Posted in Family

Check Your Drama at the Door

drama and karmaI think I remember our second daughter saying that she and her wife have a doormat that says something like that—“Check your Drama at the Door.”  I think we could use one.  You know… actually our life really doesn’t have a lot of drama in it, except for when we have to interact with my ex-husband’s wife or my husband’s ex-wife. As Elena Grace said wistfully last week about their time with us, “It must be nice to have your life be simple and calm all the time, no yelling. Only half of our life is like that.”

Instead of a “leave the drama” mat, we currently have a “No Trespassing” sign, which spends most of its time tucked behind a cabinet on the front porch, but comes out whenever one of those two might show up. Both of those women have been given written notice that we will call the police if they set foot on our property, notice given in each case after a public display of verbal abuse directed at us. (I looked up the local laws—if we’ve given written notice to the person in question and posted “No Trespassing,” we can call the cops on them.)

Keoni ready to change Kapena’s dressing (or amputate?) armed with the bush trimmer as a joke… That’s as much “drama” as OUR home sees.

Usually we only break it out for a couple hours at a time, every other week when my Ex and his wife pick the kids up from our house. He can come to the door, but she may not. I laid down that boundary after her attack on Keoni a few months back (in front of the kids).  I wasn’t sure at that point how the kids would feel—I explained to them briefly that people who treat our family members that way are not welcome at our home. “Our home is our Safe Zone,” I said. I was surprised, at that point, by Christian’s vehemence in responding with “Good!” That was the turning-point when they started to share with us about their other home-life.

This week, though, the sign has been out at the edge of our lawn all week because Keoni’s Ex has been making threats and stirring things up. I referred to her in yesterday’s post about our son Kapena’s surgery—and there is actually plenty more to say about her with regard to this week’s events—but yesterday’s post was about Kapena, and it wasn’t her place to have the center of attention. It’s a lesson she badly needs to learn in real life.

She’s a bitter person, and her bitterness seems to have taken over the part of her where maternal instincts should be lodged. She will stop at nothing to cause us grief, without regard to how it affects Kapena. In fact, she usually hurts him more than she hurts us, but she doesn’t care about that if she gets any chance to jab at us. I could give a whole dissertation-worth of background examples, but we’ll just stick with this week.

changing dressing
Changing Kapena’s dressing—the surgery site is looking good!

We knew she’d show up for his surgery, and she’d been nagging at him to come stay with her during his recovery. He doesn’t want to—so as far as we’re concerned, case closed. Normally, Keoni and I would both go with him to something like this, but knowing she would be there, we decided to make it simpler, leave me (or rather, the drama she causes when I’m in the room) out of the equation.  I stayed home to reduce Kapena’s stress.

She doesn’t think that way, though. When the doctor met with the three of them before surgery and got to the pain management plan, she piped up that she didn’t want Kapena to have pain medication because of Keoni’s addiction history and the “likelihood” that Kapena’s pills would disappear. Ironic, given that she’s been getting pain-pills from multiple sources for several years now—and Kapena was furious that she raised an unnecessary stink purely to embarrass his dad, and that she would do so at the possible expense of Kapena having the appropriate pain management available to him.

A friend came by to take him out for ice cream Saturday…

I had, however, taken the precautionary measure (when I was giving the doctor office Kapena’s medical history over the phone) of asking them to note in his file that Keoni is the custodial parent, and that although we’re not cutting his mother out of the picture, she is not the decision-maker. So… her “concern” got overruled by the custodial parent, who calmly asked the doctor please to go forward with whatever he would usually prescribe.

She provided plenty more unpleasantness in the hours they were at the hospital—and in her ten-minute-interval phone calls once he got home—but I won’t drag this out with the blow-by-blow account.

And then she wanted to visit him the next day. All that unpleasantness, and she actually expected to waltz into our home. Absolutely not. (Kapena didn’t want to deal with her anyway, so no conflicted feelings there.) She went ballistic, texted me that “u r not going to see my son today” (a message I read aloud to the son in question, who was stretched out next to me on our bed, watching movies while I worked on my writing assignments), and she called the police.

She has this strange mindset of actually believing that whatever she wants, she has a right to. As another example, she told Kapena she was going to come and take his car away if he wouldn’t see her. (He bought that car with his own saved money, and only his name is on the title—but she’s so sure she has a right to what-she-wants that she threatened to bring the police with her for that project too…) Not surprisingly (to us, at least—though I have no doubt it came as a shock to her), the police did not choose to act on her complaint that she was being denied entry into a private home, in which a Minor was staying with his legal custodial parent.

In her heated text-exchange with Kapena, she also said (the final straw for him) that he deserved the beating she gave him last summer. (That’s a text we’ll be saving.) At that point he told her in no uncertain terms that he doesn’t want her in his life at all, and he stopped taking her calls and texts.

waiting for the doc… (Just before the blow-up)

But… She showed up for his post-op follow-up appointment this morning. And oh man, was she pissed that I was there. In the waiting room we sat slightly apart from her, and had a quiet and pleasant conversation with a few laughs… And then when we all trooped into the exam room, left to wait for the doctor, she threw her fit.  Went on and on about how she has the “right” to see him whenever she wants because she’s his mother, and that she wouldn’t have a problem except for “that person” (meaning me, of course) being present—“She has no business being here, she has nothing to do with this, she’s not involved, and I have to sit there and hear her laugh“…

Kapena answered angrily, “Everyone I WANT to be involved is involved,” but she continued a whole tirade, during which I kept quiet, though I confess I did sort of snort when she threatened taking us to court. (Sure, try that. The only “material change in circumstance” since the last custody order is that she committed fraud to get a Social Security payment bigger than our annual income, blew through it in a few months, and ended up in a homeless shelter last month…)

She harped on my waiting-room laughter more than anything, and to be honest, it would have been comical… except for Kapena’s distress. He kept asking her to “Stop talking. Please. Just stop talking.”  And then, “Leave, just please leave.” Which she didn’t, of course. And she got visibly more steamed when the doctor came in and I was the one answering questions about his first few days of recovery and his planned physical therapy and his Medicaid coverage… (Usually Kapena would answer some of those questions himself, but today he was tight-lipped and silent.)

The appointment finished, Keoni stayed back to check out, and she and Kapena and I stepped into the waiting room, where she demanded that he step aside and talk with her. (Translation: step aside to be yelled at.) He declined. She insisted. I intervened with the only words I spoke to her the whole time: “Not if he doesn’t want to.” When she realized he wasn’t going to budge from my side, she stormed toward the elevators, turning to toss a parting shot across the crowded waiting room: “You SUCK, Bitch!” (Seriously? She’s old enough to be my mother, and she’s going all “Junior High” on my ass!) You know what I did, right? I laughed.

They say laughter is the best medicine. I think it might be the best weapon.


Kapena’s girlfriend, Tasha, watching Keoni change his dressing

More Importantly: Our heartfelt thanks to everyone for their prayers and “virtual hugs” and recovery-wishes for Kapena! I’m tickled to report that he’s doing GREAT. The doc was pleased and surprised that he’s already walking around with just his leg-brace, no crutches. (Given Keoni’s record-breaking recovery from his knee-replacement surgery last December, maybe rapid-healing-of-knees will become a Tyler family tradition.) He hit the weight-room today (upper body only) and he’s planning to go back to team practices starting tomorrow (not to participate yet, but to stay in the middle of things)… We’re starting to feel a sneaking optimism that he may not be out for his whole Junior season after all…  But time will tell.

We had a steady stream of his friends passing through the house over the weekend, and his new girlfriend spent most of the weekend here, and (aside from all the crap with his mother) he’s been in a really upbeat mood. Things are looking good!



I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

23 thoughts on “Check Your Drama at the Door

  1. Between the laughing and the writing about it, sounds like you’re having a pretty simple time exorcising your contact with her over the last week.
    Hope your son’s recovery continues as smoothly!


    1. You’re very astute—the writing WAS an exorcism! (In fact, I wrote three or four times more than what appears above, just to purge it all out of my head, but trimmed it down before publishing. The writing itself, though, was definitely an exercise in exorcism!)


  2. Kana,
    You never cease impressing me with your intelligence, your wit, your strength and your calm. You’re the kind of person I want to be and the kind of person I wish everyone became. You’ve come through some really rough times to become this amazing human being. Everyone around you is so blessed to have found such a safe harbour in your arms and in your home.


    1. Gosh, this person you’re describing sounds like someone *I* want to be like! ;) Thank you, Beth—I often feel like I DON’T have it all together (maybe because things are so much messier in my head!), so it’s indescribably pleasant to hear that maybe I’m not doing such a bad job of it after all… ;)


  3. The hard part is that it is so relentless. I think you are lucky that you and Keoni are able to laugh – that’s the only way to get through it. That and knowing that while you guys are part of the ‘second chance club’ that found the miracle, most people never change.


    1. Sometimes we joke that it’s a shame for “normies” that they don’t have the benefits and blessings of A.A…. It changed our lives and attitudes in FAR more ways than simply getting-off-the-sauce!


  4. I’d love to say “unbelievable!”, but, of course, some people are capable of complete cruelty AND stupidity, all at one time. My heart breaks for Kapena…that this woman who lays “claim” to being his mother is such a negative influence. The peace and love within your walls must be such a sanctuary for him!


    1. You know, my mind has been stuck on one of the text-messages she sent me this week (I never answer—the things I would like to say to her are better left UNsaid)… She was insisting that he needed to be with HER, “his loving mother,” while he recovered… And I keep wanting to shout at her that when she ACTS like a loving mother instead of making noise about being one… Well, that’s why I don’t reply. ;)


      1. Scott and I have been through some crap with his mother (as alluded to in my “Angie” post), and he’s a firm believer that your status as a “family” member, should be supported by your actions and behavior. I’m very lucky we’re on the same page as it pertains to my MIL. Some biologic family falls way short of worthy, and some dear friends epitomize what “family” should mean. Kudos to you for being able to hold back….


  5. Great post — and it looks to me that if she ever decided to pursue any kind of legal drama in addition to the personal drama, you guys have plenty of records to turn that right around on her.

    What a pain to deal with.

    I’m glad Kapena is recovering well though!


  6. I feel for Kapena. Poor kid. Thank God for you and Keoni! You truly are his calm from the storm that is his bio mom. It’s a testament to his strength that he can stand up to her at all. Here’s to 18, when she has no more legal rights to him AT ALL. From someone who knows more than I want about severing apron strings permanently, tell Keoni to keep those hedge trimmers handy! ;)


    1. Laughing out loud!
      And yes, we are proud of him for advocating for himself (and even for us)… It’s a long journey from his cringing, anything-to-appease-mom approach just a year ago. And we’re ALL looking forward to 18 (Kapena no doubt even more than we) when we won’t have ANY reason to interact with her! :)


  7. I feel your pain with the ex wife situation. My hubby and I have one also… and she suffers from exteme personality disorder. I don’t know that we’d have survived the last 12 years of her abuse, except that I seem to have an undying empathy for her that keeps my husband from slaying her where she stands at any given moment. It’s been quite the ride… Since our boy turned 18, though, things have mellowed out for us. We interact with her far less, and that is a relief in itself.

    So glad that Kapena is doing well! And, as always, thanks for sharing your life with us, with such amazing candor and grace!


    1. Aloha Eliza, Your comment touched my heart and so hope you don’t mind me sharing some thoughts with you. I sometimes feel a strong empathy for my ex-wife in regards to her own sickness and negative outlook on life. She is no longer the woman I fell in love with; however, after 18-plus years together there is some level of love or concern or even hope that results in a bond. There are times where I Truly Dislike her for the things she has done to me or taken from me. And then I remember MY part in all of this and more importantly WHO I get to come home to now: My Gorgeous Wife Kana The Iguana and three of our seven keiki. I pray for my ex-wife (and others) every day and sometimes multiple times throughout the day. That is what keeps me sober, that is what allows me to be me and the joy and aloha that God puts in my life everyday …well, you know what I am talking about, Sister ;) A Hui Ho’u, Keoni


  8. Praying for you, Keoni, and Kapena to continue with your lovely, quiet, supportive lifestyle there in your home as Kapena continues to heal! Thanks for sharing these photos of him and you guys as appropriate caregivers!


  9. If I may echo Beth’s (from above) comments commending you, Kana, as well as Keoni and Kapena for your collective and individual strength of spirit. What a blessing that Kapena is old enough to understand and define his own boundaries. A familial tie can be chokingly tight at times. I am proud to say I share time/space with such an enlightened set of folks as y’all. And I totally get the power of cathartic writing and enlightened editing. GREAT job!!!

    peace and hugs,



  10. How can one woman have so much awful in them? :-( I really feel for Kapena, but with you and Keoni on side I’m glad he’s got the love he deserves.
    And also thrilled to hear he’s doing do well. :-)


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