Red Tape

So, I haven't mentioned much regarding the legal stuff going on behind the scenes in my never-ending quest to get child support and/or restitution from Big Daddy for the amount he owes in arrears.

My attorney has taken me on as a pro-bono client, and there are not words in the English language that could properly express the gratitude I feel towards her, my friend's husband who initially set up the pro-bono deal, and the big law firm that employs them.

I understand the fact that I'm probably the smallest fish she has to fry, hell, I may even be plankton. I get it, really. So I'm trying to do what I can behind the scenes to help make her job easier. I look up facts, I compile emails, I research, I keep pretty scarily anal retentive records.

While doing all of this background grunt work, I have come to a conclusion: I could probably never work in the legal profession, unless someone figures out how to install an adderall pump into my body. My hat is off to anyone who makes their living, or has made their living, working in this arena. The verbiage, the sheer length of even the simplest of statements, the loopholes, the intricacies involved in the smallest details could drive a person to drink. Luckily, there is no booze in my house so last night it just drove me to finish off the fat free cottage cheese.

I'm up to my ears in paperwork these days. Preparing to file for bankruptcy (just waiting on one more tax form and then that's a go), finishing up my 2010 taxes, filling out applications and permission slips and scholarship forms for various spring and summer camps and activities for the kids...it's nuts. But doing all of this is a constant reminder of just how insanely expensive it is to live, and to be taking care of four other people. Sometimes this motivates me, gets those little fires burning again, the ones that keep me going. Sometimes, though, it dampens any fire I have left, and it leaves me feeling defeated. The past couple of months have left me feeling more of the latter.

Yesterday I took Charlie to Great Clips for a haircut. They are having a fabulous $7.99 haircut sale, so you know I was all over that like white on rice. So Charlie and I are pulling out of the parking lot, and who do we see? Big Daddy and his blushing bride, who were pulling out of the Costco parking lot. Laughing, smiling, all happy with themselves and their blissful Sunday afternoon full of shopping and togetherness.

I laughed, because that's the only reaction I can summon when I think about how bizarre it is to see the father of your four children, the man you thought was a decent guy, the man who is singlehandedly responsible for taking your somewhat mundane but secure life and ripping it to shreds pulling out of Costco with his pregnant ex-coworker/now wife. I mean, really. It's funny, in a macabre way.

So I laughed a little bit. Charlie crouched down in his seat and whispered, "Awkward". I slowed down to avoid pulling up next to them at the next stoplight. I had no desire to see them, in fact, after the laughter subsided I started to get that old punched-in-the-gut feeling. Haven't felt that one in a while, and I can't say I missed it. I thought about how long it has been since I've been able to go to Costco. I thought about the fact that it's two days until payday and I've got about $15.00 left in my checking account, less than a quarter tank of gas in my car and nothing but spaghetti in the cupboards and a half full gallon of milk in the fridge. I thought about how I still cannot breathe for those nanoseconds between the time my debit card is swiped and the little screen blinks "ACCEPTED". I thought about how my 15 year old daughter asked her dad to get her some new frames for her glasses and instead he presented her with her old pair, superglued together (and let's just say Big Daddy shouldn't aspire to be a glue-master anytime in the future, ok?). I thought about seeing his big dumb smiling face as he pulled out of the Costco parking lot and wondered if he has any idea how much suffering he's caused.

And that lit a little fire. Yesterday was busy, but last night before bed I did some research.

Big Daddy has a judgment against him, it's a public record so I feel comfortable sharing that here. I have judgments against me, too...so believe me, I'm not crowing from any pedestals. But the difference is, the creditors named on my judgments are companies I couldn't pay after the support stopped coming in.

The creditor named on Big Daddy's judgment? Me.

So, I figured if the companies who are after me have the ability to waltz in and clean out my checking account, certainly I must have some options when it comes to collecting...right?

Right. I do. And that's where I once again found myself cursing the miles and miles of sticky red tape. Because in order to begin the collection process with Big Daddy, I have to file several motions, I have to pay fees and send notices and serve papers. It's kind of like the child support collection process...the one who owes the money does nothing, the one who is owed has to jump through endless hoops and provide documentation and proof and firstborns and vital organs (ok, the firstborn and organs are just me being sarcastic, but sheesh).

Women in my position feel powerless most of the time. I often feel like a piece of trash floating in the ocean, being battered against the rocks from time to time and then getting swept out to sea again. It's hard to cling to hope, to keep a positive attitude, to stay motivated when even the littlest of victories come only after a seemingly endless battle. It's almost impossible to think of the future and how it may be brighter and better when you are literally clinging to today, just grateful to make it through until tomorrow.

But...we have the power within us, and sometimes all it takes is something as innocuous as seeing your ex-husband pulling out of the Costco parking lot to wake it up.

My power is awake, finally, after a long winter's nap. Puffy eyed, hungry, and a little crabby, but wide awake.

Red tape or not, here I come.


  1. again my hat goes off and my heart goes out to you! i was in your same position not so long ago: suing my ex for money he agreed to pay, which he then opted not to, having to cut thru MILES & MILES red tape, worry & wonder, lose sleep & weight (silver lining?) ... but in the end it did end. not perfectly (about $0.25 on the dollar) but it did end and it does feel so good to be done. you might not believe it today, but someday you will be done and it will be OK. great even. fight the good fight. love your children and yourself. and keep cutting!!

  2. Time for the overwrought comment...
    As far as I have experienced, there seems to be a very unique constricted sensation that starts under the ribcage near the diaphragm, extending up into the base of the neck that accompanies the red tape and it's source. Sometimes a little leaks out in a laugh or a hot tear. It's like the onset of a panic attack but it never really plays itself out, just bubbles & lingers. So there is no 'ending as quickly as it started' piece to this.
    Leaves you cross-eyed wondering why this has to be happening, when will it end or how did I get to this point. Try to pick one piece of tape off and it sticks to another piece of tape or part of your body. Hard to think about or see much else, let alone concoct a strategy to get through it.
    It's unfathomable for me to understand how people can justify causing this kind of discomfort. These cruel individuals have a special knack, they know what they are doing.
    It is so wonderful when someone comes along to pluck off a piece of the tape, ball it up & help deal with it. So thankful for the attorney, accountant, doctor, mechanic, handyman, friend, teacher & unmentioned others that are happy to mercifully remove a piece of that tape. It's needed. They remind me I am not invisible, I am less likely to succumb.

  3. Hells to the yeah. I love nit-picky work. I would, in fact, take great joy in this particular nit-pick. You know my number.

  4. I didn't read the whole thing yet, but I have to say your first paragraphs remind me of watching the show on PBS where two couples were selected to go live like they did in the 1800s. Farming, sewing, cooking over a campfire, etc. They lived like that for a year. It was rough. BUT when they returned to modern life, they were sooooo depressed about living in the real world.

  5. Finished reading the entire post, I'm considering moving forward on my shack-building plan in Idaho. Just like Randy Weaver. Minus the Green Beret training. Are ya in?

  6. I'd like there to be a Target within a couple of hours, but yeah. Yeah I'm in.

  7. Tari, thank you for sharing. I love to hear from survivors like you! It makes the lows less low, if that makes sense.

    Lorie, like I said earlier.."GET OUT OF MY HEAD!" You write pretty.

    Danielle: Maybe I can hire you to serve the papers? The only requirements are: over 18, and not have a stake in the collections...

    G.F.- yep.

  8. I would LOVE to serve the papers. On a big effin' platter.

  9. I'd be happy and want to serve the papers, I was a process server while I was a messenger for many years! F-stick has never seen or heard of me either.


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