5 Things I Want to Say to My Ex-Husband

Girls night out. Yes, one of the benefits of visitation, you actually get to do things for yourself. I get to go places, study, write and do things, no need to find a babysitter, they are with the other parent.

Photo credit Jason Short @Flickr

Photo credit Jason Short @Flickr

Over a lovely dinner my girlfriend asks me: “So, Ostara, if there are 5 things you could tell Ex, what would they be?”

“Uhm…….. Hello and Goodbye?” Laughter.

Driving home I thought about this a little more. This wasn’t fair. I really don’t have much, if anything, left to say to Ex, but it is not that all in the marriage was bad. And you don’t just erase 14 years of your life as if it was meaningless. That would say more about me, then about the marriage or Ex. So here it goes, my 4 things, as I really can’t come up with a meaningful 5th.

Thank you for the kids

Yes, it takes 2 to tango. The beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful, intelligent, well-mannered, funny, delightful (I’m the mother, of course I’m going to gush and be biased!) kids are a product of you and me. And I would not want to have missed out on them for anything in the world. Let’s always celebrate their uniqueness and cherish them. We may be divorced, but we are still parents.

Thank you for the good times

Psychopaths are frauds, and perhaps the good times were just illusions. Whether they were or were not doesn’t matter any longer and I’d like to keep the good memories. Questioning whether it was all make-believe or not, would not only take away from the past, but also from the present. It is not worth my emotional energy. The marriage was a life lesson from which I hopefully have learned, both good and bad.

Thank you for filing for divorce

Yes, I may have had the courage to throw you out of the house, I could never have mustered up the guts to actually file for divorce. Early on in the divorce proceedings I re-read my diaries. I had started when I was 12 and my last entry was 31 December 2004

“Ex doesn’t want me to write to you any longer, it makes him uncomfortable, he thinks I only write bad things about him. “My husband is bad”. I’m sorry to let you go, you have been a source of release and reflection, but in a marriage you don’t do what hurts your spouse. So goodbye.”

The ultimate mind-control.

20 years of writing and my sole support network with my family being overseas had to be taken away because it was a thread to you.

But that is not me any more, divorce has set me free.

Free to pursue my dreams again. Free to love. Free to be loved. Free to cherish and be cherished. Free to (re-)connect with my friends, and I have some awesome friends out there. Free to enjoy life.

Without the divorce, my life would not have been where it is now. Had you not filed, this all would not have happened, and I’m grateful for that.

I wish you happiness

A happy father makes for happy kids. As a mother, want the best for the kids, so I really hope that you are happy. It is really that simple.

Yes, it is a short list.

The Child’s Voice in Divorce; Trending Topics on Twitter

Yesterday I read that Topsy now has a database with analytics about all the Tweet in cyberspace since 2006. I casually browsed to the site and entered some random #s. As you know from my previous posts, I’m “slightly” annoyed with the lack of rights children have in a divorce, so I also entered #fathersrights, #mothersrights and #childrensrights.

Trending Topics on Twitter 8/15 - 9/15/2013The results were slightly disturbing, so this morning, coffee in hand, I decided to look a little more in-depth into these statistics. What are people really tweeting about? What is the relevance to family court, or custody disputes?

#childrensrights (316 tweets)

At first I was relieved that there were actual, and relatively many, tweets about Children’s Rights, until I started to dissect the tweets and their actual topics. There is a lot of injustice done to children all over the world. The child’s right to education, child brides, failed circumcision, rape, the underground child adoption exchange (this one leaves me speechless, but telling of our society), poverty, cannabis therapy.

None about the children’s rights in divorce…………

None…….

Read that again: None……..

They don’t have a voice.

#mothersrights (30 tweets)

29 Tweets are from attorneys tweeting their answer to a legal question on Avvo. These are questions from mothers seeking a solution or information when just starting the divorce or with regards to a father who, according to the mother, has abandoned the child(ren). 1 Question is from a mother who lost custody and wants to seek visitation. Usually the answer is to hire a lawyer. Shocker.

1 Tweet is about mothers dealing with a stillborn child.

#fathersrights (175 tweets)

And so the bitching starts, excuse my words, and it is not pretty either. My heart rate increases, and I’m not sure it is from my morning coffee. The hairs on my arms are raised with the tone of aggression, is that REALLY in the best interest of the child? It sounds more like bullying; the use of force or coercion to abuseintimidate, or to aggressively impose a certain type of domination over others.

The positive part of this is that most of the aggression is done by attorneys advertising their business. MONEY MONEY MONEY, father’s rights are big business and these attorneys show their teeth in their tweets. Who cares about the child?

Other tweets are about ‘winning’, dads-can-win. So that is the essence of the fight? The winning? Again, that shows aggression and has absolutely nothing to do with the best interest of the child. It is showing their true colors.

There are only a handful of tweets by fathers themselves.

Thankfully there are quite a few tweets about Baby Veronica. While I only know what was presented in the media, I emotionally side completely with the father. There is a great injustice done to the child that there even has to be a battle about this. The biological parent*, who by all means appears to be ‘fit’, who initiated proceedings in a timely manner (not 10 years after the fact), is the parent. Adoption is a wonderful thing for so many children, no question about that, but in this case it is clearly inappropriate.

I’m disappointed by the imbalance of coverage of the different interests. I’m appalled by the aggressive tone of advocates of Father’s Rights, which seems to be about winning and money, not the child. I make no judgement about parents tweeting about the loss of custody. There may be good reason they lost custody, there may be a great injustice done to the children by what happened.

* I specifically and respectfully, say ‘parent’, as I resent this gender war in custody battles. Where joint or shared custody is not in the best interest of the children, the most suitable parent should have sole custody to safeguard the long-term wellbeing of the child.

Hephaestus Exposes Aphrodite’s Affair – Scorned and Betrayed Spouse or Morally right?

Hi Honey! I’m home!!!!!aphrodite1

The story of Aphrodite’s extra-marital affair is still very amusing and relevant to today’s society. Concepts of human life are just timeless and the stories of ancient Greek mythology were to teach us mortals right from wrong.

Hephaestus is the God of Craftsmen and a Divine smith, and was married to Aphrodite, the Goddess of Lust and Mating.

One morning her lover Ares, the God of War, was late to leave her bed and Helios, the personification of the sun, saw Ares leave as he rose with his chariot. Helios was quick to inform Hephaestus about the affair. Hephaestus, probably going through a range of emotions, makes an invisible net which he hangs above the marital bed and leaves the marital home. Aphrodite is quick to call for Ares and the lovers spend an enchanting night together. The next morning Hephaestus arrives home and finds the lovers tangled in the net. He takes the trapped lovers to Zeus and exposes their affair to all the gods on Olympus.

Ah, the scorned, left and betrayed spouse! But it gets better, the players in this story are stereotypical, even in today’s world.

Hephaestus is the hard-working, honest, but ugly, disabled and unworthy husband. Just like so many betrayed spouses are demonized by their wayward spouses. The betrayed wife is crazy, the left husband is physically abusive. To justify their affair there has to be something seriously wrong with the betrayed spouse. In contrast, the other stories about Hephaestus, he is portrayed as the patron of art, quite favorably and definitely in a much better light if not the opposite of this story.

Aphrodite is the gorgeous, sexy, lusting woman, who seduces. Her image as a woman is glorified, where Hephaestus is demonized. Ares is also glorified, the hero; attractive, masculine, a man we women would like our lips for. An affair is secret, there is no reality base. Nobody has to pay bills, mowing the lawn is not what lovers do. No, they have secret rendezvous, quick moments together while reality is closed out. That makes the affair so thrilling, the affair partner is completely idealized.

Research shows that affairs that see the day of light don’t last long afterwards, reality is something different and the idealization of the secret lover quickly fades. Hephaestus did not want to divorce Aphrodite, he was a decent hardworking man who valued marriage. He wanted Zeus to influence his daughter Aphrodite to be a faithful woman.

So Hephaestus exposes the affair to the Gods. Many betrayed spouses make the affairs known, when they broadcast it to the world it makes for a juicy news story, especially when billboards get hired or other notable actions take place. The media and society are quick to judge these exposures are vengeful.

The same happens to Hephaestus, the Gods, most of them not exactly faithful to their spouses either and lusting for beautiful Aphrodite, laugh at him. We see the same responses in modern-day. Faithful people support the betrayed spouse and exert pressure to end the affair and for the unfaithful spouse to return to the marriage. Unfaithful people are shocked and angered. What if this would happen to them? They call it vengeful, vindictive, salacious etc. From how people react to exposure of an affair, I can tell how faithful they are to their partner.

Usually the rest of the story is left out, while it is also what we commonly see in modern-day. Aphrodite has many more lovers and children, but never finds happiness. Quite frankly, her life is a train wreck with intrigues, drama, revenge, murder, you name it. Ares did not fare any better. Lifetime would not be able to put it all in 1 movie.

The demonized betrayed Hephaestus actually moves on with life. He remarries and has long and happy life. Quite the contrast to Aphrodite and Ares.

Often when we look at the betrayed spouse, we pity, we label as ‘scorned’, we judge, even years after the fact. Do we ask ourselves if the betrayed spouse really deserves that label? The betrayed spouse is initially confronted with many emotions as affairs of strike like lightening on a clear day. Emotions are raw and deep. The adulterer on the other hand has emotions on a much more superficial level and rarely get these dealt with properly. Research shows that years after the fact, the betrayed spouse has moved on, yet it is the betrayer that still has many emotional issues that stem from the affair and the resulting divorce.

He who has acted morally right, has no regrets. The Greek Mythology teaches us, living without morals is a downward spiral. However, you may not always get what you want. Hephaestus did not want a divorce, but he did end up with one. His divorce was a blessing, perhaps it is an unforeseen blessing for you as well!

The Impact of Divorce on Children

I love watching TED talks, they get the leading experts in a certain field to hold compelling, yet for us novices, interesting talks. In relative short time they talk about a subject and when done, they leave, at least me, with lots to think about and I often feel enlightened.

Dr Tamara Affifi is a professor in Communications at UCSB and is the presenter in the video below. Her recent research examines the impact that various factors like divorce, economic uncertainty and parents’ communication patterns (e.g., conflict, reoccurring stressful disclosures, social support) have on adolescents’ physiological stress responses (e.g., hormones).

In the video below, Dr Affifi touches upon the subject of how children feel about divorce. Some kids are much impacted, some less. The level of conflict is what makes the difference. I’ll admit, spit has a different taste to me now and watching the video made me ponder a few things.

Conflict, by definition, is a state of instability, disarray and uncertainty. It raises our ‘flight or fight’ responses; heart rhythm, blood pressure and alertness. Useful responses in emergency situations, when you need to get out of danger. It is a physical reaction that results in action, but to innocent children it is just stress, they can not change the situation, which has long-term psychological effects.

Children in high conflict marriages suffer the most. It is the continuous exposure to conflict that is damaging.

Conflict can take many different forms and shapes. From outright domestic violence, (sexual) child abuse, spouses continuously arguing, to psychological abuse. Psychological abuse is just as damaging, though so much more difficult to proof and quite frankly, so much harder to get away from. Psychological abuse is ever-present, there is a continuous conflict.

In psychological abuse there is continuous gaslighting. The victim is paralyzed because of the arbitrary and unpredictable inconsistencies. No matter what you do, it is wrong.

Psychological abusers need complete control over their victim and both male and female perpetrators exhibit a cluster of traits and high rates of personality disorders. Abusers can be very manipulative, often recruiting friends, law officers and court officials, even the victim’s family to their side, while shifting blame to the victim. Abusers are convincing. Why else would you have married him or her? But this makes the victim extra vulnerable, when the justice system sides with the convincing abuser, the victim gets victimized all over again.

Perpetrators need a high level of conflict and drama. By externalizing their inner chaos and projecting onto others, it diverts them from resolving their inner problems. Spouses and children suffer. Yes, children suffer. Not only because they see what happens to a parent, how the abuser treats the adult is how (s)he will treat the children, a double whammy.

Psychological abuse erodes the soul, it erases the identity. Isolated and alone, who can come to the victims aid? Who will believe them? Paralyzed, victims have a hard time leaving their abusers, I was no different. I fought long and hard to safe the marriage. It took a long time for me to come to terms with the fact that divorce was actually in the best interest of the children.

7 Stages to Accept the Life Change Called Divorce: Denial and Anger

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” — Lao-Tzu

In my previous post I introduced the 7 stagesDenial to come to acceptance and move on after the divorce.

1. Denial and Disbelief

Denial is usually a temporary emotional defense mechanism where the person refuses to accept the reality of the situation. Some just don’t see it coming, they are absolutely shell-shocked. Denial is usually short-term.

Often when you first hear those dreadful words there is minimization. “Yeah, the marriage wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either. It was stuck in comfortable mediocrity, but was it really that bad that a divorce is the only solution?” Another form of denial is projection. You acknowledge the problem, but blame the other party entirely on the demise of the marriage.

It is important that you take a really hard and close look at your marriage. Why? Because it helps you with future relationships. Look closely at the good things that were in your marriage, but don’t idealize them. Of course there were good things, otherwise, why did you marry in the first place, or why did not get a divorce yourself sooner?

Analyze the things that could have been better and how you contributed to them.This may be a hard lesson in life, but why not learn from it?

“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. ” ― C. JoyBell C.

2. Anger

“How can this happen?”, “Who is to blame?”. We all get angry. If you don’t, then you are denying your emotions and that will not help you in the long run. It is ok to have (controlled) temporary anger. It is not ok to take it out on others, especially not the children. In this stage sometimes parents talk bad about the other parent, that is UNACCEPTABLE!

Anger can come in 2 forms; overwhelming and all-consuming or settled and deliberate. The first is destructive to you and your loved ones. Rarely does anything good come out of it and you need to curtail it by seeking professional help. Retaliating and seeking revenge for the hurt that was caused you, may give you short-term satisfaction, but damages too much for a long-term good outcome.

“Usually when people are sad, they don’t do anything. They just cry over their condition. But when they get angry, they bring about a change.” — James Russell Lowell

The 2nd can be “constructive”, but it certainly is not an admirable trait. It can be a psychological resource to actually get things done. Angry people feel stronger and think more optimistically. They are more energetic, so go mow the lawn or finish that project that has been waiting for years.

Remember, how you express you anger is a choice that you can control, choose wisely. Accept that you will be angry, but don’t cultivate it or stay stuck.

“Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” — Aristotle

Next post is here.

7 Stages in Accepting the Life Change Called Divorce

Divorce is a life altering process. When you got married you did so for a reason, your spouse was the love of your life and you wanted to grow old together, start a family, be a union. Everything was eternal bliss.Divorce

And then you hear the dreadful words “I want a divorce”. The world stops turning, your life is shattered, Pandora’s Box of emotions is opened. Now what? And how do you move on?

Sometimes there are really good reasons to see if the marriage is salvageable; children, joint business, marriage history. And sometimes divorce is the best solution, if not the only solution. The trick is then to come to acceptance. Going through the emotions is healthy and in the long run will help you rebuild your life and go on to better things.

There are 7 stages to start living your life to the fullest after divorce;

  1. Denial and Disbelief
  2. Anger
  3. Resistance and Defiance
  4. Grief and Depression
  5. Acceptance
  6. Embrace Your New Life!
  7. Start Dating

In the next few posts I will talk about how to go through all of the stages, it is healthy to do so and move on to the rest of your life. Divorce is the end of 1 part of your life, but a whole new part is just beginning with endless opportunities. Don’t deny yourself the chance to live your life to its fullest.

It is important to realize that stages 1 through 5 are often intertwined. Sometimes there is an isolated emotion, whereas at other times you feel more than 1 emotion at the same time. They’re also not necessarily in order of appearance. Perhaps you’re depressed before you get angry, or you are beginning to accept the situation only to fall back into where you would like to bargain to safe your marriage.

Emotions  can come on strong, but time does heal all wounds and your feelings become less strong. There is no time frame, men tend to ‘get over it’ quicker then women, but not necessarily. Give yourself time, go with the flow.

Flow with whatever is happening and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate.” – Chuang Tzu

Next post is here.