My guess is that like me and countless others youíve got your divorce papers filed away in a box somewhere...
... well itís not the sort of thing you frame and hang on the wall is it! Either that, or youíve just never bothered yet to get round to actually divorcing, but youíve sorted out the money between you and the children live one place or another.
Whichever scenario fits you best, Iím willing to bet that there are still times when your buttons can get pressed. You know the buttons, the hot, ouch Ė damn I forgot that it can still be sore ones. Yes, weíve 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 itíll be met with less resistance than if youíd suggested it two, three or even five years ago Ė but no Ė that resistance is still there.
And then up comes the buried resentment Ė the unfairness, the injustice of the system, the why me, how come they didnít listen to my side of the story. Itís 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. Itís 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 lilí olí you huh?
Itís all so bloody unfair isnít 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 Ė then, a court order, an injunction, or an agreement between you. It ends eventually Ė the fighting, the desperation, the busyness of proving yourself.
And whatís left is reality.
Itís a cold stark place when your expectations havenít been met. When you feel that youíve got the crumbs and theyíve got a loaf. Worse still, there isnít anything to fight for anymore, the decisionís 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. Itís changed shape, colour and there are even ugly bumps on it. Itís also completely off target Ė itís stopped well left of where you were aiming.
In place of the fire and adrenaline Ė loneliness, emptiness, lost cause, depression, self recrimination - should have done this or that, self flagellation Ė I canít do this or that, self imposed restrictions Ė I wonít 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 Ė theyíre 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 Ö whoís going to care anyway, patently I wasnít good enough and thatís just been proven Ė I didnít get as much money as I wanted, and I didnít get the children. The prospect of having Ďaccessí 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 - Iíve been shown up, Iím mortified, Iím humiliated.
The pain when dropping the kids off at their home Ė 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 youíre a woman you pray you left the mascara off that morning.
Christmas has never been so lonely. New Year is a farce Ė more of the same old, same old. Birthdays on new dates to fit in with access. Foreign holidays take on a fear of themselves Ė will they come back?
S>>>T>>>>>Ooooooo>>>>>>>>>P right there.
Ok, so life can be tough. Arenít you milking this just a little too far, arenít 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 wouldnít, so donít do it now.
Letís get a grip Ö. Come on, Iíll lend you hand. First things first ..
What actually happened? Ė 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 thatís easy for me to say, but trust me itís not.
I wouldnít be normal if I didnít 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 Iíve never got out of the way Ė but then heís never been on this side of the fence and doesnít know what it feels like. In fact thatís 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 thatís me mind-reading him and it may not be true. I certainly was scared until I realised that as long as the children werenít 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 Ė no, of course not Ė thatís 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 Ė no thatís taken me a long time to swallow too. How could they be so bullish, stubborn, stupid, insane, obstructive, destructive etc etc Ė but hey, thatís them and itís not them, so to speak. Itís what they know, what theyíve experienced from childhood up to now, itís how your partnership was, itís just the way they are. End of, end of. Nothing right, nothing wrong. Just like thereís 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 donít fight, they canít. Simple really. It doesnít mean give in or give up, it means accept where you are. Just accept, full stop. Itís 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 Ö. Your childrenís 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 Ė you respond rather than react. Your button isnít pressed. You donít get fired up. You begin to chose to look at how this could be truly happening again Ė you recognise where you might have had a part to play in the scenario Ė 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.