divorce, family

Happy womb evacuation day…

A year ago, Bill and I were in Leipzig, Germany, where we had plans to see Mark Knopfler. I had bought tickets to see the famed guitar god in 2018, and seeing him perform live had been on my bucket list for years. We also bought a brand new car last year, and went to Sweden to retrieve it. We arranged to go up there a few days before the show, and then drove the car from Gothenburg, Sweden to Copenhagen, Denmark, to Rostock, Germany, and finally landing in Leipzig. Leipzig is an awesome city. I would love to go back again. We happened to be there in time for their annual wine festival, which was a lot of fun.

It’s hard to believe all that has happened since July 4, 2019. I remember the day prior, Bill had a Skype call with his younger daughter. She finally started speaking to Bill a few years ago after many years of total silence. Bill’s older daughter still remains estranged. Younger daughter, on July 3, 2019, was still very pregnant and had plans to have her labor induced by July 9th. July 9th happens to be the anniversary of my dad’s death.

When Bill ended his Skype call with his daughter, he said he didn’t think she would make it to July 9th. She was obviously exhausted and looked ready to pop.

The next day, we got in our new car and headed to Leipzig. I remember sitting in the wine festival, listening to music, and watching a couple of live musicians doing their thing. I also saw a young family. Mom and dad and a cute little boy… and mom was clearly expecting a new baby very soon. I suddenly felt kind of sad, because I knew that I would never have what those people had. It was also around the time that the world learned of Joy Anna Forsyth’s (nee Duggar) second trimester miscarriage, which despite my distaste for the Duggars, struck me as exceedingly sad. Of course, she’s about to have another baby next month.

This is about as close to fireworks as we’re getting this year.

Well, sure enough, by the next day, we learned that Bill’s daughter had her baby girl on July 4th. July 4th is also the day Bill’s older daughter exited the womb and made him a father. I know he’s thinking about his older daughter today. He got to meet his granddaughter in March, and he’s already talking about sending birthday greetings for her. Beyond that, we don’t have any major plans for Independence Day. We don’t usually do a lot on the Fourth of July, anyway, but it’s not a holiday in Germany. Bill will probably grill out, like he did last night, and we’ll drink too much and listen to music. Maybe we’ll practice guitar. I got him a few accessories for his guitar for his upcoming birthday. Bill did get yesterday off work, so he spent the day lamenting that Arran destroyed a large part of his garden.

Meanwhile, I spent some quality time with my guitar, surprising Bill with a fairly decent rendition of “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison, which isn’t a really hard song to play if you’re just doing the rhythm strumming and not trying to do the riffs. I also booked us a hotel room for a short weekend break in two weeks. I was wanting to go to Gerolstein, but had trouble finding appealing accommodation in the town itself, which is known for its mineral water. I ended up finding us a place in Meerfeld, which boasts an 80,000 year old “Maar”, a kind of lake formed by an explosion. I don’t feel as anxious about this trip as I did about my birthday trip to the Therme two weeks ago. We mainly just want to get away for a few days and be out in the country. The area is in the Eifel region, close to the Mosel Valley. It’s pretty, peaceful, and there’s a lot you can do outside in nature. There’s also a nearby salt water “Therme”, which I hope to try. Hopefully, we’ll stay healthy.

I’m grateful that Bill at least has contact with his granddaughter, even if his older daughter is still estranged. She’s 29 years old today. The last time I saw her in person, she was about to turn twelve. I haven’t seen Bill’s younger daughter since she was nine. I don’t feel like I’m related to them, even though I know how much Bill loves his daughters and misses them. I’m glad I encouraged him to make the visit in March happen. Although there was a lot of crying, there was also a lot of healing done. For that reason, 2020 will never be as bad for us as it’s been for a lot of people. It’s been the year that Bill finally got to take back what Ex tried to take away from him with her toxic bullshit.

There’s something else I kind of want to write about today… and I might do it later, after breakfast. I hesitate because I don’t want a shitstorm… especially on what should be a holiday.


A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall…

Yesterday, I received a copy of the soundtrack for the film, Born on the Fourth of July. I’ve never actually seen that film, which starred Tom Cruise and came out about 30 years ago. I am very familiar with the soundtrack, though, because a college friend of mine had a copy of it. It featured Edie Brickell & New Bohemians covering Bob Dylan’s song, “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall”. I’ve always liked her version of that song, but the soundtrack for Born of the Fourth of July is out of print and I couldn’t find it available digitally (as of today, I have found an MP3 version of it on Amazon). I do have a bootleg cassette of the soundtrack, but it’s in storage in Texas. So a couple of weeks ago, I decided to order a used copy of the CD. I just got it yesterday, and have already listened to that song a couple of times. It still sounds awesome after 30 years.

This is such a fabulous cover!

I remember the college friend who owned this soundtrack used to play it and sing along with Edie. Regrettably, he didn’t have a very good singing voice, and because he was about 18 when he was playing this CD a lot, he had a propensity toward being raunchy. He changed the chorus from “It’s a hard, it’s a hard…” to “I’m hard, I’m hard…” I’ve found myself unable to forget that particular version of the song. Today, maybe I’ll be able to divorce my mind from my college buddy’s drunken, off key version of Edie’s masterful remake of Bob Dylan’s classic.

These are the lyrics:

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what did you see, my darling young one?
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, who did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well-hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

This song is basically about an oncoming struggle. It was written in the summer of 1962, and Dylan has said he was inspired by reading news articles on microfiche at the New York Public Library. Dylan wrote in his memoir, Chronicles: Volume One, “After a while you become aware of nothing but a culture of feeling, of black days, of schism, evil for evil, the common destiny of the human being getting thrown off course. It’s all one long funeral song.” I can relate to feeling hopeless in the face of what seems like oncoming doom.

This morning, I was reading the Recovery from Mormonism board, and there was a plea for help from a man who has never been LDS. He wrote this:

I am a divorced man with 2 daughters aged 4 and 8. I just found out that my ex secretly converted to Mormon a few months ago and has been taking the girls to church.

Looking for basic info on the church, particularly adult female converts, and ultimately ideas and strategies for protecting my daughters from becoming indoctrinated.

I am terrified of many things, not least of which the church being used to convince the girls to ostracize me since I am not LDS.

Based on what I read in the thread, it appears that this man is newly divorced and the split was very acrimonious. He shares custody with his ex wife, and claims that she is a “weak” person who, despite being highly educated, isn’t interested in having a lot of responsibility. I really don’t blame this guy for being concerned. After all, Bill and I have lived this scenario. Bill’s daughters were slightly older when he and his ex wife split. But his ex decided to join the LDS church when she and Bill were still married, and the kids were very young. They’ve grown up LDS and, sure enough, it was used as a parental alienation tool.

Fortunately, things eventually turned around between Bill and one of his daughters. A few years ago, despite seeming to be the most estranged from Bill, his younger daughter started speaking to him again. They Skype and email regularly, and I’m hoping Bill can visit her and her two children in Utah when he goes to Las Vegas in the spring. It will have been fifteen years since their last “in person” meeting. I don’t think they are connected on Facebook, although that probably doesn’t matter, since Bill doesn’t post much anyway.

As for the older daughter, who is now 28 years old and used to be very attached to Bill… she remains estranged and mired in her mother’s toxic influence. We’ve heard it’s mainly because she is the main caregiver to Ex’s youngest child, a boy with autism.

I have only met Bill’s daughters once. It was back in June 2003, when we’d been married for only six months. We spent barely 48 hours with them before we had to bring them back to their mother. After that visit, she made it virtually impossible for Bill to have normal and meaningful contact with his daughters. However, Bill’s situation is different from that of the guy who posted on RfM. He and his ex didn’t use lawyers, and Bill agreed to allow her to have sole custody. At the time he made the agreement, he felt like he was “over a barrel”. There was no money. He couldn’t pay for lawyers or court, nor did he have time to go to court. Bill had just come back into the Army full-time and needed to prove himself. He needed to make money so he could recover from their marriage, pay child support and alimony, and get on with his life.

I met Bill online about twenty years ago. At the time, he and his ex wife were separated. He was in Kansas and she was in Arkansas. She had a boyfriend whom she eventually moved into Bill’s house. Boyfriend immediately took over “daddy” duties to Bill’s daughters, who were at that time 8 and 6 years old. Boyfriend converted to Mormonism and the girls started calling him “Dad” once Ex married him. Bill was pushed out of their lives and the church was one of the reasons given as to why he wasn’t suitable to be their dad anymore. Ex seemed less interested in pushing Bill out of his former stepson’s life. He was older and wiser than his sisters, and Bill had been his “dad” since he was a toddler. But later, when Ex decided to punish Bill again, she reconnected her son with his bio dad, whom she’d once claimed was violent and abusive.

I don’t know what the RfM poster’s ex wife is like. She may not be as cruel as Bill’s ex wife is. I hope she’s not. He describes her as “weak”, whereas Bill never seemed to think of Ex as “weak”. It’s possible that she’ll put her kids first, particularly when she learns more about how the church operates and what the beliefs actually are. I really don’t think Ex put stock in every aspect of Mormonism. For her, it seemed to be more about having another parental alienation tool. She used the church’s teachings to convince Bill that he was a horrible person who fell short of being good enough to be a dad to his children. It sounds like the guy on RfM has an ex who is simply looking for a church to support her during a tough time. However, if his ex really is “weak”, I would be concerned that she’ll get linked up with a single Mormon man who will really cause some problems. Unfortunately, church leaders can be manipulative and single-minded when it comes to pushing their beliefs. And small children are easily indoctrinated and swept up into the church. They make it palatable and easy.

It’s good that this guy has found RfM. It’s good that he sees the church as a potential threat to his relationship with his children. There are a lot of people who can help him, to include his lawyer. A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall… it fell for us for a good long while. I’m happy to report that after twenty years, the sun has come out and there’s hope of reconciliation. Along the way, we’ve learned a lot and met some incredible people who used to be Mormons. Some of them didn’t believe our story at first… probably because people automatically like to give women more of a break. As the years passed, they realized we were telling the truth and became allies.

Bill’s daughter has made it clear that all three of Ex’s eldest children– including Bill’s older daughter– know that their mother is crazy. Younger daughter has seen the toxic, destructive patterns of her mother and grandmother and doesn’t want to repeat them with her family. Older daughter, whom we have heard is also on the autism spectrum, has said that she has no guarantee that her mother won’t toss her out on the street someday. Former stepson moved far away from his mother and supposedly doesn’t speak to her much. He doesn’t talk to Bill, and we don’t know if he’s still in touch with his dad. Ex still has a teenaged daughter and an adolescent son at home, and we’ve heard her husband isn’t in the greatest of health. He probably hangs on, though, because he knows that if he leaves the Ex, he will be leaving his kids in the hands of a madwoman who will use any means to smear him and ruin his relationship with his kids.

I don’t know if anyone, other than younger daughter, is still LDS. I suspect older daughter might be. It sounds like the rest of them may have gone inactive. But it would not surprise me if Ex used aspects of the church as a means to manipulate and control. She stops at nothing. I hope the guy on RfM, new to this church bullshit, will stick around and absorb information. That board is tremendously helpful and they will help him weather the hard rain that’s about to fall.