It's my firm belief that, in own peculiar ways, we're all screwed up. Everybody has weirdness in their family, everyone has endured some kind of trauma; no life is always perfect all the time.
When my ex-husband and I finally went to marriage counseling, it was too late. I knew that, but couldn't in good conscience not give it a try. I'd begged for years for us to go to therapy and every time I asked he'd scoff and say he didn't need therapy but if I wanted to go, have at it.
Towards the end of our joint counseling, I realized that I needed someone of my own to talk with, and I found an excellent therapist who kept me sane through the horror of the next 18 months. (She told me something that I still draw strength from, during moments of doubt: "Why do you think Jack has the inside track to God?")
It was during a session with our marriage counselor that he handed me divorce papers. He'd filed two days earlier (and initiated sex, the son-of-a-bitch) and presented them after giving me ultimatums that would have cost me custody. He said he had talked to the new pastor at church (whom I had to meet) and the pastor said (and I'm quoting from his typed out sheet he read from) I was either "manick depressed or bi polarized." He wanted me to check myself into a mental health facility or, barring that, move out and see a psychiatrist 3 times a week and go to work full-time.
As I sat there, bewildered and confused and trying to process exactly what had just been said, our marriage counselor cleared her throat in the silence that stretched out.
"Well," she said, "as for the inpatient treatment. She doesn't need to go and they wouldn't take her if she went."
I finally found words. Halting and very quietly, trying to rein in my panic and rage and pain, I said "I'm not leaving our children."
At which point, he leaned over and handed me a copy of his motion for dissolution.
He'd already filed.
If I had, in some bizarre moment of I-don't-know-what, agreed to move out (and I already wanted away from him so much, so badly it hurt everyday to look at him. It felt like prostitution every time we had sex. I hated every second of every minute I had to fake a smile and pretend we were a happy couple, so there was a moment when moving out had a glimmer of appeal, I can't lie.) I would have lost custody. He would have cried abandonment and that might have been it.
As I sat there reading the motion, my body flushed cold. He asked for full custody. He asked for every asset. He wanted everything. He wanted a divorce for cause.
Thirteen years of motherhood, most of them spent as a stay at home mom, and suddenly I was abusing our children? He accused me of abuse. ABUSE.
There was more, but all these years later, I can still see those words in black and white.
I read those words out loud and then fell very quiet. Once again, the therapist spoke into the silence.
"I think we're done here," she said.
The next few days were terrible. It was his birthday and our children wanted to take daddy out, so we all went to dinner at the club and I smiled as if nothing was wrong. On Sunday afternoon, two days after he handed me the papers, the process server came to our home and gave me the papers in front of our children before we had told them. I had to lie and say it was for something else. I don't remember what I came up with.
Now, he didn't get his divorce for cause. He didn't get full custody and he didn't get every asset. It cost me (and my parents) a large sum of money, and I had to give up most assets, but I got custody without having to drag the children through court. (At one point, he offered me 30,000 dollars per child to give him custody, but that's a story for another day.)
So that's how it started.
Fast forward to now, and I've just heard that he's entered therapy. I am quite sure that all of his issues continued on into his new marriage; our problems don't go away just because we deny they exist. God knows his relationship with his children is disastrous.
Maybe, just maybe, with his (FINALLY) entering into therapy, things will make sense for him, and he'll be able to work through his bitterness and anger and let go. I have refrained from commenting on this new development with our children. I want soooo badly to say, FINALLY AND THANK GOD BECAUSE YOUR FATHER IS FUCKING NUTS.
But that would be bad.
I've long ago given up hope that he'll see the error of his ways. I'd settle for a little peace.
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