Part Three

Married! The next few years are, frankly, a blur at this point. Young, poor and crazy in love, we made our way the best we could. I was in school and working my ass off when we could afford it and working my ass off when we couldn’t afford the school part. Hard work and hard luck were the name of the game at this point. But we got through and what kept us moving through was each other.

The biggest sources of stress before, during, and after our marriage were money and kids. In other words, we were no different than anyone else. The situation with La Reina and Squidward, however, was nothing short of hellish. Their mother was and is emotionally manipulative to the point of abusive really. She used the kids to try to control Paul and got meaner when it didn’t work. It was heart-breaking to get them on Friday afternoon, watch and help them decompress because of the stark differences between their two homes and then watch them stress-up again on Sunday. Looking back, it doesn’t seem like a big deal because we got through it but I can assure you that living through it was hell. The kids wanted to be with us and made no secret of it to either parent and that just made things worse.

So, further contributing to our brokeness was the pettiness of people who shall not be named and the constant struggle to not only do the right thing and stay on the high road but to try and compel other people to do so as well. Are we perfect parents? Not even close, but we always put the kids first and I think they know that and they know we did our best.

The entire situation came to a head in 1998 when, on a crisp Friday afternoon in October La Reina announced to her father as he picked her and Squid up for the weekend that she wasn’t going back to her mom’s on Sunday. She’d been promised (by her mother) that when she was 13 she could decide where she’d live. She was 14 and she’d decided to call her mother’s bluff. We had been wanting full custody for so long and spent so much energy and money we didn’t have trying to just get an equitable arrangement that this really struck fear deep in our hearts. We knew it was about to get ugly and it did. Bowing to his daughter’s wishes, Paul didn’t force her to return to her mother’s on Sunday and so began a three year long expose into what a petty bitch Paul’s ex is the ugliness of the human psyche.

First, there were the phone calls, of course, and the head trips. When that didn’t work (remember how much I love caller ID?), La Reina’s mother literally forced her to return to her home with the police in tow after she’d been with us about three weeks and was starting to think that things would be okay. It was a head trip, remember? One for the ages. And then, of course, the lawyers were involved followed by the therapist and the mediator and finally, we had custody of La Reina and 50/50 placement of Squid. Remember, you take what you can get. We were reasonably happy with the situation if for no other reason that La Reina was getting a chance for the life she wanted. It was good and we’d wait for Squid. We waited a long time.

Through this mess, Paul was hoping to get a full-time Army Reserve position. Primarily, we really wanted to get out of Dodge, you know? Escape the stalkers and the complainers and hopefully have a chance at something different than we had. The first time he got an offer it was Fort Totten, New York. We thought about that for about ten seconds before saying no. We didn’t feel like moving our kids from podunk Sparta to New York City was a good idea. Say nothing of dealing with our exes about making the move. UGH! We passed and tried again.

The next opportunity came in April 1999. The phone rang just as Paul was packing for ANCOC phase 2 in Virginia. Would he be interested in a position at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin? We laughed for about five minutes. Then we did the math: double Paul’s income, free insurance, staying put until the kids were older (since the custody crap wasn’t quite finished yet – turns out she had eight years of bullshit left in her) and decided that, yes, we’d take an AGR tour in our hometown for then next three to five years. We had hoped entering the AGR program would take us away, but sometimes God has plans for us that he does not reveal until we’re ready.

I made plans to go back to school and finally finish my degree. Life was good. In December 2000, my degree was (finally!) finished.

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~ by sharplisa on November 17, 2007.

2 Responses to “Part Three”

  1. I really like this story.

  2. My god, this resonates with me. My step sister (from my mother’s second marriage) was the same way. She’d be hell to deal with on Friday and Sunday nights, and easy as pie Saturday. Poor kid. I get the ex hell from the kid’s perspective, and I’m just glad that you all have a functional relationship!

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