For those of you familiar with Massachusetts divorce laws you’d happen to know that you are required to take a parenting course in order to be granted a divorce. For those of you not so familiar with this law I welcome you to Massachusetts.
It was a freezing evening during the most exhausting and inconvenient of times for me. The class started at 6pm and went till 8:30pm. Eight fucking thirty. But I wasn’t upset. I was actually very hopeful and excited about it, not necessarily about the time and the freezing weather though. I walked into the classroom and was immediately hit with a force of negative energy. Damn, was I the only one hopeful idiot in this place? Was I the only one actually looking forward to having taken yet another step that would bring me closer to making my divorce final? I guess so.
The men in the class all sat with their arms crossed and had an angry demeanor. Maybe the fact that they had to pay child support wasn’t something to be cheerful about…or so I thought. But the truth is that child support had very little to do with their anger – something I learned as the class progressed. But learning that child support was not the source of anger triggered something in me that had me puzzled and made sit more attentive than ever.
Then there were the women who, by just sitting in the classroom, had either the saddest faces I’d ever seen, one even crying, or gave this vibe of emptiness and numbness. The one woman who stole my heart was the one who was in denial. The one who shared with a group of about 25 strangers that she had no clue as to what to do with herself in the case of a split custodial arrangement. Sad, I thought. And perhaps no life, a judgmental side of me said.
During the time of the workshop and the days to follow I was in deep thought. I was thinking a lot about my life and how I got here. Truth be told and to no one’s surprise is that I was in a very unhappy marriage. I felt my life wasting away trying to balance out all that I wanted in life for myself while being a supportive and loving wife and a good mother to my wonderful children. I had the worst case, and still do, of super woman syndrome.
Even though I am very tempted to go into excruciating details of what went on in my marriage, particularly those last few months, that would not be fair. I am a writer, it’s something I’m very passionate, and somewhat good at. I also have a following of people, who, for one reason or another, find entertainment to some of the things I write. Some people are enlightened, while others can totally relate and give or take advice. I appreciate that. Writing is a weapon, it’s MY weapon, and it can be a strong one. I have the power to write something about any particular individual for the world to read and hurt them. I know because during my divorce I have been that reader, the one who was hurt. But I want to be fair, even though this word has never produced good results for me during these difficult times.
So why now? Well, I am inspired. That woman I mentioned earlier, the one I was so quick to judge about not having a life inspired me to share my story about living through a divorce. I was her, I am her in some ways. I try NOT to be her. I have also been motivated by the words of a fellow blogger, Carolyn A. Edgar, who has exposed some intimate moments of her life and has captured audiences such as myself, someone who clearly identifies with her own personal experiences.
Wanna know what else? The Holidays. Nothing could have ever prepared me to deal with the nuisances of a divorce and custody arrangements during the holidays. Nothing. Ever. Not the gazillion blogs, books, youtube videos talking about divorce and spending the holidays alone or without your loved ones, or perhaps dividing the family. I was going through some experiences during the Thanksgiving Holiday and was asking myself “how did I get here”?
So here it goes.
When I made the conscious decision to walk away from my marriage and my relationship of almost 16 years, my main concern was NOT hurting my companion and spouse. I wanted him to be okay. I walked away with nothing – not even a bed to sleep on, furniture to sit on, let alone any type of money that would sustain myself and the somewhat comfortable lifestyle that WE had worked together to create.
I also did not think of child support, alimony or custody arrangements…you know, the little intricate details that take place during a divorce. I did love this man for nearly my entire adult life and hurting him, especially financially, was not something I wanted to be blamed for or be a part of. I wanted to be fair and nothing else. Ahhh, there is that word again - FAIR. As I sat in my oh so exciting required parenting course, I let my mind drift. I was always that woman that made noise, that fought injustices and that refused to be a statistic. As a Woman of Color I made it through college with 2 kids, who at the time were babies, and not only that, but I did go on to graduate school and earned a Master’s degree. Someone like me rarely gets a chance in life to accomplish what I have. I just did not want to give into the stereotypes and be another statistic.
Sadly, the days of me sitting in that classroom and, as I am now coming to terms with, I did become the complete and total opposite of who I truly am as an individual during my divorce. Those core qualities that make me who I am were not constants but rather variables. They would come in and out and I was a roller coaster of an emotional mess. I had become a statistic because I was that woman whose strength had been tucked away in a little chest somewhere under my bed and locked up, only to be pulled out when I felt ready for it.
Life during a divorce has been hard - losing an extended family, friends, and the cushion that we used to call “home” has been painful. But as painful as it has been, it has also brought many positive aspects to my life as I am living through it. The positive outweighs the negativity of a divorce in my case.
(more parts to follow...stay tuned....)