In August of 2015, I posted the following entry to my other WordPress site (here) to lament the woes of the Kaohsiung court system.
I’m close to giving up. Real damn close. Yet something is allowing me to stay the course, and of course that something is my two wee ones. However, I have recently been at the lowest level of my emotions that I can endure, and I am not snapping back.
Admittedly, being the age I am, I know that life is life, and with it comes hardships, challenges and obstacles. We don’t use the term “trials and tribulations” for no reason. But in the past, throughout most of my life, whenever little bumps along the way would arise, I had long been able to cope much more readily, and, often, when some difficulty arose, I’d clap my hands together and provide myself with some sort of emotional, uplifting encouragement, like… “Come on, Buddy, this is nothing!”
Alas, what has transpired these past two years has simply not been… “nothing”.
In the summer of 2013, I lost my mom. I started a new job a month later. Separation soon followed, which was then tailgated by the abduction of my children for 189 days. Events like my daughter being pulled out of my school on one night’s notice and the police being called on me to wrest my car from me, even though a written agreement had been made for me to take the sole possession of it and the title, as well, were additional, rub-salt-in-my-wounds blows to my spirit that started to pile up. There are countless more that I can name.
Then the incredibly false accusations started flying at me. At first, I ducked, I weaved, I dodged (even though a few tears were shed). But as hard as I tried to deflect them and protect myself, I more increasingly permitted such nonsense to get to me. In the early stages of Court hearings and the related drama, I initially took the water-off-a-duck’s-back approach to dealing with it all, yet as time went on, I became weak. Her absurd allegations started to hurt. Though I knew the lies were all wrong, I gave her the upper hand by getting down on myself–not because she was right, for she is far from it, but because of the amount of time I invested in gathering counter evidence and all that that entails–and that aspect of it all is overwhelming me.
Just two weeks ago, going through court documents, having a translator explain all that my ex’s ridiculous claims included, I cried. Not just a swelling up of a tear, but a flow. How weird to put the gal on the spot like that. Human, yes, but not what she expected. My cheeks wet, I apologized. Crying not because I believed the absurdities, but because I was overwhelmed that I’ve done so much to counter the BS, yet it still spews forth unabated. My nature is to detail all, providing evidence not only to counter the claims but to actually highlight the gross lies being thrown at the judges and prosecutors, with hopes it makes a difference, especially so the Courts will, forthwith, put an end to all this nonsense–for my mental well-being and my wallet.
I’ve spent over $13,000US cash to retain lawyers, both of whom I’ve fired for ineptitude, indifference, and quite potentially, at least for the latter, for being bought out–and for all related matters. Countless other lawyer consultations have cost a pretty penny. On top of that, translators and interpreters have been needed for everything, from in-court services to helping call court clerks on the phone, etc. Just this July alone saw $700US fly out the window just on translators doing English documents I’ve typed up into Swahili. My document count passed 350 yesterday!
I once even broke down (swallowing pride) and asked for a group sourcing donation–which I’ll forever be grateful for, but that assistance paid for my translators for two months and, viola, I’ve dug myself in the hole since. With time off from work, unpaid, costs for printing, court fees, etc., I’m am struggling, still. I’m contemplating doing it again, but it’s equally embarrassing as crying in front of my translator.
Work has been impacted, too, enough so that I was given quite a few warnings last year about time off for Court dealings, hearings, investigations, etc. Naturally, when a lawyer or social services center could only meet at a daytime hour, I needed to take time off of work, and that started to pile up. I surpassed the limits of three personal days and ten sick days and started losing pay (two years in a row), nearly $3,000US in total for unpaid leave. Being in my profession, my bosses warned me that I was affecting my ‘customers’, if you will. They were being impacted–and that made the upper management upset. Even my contract, signed by me this past January, didn’t come back to me until late May.
Now, work starts again this coming Wednesday after some much deserved vacation time (which wasn’t a vacation at all, really), and the Court has scheduled a hearing for the VERY FIRST day back! Another case hearing has been scheduled for Friday, the third day back! Being that the first three days of work is a professional development workshop, I will surely rock the boat again if I need to take off. In the back of my mind, their warnings echo true: “Next year is really the last chance to change the patterns.” Because I’ve endured this fiasco for nearly two years, the two years at my new job haven’t been perfect by any means. I think I am in trouble by starting the year this way (even if I don’t have a choice).
Like a chicken with my head cut off, I ran around last week filling out petitions and filing them with the Courthouse to change the dates for both hearings, yet they’ve rejected all similar requests in the past but one, so my hopes are not high.
Daunting still is that Tuesday, thought not back at work yet, I’ve got a verdict coming on another case, this one for compensation. The three hearings for it went from decently positive to utterly frustrating over the three months, leaving me feeling like I have no chance in this foreign land with anything being pursued in Court.
As far as summer vacation, that concept was really foreign to me this year. Granted, I didn’t have to work (‘real work’) for the last six weeks, but I’ve averaged 10-to-14-hour days for the entire time, with a mere four days total off without any Court-related tasks (except the four days I’ve seen my kids this summer, hitherto). Most days were of the 14-hour variety, typing new docs, searching for email and FB original evidence, organizing stacks of documents, spending time with translators, printing, collating, stapling, etc., at copy centers. Courthouse visits, filing new claims, etc., have left me constantly on the go, so that at 11pm or midnight, when I usually arrive home, I am numb. Many an evening, I dropped documents at two different courthouses at their night drop windows, open until 11, even missing the deadline a few times. From sunup until well after sundown, I’m on the go.
All of that together has pushed me to the edge. I stand there now.
It wouldn’t be so bad if I were at ‘home’. In fact, life would be immeasurably easier if I were in my homeland. Much of the issues related to being abroad for this process has already been addressed (vented about) in other blogs, but it is all the worst aspect of this nightmare.
From the interpreters who changed my spoken meaning on the spot (for I recognized the Swahili he used as being NOT what I’d said), to the Social Worker who recommended custody for the mother because she has a closer relationship to the children (even though the Social Worker didn’t see me with my kids at all because both visits came during the 189 days’ abduction by their mom), all has entailed nonsensical bias and BS. Then came the investigator assigned to the case, after I filed a petition to explain I could barely talk to my kids on the phone, and her summary report was that the mother really “wants daddy to have a close bond with the kids”, but yet simultaneously, my ex’s custody plan explained to the Judge that she wants me to only have the kids two Sundays a month from 9-5, without any communication in between visits. Whether it was naivety or absolute bias on the part of the investigator, she surely didn’t see the light of the truth that a mother who took the children for six months, ignoring every email and text to ask to see the kids and help them out, doesn’t really mean that she wanted the kids to have a close bond with Daddy (just two months after the abduction ended, by court order).
Additionally, there was the professional interpreting service who’d left out an entire paragraph from one document I gave them for translation, later explaining in email that she’d omitted said paragraph because she felt it was against my ex’s parents, and that in here in _______, people should respect elders, so she left it out. WTF.
Then came the absolute fiasco of the woman assigned to the custody case to act as a Guard— ad Lit– (I’ve chosen to not use the full title so Google searches don’t find this blog so easily). With her three months of work to supposedly get to know me, she didn’t answer emails for 3-week and 4-week spells, lost my emails, didn’t get them. Then she sent an email and blamed the usage of English (though the Judge explained she spoke English well) and my requesting to my lawyer that the Court’s fees for her service ($600US) be reduced or forgiven created a “adverse affects” for her investigation to proceed properly. Three months after our initial in-court, 30-minute introduction meeting, having, otherwise, only read a letter I wrote my kids (as homework), she came to my house. After a 6-7 minute observation of me and the kids in their bedroom (with my son playing with Play Doh and daughter doing Spirographs), she asked me into the living room, where she proceeded to tell me, “You show no insight into being a parent… you are not a capable father… you’re not effective.” My jaw dropped and my spirit was crushed, not because she was right, but because she’d already talked to my ex-wife and her parents (who live together), and without any doubt in my mind, that means she’s already prejudged me, unfairly.
When I asked her at the end of her wasteful visit if she would be submitting a report to the Judge, she told me, verbatim, “Don’t ask such questions. Just focus on learning how to be a better father.” That hearing is coming this week, one which will inevitably be filled with BS, me against the woman’s claims of me being incapable.
Calls to my kids are rarely successful, and since December of last year, my ex has not returned a single missed call or calls met with busy signals. Those failed calls and follow up texts to ask them to call me back come 3-4 times per week. Not a single call has been returned. She claims the court investigator’s final report last fall means she doesn’t have to have the kids call back. WTF.
With a restraining order against my ex for interference and harassment, based partially on her two emails to “watch your back”, based partly on her and her father following me and the kids down the street and other exchange-of-kids shenanigans, it still doesn’t apparently mean anything to them. Just a few weeks ago, they followed me and the kids again, after we turned the corner of the street and were playing with fish in a large ceramic pot. She and her father appeared (20 meters from their building’s entrance and drop off for exchanges), observing us. The nonsense continues, unabated.
Simply put, I don’t have much support, if any at all, here in this country.
Years ago, when my father ended his second marriage (or a long-term relationship, I forget), he told me he was hurt by the fact that all his former friends and social-circle buddies turned face and supported his ex. He felt like he was left without anyone, that people proved themselves to be shallow, sunshine friends.
2.5 years ago, my/our social life consisted of fairly regular outings with other (mostly) mixed-race couples and kids. Halloween parties, Christmas gatherings, birthdays, picnics, you name it. There was a good variety of opportunities, and we had people over ours from time to time. And I had a few beer buddies, too.
However, upon separation, my ex sent emails that my ‘supposed friends’ are talking, that she had her friends saying things about me, etc., and lo and behold, I didn’t know and haven’t known who to ‘trust’. A few people met me initially to talk, but then, contacts started dropping like flies. Nearly two years later, I don’t have a single person contact me for social outings (except for one expat dude, who knew my ex long before me, so I don’t even fully trust him, and one local woman and her family–who also knew my ex, though through me). I make contacts every now and then with others, but most everyone knows my ex, so I don’t feel I can share anything personal, lest they go back to her. Also, with the turnover of expats at my job, people come and go, so friendships are even more challenging.
On top of that, I’m so self-absorbed that I really don’t put myself out there much, either. And when I do, I unload on them about all these BS challenges, which probably seals the deal that it is perhaps best to let me be for some. Being that I also dropped off of Facebook that fall, going from 400 friends/contacts to less than 100 (keeping only American friends who’d ever met my ex on one page; family/friends who’d met her on another), didn’t help. Not a single person I’ve known for ten years here in this country is on my FB nowadays, making me the outcast a bit more (I simply didn’t trust anyone whose had contact with her here and I couldn’t trust that my posts to vent don’t get back to her somehow).
Thankfully, I do get some periodic support on FB from American friends, who sometimes lend an ear or give feedback. I’ll forever be grateful for that. But that’s cyberspace. I’m also in need of in-person assurances from time to time.
My family small, and back ‘home’ anyway, I am without their support physically and face-to-face, too. When I see posts of my sister visiting with my grandmother, my heart sinks. When I hear of my father visiting Sis at hers, my spirit sulks even more. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to get my step-mother’s near-daily help via email, for she vets my documents, gives advice, helps keep my emotions in check. And emails to two other family members push me along, too, but I’ve not spent a day with any of them since 2013. That’s killing me, slowly.
Having gone from regular family life, with two kiddos, two years ago, even with the ups and downs that were my marriage, it was really hard to go cold turkey, especially during the six-month abduction of the kids last year. Now, with my kids over at mine twice a month, with those two weekends being incredibly fulfilling, I can at least rest assured that I can get a hug, cuddle, kiss on the cheek, but new, recent events have even marred their visits (drama created by the ex and her brainwashing antics). My son told me last weekend that, “Mama always says Baba’s one day only.” My son was so confused. She’s killing me.
So on a daily basis, I am now barely getting by. I walk around in a half-comatose state. I am frequently numb. Plain and simple, I am numb to all except for documentation and preparations. I don’t allow myself simple pleasures. Even writing this blog to vent, to get things off my chest, I feel a sense of guilt that I shouldn’t be unloading (which rational-minded folks know is healthy) because I have other Court docs to prepare.
Two weeks ago, I came to the capital city, away from it all, but I even spent most of each day there on my computer, organizing files, making new docs, etc.
And I met someone a few weeks ago, going on five or six outings together with her over two weeks, my first I-approached-a-woman-from-totally-out-of-the-blue experience in over TEN years. We had some nice times, indeed, and for the first time in TWO long years, some “things” happened that made me feel… well, great. Because of those experiences, I expected she was ‘into me’. But on the sixth outing, sitting by a lake under the starlight, I explained, for the first time, my situation. I’d completely kept it secret for the first five dates (just wanting to focus on the food, companionship, live music, and the physical pleasure of being with someone for the first time in so long), but I wanted to be honest with her that my life entails such a focus right now. A few days later, she sent a text that said she’d just like to be friends, but that I’m a ‘good guy’. Viola! Back to solitude.
As I wrote on my FB a few days ago, I entered into my building’ elevator one night, barely with it, for I was physically exhausted and emotionally drained, especially after such a long day of court preparations. Looking up at the ceiling, I asked myself, even emitting a slight chuckle–and shaking my head, “How are you getting through this?” Somewhere, subconsciously, the answer came that God was looking over me. Not a man of faith, I dismissed it, though I, admittedly, appreciated it, wondering if it really came from a higher source or just something I imagined.
With that said, my purpose and what keeps me going is my two children. I want them in my life. I need them in my life. They need me, and I will fight against the bullshit claims, false allegations, abundant lies that inundate my waking existence and pummel me incessantly.
Moreover, I have also been pursuing “what’s right”, based on principle. Ironically, my ex-wife, more than once, told me in the past to let go of my principles. She knew me to stand up against unfair decisions made at my former job, etc., so she periodically told me to let it go. I even have found an email I wrote her in 2009 that said, “Based on principle, I cannot.” That’s also why I am attempting to get compensation for many a thing that’ve transpired these past two years.
I’ll continue to strive for my children, for the principle of various aspects of it all, but I’m bound to question myself. I’m bound to stumble and fall, as I’ve already done a few times. My former ability to give myself a periodic pep talk when I needed it has to find itself again. It’s just so hard, when life is a constant barrage of hardships, to find the enthusiasm to maintain strength of spirit and intestinal fortitude. Hopefully, just hopefully, in addition to my kids somehow praying for me to get through this all, someone else has got my back.
[I just had to stop typing because tears started to flow… it doesn’t help that Birdy’s I’ll Never Forget You is concurrently playing on my iTunes.]