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Here is the thing. If there were two things that I could do over again. It would be this: 1) don’t try to be nice and 2) start keeping notes.
Always Be Nice–Or Not
Now I was a girl who was raised to always be nice and amiable and polite…and when I first told my neighborhood friends at a Christmas cookie exchange that I thought my marriage was over, they all asked me why I was being so nice about it. Everyone agreed, that if he had suddenly decided that he wanted out that he must be cheating (we really didn’t know that to be true at the time, despite the bathroom scene…because, yeah, I am that gullible) AND they also agreed that I had every right to NOT be nice. If my marriage was over, I just wanted a nice quiet divorce. I wanted what was best for the kids. And I still believed that he would do the right thing. He would support his children. He was my best friend, of course, he would do that. Oh, sweet innocence. You were so….sweet. Divorce is nothing if not enlightening.
We decided that we would file our paperwork for the court ourselves and save a ton of money. Sounded like a great plan to me because I did not have a POT to piss in. I was leaving this relationship with absolutely zero savings, two maxed out credit cards and a month to month lease on a house my parents had offered to help pay for. I left the papers with him and told him to fill out his part and then give them to me. And I waited, and I waited. And I waited. He told me that he didn’t know the information, the financial stuff, and then he started talking about what he wanted, what he thought he deserved.
You Cannot Have Your Cake and Eat It Too!
It turns out, he thought he deserved, well, everything. I told him I would wait until February the 1st for him to fill out the documents and if he did not then I was going to retain a lawyer. On February 15th I retained that lawyer…she ended up being too nice…and I later had to find a new one.
Which brings me to the second thing, I would do differently. If I had to do it over again, I would keep better notes. When Gary found out that I was not going to be a push over and give him everything he wanted, for example, the majority of the time with our children, all of our savings, and all of the household furnishings, while I took all of the debt and no possessions but my family heirlooms…Let’s just say the proverbial shit hit the proverbial fan. He was not happy. And that was when the threats, and the insults, and the shit talk, and the overall ugliness began.
Still Best Friends, Right?
For a while, I brushed it aside as a passing phase. You have to understand. He was my best friend for 20 plus years. We had had arguments and been mad at each other before, and we always forgave each other. In my mind, this would be no different. He would remember that he cared about my well-being, that he didn’t set out to hurt me, and he would do the right thing.
He Didn’t Remember…
So I didn’t keep track of things. It wasn’t until later when I realized how important the little details were at making up the big story that I went back and pieced it together as best I could.
Blabbing Is A Good Thing?
Thankfully I am a huge blabber mouth and had talked to my friends, his family, and anyone who would listen and had a trail of text messages and emails a mile long from which to reconstruct the past few months. I should have kept better notes. What I did have was a diary of bad behavior—his and mine—that I kept on my computer in a file called “Ugly Stuff”. Printed out for the judge it was 18 pages of mostly one-line entries. From him refusing to bring our children home at the end of his weekend (yep, that’s kidnapping) and her telling my kids that I just wanted their father’s money. And Carol texting me in the middle of the night telling me what I loser I was and how I blew it with such a “wonderful man” all while denying that she was sleeping with him, even months after we split. This was a pretty constant thing for a while until I got smart and threatened to get a no contact order against her unless she stopped. That worked…but then she called a cop friend of hers and told him that I had threatened to kill her…I hadn’t really, just made some cryptic Facebook posts about pushing slinkies down a flight of stairs and references to wood chippers, which my friends jumped on and had good times with. Carol still believes I really was looking for a hitman on Facebook. Thankfully the judge laughed that one off. Like I said, my Ugly Stuff file was a journal of bad behavior on both sides.
When You Go to Court, Everything is Evidence
But in the end it was also evidence. Evidence that disproved many of the lies that he tried to put past the judge in our final divorce hearing (which happened over two years after we split) which is a story unto itself) and substantiated every claim that I made. It was invaluable to my winning custody of my children. And that was all that was important to me…my kids belong with me.
I Didn’t Choose This, Why Do I Lose?
One thing on that subject before I wrap this up. That is one thing that I still can’t quite wrap my tiny little brain around. I believe that children in divorce situations should have time with both parents. But I really struggled with the concept that he should have 50% of their time. In the end, we had to hire a custody evaluator who decided what was best for the kids and I was awarded more time. But from the very beginning, I wanted to do the right thing by my kids, but could not swallow this one fact… That because he decided that he wanted to be with someone who was not me, that I had to give up 50% of my time with MY kids. I did not step out on my family, and I would NEVER have done anything to jeopardize my children’s happiness and emotional well-being. But he did. He destroyed their reality and created so much conflict and turmoil in their lives. And yet, at least to me, it felt like I was the one who had to pay the price by now not being able to put my children to bed every night, see their sleepy smiles every morning, and share every birthday, holiday, and exciting first with them… It was heartbreaking for me at the time and just felt completely unfair. And you know what? It has never gotten easier. It still sucks to share my kids. I still absolutely hate being away from them for days at a time. But that, my dears, is life. So I tell myself what I would tell you if you were whining to me about it. Suck it up Buttercup! Until next time!
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