The Tortures of High-Conflict Divorce


Sometimes, the most sobering and the hardest part of the high-conflict divorce is the constant barrage of reminders of what a f@#*ing moron you were.

The signs were there, but you weren’t thinking straight.

A friend tried warning you, but it was a half-hearted attempt, and it was too late.

You’d been burned by love in the past, and  in the state you were in you were willing to settle for something a little bit less.

You’d been living in isolation, and it distorted your judgment.

You know that you should just put all of this behind you. You try to, every day. However, when you are chained to the rock of co-parenting with a psycopath  narcissist  someone with Borderline Personality Disorder  a difficult person, it’s hard, if not impossible, to do so.

So it’s Sunday, and we there’s a big informational meeting about our son’s upcoming trip to Israel. All the travelers and their parents are gathering at a Jewish day school about a half hour away. I will be driving the Kid as it’s my weekend. The former wife asks if I’ll be staying until the end–she needs to return to help a friend who is preparing chocolates for Taste of Boston. I say, sure, but I have a condition. She grumbles and rants, afraid that I’m going to ask for something reasonable, like she actually return something of mine that is a family keepsake that she decided to appropriate in the divorce. No, I ask for her to bring one of the chocolates. (I like chocolates). She says she’ll see if she can. I say, If you can.

I get to the meeting first. The organization running the camp is quite smart, at least in terms of self-preservation, and they bill me and the former wife separately. They also make us separate packages of the informational material. They’d rather go to the trouble of sending out separate bills and info than to have to listen to us call and accuse each other of being the bad parent.

Because I get there first, I grab the heavier packet. The packets are identical, except that the heavier packet has two luggage tags in it. The kids are supposed to use these luggage tags so that everyone in the group can have their bags identified by anyone in the group. I take the heavier packet. Why? Why not? I know that the former will have a strong sense that she is entitled, for chissà quale ragione,  to be the keeper of whatever keys need keeping. This belief is also reinforced by its correlate, that I am not capable of handling things. (In fairness, many women subscribe to this myth: men would be dead in their houses with their guts being eaten by the cat within days  of last contact were it not for the intervention of the Ever-Feminine.)

True to form, when the former arrives she comes up and asks for the luggage tags. When I answer that I’ll hold on to them, she goes on to demand them. Loudly, vocally, and of course, without regard for the fact that we are in public.

We are reliving our bad marriage all over again, in a microcosm.

It’s not a big deal, the luggage tags. But the assumptions and treatment are galling. So I say, calmly, I think I’ll just hang on to the tags.

The former wife stomps off, loudly, “Well, then you can’t have any chocolate!” IMG_0211 Play my way, or you can’t have any candy. Story of my married life.

 

Advertisements

What Happens When a Child Calls a Parent by their First Name?


calvin
apololgies to Mr. Watterson for the unauthorized use of Calvin.

(Please forgive me for the use of ‘their’ as a neuter third-person singular. I just can’t fight it anymore.)

Referring to  parents by their first names. It always shocked me as a teen when I heard peers do it, and though it turned into more disturbance than shock as I grew older, I have to admit that it still sends me some sort of an unsettling signal when I hear it. I have to wonder: Do they call their parents by their first names when they are talking to them, or just about them?

There was a time when my daughter would do it with me. It was away for her to express anger. I didn’t put up with it. I’d walk away. As far as I was concerned,  it was a conversation ender. She doesn’t do it anymore. However, she does still get angry with me. Go figure.

“They may already know too much about their mother and father–nothing being more factual than divorce, where so much has to be explained and worked through intelligently (though they have tried to stay equable). I’ve noticed this is often the time when children begin calling their parents by their first names, becoming little ironists after their parents’ faults. What could be lonelier for a parent than to be criticized by his child on a first-name basis?”

― Richard Ford, The Sportswriter

Personal Stuff: Divorce + Fatherhood = The Worst, Most Painful Irony of My Life


I am sure that it is not an uncommon situation that I am in: I have two wonderful children, and an absolutely horrible ex-marriage. If I want to deal with my kids, I have to deal with this mess. Easy choice, but man, sometimes…

I’m not saying that the former wife is a horrible person, that she is x, y, or z (the variables standing for any number of derogatory adjectives or nouns that are used by divorced people all over the world to describe the other cohort in the crime of their coupling). I am willing to assert, though, that she is the ne plus ultra of the, hmmmm, how to put this, the epitome of the difficult former spouse; if in the afterlife she is to be judged by her co-parenting skills, well,  it’s going to be a tough trip through Purgatory.

Nor am I saying that I’m some perfect or even good former spouse and co-parent. I wish I were made of tougher stuff. I wish that I could always do the right thing, that I could let every insult, every attack, every pointless (except for the point of hurting me) act of revenge for G-d knows what misdeed (the misdeed of wanting a divorce?), I wish I could let them all slip by. I have thinner skin than I would like to have. I don’t know how to make it thicker. (Maybe Sean Sphincter and I should attend a class on obtaining some tougher emotional armor.)

Were there no kids? I’d be gone. I’d fly away. I’d head back to Charleston without looking over my shoulder, and there would be no sequel. But there are the children, and they are the greatest thing in the world that has ever happened to me. I feel a glow in their presence. I love doing things for them. Watching them stirs such strong feelings that even when I worry about them, even when I am mad at them, even when they are purposely difficult, there is not a part of me that doesn’t want to protect them, to love them, to make the world a better place for them. I do not know if I would ever have had this depth of feeling for anything were I never to have had children.

I wish more of my time weren’t occupied by the strife. But here I am, slipping down the backslope of my life, having to force myself not to answer hostile texts, steeling myself not to strike back at things perpetrated out of pure vindictiveness, working to keep my mind on other, more pleasant things, and most difficult of all, trying to construct a view of my life that isn’t so filled with this regret at the painful paradox of being a dad thanks to the biggest mistake in my life; all this, in order that I might just let myself be filled with the wonder and the privilege it that it is to be that dad.

No Wonder tRump’s Grumpy–His Wife Won’t Sleep With him, and there’s nothing he can do about it.


Of the restrictions imposed by being the Most Powerful Man in the World, the inability to move the seat of government may be the most torturous of them all.

Avoiding your vulgar, garish boor of a husband is now the easiest thing in the world for Mrs. Drumpf. All she has to do is stay away from the District of Columbia.

Twitler is taking Propecia. Side effects include:

  • impotence, loss of interest in sex, or trouble having an orgasm;
  • abnormal ejaculation;
  • swelling in your hands or feet;
  • swelling or tenderness in your breasts;
  • dizziness, weakness;
  • feeling like you might pass out;
  • headache;
  • runny nose;

Note the first side effect listed. It may be that that is an advantage if you are the president, your wife can’t stand your flesh, and you wish to avoid scandal. However, a man’s view of himself, especially a puffed-up peacock like tRump, is often inextricably intertwined with his dominant and dominating sexuality. A man that can’t even get it from his “young (relatively), and beautiful, piece of ass”, well, what kind of tough hombre is that?

The third side effect, swelling of the hands? That one Drumpf definitely wants.

melania-gun
“Try  doing to me what you did to Ivana and I will shoot your flabby ass. In Slovenian.”

Depression in Teenage Girls and Young Women: Is it getting worse?


menace-1-1
From Hyperbole and a Half, a great blog on depression

 

Yes, that does seem to be the case, in spite of increased awareness, better medications, and supposedly less stigma.

This from NPR

This from MarketWatch

And this from the peer-reviewed journal Pediatrics

RESULTS: The 12-month prevalence of MDEs increased from 8.7% in 2005 to 11.3% in 2014 in adolescents and from 8.8% to 9.6% in young adults (both P < .001). The increase was larger and statistically significant only in the age range of 12 to 20 years. The trends remained significant after adjustment for substance use disorders and sociodemographic factors. Mental health care contacts overall did not change over time; however, the use of specialty mental health providers increased in adolescents and young adults, and the use of prescription medications and inpatient hospitalizations increased in adolescents.

More Life Lessons, In Which The Totally Useless Dog Eats My Son’s Chocolate Birthday Cake, and Lives to Annoy Other Day.


I really didn’t want another dog.

img_3329
Genius Mutt in a box

Y’know that old joke, the one where various people are having a discussion about when life begins (conception, etc), and the old couple has the punchline about life beginning when the kids move out and the dog dies. At this point in my life I’m still not looking forward to when the kids move out,  nor do I want the current canine to croak, but when my previous dog died, I have to admit that I was in no hurry to get her replaced.

I had had my own dogs since my junior year in college. After around 35 years of owning various hounds, arctic breeds, retriever crosses, herding dogs, my 16 year-old Australian Cattle Dog, Maddie, was euthanized on a 4th of July. This was just slightly less than a month before my best friend died after a bout with a cancer caused by the radiation that had cured his previous cancer around 20 years earlier. When Mike died, we had been friends for nearly 4o years.

It’s not an astounding revelation that you don’t get to go back to sixth grade and make another decades-long best friendship. You’re just stuck with that permanent sense of loss that occurs when you realize nothing can ever be the same again.  I will never have a best friend who was around since I was 10. I suppose that this isn’t astounding. We all know it will happen. Everyone gets to this point, some reach it quite early in life.

Mike had just turned 50, and I was just about to do the same.  Plain and simple, I didn’t want another dog. As a veterinarian, I had usually counseled clients to get back into the saddle (more often than not a new pet helps ease the pain of the loss of the old one), and although I had always followed that advice myself, when my best friend died I decided that I was done. I wasn’t in the mood for any more loss. Life brings enough loss without going out and purposely adding to it.

But Jolee bugged me. And bugged me. And then bugged me some more. And went after this the way that only a child who wants a dog can. Then she started finding dogs on PetFinder.com. She worked on my guilt about the divorce. And then I broke. I should’ve known better. I’m a veterinarian, the guy who is on the other side of the exam table when the exasperated parent–usually a mother–comes in and says, “I told them they could have a dog if they would help take care of him!” To which I usually answer, “And you had what evidence to actually believe this claim?”

The truth is that no matter how much kids promise, they are going to fall short. Usually they are going to fall way short. And then they will probably leave for college before the dog dies, which means you’re stuck with the difficulties of caring for the old dog, with his arthritic joints, incontinent bladder, bad eyesight, and failing cognitive abilities. The kids are alright: they do have good intentions. They just have really poor followthrough combined with an inability to accurately assess their desires and capacities. There are a lot of stories about the strong bond between a child and a dog. But no one writes stories about when a child’s interest in the dog gets hijacked for interest in something else (sports, hormone-induced wackiness, cars, music, delinquent behavior. . .) The problem is that it takes forever to say no, but just a few moments of delusion or weakness to say yes. And in general,  parents love to say yes. 

But I’m digressing. This is about my son’s birthday, my dog Kaleb, who is a total maroon, and the chocolate cake.  Every 16 year-old should have a chocolate cake for breakfast on this momentous occasion. Took it out of the refrigerator, put it on the counter, put the 17 candles on (one for good luck), and went upstairs to brush my teeth. Return downstairs, and Genius Mutt is licking the last bits of crumbs off of the floor.

To be continued. . .

What I Threw Out Today: The Hotel Brochure from My Trip to Phuket, and what it says about aging


WAS I ALREADY TOO OLD to call it a voyage of my misspent youth? Maybe–we extend youth so long these days, heaven forfend that we get older, IMG_1879because as you age, you disappear. When you age you get to that point where, when contemplating the future, you no longer see the things that once inspired you, but rather the indignities and the infirmities that lie ahead. That is, unless you adopt a healthy attitude towards aging, and I haven’t. I’m in the midlife crisis I’ve been in since I was 25.

What does it say, in any case? It says to me that I went to Thailand with some woman. It says that people drift apart and experiences are the remembrance of emotion, not of images or place. The trip to Thailand was fun, and it wasn’t fun. It was one of those relationships that had just a bit too much competition and a bit too much held inIMG_1883 reserve. It’s all part of the past now, and whatever was good (or bad) about it I will hold in my memory. IMG_1886However, I’m at the point in my life where I’d like to–if I’m able–choose the time and place of my remembering things. I don’t like bad memories slipping in at inconvenient moments. It just muddies my mental waters. If I were a brightsider, I’d say at least I can still remember.

I know it’s only one piece of paper that I am throwing out. But they add up. If I kept it, my children would find it one day (maybe) after I died, and say, oh, so he went to Thailand once. It would not even be a footnote in their memories of me.

On the lighter side, the translations from the Thai are hilarious.
IMG_1880

IMG_1885IMG_1884IMG_1882

If you like this blog, please consider donating to PAZ (Pan American Zoonotic Research and Prevention, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing disease in underserved populations)

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑