Work in Progress by Kristina Tehrani 7/27/2021
I found out a few years back that civil court is basically bullshit court. There is no penalty for perjury- in fact, it’s expected. The law is completely ignored and I mean, completely. There appears to be no greater kangaroo court than family court.
There are published laws to family court. The laws and the practice do not intersect. The reason for this is multifold.
First, nobody in family court cares about the actual laws. The claim is that “the child’s best interest should be protected” but the practice is that “we will tolerate this best interest crap while it suits us but we don’t like to work so if you think you have a better idea, we don’t want to know. Agree with what we say or we will destroy you and your baby”.
Nobody told me that when I was looking for an attorney with my newborn premature baby in the dead of winter. Her father sued for joint everything immediately after she was born. Nobody seemed to care that he didn’t want a baby and made that abundantly clear to anyone who would listen. He attempted to drug me while pregnant with his baby. That didn’t work. He tried to have me psychiatrically committed while I was pregnant. He had found out that stress can contribute to miscarriage because I had one with him already. A miscarriage although he told any of my family members who would listen that I “made the whole thing up”. The pregnancy. Four months later, he couldn’t deny any ultrasound. We had agreed that we would have a child. I was at a point in my life where I no longer believed in love and believed in “working together” instead.
He claimed to agree with this. He and I were on the verge of splitting due to his manipulative behavior, refusal to do chores, verbal abuse, sexual abuse and attempting to control and manipulate my psychological records. I had just decided to leave my medical position, as that felt unfair also. The company had gotten to a point where the supervisors like myself we’re not allowed any breaks- not even a minute to use the bathroom. Not only that, but I was expected to work from home without pay. So I drafted my letter of resignation and decided that this boyfriend was next.
Ironically, this month we had had an unprotected encounter once. One time. One 20 second increment in my life and that was it- I was pregnant again.
I reconsidered my plan to leave. I decided to give him “one more chance”. This following a long period of all kinds of abuse. Nobody told me that murder is the number one killer of pregnant women. I found out through research.
Almost everyone I knew told me “have an abortion. Save yourself”. But I couldn’t. The reason that I couldn’t was that I had one at the age of 14 and it really depressed me even though it was probably the right thing to do at that time. I knew afterwards that once my body was fully mature and strong- I wouldn’t ever be put in that position again.
I was wrong. I learned that being harassed, stalked and tortured are very harmful to a pregnant woman. And on top of this- I was physically exhausted. Normal for pregnancy. It took my doctor, who wasn’t even that great, to tell me “you stress about the stalking and won’t get a restraining order, you WILL lose this baby”.
Backing up to the relationship itself, the problems did not start with the pregnancy. There had been problems for almost the entirety of the relationship.
I had known this man, Paul, for years. He was dating a friend of mine and we would double date with them frequently. As cigarette smokers, and our partners not being smokers, we found ourselves frequently talking outside while smoking. Paul seemed charismatic, funny, calm and normal. We didn’t spend time together without our significant others though. He lived with his girlfriend and I got the idea that it wasn’t a great relationship, but never gave it much thought. I was too busy ending my relationship, which also involved divorce.
A few months after ending my relationship, I reached out to Paul to basically complain about my ex. I discovered that Paul had also left his girlfriend and was sleeping on his bosses couch. Why he was crashing on a couch at the age of 40, I don’t know. He had his own thriving business. Another thing I didn’t give much thought to.
We went out for drinks, which turned into a date. Which turned into several dates and a relationship. He wasn’t really my type- he didn’t discuss politics or art. He didn’t seem interested in philosophy or history. We just didn’t connect very well on an intellectual level. However, my last relationship having been a roller coaster ride to hell- I welcomed the banality.
He wasn’t boring, and he was “good on paper”. No baggage that I could see. Out of practicality on both of our parts, I had him move in with my son and I after several months. That’s when things started to change.
Less than a month after moving in, he scheduled a back surgery. He was on prescription pain killers for his intolerable back pain. So, it seemed to make sense for him to fix the problem and get off the drugs. He drank too, whiskey- a lot of it. I knew that probably wasn’t a good idea mixed with pain medication.
After a nights stay in the hospital, he came back home. He had probably five bottles full of different prescription pain medication. It became clear that he was abusing it right away as he was completely incoherent for a good week. I was alarmed and began to regret my decision to have him move in.
He seemed to enjoy circular arguments that went nowhere and at times, would video record me without my knowledge to “show me” my inappropriate behavior during arguments. And we argued about EVERYTHING. I started to wonder if the arguments had nothing to do with the subjects we argued about but more to do with sport on his part. Some “arguments” would last for hours before I would give up thinking “this will never go anywhere”. He is not hearing me and no matter how I phrase things, not getting through.
What I thought was communicating, he considered “arguing”. That meant any request I made an invitation for him to have a tantrum, fake cry, give me the silent treatment or spout a bunch of gibberish. And it WAS gibberish- he made up words, used words the wrong way- he made no sense. I later read that this was a common tactic of people who are manipulative.
On one occasion, he faked a seizure during an argument. I did not know what to do, I had never seen such a thing- I didn’t know if it was real or fake. I got my answer when I dialed 911 for medical attention for him. He made an instantaneous recovery. The police showed up in record time and not only was Paul NOT writhing on the floor, he was perfectly coherent. The police left and Paul never had another “seizure”.
On another occasion, Paul and I were sitting on my bed arguing about therapy. I wanted him to go to therapy with me to resolve our communication issues and he didn’t think we had communication issues. After about an hour, I became so frustrated that I decided I needed space and started to head for the bathroom, which has a lock on the inside. He grabbed me by the wrist and pulled me back so hard, I fell onto the concrete floor, hitting my head. It didn’t occur to me to call the police for this- which was held against me in family court.
The arguing could be anything from “can you put away your dishes?” To “can you please take a left at the light?” To just about anything. I began to censor myself around him. But even being extremely careful about what I said- there was still room for bickering. So I stopped verbally interacting with him completely.
Once I stopped engaging in the arguments, he nitpicked at my behavior. He accused me of plucking my eyebrows too much. He told me I didn’t clean well enough, that I was eating the wrong things. Everything I did was wrong. My existence was wrong. The tension when Paul was around was palpable. I didn’t speak a word to him and he spoke to me through my son.
In the fall, I got pregnant. I knew immediately. I could just tell and a pregnancy test confirmed it after a couple weeks. I was very stressed to take sleeping or anxiety medication because of the possible effect on the baby.
Paul did not seem thrilled. He barely acknowledged it. Meanwhile, I was both anxious and exhausted from lack of sleep. I continued to work but I was miserable. In the end, I had a fairly early miscarriage- confirmed by my gynecologist.
Paul denied to me- to my face- that I had ever been pregnant. I was flabbergasted. I had no response for that other than I was beginning to realize that this relationship was toxic, if not all out abusive.
I had it my head that abusers were always physically violent. It didn’t occur to me that abuse can be manipulative, verbal and emotional. I didn’t even notice when it seemed that I spent no time with friends. It was work, taking care of my son, and avoiding Paul.
My mental health was deteriorating. I was mourning the miscarriage while being told it never happened, my partner was constantly telling me I was crazy and delusional, I had no friends to talk to and I felt trapped and alone. I later found out that Paul had been secretly calling my mother every week and “updating her” on my mental health, which according to Paul, was fragile, at best. He also told her and others that I invented the pregnancy.
I eventually ended up checking myself into the hospital for psychiatric care. Although the real reason was that I needed to be away from Paul. I wasn’t suicidal, hallucinating or having an extreme symptoms, but I was very tired. A friend came a visited me after a couple days in the psych unit and talked me into discharging, which the doctors fully supported- given that there were people there who needed psychiatric help more than me. I needed to break up with Paul.
I was beginning to plan my break up with him when I got pregnant. If things were bad before, they were hellish now.
To be continued…