I gave up out of fear.
I was an advocate of mediation because we had already spent $50,000 on lawyers. The Court had adjudicated that he was to pay for my legal bills, but I saw my children’s futures going down the drain. Every dollar saved, was somehow equated with their future inheritance, or so I told myself.
I pushed for mediation for that reason, but I did not want to go to Court. As a very private person, I saw nothing worse than having to go to Court, and discuss my private life. Yes, he had slept on the couch for over a year. We rarely had sex. Sometimes I wondered if he was secretly gay, and didn’t find me attractive.
If he was gay, it was less insulting to me. There was no end to the damage to my self esteem from the endless rejection. At different stages of my life with him, I made all the excuses… I’m too fat… I’m too thin…too stupid, maybe too smart. Always too much of something, and never enough of something else.
The ultimate causation of my divorce, Constructive Abandonment, was easier to explain on paper, than it would have been to explain it in Court. Visibly reduced to a pool of tears, in a public place, fearing the thoughts of onlookers thinking “no wonder he left her”. I couldn’t do it. I needed a Perry Mason scene ending in a validating judgment of divorce, with the Jury awarding me the divorce and settlement because they had discerned the facts. He was a bastard, while I was a loving mother.
There was no drama, no public validation. Just me, weakly signing the document that would finally end the marriage, and begin what was my remaining struggle with my self-esteem.
All these years later, I admit the truth to myself. I was selfish. I claimed I was saving money by suggesting mediation. Maybe I believed it at the time; I honestly don’t remember or maybe I do.
When I agreed to mediation, it was my surrender. Financially, it was a wise move, emotionally, he won.
Agreeing to mediation avoided turning my emotional weaknesses into the public spectacle that I envisioned it would be. The price I paid was the far better settlement that my lawyers assured me I would have gotten in Court, but I felt too weak to pursue the option of Court.
I turned our failed marriage into a series of financial decisions to be negotiated. I removed the blame; I let him off very easy. He has never had to answer for his lack of parental involvement or his failure to be a husband.
Sometimes I wonder what our relationship would be like now if I pursued that other option. Would I have earned that long sought after respect because I did not allow him to walk all over me?
Would I have surrendered the ability that we have now to speak about the kids, and even share an occasional laugh about them?
Was I generous or was I stupid? Did I take the easy way out? Nope, there is never an easy way out when a marriage ends.
So many years later, I am OK with my decision. While my growth and age leads me to say that I might do it differently today, I know that I made the best decision for myself at that time. Full disclosure, it is almost one of the only times I have ever completely put myself first. I knew that after the emotional battering of that marriage, I did not have the strength for a long and drawn out Court battle. I chose me.
I might have gotten a bit more money, but what might I have lost? With an infant at home, I was not willing to find out.
As my kids grow, I am looking inward to take a lesson from my younger self. Mon It’s OK to put me first.