Supervising my love-life

July 15th, 2012

From time to time during the course of the divorce, my (now ex-) husband would make weird references to my “sharing [my time] with somebody special”. But during his deposition of me, he made clear that he planned to attack me during the trial for being some kind of child-abusing slut for having started dating somebody more than three years after he locked me out of the house.

He’s getting married in two weeks.

Inequality enforced by the family courts

June 19th, 2012

My ex-husband apparently lost his job recently. (He continues to refuse to comply with court orders to provide documentation, but our child has started receiving the “dependent child” allotment from the unemployment office in our state.) Partly as a result of this recent job loss, the ex was allowed to drop child support (other than the state-enforced allotment) and has been ordered to pay only thirty-five percent of our son’s uncovered costs (medical, school, etc). I have to pay the other sixty-five percent.

The justification for this unequal apportionment was that I’d be making more (possibly) with my salary than he’d be making with his severance package and the unemployment payments. I wasn’t allowed to point out to the court that I’ve been ordered to pay the ex more than half of my after-tax salary (tax-free to him) in alimony. Even if he were entirely unemployed (that is, even if he didn’t have the part-time job(s)), he’d still be “making” more than me.

All along, the ex had the money and the power in the relationship. Throughout the three and a half years of our divorce, his attorney was allowed to shout, even scream, his lies at the judge, while my attorney was repeatedly interrupted and shouted down. In three and a half years, I was barely, if ever, “heard” by the court.

It is unfortunate that this situation is so common. I’ve actually done much better than have many other women in my position. But the family-court system has again displayed its well-documented tendency to enforce power-unequal relationships and to continue previous abuse on behalf of the abusers. How sad, that people like my son go to the courts for protection, only to be treated so shabbily.

What is “good” in a relationship?

June 19th, 2012

My therapist has assigned this for my “homework” this week: figuring out what I view as “good” in a (romantic) relationship. I pointed out that, with my background (an abusive childhood followed shortly thereafter by an abusive marriage), I don’t have much experience with “good”, and clearly my judgement is suspect. After all, had I had a solid grasp of “good” or “healthy”, it seems doubtful that I would have married a man who turned out to be disburbingly similar to my own mother.

But I suppose this is something that I need to work through, or at least consider investigating, if for no other reason than in hopes that I won’t be quite so ready to make the same mistakes as I have in the past. Granted, I’ve already become aware of how completely my ex-(yay!)-husband fulfills the checklists of “warnings he may be an abuser”, but that is in retrospect. It would be better, surely, to be able to have some confidence going forward, rather than only in looking back.

So what is a “good” relationship? What does one look for, both positive and negative?

For so long, I could easily have been presented as a “needy” or “clingy” woman — though only after a relationship had begun. I’d been so deprived of positive attention that any attention that wasn’t actively negative (in the early days) was precious to me, which left me open to (and likely attracted toward me) abusers who would take advantage. I hadn’t had much in the way of healthy relationships so, not knowing any better, I accepted unhealthy ones. I’d like something better now, but how would I, of all people, know how to recognize that?

One thing I should probably start doing more of is “listening to my gut”. For too many decades, I discounted my own feelings and desires and deferred instead to what others claimed was right and “for my own good”, merely because the person hurting me insisted that he was doing it “out of love”. Actions should speak louder than words, and my own feelings should be viewed as more reflective of my own needs than somebody else’s self-serving and unsupported say-so.

Another thing I should probably do more of is speaking for myself. I don’t mean just complaining when I don’t like something. I mean asking for what I want (after figuring out in the first place what that actually is), being willing to say “no” when that’s what I mean, and being willing to give up a relationship if it’s hurting me.

If I’m putting all my emotional health at the disposal of somebody who’s draining me, will I have anything left that I can invest in somebody who genuinely wishes me well? Probably not. It’s the “oxygen mask” analogy: when the plane loses cabin pressure, I can’t help my child with his mask if I haven’t put my own mask on, since I’ll have passed out already. It’s not (entirely) selfish to take care of myself; in fact, sometimes self-care can be the more caring and un-selfish thing to do.

A “good” relationship is probably one that encourages me to put my own oxygen mask on first, if and when I feel the need.

How quickly it starts up again

June 8th, 2012

It only took my ex-husband about a week and a half to return to his previous (repeatedly, conclusively, and very-expensively disproven) claims that all of my documentation (cancelled checks, doctors’ bills, etc) was fraudulent, and “the only way” for him to determine the true-truth (as opposed to the mere facts which must suffice for us normal people) is for him to be given complete control of all of my finances.

On the basis of these ludicrous claims, he is justifying his renewed refusal to comply with court orders or pay child support. And because I’m having to pay him tens of thousands of dollars a year in alimony for more than a decade (tax-free to him), he can afford a lawyer to defend himself, while I can’t afford one to protect our son.

There seems to be a growing awareness of how the family-court system (in America, at least) is being serially used by abusers as a means of continuing their abuse and control of their victims. I think it’s appalling that my child is being forced to serve as another data point.

Finally divorced

June 1st, 2012

Finally, I’m divorced. The terms are staggeringly unfair, but that is often the case when one party has almost all the power and resources (and when that party also hires a “shark” and “plays dirty”). But I was able to keep my little business, which allows me to keep a roof over my head, etc.

My ex’s girlfriend is already announcing their engagement. I wish them both the best, but it would be really nice if the two of them moved on and left me and my boyfriend alone. They need to “get a life, already!”


April 21st, 2012

Back when my husband first locked me out of the house, I had about fifteen hundred bucks to my name (with a monthly rent payment of eight twenty-five coming due) and no recent work experience. At that time, he filed with the court, saying that, because he viewed it as possible for me to re-start my education and career, he should not be ordered to pay me any maintenance (the current term for “alimony”).

In my efforts to reach a settlement, I offered not to seek any spousal support, despite the fact that he has the house and nearly all the money, and was earning three to four times what I was at the time.

He’s now claiming that he’s probably going to be laid off in a few weeks, so I should be ordered to pay him maintenance (in addition to not paying child support any more). He claims that I can always go out and get a second job in order to support his household in addition to mine. He has no plans to look for work.

He also plans to re-file his demand that I be psychologically evaluated and then committed, because I’m mentally incompetent and so cripplingly shy that I can’t work.

His naked greed is breathtaking.

“Dependent child” and taxes

March 21st, 2012

I just got my 2011 taxes done. Once I’ve sent in my payments, I will have paid thirty-two percent of my Adjusted Gross Income in state and federal taxes. That’s on top of the forty-three percent I paid last year in divorce-related expenses.

My husband wants any divorce settlement to award him the dependent-child benefit on his taxes. I’ve been taking this exemption since he locked us out of the house, because our child has been living with me. My husband says that “the only remedy” would be to award him the exemption for the upcoming years.

But he already makes more money than I do, receives loads of work benefits that I’ll never have, and pays only about fifteen percent of his income in taxes. How would it be “fair” to make the inequality even greater?

Unfortunately, the overriding ethic in family court seems to be “splitting things down the middle”, but in favor of the man. So my husband may actually receive this award.

Of course, that will only happen if my husband allows the divorce to be finalized. At the rate he’s going, the issue won’t be up for a decision until after our child turns eighteen. Which would be almost funny.

Getting older

March 15th, 2012

Sometimes aging seems like such a crock. My body betrays me, and in such embarassing and annoying ways. I don’t have anything “major” wrong with me. It’s more along the lines of being gassy at inappropriate times, such as the altar call at church. *blush*

But maybe, together with my Twelve-Step work for my codependence program, aging is helping me “unclench” a bit. I don’t have to be “perfect” anymore. I’ve been through enough that I’ve earned the right to screw up and “just deal”, rather than hyperventilating non-stop.

It helps to have kind friends and good advice. Thanks to these new assets, maybe my next few decades won’t be quite so fraught. That would be really nice.

“Exactly as it should be.”

March 14th, 2012

“My life is exactly as it should be.” “My circumstances are exactly what they should be.” “I am exactly where I shouldbe in my life.”


These sorts of statements get my back up, but I think they’re meant to say something other than what they appear to. When people say things like the above to those of us who have had fairly miserable backgrounds, they don’t necessarily mean that everything is as we would like things to be. They mean instead that things could hardly have gone any other way.

Suppose somebody is in a high-rise, and, for no good reason, a bad guy pushes him off the deck. The man falls fifty stories, bounces a couple times on the pavement, and then is run over by a Mack truck. Did he deserve to have this happen? Did he want to have his body end up looking like hamburger? No. But, given the circumstances (the bad guy shoving him, falling that height, bouncing a couple times, and being squished by the truck), it is perfectly reasonable that his body has ended up looking like hamburger.

Given the actions and the circumstances which led up to the coroner’s van pulling up, it is to be expected that the dearly departed would be in this condition. It’s not that it’s “right”; it’s that no other outcome could reasonably have been expected.

It’s “exactly as it should be” in the sense that the immediate events could not have ended up any other way.

I think this is what people mean when they tell me that, (for example) as lousy as my current court case is, it is “exactly as it should be.” Given the man who is divorcing me, and given how profitably I made it for him to behave as badly as he has; given the “shark” of an attorney he’d hired, and given how “nice” and “patient” I’d been for way too long; there could have been no other outcome. It’s not that the way I’ve been treated is “right”; it’s that the circumstances — some of which I created — could not logically have been expected to lead anywhere else.

The terminology still rankles, but at least it sort of makes sense.

Hurting myself by “being nice”

March 8th, 2012

Part of the reason my divorce case has gone so long and been so painful is that, for way too many years, I’ve been “too” nice.

By “being patient” (with people who were knowingly doing wrong), “being understanding” (with people who were knowingly deceiving), “being supportive” (of those who were intentially harming my interests), “being cooperative” (with those who were openly manipulating the system), and just generally “being nice” (by being a doormat while waiting for people to “do the right thing”), I enabled bad behavior to succeed.

Why am I now surprised that bad behavior is so strongly in evidence? Why do I ask myself why it has continued for so very many years?

The abuse began and has continued because I made sure that it worked well — for those who were doing the abusing. Of course the abuse continued! Why wouldn’t it have, right?

Yes, it’s nice to be “nice”, but only when one is being “nice” in a global sense. When all one is doing is being a doormat for somebody who wants a “thing” on which to wipe his feet, one isn’t being “nice”; one is being a doormat. It’s not the same thing.