Wow, the outpouring of love and support over our situation. Thank you so so much for standing beside us and also sharing your stories with us. This is us. We have our little excitements as a family, like when we were featured on the cover of Collierville Living, but it seems these ups are very few and far between. It is so incredibly hard to be happy with a target on our backs. So many of you have asked my feelings on the matter. If I have ever wanted to throw in the towel? What were the stages and waves of emotions that I experienced and continue to experience through this? In this post, I will share the moments where I felt defeat, moments of fear that gave rise to experiencing anxiety for the first time in my 35 years, the moments where I have picked myself and my family up and pushed to fight, and moments where I was absolutely dumbfounded by the unwavering pursuit to destroy our happiness. Here is Part 2 of our exclusive story and the specific points in which I remember thinking that something could be dreadfully wrong. (Part 1 here)
In the beginning of our relationship, when Greg warned me of this type of behavior, I really didn’t think much about it. As someone who has also experienced a divorce with children, I encouraged him to make a well thought out effort to diffuse the malice that lingered from their divorce. The first attempt was when I concocted a lunch date idea. I told Greg to take his ex-wife to lunch, apologize for anything that may still be lingering over their heads, and ask about how they can move forward and co-parent together. Much to my surprise, that was a no-go. He made the attempt but there was no reply. At this point I realized, this situation could be a sticky one but I still had all the hope in the world.
We continued dating and had a great time until things started to get a little more serious. After over 6 months, it was clear that he had no intention on introducing me to his son. He would always say that he could never marry again or introduce anyone to his son because he will be sued immediately and he just can’t afford to go through that again. Eventually we put things on hold.
One day, when getting out of my car in a Target parking lot, I spotted Greg with his son. I was completely shocked but secretly happy to see Greg and the infamous, awesome little boy that he always talked about. That was the very first time I had ever laid eyes on his son’s sweet little face. I was amazed at how much he looked like Greg, even walked like Greg. Greg walked over, introduced me to his son, and told me they were there to pick out a Lego set. His son was thrilled to be getting this specific Lego that he had been eyeing. We casually walked into Target together while catching up on how our summer had been. As we passed the women’s clothing section I began to split off to pick up the dress I was originally there for but Greg quickly diverted my attention and asked if I would like to help him and his son pick out the Lego set. I was thrilled that he invited me to spend a little more time shopping with them and we headed over to the toy aisle together.
Little did I know that I would not only be meeting his son that day for the first time, but would be meeting his ex-wife too, well kind of. Five minutes into looking at toys, Greg’s ex-wife unexpectedly pops around the corner. I really had no clue who she was for a minute until Greg politely said, Alex this is my son’s mom, (insert name). (Insert name) this is Alex. I smiled, reached out my hand, and said “Hello.” His ex-wife looked at me, did not extend her hand, and then, while directing her attention to Greg, said, ”I know who she is.” I dropped my hand and continued to smile in efforts to keep a pleasant face. But while a smile was plastered on my face, I was astounded inside. I can’t remember how the awkwardness between the three of us ended because I was too busy searching my brain for what was actually happening right before my eyes. Thankfully the interaction was brief and Greg, his son, and I got the Lego set and parted ways from her. After finishing up shopping, Greg and I continued our casual conversation while walking together to the self checkout. I turned around because his son seemed to be lagging behind and much to my shock, his ex-wife was behind us taking pictures of us. I became very uncomfortable, even afraid. Why was this person taking pictures? What was the purpose of this? Could this woman be using these pictures to identify me for some eerie reason? Could she be planning to harm me? I know some of this may sound extreme but I have never experienced a situation like this and, as I said, Greg didn’t divulge much about his ex-wife. I had no idea what kind of person she could be. All I knew is that the situation was uncomfortable, shocking, and like none other that I had ever been in. This did raise concern when Greg and I began to rekindle, but thankfully my love for him prevailed over my fear.
When it was clear that we would be spending the rest of our lives together, I made several attempts to meet his ex-wife. I really wanted us to be friends, or at the very least, courteous around one another. I also didn’t want a target on our back anymore. I remember one instance where I sent a text to her and began the text message with ”Hey girl!” There was no response but we did get a letter from her attorney saying something along the lines of, (Insert name) is a respected attorney and I am being disrespectful by addressing her as “girl.” Honestly, I say ‘hey girl” to all of my close friends and confidants. I thought I was being a little more personal and possibly making things feel more comfortable between us right off the bat. This was the third time that I really started to question what was really happening here.
While these are only some of the very beginning points in which I started to see flags between their relationship, there have been so many more instances that have caused extreme anxiety for both of us. I often wake up with a pounding heart, the sweats, and nausea from nightmares that I have over the situation. Nightmares that these people come and take my children. Nightmares that they kill my husband. Nightmares that they break into my home. My brain runs wild with dreams like I have never had before. The one where these powerful attorneys come in and take my children away from me are the absolute worse. Every time I have that one, I wake up with physical tears. I experience night terrors more than 50% of the week, most involving scenarios where may family is in danger.
Eventually, I began to experience the anxiety while awake. When I was subpoenaed to be a witness against Greg, that meant that I was not allowed in the court room but needed to be present, in the hall, on the dates we had court in case I was called upon. If I didn’t show up, I could be in contempt of court. Because of this, I missed several days and even a presentation in my PhD program which caused my grades to deteriorate. In a PhD program, you aren’t to miss one single day unless you are very ill. I had missed several and began to get behind. I was crying all the time because I felt like my hard work in the program was being flushed right down the toilet. I also felt like it was a calculated scheme between his ex-wife and her attorney to drag me through the dirt and push me to give up on Greg. Ultimately, I was never called as a witness.
Many of you have asked, have you ever hit the moment when you just want to walk away?
I have never wanted to walk away. Admittedly, I have felt sorry for myself. His divorce had nothing to do with me. I didn’t even know him then. While I love his son dearly and will continue to fight for him as well, I, unfortunately, am not a party in the creation of that sweet boy. How am I included in anything that has to do with the parenting agreement, custody, or their divorce? I am not a party in any of this but I feel like I have been treated like a criminal and disgraced because of it. When asked in court what I do for a living, the judge was told that I sell colon products and sex classes. I am brand influencer for many companies. Yes, I do promote Colon Broom from Walmart. I love that stuff and it is a great source of fiber! Yes I did promote Beducated classes which teaches married couples how to spice it up on the intimacy level, but I also represent hundreds of other national family lifestyle brands. This was yet another attempt to diminish me in the eyes of others.
I guess I could be to blame for insisting Greg fight this time. He wanted to back down once again but I told him that he needs to stand up for himself. We were told that it could all go away if we would agree to give up more parenting time but I couldn’t allow that to happen and neither could Greg. I urged Greg to press forward because I have witnessed the sadness and grief that he constantly experiences from missing his little boy.
When his ex-wife’s attorney suggested to the court that an emergency injunction was necessary to prevent me from being around his son, which would mean that I could possibly have to leave my home when his son was around, I was devastated. I treat that little boy like he is my very own. I am not a danger to him. I have never even raised my voice to him. Even more devastating, Greg was accused of being a danger because of his service in the Marines. He was even interrogated in court about what he has done for our country in attempts to prove he is dangerous. Relentless.
My anxiety was probably at it’s highest when they threatened to come after my income. The second threat on my income was just one month ago. I have two little boys that I raise. Because their father and I have 50/50 custody, I don’t get child support. My income is for this family and especially my children, including Greg’s son. I am trying to keep my feelings to a minimal right now but you can get an idea of the constant anguish and anxiety.
So as for the answer to the question, is there ever a moment that I just want to walk away? Never. I love this man and I am not going to allow someone to run me off. Besides, we are Birdie and Beau (our nicknames for each other), each other’s ride or die. Let’s just hope we get to ride and not die miserable.