Over the years, the boys have gotten wiser...and don't tolerate her behavior (SS1 stopped visiting her for 1 1/2 years and SS2 has learned how to get exactly what he wants from her and then ignores her.)

When we went back to court last fall, and she was served, the first thing she did was call the boys and tell them DH was trying to "kill her". Both the boys, who hadn't even known about court until she told them, got off the phone with her, came out into the living room laughing and rolling their eyes, telling us what she had said, comically imitating her "psycho voice". Sad, but inevitable.

Make sure she has a good counselor, or a third party she can go to. Provide her a stable home, with consistency and normalcy. Expect Maleficent to follow court orders, and when she doesn't, take appropriate actions. You want Cinderella growing up to be a strong individual, someone that can take whatever Maleficent dishes out. DH and I learned that part of that growing process is seeing adults be strong individuals as far as their mom is concerned. When we pussy-footed around her, the boys thought that was the only way to deal with her, but they have learned from our later example that boundaries are acceptable. Cinderella will be victimized by her mother, she will suffer, you can't change that, but you can put your energy into teaching her how to stand up for herself and not be steamrolled.

Don't know if you have already checked this out, or not, but I belong to a great board http://www.thepsychoexwife.com/forums/ and we all share our strategies for taking a stand. Also, check out the book Divorce Poison for very practical tips to help Cinderella in dealing with the alienating behaviors.

movin' down the road said...

Oh my. how stressful! But your outlook is good, that it will happen the way it will need to happen. I dread the day we go back to court. I know we will and I know I will get what is needed and he will too, from it. Even if it isnt what we want.

Layne said...

You guys are in my heart.

kelly said...

I'm pretty sure this is going to be my life...

Elizabeth said...

I have waited 10 years until my step daughter is 18 to say anything. She will be 18 in July and I intened on sending a letter to the judges and Grandparents that have ruined her life!

All they ever wanted was to own her and not what was best for her. The judge thinks she needs her Mother even if she has a bit of a crack habit...uuugghhh. I know what you are going through and then some!

Smirking Cat said...

"And Maleficent "tried" - but for only as long as she was given her own way and allowed to play the victim doing WHAT she wanted WHEN she wanted."

Almost everything you wrote, especially the above quote, could have come straight from my head. It's heartbreaking to be afraid for the kids, to know that taking the strong steps necessary for them also puts them in danger of retaliation. You did the right thing. Waiting for someone to come around and do the right thing will be an endless and disappointing wait.

Super Step-Mom said...

We had to resort to "supervised" visitation to get this resolved. BioMom had to prove she was clean and sober and non-abusive. It worked for awhile. A leopard can't change it spots.

Hope all works out well for you.

Cheryl said...

I have read many of your posts...I am a step Mom of 4 and have 2 of my own. I think you are on the right track of backing away from the situation. I learned long ago that Step-Parenting is all about stepping back,away and around of the relationship of my husband and his ex...and his children with their parents. Once I learned this...Hell no longer resides in our home. All 6 of the kids live with us!