Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

When Is It Enough?


Before I begin this post, I need to stress, and I mean STRESS (for the sake of the trolls that follow my blog), this post does not reflect my personal situation concerning my divorce.  The comments mentioned below are documented facts and are for the sole purpose of drawing attention to the devastating effects of parental alienation and those that are responsible for the decisions and actions.  Any similarity between my situation is purely accidental and coincidental.

This shit has got to stop!  Families are being torn apart, not just by filing or finalization of a divorce, not just by rulings made by a court or enforcement of those rulings, but also by outsiders who should have no voice in the dissolution of the family unit involved.  The process of a divorce is traumatic enough, whether the filing was expected or by surprise, whether mutual or provoked.  But when children are involved, by no choice of their own, as they belong to both parents, there needs to be a different process to dissolve a marriage, because it is not just a marriage that is being broken up, but a family.

Keeping it simple, according to Webster’s dictionary, the act of divorce is to dissolve the marriage contract.  And yet, as the average person will be more than aware, the process of divorce is not just undoing all of the marriage vows – for better or worse, sickness and health, richer and poorer.  But because many couples cannot resolve their differences as just a couple (the irony being that if they could work things out with each other, they would probably not be getting divorced), lawyers get involved bringing a “take no prisoner” approach often drawing out the process, bankrupting their clients, and in extreme cases, resulting in the following situations that I am going to discuss.  The bottom line, it seems completely inappropriate to call the system handling the breakups of families, a “family court”, because those that will suffer the biggest impact of the divorce, those without a voice, are the most important part of the family, the children.

The process is pretty much universal.  One spouse files for divorce.  As in many states, it is usual considered “no fault” meaning it does not matter why the divorce was filed which is meant to keep the process from getting really ugly.  But the reality of “no fault”, is that the issue behind the divorce often never gets dealt with.  Which means, when it comes to agreements, both sides can feel jaded, screwed, if things do not turn out the way they want, or feel entitled.  But there are several steps to each chapter of a divorce, from finances to assets, and custody and support.  Rulings are often made on assumptions, not actual facts to make sure that there is no abuse by either spouse to try and get away with anything, which is exactly what results.  And then it is left up to appeals to straighten everything out.  But when sanctions end up being enacted and enforced, the results are… well… tragic.

And before I list those examples, let me be clear, yes, the examples will be all male, but they could easily be female.  And I also want to state, these were not “deadbeats” by the definition, as they were not intentionally avoiding their child support payments.  And there is a difference.  Again, “deadbeat” can be applied to both genders.  The following stories are all tragic from the “why it happened”, to “what could have been done differently”, to “who failed who”.  But the one common point that is going to be made, in the end, in the attempt to alienate one parent, a child lost at least one parent in the living sense, but lost both in the emotional sense.  And it does not matter whey the hell your marriage fell apart, it is not, and never should be made your child’s responsibility or burden.  But the child has the right to love both parents without any interference.  Up until the filing of the divorce, a child loves both of their parents (I mean no disrespect to single parents – but clearly this article is about divorce).  And the only way, THE ONLY WAY a child stops loving another parent, is when the child is taught to, also known as parental alienation.

Bradley Stone

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I will not make Stone a martyr for dads who are struggling with the family court system.  What he did was wrong and devastatingly tragic.  Several people ended up dead by his hands, including a teenager.  In the process, a child was orphaned, and a baby lost his father, all because of a bitter custody battle.  No one seemed to think the father was capable of such an act.  He was a decorated Iraq war vet, but definitely had some issues with PTSD according The Reporter (Lansdale newspaper).  Most witnesses all confirmed custody issues as the main point of contention between the parents, the mother claiming to never wanting the father to have his daughter, and others making statements that Stone was a great father.  The crazy thing is, both had moved on in their relationships with others, including Stone having remarried with a new baby.  This entire act made no sense other than after a failed attempt to alter the custody agreement on his part, something went horribly wrong.  A manhunt ensued for him, after several of his ex-wife’s family had been slain, only for him to have taken his own life.

Walter Scott

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Scott’s case made national attention earlier this year.  He was unarmed, and murdered by an police officer, all resulting from a non-moving traffic violation.  While he was remembered as a member of our military, he also had a bit of criminal history, not all of it relating to his parental history.  But nothing, NOTHING he had done should have resulted in his murder.  But having been incarcerated before for child support, once the officer had returned to his patrol vehicle to process the charge for the “broken third light” violation, Scott ran.  He was hit by the officer’s taser, but then got up and continued to flee, this time being fatally wounded by the officer firing at the unarmed Scott.

As I stated, these were not “deadbeat” dads.  Both were involved in a system that is supposed to have the best interests of the children of the parents involved.  But from the beginning, not just Stone and Scott, but so many others, often find themselves behind issues that end up insurmountable.  It was easy to find stories about “dads” in this situation, and I could have probably found some where the mothers were the ones being treated as “deadbeats” also, ending in tragic consequences.

But as an advocate for so many different causes, it is often one story that provokes me, unable to hold my tongue anymore about a particular issue.

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A post appeared on my Facebook feed that just tore my heart out.  Completely tragic just as the two other instances mentioned above, but as my obscenity stated above, it left me with a feeling, when will it be enough for the courts to recognize that when both parents want to be involved in their child’s life, EVERYTHING must be done to make sure of it.

I will not quote the entire post.  But it is summarized this way.  It has been officially two years, that the father took his own life, having been completely consumed emotionally as an alienated father.  The post goes on to point out those that contributed to the construction of the alienation, accept no blame, in spite of their orchestrated harassment, instead saying he had mental issues (let’s examine this… keeping a father away from his children… making his children hate him when all through their lives all they had ever done was love them… no… that is not mental issues.  That is sabotage and alienation of a parent).

The author of the post was recalling this tragedy for a particular post he wanted to write, when he was contacted by another father, who had actually telephoned the author to inform him that his 15 year-old son had committed suicide.  Clearly this was a result of parental alienation.  And here is why.  The father himself had struggled with the mother for nearly six years with custody, and attempted suicide himself.  Fortunately, he did not succeed.  But the ramifications were tragic.  His son blamed himself for his father’s feelings of hopelessness, and took his own life.  Because of the father’s attempt on his own life, he had just one fifteen minute conversation with his son until his son had taken his own life.  This should have been a wake up call for everyone, but it was not.

To add insult to injury, no one on the father’s side, had even been notified of the child’s passing until the day of the funeral.

I am going to turn my final comment on this to gender neutral because it is not okay for either parent to ever allow a child to take the blame for something the two parents caused themselves, and were not able to fix.  A parent seeking revenge and being spiteful, teaching the child to hate the other parent, just because the custodial parent hates the former spouse is wrong.  There is nothing that happened in the marriage that is ever the child’s fault.  The recipient of a divorce paper hurts, of course they do.  But a child loves both their parents.  A child only learns hate when it is taught by either the parent, family of the hurt parent, or friends of the custodial parent who along with the family have no clue, nor any interest in what is best for the child, only loyalty to the custodial parent.

A child has the right to love both of their parents unconditionally.  No court, no lawyers, no in-laws, no friends, and definitely no parent has the right to interfere with that.

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Happy 4th Of July


 

 

 

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(This was purely coincidental, but it turns out, this is my 500th post on “Paul’s Heart”.  How appropriate is it to express my freedom of speech for the 500th time, than on July 4, 2015!)

Happy 4th of July!  Happy Independence Day!  Or as many people recognize today, Happy Unofficial Midpoint of Summer Day!  After today, many will already be looking to the Fall season, reinforced by television ads for Labor Day sales, and “back to school” sales, hence, the “midpoint” reference.  As with the majority of the holidays that we hold dear to us, the true reason for recognizing these holidays often gets lost.  As a result, I look forward to the next Jimmy Kimmel video asking people on the streets of Hollywood why we celebrate July 4th.  And to be fair, I will give the benefit that the answers will not be about picnics, the beach, and fireworks.  But the answers nonetheless, while hilarious, will be just as sad.

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This is one of the most important documents in our nation’s history.  It declared our independence from the King of England.  More than two dozens of examples of his tyranny were listed as the reason for demanding our freedom.  The most glaring of statements in this document reads as follows:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

I will qualify my right to my opinion, and that is all it is, an opinion, one which would be guaranteed me by the next most important document, our constitution, which of course were followed up with the Bill of Rights, which honestly, as an proud American, and by choice, a Christian, this document should not have even been necessary to have been written.

The fact is, we declared our freedom on July 4th, 1776, 239 years ago.  Wow!  I cannot believe I have lived through the bicentennial and will also get to witness a historic 250th Independence Day in just six years!  And freedom means just that, free.

I appreciate that I am free to exercise my free speech, something several countries cannot do.  While I do not believe in gun control, I do believe that our country has not done enough to keep guns or any weapon out of the hands of people who should not have them.   I cherish my right to have  a religion, or not to have one.  And that means simply, do not cram your religious beliefs down my throat, and I will not impose mine on you.  Lutheran, Jewish, Catholic, Agnositic, Atheism, Buddhism, Muslim, are no better religion than another, which is why there must be separation of church and state.  But nonetheless, religion, or lack thereof, is important to the individual and should be respected.

But getting back to the statement about unalienable rights, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” I do believe as the United States of America, we are forgetting just how important this is.

While our country is quick to criticize other countries’ civil rights records, per capita, our country violates more rights than any other.  No one incarcerates more people, especially for profit, than the USA.  And no one disrespects the rights of another human being’s right to exist than the USA.  I am not talking as a whole, but rather a large population of bigots who do not remember what our country became on July 4th, 1776, free.  And that means whether we are white, black, or brown, we all have the right to live in the United States of America.

Somehow, we need to get back to just remembering how important those unalienable rights are, life, liberty, and he pursuit of happiness.  Too may people do not get medical care when needed.  And those that can get medical care, may not get the level of care needed.  Medical care in the USA, if we are to be the greatest country in the world, the most humane country in the world, should lead by example by caring for its sick with the best medicine for all that it has available.  There is no reason for poverty in our country when we are pouring trillions of dollars into rebuilding other countries.  Our country spends too much time telling women what can and cannot be done with their bodies, criticizing people of the same gender for wanting to be happy, and claiming their religion better than another.  People used to have what was once called an “American Dream” only to have it taken away by manipulative greedy banks and corporations.  Capitalism was to have guaranteed us the American Dream, part of our pursuit of happiness and life, only to have it ripped away by greed.

And let us not forget those, over the centuries, beginning in 1776, that fought for our independence, to protect our freedoms.  I have several family and friends who are veterans of the armed forces.  Whether I believe in the harms way that they have all been put in, they have done so because they love our country.  And we as citizens of this great country can protect our country just as strongly by recognizing and standing up for our unalienable rights.  This is what our founding fathers wanted back in 1776.

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Remembering Anita


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The above image is from a fellow long term survivor of Hodkin’s Lymphoma’s FB page.  Anita was the moderator of a Facebook page for long term survivor’s like me, which helped to provide support and information, in a world, no matter how many doctors exist, long term survivors of many cancers remain unable to find the help that they need.

This morning, I learned of Anita’s unexpected passing.  Perhaps unexpected is really an inappropriate word.  When someone unexpectedly dies, it is because a person is otherwise considered healthy.  And when someone who is considered healthy goes to the hospital, they are handled as such.  But cancer survivors, and I will speak only specifically about Hodkin’s Lymphoma survivors because that is the cancer I battled over 25 years ago, are not healthy.  In fact, unless you have been treated for Hodgkin’s in the new millennium, or at the least, after 1990, there is a good chance that you were treated with such harsh and toxic drugs, and exposure to radiation four times the lifetime maximum a human being is supposed to ever see.  And as statistics often point out, the benchmark of survival is five years.  We all look to reach that goal.

It is what happens after that five years, that becomes the problem.  Medicine never really studied the late effects on the body of cancer survivors because simply put, we were not expected to live long enough to develop them.  BUT WE DO LIVE LONG ENOUGH TO DEVELOP THEM!

Which is why, what Anita has done for literally nearly 300 other Hodgkin’s long term survivors, has made a difference in each of our lives.  Anita is not the first person to take on such a supportive venture, as it was to her benefit as well.  I first learned about long term survivorship from a woman named Linda Zame who co-founded a support group for long term survivors on the American Cancer On-line Resources site… acor.org .  She invited me to that online support group in 1997, and though I was having no issues yet, it was because of what I learned from her, and the nearly 500 others in that group, what I would eventually be dealing with in my survivorship, and how critical it would be for me to be my own advocate for my health care.  Sadly, she also passed away following complications from a medical procedure.

The thing is, I knew Anita, fairly casually, only through private message exchanges in regard to operations or situations on the Facebook page.  But that does not make her death any less painful for me.  Since 1997, I have said goodbye to so many other long term survivors, who did not die from their cancer, but from complications of their survivorship.  Because of each and every one of them, any medical professional that has me as a patient, gets an education from me in cancer survivor care whether they want it or not.  I learned from others the precautions that need to be taken with all of my issues (cardiac, pulmonary, spinal, muscular, GI, immunological, and psychological) and for that I am eternally grateful to people like Anita and Linda.

It had originally been suspected that Anita was dealing with pneumonia.  And with the average healthy person, her symptoms may have resulted in that diagnosis.  Unfortunately, discovered too late, it was congestive heart failure, a common fate for those who have survived so long, and for too many, undiagnosed with this condition because medical knowledge is not available or taught to every doctor to look for.

Yes, I am going to have my typical day remembering another survivor who has passed, difficult.  I will do my best to be inspired by all the good that she has done for survivors all over, so that I do not overwhelm myself with the thoughts of similar issues that I, and other survivors deal with on a daily basis.

Anita, I know you are in a special place right now.  But I want you to know, I appreciate everything you did for me in the brief time we knew each other.  Your support and encouragement will be missed.

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