Friday, October 1, 2010
the reasonable path of destruction
I made the above video nearly a year ago yet I only had the relevant conversation with the father of my children, recently. We both knew it was inevitable, but it was still regrettable. I am talking about, that conversation, the one that begins with a "d".
I'm glad to be able to say that as sensitive as this talk can potentially be ours actually went very smoothly, which doesn't surprise me in the least. Even though "J" and I could not keep ourselves together as a couple, over the past 6 years of separation we never lost focus on doing the best thing for our kids, which is to get along. It carries through in most everything. We do make real efforts to respect each other and we never put our kids between us, even when we tick each other off.
My children's father has been living out of the province for the last 6 years and so our separation has been pretty easy to manage in large part due to our physical distance. A recent change in job and a pending physical re-location means that their Dad will be moving here to be closer to the kids. While this is awesome for my children it does mean that 'J' and I are going to have to figure out how to get along on a whole new level. Seeing as there will no longer be a literal mountain separating us, it is time to draw some other define able line so it doesn't get confusing for anyone, hence the reason the topic came up.
Basically the talk turned out to be several ways to say respectfully to each other; "I'll co-operate in any way that makes it easy for you". Great, that sounds like us, things are cool, it's going to go smoothly. I decided to do some poking around at that point. I wanted to take a pulse on what is happening out there. How are people doing this? What is the most reasonable (and cheap) path to an amicable divorce. Who is failing at it? Who is succeeding? Why? What can I learn from them?
I went to the web for some answers and I was saddened by what I found. You see I instinctively passed over the sites that encouraged me the woman to "Feel entitled to get everything you can get your hands on" and instead, I found myself lingering at sites on the web such as A Voice for Men or Man Woman and Myth where I found video after video and article after article of, for and by men who are tired of being the scapegoats of our fractured system. Men who are tired of standing by while children just by virtue of being in the middle can be used as tools to bury their own fathers.
Listening to the way some men feel about women, and trust me I don't love everything these website say or how they say it, but I do empathise with the contributors because the gripes they were making, were very much the same as ones I have heard time and time again from numerous male friends of mine, nice guys I know well who just want to be a good Dad to their kid or kids but are stripped of their voice and power at every turn and seemingly ordered into slavehood by judges who appear to only hear the womans side. Too dramatic? I don't think so, for the most part, it's too true.
I am ashamed at some of my sisters out there (make no mistake, I am also deeply ashamed of the deadbeat dads and the true abusers out there too, but that is another post altogether and would have to include women because both genders are equally as capable of such heinous behavior), and I am dejected to think that there even exists these websites or the need for them. I am sad that there are men who post there and feel justified to paint such a hideous picture of all females as if we are all irrational and impossible. They feel justified for a reason though, I get that, and in many ways I feel that they actually are justified. For the record boys, many of my girl friends and I would agree with a lot of what you say, because we know it happens, we know girls who do it. I thought I would point out to you men, that a great many of us females, are not impressed either.
I for one consider myself lucky that I picked a person who is willing to 'participate' in his children's lives, so, I don't take advantage. And now even, I expect that I will be offering to take even less support than I have been taking because I will no longer be the sole care provider. My kids will finally have a Dad who is closer than a plane ride away and that is worth getting along for. I also realize that if I cripple my ex's potential for success by using the court system (which leans in my favour) to make him unreasonably and everlastingly beholden to me financially, he will have a difficult time flourishing and being happy and moving forward himself. What good would that do anyone? What kind of an example do I want to set for my children regarding my actions towards their father? What do I want my kids to see regarding my own actions in general? These are a few key questions that many of the lawyer driven, courtroom addicted, ball crushing women out there would be wise to ask themselves. Did anyone ever consider that there might be a lot less court battles in general if there was less abuse of the system, ladies?
If women only went after the truly deadbeat dad's, perhaps the stand up guys out there would have the time and inclination to shame their more caveman-like brothers into manning up and doing their fair part. Perhaps society would naturally take care of the problem. Instead, we are busy causing problems, and rather than being given the benefit of the doubt that a father will do the right thing, far too many of those stand up guys are busy defending themselves in a courtroom and paying for the past. They walk away bled dry of soul and empty of wallet and are convinced we females are all exactly the same. Its ludicrous.
I don't know why more women don't get the whole getting along idea. It does not matter to your kids if your ex left the toilet seat up or if he snogged with the copy room girl at work. Whatever the problem was, it just doesn't matter, not to YOUR KIDS. If your relationship is over, it should no longer matter to you. What does matter is that if only one of the two people in a dissolving relationship wins, then the other loses. The moment that children see or sense one of their parents is suffering and being dragged down, is the moment when everyone loses. Personally I wouldn't set that example for my kids. I don't stand on many high horses by the way, but this is one I will confidently take to a gallop.
Not that I know anything at all besides what works for me, but I've always felt that it would do me no good to be toxic towards my ex and I sure as hell will not cause him (nor my kids) to grow to hate me for abusing a system that is tipped in my favor. As a mother of a daughter, I will not set that example. As a Mother of a son, I fear a little bit for him, it all seems so broken right now and I almost wish I could warn him off marriage entirely lest he get ensnared by one of these crazy women. Sad eh?
I'd like to see the divorce courts evolve to be more willingly open to looking at all sides of every story, but the only way to realistically make that work, is if nobody takes advantage of anyone in the first place and that means people have to take responsibility for themselves. And feminism has to stop pointing the finger at all men as if they are evil. I would like to see the pendulum swing back to ideals of equality based on respect for individual choices and abilities rather than on 'one upmanship'.
If you are a woman reading this and you hate me because your ex is not a stand up guy, please don't misunderstand my rant, please know that I am sorry for your situation and that this complaint is clearly not addressed to you.
This is for the sister who is being difficult due to greed, selfishness and/or just pure vindictiveness. It's for the girl who takes her hubby to court when he gets a 50 cent raise or the one who embellishes and twists reality so that the judge will grant control of the children whom she then uses to control her ex. You women don't seem to notice or care that your kids see it all.
Ladies, please realize that with every punch you throw at your ex, you are bruising your own children in ways that may take a long time to heal.
I ask you to wake up because to me, it is not ok that men perceive us this way, it's just not ok.
So now that that rant is over, it is time to touch on the fact that that there is something else about this whole business of the childrens father moving closer, that is a huge relief for me personally. I realize that slowly and naturally I have been letting go of the feelings of inadequacy that once seemed to grip me, feelings born out of my sense of guilt at not being able to provide a father figure in my children's lives. I know the burden really is unrealistic and rests on no one, but I seemed to carry it anyway. In any case, knowing that the kid's Dad will soon be close-by to them somehow removes some instinctive desire to find and provide that experience.
This is something I had begun to focus on after waking up from tripping blindly a few years ago and seeing where I was (disbelieving in good intentions and disillusioned to the point where I was making excuses or exceptions for letting others treat me badly). It was sobering, because the 'me' I once knew, wouldn't stand for that. I knew I needed to find a way to re-ingnite that internal knowing that I used to have, find the self love that I used to own that had always kept me from falling in the wrong place. And I needed time to do that, alone. This is hard to do when you feel pressure to pair up, I felt stuck in the middle of needs vs wants and I've been confused as heck.
But I carried on in my own personal way and found myself inspired again and looking in the right direction, and within the last couple of years I've managed to discover and develop some strength within me to pull myself up with. Looking back I see I have managed to maintain overall happiness and growth ever since and I couldn't be more thankful. In fact I even feel cautiously optimistic that I am going to be able to really embrace being free, and that one day I may even wholeheartedly understand what it feels like to have time as my ally rather than my adversary.
That is all I have to say for now, just be nice to each other, and have a good day.
with hearts, Rach