Endings and beginnings…

Kathleen and James

James and I before my choir concert. I had a solo and was so nervous

Years ago, when I was 21, I met a young man named James. I was at work at the time, working my way through college as a part time dishwasher. His mother was the bartender and he came in one evening while I worked. Soon we were dating and were engaged a few months later. By the time we’d known each other for a year, we were living together and planning a wedding.

I was pregnant with Kait on our first anniversary and pregnant with Colin on our third. We broke up on our 6th anniversary, had a brief reconciliation, then separated for good in January 2001.

Those bare bones facts don’t share the struggles and the emotional pain I went through in our marriage. They don’t show James keeping all his student loan money in his separate account instead of placing it into his¬† joint account because it was easier… leaving me stuck in the position of begging for milk money. They don’t show our frequent arguments over college when it was apparent to me he wasn’t working on school work. Arguments where he insisted he was working hard at school and I was simply over reacting. An argument he kept using until his report card was handed out. He assured me he didn’t get the lowest grades in the class, just the second lowest, as if that made things all right. I was pregnant with Kait then and needed him to work hard and actually try.

I struggled for six years, raising two babies (Kait and Colin are 22 months apart) and keeping the house together. Meanwhile James kept sliding downhill. I’d give him a bill to pay (pre internet banking). He’d walk out the door, ostensibly heading over to the bank less than a block away, then he’d come home saying he’d paid the bill. Which meant everything was fine until the next month when, whoops, our phone bill was double and James had spent all of last month’s “extra money” on computer parts. I made sure that I, for the most part, paid the bills but, with two small children, it wasn’t always feasible.

I didn’t want to break up our marriage but it’s something that takes two people in order to work and I was the only one doing the work. By the time we separated for good (we’ve since divorced) he was doing nothing around the house. The kids barely noticed his absence. The closest either of them got to wondering where he went was when Kait asked where the big pillow in the living room went. What big pillow? Oh right, James used to fall asleep on the floor instead of going to bed or sleeping on the couch. Then the kids would use him as a pillow. I reminded her that pillow was her Dad. She said, “Oh okay” and went back to playing.

He did everything in his power to ensure no child support reached us. He wouldn’t say where he lived. He got friends to buy him a phone under their names so he couldn’t be searched for. His jobs were often under the table and, if not, he only stayed for a few months so that FRO (Family Responsibility Office) couldn’t track him down. They were always a job behind him. All of that over $50.

He showed up when he wanted, sometimes twice a month but more often two or three times a year. Every single visit was fraught with drama. He left the kids alone in the Walmart McDonalds while he went outside to talk on his cellphone, leaving them unsure what to do. He ran them across a local highway at rush hour because he didn’t want to walk half a block to the crosswalk. To this day Colin absolutely will not jaywalk. It doesn’t matter if there’s no cars on the road in either direction, he has to find a cross walk or he has an anxiety attack. They were that close to getting hit.

As the kids got older, his behaviour worsened. He’d share things that would be TMI even for adults, like the time his girlfriend overdosed on sleeping medication. Instead of checking up on her or calling an ambulance, he left her in their bedroom and went out to buy two cups of coffee as an alibi. She lived but it was through no help of his. He called Children’s Aid (Child Protective Services) and told them that 13 year old Kait was beating me up (she wasn’t). He spent a year trying to convince her that he wanted her to live with him then dumped her at the end of the year, calling her “that one” and asking me to back him on banning her from his visits. There was a lot more but this post is threatening to be a novel already. It’s hard to compress 25 years.

He gave up pretty easily on Colin, which wasn’t a surprise because he’s favoured Kait since Colin was born. Which means Kait got the brunt of his erratic behaviour. Once he called her late at night to say he’d bought a bike from someone then it got stolen so he didn’t feel he needed to pay them. They were coming to get their money no matter what so if he didn’t call her by morning, chances are he was dead. Then he turned off his phone and went to bed. Kait called me in a panic and I told her to call the police. The police did a wellness check and, sure enough, he was just sleeping. She was a teenager when he pulled this.

James and Brenda

James, after his baptism into the Mormon church, and his Mom. He celebrated his baptism with a cigarette, a joint, and a drink

Colin and I have had him blocked on Facebook and phone since the fiasco in June. Kait did initially but then we found out their paternal grandmother was dying of cancer and unblocked him so updates could be passed more easily. She died in mid January.

The kids and I had a great Christmas but there was one thing we didn’t know and that was Kait’s pregnancy. She got a positive test on Boxing Day and waited until the end of the first trimester before telling anyone in the family. I went to her 12 week ultrasound and got to see the little heart beating and to her 13 week obstetrician’s appointment. Sadly we couldn’t hear the heart beat with the doppler but she was still pretty early.

I don’t know if it was the loss of his Mom or finding out about the new baby but James pretty much lost his mind. He’s been texting Kait a bunch of crap and he went one step further.ultrasound

There’s a troll website called Kiwi Farms (don’t search them, they’re nasty) where people do nothing but find blogs, mostly trans and trans positive ones, and pick the posts apart badly. I posted about them back in December 2016 when they first found my blog. I know they’re still around because they show up in my statistics once or twice a week but otherwise I ignore them. Kait sent me some screen shots from their site recently that left me shaking my head. They are still convinced that I’m forcing Colin to be trans and shoving him into my clothes, like he doesn’t have clothes of his own. He borrowed a shirt from me for Christmas because he spilt something on his good shirt and suddenly they think he’s wearing all my clothes all the time. Not to mention, I’m 5ft3in and Colin’s 6ft3in. My clothes, other than one loose tank top, don’t fit him.

Colin is as stubborn as a mule and as movable as a boulder. I’m not manipulating him, no one is. He’s not saying he’s a man, he’s made it quite clear he’s female. But, thanks to autism’s black and white thinking, he feels that if he’s going to stay the way he is without hormones, he has to use he/him pronouns and go back to Colin. Which is no big deal for us. I remember 99.9% of the time now to call him Colin and he’s gone back to Colin at the doctor’s office. Maybe he’ll change his mind down the road and maybe he won’t but he’s loved either way and he knows that.

Their Dad has found the site and has started posting there, under the name Xofkathleen, as if being my ex is the only way he defines himself. Weird. His posts are pretty much a word salad mixed with almost incomprehensible spelling mistakes.

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If I shrink these they become unreadable. Also 19 pages?!? Do these people have lives???

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And, yeah, that’s Kait and I talking up in the corner LOL

His texts to Kait are just as badly written and even nastier. Kait’s comments are teal.

Text 5

Text 7

Yes, he’s bragging about blocking her. Also, I’m pretty sure mefs are meds

Text 24

I’m pretty sure he won Father of the Year right here

Text 25

Eww… like Kait or I needed that mental image. I’d like to believe I came via the stork, thank you very much. And spoiler, Kait blocked her Dad, they did not, in fact talk “tomorrow”.

The simple truth is our lives are getting better. I’m doing a lot better on my medication and branching out into new programs. Colin’s happily working towards his high school graduation. Kait and her boyfriend Josh are looking for a new apartment in April, after they’ve saved up some money. Both of them are working full time. Josh is the assistant manager of a furniture store. His store’s doing a seasonal close in November and then he’s eligible for free training in a trade from EI so he might end up with an even better job come 2019. Blackie’s perked up and happily eating her food. 2018 is an amazing year for us and I’m sure it’ll keep getting better.

Kait, Kathleen, and Emma

It can’t be seen but there’s a baby in this picture ūüôā

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Life… and all that stuff…

Jeremy’s off visiting zir sister Emma for the day, leaving the apartment quiet… almost overwhelmingly so. Jeremy is not a quiet person. Zie putters all day, long building elaborate water systems for zir plants, upgrading zir computer, and rebuilding zir remote control cars.

plant watering system

This is only half of zir plant watering system.

Jeremy is not quiet during any of this. Zie either has zir music on, a video, or both and zie talks to zirself the whole time. Zie answers zirself too… holding complete conversations. The only time there’s silence is when zie puts on headphones, at least until zie laughs.

I’ve made the most of my quiet day. So far I’ve taken a nap, made myself chocolate pudding, and done some scrapbooking; including a layout of one of my favourite pictures of Jeremy. It’s a selfie zie took last September at the beach.

Colin

And now I’m finally settling down to write before zie gets home. I’ve been meaning to write here for a while but life got hectic. The biggest change is my job; I transferred to a closer location. This is amazing for us because the store is a five minute walk from home instead of an hour long bus ride. At the same time, it’s a huge change for me.

I don’t handle change well *huge understatement*. I left a store where I’d worked for six years. I knew the rules, the location of everything, and all the people. I had coworkers who would hug me as soon as I got to work and coworkers who waved and said “bye” when I left. I knew most of our regulars (and we had regulars that treated the store like their second home).

I’ve lived here for three years and had previously been in the new¬†store four times. Once to drop off a resume, once to pick up tickets to Canada’s Wonderland, and twice to order food. I was so not a regular. I didn’t know a single person who worked there either. I spent just over a week fretting that I made the worst decision of my life. Then I went to leave work one afternoon and several of my coworkers smiled and said “bye” while my supervisor looked sad and said, “you’re leaving already?”. I think it’ll be okay.

The part that’s better than okay is Jeremy. This job means that I wake up at the time I previously had to leave and am home before I used to get on my first bus back. Jeremy sees me for almost two additional hours a day and knows, if zie’s really lonely, zie can meet me at work. Zir mood has perked up dramatically. Zir sleeping is still horrible but a pleasant mood makes up for a lot!

I’m moving forward in other ways too. I got my passport and bought a plane ticket so I can visit L in 201 more days (and 1 hour and 30¬†minutes)!!! Plus I’ve filed for a divorce from my emotionally abusive ex-husband. As expected, he did not take this well. Since Jeremy is the one who served him, zie got stuck listening to him rant about how much he hates me and how he wants to buy me a one way ticket to London.

Jeremy rolled zir eyes when zie told me this. “I don’t think Dad understands how immigration works,” zie said dryly.

My ex called a short time later wanting to know how he can file a counter claim… for a simple divorce. We’ve been separated for fifteen years, I have no idea what he could want to counter claim about. Child support has long been hashed out and he’s 15 years behind in that. Custody has been dealt with as well. Besides, Jeremy’s almost nineteen years old,¬†I’m reasonably sure any judge would laugh in his face if he wants to renegotiate custody.

Then the call moved back to Jeremy.

“He’s my son!” my ex retorted.

That’s when I lost it.

“Zie is not your son!” I snapped back. “Zie is your teen.”

“What?” his tone was both angry and confused, not a good combination with him. But it was too late to back down now even if I wanted to. Which I didn’t.

“Jeremy isn’t male so zie isn’t your son. And zie doesn’t use he or him for pronouns.”

“Jeremy has never told me this,” my ex replied haughtily. “Until he tells me himself that he doesn’t want me to call him my son, I’m going to continue to use male pronouns.”

That was it. I held the phone out to Jeremy, who’d been sitting beside me the whole time.

“What pronouns do you want your Dad to use?” I asked. I’d expected a quiet zie and zir.

“I am not male!” Jeremy said forcefully. “I don’t want to be called he and him. I want you to use zie and zir.”

I put the phone back against my ear. “Did you hear zir?”

I’ve never heard anyone splutter before but that’s definitely what he was doing. “That doesn’t count! It doesn’t count until I feel like asking him what pronouns he wants me to use. Until then I’m going to keep on using he and him.”

If you ever wanted to know what Jeremy’s father is like, this conversation sums him up completely. Along with the fact that he’s been arguing with Jeremy for weeks now, telling zir that we need to carpet bomb the entire Middle East. That “we” is presumably North America and not the two of them, but with¬†my ex it’s hard to tell. The good thing is, he has nothing more flammable than his own flatulence and a cigarette lighter. Jeremy keeps trying to explain to him that there are millions of innocent people there but zir Dad¬†isn’t overly concerned about things like morality and ethics. Unsurprisingly Jeremy has been cutting zir visits short and they weren’t exactly long to begin with.

With any luck, in another month I can start planning my divorce party. I’ll post pictures of the cake once it’s made.

I should have some sort of conclusion to put here but we’ve got thunderstorms rolling in and I just took a couple of Advil so you’ll have to settle for “The End” and a picture of Jeremy posing with zir Easter dinner.

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Happy spring!

The End!