A Dream of Swords and Words

On a bitter cold February morning in 1995 I awoke in a cold sweat from a dream. At the time, I was living in Juneau, Alaska and was going through the world’s worse divorce and child custody battle. The attorney I had hired did not know what she was doing and had only succeeded in digging me into a deep hole. The future was bleak. Patricia, my ex-wife and mother of our two children, was successfully dismantling my life and dreams piece by piece. Sometime in 1994 I had read the DSM-IV’s criteria describing Borderline Personality Disorder and those criteria fit Patricia to a T.

For over five years Patricia had subjected me to every form of psychological, emotional, financial, social and familial abuse ever conceived by the human mind. Her entire life could be summarized in one word: deceit. As a result of Patricia’s relentless campaign of distortion, I had lost everything. The properties I owned were gone. My old friends disappeared. People who saw me on the street crossed to the other side to avoid eye contact with me because they believed all the vicious lies Patricia was spreading about me throughout Juneau, a community of 30,000. I had gone from being the youngest person ever elected to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly to being a social pariah and persona non grata.

But for my two children, ages five and 2 ½, I could have walked away years before. But I could not walk away because, before they were born, I made an oath to the universe that if the universe gave me children who were born healthy, whole and with a gift or talent of some kind, I would do everything humanly possible to help them reach their human potential. That oath was sacred, inviolate, unalterable. I endured because in the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was God. I gave my word.

In my dream I was an ancient warrior, alone in a desert wilderness. I was young and athletic, watchful and vigilant, naked except for a loin cloth and a sword. It was unbearably hot and I was viciously thirsty. I was walking down a road of gold 25 feet wide. Every now and again, out of the corner of my eye (“I”), I would catch a glimpse of reptilian tails sticking out from behind rocks and boulders. Yet every time I looked, the tails (“tales”, “stories”, “excuses”) would disappear. I walked until the golden road came to an abrupt end. On my left was a huge boulder and, as I reached the end of the road, I looked to my left and I saw, behind the boulder (“bolder”) my daughter and son, Elke and Orion.

They looked so forlorn, frightened, alone, neglected, filthy, worn out, hapless and helpless. Then they saw me. I could see by the looks on their faces that their father, their hero, had arrived to save them. I walked over and scooped up my son and held him in my left arm. He leaned back slightly and looked me in the eye (“I”). I could see in its face and eyes all the defeats, subjugation, abuse, pain, loneliness, and suffering he had endured. Without a word passing between us, he knew I would die for him if I had to. With my right (“just, righteous, correct,”) sword (“words = sword”) hand, I took Elke by her hand and she looked up at me with a smile filled with relief and hope. She felt no fear or doubt, her trust was unblemished.

I turned to walk back up the road of gold, but to my great fright, it was gone. Where the road had been, as far as the eye could see, was one ridgeline after another rising higher and higher. It was then that I realized the road to hell is paved with gold, and that the reason the demons did not attack to me before was because they knew that, once I reached Elke and Orion, I could not use my sword to defend them or myself. With two children in tow, the chances of surviving seemed impossible. I had no water. All I knew was that I had to start walking. Time was running out.

It was 4:00 AM when I awoke from that dream. By 7:00 AM I had made a decision. The hardest decision I have ever had to make in my life.

Because the law is an ass, to trigger the court’s jurisdiction to review the custody and visitation order that was then in effect, I had to create a “substantial change in circumstances”. Although I had 50-50 custody of Elke and Orion at the time, every minute they were with their mother was a minute they were being psychologically maimed. That is the nature of Borderline Personality Disorder. Every Borderline’s modus operandi is to totally and completely subjugate others to their will by any means necessary.

After 15 years of building a life in Juneau from scratch, I resolved to leave Juneau and return to Los Angeles--without Elke or Orion. In June 1995, I boarded a ferry bound for Prince Rupert, BC and from there, I drove to Los Angeles.

After a couple of months, I filed a motion with the court in Juneau seeking primary custody of Elke and Orion. The court scheduled a custody hearing in August 1996. The 14 months that elapsed from the day I left Juneau until the child custody hearing in August 1996 were dark, torturous days. The chances that the court would award me primary custody were slim to none. After all, I was the move-away parent.

Juliet’s despairing words to the friar rang in my mind, “Come weep with me--past hope, past care, past help!”

No pain in life is greater than that of a father who is powerless to protect his children. The need to protect is part of every male’s DNA. It is instinctual and compelling, unrelenting and unforgiving. I suffered unendurable agony every day for 14 months. As did Elke and Orion. In my agony I realized that a man without a dream is a dead man walking. I needed to dream a new dream. The old dream of wife, home and family was dead. Chances were I would never be allowed to have a relationship with Elke and Orion. Long before I walked in to the custody hearing in August 1996, I had planned a new life--a life without the two people I held most dear and who were, for all intents and purposes, my life.

The August 1996 hearing lasted five days. At the end, the Court awarded me sole legal and primary physical custody of both Elke and Orion. Within a week, they were with me in Los Angeles. I believe with my whole heart that the court intuited that I was either going to be allowed to be a father or Elke and Orion would be among the tens of thousands of children every year whose fathers are removed from their lives like shoes that no longer fit. The door slammed shut in Patricia’s face and was locked forever. Elke is now 26 years old and Orion is 23.

To say I risked it all is an understatement. I am not proud that I left my children in Juneau knowing they would be psychologically maimed and that no one would be there to bear the brunt of the Borderline Anti-Mother’s abuse and neglect, but men have to make hard decisions and men have to take calculated risks. Those risks and decisions come at great personal cost and you cannot know until the past is beyond redemption if the outcome merited the cost.

Here is what I know. I led in battle to give my children a chance at happiness. When I had nothing left to give, I sacrificed that which I did not have. When I could no longer be strong for myself, I was strong for others. I kept my vow to the universe to do whatever was humanly possible to help my children reach their human potential. I learned that all hate is self hate. Above all, I was my word: Nothing and nobody stood between my children and me–not even the mother of my children–because I said so.

Nothing else matters now: Not the pain or the loss of 10 years of my life; not the PTSD; not pathetic Patricia or her torture. I have forgiven Patricia completely and remember her only as she was before she turned into a vampiric Borderline aided by her coven of witches and sycophants. Over time, I healed and the past faded forever into the past where it belongs.

Most of all, I know without a scintilla of doubt that somehow I, Don Quixote de la Mancha, a man scorned and covered in scars, marched into hell and then out again with two innocents in tow–with nothing but an impossible dream.