I Need Blue

A Heartbreaking Tale of Parental Alienation: Mel & James

May 01, 2023 Jennifer Lee/ Mel/James Season 3 Episode 10
A Heartbreaking Tale of Parental Alienation: Mel & James
I Need Blue
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I Need Blue
A Heartbreaking Tale of Parental Alienation: Mel & James
May 01, 2023 Season 3 Episode 10
Jennifer Lee/ Mel/James

Mel is a survivor of parental alienation,  and her husband James has witnessed her struggles and triumphs.

Parental alienation is a strategy whereby one parent intentionally displays to the child unjustified negativity aimed at the other parent. The purpose of this strategy is to damage the child's relationship with the other parent and to turn the child's emotions against them. It's a game of manipulation, brainwashing, isolation and the pawn in the middle is a child. 

 The details of Mel's story are heart wrenching, especially when you learn she went years without seeing her kids who lived only 20 minutes away. Mel eventually remarried and joining us in this conversation is her husband James. He is going to share his emotional and at times painful perspective of watching his wife cope and struggle to see her boys. Mel never gave up hope and recognized that as hard as it was, stepping back was the answer.  Together we take steps forward to create awareness surrounding the painful realities of parental alienation.

 "Witness the journey of a mother who won't give up on her sons, even when the odds are stacked against her."

Connect with me:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ineedbluepodcast/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/needbluepodcast
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp1q8SfA_hEXRJ4EaizlW8Q
Website: https://ineedblue.net/

Purchase  my book: Why I Survived:  How sharing my story helped me heal from dating abuse, armed robbery, abduction, and other forms of trauma by Jennifer Lee
https://whyisurvived.com/

5.0 out of 5 stars What an inspiring book! 

Reviewed in the United States on March 11, 2023

I  could not put this book down. Jen's detailed stories show  how easy it  is to fall into an abusive relationship.  More important,  she was  strong enough to get out. She is living proof that when life  gives you  lemons, you can make lemonade. This is a must read for anyone  who is  currently in an abusive relationship or has been able to leave an   abusive relationship.
I look forward to following her podcast - I Need Blue.
Thank you, Jen, for sharing your experiences and giving hope to those in similar situations. 

Loved this episode? Leave us a review and rating here: https://podcastsconnect.apple.com/my-podcasts/show/i-need-blue/cf77fdb3-396e-4c1c-82aa-c2c3f6d1eee2/ratings-and-reviews

The background music is written, performed and produced exclusively by Char Good.
https://chargood.com/home

Learn 2 Podcast PDF now available. Download this 33 page informational packet today! https://ineedblue.net/learn-2-podcast-1

Support the Show.

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Mel is a survivor of parental alienation,  and her husband James has witnessed her struggles and triumphs.

Parental alienation is a strategy whereby one parent intentionally displays to the child unjustified negativity aimed at the other parent. The purpose of this strategy is to damage the child's relationship with the other parent and to turn the child's emotions against them. It's a game of manipulation, brainwashing, isolation and the pawn in the middle is a child. 

 The details of Mel's story are heart wrenching, especially when you learn she went years without seeing her kids who lived only 20 minutes away. Mel eventually remarried and joining us in this conversation is her husband James. He is going to share his emotional and at times painful perspective of watching his wife cope and struggle to see her boys. Mel never gave up hope and recognized that as hard as it was, stepping back was the answer.  Together we take steps forward to create awareness surrounding the painful realities of parental alienation.

 "Witness the journey of a mother who won't give up on her sons, even when the odds are stacked against her."

Connect with me:
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ineedbluepodcast/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/needbluepodcast
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCp1q8SfA_hEXRJ4EaizlW8Q
Website: https://ineedblue.net/

Purchase  my book: Why I Survived:  How sharing my story helped me heal from dating abuse, armed robbery, abduction, and other forms of trauma by Jennifer Lee
https://whyisurvived.com/

5.0 out of 5 stars What an inspiring book! 

Reviewed in the United States on March 11, 2023

I  could not put this book down. Jen's detailed stories show  how easy it  is to fall into an abusive relationship.  More important,  she was  strong enough to get out. She is living proof that when life  gives you  lemons, you can make lemonade. This is a must read for anyone  who is  currently in an abusive relationship or has been able to leave an   abusive relationship.
I look forward to following her podcast - I Need Blue.
Thank you, Jen, for sharing your experiences and giving hope to those in similar situations. 

Loved this episode? Leave us a review and rating here: https://podcastsconnect.apple.com/my-podcasts/show/i-need-blue/cf77fdb3-396e-4c1c-82aa-c2c3f6d1eee2/ratings-and-reviews

The background music is written, performed and produced exclusively by Char Good.
https://chargood.com/home

Learn 2 Podcast PDF now available. Download this 33 page informational packet today! https://ineedblue.net/learn-2-podcast-1

Support the Show.

Mel and James

Jen: [00:00:00] How is parental alienation defined? It is a strategy whereby one parent intentionally displaces to the child, unjustified negativity is aimed at the other parent. The purpose of this strategy is to damage the child's relationship with the other parent and to turn the child's emotions against them. It's a game of manipulation, brainwashing, isolation, and the paw in the middle is a child.

How sad. The details of Mel's story are heart-wrenching, especially when you learn. She went years without seeing her kids who lived only 20 minutes away. Mel eventually remarried, and joining us in this conversation is her husband James. He will share his emotional and at times, painful perspective of watching his wife [00:01:00] cope and struggle to see her boys.

Mel never gave up hope and recognized that as hard as it was stepping back was the answer. Welcome Melon James to the I Need Blue Podcast. We take steps together to create awareness surrounding the painful realities of parental alienation. Thank you for having us. You're so welcome. Mel, your letter was very open, honest, and vulnerable.

I always say to my guests, you can share what you are comfortable sharing. It's a safe space, and it's no different for you today. I wanna begin with you talking about when you met Brad; who is your children's dad? Since we are talking about parental alienation here. And kind of talk about how you met him and a little bit about that relationship.[00:02:00] 

Mel: Yes. I was bartending, and he came in after work one day and he started to become a regular customer, and we just developed a relationship from there and it wasn't too long and I moved in with him, and you know, we dated for a little while and then I moved in with him into his apartment. I think it was about six months in, I started seeing his ugly side and learned what a bully he is, was he loved to tell me stories about high school.

Well, this person hated me because I made fun of, I made fun of her shoes. She had red shoes, so I called her Ronald McDonald and oh gosh, she hated me and he thought that was hilarious. Another guy. He said in gym class, I pissed in his boots. He had the guy wore cowboy boots all the time and all he hates me.

Well, [00:03:00] coincidentally, this guy wound up working for my dad years later, and when I mentioned it to him, he says, oh yeah, he did that and I, I can't stand the guy. So he was a bully. Yeah, he was mean when he drank. 

Jen: I What type of abuse was there? The mental, emotional, did it turn physical? 

Mel: Got a little physical, shoving a lot of yelling, name calling, belittling me.

Jen: You stayed with Brad and you ended up having a son. Can you tell us about that? He 

Mel: pressured me into it. He talked me into getting off of birth control and I did, and in no time I was pregnant with my first son and physically I had. A great pregnancy. I never got sick. Nothing swelled except my stomach.

I didn't even get stretch marks, but mentally I was a wreck. What did your 

Jen: life look like? What did you feel emotionally, 

Mel: Isolated? [00:04:00] I slowly lost more and more friends. I saw my family less and less. We spent the majority of our free time with. His family, pretty much. One of my only friends was his sister.

She had a son, and so I think he wanted one too. 

Jen: So like cousins that you'd have cousin. And how old were you at this 

Mel: time? I was 26. 26. Okay. It was terrifying. And I knew nothing about babies Really. So I read books. I was on antidepressants. Through that. Both of my pregnancies actually, just because I, I struggled with low self-esteem, you know, self-loathing.

You add the hormones in there and it exacerbates it. After I had my first son, it was difficult. Once I [00:05:00] did get a job, he harassed me so much at work. Calling and calling and calling and calling. That I would either have to quit the job or I got fired. He worked days cause I was working at night and he'd come home and drink, call me 

Jen: and bug me.

Not an ideal situation. Let's fast forward four years. He decides it's time for you all to have another child. And after all of the postpartum depression and just living with his behaviors and being his caretaker too, you. Didn't really wanna take on that responsibility of another child at that time, understandably so.

Mel: I got talked into having another baby and he also decided that we should be married and quote, proposed to me while I was stirring a pot of boiling pasta, I wound up in tears and they were not happy tears, but I thought, you know, this [00:06:00] is what I'm supposed to do and I'm gonna try like hell to make it work.

Again, very healthy pregnancy. Same thing. Physically. Great. Mentally, this was this time, it was worse. I cried every day, every single day to the point, I don't know why, but I would get nosebleeds. 

Jen: So you were having physical reactions from the emotions that you were trying to, to deal with? Yes. Yeah. I know you talked about isolation.

So where is your family in this, your mom and your dad? I mean like holidays and stuff. This is their grandbabies. Was that allowed? It 

Mel: was. They weren't that far away and they got to see the the boys. But I'll never forget when I told my mom I was pregnant with my second son. Actually, I didn't tell her. I had my oldest give her a gift and it said to grandma and papa from Big Brother and that's.

[00:07:00] How I told her I was having another baby, and she kind of looked at me and then she said, well, you're on your own with this one. That's stung. I told her later on in life that it was kind of a mean thing to say, but it 

Jen: sounds like for you during that time, you felt like she was the one person you could turn to for support and sometimes we just need someone to listen.

She kind of shut the door on that. Let me ask you the infamous question when it comes to those of us who. Have experienced dating abuse. Why did you stay? That is the question people ask, why did you stay? The more we share and the more we talk about that question, yeah, then maybe people will start to understand and not ask us that question.

Does that make sense? 

Mel: Yes. And I journaled a lot, and when I journaled, I put it like in the form of a letter to my sons. I [00:08:00] wrote, I knew I had to be a good wife. I, I couldn't leave their dad. It just had to work. I stayed with them for them. The reason that you're not supposed to stay with somebody that's abusive, you know, I'm gonna make it work for the kids.

You know, looking back, it was a mistake. Going over. This again, has really opened my eyes. I'm looking at it from a whole new perspective. I didn't realize what an emotional train wreck. I, I really was. I wasn't in a good place with him. And that's 

Jen: okay. We go through things to get where we are today, and I really commend you for having the courage to reach out to me and share everything that you did in.

Just feeling the courage alone in your words, was enough for me to know that I needed to speak with you. 

Mel: Well, thank you for listening. Just know there's a lot of moms [00:09:00] and dads out there that are dealing with the same thing. A lot of people think it's more the dads. No, it, it's us moms too. 

Jen: Yes. James, what are you feeling?

As you see Mel, sit there because I can see the, the emotions on her face and the tears in her eyes, and I know you can too. What are you feeling right now? 

James: I don't like seeing her relive it because it was hard for her to go through. It was hard for me to hear about and you know, we knew each other, you know, dated a little in high school and stuff.

And she was always this larger than life, happy, strong person. And to hear about how he more or less broke her is it's hard and it's hard to see her relive it and get emotional again. It's like opening a wound that I'm very proud of [00:10:00] the person that she is today and how hard she's worked to become that person.

Jen: And thank you for being here today with 

Mel: her. And I knew I would choke up at some point. I, I knew it would've happened, and I was like, you need to be here so you can like talk when I can't talk. He's seen it a lot over the years. He seen me fall apart, watch me have panic attacks. It got bad. How all this affected our marriage.

It, it almost destroyed our marriage. 

Jen: Leaving an abusive relationship is very scary, very dangerous. How did you 

Mel: get out? I don't know where I was. I, I came home and I went to go upstairs to go to bed and he blocked the stairway and, and I said, I just want to go to bed, and he pushed me and I fell down the stairs that, that's not okay.

The final straw was when he took my sons and put them in his truck and they were crying and [00:11:00] screaming for me, and I'm beating on the window while he's backing his truck out of the driveway. And I was like that. That's it cuz it, it was scaring the hell out of my kids and they were little. My oldest was I four, but that was the last straw I filed for divorce.

My mom took me to really good attorney. The first time we met her, he called like 14 times because he didn't know where I was. And he like, he had to know where I was like every second of the day. That's the control thing. She was just dumbfounded. She's like, wow, you got, you gotta get out of there. And I said, yeah, well, I know, you know, my mom encouraged that too.

And I lived there for a while and we stayed in separate bedrooms. That was all fine and good for a while, and then he went and got his own apartment. Then I had to figure out where I was gonna live. 

Jen: And so [00:12:00] in the divorce papers, how is custody set up at that point in your state? Is the law that you have to live a part for one year before the divorce can be final?

It's six months. Six months, okay. Yeah. Originally 

James: you had a 50 50 

Mel: custody in primary placement. Yes. We had a parenting plan. 50 50 custody. I don't believe there was any child support, but before the divorce was final, he talked me into firing my attorney and representing myself. I was supposed to get half of, you know, this, that and the other thing, like half of his retirement pension, he put the guilt trip on me.

I earned that. And I represented myself and I really got screwed. 

Jen: Let's fast forward, what, A couple of years when you met 

Mel: James. We go back 20 plus years. I had a terrible crush on James in high school and he knew it, but he would not take me cause [00:13:00] he had a girlfriend. He went his way and got married. I went my way and got married and right around the time, MySpace was the big social media thing.

I get this message. He heard I was divorced, he was going through a divorce and here's my number. And so I called and said, do you know who this is? And the time he was giving his four year old daughter a bath. 

Jen: It's funny how things come back around, isn't it? Yeah. Yeah. It really is. So now when you connect again with James, let's talk a little bit about now the situation with your kids and Brad.

Shortly 

Mel: before James and I started dating, he started dating somebody as well. She had recently gone through a divorce herself, but she latched onto my kids in no time. They were referring to her as Mama Vicky. My oldest was four. My youngest, he was one. I had my own apartment, however, [00:14:00] I was not really in a good place.

I had pretty much hit rock bottom. I was binge drinking, I was bartending, you know, which meant being out till two, three in the morning, or not coming home until two, three in the morning. I had begun hanging around with some shady people and Brad had moved in with Vicky and he contacted me at one point.

And said, well, I got these papers and led me to believe that they were for primary placement. I didn't know any better. And I thought, okay, I'm not in a good place. I've moved a couple of times now. I can't seem to get stability as far as a home goes. And he said, well, you sign these papers. And I thought, okay, well they have stability.

I went and signed the papers. And it was a lot of legal language that I didn't understand, but I didn't know I was signing [00:15:00] papers for him to have sole legal custody, and that was, aside from marrying him, that was probably the biggest mistake I've ever made because it, it just went downhill from there. So sole 

Jen: legal custody, how does that play in then to visitation?

Mel: We have the upper hand. An example is shortly after James and I started seeing each other, it was my youngest son's second birthday. James had come over, we were gonna have dinner. He brought his daughter and so we were gonna, you know, do the birthday thing. And we had bought my youngest this tricycle that turned into like a big wheel or whatever.

And he was all excited when he opened it and, Then out of nowhere, Brad decided he wanted the boys back at his house. And I said, no, it's, it's, it's my time. It's, it's in the court order. He called the police. The police came over and my, my sons being [00:16:00] as young as they were, Saw Brad and Vicky pull up and they thought, you know, it was time to go with them.

They, they didn't know any better. And I'm trying to explain to this officer, no, here's the court order. I'm showing him the court order. It says right here, and he's. Well, he has sole legal custody, so he's got the final say away went. My son's and I slept in my, my son's bedroom and just sobbed all night.

It, it was horrible. Right before my sons left, I was getting him ready to leave and my oldest, well, mom, why are you crying? And I said, I said, because I don't know when I'll see you again. And that got to be a common thing that I didn't know when I was gonna see him again. It was then that I figured out real quick how much power he had with that sole legal custody.

I was powerless. 

James: He liked to call her on the way, on her way to pick up the kids and tell [00:17:00] her, I changed my mind. You can't see 'em. And she goes, sometimes 2, 3, 4 weeks at a time before she'd get to see her kids. 

Jen: James, what was that like for you as as a parent as well to see? All of this going on. 

James: I was angry.

I have a very good relationship with my ex. I was just gonna point that out. And even though we had, you know, certain visitations and I could see my daughter whenever I want, it just didn't make sense to me because in my eyes it was the children being punished more than it was her. It was hard for her, but they didn't know any better.

Taking a parent away from. Shoulder and as it's so wrong to me that you. Anybody could do that. How could they do that? Even if you hate the person, if they're a good person and they treat the kids well, there's no reason they shouldn't be allowed to see their mother. That's when I finally saw her custody order and figured out that we need to do something [00:18:00] about this, and that was enter the lawyers.

Mel: That's when the court battles begin. 

Jen: Mm-hmm. And this lasted for, I think you said 13 years. Is that correct? 

Mel: Yes. The battle began Brad decided to switch the weekends. We would have my boys one weekend and his daughter the following weekend. We, we never got the kids on the same weekend, so I had to go to court for that.

I got it. It was a battle. 

James: We had to get a whole new custody arrangement written up, which he still refused to follow. He was held in contempt multiple times because he wouldn't let you have the kids. He just still did what he wanted. 

Jen: So you had it changed to where he didn't have sole custody? 

Mel: No, he always 

Jen: did.

He always did. You were trying to change the visitation and get it on paper. So there was accountability 

Mel: [00:19:00] and we did, and we wound up having all three of our kids on the same weekends. But Brad and Vicky did everything they could to ruin pretty much every weekend we had with them. They show up early.

James: Yeah. And Okay, come home. They call repeatedly demanding to talk to 

Mel: them. Yeah. This woman told people that these were her sons in, she was their biological mother. If I came into the picture, like in public or something, she had to explain that I'm their birth mother. Like I said, looking back at it now, I, I'm just shaking my head going, what is wrong with her?

What she more or less replaced me as their mom. That was the hardest part. You know, it's like that got taken away from me. Right. But 

Jen: give yourself credit. You showed up. Oh yeah. You still showed up and you were like, no, no, I am. I am their mom. There are people who would have [00:20:00] been discouraged and perhaps just.

Left the scene and whatever, but no, you fought and you showed up and you were present. Oh yeah. How did your boys react to this? Especially as they got older? 

Mel: They were really confused. I tried to explain to them that that is your stepmother. I'm your mom and they, they got mad at me and I got a severe ass chewing from their father for that.

My visitation got to the point where I got them on Mondays and Wednesdays from four 30 to seven 30. I got 'em for a whopping three hours. And then on the weekends, a lot of times I would go pick 'em up, Hey, how you doing? And they were angry. They did not wanna go with me because they were told. Oh, we're gonna do this, this, this, and this.

And the, the dog is having puppies. Oh, and your cousins are coming over and, oh, we're gonna go camping. You're, you're missing out on this and this. It was [00:21:00] ruined before they even got in my vehicle, and they would misbehave awful. But by the end of the weekend, they were different kids. They behaved and they were happy, and it was all good.

James: And then they'd go home and get yelled at for having fun. Yes. And then they wouldn't want to 

Mel: come again. I found out later on that, yeah, they got interrogated whenever they had been with me for a weekend. Where were you? What did you do? Who were you with? And 

James: they were usually grounded for some reason from something.

Every time they'd show up at our house. And they, well, they were naughty, so they weren't allowed to watch tv. And they were naughty that they weren't. You know, they had to be in bed at a certain time and, and they were terrified that if they didn't, they'd be punished further at their father's 

Mel: house. We got social services called on us.

This is quite the story. I had a, a plastic soup ladle that I kept in the, the bathroom by bathtub so the kids could play with it in bathtub. One day [00:22:00] my youngest was walking around balancing it on his head in, in like the living room or something, and his brother grabbed it off his head and. Walled him over the head and you could hear it crack and naturally his little brother starts hauling cuz it hurt.

Well, James grabs the soup ladle out of, you know, my, my oldest hand and tapped him on the top of the head and said, how do you like it? He just tapped him. It didn't, I know it didn't hurt, but Oh, he started to cry. Oh. He went home and told his dad. And yeah, we got social services called on us. Show out. Yep.

The police showed up and this all happened because he's a non-parent. That's what we were told. Cuz I told him the exact same story. I'm like, he didn't, he didn't like wallop him over the head with it, tapped him on the head and, and one of the social services people. Oh yeah, I get it. I did that. You know that happened.

Me with my sister with a [00:23:00] cereal bowl. 

James: One of the first things they told me is, don't worry, we're not. In trouble. It wasn't a beating, it wasn't a punch or something. It was, it wasn't a beating. It was because it was reported. They had to do a 

Jen: follow up. Do you think Brad was abusive with them as well?

Manipulative, gaslighting, the isolation, obviously keeping them away from you. Oh yeah, 

Mel: I, I know he was, I've heard, I've heard stories verbally, abusive. Yeah, 

Jen: stories. And who do you hear the stories from? 

Mel: My sons, when they were older, little stories would come out here and there. I would dad, dad would wake us up at, you know, four o'clock in the morning to help shovel the snow and.

The dog poop, kennels and clean, clean the dog poop out of the kennels. And, 

James: and the, the, all of the stories were unprompted too. So it was everything that we thought was going on. We found out from them later. It really was. 

Jen: Yeah. In [00:24:00] 2015, what happened that you no longer were able to see them? And how old, how old were they at 

Mel: that time?

They were nine and 13. I went to pick them up from school, which was also a struggle to be able to pick 'em up from school. I had to go to court for that too. I got a court order that I could pick them up from school, and they were nowhere to be found. And I panicked. I freaked out. Where are my sons? I went in the school.

The principal didn't know where they were. The, the secretary didn't know where they were. They called the library. They called here. They called them and I called their dad hysterical, you know, naturally. Cause I didn't know where they were. And he was just as calm as could be, and turns out they hopped on the school bus and wanted to go back to his house and nobody bothered to tell me.

They started to refuse to come over and there's really nothing I could do. You, you can't make your kids want to see you. I had to learn that the hard 

James: [00:25:00] way. The boys had to do counseling. We had to go see the counselor about the boys. Ultimately, the counselor said that there was nothing to show that there was any kind of, he couldn't prove anything, but he knew that they were being fed lines and everything, and the lawyer said it might be just time to.

Step back because if you force them to come, they're just gonna get angrier and let them come when they're ready to. 

Mel: And that's exactly what happened. They a guardian had litem at one point got involved. They told him they would run away if they were forced to come to my house. And it was, at that point I had to step back.

There's nothing else I could do. Like, you can't make your kids want to be with you. 

Jen: Right. Wow. What a tough time. It's hard for me to find one word to actually describe what that must feel like, to be honest with you. But I know this is something really important we wanted to talk about because you never gave up, [00:26:00] and so for you stepping back was not giving up.

It was giving them the opportunity to kind of learn and grow. And you believed that the day would come when they would see the truth? 

Mel: I hoped they would, and I had more than one person. They'll come around, they'll come around, they'll come around, and I, but the waiting there was torture. How long did you wait?

I went without seeing them somewhere around five years. They wanted nothing to do with me. Nothing. Nothing to do with me. Nothing to do with. Any member of my family, nothing. And mind you, where they were living with their father and stepmother was not only 20 minutes away from me where we were living.

They're what? Mile, mile and a half down the road from my childhood home where my parents still live to date. Wow. They went to school in the same town I worked in. I worked at an auto parts store [00:27:00] delivering parts to mechanics in the area, and I figured out when their recess time was and, and if I was out and about delivering parts, I go by the school on.

That was the only way I could see them. I just wanted to catch a glimpse of them or my friends would send me. Pictures of them. That's how I got to see 'em grow up. A lot of times my friends would send me pictures, they're school pictures, I, things like that. 

James: During that time, if they'd have walked up to me on the street, I wouldn't have recognized them.

They 

played 

Mel: soccer. I'd sneak into their games and I'd stay outta sight because I didn't wanna distract them from their performance when they're playing. And I didn't wanna make him uncomfortable, but just, I was like, oh my God, he's gotten so tall. Oh my God, his voice changed and I'm missing all of it. I missed all of it.

I didn't get to potty train them. I didn't get to teach 'em how to tie their shoes. I didn't get to. Teach [00:28:00] 'em how to ride a bike. I missed sporting stuff. Birthdays, Christmases. Mother's Day was hell. Yeah, tho those years were tough and they took their toll on our marriage. And of course, like I said, his daughter was affected.

She watched the whole thing unfold. 

Jen: So where are we at today? 

Mel: Today? They're both back in my life. And how old are they now? My oldest is 21 and my youngest is 17. 17. Senior in high school. And lives with us. And lives with us. It took a while for his brother to come around after a few months of not seeing them way back in like 2015 ish.

I went and saw a psychic, any kind of reassurance I could get, I went to this woman and she knew right away, you know, some, you know, negative energy. I, [00:29:00] and of course I told her, well, yeah, and my, I haven't seen my kids and I completely lost my composure. She told me that. She said, I, I think your oldest, once he gets his driver's license, will probably come around.

And I'll be damned. That's pretty much what happened. After he got his driver's license, he got a hold of me and said he had a quote, had enough. Little by little he started coming around. The first time it happened, I was at a local gas station. I stopped him to grab a bottle of water or something and he was in there.

With his half sister, man, you wanna talk about deer and headlights? Because I made eye contact with him and he said hi. And I, I just froze and I choked. I'm like, hi, how are you? How's school? And just start and lost my composure. I'm like, I'm sorry, I'm sorry I can't [00:30:00] do this. And away to the bathroom I ran.

And I just, to this day, I felt horrible because I, I just, I didn't wanna fall apart in front of him. And then after that he got ahold of me. More and more. He called and I got to talk to him and like I said, one day he said, can you come get me? I've had enough. And I said, I'll be there 20 minutes. And I was there.

Went to court. 

James: Yeah. They gave her temporary custody. He was 17. They said By the time we go through all of the court proceedings, he will have turned 18 and will be. Able to make his own decisions, so we can't force him into a situation where he doesn't want to be. So they just basically gave her custody of the oldest and he 

Mel: moved in.

He was able to be a kid. He was just go, go, go, go, go. And he was so happy. And there was always a pile of kids in our basement and I loved it. It was just so great. 

Jen: [00:31:00] So now, today where is everything with the boys, Brad and his life? Today, 

Mel: Brad and Vicky are going through a very messy divorce and custody battle of their own, which, At one point in my life, I said, man, I, I hope Karma comes around and bites in the ass.

And they feel just a fraction of the hell that I went 

James: through. And now Brad is, he is, she's doing the same thing that he did 

Mel: Uhhuh. So now she's doing the exact same thing. She's trying to convince the little ones, the four kids that they have between them to call someone else. Dad. And he is referred to at their house by his first name, which they also did to me.

My kids referred to me not as mom. Not as mom, Mel. No. And, and now the same thing is happening and, and I know this because [00:32:00] Brad told me this himself, and he has since, believe it or not, apologized to me more than once. How did that 

Jen: make you 

Mel: feel? When, when I found out that they were going through this messy custody battle, I was actually driving home from work and on the phone with him and I said, I'm gonna tell you something that I learned the hard way.

I said, I said, you can't make those kids want to be with you. I had to learn that the hard way. And he's like, yeah, I know. I, I'm sorry. And I, I was just floored. I never thought I would hear that come out of his mouth. 

Jen: Your boys are in and outta your life now the way normal kids come and go. My oldest 

Mel: just started boot camp a week ago today for the rv.

Oh, wow. Yeah. Yeah. I was, I miss him a lot. He knows I miss 

James: him, but he spent several years living with us. Yes. After this became his 

Jen: home. That's good. And what about your youngest son? Kind of the same 

Mel: [00:33:00] situation. Yeah. It was the same situation. It was a few years after brother of darted living with me and more or less said, I've had enough.

Can you come get me? Yep. I'll be there in 20 minutes. And I was there and he snuck out of the house. It was at night. Everybody was in bed. And this time the police showed 

James: up at our door too, and they found out he voluntarily went back. Just, he says, well, I don't want you guys to be in any trouble, so I'll just go 

Mel: back.

And I, I tried to tell him, and I'm, you know, I'm crying at this point. I said, you don't have to go. I said, if you don't wanna go back there. You don't have to. And he's in tears at this point to I know, I know. 

James: And the police were very nice and they even said, well, he doesn't want to go. We won't force him to.

He 

Mel: went, but eventually he came back. James's daughter graduated high school and she moved into her own apartment [00:34:00] and within a couple of days, my youngest took over her room. 

Jen: Now, let me ask you both this question. Where are each of you on your healing journey? That's 

James: a hard one. Seeing her, I feel like she's come farther than I could have ever expected.

We have a very strong relationship with each other and with our kids. It took a long time, but we're we finally, to me it feels like a family, like a. Family should be. I guess for me, I've learned the hard way, I guess, that you can't heal other people that have to heal for themselves as it's very hard to just be the support system and not be.

The one that's making that happen for them. I get very angry for her a lot at things that were going on and everything, but [00:35:00] you learn to count on each other and to rely on each other, and those times are never going to go away, but they're starting to fade into more of memories than the painful.

Constants that they were, now that you can look back and see how strong you were and 

Mel: Yeah. Yeah, like I said just reading all this and man, that's what they did. You know? And, and I know he struggles watching me. I, I'm triggered very, very easily still, even though I'm in therapy. EMDR therapy, it's.

Quite helpful, but I still fall apart. I still am very easily triggered, and I know he has a tough time with it because he can't fix it. Our kitchen window faces the neighbors and they have little boys, and sometimes sometimes when they're outside with their kids, [00:36:00] I. I'll see 'em, you know, because I'm doing dishes. Our sink is right there under the window and I'll just, I'll lose it because I see those kids at that age, cuz they're pretty little, and kids that, I see kids that age and it's tough because I remember when my kids were that age and I was the only mom they had, they still loved me as the only mom they had.

There wasn't all this Confusion and hurt and interfering. And Christmas is hard first day of school. That one, that one was a tough one because I only got one first day of school. I got to see my oldest off to preschool and that was it. And then I got another one this year. My, my youngest is, it was, The first and last, first day of school I got, but I got to, Hey, have a good day at school, you know, and feed him breakfast and send him off on his way to school and, but yeah, for years, the first day of school, that, that was a [00:37:00] tough one, which sounds weird, but being easily triggered, just, it sucks.

Thank you for 

Jen: sharing. That. I wanna end with one last question. We can't go back into our past and change what has happened, but we can control what happens today. What comforting words of advice would you give your kids? The sons and daughters, as they continue their journey in 

Mel: life. You know, eventually they're going to, you know, get married, have kids of their own, and one of the first things I would tell them if things start to go south and that relationship, marriage, et cetera, especially if they have kids of their own and the kids are involved, it's just.

Stop any kind of alienation or animosity before it starts. Get along, do your damnedest to get along with the other parent. Don't bash the other parent, co-parent. Don't [00:38:00] give up if things do go south. And I mean, I, I hate to see what happened to me, happened to them, but it could happen after what I went through.

I, I have plenty of encouragement in. Support to tell them it's not the end of the world. Don't give up hope. You might have to step back, but don't. Don't give up. 

James: No matter how bad it gets, don't give up. If she'd have given up hope we wouldn't have a relationship. Kids today, she fought through her own hard times.

And because of that, we get to have a relationship with our kids. Someday, maybe we'll be grandparents and those kids will be in our life. We know now they won't ever not be a part of our life again. I believe a lot of that is because of what her kids and she went through not seeing each other. They know what they missed out on 

Jen: now [00:39:00] too.

Mel and James, thank you for being my guest today on the I Need Blue Podcasts, and I hope that in sharing today, it can become a part of your healing journey. 

Mel: Thank you. Thank you so much for listening. I was a little apprehensive about go what am I doing? I'm telling the whole world this story, but you know what?

There's other moms and dads out there all over the world that need to hear that. Don't give up hope step. You might have to step back, but don't give up. 

Jen: Simple. Absolutely. Thank you for trusting me to share your story. I feel honored. If you wanna listen to their story and all the episodes of I Need Blue Podcast, you can find them on my website, www.ineedblue.net.

And remember, you are stronger than you think. 

When Mel met Brad
The abuse
Isolation
Why Mel stayed in an abusive relationship
How did Mel escape
Vicky
You showed up
The boys refuse to come over
The current situation
Looking back and seeing strength