Divorce Stories

Since I have all this time on my hands I’ve decided to share some of an interesting/disturbing/disgusting incident surrounding this divorce process.

It was right around the time that I was finally prepared to tell my spouse that it was time to end our marriage. I had made an appointment with our long-time financial planner so that we could get our taxes prepared- close to the end of March it must have been.

I sat down and before anything else, told him that we had agreed to divorce. The man nearly became unhinged. Now this was a person who had come well recommended years ago. We began our relationship with him when both of my parents passed away within a few months of each other and there was inherited money that needed to be dealt with.

We have kept that relationship going for 20 years or so and have had no complaints about how our money has been managed, or how he has helped us navigate through things like college student loan issues for our kids as they all moved through higher ed. This person has always been soft-spoken, knowledgeable, sort of nerdy, definitely focused on facts, and never pushy about any decisions we have made.

I’m not sure that I can even begin to describe the person who presented himself to me on that day in March. It was not the man I had known for 20 years. I understand and acknowledge concern. I comprehend shock over the news that I had just shared. I can even accept, to some degree on his part, a sense of disappointment or failure that the future we had been growing was going to undergo a significant change. I am still in disbelief that I became the victim of a tirade for most of that tax appointment.

I listened to him tell me, over and over, how he had seen the lives of clients fall apart after divorce, how the process would be contentious; how it would be a struggle at best; how it would go on for a year or more; how no matter what we may believe there would always be something that would come up to cause disagreement or even open warfare.

He stressed, almost vehemently, just how much attorney’s set out to line their own pockets, caring little for their clients, and how they clearly delighted in pitting party against party in a divorce.

He felt the need to assure me, repeatedly, that there would not be enough money to live. I assume he was speaking about me (rather than us) with that comment because of the fact that I no longer work and my spouse has an income.

He felt the need to tell me the story of his own parents horrid marriage…tell me 4 times that they were married for over 50 years and readily admit that the marriage should have ended decades earlier…except that they would never have been able to live. They stayed married, living in separate areas of their home until his mother died.

He liked to stress that line, “you won’t be able to live” along with his constant observation that “I’ve seen this so many times” or that “it always happens this way.”

He shared the horror stories of just how much healthcare would cost me each month, based of course on the fact that he supports a family of 4 and that I had only 3 choices of plans. It made no matter to him that neither of those facts applied to me.

He encouraged, between the dire warnings, that my spouse and I go to counseling. Again, it was no interest to him that with each cajoling plea to seek guidance I stressed that we both clearly know our own mind and our decision would not change.

Intermixed throughout all of this was the clear insinuation that I would do myself a great favor if I simply settled in for the long haul, forgot about my own happiness and needs and rode out the rest of my marriage until, like his parents, one of us passed on. He even, without any subtlety or grace, noted that my only alternative was to find myself “someone with money to take care of me.”

**I must inject a note to my dear blogger pal Alice at this point– calm down dear. I have ranted and raged over this man enough for both of us since this day happened. I am almost to the point that I can find a pitiful sense of amusement in the story now. Don’t waste your time or energy.

I had a rather bad cold that day, so I think that much of what he was spouting off about actually didn’t faze me at the time, or I was just more focused on trying to breathe and not cough myself out of the chair. Believe me, I heard his words, over and over, but it wasn’t until the drive home that they actually began to sink in.

A few times during the 45 minute appointment I remember looking at him incredulously. I asked him at one point, after the 3rd time around with his parents story, if he was honestly telling me that I had two choices: stick it out and be miserable for 30 more years, or find myself a cardboard box to live under the local overpass. After a shrug, and likely his interjection of one of his favorite ‘you can’t live on that amount’ replies, I clearly remember telling him I would gladly choose the box.

The irony of that meeting is evident in the fact that nothing that he predicted, at least so far, has come to fruition. We discussed, agreed, moved forward, continue to make progress without lawyers sucking our money from us or being involved at all, have made quite equitable decisions that will allow us both to live, not in a box, but between walls and with a roof, and remain amicable.

I have had to have email contact with him a few times since that day. I remain coolly detached, ask my question, and move ahead. Today in fact, in a reply to me, he managed to throw in one of his favorite statements when answering my question- the one about how he’s seen it happen before, so many times.

My amateur psychology degree tells me that there’s something underlying these reactions. There are some deeper issues here that this man cannot move beyond, that this man must project on to others. Or perhaps he was just a misogynistic horse’s ass all along…

I have to admit that I find myself feeling rather smug during those moments when I can share with him in an email just how easy this process has been, just how smoothly we are moving ahead, just how things like his dire prediction of an $800+ health insurance bill per month will actually be a mere $25 per month- all thanks to my spouse candidly and openly reminding me that I can take advantage of the fact that I am still covered by the military healthcare system, and will be for life.

The best day, I predict, is yet to come. That will be the day when all of this is over and I walk into his office for the last time. I plan to leave him a small cardboard box and perhaps a tarp as my final goodbye gesture prior to firing him as my CPA.

Wanting…and tasting

Are you familiar with that idiom that goes something like “I wanted it so bad I could taste it…”

I oddly remember my mother used to say that sometimes. Right now, it happens to be a great way to describe this divorce process. The wanting to be finished is palpable. Freedom is so close that I can taste the sweetness on my tongue.

Yet we wait. We start down all those new pathways that one must take when they end a part of their existence, yet still have to start living all over again… but we just can’t quite reach the finish line.

There are things to be done, of course. Lots and lots of paperwork, and changes: removing names and connected identities, all sorts of movement from we to me. Some of that can be done now, during the waiting time. A lot of those things are forced to wait as well, and then be accomplished in a flurry of post-final-decree-I-am-single-and-ready-to-get-on-with-my-life-madness.

I don’t wait well. As I just said to someone yesterday, Patience is not a virtue that I claim. I am being forced to wait. I love the state that I live in, or at least I do in all respects except for divorce. In an uncontested divorce with no minor children, whereby every single aspect of married life has been looked over, divided, listed and assigned…whereby every financial detail has been agreed upon…all without lawyers because both parties wanted the divorce equally…my gorgeous-for-it’s-natural-beauty, liberal leaning  state still enforces a 90 day waiting period before a divorce can be finalized.

I have filed forms that were nothing more than 10 pages of ‘check the appropriate box’ responses all referencing our agreement. They sit, signed and stamped, in a file in my county clerks office. I have completed the remaining forms- again, 20 odd pages of checked boxes referencing that very same agreement…waiting for me to stand in front of a judge, assure him that ‘yes, we both want to end this marriage,’ and then watch him place his name on a paper printed from my computer, releasing my spouse and myself.

Do I feel as if we are wasting 90 precious days of freedom? Clearly the answer is yes. I want my own name on my own accounts. I want to find my own new home and not be encumbered by the fact that no one will believe that I will have an income post-divorce because they have no evidence, only my word that ‘the divorce will be final in mid-July.’

I want to change all the we things and make them me things. I want my identity back, fully and completely. Even though I was a fully functional, independent adult before marriage, maintained personal accounts throughout marriage, have an amazing credit score, continued to work during most of the marriage, and can still be considered mentally competent to pay my bills on time and correctly, I am now fully confronted by my social standing as married female.

And I don’t like. But…I will not go off on a feminist inspired tirade, claiming sexism and oppression and marginalization and patriarchy, even though I really, deeply, and sincerely want to.

I will simply reiterate that a 90 day wait period, in this type of divorce, is ridiculous! I would like my judicial system to come to terms with the fact that some of it’s citizens can very easily think for themselves, come to mutual agreement, and move on with living. Autonomy doesn’t have to be a bad word. It does not have to be a word that strikes fear into the hearts of men who begin to imagine chaos and civil uprising and desperate females crying at their courtroom doors, begging and pleading and claiming that ‘it was all a misunderstanding…I never really meant to leave him…let me go back…I promise that I’ll behave…’

Having no choice, no option, no ability to move on, only to sit and imagine that far off day when pen on paper provides freedom, well that sucks.

90 days of waiting sucks, pure and simple.

 

Where to begin…

How about this:

If everything continues on the path that my feet have been walking over the last month or so I believe that I will officially be a single woman by August.

I need to say that again.

I have every hope, barring any unforeseen disasters, that my divorce will be complete before the summer is over.

I move ahead each day now with that goal, that magical final end in my sights, and it is amazing how that knowledge has changed my outlook about so many things.

For so long I dreaded the telling, ran from the conversation that had to happen between my spouse and myself. When the day came, and his reaction was clean and simple and as straightforward as one could wish for, I saw the tightly closed door finally begin to open.

When, after just a few short and specific conversations, we had agreed to every aspect of ending our marriage, the door opened a bit more.

There have been hiccups, because life and dreams and goals don’t always happen in a straight, uninterrupted line, but the irony of those hiccups is that they have been caused by others. My husband and I both see a clear road out of this marriage and we both have the same goal.

Our agreement and movement and determination aren’t really a surprise. I know that he was miserable. I also know that, while I spent 34 years attempting to disregard the clear knowledge that we are two totally different people, he can’t be characterized as a monster. Irony shows me that it is possible, when we find a topic that we both agree on, that we can actually move forward and get the job done. Irony is also trying very hard not to push the fact that the agreeable topic turns out to be ending our marriage…

While there’s a good deal more to tell, I will save some of the stories for another time.

It just seemed important to say (write) these words, to acknowledge this fact, and to watch the door swing wider each day.

On Responsibility…

I’ve been pondering on that word a lot lately- responsibility and the taking of it, the lack of it, the inability to accept it, the fear of it…

What allows some people to easily step up, claim their place and do their just duty in the realm of responsibility while others do everything that they can to avoid it.

I know that it’s easy to imagine the worst, to invent in your mind all of the bad and wrong and horrid outcomes that might come from taking responsibility. I’m guilty of doing that very thing. But what about claiming and owning and feeling empowered by the knowing that you did step up, speak out, say “Yep, it was me, or I’m the one and I take responsibility for it…”

All those old sociology texts packed away in a cardboard box in my closet would probably tell me that we learn responsibility from our surroundings; from watching the people we are closest to as they step up, do the right thing, and take responsibility. I can’t argue with that. I believe that. We learn by example. We as humans are heavily influenced by our social groups and environment.

I also have a social psych book buried in that box somewhere as well. I remember being fascinated by that class. It was the perfect marriage between the social and the personal, the environment and the inherent aspects of the self that may, or may not influence us to be who we are. I loved learning how the two disciplines can work side by side. I always believed (still do) that sociology and psychology are not mutually exclusive. We are complex beings, and believing that there is only one way to define our behaviors seems rather elitist and ill-conceived to me.

In my world right now, with this focus on responsibility muddling up my thoughts, I’m even more convinced of the complexity between the inside and the outside.

Shameless promotion

By way of introduction:

  1. I’m a mom, and it is my duty to shamelessly tell you about all the wonderful, amazing, creative, and sometimes even awe-inspiring things that my 3 adult children do.
  2. I have the cheapest (meaning FREE) WordPress plan. I cannot download audio files with this plan so I apologize because obviously it would make this entire post much more relevant and perhaps also inspire more folks to listen without having to go to extra steps.
  3.  My son, who works in the analytics industry by day, just produced this album:

https://sayspeaker.bandcamp.com/releases

This is where I am cursing lightly under my breath, because you will now have to possibly copy and paste this url into another window to hear it. Again, I am sorry for my cheapness frugal options when it comes to working with WordPress. Most of you should be able to simply click the link obviously, but the impact with the album art IN the post would have been spectacular.

Please take a moment to listen. And please feel free, if you enjoy what you hear, to also take a moment to help me shamelessly promote this site/album on any and all social media that you might have at your disposal.

I might be rather biased, but I think it’s pretty good.

Men

There are men that I don’t like very much right now.

There are many reasons that I don’t feel very fond of men in general, and of some men in particular.

I do have a soft spot in my heart for older men though, and I realize that this has been the case for a long time.

So many of the older gentlemen who were patients of mine over the years during my dental career were wonderful. Of course they may have smelled a little sometimes, or needed to trim their ear hair, or those long wiry eyebrows. They may even have said some things that I could easily have taken offense to, sexist things that for the men of their generation were common, and accepted. For those men I would just smile, choosing not to take exception to their off-hand comments.

Those older men were bent, and often shaky. Their clothing hung off bodies that I assume were once strong and healthy and fit. They had a hard time hearing or seeing or both.

I found myself looking at them, and listening to their stories and wondering what life had been like for them. I had a few that were nasty. Curmudgeon is the word of choice for them, but I always assumed (perhaps incorrectly) that they might simply be lonely, or sad, or fearful of what was coming in the short time they had left.

I often found myself, at one point or another in our conversation, giving these older men a brief touch on their arm or hand. No, I didn’t ask, and yes it was clearly an invasion of their personal space, but I never had one complain or pull away. And I know that non-complaint doesn’t make it right. It did however, seem like it was important to connect with each of them, to say to them “I hear you and you’re important.”

This act of touching happened again for me, just the other day and it has made me wonder, in light of my own views on sexism and inappropriate behavior exhibited by men toward women, if I am just as guilty as I would assume a man to be if he felt it necessary to touch my arm or hand uninvited.

I was in the grocery store. It was the morning of the Super Bowl and the lines were LONG. I didn’t have a lot in my cart and neither did the older man behind me. A lady in the line next to us commented that we both might fit the “20 items or less criteria” and move to the line that had no one in it. Each of us decided to stay put, but we thanked her for her suggestion.

When my turn came I unloaded my cart and placed the divider thingy down. I also tried to move my cart up as far as possible so the man behind me could start unloading his stuff. By that time we’d been waiting in line for a good 15 minutes or longer. He hung back with his groceries and the space on the belt was wide open the entire way before he began unloading. He slowly put one item after another down. Two quarts of milk. Some lettuce. Hot dogs and buns. I had a feeling that he was trying not to crowd me or push forward too fast. I was still stuck, unmoved because the person who had just finished was chatting while having issues with their payment.

Something made me begin rearranging his groceries, moving them up to fill the open space while I rather offhandedly said, “Oh here, let’s get this moving. We’ve been here long enough.”

I can honestly say that I’ve never overstepped like that before. I don’t make it a routine practice to tell people how to put their groceries on the belt, nor do I typically jump in and handle their items either. He chuckled though and said, “When you’re over 80, you have all time in the world. I’m in no hurry.”

It was at that point that I noticed his ice cream tub and I asked him if he planned to eat the whole tub himself. What was I thinking! First I take charge of the man’s groceries then I insinuate that he would seriously consider eating a gallon size tub of ice cream. The final straw to all this was that as I was insulting his eating habits I also, without any thought to him or his comfort, automatically reached out and touched his forearm.

So there it was. I was, apparently without regard, touching another nice older man just like I had done on numerous occasions without considering that I might be offending him or making him uncomfortable.

I can only guess that my actions started during my dental career as a means to try to connect with, or reassure fearful patients. It wasn’t just older men that I would gently touch. I held kids hands. I have placed my hand over women’s hands, or given a female patient the same forearm touch. I’ve even gently patted the shoulder of a patient on occasion. I’ve often wondered though if I feel a connection to older men because I see my dad in these men. Do I feel a need to connect on a physical level, even so very briefly, with them because I miss the ability to do that with my dad?

I haven’t begun stalking men over 70, or randomly reaching out to inappropriately touch the arms of senior men I pass so I have hope that I can keep this in check.

By the way, the man behind me in line…he was shopping for his wife who was on crutches and couldn’t walk. The ice cream was for her…