Losing Dylan, part 2
In order to tell this story properly, I’m going to have to give my Ex a name. I’m going to call her Bird. One because she would hate it and two because she is very tall and moves like an ostrich.
Bird and I were together when Dylan was born and has been present in his life since then. Bird has a female body but identifies herself privately as male. Bird comes across as meek and socially awkward. When necessary, she collapses into a pool of tears and plays helpless. Her greatest asset, other than her height, is that she is incredibly skilled in the art of deception. She lies as easily as she breathes.
Dylan began seeing the substance abuse counselor weekly but was no longer participating in school. He would go, but refused to do work. He was leaving early every day. One night I allowed him to spend some time with friends with a curfew of 10:00. He called me around 9:30 and told me he wanted to stay the night with some college kid he met who I didn’t know. When I said no he said he was going to do it anyway. It was the first time he had been that defiant with me. I slept uneasily. For the first time in 15 years, I didn’t know where my son was or who he was with. I had no way of knowing if he was safe.
The next morning he came home and acted as if nothing had happened. I didn’t know what to do. How was I going to parent Dylan if he refused to comply? He was insistent that he should be able to “live his life” which meant not following any rules and coming and going as he pleased.
Desperate, I asked Bird for help. She agreed to take him for a while. I had reservations. When problems arose with Dylan she would always assert that I was at fault. When Dylan was verbally abusive towards me Bird implied I deserved it. Since the very beginning Bird has been quick to criticize and slow to offer support. Two years prior Bird had attempted to wrench Dylan from me by filing for legal custody.
Bird insisted her intervention was just that of a concerned parent who wanted to provide for her son. With the exception of three months in 2015 Bird has never provided child support to me. I’ve allowed Bird to live rent free with me multiple times. This would only work as long as I didn’t see any one. Bird could date freely but I could not. Once when I did begin seeing someone she started parking her camper in the driveway, and refused to come in the house. She would have huge emotional meltdowns and leave long verbally abusive messages on my voicemail. I’ve loaned Bird money that she has never paid back. A lot of the things I did because I wanted Dylan to be happy. I knew that when Bird was emotionally unstable it would trickle down to Dylan.
Bird did not prevail in her attempt to rescue Dylan from me. For at least a year after that she and I were estranged. Dylan was angry with Bird because I told him that she had been promising him things she couldn’t deliver. He told me he didn’t want to talk to her anymore. After about 4 months he said he wanted to call her. I allowed it because it didn’t seem right to me that he would cut her out of his life. They reconnected and eventually I allowed Bird to take Dylan for a visit. I insisted that Dylan meet her at a store nearby and that he not reveal our address. I knew that if Bird knew our address she would try to serve me with papers again. Responding to a lawsuit is a costly and frightening ordeal. If you don’t respond, the other side will most likely prevail. I had recently borrowed money from a friend so that I could pay rent. I was desperately poor, which made me vulnerable to any legal action Bird might take.
I had begun going to the food bank because I didn’t have enough money to feed us. Bird gave $20 to Dylan at the end of their visit and said, “Make sure that this is for food for you, not for your mother”.
Bird has always done what she wants to do with Dylan, no matter what I say or do. She allowed him to watch R-rated movies when he was 5, and took him to see the Hunger Games when he was 8. If I objected, (and I did), she would tell him that he could no longer do those things because I was controlling and overprotective. As a result, Dylan would be angry at me. He would always come home from his visits with her angry and defiant. He would also return with presents galore. It started with huge stuffed animals. Then it was video games and another fight about Black Ops. Eventually it became electronics and an $800 iPhone. I was never consulted about these purchases, and to deny them would mean attacks from both of them. They had a secret and private relationship that excluded me.
I’ve had two serious relationships since Bird and I parted ways 13 years ago. With each one, Bird made it her mission to align Dylan against them and against me. Bird’s biggest fear was that she would be replaced. In spite of sharing custody with her willingly and without reservation, she always presented herself as the hapless victim of a controlling lesbian bio-mother.
When Dylan was born Bird had the intention of adopting him, thus making her his legal parent. For two years after Dylan was born, while we were still together, she had the opportunity to do this. She never followed through. At the time I had no intention of cutting her out of Dylan’s life. It was clear to me that their relationship was important to him, and that is what guided my decisions. It frustrated me that although I gave Bird virtually free access to Dylan, she projected her fear onto him that at any moment, they might never see each other again. Their attachment was founded on this desperation. And my role was set as the person who could pull the trigger, most likely out of spite.
When Dylan was five I was preparing to move to California. I had met someone there. I was completing graduate school and preparing to start my new career. I felt that the move would be good for both myself and Dylan. I had told Bird when I began graduate school that at the end of it I would be leaving the state for better job opportunities. I had been trying to convince Bird to come with us. Bird hated California and said she didn’t want to live there. I wanted to provide a good life for myself and my son and I was his sole provider. I knew that I could make a really good living in Cali, almost double what I could have made if I stayed where we were.
At the time Bird and I were sharing custody 50/50. When she told me that she had gone to see an attorney regarding legal custody I was angry. I was willingly sharing custody with her and not asking for any support. I had no intention of keeping Dylan from her. She wanted something from me in order to facilitate her agenda with the attorney. I refused, knowing that she was trying to gain legal rights to prevent me from leaving the state.
I had no idea at the time that Bird would later use this event as evidence in her story to Dylan that I had refused to grant legal rights to her due to my controlling nature. Or that she would convince him that if only I had granted her what she was entitled to, his life would have been so different. It would have been so much better.