Ten months of lawyers, letters, texts and threats.
Ten months of dreams, nightmares, grief and reckoning…trying to find a solution to an unsolvable problem….how to divide our estate – what is EQUITABLE? Mediation, cooperation, negotiation, calculation, contemplation, anticipation – culminating in 6 hours of divorce court/trial and tens of thousands in legal fees – AND BOTH OF US LEFT LOSERS. Except the lawyers.
I promised myself I’d keep it all business, not extraneous or chatty. My lawyer conversations would be on point, mission driven, efficient – I’d always be prepared and strategic. What a joke.
When Jessica, my lawyer, walked into the courtroom with her legal eagle and intern in tow, wheeling a dolly of boxes labeled ‘discovery’ from the last year of my case – I knew I failed miserably. I knew those boxes were filled with thousand of pages equaling thousands of dollars – that would never be in my pocket.
When it was over, I thought I’d feel relief – that’s what everyone promised me! But I didn’t. I just felt despair, deep loss and more grief. Divorce is a long marathon, a roller coaster ride – filled with injuries and unexpected turns. Just when you thought you reached the apex, screamed your lungs out – went to the depth of the coaster at warp speed and lost your breath and perhaps consciousness as a result – you realize the ride is just beginning. There are no 12 steps to this process – or five stages of grief. There are thousands of steps, turns, dips and leaps – all coming at you without notice. The journey is unyielding and unmerciful.
All you can do is hold on….and breathe or gasp for air.
Even after I listened to his three hours of testimony filled with lies and exaggerations – my heart was raw and bleeding. His ego and support network created a narrative woven with blame and hate for me. I was the guilty one. I was to blame. I did everything wrong – I was a bad mother, wife and friend. He was victimized by me for 20 years – he even tried to leave 10 years ago, but I wouldn’t let him go. The ruin and rubble was my doing. The wreckage of our so-called marriage was my good work.
He said, ‘I don’t want to kick her to the curb’ or ‘run over her with a bus’, but….at least 10 times during his testimony. Then, he deftly put the bus in reverse, carefully listened for the back-up beeping sound…and hauled ass over me and over again- flattening my heart like a pancake. Ironic – symbolic. He did that over and over again – as I lay weeping in the gutter. Devastated.
How could someone I loved for 20 years say these things about me?
How could someone I lived with for 20 years, who knows everything about me SAY THESE THINGS ABOUT ME?! I’m a good person! I wanted to scream, “wasn’t cheating on me and leaving me enough!?? Now you have to lance my open wounds and rub rock salt in them too!???”
The judge heard it all, and didn’t render a verdict/settlement immediately. She took 5 days to ponder our estate and how to be ‘equitable’. In the end, one thing was crystal clear – there is no real justice in divorce court – especially Texas (which is still in the dark ages).
She calculated fuzzy math to make the numbers work and permit her to move on to the next case without consequence. She heard his lies, saw his evasive demeanor and added up the frivolous spending on extra-marital activity. He admitted not spending ONE night with his children in a year – or any monies beyond court order support. Nevertheless, the court’s hands are tied. She could only do so much.
So now, one nightmare is over – and my real work of healing must begin.
I thought I was further along….the roller coaster continues.