My guess is that like me and countless others you’ve got your divorce papers filed away in a box somewhere, well it’s not the sort of thing you frame and hang on the wall is it! Either that, or you’ve just never bothered yet to get round to actually divorcing, but you’ve sorted out the money between you and the children live one place or another.
Whichever scenario fits you best, I’m willing to bet that there are still times when your buttons can get pressed. You know the buttons, the hot, ouch – damn I forgot that it can still be sore ones. Yes, we’ve all been there, got the t-shirt. We think that because all has been fine for so many months that if you make a suggestion to your ex it’ll be met with less resistance than if you’d suggested it two, three or even five years ago – but no – that resistance is still there.
And then up comes the buried resentment – the unfairness, the injustice of the system, the why me, how come they didn’t listen to my side of the story. It’s all right for them sitting there pretty in the house with the kids coming in every night, hearing the stories of school, cooking their dinner, reading the bed time story. It’s alright for them to get financial assistance from child tax credits, your salary, more than what they deserved as a financial settlement. What about poor lil’ ol’ you huh?
It’s all so bloody unfair isn’t it? The time when the decisions were made, you were charged with adrenaline, you had something to fight for, you knew you had a chance – then, a court order, an injunction, or an agreement between you. It ends eventually – the fighting, the desperation, the busyness of proving yourself.
And what’s left is reality.
It’s a cold stark place when your expectations haven’t been met. When you feel that you’ve got the crumbs and they’ve got a loaf. Worse still, there isn’t anything to fight for anymore, the decision’s been made. The fire goes out in the pit of your tummy. You suddenly realise that the snowball which had been rolling down the hill has reached the bottom and it resembles nothing of what you imagined. It’s changed shape, colour and there are even ugly bumps on it. It’s also completely off target – it’s stopped well left of where you were aiming.
In place of the fire and adrenaline – loneliness, emptiness, lost cause, depression, self recrimination - should have done this or that, self flagellation – I can’t do this or that, self imposed restrictions – I won’t do this or that. You hide away, there are wounds to be licked. These wounds might even have been gaping open for years while the whole process was going on – they’re going to take months or even years to heal and even then will they be properly healed? You might want to just get the hell away … who’s going to care anyway, patently I wasn’t good enough and that’s just been proven – I didn’t get as much money as I wanted, and I didn’t get the children. The prospect of having ‘access’ to your kids is tantamount to laughing at you for being a poor parent and only good enough for short term visits. What will others think of me - I’ve been shown up, I’m mortified, I’m humiliated.
The pain when dropping the kids off at their home – they jump out of the car and give you such a big warm hug, they give you honest, unadulterated words and expressions of love, trust and forgiveness. There is nothing that they hold against you. They love you. The pain is almost too much to bear. You drive off with them waving until you are out of sight. You are screaming inside the car (with the music turned up), the tears are flowing so hard and fast you need eye-wipers. If you’re a woman you pray you left the mascara off that morning.
Christmas has never been so lonely. New Year is a farce – more of the same old, same old. Birthdays on new dates to fit in with access. Foreign holidays take on a fear of themselves – will they come back?
S>>>T>>>>>Ooooooo>>>>>>>>>P right there.
Ok, so life can be tough. Aren’t you milking this just a little too far, aren’t you just giving away a wee bit too much of your own self? Would you have behaved like this before you got married? Nah, I bet you wouldn’t, so don’t do it now.
Let’s get a grip …. Come on, I’ll lend you hand. First things first ..
What actually happened? – Someone eventually saw sense, gave in or was told to give in. Ok, so accept it and keep out of the way. I know you think that’s easy for me to say, but trust me it’s not.
I wouldn’t be normal if I didn’t say that there have been blips, but by and large, I try to keep out of the way. If you asked my ex, I would hazard a guess that he might think I’ve never got out of the way – but then he’s never been on this side of the fence and doesn’t know what it feels like. In fact that’s why there was so much fighting -neither of us were prepared to know how it might feel. Any action kept the ball in the air and meant that nobody had to suffer.
We were both scared, ok that’s me mind-reading him and it may not be true. I certainly was scared until I realised that as long as the children weren’t in an atmosphere of animosity then they could grow and develop healthily. I chose to let the ball drop. Bizarrely, he would say that he did! Ultimately, does it matter – no, of course not – that’s your ego wanting to be right!!
Now, firstly, are you beginning to realise that there are two sides to every story. Have you ever watched a film and come away with exactly the same memories as the person you watched it with? Unlikely in my experience!
Secondly, did you ever think that what they were doing was the best they could in their circumstances – no that’s taken me a long time to swallow too. How could they be so bullish, stubborn, stupid, insane, obstructive, destructive etc etc – but hey, that’s them and it’s not them, so to speak. It’s what they know, what they’ve experienced from childhood up to now, it’s how your partnership was, it’s just the way they are. End of, end of. Nothing right, nothing wrong. Just like there’s nothing right and nothing wrong with you.
Thirdly, did you ever consider that to have a fight there has to be more than one party involved? If you don’t fight, they can’t. Simple really. It doesn’t mean give in or give up, it means accept where you are. Just accept, full stop. It’s probably one of the most challenging aspects you will ever encounter. Why the hell should you after all? I agree, why the hell should you? BECAUSE …. Your children’s well being is at stake, your own physical health is at stake, your mental health is at stake, your ability to move on is at stake, your career, profit margin, relationships, etc are all at stake. You will be stuck in a rut if you choose to keep fighting. You might win, but at what cost? You might lose and the cost of that is even tougher. Get out of the kitchen .. NOW.
What will happen if you stop? Well, generally speaking, what most people find is that they can get a life, their children will come to them of their own free will, the ex will miraculously take up no time, space or energy, work will start to produce better results. Bottom line - you can regain control of your own life. If the other one wants to fight, you stop, look, listen – you respond rather than react. Your button isn’t pressed. You don’t get fired up. You begin to chose to look at how this could be truly happening again – you recognise where you might have had a part to play in the scenario – you then choose to alter your course for next time.
You are now in control of you. There is no-one and nothing that will get under your skin without your permission. You are able to be you without the negative feelings of hate, revenge, fear, anxiety, sadness. You are where you are and there is only now and the future. The only one you can affect right now is the present. Do so!
The line in the sand is drawn by you.