I'm Not The Only One Suffering....
Every divorce is different, so mine doesn't look like anyone else's. I can only talk about what I see and hear. I can only talk about my own opinions and what I see firsthand. I can't speak for anyone else and I never have tried to do for another adult. (I am a mother, so obviously I have to speak on their behalf.)
My kids will now spend the night at their dad's from time to time. Their dad has had several (I'd say many) opportunities in the kids' lifetimes to go off and do things. (Holidays on their own in NYC for example, while the kids and I were abandoned at home.) My time as a mother has NEVER included a night off *prior* to this new custody reality. It has been a tough road to ride for the kids and I. Below I will explain briefly why it has been hard for me given history, but also why it is difficult now for the kids too.
When my kids were brand new, I expressed what many new mothers do; fears about separation. I was married to a person who always told me they would *never* be ready for parenthood, so I was extra paranoid. When I expressed those fears I was loudly shouted at and down for having the nerve to question their "ability" to watch the kids.
This was a set of "abilities" they had never demonstrated for longer than an hour (when I had a doctor visit for example) and NEVER involved taking them for a drive anywhere. Over the years, coupled with other relationship issues and genuine reasons they gave me to fear for the safety of myself and my kids, I developed legitimate fears.
In the start of parenthood *THIS WAS NOT THE CASE* and that must be stated clearly, lest someone make hay and call me "antagonistic...again. I DEVELOPED serious issues of trust with their parenting after years of them refusing to do the job beyond "I paid for everything so that makes me 90% qualified!" as a standpoint. They would stay with the kids if I had errands or doctor visits and if I was *desperate* for help and needed them to leave work, most of the time they would (as it was federally protected given my issues) but the verbal abuse I endured for even daring to ask...
My life was always made worse, incredibly worse for asking for help. Daily life was a fight to such an extent that I had violent pain issues. THAT PAIN is why I had to ask for help and make them miss work...and the cycle begins.
So now I face a person who insists they want more parenting time...which involves them *paying someone else* (daycare) to watch our special needs kids while they work.
My kids seem to enjoy time with dad and say they do during the week, at least they do the two days prior to it. They speak about playground visits and restaurants visits (since dad doesn't cook for them I gather). There is talk of anticipation for the night at dad's place....BUT once it arrives? I hear a list of how and why I will be missed. I hear how much I am loved. I get goodnight video calls lasting at least a half hour or more to help get bedtime routines done.
When I pick them up, much the same. It is how I was missed and how I am loved. They tell dad they had fun and look forward to next week, but then most of the week goes by and they say nothing of it. Only the two days prior does the talk of it begins. What bothers me is that as has always been the case, I am treated like Google. I am sent a stream of messages (proof exsists) instead of them asking Google or calling an establishment directly. I am called to collect the kids if they have a flat, even tho I always had the kids when it happened to me (repeatedly when the kids were much less able to entertain themselves). Back then the answer I always got was "Why should I leave work? I can't change the tire. Call AAA; isn't that why you got the membership for us?"
Their dad so overtly plays favorites that our older child came home with a black eye for the first time EVER from not one but TWO different fights at a local kids event space. (After harassing me for information and accusing me of both lies and fraud in getting the membership.) You'd have to see a building map, but dad was with the younger child easily 50ft away when fight two happened and **I admit that fight one was likely outside dad's control**, but in that case BOTH kids came away injured and staff had to step in. The younger needed an ice pack even.
The kids end up coming home showing signs of anxiety and anger. They have more frequent outbursts and big emotional displays. Like myself, they are ASD so seeing these signs is not going to be obvious to everyone I admit. Dad was reminded the event space was a bad idea without 2 adults, but it is more important to "have my time" than do what is best FOR THE KIDS so they do not ask my parents or even me to join.
I do my best to answer their questions about things and my younger has started telling herself definitions of things which I have to try and "unteach" her. However right now, several weeks after dad has fully gone from the house, I have to answer harder questions (in age appropriate ways) about *why* for it all. They seem to understand what answers I am giving and while I am not graphic, I am likely giving them more information than dad is/would give. I am also certain their dad will not give them credit for remembering a great deal of what they witnessed. I do hear them comment on their "bad rememberings" (as my younger calls them) of things they heard and saw.
My older still asks from time to time if that police car (any one near our house) is there to follow us home. It breaks my heart and sends my own anxiety through the roof when these things happen and yet our society and system is one where the burden is on proving the abuse, not verifying our being a victim. You are forced to give evidence in heaps that abuse happened (reports, screenshots, kits, etc) but not ways of verifying being a victim (therapy reports, behaviour reports, needs for anxiety meds, etc) to show the *results* of abuse.
Often times the results of abuse are delays in reporting assaults. Need for pain medications, anxiety medications, special therapies, delay in getting therapy sometimes, behaviour changes, and so much more. The all together twisted nature of the American system is designed to favour the EXPLICIT evidence which accused males/men can dispute or discredit. When we look at the bigger picture of humanity and what abuse can truly be in a world that involves more than two genders and two body types, it is a much larger problem we face and a great deal more victims we all to be denied help.
I know this personally. I see the behaviour my kids show when they get home from exposure to their dad and watch as they display very similar patterns and I get afraid of what the systems we have in place will eventually do to them.