Be Aware of What You Create!
WARNING! THIS IS A VERY LONG BLOG POST!
I separated from my ex-husband from 2010 and my daughter and I moved out of the family home into a flat later in the year.
We then moved into our present home on the edge of the Borough of Greenwich in April 2011.
During this time, from 2010 to 2011, I brought my daughter to see her dad during the day time from around 9.30am to 6pm or dinner every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Prior to this, my daughter did not want to spend time on her own with her father, so I suggested that I accompany them until such time when she was happy to be with him on her own during the day. Orla began spending nights with her father from November 2011 and holidays on her own with him from around 2012.
During this time, I asked for half the amount calculated by the Child Maintenance Service from my ex but he refused and gave me a quarter of it, occasionally paying for clothes, material and singing lessons.
In 2015, at age 10, Orla began to ask to spend a little less time with her father, she wanted to have some weekends with me as we had started more formal home educated lessons for her during week days. I was working facilitating Angelic Reiki and crystal workshops and giving therapy sessions over the weekends whilst she was with her father.
Throughout this time, because of guilt for deciding to break up our family and feelings of worthlessness and fear of causing conflict, I did not ask persistently for more money to help to care for my daughter. Whenever my ex wanted to take Orla on holiday, I would agree to it. I had also said that we could get divorced without any financial remedy between us as we each owned a property in London.
But this changed in 2015 as Orla began to show symptoms of stress by frequenting the toilet almost every hour when we were out. It became a challenge to travel on public transport as we needed to find a toilet at every train and tube station and she would also get very upset before she was collected by her father on Friday mornings. The frequent visits to the toilet had happened previously but this had been helped by a few courses in homeopathy.
However, this time it took much longer and Orla was still persisting in asking to spend some weekends with me instead of every weekend with her father. This was also to have a friend or two over for sleepovers and to meet friends who lived close by, whose parents I was friends with as well.
After many exasperated and angry emails from both sides and spiralling debt for me, I decided in November 2015 to ask the Child Maintenance Service to help with Child Maintenance payments from my ex-husband. All his payments stopped in December 2015 and I entered a Debt Management plan in early 2016.
We continued with our existing child contact arrangement but in February, I informed Orla’s father that she would like to spend my birthday weekend with me. He refused and came to collect her that Friday morning. I initially refused to go to the door but after 10 minutes, I finally went down and spoke to him. This was very frightening for me, although my ex-husband had never physically hurt me, he had been verbally and emotionally abusive during our separation and I hated confrontation with him, especially now that the hornet’s nest had been stirred to a frenzy with the Child Maintenance Service speaking to him about his legal duty to pay the appropriate amount of Child Maintenance. The CMS did not agree with his calculations and his assertions: the money they calculated was due to me by law and already been adjusted/reduced in acknowledgement of the time she spent with him.
Orla had also decided that she did not want to go away to France on holiday with her father three times a year as she had previously and she wanted to spend time in London when my family were here on holiday. This further infuriated my ex-husband and the emails and accusations multiplied.
In December 2015, he wrote to me to enter into mediation about the Child Maintenance, but I refused as the Child Maintenance Service was on the case and they had advised me about what my legal rights were with regards to Child Maintenance. Mediation required fees and I had no money to pay for the meetings.
In March 2016, I decided to enter into the Mediation process to discuss and resolve the child contact issue because Orla still persisted in requesting more time with me and her father and I had not achieved any agreement at all. I also wanted an independent third party to keep us in line, to keep us calm and to act reasonably to each other.
We finally agreed to work with the Mediation firm I had suggested although my ex-husband insisted on a change in the actual mediator as he felt the original person was too old and traditional to be an unbiased party.
We had our first one and a half hour meeting in June 2016 and during that meeting, I said that I was happy to resolve all the child maintenance and financial issues through this route.
At our second meeting, I suggested that Orla met the mediator herself to clarify what she really wanted as my ex was claiming that I was influencing her decisions. This was agreed and Orla spoke to our mediator for one and a half hours on her own.
What she said was reported back to my ex-husband and me at our third meeting. By this time, my ex-husband had offered to pay for my share of the second and third meetings to speed up the process as I could only afford to pay for one meeting a month. All mediation meetings happened in June 2016.
Orla’s father was very angry with the mediator after the third meeting as he had reported that Orla did indeed want to spend more time with me and that she did not want to go on holiday with him that summer to France. During this meeting, I was also asked to leave the room for 15 minutes as our mediator wanted to speak privately to him about his meeting with Orla, so I have no idea what was said between them during that time.
After this meeting, my ex-husband declared that the mediator was biased and that he was unhappy with his feedback.
Unfortunately, this led to a complete break-down of communication between us as I refused to speak to him without the presence of a professional third party, as all our conversations would erupt into anger and accusations with no regard for my daughter’s wishes. He refused to continue with the mediation process as our mediator informed us that as my ex had accused him of being biased, we would require a second mediator and therefore more payment, to maintain trust in this process and the original mediator.
We were at a stalemate.
I sought legal advice through the University of Greenwich law school, who offer an hour’s free consultation for family matters with a qualified solicitor in the company of two law students, so I decided to change my daughter’s extent of contact with her father according to her wishes and wrote to her father about these changes.
In July 2016, I received a letter from the Family Court informing me that my ex-husband had applied for a hearing with regards to Child Contact. Within his application were accusations that I physically (not enough food), emotionally and mentally abused my daughter and that I was turning her against him. This was terrifying as I did not have any money for any legal assistance and certainly did not qualify for Legal Aid. What was more terrifying were all the accusations and the implications of them if the Court chose to believe them.
Within a week, I also received another letter from the Family Court advising me of my ex-husband’s application for a divorce on the grounds that we had been separated for five years. I received this letter a day after my father passed away.
By July, my ex-husband had begun paying the amount of Child Maintenance as advised by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) as they had threatened to take the money directly from his bank account plus an extra 20 percent on top of that as a fee for this service. I would lose 8 percent of the Child Maintenance as a result too.
On receipt of the notification about the Divorce application, I decided to apply for a Financial Remedy, and a date was set for the first hearing in January 2017.
The first hearing for the Child Contact case was in October 2016. A few days before the hearing, I received a letter from the Court and my ex-husband’s solicitor informing me that he would be represented by a barrister at the hearing.
All I can say is that my stress and anxiety increased even more! I was already very anxious from the time I contacted the CMS late 2015 as I knew that the response from my ex-husband would be terrifying enough! I had no money to employ a legal team let alone a barrister to represent me in court. I would have to do it myself and face my ex’s barrister too.
This is the first time I am putting this period of my life on paper and in such detail. I had spoken to a few friends during that time and had mixed reactions. Some projected their own fear, insecurities and anger on to me.
I did not speak to many people as I did not want to experience the rush of fear and anxiety every time I spoke about it, and I think most felt that I was crazy for not somehow resolving it with my ex-husband.
In many ways, I felt very guilty for not coming to an amicable arrangement with him, I felt like a bitch for asking the CMS for help with the maintenance payments and I also felt like a greedy cow for going for the Financial Remedy.
However, regardless of how I felt about my worth, I was due Child Maintenance payments greater than what I was receiving and it was obvious from the Judge at the first Financial remedy meeting, that I was also due a Financial Remedy from the divorce, the extent of which was to be ascertained.
My daughter was also old and articulate enough to request a change in the contact which she had with her dad that we had imposed on her. She was not looking to stop seeing her dad at all: she just wanted the same amount of holiday time with me and alternate weekends too, especially since she had begun secondary school in October 2016.
Orla was interviewed by Cafcass, the children’s charity working for the Family Court, even though her father through his barrister had insisted that she was too young for her preferences to be considered. Cafcass and the Family Court listened to her requests and she now spends half of all her holidays with me and also alternate weekends. Cafcass did not find that I had deliberately influenced her against her father. There were no findings of abuse in any way from me towards my daughter.
I represented myself through both hearings of the Child Contact case, in front of a panel of three magistrates, my ex and his barrister. However, I had received substantial support and advice from my sister and her husband who are both barristers practicing in Malaysia. I also have my therapist to thank for all the work we did together, sometimes having sessions the day before the hearings. I also had the company of a McKenzie Friend during the hearings, a friend whom I was allowed to invite into the hearing but could not address the court.
I received a Financial settlement after two hearings with the District Judge, once again representing myself, with my brother in law as my McKenzie friend during the first hearing and on my own during the second hearing, where we agreed on a sum and completed the case. My ex-husband was again represented by his barrister during these hearings.
Through greater awareness of my Patterns/Dysfunction working from my subconscious and conscious thoughts and through attending Angelic Reiki workshops, Natural Success and SuperGenius Life workshops with William Whitecloud and Ryan Pinnick, I realised that I created all this.
I felt worthless and I believed that I did not deserve any help and I was afraid that if I did ask for anything, I would not get it. In fact, not only did I believe subconsciously that the answer would be no, but I would also get abused or punished just for having the audacity to ask for it and hey presto!
I was also imperfect, a terrible mother, no matter how hard I tried I would never succeed in raising my daughter well. I had to constantly work so hard just to get the pittance that I received or the validation that I craved and there was no guarantee of that. It was all pain and suffering with little to no fun at all.
Even though I feel so much stronger and more empowered for having been through this experience and it challenged me to be clear and succinct in court and face the fear of possibly making a fool of myself in front of people I did not know, this whole process could have been resolved much earlier on. Yes, I stood up for my daughter and her right to choose and I received a Financial Remedy and am in receipt of the appropriate Child Maintenance but her father and I could have communicated better, set our boundaries and allowed change to be accommodated as our daughter grew up. But my Patterns and Dysfunctions were playing out automatically: all my responses were on default settings.
Now I know.
I know how important it is to be aware of all our thoughts and feelings because they run the show and create the experiences we have.
I know that this also means I have to know myself well, not just for the negatives but for the dreams too, so that I can create them from a place of Soul expression and love.
I also realise that that conflict is ok and to stop trying to avoid it by speaking up and speaking truthfully.
It also showed me that anger is ok, and it is anger which made me apply for the Financial Remedy which has helped to pay for most of my debt and for workshops which have really helped me in my awareness and business. Anger as an emotion (like every emotion) is fine, it’s what we do with it which counts: do we murder someone or do we ask for what we are due? It is our choice.
For so many years, I did not know myself at all, I was lost, confused, frustrated, with the inability to really express myself from my heart: being vulnerable was terrifying! I had little if no self-esteem, I hated myself.
I drank to escape, got angry and lost my temper very easily, I felt I had to hide parts of myself which were unacceptable.
Now, armed with much greater awareness and a vision of what I love, I would love to help people, especially women who have lost their sense of self, their connections to their Souls and have lost their unique, beautiful self-expression.
I have bared my soul and my foibles over the last few years in the writing above so that you can know that you are not alone, that there is light at the end of your tunnel, that the pain and suffering will not last long, especially if you gain an awareness of where it is coming from: you can indeed stop it at any time due to your choice.
I run loving, peaceful and joy filled gong baths and meditation workshops in Blackheath, I also help people with mentoring and programmes to enjoy discovering yourself.
Do join me for a taste of your own Soul and rediscovery of your unique magic. Have fun and embrace yourself completely, because you are indeed already perfect and whole, you just need to change your perspective of yourself.
Ananda is a crystal-crazy therapist, an