It always feels the worst when you see a happy couple or a pregnant woman. One of my coworkers, a newlywed, proclaims yesterday, “Being married is fabulous, fabulous. I don’t have to worry about anything anymore. We’re getting our new couches on Saturday!” Yep, she’s a newlywed. They never quite understand that matching furniture and blenders do not solve marital woes, and there will be woes.
I didn’t want to be a divorced couple. In fact, I never thought I would be one of those people. This narrative is supposed to be about my world but somehow my ex is woven into the strands of my life, still. He’s like a vampire trying to suck all the life out of me, he’s been trying to do that since the day I told him his lies would no longer suffice. Marriage happens when two earthly souls collide, its magical. Divorce occurs when those same souls run as far away from one another as they can–they’re running two marathons in the opposite direction. Although most of the time, they don’t even realize it, until they get to the finish line, and there is no one there cheering them on or to share in the victory. Marathons are difficult and challenging, as is life, getting to the end only to be alone isn’t what anyone wants, but it happens, fifty percent of the time to be exact.
Although, marriage and divorce aren’t as different as you think. They both teach you how to deal with another individual–only one scenrio you love that person and the other you hate them. They also both require you to be someone else at least in some capacity, divorce especially:
No one calls you by your name anymore–you’re either petitioner or respondent. This tactic works well, strip them of their identity and they’ll suddenly act like whoever you want them to be—allowing an attorney to play with their souls like puppets. The family law court is full of these puppets. They sit at awkward distances, with protecting bodyguards, all while exchanging looks of disgust.
I’ve come to dread the courthouse because it represents everything I cannot change and it’s the first place (actual place) where my happiness was tested, truly. I remember vividly the first time I saw a judge and my ex husband, excuse me, petitioner. It was like a big nightmare but I couldn’t wake up, no escaping this one Ms. whit. ing. addict and the gavel drops. I’ve now come to know San Diego Superior Court as my “home away from home.”
A month ago I was there sitting in Department 15 for my kindof final custody hearing. No attorney, fancy clothing, or notes, just me. As I was waiting for our case to be called I made a slight detour into another room. I sat there for an hour. Case after case was heard and each time the mother explained her drug usage, recent disappearance, abusive behavior, basically every indiscriminate reason why she shouldn’t/couldn’t/wouldn’t see her child(ren). I realized this was the DV (domestic violence) room about twenty minutes in, but what really struck me wasn’t these mothers, it was the fathers. Each one sat there, full custody of the children, head bowed and in silence. They all looked exhausted but even more than that, saddened. I recognized, that my divorce, as bad as it is, could never be worse than this. This wasn’t even dissolution, it was—disinigration. Their families had not only broken apart they were now disappearing, soon there would be nothing left. One Mom said she just “needs time” and that she’d petition to see her children someday when she feels ready for it; this father looked particularly heartbroken. He faced the irrevocable truth—his children had no mother.
The bailiff came in and gestured for my hearing. At that point, I couldn’t be sad. I’d been through courtroom after courtroom, countless pleadings, subpoenas, and declarations. My happiness was stirred and tested and lost at times, but never once did my hope dissolve or did my love for E diminish. It grew naturally, the way a mother’s love should, as it continues to do. I was happy for that. In court, Petitioner’s attorney lied about things like income and school and travel—but I stood resolute in the fact that things were not so bad. At the close the Judge looked to both of us, “I’ve seen situations much worse than two people living in separate counties—one of you could be in New York.” I wanted to stop her, but withheld due to courtroom etiquette, “Excuse me your honor, I’ve seen situations much worse, one door down, right here in this department. Situations where parents don’t want their children at all.” I wanted to smile but I didn’t. Then I went outside and cried and vowed that courthouse would not take away one more ounce of my bliss. Two weeks later my ex called and said he’d be moving to Los Angeles, turns out I’ll never have to set foot in that courthouse again, period. One word. God.
a whit. ing. addict who found happiness in an unlikely place.