Where is my firstborn?

Over the holidays, I tried to contact my son Cameron. I called him a couple of times, but was unable to speak with him. My ex-wife, Tara, told me that he was rarely at home, that he is at that age where a boy is very active. Cameron is 17 years old and has been “at that age” for quite awhile. On numerous occasions throughout the past several years, I have called him at various times of the day. They have it set up there where someone has to input their telephone number to get through. I always have done this and almost always have had their answering machine pick up. Sometimes I left a message. Sometimes I didn’t. On the rare occasion that there was an answer, it was my ex-wife on the other end, telling me the same story, that Cameron wasn’t home.

Each time Tara answered the phone there was an accompanying request for money, over and above that which I already pay for monthly child support. When I have tried to direct the conversations back to my problem of contacting Cameron, she quickly ends them. I have asked Tara to help out with this problem, to get Cameron to commit to a time when I can call him, but she gives excuses why this cannot be done.

I’m not too sure that she isn’t the instigator in this bad situation in the first place. Certainly, Tara hasn’t lifted a finger to ensure that there is contact between Cameron and I, let alone complying with the liberal visitation schedule set up in the courts years ago. On the contrary, my ex-wife has set up obstacle after obstacle between Cameron and me. When he was young, she enrolled him in various extracurricular activities over the summer months when the court had ordered her to give him over to me for visitation. Then, she would use that situation she herself created to accuse me of not caring about Cameron, because I wanted to pull him out of the various summer programs so I could spend time with him (and, perhaps, be involved with similar programs in my area through the visitation months).

Throughout the years, this went on and on. Tara did everything she could to keep Cameron from me, even though it was frequently in direct violation of court orders. So, why didn’t I sue her for custody? Well, I was in the process of doing that by having my lawyer file two stipulations against her. The details of those stipulations is best left to a separate entry, but they fall along the same lines as what I have been writing here, with the addition of evidence showing Tara was unfit to be Cameron’s mother.

I feel 100 percent confident that I could have taken Cameron away from his mother to live with me at that time. There was more than enough proof to show that Tara was unfit to be his mother. So, I let the proceedings begin. Tara felt the pressure from that first hearing. Not having a valid answer to the judge’s inquiry as to why she wasn’t allowing me to see my son, Tara was ordered to comply with the visitation schedule immediately or lose custody.

The very next day, I was finally spending time with my son again. I remember how happy I was to be with him after such a long battle with his mother. In that long dry spell, I had conjured up all sorts of nightmares about what Tara was putting him through. One has merely to read the horrid accounts to see why I was feeling this way. I intend to backtrack and give a detailed accounting of each and every piece of information I learned about Tara and her situation, mostly through my lawyer’s private investigator. There was too much to go into in this entry. However, I will say that the straw that broke the camel’s back was when I learned that Tara was a suspect in a robbery at a Costco store.

Many of the problems with the law side of the story had been coming from her husband, as he was a convicted criminal and had spent time in prison. (On one occasion he was thrown in jail for having beaten Tara up in a bar.) During that referenced visitation period, Cameron told me how he and his stepfather, Scott, had outran the police in Scott’s truck. Cameron was emotionally shaken up from the event and I knew it wouldn’t be the last time this sort of thing happened. One thing that did encourage me, however, was the fact that Scott told Cameron to keep the occurrences secret from Tara. That showed me that Tara was still mentally stable enough to decipher right from wrong, as she would be upset at Scott for having placed Cameron in such a bad situation. This was the beginning to the end of the custody suit.

Twice more during the pursuit of custody of Cameron, I was allowed to see him. Also, I was able to speak to him on the telephone. These connections with him caused my anxiety over his situation to lessen. There were issues regarding how he was being raised; but, because of the restored line of communication with him, they seemed to be not as bad as I had previously imagined. Consequently, I dropped the custody suit and settled on a court-ordered liberal visitation schedule. Little did I know that Tara would treat that order with indifference and go back to her old tricks of doing anything and everything to keep me from contacting my son.

I often wonder what life would have been like had I continued the suit and won custody of Cameron. There is no doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t have won the suit. There was simply too much proof against Tara as an unfit mother to justify her keeping him. The best she could have received from the deal was a visitation schedule with Cameron, and a conservative one at that. It would have been similar to the one that her husband Scott received when he divorced Tara a few years after this. He could only see their two children under constant supervision by a case worker and had to do it in an area of a government building designated for such things.

Maybe I should have pursued custody of Cameron. I feel that I was always a good father to him, aside from the fact that I was a terrible husband to his mother. Therein lays the real reason I didn’t force the issue.

After Tara and I separated, I immediately had a rush of guilt that enveloped me. The reality that I had been a horrible husband to Tara hit me like a ton of bricks. Throughout the following years the guilt grew stronger. The fact that Tara blew everything out of proportion didn’t help matters. She was running around telling everyone that I was an abusive husband, that I beat her up on several occasions and threatened to kill her. This was entirely false. I was abusive to her, no doubt about it, but it was emotional abuse, not physical.

Oh, there were times when we both got a bit abusive with each other, where throwing hateful comments at each other turned to plates, dishes, and even pictures hanging on the wall. There were even times where we both came close to blows, pushing, kicking, and even slapping one another. However, I never hit Tara with a closed fist nor did I threaten to kill her. I’m not trying to justify my actions here, for there is no excuse for the bad way I treated Tara, none whatsoever, and I am deeply ashamed for my misbehavior during that period, but the truth is that she was as much to blame for our demise as a married couple as was I.

Again, I am in no way trying to justify my actions at that time. Yes, Tara knew what buttons to push, and often pushed them, but I had a choice whether to get set off by that or not. Unfortunately, I seldom made the right choice. Turning the other cheek was just not in my nature at that time. Since then, I have changed completely. My over-bloated ego of that time left me almost immediately after our separation. I tried to tell Tara that, but it was too late Her mind was well on its way to painting a mixed-up convoluted picture of me, portraying me as a horrific monster and the cause of all her problems from that period on. In some strange way, I guess it helps her cope with life now.

Because I was feeling such great remorse at that time, I questioned my own ability to be a good parent. Once I discovered that Cameron wasn’t being abused and was relatively safe, I dropped the custody suit. I rationalized that I, too, was an unfit parent and probably wouldn’t have been able to raise Cameron any better than Tara. The years of her condemnation of me had taken their toll. I was no longer thinking clearly. I went from a know-it-all to a know-nothing. I couldn’t see that Tara’s accusations of me were unfounded.

The seed of guilt quickly grew, until it encompassed my whole soul. I found it difficult to continue on, believing myself to be a complete failure, as Tara had often told me I was. With this downtrodden attitude and the knowledge that Cameron was not in jeopardy as I had thought he was, I decided to drop the custody battle.

Throughout the years, Tara’s opinion of me has only gotten worse. I imagine she sees movies or reads books from time to time about physically abusive husbands and tags on a little more dirt to that horrid picture she has painted of me. I’m pretty certain that she wants to believe that I represent all the abusive husbands in the world. Most assuredly, her mind has altered the reality of the past into some frightful nightmare. I have no idea why she has done this. Perhaps it is to help her avoid taking responsibility for her own actions. Or, perhaps it is easier just to view the past as black or white, with no grey.

The end result of all this turmoil has been the loss of my firstborn son. Throughout the years, my contact with him has been less and less. This is through no fault of my own, as I have attempted to get a hold of him on countless occasions. My actions have been in vain, as I was even unable to talk to him on the phone during this last holiday season. His mother, Tara, answered the phone and said those all-too-familiar words, “Cameron is busy.”

Yes, he is a typical 17 year-old boy, out and about the town, involved with several activities. That I understand. But what I don’t understand, and I’ve related this to Tara on more than one occasion, is why his mother cannot arrange a time with him to be at home for my phone call. I mean, it’s just a phone call! I have long ago given up hope of actual visitation with him, the court-ordered visitation Tara has circumvented all these years. I’d be happy to just talk to him at this point. Obviously, to Tara it isn’t worth the effort.

She has clearly demonstrated that he doesn’t want me to contact him. Frankly, to her I am just a possible additional source of income. That is all. Well, that possibility really doesn’t exist, for she will receive nothing from me except the court-ordered support. I also give Cameron birthday and Christmas gifts. But, that is all. I hate to say this, but sometimes I feel like I’m paying for a car that I am not allowed to drive. I know he is a human being and I do love him very much, but I can’t help but think about all the money I have given to Tara for Cameron’s welfare and the handful of times that she has allowed me to see him.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him. It was a big black mark on my past, one that should have never taken place had mature people thought with clear heads. I let him down and I will forever feel the guilt of doing that. I still love him very much. I wish things had gone differently and it pains me to think about it, but I often do. Hopefully, he will try to contact me someday and possibly begin some sort of relationship anew.

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