kukla_tko: (Default)
What a load of steaming crap this is.

Is it better for your kids to see you fight? Is it better for the kids to see this tortured relationship as their only example of how to treat the people they become close to? Is it better for your kids to find out that the reason their parent stayed with their other parent despite abuse and nastiness and an empty shell of a life was because of them? Is it better to keep your children where they will be emotionally or physically abused by you or your partner? *shudder.*

When my mother sat me down and told me, in great emotional distress and through her tears that she and my father were going to divorce, I said, "Good. It's about time. One question? Why didn't you guys do this 5 years ago when you started to really make each other miserable?"

And she had the gall to be shocked. She really thought I would go to pieces because my folks split. Hardly.

I admit, I was about 22 or 23 at the time. In fact, it burned my butt that my brothers' education was made Papa's financial responsibility, but that I was too old to be included under that umbrella. I didn't get a thin dime from that man toward school, and I had him actively hindering me from getting any financial aide.

My youngest brother (who was still in middle school at the time, if I remember) was crushed. His fragile little world collapsed. He was the one who proudly told all his friends that *his* parents were *still together* and that we had a perfect home.

Funny. That brother was the same one who had the following conversation with my mother one morning:

Brother: Mom, can I have some money for lunch?
Mom: I don't have any cash right now.
B: But I need money for my lunch, I don't have time to make anything.
Mom: I don't have the cash, dear. Go ask your father for some lunch money.
B: ...
B: But why can't I get lunch money from you?
Mom: (Exasperated)Look, I don't have it. Go to your father and ask him for a couple of dollars for lunch.
B: But... I... he's just going to tell me no, that I should bring something.
Mom: (Really agrivated now) He's your FATHER, just go to him and tell him what you just told me, that you don't have time to make a lunch and you need $2 for your school lunch!
B: ...
B: Why can't you ask him for me?

And neither Mom nor my brother took this as a clue that there was something wrong. And stuff like this happened all the bloody time.

My father was the Ghost That Lived In Our House. People would call for him, and we wouldn't even know if he was home or not. He took to sleeping on a shelf in his basement storage area, instead of in bed with my mom. "Papa's Shelf" was a quiet joke in the household. "Is Papa home?" "I donno, did you check his *shelf?*"

So, guess what happened? After 27 years of marriage, my parents divorced. It took forever, because my father didn't seem to think he had to pay for anything like child support or college, because he was convinced that my mother would just squander the money on frivolous things. Mom fought for the kids, but not for herself, and gave up things that she was completely entitled to, just so it could be "over."
I watched the two of them fight over the taxes, starting with them both standing, and after 10 minutes, Mom was sitting and Papa was standing over her trying to get her to agree to his terms by force of personality alone.

I almost stood between them right then. I almost called my mother's lawyer (I had his home number) and walked up to my own (very scary) father, to say "Look, Papa. I love you and I always will. But you have to stop talking to my mother right now. This is her lawyer, if you want to negotiate this point further, speak to him."

But then I realized what my action would REALLY do to my Mom. I realized that she had to be the one to take a stand.

I was so proud. She did.

At one point, when Papa was collecting his stuff, I screwed up my courage and asked him what he thought of the divorce. He smiled at me. He said, "I don't feel. bad. Any. More."
That's a direct quote.

My brothers looked at me in awe when I told them. They thought I had real balls to ask him to his face.

Then he moved out, started his own life. Both my parents picked up the pieces of their lives, and adopted weird dogs. Papa adopted a generic hound with the same name as my brother. Both of them began to live again.

Mom became much less crazy. She continued to see her therapist, and began to change the patterns of her life, improving her relationships accross the board.

Papa went from hostile to neutral. He lived peacefully and quietly. I lived down the street from his new residence for a while. He and I got a few chances to bond over car repairs, as my hoopties were always breaking down.
Papa started to find his Zen place. I think he really benefited from having his own space.
He started to become a real person, and it wasn't as big a deal to talk to him anymore.

Then he met the woman he married. She is an excellent compliment to him. And compensates for his atrophied ability to reach out to people. She always makes sure that all three of us are welcome in the house, and at any gathering. She lets us know the family news (since my father is a bottleneck in this regard.) But she doesn't fight with him, and I watched him try to bait her into it one night. If she had been my mother, they'd have circled each other on this for weeks. My stepmom just neatly sidesteped and refused to rise to the bait. I watched him snap at her, tense for the fight and then slowly relax as he realized it wasn't coming.

Mom found someone who knows when to indulge her and when to make a hard line. They bicker, but I think that mom is happiest when she can bicker about little things. Not fighting, not personal attack, just kind of bitch at each other over the little stuff. My father never learned the art of the bicker.

I wish *I* had never learned it. My skill at this leaks out from time to time.

But they are both better people in healthy relationships now. Mom was weirded out about getting remarried. I know that she will always love my father. But she will always hate him just as much, I suspect.


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