Feeling Used and Abused

I was feeling used. Once again I was forced to stand on principle, a polite way to say that I was absolutely, positively, alone. Oh, theoretically I was right but “couldn’t we make an exception just this time?” How many times had I heard those words? I’d lost count. I knew that no matter how I answered, it would be wrong and that I would be in this same position again sometime soon.

You are never truly divorced until your youngest child marries. At that time you can finally sever contact from someone with whom you couldn’t wait to share your life and later couldn’t escape from soon enough. It is more that genetics that binds us. School plays. Bar Mitzvahs, Communions, Saturday morning soccer games….every activity has the potential to grate and frustrate like ten long fingernails upon a classroom chalkboard. Moments of rest and peace are but the natural retrenching of vast armies. R&R for the troops. But the war is far from over.

Wart hogs find other wart hogs desirable. Divorced parents tend to attract other single parents. Wonderful. Now you have you, your kids, your ex, your new friend, more children and another ex all simmering in the same stew.

As the emotions boil over and spill onto all of the rest of your life, you are comforted by the free advice of your parents. “This would all be fine if you all acted like adults, especially your ex that lousy Bitch (or SOB)! Just don’t screw up the children.”

Thanks. I needed a little guilt to go with the pain.

Of course there are alternatives.

(1) THE DOOR-MAT APPROACH….Under this solution you simply give your ex everything he/she wants. No conflict (inner conflict doesn’t count). No fighting.
Count the days till the kids become adults and resign yourself that you will have a life, dignity, and self-respect before Willard Scott announces your name on the Today Show.

(2) THE ATTORNEY FROM HELL APPROACH….Essentially this is the other side of option (1). Someone is going to wipe their feet on the doormat. Why not you? Shouldn’t it be your lawyer demanding child support, vacation time and clothing allowance for the family dachshund? Certainly! You deserve it. This option works well as long as the children don’t decide as adults that you abused their mother/father when they were kids.

(3) THE BLACK AND WHITE METHOD….As A.T. & T. says, “Get it in writing.” With this option, every contingency is clearly spelled out after extensive negotiation. Who has the kids for Valentine’s Day 1996? No sweat. The answer is on page 47 of the last agreement. Of course, you, your ex and each of the children are required to have a copy of the agreement with them at all times. This could be a real problem at the beach.

(4) THE LINE IN THE SAND OPTION….In this system you determine what’s really important to you. There you draw the line. Your ex and the kids can pretty much do whatever they want as long as they don’t cross the line. This plan only works if you have the guts to “blast them out of the water” if they cross the line. Dan Quayle need not apply.

There are probably plenty of other options and all of them have an equal chance of success or failure. But in those dark hours when you wonder what else could happen to you, just remember, it could be worse. You could still be married to that lousy….