Divorce Transitions or How To Slay a Dragon—Another Year Later

Costumes_Halloween_Lady_Dragons I wrote this last year at about this time of year over on my other blog. It is rather lengthy so I’ve broken it down into a series of several posts.  Those of you who have been through the divorce process and are trying to heal up after it, might have some very significant and quite possibly different perspectives to share.  If so, I hope you’ll leave a comment.  I certainly don’t profess to have the only valid experience.  I only share mine and what was helpful for me.  I love hearing what others found helpful.  I know my readers do too!

I spent most of my childhood growing up in rural eastern Oregon.  My family lived in the same home from the time I was in third grade till after I graduated from college.  We drove the same ’68 Chevy Camaro and never had another car.  My mother had the same job in the same office building across from the county library until she retired many years after I was grown and beginning my own family.  My grandparents lived across the river in Idaho, a mere six miles away.  They owned a department store in town where I spent my pre-school years hiding in the racks peeking out at customers from behind the clothes.  It was a stable, predictable, secure childhood.  Very little ever changed.  It was not the kind of beginning that exactly prepares one to deal with the transitions that come after a marriage ends.  But, if we are fortunate, and I was, we should not be preparing for such sad events.  There just weren’t that many dragons to slay back then…and…I guess that’s a good thing.

clocks-med Change is the only constant.  This is never more true than when going through a divorce, when emotions run high and everyone is running scared at some level.  Everyone, except the attorneys and the dragon.  They are running to the bank.  (Sometimes I think I am definitely in the wrong career.  Hmmmm, is it too late for a law degree?) Even so, I am grateful for a good attorney who helped me see the issues clearly and without emotion.  The dragon is bigger and has the fire-breathing capabilities.  You can easily determine where the dragon fits in your own analogy.  For me, it was a volatile and completely unstable partner who was an incredible con artist and who had everyone believing (including myself) that I was the crazy psychotic problem child.   

Phase 1–Acceptance

This is the first transition and probably the most difficult in divorce:  accepting that the marriage is over.  Accepting that one partner wants out badly enough  to formalize the dissolution legally can be a difficult and heartbreaking reality to grasp.  Whether you are the one initiating the divorce or the one having to accept that your partner is saying, "I’m out!",  the very first step is to accept that no matter what happens, when the dust settles you will in fact be divorced.  Nothing else but this will be certain as you head into the process of negotiating like you’ve probably never in your marriage or maybe your life negotiated before. It is not unlike dodging the fiery blasts of the dragon’s anger as you attempt to defend your kingdom. The finances, the assets, the kids, the child support, the alimony and the acrimony will all be undetermined until the judge raps his gavel or until the two of you sign out of court. Until then, you just don’t know how the dragon will move, twist, or turn.

BooksandGavelA_jpg When I walked in to see my attorney…a good two years before I actually retained her…she told me these words, "Look, I can’t assure you of anything except that by the end of this you will be divorced."  She was right, and despite what is oft said about attorneys, she was honest, direct, a great strategist and she advocated on my behalf.  She helped me negotiate the frightening web of legalities to ensure the best possible outcome for my children and I.  She was there to negotiate some of those transitions for me.

Plan on the transitions.  Expect them, anticipate them, negotiate them and then live them.  My attorney helped me plan and prepare for the first phase of transitions but I had to first face the reality that nothing I could do was going to change the eventual outcome.  Armed with this knowledge I was able to take a more active role in determining and shaping my own post-divorce world.

If you are at this place in your life and the inevitable is going down, I encourage you to begin doing your own research.  Find out what the laws are in your state or county.  Find out how property is usually divided and how the courts generally treat custody and parenting issues arrangements.  Your attorney can be a valuable resource in this area.  You can also do your own homework.  There are many great resources on the internet. 

It helped me to think of life in three categories: the things that were non-negotiable for me, the things that I could easily give up, and the things that fell in between these two extremes. It became a matter of prioritizing.  When it came to negotiating with the ex, I knew clearly what I had to barter with and what wasn’t up for negotiation from my perspective.  This ended up being irrelevant for me as my ex didn’t even show up for the hearing and the judge ruled everything as proposed by my attorney with some added stipulations making it more difficult for the ex should he seek to drag me back to court in the future. This, however, is extremely rare.  Expect a battle and arm yourself intelligently and thoughtfully for it.

 

Has the Wild Mind Also Died?

Have you noticed how non-existent I am here?  Like what’s up with that?  The Wild Mind gets on and posts a wimpy (at best) post about Michael Jackson and then disappears.  Hmmm, makes you wonder what I’ve been up to.  Or…makes you wonder if I died like all the rest of the celebrities out there.

Okay, rest assured I haven’t died.

Yes, I have struggled a bit with writer’s block due to the fact that certain someone’s might be reading this blog and trying to read between the lines and of course I don’t want them to get the wrong impression so I….*deeep inhale* ….need to take a freaking breath and just write what I want to write.  But also…and more importantly…I’ve struggled because my life is changing at light speed…due to my own initiative…thanks…and well…I just want to write about something more important than Fire Trucks and swimming pool pumps and hoses hooking up.  I mean, as fun as that is…it is so not where I live and other things are motivating me right now.  Sigh. 

The Wild Mind is in a Wild State of Transition….I guess?  Maybe? 

Or…The Wild Mind is simply being proactive and deciding to live life…instead of merely writing about it after the fact?

Okay…all of the above is true.

Here’s what you (you being anyone interested besides The Wild Mind’s Self) need to know:

* yeah, okay, I admit…life has been busy and rather than write about how I’m accomplishing my New Year’s Resolutions, I am actually out there accomplishing them.

* I’m done with dating derelict men who are unavailable emotionally and legally or who are simply looking for a one night stand(or lay).  I’m also done with spending time with anyone  who cannot demonstrate a  LOGICAL, RATIONAL, well informed and clearly articulated thought process when communicating.  Since this eliminates 97% of all men on the planet and especially those who post profiles on all the dating sites (and, yes, sadly I’ve tried them all), I ‘ve completely given up on the dating thing.

“Why?” you ask.

“Because” I say, “I have so much better things to do with my life.”

Yeah, that’s it.  I’ve decided to quit moping about my past failures.  I’ve picked myself up and dusted myself off and am reinventing myself and my life and my future.  I’m doing it because I can.  I’m doing it because I still have the energy and health to do it….and I am loving every freaking minute of it!  I’m.having.fun!

My mother was soooo right on.  I should have done what I wanted to do to begin with instead of being so worried about pleasing the world and getting married simply because it was the socially acceptable fantasy at the time.  Thank-you, Mom.  Even though you never saw the fruit of your labor with me while alive, understand that your words like seeds were sowed deep in me and took root…albeit late…but they have taken root and sprouted and there is a bountiful harvest for sure! 🙂  I’m finally figuring out what I’m about…what I want and it has nothing to do with the presence or absence of some nondescript man in my life. 

But it means I’m not having so much time to write, especially when it means that creative energy is spread out among 3 or more blogs,  4 children and one very viable contender for the Knight in Shining Armor Award.  (Okay, screw the shining armor part, he’s just very interesting, intelligent, attractive, real…and…well…the best part is that so far his actions match his words and that is never a bad thing).

Yes, if he passes muster, you’ll hear about it.  Until then, he’s only one who’s captured my imagination, sparked my interest and kept my interest far, far longer than most.  If he rides off into the sunset it will be because he didn’t like the fact that I wanted to ride my own horse instead of hitching onto his.  It will be because he wasn’t willing to move forward while I mounted my own gallant steed and caught up with him in a bit.  It will simply be because he wasn’t able to or man enough to deal with a princess who is completely in charge of herself and doesn’t depend on a dashing prince to achieve her dreams. It will be because he ultimately felt insecure around me instead of inspired and motivated to be the best he could be.  Somehow, this particular Knight, strikes me as being one who will make decisions for himself, and allow his Princess to make her own decisions, all the while as he’s got her back and spoiling her at every opportunity.  Not because he has to, but becaue he’s totally into her and not afraid to declare it.

Dashing prince or not, The Wild Mind will create her own Fairy Tale Happy Ending.   It will take an incredibly amazing and masculine and self assurred….even a bit arrogant…maybe cocky Prince to be able to roll with that. 

Can you imagine just how interesting that relationship might be?  Not your standard, let’s-go-to-bed-at-ten-and-do-the-same-three-things-we-always-do-in-the-same-order-at-the-same-time -like-a-circus-monkey kind of relationship now is it?

Where Is The Wild Mind Tonight?

There are two times when I find it most difficult to really write.  The first is when I look at the blank white space on the computer screen and my normally overactive mind and imagination go abnormally awol on me.  I hate that.  White space on the computer screen.  Dead space in my head.  Inactive fingers on the keyboard.  It sucks.  Those times make me feel stupid and unimaginative.

The other time is when I have so much I am thinking of that I can’t sort any of it out in any coherent form that a reader could identify with, let alone read and understand.

Tonight, I am dealing with the “too many ideas” scenario instead of the “nothing at all” scenario.  This week was full of amazingly humorous and poignant events all of which merit some serious fabrication in the retelling…just to make a point.  Yet here I sit, stymied by the plethora of possibilities!  It also sucks.

So, tonight, I share in bullet points, as a way of sorting for myself but also as a way of communicating what a really rich “life filled” week I experienced.  My intent is that this post will serve more as a jumping off point for me for future posts than as a real valid post tonight. (Whatever a “real valid post” is.)

This week…things to remember and ponder include…

  • I’ve really revised my perspective on men “going silent”.  Since I yelped about it so much in previous posts here and at my other blog “Welcome to CABsPlace”, I suppose it bears some discussion, but not much. 
  • Death, two friends experienced the death of relatives this week.  Death is a reality that began facing me straight up with the death of a very dear college friend just three months after we graduated, followed shortly by the death of my adoptive dad, my biological dad, my grandparents, and my mother. I’ve also been “privileged” to be the teacher of a student who died…the year they were in my class.  I think it might be God’s way of dealing with my own personal fear of a reality we all must face, sooner or later. Whatever it is, I’m now more able to comfort those who are dealing with loss than I’ve ever been.  This, I think, is a good thing.
  • Dating, wow!  My attitudes, perspectives and goals have changed tremendously in the last year.
  • Life, my future, my present, personal goals and dreams.  I’m changing and growing so much and the pain of this last year and a half seems to be finally bearing some fruit.  I guess the analogy is, I have been through winter, now things are thawing…and Spring is around the corner.  Some stuff in my life is really beginning to blossom on a professional level as well as a personal level. 
  • Tawdry fun…yes…there were plenty of every day occurences this week (namely the firefighters that visited with their BIG fire truck) that made me think fondly of all my slightly naughty friends here…there were just so many analogies that I was able to devise from that one event.  Just know I was thinking of you all!  Look for the post about Fire Trucks!  LOL! 
  • Music, goals, life, dreams, fairy tales, the whole ball of wax…there’s just so much to enjoy and angst about it life and a lesson everywhere you turn. It must be written!

And that is where I am tonight.  I hope to write it all, because that is what I am about…but I must also balance the writing with the living…and right now…there is so much to live!

The Key To A Successful Marriage

It’s not as elusive as we all believe.  It can happen.  We can have successful, happy lasting marriages.  The fairy tale can survive.  John Gottman studied many couples over the last 30 years and within 15 minutes he can tell with 90+% accuracy whether a couple will be together in two years or whether they are headed for divorce.  Want to know the key to marital bliss?  Watch and learn.

Hmmm, think the same principle might hold true for work relationships, relationships with kids and friends? 

Something to think about.

2 x 2:00 A.M.

Twice in a row this week it has happened.

Twice.  Wide awake at 2:00 A.M. 

This annoys me. 

I wake up suddenly and am wide awake and fully alert.  I’m not groggy, I can’t go back to sleep. 

I get up, wander through the house, checking to see that all lights are off and doors locked though I know I secured everything before I went to bed at 10:30. 

The dogs are sleeping peacefully.  If there was a disturbance of any kind, even the merest wandering teen walking down the sidewalk across the street, the dogs would alert the entire household.

Silence.

The children are all in their beds, except for Little Bear, my youngest, who still finds it difficult to drift of without Mommy’s comforting presence.  She is in my bed and sound asleep.  Blonde curls swirling around a sweet, peaceful, pink cherub like face.

Silence.

All except for the thoughts in my head.

The thoughts that wander, roam, and run wildly and noisily through my mind, no matter the efforts expended to tame and corral them. 

The thoughts. 

The doubts. 

The sadness. 

 The regrets. 

The sense that I’m still standing in the middle of the crossroads, looking up at the signs pointing in all different directions and wondering which path to choose. Unable to move. There I am looking down each road, trying to discern anything that might help make my choosing easier.  Any clues?  None that I can see.

I’m the Tattered Princess, who conquered her own dragons without the aid of Prince Charming.  Fled the fire of the dying beasts,  barely escaping with my life and the lives of my little ones.  I am safe, my most precious loved ones are safe, but what we once “thought” we had is no more.  Whether illusion or certainty, the past no longer exists in the present.

The castle is in ruins.  There is no gold in the storehouse.  My kindgom is devastated and rebuilding it will be long and tedious even painful journey.  There is no Prince Charming to swoop me up into his arms, toss me on the back of his magnificent stallion, or wonderful magic carpet, to make the journey into tomorrow easier and less troublesome, or to at least offer a drink and caress at the end of a day.   

I stand at the crossroads wondering which direction to take, knowing I must take it alone.  And…I most certainly do not want to go it alone.

I never wanted to go it alone.

But I’m content to travel whatever path is before me alone, if the other choice is one of lies, hypocrisy,cruelty, games and power struggles…or worse than all these…boredom due to being linked with the unadventurous and dogmatic.

I am sad.

I could have sworn that this fairy tale had a Prince Charming written into it somewhere.  But he is nowhere to be seen.  The only ones stepping up to the plate so far have been dragons disguised or those faint of heart.

I am tired.

Tired of meeting the suitors tasked with winning my heart only to find that I don’t have the requirements for the job they’ve designed.  Tired of having them realize that the tasks ahead of them which are required to win my heart (be nice, be into me, be available, be reasonably intelligent, have a sense of humor, play well with others on occasion) are simply too grueling for them to endure.

I am surrounded by love but missing the one love I most wanted in life.

I experience this deep sadness of missing that one person I haven’t yet met…and may never meet….most intensely…. 

…at 2:00 A.M. in the morning.