Pride takes over where love leaves off
Divorce can be traumatic at the best of times, and it is even worse when children are involved. All too often, the custody fight becomes about the parents winning and not what is best for the child or children concerned. Pride steps in and everything flies out the back door.
When Gerald and I got divorced, I was confident that I would get custody of our daughter, Janice. Gerald was never really present as a father and I took it for granted that he would be happy for me to have sole custody of Janice, knowing that I would give him full visitation rights.
He was a nice enough guy and good enough father; his only flaw is that he is self centred which can sometimes border on narcissism. It took the divorce for me to fully understand just how narcissistic he really is.
Gerald moved out and called me within a few days to tell me he was going to fight for joint custody of Janice. I was shocked as he never expressed anything like this when we were busy talking about getting divorced. When I asked him why, his reply shocked me - “Because I can.”
I told him that Janice would be better off with me and that I would not prevent him from seeing her or even letting her spend weekends and certain holidays with him, but he was just not interested. It was clear that he wanted to beat me simply because he had the money and resources to do so. He also had knowledge of the fact that I am a recovering alcoholic and he was prepared to use this to his advantage.
I pleaded with him, reminding him that I had not touched a drink for 6 years and had no inclination to do so. He told me that the judge would not see it like that and that he would win the case. I took counsel with my friends and family members and everyone suggested that I fight him. Money was not an issue as my friends and family members all committed to helping me pay for the case.
After long and hard deliberation, I decided to not fight against Gerald after all. The trauma that the court case would place on Janice was simply not worth it for me. She needs to love her father and mother equally and I did not want her to be placed in a situation where she would have to start choosing sides.
I received confirmation from Gerald that he would permit full visitation rights and that Janice would stay with me on alternating weekends and alternating holidays. I explained to Janice that it would be better for her to live with her daddy and visit with me on the above basis. I explained that Gerald was better equipped to look after her than I was and that I still loved her more than anything in the worlds. While most of this was a lie (not the me loving her part), I feel in my heart that I have made the right decision. Janice will never know the truth about the custody battle from me and as far as I’m concerned, she will believe that we both love her.
I have gotten used to living on my own for a large chunk of my life. I cannot wait to see Janice when she comes to me and I go out of my way to make her visit as special as possible. She assures me that she is happy living with Gerald and his new wife and at the end of the day, that is what is most important for me.
Disclaimer: Please note that names of people, places and other personally identifiable information have been changed to protect the privacy of the author and her family.