I ran across this article on the Huffington Post. The author outlines the experience she has had through her Divorce. I’ve included some comments and advice at the end of the article.
by Katie Amatruda
Well, so much for my wisdom and clarity, my hopes and faith. I’m deep in depression, because after my soon-to-be-ex-husband and I reached a fair-ish Settlement, by a fluke I found out that he’d been lying to me the whole time regarding his pension. The amount of his pension that I was to get would be cut in half after his death, even though the agreement states I will receive the benefit even after he dies. I have no pension of my own, and am only getting a small percentage of his as it is. Plus he’ll be dead anyway, so why would he care? But he does care, mightily, enough to threaten to derail the entire settlement process, yet again. Is he trying to wear me down? Run up my legal fees so high that I have no choice except to capitulate? Or does he love the power he’s holding over me?
I find myself alternating between the paralysis of depression and the agitation of anger, which usually hits at bedtime. Or worse, at 3:30 a.m. My lawyer has, perhaps wisely, forbidden me from speaking to him. She emailed me that, “Husband is prepared to walk away from the entire deal if he does not get his way. Just leave him alone and do not discuss even for a second, or this will unravel. Just let us attorneys try to figure it out quickly.” And expensively, no doubt.
I so do not want this to be happening, don’t want the song characterizing our split to have morphed from Jimmy Cliff’s “You can get it if you really want it,” to the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want / But if you try sometimes well you might find / You get what you need.” While my more evolved Self looks on this dispassionately for the lesson, my day-to-day little Self is smote. I am like a baby bird spat out of its nest. Splat.
It’s hard to rouse myself to do anything. It was a huge accomplishment yesterday to wash my hair and go to the Laundromat. Yep, the Laundromat, because the split has left me fairly impoverished. The price tag of the divorce to me so far is about $150,000, mostly legal and medical expenses and keeping the family money pit, oops, I mean the home. His cost is only a few thousand dollars, as he got legal insurance for himself, but not for me.
I nap and sigh, a lot. Even reading has lost its ability to give pleasure. I’m changing my name again, from Katie to Annie, short for Anhedonia. Can’t say I’m pleased to meet you, because my name means “the absence of pleasure or the ability to experience it.” So sorry.
I hate this. I thought I was done, when I went through the breakdown stage, when I spent nine months crying every day. Now I’m not crying, I’m just flattened. Roadkill. Every time I try to move on, he does something to pull me back. I don’t get it.
Actually, I know exactly how I feel — I’m Coyote in the old Roadrunner cartoons. No matter what I do, I get pulverized. Splat. I’m sitting here with steam boiling out of my ears, my jaw clenched in anger, on Lord knows how many psychotropics, and I have to aspire to be the Roadrunner that gets away, unscathed, and not let him destroy me. I need to remember, as Jimmy Cliff said, Well they’re putting up resistance but I know / that my faith will lead me on.
I just sent my attorney an email upon realizing that my ex-husband has been perpetuating fraud for the entire year and a half in which we have been trying to settle. It is entitled, “Rethinking settlement – ready to play hardball.” My list of demands is exhaustive, ending with putting a lien on his paycheck if necessary. Neither Roadrunner nor Coyote, I have become the ACME Cannon. It’s his turn to splat.
Here is the advise I would give Katie.
As a divorce mediator nothing is more upsetting to me than watching two decent people go through a litigious and contentious divorce. This will probably be the most stressful event you experience in your life, and what you are experiencing with your ex is very common. I often see this dynamic in mediation. When two reasonable people are close to reaching a durable and seemingly fair agreement, and one of the parties sabotages the agreement, it’s a clear sign that they are not emotionally ready to be divorced. They are not ready to face the finality of divorce and continuing the fighting is a way to prevent this.
When I see this dynamic in play, I work with my clients to develop an interim agreement that will allow them to take care of day-to-day life for next six months. We then agree to take a break and return to mediation in 3 or 6 months. Both parties are able to take that time to process their emotions regarding divorce. When they return to mediation, both parties are in a space to negotiate in good faith and finalize their divorce.
Couples going through a divorce share two common goals. The first is to develop a settlement agreement that will allow them to move forward in life; the second is to experience this process with as little collateral damage as possible. That includes limiting stress and attorney fees. Attorneys play an important role in divorce, however the longer you and your ex fight the more money the attorney makes. It’s okay to call a break and let the process slow down. Divorce can bring out the worst in both parties and a skilled mediator or collaborative family law attorney will help prevent you and your ex from squandering all of your assets on a brutal legal battle and allow you move forward with a settlement you can each live with.