Thoughts and Updates

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Yells into the dark cave that is this desolate blog…

All I hear is an echo and crickets chirping…

Anyway, hello! Fancy seeing you around these parts. I decided to start blogging again because it’s time for another life change, similar to the one that happened four years ago, and I felt the same writing paralysis overtake me that happened then. If there’s one thing I’m determined to do, it’s not have history repeat itself, so I decided to take a different approach.

Actually, it isn’t different. One of my kids asked me for the link to the TV special done about me after the flood in 2013 the other night. That rabbit hole then took me back to when this whole thing started. Blogging helps me. It’s a way for me to process thoughts and feelings to what I always feel is one friend who is just there to listen. No feedback, advice, emotions… just an outlet. I think that’s why it helps me so much. Sure, I could just save it for my journal, but there’s something about putting it here that sets me free from it having any kind of power over me. In my headspace, it’s an actual conversation.

I’m self-aware enough to know how it could come off to some, and that’s okay. They’re entitled to their opinions, and what they feel is really none of my business. But I am going to lay down some ground rules and boundaries before I go on:

  • Please do not badger me for details about anything on social media or via email. Unless we have had a relationship for years, you are not getting any. This isn’t a burn book, and I have no agenda other than to have a sounding board so I don’t go insane. You’re not entitled to get anything from me I’m not willing to share. I am not the only one involved in this, and I am protective of those around me. I don’t profit from this. If you build a narrative from whatever I do or do not post and try to be invasive in my life via harassment of me or other people, you will be dealt with as others have been dealt with. Again, you are not entitled to anything. You do not pay my bills or have a key to my house, so I literally owe you nothing. If taking down an acquaintance or stranger on the internet is your idea of a hobby, that’s problematic.

Ok! With that out of the way, if you didn’t hear me talk about this on my podcast a couple of weeks ago, let me bring you up to speed. I’m not doing the entire story, because we’d be here all day. There’s enough in the archives of this site and the podcast to get the origin story.

The situation with my ex and my children has only escalated over the last couple of years, and over this last calendar year, his main mission in life has been to erase me from my kids’ lives and find every other possible way to punish me. I took a passive approach in the short-term while getting my ducks in a row for the long term. I cannot heal and grow while being constantly abused through extortion and my children being used for leverage, so I took a step back to plan and prepare. I have been mum about this plan, and I will continue to be. However, Mother’s Day proved that things need to be dealt with much faster than I had planned. The mask slipped and what I saw was not okay. The only reason a parent cuts off contact is to protect their narrative and secrets. The insight I got made this an acute situation, so I had to act immediately.

Now, you can’t just ‘storm the castle’ in these situations. Especially when you’re dealing with someone who escalates very quickly and has a very ‘nothing to lose’ outlook. They will scorch the earth. They will hurt anyone and everyone that threatens their control and power. The SECOND accountability starts to come down, you have painted a target on your back and a target on everyone around you. Close friends have been publicly accused of unspeakable things in the past that never happened, but you can’t unring that bell. It is way more complex than many people think. Accountability for the perpetrator creates intense danger to the victim. That’s why I have maintained that a distant mother is better than a childhood of chaos and a potentially dead mother.

I have chosen to handle this by moving back to Chicago. I will split my time between living in Chicago and working in Atlanta. The last time I tried to handle this situation from Atlanta, I got exhausted and made deals I wouldn’t normally have made because I simply wanted to stop the bleeding. There was entirely too much emotional distress going around, so I cried, “Uncle!” and compromised on things I shouldn’t have. I learned from this, and know what not to do now. It would also serve to put all of us back in the same damaging situation. I have to go back so I can have things enforced.

This decision was not made lightly, and quite frankly, it fills me with dread. I am terrified. Another reason why I want to blog again is to maintain my visibility. Being visible in the past was my biggest asset, because eyes and ears are important. My permanent restraining order lapsed because I was no longer an Illinois resident and I had not been physically threatened in Georgia. The second accountability starts coming down, it will be akin to signing my own death warrant. Safety will be my full time job. Just because I post a picture taken in Chicago doesn’t mean I’m in Chicago, ya dig?

Abusers thrive on creating chaos. It’s their form of control. A lot of eggs are having to break to make this omelette and there are days I am overcome with grief over the decisions I am forced to make now. I have to separate my three elderly dogs. Two of them are in the end stages of their lives. One requires a lot of one on one care I cannot alone provide her. These dogs kept me alive during the last four years because I had to get out of bed every morning to take care of them, and now I am consumed with sadness because I feel like I have failed them. They are an example of the collateral damage I speak of in this. These decisions are being forced on me because there always has to be a form of abuse somewhere. In order for me to fight back, I can’t be overburdened like I was before. I have to have a simple, singular focus which cannot happen spinning full plates.

This will also financially devastate me. While I’m hopeful for a quick compromise that is fair and in the best interests of my kids, again, the goal will be to ruin and exhaust me if history is any indication. The legal bills alone will be staggering, two homes aren’t cheap, travel isn’t cheap, safety isn’t cheap, and children aren’t cheap. I have to maintain my work in Atlanta, I don’t have a choice right now. I will also have to side hustle big time in Chicago. One thing I am thankful for this time around, is that I am not relying on anyone to help, so I don’t feel obligated to take advice or make decisions that don’t feel right to me, because I feel like I owe someone. There also won’t be the scramble of find a job, find a house, etc. But it will be Brokesville for a long time, slinging beers at age 40, and staying up all night doing freelance hustle in addition to my day job and current writing projects. I’m no stranger to this form of financial abuse, and if it bankrupts me… so be it. It’s just money. You can always make more money. The kids are priceless.

My relationships will suffer. Distance can become weary, as can the constant drama of this situation. My inner circle gets as exhausted as I do. Tempers flair. Resentment builds. Especially when you’re bracing yourself for the typical destructive patterns of someone actively trying to sabotage everything and everyone around you. When things start to escalate, you want to match that energy. It’s a normal human response.

So all of that to say, I’m scared, angry, heartbroken, tired, and sometimes paralyzed by all of it. I am trying to harness the anger because it keeps me productive, and exhaustion leads to apathy for me. If I seem overly aggro sometimes, I have to be. Believe it or not, I am a ‘walk away’ kind of girl. Mostly because I see no point in all of this. I don’t want anything from my ex. I don’t want some unholy war because there’s literally nothing to win. There’s no reason why the kids can’t split their time between their parents, and then their parents live their own lives outside of that. I can’t be inherently angry about it, because I truly don’t understand how people can feed on feelings like that for years on end and not get tired of it. Like, the dead horse you’ve been flogging eventually decomposes and your back hurts, right?

Anyway, I will have my good days and bad. I will have moments I will feel like I am going to die from stress, and moments that give me hope. There will be times I frustrate you because I have to be very vague or I’m stuck on stupid about something. Hi, I’m human.

And if you’re one of those people who want to be invasive and insert yourself into this by justifying that you have every right to do so because, “I put it out there,” how about you look within and examine your lack of healthy boundaries. Clutch your pearls and concern troll somewhere else. The people with actual power in this situation will be the ones who determine the outcome, not your creepy and weird over investment.

It’s been a really hard four years in this arena, but I’m glad it happened because even though my body is telling me it feels the same, it really is totally different this time.

It’s all about the long game, people.

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Jennifer Gulbrandsen