You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better. – Anne Lamott
I’m back on WordPress after locking down my account for several months.
The night before my divorce trial began, I looked through my soon-to-be-ex’s Discovery. For those of you who are lucky enough to know nothing about Discovery, it’s the process of submitting documents to court. You have no choice about all of this. You must produce everything by law – thousands and thousands of pages of documents. And you must produce them in a timely way, which does not ever mean the night before court.
But the rules do not apply to EX. So I received many of his documents the evening before my three-day trial began. And among those documents I found a photograph taken of a page from my diary. On the diary page was my MadnessandEuphoria log-in information, in my handwriting. He submitted it to court as evidence against me.
To sum it all up, the photograph of my personal log-in information was taken by my soon-to-be-ex, nearly three years after our Separation, when he was visiting the children in the “marital home,” which to him means that he can sneak into my bedroom on a regular basis and go through my personal things and take photographs. The journal was in my bedside drawer. He must have taken the photo soon after I started this blog, because right after that, my attorneys told me to get a lock for my bedroom door. (They also advised me to hire someone to search my home for listening devices, and they told me to shut down all of my email accounts and open new ones.)
It was not the first time I discovered that soon-to-be-ex had gone through my things. He had also taken photos of notes to my attorneys – notes that were hidden in the back of my closet. He brought them to court, claiming bizarrely that they were some admission of guilt. Also, a few things started to go missing around that time: artwork, an antique mirror, random cookbooks, and quite a few restaurant gift certificates given to us by my parents – gift certificates that I kept in my bedroom.
Following all of this, I wrote him an official email, asking him to stay out of my bedroom and my personal things. But things like this don’t apply to EX. So the night before trial I locked down MadnessAndEuphoria out of fear. I imagined all my personal thoughts here coming up in court, being read aloud by a mocking soon-to-be-ex, while I cowered on the stand like a guilty criminal, while the court reporters laughed at me.
Thankfully, this did not happen because EX came up with all sorts of other stories to tell on the stand. My blog didn’t make it to the top of his list, probably because he never did find bother to look for the WordPress website.
I like to believe that the judge saw right through EX. The final decree took six weeks because of multiple motions filed by the Other Woman who appeared willingly on the stand to testify for EX and then asked for her name to be redacted from every court document. Her motions were denied. Today and forever, her name will appear throughout my divorce decree, a legal document freely available to the public. The judge noted in this document that she impeached herself twice, probably not a good thing if you are an attorney. At any rate, I never cared too much about her, one way or the other – if EX didn’t find her he would have found someone else. (And in fact he did, many times over.) But I don’t think that someone like her could ever understand this.
So I am divorced, after nearly three years of fighting. I feel vindicated by the judge’s words in the 53 pages, and by the things he shouted at EX on the very last day of court. I will never forget him hanging over the bench, pointing his finger at EX. It filled me with gratitude – finally someone had the moral courage (and the authority) to shout at EX for all that he had done to me.
Afterwards, shell-shocked, my lawyer said he had never seen a judge so outraged in all of his 30 years of practicing divorce law. Yet in his next breath, my attorney told me that EX would get every other weekend with the children. That’s the way things go where I live. So, in the most important ways, it’s a hollow victory because my children will be spending more time with EX because I was unable to block this legally. If I lived about ten blocks south, I would be in another state, and I believe that things would be very different.
But that is where I am today. I am glad to be back here writing, even if I’m just writing to myself. I survived something I never thought I could survive. I told the truth. The judge listened, and I believe he did the best he could. I’ll always remember his words to EX. “YOU did this. You are here today because of the TERRIBLE way you treated your wife. I don’t believe one word you say. You would lie about anything. You are a LIAR.”
So, my blog goes on. I had hoped for a sunnier outcome, something like sole custody, and my children and I living in a camper on a beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean. But nothing is impossible, I remind myself. I remember a psychologist telling me that I spent so many years and so much energy worrying about EX. She said I would do well once this is over: that I could channel that energy into things that would never have been possible for me within my marriage. And with this, she gave me this little tiny, crazy little sliver of hope.