Friday, 24 February 2012

Kids, Cars, The Ex and Government Agencies Do Not A Happy Week Make

My son was hit by a car.

Quite possibly the most dramatic sentence I've ever written. Seven words that stopped my world.

He is going to be OK.

Quite possibly the happiest sentence I've ever written. This witch can breathe again.

Nothing prepares you for news like that. As a parent you know these things can happen, you teach your children about the dangers that may face them in the outside world and you trust that they have taken it all in because you can't clip their wings. You have to let them fly. And you hope and pray that they soar because you can't always be there to catch them when they fall.

For me the hope and prayers feature very strongly in my life because my children do not live with me. Its a long story and not one I shall bore you with. Did I make mistakes? Yes. Did I trust to 'reliable' legal advice that was flawed? Yes. Would I do things differently if I could turn back the clock? Yes. Did I do what I genuinely believed was best for my children at the time? Yes, Yes, Yes.

And that is all we can do. We make decisions and take actions based on the information we have available at the time. We do it every single day. And somewhere down the road we deal with the consequences. Of course by then we have extra information that we couldn't possibly have known earlier and we put ourselves through the wringer for having been so dumb, so naive, so weak, so...

So now I'm dealing with the consequences and for me that means having found out about my son's accident via facebook.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Fortunately for me I wasn't the first family member to see my daughter's panic stricken status so I did at least have a phone call from my mother to break the news but it must have been horrific for her. The next couple of hours trying to find out what the hell was going on were nothing short of torture. It's not the first time my ex has pulled a stunt like that. My eldest son had an emergency operation a few years ago and I wasn't told about that for nine whole days, and even then I only knew because my ex and his wife rang to gloat that they knew where he was and I didn't. In fact there have been a whole string of illnesses, traumas, broken bones and educational issues that I have known nothing about until it was too late. Apparently I have no need to know. So I guess I should thank my lucky stars and be grateful for facebook.

The important thing is my son is getting better every day. He was off the morphine drip much earlier than expected, mastered his crutches amazingly quickly and was back at home with his Dad sooner than anyone had dared to hope for. Of course once he was home I could no longer visit him (I have not seen or spoken to my ex since I had him screaming death threats down the phone at me four years ago) but I'm his mum, I'm just happy for him that he's home. He's even talking about going back to school next week!

For me it it was a week of emotional and physical exhaustion. I did not sleep at all that first night, I tried but I could not get the horrific pictures of how I imagined the accident to be out of my head. I know the stretch of road it happened on quite well and know the speeds cars often reach along that stretch late at night. That the car saw him just in time and was only doing 20 mph when it hit him is nothing short of a miracle. It could have been so very much worse.

Living so far away from my kids was my sanity saver when they were young. The hours spent in court, and the orders I was granted giving me full access, proved to be worthless and I went for months, sometimes years, with my ex refusing to let me see them. Frequently he moved without telling me and I would spend months tracking them down. (I'm getting rather good at that now. The last time he tried it I knew where he was going before he'd even booked the removal van.) If I couldn't see them anyway, distance didn't really matter and actually helped me come to terms with it all. If I had not been able to see them knowing they were only a few miles up the road, I think I'd have gone crazy.

But now they are older, and I no longer  have to work through my ex husband, it can be frustrating that I can't just meet up for coffee if they have an hour spare and its agony when something goes wrong and they need me. And as is always the case when something dreadful happens, it happened at the worst possible time. Financially we get by, but there is always that point in the month when although the bills are paid and there is food in the cupboards, actual cash is hard to come by. And sure enough, I received the news on the Saturday night with less than a pound in my purse and no money until Wednesday. Normally a few days without money is no major hardship but I've yet to find a way of filling the tank of our car with diesel without it. Under the circumstances travelling the 300 miles to the hospital was about as possible as flying to the moon.

I got there eventually, thanks to a loan from my Mum, and was relieved to find my son in good spirits, looking nowhere near as bad as I expected, and being spoilt rotten by the fantastic nurses who had definitely fallen for his cheeky charm. Much happier for having seen him, we packed ready to head home...only for my husband's pension to not go into the bank when it should. It has never been late before, not once, and yet there we were stranded away from home and unable to pay my mum back. The universe was conspiring against me, I was sure. And just to prove the point, I got a call from the Child Support Agency, which just about put the tin lid on it.

Any one who has had the misfortune to deal with those people will know they are a law unto themselves and they don't let little matters like truth, or fact, or proof, get in the way of giving one a hard time. This time they sank to whole new depths. The call came in from a 'withheld' number, the man calling refused to identify himself or the company he was from and yet expected me to hand over personal information, and then threatened me with being taken to court for non-compliance when I refused! I'm sorry but if you won't tell me who you are I'm not going to play ball, its as simple as that. Who in their right mind would give their address, date of birth and national insurance number to someone who refuses to identify themselves? Not me, that's for sure.

I don't deal very well with telephone calls, especially when it entails talking to someone I don't know. I know it's silly, but I get myself in quite a state if I know I have to call someone and will avoid it at all costs. Ridiculous, isn't it? Give me a microphone and a bus full of strangers and I could talk all day but give me a telephone and I'm a quivering wreck. Coming as it did at the end of a very traumatic week, I was even worse than usual. So when the increasingly rude and aggressive man on the other end of the line finally told me he was from the CSA I asked my husband what to do. Only to then be told I wasn't 'allowed' to talk to someone else while I was talking to him! Oh really? Then just to compound the issue he told me to tell my husband to 'shut up'. SHUT UP! Really! I was speechless. And fuming, really steam-coming-out-of-my-ears kind of furious.

I'll put up with a lot of things, often things I shouldn't, as I'm generally very mild mannered. I don't like confrontation of any sort. I'll apologise in an argument even if it wasn't my fault and I know I'm in the right, just to put an end to the argument. I rarely stick up for myself. I ignore lies being told about me, I step back from conflict, I walk away from trouble. I will stand up for others but not for myself. I never tell my side of the story. I bite it back, swallow it down, stifle the anger and the hurt and the frustration because to do otherwise has often seemed counterproductive. I have protected my family even if that meant being walked all over myself. But I am worthy of protection too.

So if the universe gave me a hard time last week, it also gave me a wake up call.

I'm not about to spill the beans. There are things that are best kept quiet and things I hope hope my children never have to discover about their Dad. I used to think 'one day the truth will out, they will work it out for themselves' but actually, I hope they don't. I'm not out for revenge, but what goes around comes around. One day he'll face consequences of his own.

And to him, or anyone else, who makes my life hard for the sheer hell of it, or spreads lies, or distorts the truth, or attacks those close to me, or belittles me, or rides roughshod over my feelings, know this...

From now on this witch is protected, and more than protected,

BEWARE, this witch bites.


Sunday, 19 February 2012

I'm Back

It has been, quite possibly, the longest week of my life. I'm exhausted, and then some but I'm slowly catching up with all the blogs I read and searching for wherever I left my sanity. What little there is left of it anyway.

I have poured myself a large glass of wine (homemade rhubarb, courtesy of my mum and step dad), and as tempting as a hot bath sounds after a long journey, I think I'm just going to drag myself off to bed.

At some point over the next few days I think I'll try to make sense of the events of the last week, and maybe even share my panic, frustration, hope, and joy (and sheer bloody mindedness). Maybe not.

I'm sure I'll be back to normal soon, or as close to normal as I'm prepared (or able) to get, but for now my bed beckons. I've really missed it.