The first few weeks after I separated from Veruca were incredibly liberating. I moved into a nice home and spent a lot of time with my girls setting up the place the way we wanted. We painted the girls’ rooms the brightest pink of pink. We bought bunk beds. We watched tons of movies and ate barrels of ice cream. We really enjoyed ourselves. My youngest daughter Harriett wanted a cat so we got a cat. I felt a freedom that I’d not experienced for a long time and I had my children there to enjoy it with me.
The kids were always absolutely thrilled when it came time for their week with me, their arrival would set off a barrage of hugs, kisses, squeals and laughter. But this is also when India began to say “no mommy’s house” on a regular basis. She also began to ask daily how many more days’ she had left with Daddy. When I’d say anything but “you have to go back to Mommy’s’ today”, she’d smile, swipe her one good hand across her forehead, say “whew” and giggle.
Previous to my separation from Veruca, India would often plead with us to not take her back to our family home; he wanted to be anywhere but home. In hindsight, India was being terribly neglected by her mother both physically and emotionally and wasn’t able to tell anybody because of her limited communication abilities. India also could feel the awful tension in the home. As my brother put it, “the room became icy cold when Veruca and I were in the same room”. My house was not a home; it was a dungeon - dark and cold.
India’s condition was worsening. Her little body was becoming stiffer and stiffer. She’d lost her ability to stand and take steps. Hell, she’d lost virtually all that she’d gained over the previous years. Pain was becoming a daily issue; the situation was increasingly spiraling out of control. I’d found myself desperately trying to learn all the critical techniques for India’s welfare that Veruca had learned over the years. I found that I was unbelievably frustrated and angry with myself for not learning everything that Veruca did. I was clumsily trying to help India. I’d read articles and watch videos of India’s interventions to try to figure out what to do. The “Great Recession” was in its infancy at this point and my real estate company had come to a screeching halt and my cash flow had dried up. The only good thing about this economic disaster is that it gave me plenty of time on my hands. When my children were with me, I was able to give them a huge amount of attention.
At this point, I was broke; literally. I couldn’t afford to send India to a professional facility or hire somebody to come in and work with her as I’d done in the past. What insurance and the state covered was incomprehensibly inadequate for my child. One of India’s previous interventionists, Viktoria, suggested that we do Skype video calls over the internet so that she could see India’s condition and give me “real time” instruction on what to do to help her. At the time, Viktoria was living outside of London England working at a school that specialized in children with cerebral palsy. We’d spend long periods of time, me stretching India as Viktoria watched over the Internet and gave me instructions.
Viktoria was hands down the most amazing interventionists we’d ever met and the best thing to have ever happened to India. The icing on the cake is that India absolutely loved Viktoria. I have to give credit to Veruca for finding and hiring Viktoria in the fist place. When Veruca found her, Viktoria was living in her home country of Hungary and working out of Ireland, Great Britain, Canada and the United States; she was in high demand. When she arrived at our home for her first 4-week visit, she immediately went to work and profoundly changed India’s life.
Our Internet video sessions lasted for several weeks but we’d reached the limit of what we could do. India’s condition continued to spiral downward. By this point, her legs were scissoring (crossing) terribly and her overall body was showing signs of atrophy. It was painfully clear that India’s mother wasn’t lifting a finger to help her and my wholehearted but unskilled intervention wasn’t succeeding.
By now, it was late December 2008. Veruca had filed for divorce and was behaving like a monster. I was desperate beyond words to try and figure out what to do with India and get her back on track. One evening after a particularly bad day for India, I swallowed my pride and called Viktoria in England. I explained to Viktoria that I was broke; I could hardly pay for groceries. I went on to tell her that I was desperate to find help for India. I asked her if there was anyway that she could come to the United States over the coming Christmas holiday. I told her that I could probably borrow enough money to pay her plane ticket but couldn’t afford her fee. Viktoria listened quietly, when I was done, she said that she’d get back to me. About 2 hours later, Viktoria called back. I could feel my blood pressure rise and stomach tighten up when I saw her number on my caller id. When I answered, Viktoria said “Nick, I want to let you know that I arrive day after tomorrow at 10:00 pm. I’ve paid for my plane ticket; it’s my Christmas gift to you. I’ll stay for 3 weeks and do everything I can for you and your family”. I was stunned; I didn’t know what to say but thank you. When we got off the phone, I felt the most amazing sense of hope that I’d felt in a long time; I was giddy.
In all fairness, I need to back up a few years and explain my relationship with Viktoria. When she first arrived at our home, I thought she was a decent enough person, I had no issue with her and we got along just fine. But this quickly changed as Veruca began to tell me very troubling things about Viktoria. Veruca said that Viktoria was an anti-Semite. I’m not Jewish, nor do I believe in any religion but I do have a problem with a true anti-Semite. Then Veruca told me that Viktoria was very homophobic and loathed the gay and lesbian community. This really upset me as I have many homosexual and lesbian family members and friends. I began to seriously dislike Viktoria and she disliked me. Turns out, Viktoria was simultaneously being given bogus information about me. Turns out Viktoria wasn’t anti-Semite or homophobic. For whatever reason, from day one, Veruca had her mind set on distorting who Viktoria and I were to each other.
Several years after we met and numerous 4-week sessions later, Viktoria and I finally got to know each other during a one-week period. Veruca was on a month long trip to Asia. Viktoria arrived for a session with India a week before Veruca returned. I was instructed by Veruca to be nice to Viktoria, cater to her needs and make her feel welcome. Veruca went onto telling me that Viktoria was “invaluable” and we couldn’t afford to lose her. I begrudgingly agreed to play nice host to this anti-Semite, gay bashing, intolerant Hungarian.
When the day came that Viktoria arrived, I did as instructed. I ferried her around town so that she could buy supplies and whatnots. I made sure she was well fed and even begrudgingly sat through a movie each evening. But then it happened, we actually talked. I was caught off guard, Viktoria wasn’t Satan in a human suit after all. Viktoria was funny, interesting, intelligent and very kind. As the days passed and we talked more and more, I found myself intrigued by this woman. I looked forward to our conversations. It had been over a decade since I’d had kind and fun interactions with a woman like I was with Viktoria. After awhile, I began to find myself drawn to her, which was confusing for me. I knew my marriage was a nightmare, I knew that I didn’t want to be in my marriage, but I was torn so I didn’t pursue Viktoria until a year later; just before my separation from Veruca.
After my separation from Veruca, I made the decision to fly to Europe to see Viktoria. I wanted and needed to know if my feelings for her were real. I had many questions that I needed answered. My visit to the England was amazingly surreal. It was then that I realized that I was deeply in love with Viktoria and she to me. In some ways, I believe this trip literally saved my life. Viktoria showed my kindness and love like I’d never experienced and at a very, very dark time in my life.
So bringing us back to Christmas of 2008. Viktoria arrived the night before my custody week began with my girls. It was wonderful to have her in my home. The next day when the girls arrived, Viktoria positioned herself in the living room with her back to the front door. As usual, Marion came racing in, not noticing Viktoria. Then I came in with India. She was her usual giddy self when she arrives at my house, talking up a storm and asking how many more days she’ll be with me. By this point, we were standing in the living room in front of Viktoria but India hadn’t noticed her yet. India was in the middle of telling me something when she caught sight of Viktoria. She slowly turned her head to look at this beautiful mirage. Then looked back at me, eyes the size of saucers, slowly beginning one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen on this little girl. She looked me straight in the eyes and said “Viktoria”? I said “yes sweetie, it’s Viktoria”, India asked me one more time and when I said yes she curled up in a little ball and began to scream with excitement. I handed her to Viktoria and she grabbed and held onto Viktoria with all her might. India didn’t let go of Viktoria for over 30 minutes and when she did, she left dark bruises on Viktoria’s side from where India’s one good had held on for dear life. India’s best friend had returned.
We commenced to make plans for the Christmas holiday, which consisted of driving north to my families’ home town, then off to the mountains to take the girls skiing. First, we needed to go to Verucas home and pick up all of India’s necessary therapy equipment. Sadly, this would be Viktoria’s baptism into Verucas destructive and warped world. Veruca refused to allow us access to India’s equipment. She’d not let us have one item even though they sat in the same place they’d been for years, dusty and unused. We were horrified. Here I’d managed to get the single most beneficial person in India’s life to come help her for 3 weeks, only 3 weeks and we were refused the tools for India’s intervention. I was panicking as time was of the essence; I wanted to make the most of every minute that Viktoria was here for India. We eventually gained access to the gear but it took the intervention of attorneys and the threat of the court to make it happen.
We proceeded to leave for the holiday and had the time of our lives. We ate like kings, watched dozens of movies, laughed, teased and even got in a full day of skiing – India included! But it was a very sad and lonely day when Viktoria left. I’d realized at that point that I really was in love with her. She loved me and equally as important, she loved my children.
The real divorce battle began just after the New Year in 2009. It started with Veruca attempting to withhold my children from me. As I’d learn throughout the process, Veruca had it in her head that if she believed it, it made it so. So one day she told me that I could only have the kids several days a month. This obviously didn’t fly and would have been disastrous to India if it had.
Verucas next attempt to remove the children from me was through the police. Early in the divorce process we’d agreed that I’d take all the photo albums, discs and videotapes, digitize them and upload to an Internet service so that she that she and her family could download at will; everybody could have copies. By far, Veruca took the vast majority of these photo and video shots; her passion was photography. One day, there was a knock at my door. When I answered, there were 2 police officers standing there. They proceeded to inform me that they, the FBI and the local District Attorney had just concluded an investigation into my involvement in child endangerment and possible child pornography. My reaction was to laugh. I stepped outside and looked around for my friends, thinking I was the unwitting recipient of a pretty good prank. Nobody came out from the bushes or around the corner, it was just the police officers and I. They went onto tell me that all charges were being dropped and the investigation was being suspended but they were bound to notify me and provide me with the paperwork; I was horrified.
As I read the police report, my heart began to pound, I broke out in a cold sweat and had to hold back the vomit. Veruca had hand picked very old photos and videos of our children that I’d uploaded to a Google based Internet photo service as agreed. She’d neglected to inform the police that these photos were on this site as per an agreement that our Attorney’s had approved. These were very innocent home media of the girls doing whatever young children do. She’d chosen and sent to the police a select few where our children either were naked or without shirts, but none of which were graphic or revealing whatsoever; they were home videos and photos. Fortunately for me and my children, the police, FBI and District Attorney also agreed and documented that this material was noting but innocent home media. Regardless, I was mortified, as Veruca had spread the world about the investigation, clearly distorting its origination and falsehoods thereof perpetrated by her. I was dealing with a mentally ill, seriously deranged scorned woman.
The damage from the investigation runs deep and I find myself still dealing with it. Earlier this year, I took my youngest daughter to her gymnastics class. As I sat in the bleachers watching her, a woman came up to me and said, “You know, people frown on you sitting here watching all these little girls”. I was stunned and it took me a few minutes to recognize the lady. She was a close friend of a woman who had a Power of Attorney to represent Veruca at one of India’s school meetings. She was also a local Realtor, a member of my industry in a small town.
Soon after the police event, Veruca showed her insanity again, this time in front of an entire room of public school teachers and administrators. We were in what is called an “IEP” Individual Education Plan for India when Veruca announced to the group that she was no longer going to take India to her therapies. You could have heard a pin drop when she said this. Veruca went on to say that it was becoming too much hassle for her to have to fold up and place India’s wheelchair in the trunk of her Mercedes E55 AMG and transport her to the intervention facility in our small town.
After Viktoria had to go back to Europe, India began to backslide physically; despite all the work Viktoria had done and taught me to do. I took India to her Pediatrician for a physical and to get some guidance from him. In our session, he said that India looked very bad and that he was concerned. He went on to tell me that he felt because India was so weak that she should be taken out of public school altogether to avoid her being exposed to any viruses. He also said “Whatever you were doing in the past to make her so strong, do it again”. He was referring to all the long-term therapy and Conductive Education camps we’d taken India to throughout the United States and Canada over the years. The Pediatrician sent me off with a referral to get updated x-rays.
I told my attorney what the Pediatrician had said, she called him on the spot and asked if he’d repeat it in court; he said yes. When the day came in court for a custody hearing, we called the Physician to the stand to testify on India’s behalf. I was bewildered with what came out of his mouth. On the stand, under oath, this man said that he thought India should be in school full time and should not go to the “boot camp” style camps that we’d been sending her to over the years. I couldn’t believe my ears; he’d changed his opinion 180 degrees, what the hell was going on?
Turns out, Veruca caught wind that I’d taken India to see the Pediatrician. She’d show up at his office and somehow convinced him to change his story and outright lie on the stand. Since then, I’ve learned from many sources that younger women influence this Pediatrician; this is exactly what Veruca did. We also learned that Veruca went to the physician who reviewed the x-rays that the Pediatrician ordered and attempted to badger him too but luckily he didn’t stand for her nonsense.