Hard Conversations

Lately, after everyone has been pinned down in quarantine and fed a bunch of crap about how they are going to kill grandma, we’ve gone full bonkers and now there are riots and warlords running Seattle, and everyone wants to tear down statues.

I hear a lot about privilege. Yes. I agree there is white priviledge, because when I get pulled over at night for a broken tail light, I’m pretty sure I can talk to the police officer and say “Hey, my bad. It’s a Jeep. I’ll fix it when I get home.” And I don’t have to worry about someone kneeling on my neck for nine minutes until I am dead.

But there are ways I’m not privileged. And before you decide to stop listening and roll your eyes and throw your Woke/LiberalArtsMajor bullshit at me, let me explain. But lets be honest, if this is going to offend you, you aren’t interested in having any dialog. These discussions might make you uncomfortable. That’s privilege too. And we can’t have this conversation yet.

Some of this stuff is stuff I have talked about before. I might sound like a broken record for the same reason that the protesters keep chanting what they chant about George Floyd. Because it’s not right, and nothing is being done to change it.

I have made mistakes. I talk about them here all the time. Here’s a few to keep in mind next time you want to pull down a statue of Columbus. One of the mistakes I made was marrying poorly. I am a huge proponent for mental health, maybe as a result. I spent 15 years in an awful marriage with a person who is Cluster B disordered. If you don’t know what that is, google it. For those of you who are Cluster B disordered and are struggling with it, are aware of it, and are actively seeking treatment for it, you have my utmost respect.

Living with someone who is disordered is hell.

As a white male who spent 15 years being the sole breadwinner in our nuclear family, when I finally decided to leave for my own health and safety–and that of my kids–in spite of Parental Rights Evaluations, CPS investigations, and psychological assesments, the best I can do with my kids in Colorado is 50/50 custody. One judge decided this after a 45 minute hearing. I still owe my divorce attorney $10,000 for getting me out of the marriage. But I got more than my lawyer expected that particular judge to allow.

There was no home for battered, homeless dads when I got out. I was lucky enough to have a family that could help me out, but the divorce tapped them out too.

Also, when child support was determined, even though I am equally educated as my ex spouse, (and even though she actually has two more years of education on me), because she never worked during our marriage, and only works part time now (for six years after our divorce), I am held to the standards of full-time employment and wages.

This means that the amount of support I pay is determined on what I’ve been making, regardless of whether my ex works or not. In fact, if she were to remarry and have more kids or likely have other mouths to feed from a new spouse, those mouths to feed would also be calculated into my support. That is straight from the Family Support Registry.

Because two of my kids are “old enough” to decide to stay with their mom full time, my child support reflects the numbers of overnights, not the fact that they have been alienated against me because my ex wants: A) total control over them B) More money C) Not to have to work a full-time job D) To destroy any relationship I can have with my kids. E) to make their life hell if they even mention my name unless it is to run me down.

In other states, this would be considered kidnapping. Complaining to the courts and the police fall on deaf ears because “This is a civil matter.” After this, things get tricky and absurd.

I am currently unemployed. Other than writing gigs I am getting (which are not reliably steady like my previous job). To have my child support adjusted will take an entire year to even just get a hearing. If not longer, considering COVID.

We are at the precipice of a Recession, if not a complete Depression right now. I am competing against 40,000 other out of work Coloradoans. And I can’t even move to find work or move to live with family unless I want to give up my youngest son.

Yes, as “priviledged” as I am, I cannot move more than 26 miles away from my ex because of custody. This is actually a violation of my Constitutional right to travel/live where I like freely. So, I’m stuck here, unless I want to pay a lawyer $15k to have a hearing in a year to be able to move with him, and even then I probably won’t get permission because “50/50 is about the best you can expect as a single dad in this state.”

Gotta love how biased the idiosynchrasies of loving, nurturing moms are with the courts, without taking in any of the facts that might indicate otherwise.

Because they determine public assistance based on gross wages before child support, I am not eligible for free daycare, food stamps, or other public assistance. My ex, however, purposefully underemployed as she is, gets all of these. Child support is not tax deductable.

I have been harassed by DHS, the police, and taken to court a number of times. I have had my property stolen by my ex, and I have been powerless to do anything against it. She has also run up $12k worth of othrodontics bills on kids who don’t even use my last name and still expects me to pay for it!

If I can’t find work and can’t pay child support, a number of things can happen:

  • I can lose my driver’s license if I can’t pay child support.
  • As a payor, my wages are garnished. Even if my kids become emancipated, I have to petition the courts to stop taking my money…there are no refunds for paying over.
  • I have lost over half of my tax return some years because of “arrears,” in spite of having a payment plan set up through the courts.
  • If I continue to be unable to pay, I can lose my Passport.
  • If I am still unable to pay, I will be jailed.

We aren’t supposed to have debtors prison, slavery, restrictions in travel, or illegal seizure in this country. And you are supposed to be guaranteed an attorney in a court of law. But I guess if you married badly and tried to get away from them, you wave those rights. Forget about a fair and speedy trial too. Funny that for a “Civil” court matter, I can be jailed. I am literally being forced to work to support a person who made my life hell for 15 years and has taken my children away from me without there being anything I could do about it. It sounds like slavery to me. How about you?

So now I’m going to get political.

As a white male, I cannot tell you how dumbfounded I am to hear when people complain about their “baby daddies” ditching out and never having to pay a dime of child support. How does this even work? I have known other white men who have been jailed for not paying support. I have had to work two jobs to keep from being persecuted and still maintain a household. The judge didn’t even care if I starved, much less if I could provide an adequate household for my children when they were with me.

While I get to hear about a certain somebody buying all new video gaming systems for the kids because they broke the last ones. Systems as in multiple. Does that sound like someone who needs a handout from the State or especially me? Who isn’t even working full-time?

And the big kicker? If my ex just decided to move or keep my son full time, I would have to fight through the courts to stop her. Which could take several months. If I did it, there would be an Amber Alert on my ass and I would have some fucking cop’s knee on the back of my neck after they dragged me out of the car. You can’t talk your way out of that one like you can a burned out tail light.

So, yes, put a brick through a store window. Tear down a statue. Hold up your sign. Riot. Rally. Fucking go nuts. But the system isn’t just broken for you. The system is flat out broken. I support your cause, because I know how messed up everything is. Where someone can judge you based on outward appearances, just like my white liberal friends are judging me right now for daring to go against their narrative. When the courts can say “These rights are for people who can afford attorneys, not you.” The shit deal I got from the State has not earned my love for the establishment.

At least when you turn on the TV you don’t get to see that as a white single parent you are nothing but a bumbling moron who is endangering their children simply by existing. Where is my agency? Where is my representation? It’s locked up in the Homer Simpsons, Peter Griffins, Tim Allens, and many others just as yours was in Step n’ Fetchit and Al Jolson. I have lost relationships, friendships, etc. because those people knew that this was the path I would have to travel for at least the next ten years if not the rest of my life. It takes its toll. But this is my life. I didn’t choose this.

Look me in the eye and tell me ANY of this is right. If I sound angry, it’s because I am.

3 thoughts on “Hard Conversations

  1. Have you been sold a lie?

    Growing up, I consumed lots of media about the American Dream, how wonderful & blessed the U. S. of A. was, and I believed it. But the more I learned the less plausible it seemed. Seemed like only a select few could have the American Dream. And life was not great for the majority of everyone else.

    “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” Mahatma Ghandi

    New Zealand has its problems: we have homeless people, we have poor people. But there are so many differences between NZ & USA.

    In New Zealand, we have nationalised healthcare. You can get health private insurance, but most people don’t (what it does is allows you to jump the queue in some instances so you get treated sooner that waiting for the state-run system).

    (When I broke my knee in 2017, I didn’t have to pay for my hospital stay, or my surgery (well, nothing in addition to the normal taxes I already pay). There was a small co-payment for medication. And when I say small, I mean NZ$6). And if you do get health insurance, it is not tied to your employer i.e. you don’t lost health insurance when you lose your job. (What screwed system does that? To deprive you of health insurance at the time you might need it more?)

    We also have this thing called ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) which pays for your treatment for injury treatment. The trade-off is that you can’t sue someone/some company to get compensation for injury. So our court & lawyer system is not as bloated.

    And let’s not even get into the guns debate.

    1. Believe it or not, but in the US only about 30 years ago, you could go to the doctor and get treatment and not have to go bankrupt. My hometown doctor used to stitch people up, run his own x-rays, and blood labs, and people were just fine. And they could afford him.

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