Reflections of an empty-nester and how I overcame the obstacles.
My life is a country song.
Here’s the lyrics to my country song. I lost my career, business, house, garden, kids, retirement savings, health, and my dog. All good country songs end with a statement about the dog getting kicked or something. Lol.
Its a well known theme in life when we go through the court process. In essence, my second divorce court procedure lasted 3 years, I licked my wounds for 7 years, and then I became determined to embrace life for the last 2.5 years.
My second ex-husband tried to scare me that while I was ending our relationship after 11 years of abuse, he would see to it that everything I ever loved would be destroyed and taken from me. In the end, that was true. He managed to do that using the court and legal system. However, he couldn’t take my joy away and ability to reinvent myself. He couldn’t take away all the learning I obtained, throughout life, and the lessons I would extract along the way – that made me a better person.
Emotional and financial abuse can extend further into the court processes even though the two people live apart. What happens is the partners learn the rules of the judicial system enough so that they can manipulate them, in order to retaliate.
Science – a metaphor
An analogy is when in science, they are endeavouring to learn everything about DNA. Once one knows how it operates, it can be manipulated in experiments so that one can learn how processes work or aren’t working in the body. We learn about heredity or diseases or even how the brain functions to the detail.
In the court system, one can play many mind-games. For instance, when I went through my two divorces, there was a common theme. My voice wasn’t being heard and most of what I said was negated in a pile of affidavits or shall I say legalized lies. However, when the final divorce judgment came through, my voice continued to be not heard and I left with nothing. I had to rebuild my life and re-invent it.
Broke and without counsel
With my second divorce, one of the things that happened to me was, at one point, my money from my savings ran out and my lawyer wouldn’t represent me anymore until I could find money. So I had to go without counsel. My ex-spouse took advantage of that and refused to let me see the kids. There was no order saying, that in the interim, that I could see my kids or have access to their school or medical records. So he withheld them from me physically so I couldn’t come pick the kids up. It wasn’t until I went to legal aide for counsel that I got somebody to represent me.
In the meanwhile, my bankruptcy representative showed up in court to help me pro bono. At one point, I created my own affidavit and got a lawyer downstairs at the court house to notarize it when I told her what was happening. With my appeal without counsel I was given access to the kids.
However, the ex did things so that I still couldn’t see the kids. He put them into extracurricular activities, summer camps, and other types of things that kept them busy. So being that the kids come first, I came second and couldn’t see the kids. My hands were tied in so many ways. I was served affidavits when trying to see the kids, which ended the visitation because they were so distraught.
Poisoning the kids minds
The kids were poisoned with stories or lies that weren’t true and I didn’t have the opportunity to set them straight. I didn’t want the kids to be caught in the middle. However, they had been caught because I felt the kids were my jury.
Counsellor or Jury
One of my kids said I was virtually using her as a counsellor for my feelings. I think to a degree that was true, but I think my perspective was I felt I needed to share my feelings so that they could understand why and where I was coming from. It was my way of dealing with the blame and shame I felt for not being strong enough to take the kids back. So rather than counsellor, I think they were the judge and jury and lawyers that kept me hyper vigilant. And so this situation affected the kids wanting nothing to do with me in there later years.
I suffered from empty nesting and called the kids frequently. Any drop of water was better than none, I thought. I became a nuisance to them. Primarily because I wasn’t taking care of my own needs and I was relying on them to contact me. I felt I wasn’t a good mother if they didn’t need me.
Low self esteem
Part of why I had such low self esteem after the divorce was because of the discovery processes. I was accused of numerous things and I wasn’t able to defend myself without proper counsel. I felt like I was burned toast. Each time my ex did something illegal against the order, because I was scared of entering the court system ever again, I didn’t challenge him. Plus I had no money to counteract all his power moves. My divorce judgment was written so general that I couldn’t even call the police to uphold the judgment.
Legal system abuse
As part of the court processes, besides discovery, I was besieged with requests for paper work and receipts and invoices that I had to find to prove my case. I never had access to any of those receipts during the marriage and obtaining them was difficult. So again, I couldn’t prove my case. The lies in the affidavits were astonishing. The lawyers were having endless conversations and overcharging me. And then cancellations of court appearances were numerous for a multitude of reasons.
The whole process was just a ploy to drag the process out until I ran out of stamina, got ill, and became too broke to survive. Even my own lawyer sided with the other lawyer. I had to close my newly launched store during key moments in order to show up for court, which unbeknownst to me was cancelled. So when the workers from New York came to set up the business store front, I wasn’t able to be there because I was interrupted by court. During training sessions with my staff, I had to cancel last minute for legal procedures. I had to close my store a multitude of times.
I got ill physically and mentally and soon I just tired out and couldn’t keep the business going, so I went bankrupt and closed the store doors.
It wasn’t until the divorce settlement that I was able to get away from the turmoil. I left the city and all the manipulation. As long as I tried to see the kids, I was at risk of trauma. I didn’t give myself permission for 10 years afterwards, to live my own life and enjoy it. I had to deal with the empty nest syndrome and change the things I did and thought. As a result, my relationship with the children (now adults) evolved so that they would at least talk to me.
The relationships with the kids today
Its still a issue today, but they are warming up to me. We don’t talk about the divorce so I haven’t the opportunity to undo all the things they were told by their father. However, I think living in the present is what got me well. Revisiting the past wouldn’t serve our higher good. Even if I got a chance to repudiate all the lies, what would be the purpose. My past doesn’t define me today and so the past is irrelevant. The lies were obviously not true, and I don’t need to be right. They were what they were and I don’t care who wants to believe them anymore. If someone wants to get to know me for who I am today, that is what is pertinent for me. Otherwise, others who were sucked into the middle of that divorce battle, they can continue to hold me hostage to their belief systems. Or, they can get to know me today based on today and let go of their own stories that they cling on to, for whatever their payoff reasons.
Other peoples horror stories
I have heard these types of horror stories from many people in my lifetime who have gone through divorces and children were involved. We all go through grieving processes as we enter into empty nest syndrome. We hold ourselves back from taking advantage of the perks and opportunities that exist as a result of the divorce. We do this because we project blame, shame, guilt, and judgments on ourselves. The negative dialogue going on in our heads creates a roadblock to starting over and entering into a second act in life.
I am worthy
Finally after a decade of creating havoc for myself, and perpetuating being the victim, I decided I had more worth than being a mother. I had to let go of the notion that the kids would one day need me. I stopped feeling my worth was based on how much attention they gave me as they went through their own busy lives. I decided it was time to confront my reality, examine the past and how it was affecting me in the present. Then I looked at who I was and wasn’t. I determined what I didn’t want any more in my life, as well as what I wanted more of. I finally got to the point where I wrote my own life’s script and am following my True North. It took at least half a year but the work was worth it in the long run.
All I can say about divorce today is that it is an opportunity to really live again. The old relationship couldn’t be fixed because it was over and it deserved to be finished and forgotten. I was getting older and didn’t want to live my life with regret and judgment. I was tired of withholding joy from myself. Then, I determined who I wanted to be, and now I endeavour to be that. There is no longer a desire to insert myself into my kids lives. They are free to contact me and have a relationship with me, although, I keep the doors open and I do put effort out to speak with them. They can choose to ignore my attempts or they may be too busy with their own lives and I’m not as far up the totem pole as a priority. Either way, life and time continue to move on, and things are the way they are for many reasons and I can only control myself and what I think and do. I choose life and to enjoy it to the fullness I deserve to experience.