Losing custody of his children lead Jon Vaughn to a downward spinning spiral, but here’s how he found a way to pick himself back up.
I don’t know where to begin.
I guess it began with losing custody of my oldest daughter, Genesis. It’s hard to write about how shameful the experience was. It was wintertime, 2009. I lived off the Costco box of Top Ramen to avoid grocery store visits. If I absolutely needed groceries, I’d go at night — right before closing. I did this to avoid any encounters with people that didn’t know I didn’t have her any more, avoiding their question, “Hey, where’s Gen,” because that’s what you ask your full-time dad friend. I lied to protect the little bit of me I had left.
My 2009 wonderland wardrobe consisted of hoodies, sweatpants, and socks. My income disappeared, I was going through a divorce, and there was no way I’d be able to keep up on the house payments. The sounds of family were replaced with the noise of Family Feud. I sold my couch, then other things. I watched regularly scheduled programs, and the syndication of The Office at 7pm was the only thing I looked forward to. I moved my mattress to the living room floor (I do have to say that the girls, to this day, will pull their mattresses into the living room and we’ll campout sometimes). All my assets slowly trickled into the drain of survival mode. The thing I would never sell — my guitar — was taken with all the other things stolen from my house. I was robbed twice. I never called the cops. I didn’t care. I was lazy, gaining 10lbs a month because the satisfaction of feeling full disappeared. The robbers left my mattress alone though, so that was good.
I stayed inside most of the time, which really upsets me that I got robbed because I was home 99% of the time. The reasons I went outside were for mandatory meetings:
1) a weekly mental health support group at Good Samaritan Hospital
2) a bi-weekly visit to my therapist
3) a monthly appointment to see the psychiatrist
4) a three hour, supervised visit for my youngest
5) an hour drive to spend a few hours with my oldest
6) pee in a bush in my backyard (I still do this sometimes)
It was a tough time for me; prescriptions felt like they were stealing my soul. I remember the last prescription, filled out on two sheets, with triple the dosage amount. I still don’t understand that. After three psychiatrist visits in a row of more, switch meds, more, switch meds, I said, “No more.” I called my mom and told her exactly what I planned on doing. I was getting off my medications and I shouldn’t feel shameful about it. Fortunately I couldn’t feel anything really. I told her I’d deal with the consequences. I’ll take the blames. The nine or so pills a day is the true apocalypse, a zombie that refused to bite and at least give closure. I was meaningless. I couldn’t even masturbate in the comfort of my own home. The meds were stronger than me. I almost said goodbye to my erections. “For the rest of your life,” repeated to me by countless professionals. This was not a life. I wanted my soul back. I missed it more than the daughter I thought I’d lost.
The bag, hidden in the highest cupboard above the hood, was brought down. Quetiapine, Valproic acid, Bupropion, Lorazepam, Aripiprazole and Lamotrigine were leftovers. I shouldn’t even have leftovers but the “medicine management” was riddled with random changes. Each new visit was some new plan to manage my mood. The bag sounded like a homemade maraca, shaking towards the restroom with the sound of my steps. Each medication got its own flush. I said goodbye to my side effects one-by-one. Nothing would happen immediately; it would take weeks for the clouds to clear. Eventually, I said hello to an erection again.
It took time but my soul eventually returned, the thing that I believe that makes me me. I found a job where I loved the people I worked with but hated my sales position. I don’t like sales. I like marketing, ideas, vision, creative, color, purpose, and efficiency. I pursued a marketing gig for a real estate company then got fired after 49 days. That was not my fault, I promise. A few of my friends have that story, I’ll let them tell it. I filed for unemployment for a time but then found an office job, sitting behind a computer for 9-10 hours a day. Even though life wasn’t very kind after coming out of my own gates of hell, I could at least feel it.
It was a day after court when I decided to build something. This something would help me keep better visitation records so if I ever needed them, I had them. The concept was born after seeing that another system cost $100 per year per parent, designed for desktop computers. I needed something that was simple, practical, and mobile-focused. I wanted a system that kept my notes, and auto-communicated certain activities, like a transfer in custody. Most of all, I wanted a system that was free-to-use, and universally available to as many people as possible, while being in the best interest of the child. The system was not to be designed around parents. Even in my own experience, there are many people who are raising children at times that are not mom and dad. I wanted something for everyone, not just me.
I never knew what it felt like to be the non-custodial parent until I became one. I was a lucky dad with custody, roughly for seven years, then lost it. It’s nothing I can take back. I might not be able to erase that day – almost five years ago – but I can color over it and make it into something more meaningful; even butterflies were once ugly. I’ve learned now how to spend the time, as opposed to having more of it. It taught me to play hide-n-seek in the clothes section at Target when it was too hot for the park; make our own music (cover songs mostly) rather than pay others to listen; sing in front of strangers; and havepillow days, piling every fabric, pillow, towel, and cushion in the middle of the living room and finding the highest points we could jump from. All those things are free of charge.
And so is GenesisCCM.com — the side effect of me being pill-free and never giving up.
I’m the Founder, and the President/CEO of Olive Us, LLC, the company that owns GenesisCCM.com. My titles mean nothing to me. Everyone can be a co-founder for all I care. It’s an honor to have forgiving daughters full of grace. Never did they make me feel like less of a dad. They both are deserving of the names I selected and they mean everything to me.
This was my Father’s Day card this year, a tearjerker of a letter that could have easily meant nothing to me if I didn’t do my own personal soul searching. It was worth every high and low, every success and failure, every good, every bad, and every ugly. I can honestly say to myself that I finally took one of my crazy ideas and made it come true; a dream.
Only now does it feel like just the beginning.
Thanks for reading. I’d really like to get over 1,000 fans today so visit Full-Time Daddy on FB. It’s the best place to keep updated with development, progress, and have a little snapshot into my life with daughters.
Want help managing your custody arrangement? GenesisCCM.com is free and available now.
Go to GenesisCCM.com and log into Genesis Child Custody Manager (“GenesisCCM.com”): the groundbreaking new free mobile child custody management solution from Olive Us, LLC.
GenesisCCM.com gives single, separated or divorced parents – as well grandparents and other extended family members; child care, foster care and day care workers; family law professionals; and all other individuals with a vested interest in a child’s life — the power to comprehensively, yet conveniently use any Internet-connected mobile device, laptop or computer to manage seven key aspects of custody management:
1. Track visits through automatic child pick-up and drop-off email notifications.
2. Create records that can be used to provide evidence while avoiding disputes.
3. Manage activities by creating, storing and sharing lists, notes and comments, as well as managing, tracking and getting notified of events.
4. Ensure compliance with GPS geo-targeting to precisely identify pick-up and drop-off locations.
5. Store data for each child, including medication and allergy details, as well as other pertinent records.
6. Track expenses to capture costs that fall outside of normal child support obligations.
7. Keep records by downloading all information in .CSV format for easy review, analysis, sharing and storage (support for other file formats will be available soon)
This article originally appeared on Full Time Daddy.
Photo credit courtesy of author.