i sat in the back of the courtroom and watched the charismatic figure of a woman who has been entrusted by the state to guide parents through the visitation, custody and mediation process speak to a room full of parents, all going through a form of the same hell that is the road to the end of a road. I found myself talking to God in my mind and wondering, if we are all here for our kids, if we are all here to do our part in raising happy, healthy kids who will grow up capable of having happy, healthy adult relationships, WHY IS THIS NECESSARY! We should be able to walk away from the fighting and see the costs for ourselves without needing to participate in this circus playing out before us.
A woman a few chairs over sniffled and dried her eyes as a computer slide show was projected on a screen at the front of the courtroom, detailing the tolls that divorce and alienation take on kids as their parents engage in the behaviors that lead to divorce. The voice of a child lisping lines talking about the feelings of insecurity and fear generated by having their home life shattered floats over the room. The woman returns to the podium and continues speaking about compromise and a childs need for security, regardless of their parents failures. That the failure is ours, and is not for our children to bear. My mind wanders across the back in time across the desert of the last decades and in some ways, I can see that I have come a long way.
I’m finding peace in accepting that it is not my plan or desires that guide what will be. Thy Will be done.
I think about the man whose lawyers continue to produce document after hateful document of slanderous, viscous, ugliness and for a moment I find myself thinking, If he only knew how happy his daughter is now. That she is secure, that she is loved, that she is safe from the feelings of loss and abandonment that children of divorce feel because she was so young when he left that she didn’t live the loss. She knows nearly nothing of the years of insecurity, the years of tension – the years I spiraled through the cycle of tension and violence and couldn’t see a way out. Anticipation. Raised Voices. Fear. She lives a life where these things cannot touch her. If only he could see that she is happy and safe. Maybe then he’d leave us alone.
…and then it hit me. This is scar talk. That my daughter is safe and loved are the very things he is trying to use to justify withholding financial support from her. Her happiness and security in the only life she has ever known is meaningless to him. Custody is something to be won, like another argument. If I’ve learned anything in fifteen years, it’s that appealing to an abuser leads to more abuse. You can’t negotiate from a position of perceived weakness.
I have to guard my own responses as a parent, the hope that another adult will treat my child as a valuable human being deserving of love and respect in her own right, outside of their dynamic with me. I have to remind myself that when dealing with an illogical person, it is insanity to expect higher reason to guide their actions. I have to steel myself against my desire to appeal to this person on behalf of my child, the child whose best interest should be paramount in all things when creating a fair and beneficial custody agreement. My words hold no value in the eyes of an abuser. I hold no value in the eyes of an abuser. I have to face it in order to release it
We recognize the Devil by his lies. You are worthless, you are alone, you are not deserving of love or even life. When another human speaks these words we can look them in the eye and leave them by the roadside because we know them for what they are. They bear the true mark of the beast in their words and actions. Our need to prove that we are valuable to a person who cannot value us is a honeypot trap. If I just… Let me show you… and I’m in the pot again, stuck by a wing and can only be freed by a prayer. To try to prove your worth to the devil is to invite him to dance. Eve speaking; “I can handle this. Whoops. Oh crap.” My four year old daughter speaking, I am too big enough… and the milk spills.
I cannot leave the door open for an abuser to change my focus or to seek a win with abuse because I don’t want to view him in the full light of his intent. It’s a terrible moment when you realize someone sees hurting you as their greatest victory and does not care about the collateral damage, to you, to your children or even to themselves. I cannot let my ability to forgive fade into forgetfulness, much as I need to forget and move forward to focus on providing the best life I can for my daughter within the family we’ve built and my deep gratefulness to God and our family and extended family for the life we have.
A few nights ago my Forever Husband and I were able to take a pre-holiday break and have a date afternoon out on his motorcycle. The day was sunny and cold, and as we were coming home and the sun was setting, it was just cold. A thermal shirt, two sweatshirts and a jacket were like wet cheesecloth against the whipping wind. Eye protection is not negotiable by the law, or by the wind. Sunglasses in the dark do not make for great visibility. Fortunately I don’t have to drive. I just have to hang on. As we ducked and dodged through traffic enjoying our last hour of us time, an orange harvest moon crested the eastern hills over the valley, peeking through the clouds. The sunglasses that are necessary to block the wind cast the falling dusk in deeper shades than the night has yet earned. The moment closes down to the now. My hands aren’t so cold anymore. My nose just fits into the space between the back of my Husbands helmet and vest and I can smell his neck and feel little breaths of heat rising off of it. I scrunch a little lower and tuck my head in to get out of the wind. My nose isn’t so cold anymore. I can’t see the road, but when he changes lanes the small play of tension in his body guides the bike and we are together seamlessly. Traffic screeches to a halt and we brake sharply.
“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”
Thou art with me.
I will not fear.
I will not vex the walk. I will not obstruct Gods plan, nor will I doubt it. I will allow God to work through me, to work WITH me and to work on me, to allow my life to reflect His Glory. I am not driving. I can’t see what the road ahead will bring, but I can hold on.
King James Version (KJV)
23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.