My picnic table has become my refuge.
I lie on the surface and the rough wood presses into my shoulder blades and tailbone as tears slide out the corners of my eyes. The ocean of tears follows the same path down my cheeks, pooling on the surface of the table before finding its escape between the slats. I am surprised I still have tears left to shed.
The night sky is softly illuminated by millions of twinkling stars, the leaves rustle gently high up in the poplar trees and coyotes yip in the distance. The midnight air is unusually warm for the North. Normally I would relish in the caress of the breeze and allow the serenity of the evening to hold me gently in its embrace; but not tonight.
Tonight the half moon is blood red and peers down at me with a sinister scowl.
I pull my tortured gaze from the moon and glance over at my house. It’s a soulless, empty shell. Normally I am tucked up in bed by this time of night with my daughter’s warm little body snuggled up close to me. Without her, the house has lost its essence and offers me no comfort, not even shelter.
Her father failed to return her after his weekend visit. The only thing he would tell me before cutting off all communication was that they are “traveling”. I don’t know where my four year old daughter is. I don’t know how long it will take me to get her back. Everything he does is forged with a single purpose: to hurt me.
Throughout these past, tortuous two years, I have stood resolute in my belief that Justice and even Karma would prevail. I have refused to retaliate in any way, firm in my conviction that any action taken in hate would only bring destructive negative energy into my little family.
The police told me that upon the advice of their lawyers, they no longer get involved in family matters because it could be construed as showing favoritism to one side. I was told that my only recourse was to go back to court. That course of action now appears to be nothing more than an agonizing catch-22.
What is the point of spending thousands upon thousands of dollars of our own personal money not to mention public money if the piece of paper we are handed at the end will not be enforced by the only lawful authority we have?
Just like money is valueless paper unless it is backed by the authority of gold, a Supreme Court Order is equally valueless unless it is backed by the authority of the RCMP.
How can a parent flagrantly disregard and disrespect a Supreme Court Order and the police not get involved? I had no idea there was such disconnect between the law and law enforcement.
I have a worthless piece of paper and an empty house because I obeyed the rules and placed my faith in the Canadian Judicial System. Sadly, it’s not even the first time “The System” has let me down. Like a school yard bully, the ridiculous institution of Judicial Justice has repeatedly kicked me in the face; I stagger back up and it kicks me back down again. If I wasn’t fighting for my children, I would just stay down this time.
My toes are cold but my tears are warm and I remain on my picnic table, looking up at the sky and asking for answers. I can see the outline of the tops of the poplar trees high overhead, swaying gently in the wind. They are whispering softly to me but I cannot hear their words.
Maggie, who has been lying under my picnic table keeping protective watch out for bears, coyotes and wolves, has caught a mouse and has been temporarily distracted from her vigil. I can hear the mouse squealing, caught in her powerful jaws. I squeeze my eyes shut and the tears fall in a gush down my cheeks. I feel like that mouse; powerless to escape the control of something that wants only to hurt me.
I angrily swipe the tears away as rage roils through me temporarily replacing my grief; my innate sense of integrity rails at the thought of someone using my child as weapon to hurt me. Children should never be pawns in spiteful adult games of manipulation and control.
Suddenly, my phone buzzes loudly from its resting place on my chest, breaking the stillness of the night. I open it anxiously, hoping her father has finally relented, telling me where my little daughter is.
It’s a message from a stranger.
Social media has already carried the story far and wide. She is reaching out to me, telling me her own similar story; her daughter was missing for 50 hours and the police would do nothing. Apparently it’s only kidnapping if a stranger takes your child or the parent tries to leave the country.
I bet she knows how many minutes too. I can’t survive that long. I have no idea how she managed to live through that kind of torture.
It’s torture when one parent thumbs its nose at the law and uses bullying tactics to hurt and control the other parent.
Bullying; that’s certainly a buzz word right now.
Everyone is on the bandwagon to stop bullies at school but has anyone ever stopped to wonder if kids are learning bullying from the very parents who stand on their soapboxes at the PTA meetings but tyrannize their co-parent in private?
By virtue of turning a blind eye to parental bullying, the law condones it. The law might condone it but I certainly don’t.
I am reminded of a framed quote by Lady Gaga that has sat for several months on my kitchen counter:
“You have to stop crying and go kick some ass!”
Maggie jumps up on the picnic table and lies on my feet. I wonder if she heard the silent complaints running through my mind? As the warmth from Maggie’s tummy slowly seeps into my toes, an idea begins to take root:
I am not a victim.
I will not be bullied.
I come from a long line of strong, resilient women who fought hard to protect their children. I will take a stand for me and my children and for all the other parents who are being bullied too.
Please join me and help bring awareness to this serious issue. Without awareness, there is no hope for change.