If we couldn’t live together in peace as a married couple, why would it be expected that we should cohabitate harmoniously while going through the divorce process?
Honestly, sometimes I wondered who created the laws and whom they were designed to protect.
I didn’t need a jurisprudence degree to ascertain that the abused wife and impressionable, innocent offspring who were put in the middle of all the tension, fighting and mayhem on a daily basis were not at the top of the list.
Crazily, the statutes seemed to safeguard those that others needed protection from.
Here’s how it worked in our abode:
Dick provided for our family financially. Since he was the sole breadwinner and I did nothing with my life except sleep all day and watch Oprah (according to Dick), there wasn’t enough money for him to move out temporarily and provide for my and our kids’ living expenses until the divorce was final. He had every right to stay in HIS house.
And boy did he milk that experience for all that it was worth.
Honestly, I didn’t know how he was able to effectively treat his patients, considering that he must have spent an exorbitant amount of time conjuring up ways to continually torment me (all within the confines of the law, thank you very much).
While living separately under the same roof, Dick and I had a “legal” temporary arrangement set up regarding what days/evenings of the week we would spend with Ashley. Since Josh was of the “age of majority,” he didn’t need to be included in the agreement. However, he just went along with the plan to uncomplicate a complicated situation. Or something like that.
When it was Dick’s turn to be with the kids, he always took them out to eat. On my evenings, I cooked. Josh, Ashley and I ate at the kitchen table.
Many evenings when I was the custodial parent, Dick would pick up some fast food, bring it home and coordinate the time he sat down at the kitchen table to when the three of us were about to eat.
Heaven forbid he should let me have alone time with our kids. He had to always be hovering over, keeping watch and putting in his two cents when it wasn’t appropriate, requested or desired.
As if we were all dogs participating in a Pavlovian experiment, as soon as the dinnertime hour rolled around on “Mom’s night,” the kids and I simultaneously lost our appetites.
One evening, things escalated and the sh*t hi the proverbial fan.
As usual, I got the table ready for dinner and put my setting in the place that Dick usually sat at. He came into the kitchen, moved my dish, silverware and glass to another spot and announced that he would be joining us.
Since it was his home too, I technically couldn’t tell him to get lost. Although, if he wasn’t trying to be such a dick, he wouldn’t have pulled what he was about to do. And he wasn’t honoring the agreement of allowing me my time uninterrupted with our kids
I tried to ignore him and completed my meal prep.
That evening I grilled steaks for my kids and myself. As we were starting to enjoy our dinner, compliments came forth from my offspring about how delicious the meal was.
At that point, Dick asked me if I bought him a steak. Without missing a beat, he continued, “You only bought three steaks. This will be documented. You are spending MY money.
Buy him a steak? Make him dinner? We were separated, and going through a divorce. I wasn’t his cook, servant, maid, etc., etc., etc. I wasn’t supposed to be doing a damn thing for him at that point. He knew it. But he was going to try to make me out to be a horrible person anytime he could in the presence of our offspring.
I tried to be nonchalant and answered, “Whatever. Do what you want.”
Of course, things escalated into a huge argument, tempers flew and appetites were lost.
Of course, this wouldn’t have happened if there were some laws in place stating that the custodial parent would have uncompromised time with the kids or consequences would result for the noncompliant party.
Looking for some peace and quiet, Ashley went down to the basement. I went to Josh’s room and he joined me. Dick went to get a car wash.
Josh and I had a long discussion.
He told me how uncomfortable it was for him and Ashley when Dick did this.
Duh!!! You think???
Josh went on to say that when he was away at college, Dick would call him up and ask if I yelled in the house. He proceeded to inform Josh that if he would testify in court against me, he would fly him in from school.
Of course, Josh refused.
The nerve of that sorry excuse of a man to put his son in that predicament.
My blood pressure was soaring at that point. I tried to remain outwardly calm and rational.
It was a practice that was getting harder and harder to do.
My mind went into self-pity mode.
Why was this happening to me?
I was a good person. I didn’t deserve this treatment.
Life was so unfair.
I didn’t know how much longer I could continue on like that.
And that was exactly what Dick was hoping for and counting on…that I would break and insist that we end the divorce process swiftly and I would agree to his terms and conditions.
Realizing that if I lost it, Dick would be the great benefactor in this sick, twisted game.
I couldn’t let him win.
So I returned swiftly to my survival mode of reasoning:
I don’t think. I don’t feel. I just deal.