Friday, February 20, 2009

Not Even A Goodbye

The mediation is over and sadly my husband refused to even say goodbye, which I requested to have an opportunity to do. So we parted without any personal contact. I was awarded (after a long, hard battle on my part) a small monetary settlement which can be put toward the past due mortgage and my upcoming tax liability. Following are some of the comments from my attorney (female) and the mediator (male). They are related here in an effort to reflect on the event and provide some much needed closure. A very close girlfriend drove me the five hour journey and sat with me during some of the non-confidential process and I'll put her comments in too.

Both my attorney and the mediator said that in the 20 years they have been practicing, they have never encountered a spouse who refused to say goodbye! My attorney said my husband refusing to do so and also for failing to communicate with me at all the past seven months was "absurd." The mediator stated my request to have an opportunity to talk to my husband, who refused because he said he would "break down" and he did not want to do so. My husband told the mediator he is still "madly in love" with me. The mediator replied that if he still had such feelings, exploring counseling should be considered. He also felt that the reason my husband gave for not seeing/talking to me was not valid. But my husband said there was "too much water under the bridge" at this point. My husband told my attorney and the mediator that he really had wanted to be married to me and be a father to the boys. My attorney later said that I am "beautiful, intelligent, well educated and have two beautiful boys." She further said that yes, I have suffered great heartache but that actually has made me more valuable of a person. She said that my husband was given the "real deal" and threw his "beautiful, ready-made family" away. She wanted to ask my husband where his manners were and what had his mother taught him? At that point she was no longer in the room with him and was not able to do so.

The mediator assured me that my husband's behavior was not a reflection of me but his issues. He said that it takes two to communicate/work on a marriage, etc. and my husband clearly didn't want to make that effort. He assured me that after surviving even greater pain (death of husband, death of mom, son being diagnosed with heart condition only one year of husband dying) that I would survive this too. My attorney praised my sense of humor and said that would help. She told me that there is a reason he got to age 50 without marrying. That as much as he craved the family life and being married, he could not get out of his narrow zone to experience that. She actually said that she felt I had been "conned" by my husband.

My friend admitted that she has no patience for the behavior of my husband and considers him damaged goods and forever broken. She wonders if his mother neglected him as a baby. She wants me to focus on cutting my losses, moving on and healing. (What a good, dear friend!)

My attorney reported that after the mediation ended, she saw my husband put on his coat and actually run from the office!

The mediator and my attorney were very sympathetic toward me and treated me with much compassion and often in a very therapeutic manner. Both agreed that this was a highly unusual case and that my husband's behavior was not typical. For example, the mediator noted that my husband was not personally engaged in the mediation process and deferred all of his responses to his attorney. That was frustrating to him because the purpose of mediation is to give power and a voice to the divorcing couple instead of the attorneys.

My thoughts:

1. Running away at the end of the mediation is such a good metaphor! He has been running from intimacy and connection the entire marriage. And this along with his failure to say goodbye is a fitting ending. It also makes sense that he was not actively involved in the mediation process and was having his attorney make the decisions because he had not been emotionally involved in the marriage.

2. He was totally unable to get outside of himself for even the five minutes it would have taken to say goodbye. He had to avoid that pain and couldn't even bear it because it was the right thing to do. I think back to all the hurt and pain I have endured on behalf of others. Five minutes is a drop in the bucket compared to nursing a husband with cancer for three years! This guy couldn't even give me that!

3. It is obvious that my husband's claims that he "madly" loves me are false. I think he thinks he loves me but his love is a false love (on the level of high school students or some cockeyed Hollywood view). Even my 16 year old son knows the decent thing to do is to break up with his girlfriend of the month in person. Truly loving someone means that sometimes we do not do what we want for ourselves, but what our partners need/want. In my opinion if he truly loved me he would have said goodbye as a final act of love toward me.

4. In the end, I drew my trump card which was our 100+ piece vintage glassware collection that we had amassed over the course of our marriage. I knew my husband coveted this collection and did not want to lose it. It worked in my favor but makes me totally sad that he values a collection of glassware more than the love he had for me. Another metaphor - what he wants is a beautiful collection to gaze at and admire. That collection will never talk back to him or interact with him in any way. And that is what he wants more than an actual honest-to-goodness relationship.

Today I am grateful:

1. For the kindness of others in the face of heartache (close friends, mediators and attorneys trying to make a difficult situation less painful).
2 For finally reaching a resolution to a long, drawn out situation that should never have gone on as long as it did in the first place. (The settlement I received is what I requested back in September!).
3. For knowing that what is most important is the love we cultivate through our relationships with others and that possessions can never replace that. I covet the relationships, heartache and all.

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