In 2010, my husband of over six years filed for divorce. He took my name off of our bank accounts, so I couldn’t get money to hire a lawyer.
In court, the judge gave me a continuance to seek council. On the courthouse steps, my ex-husband’s lawyer gave me papers to sign. They were to give my ex-husband temporary custody of our house and children. I didn’t know I could object to these terms.
It was the beginning of the end. I found my children and myself homeless. I began to drink and take Xanax to cope with the stress.
Things Went From Bad to Worse
The following year, in 2011, I lost custody of my children. They were one, two, three, five, and twelve. I’d been a stay at home mother during my marriage. However, the judge ruled my ex-husband was more mentally and financially stable and gave him full custody of our children. I’d been diagnosed Bipolar after the birth of our second child.
I couldn’t accept that I only had visitation rights to my children. The judge gave my ex-husband full custody! I had no rights, only visitation. I was devastated.
A year after my ex and I divorced, he married a much younger woman. They married and moved to Georgia a month later. They moved with my children! My ex-husband gave me three days notice before they left. I scrambled to set up an emergency hearing, but they were gone before anything could be done. My children were enrolled in a Georgia school and no judge was going to take them out of school.
That’s when things really got bad. I couldn’t function any longer. I started drinking from the minute I woke up to the second I passed out. I started smoking pot, taking pills, partying every night, and sleeping with all kinds of men. I started doing whatever I could to not feel. My children were my whole world and without them I had no reason to live.
I couldn’t just pick up and move to Georgia with my children. I’m disabled and receive only $800 a month of support. I was literally out of my mind with grief. I was able to arrange for my children to visit me at Christmas. Watching them leave was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Not long after, I received a public intoxication and DUI change. This didn’t help me one bit in court. My lawyer gave up on me. I ended up receiving supervised visitation rights and was ordered to pay my ex-husband $500 a month in child support. For five children, you’re not supposed to pay more than 26% of your income. I was ordered to pay 500 out of 800 dollars!
A Light at Last
I checked myself into treatment in July of 2013. It wasn’t an easy journey. I relapsed the day I got out. I found out that it’s easy to stay sober when you’re in a safe environment. It isn’t so easy when you’re in the real world.
On August 24th, 2013, I went back to residential treatment. This time, I followed residential with an outpatient program. I’ve been sober a year and am fighting to get my children back
I haven’t seen my kids in over a year. As of May 2014, my ex-husband has stopped answering my calls. He won’t let me speak to my children anymore because I can’t pay the full $500 child support payment.
Being sober isn’t easy because it means I have to FEEL the grief and anguish from missing my babies. I know that being sober is the only way I’ll get my children back. This gives me the strength to keep on, one day at a time.
If you’d like more information about Laura and her story, visit her website.