Monday 11 April 2011

Perils of Divorced Pauline

How can you have a sense of humour when you're going through hell? Or is the question more about having a sense of humour helps you get through hell? At the end of February, 2011, a woman by the name of Pauline started a blog about her custody battle. In her About, she writes:

I am a survivor of a world-class gnarly divorce. My ex-husband is suing me for full custody of my son, and more time with my daughter. He’s super-rich and I’m super-not. You get the picture.

In case you were wondering, his name isn’t really Prince Machiavelli and my name isn’t really Pauline. All of the names and identifiable elements in this blog have been changed. The last thing I need is to give my ex more incentive to sue me for money that I don’t have. He’s like that.

While the names have been changed, the story is true. And you can learn how it all started by reading the first post here. If I come out of this custody battle alive, with most of my original marbles intact, and I can give hope and some sardonic chuckles to others in divorce purgatory, then maybe some of what my kids and I have gone through will have meant something.

So please, if you like this blog, tweet it, post it to your Facebook page, or just be 20th century and mention it to people.

Regards from the Custody Front Line,


Oh boy, how do you spell "ugly"? In her first post "Prince Machiavelli Wants Custody of My Kids" published on February 27, 2011, she talks about first deciding to hand over the kids if her husband ever sued her. Her reasons why make a great deal of practical sense and are funny.

Her husband being rich, as she puts it, yacht-loads of money rich, he could sustain a legal battle far beyond her financial ability to respond. She also says he loves to fight (The reason why he's rich?) and adds, "Remember Robert Duvall’s character in Apocalypse Now, when he’s standing on the shore with bombs exploding all around him, proclaiming, "I love the smell of Napalm in the morning?"  That’s my ex-husband." That line had me laughing, but I've also known people like that and have to admit they are as scary as hell.

She also points how the possible damage on the children a custody battle could have. To avoid the havoc on her household and her relationship with her own kids, she would give them up. Considering her description of her fighter husband, it sounds like he would be more interested in fighting and winning than actually having the children and being a father to them. Just a guess on my part.

I couldn't help thinking of the Biblical story of the Judgement of Solomon from the first book of Kings 3:16-28. Two women claim the same baby as their own so the king calls for a sword to cut the baby in two.

Upon hearing this terrible verdict, the boy's true mother cried out, "Please, My Lord, give her the live child—do not kill him!" However, the liar, in her bitter jealousy, exclaimed, "It shall be neither mine nor yours—divide it!" Solomon instantly gave the live baby to the real mother, realizing that the true mother's instincts were to protect her child, while the liar revealed that she did not truly love the child.

A mother's love for her child is so great; she would actually give that child up.

Pauline is now remarried: a fresh start, a new beginning. At some point though Pauline changed her mind. She's decided to fight. She's lawyered up, as she put it, and is prepared for a custody battle. She's writing a blog about this to document the process, keep her sanity, and share with others who may be going through the same thing.

Wouldn’t it be more prudent to keep these sensitive matters, no matter how well-disguised, under wraps? Sure. But prudent didn’t stop the conflict. It didn’t help my son, or my ex, get over being angry. Despite years of Gandhi-channelling and compulsive capitulating in the name of keeping the peace, peace didn’t happen–unmanageability did.

In the post "Empathy for the Devil", Pauline tries to demonstrate a little empathy for her husband saying that she loves her kids more than she's mad at her ex. However, she does talk about the writing on the wall:

One afternoon shortly before our marriage blew up; I sat in my therapist’s office listing in minute detail all the things I hated about Prince. I said something to the effect of, "I love everything about my life but him."

Over dinner that night, Prince said to me, "I feel like you love everything about your life but me." I cringed. He then told me I must have accidentally hit the speed dial on my cell phone. When he answered his phone, he heard the entire therapy session. Every word.

I have often wondered how much that accidental phone call has fuelled Prince’s rage over the years. Would we have had a kinder, gentler divorce if it had never happened?

It's curious. People get married because at one time they felt the best of feelings for their partner then inexplicably - or maybe it's all explicable - those feelings change, or should I say sour?

If I could talk to Prince, and if he could listen, I would tell him how sorry I am that I hurt him. I would tell him how much I wish I could take back what he heard. I would tell him that I can still remember the times, years ago, when he made me laugh, when he was both the object of my desire and my admiration, and when I couldn’t imagine my life without him.

Pauline and the Prince divorced. And yet, she remembers way back then, the beginning when she had feelings for him. It's unfortunate. Would couples counselling have helped?

I've noted that Pauline is blogging anonymously. She wants to share, but admits that it would be better if her husband, now ex-husband didn't find out. Nevertheless, when you blog you open yourself to comments and it's interesting some of the comments she gets. In "Tied to the Whipping Post" of March 12, 2011, she talks about the feedback she got from one of her postings being republished on Salon. She points out that based on a 950 word essay, some people felt compelled or felt justified to qualify her as a lousy mother, as being pathetic, being a drama queen, etc. Wow. Pretty harsh there, yes?

Salon: I may lose custody of my son: How did I get here?

The comments

Per your post you sound like a confrontational and high maintenance individual who sucks all the air out of the room with your neediness. - monkapotamus

You acted poorly and selfishly. You were self-absorbed when you should have been a mother. Sorry, but look in the mirror, dear...... - Factoidus

Gee, now doesn't that make you feel like opening up?

Final Word
This is an interesting blog and a window into the inner workings of an emotional process. Divorce isn't fun; custody proceedings may be worse. The following came to mind as somehow appropriate to these circumstances.

If by Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;

Not everybody is going to have it easy. Not everyone is going to get a divorce but still manage to work out an arrangement which is fair but more importantly acceptable to all parties. Emotions run high; too high in fact. How easy is it to lose sight of the rational human being? We all make mistakes; all parties make mistakes, but do all parties completely forget to forgive? During marriage, we overlook all sorts of things, but during divorce nothing is too petty to be criticized.

In her blog "Postcards of a Peaceful Divorce", Molly Monet describes how she has managed to get a divorce but still work out an arrangement with her ex-husband which is not just beneficial for their children, but for the two of them as well. This seems to be the exception to the rule and I am finding, as with Pauline, there are many more who have unbelievable stories of pain and heartache. "Getting married was wonderful. Being married was a joy. Getting divorced sucks."

Should I worry about Pauline blogging anonymously? If this came out, just what ammunition would it provide her ex-husband in their custody proceedings, ah, battle?

At the end of day, I hope Pauline works out something which is fair and beneficial to all parties: her ex-husband, her children, and herself. I hope this won't be acrimonious, but knowing how emotionally charged these situations can be, would I be surprised if it turns into a battle royal? [sigh] Why can't we just all get along?


Perils of Divorced Pauline

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