Hiding Is Not Humility-My Own Worst Enemy for Single Moms

crumpled paper with Marriage written on it

by Gail Cawley Showalter, Founder of SMORE for Women

from My Own Worst Enemy  by Janet Davis 

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you heard a voice in your head say, “Just who do you think you are?”  And what was your answer? Did you back off? Did you cower? Did you have a sense of humiliation? Can you answer the question – Just who do you think you are?

***

During my divorce the negotiations seemed to go on forever. My husband was livid about the fact that I wasn’t pushing things along from my end. Frankly I didn’t want a divorce and didn’t care how long it took. He knew that but all he saw was the money that was going to the lawyers. What he failed to see was my point of view.

When our three precious, very young children (ages 6, 4, and 3) would be with him for visitation they would be with “the other woman.” I was torn apart by this and yet he continued to force this into my life. He would drive her sports car to pick up the kids. She came to pick them up from daycare on Friday for visitation. They would unplug the phones so the children couldn’t phone me when they were with him. (I learned this years later.) I knew the kids were confused. I have strong convictions about marriage and didn’t like his treatment of ours-such a quick change over from our home to another.

I asked my attorney if there wasn’t something that could be done to prevent the children from having to spend their visitation in this situation. She was very hesitant to address it in court. I could tell she didn’t like the idea of asking a judge about it. She was afraid he might not like it. I remained resolute. So the decision was made that during the court time when temporary orders would be established I could say something to the judge if I still wanted to.

The day came. “Just who did I think I was?” began to play in my head.  I did not want to do this. I fully expected a bad reaction from my husband, knowing how he liked to be the one in control of any situation. I felt discouraged by my attorney, the courtroom, and of what might happen if I spoke my mind. I remember the day. I wore a dress my mother had made. I was a simple, thin, and frail looking young woman, nothing flashy or sexy about me. The negative thoughts were powerful. Who do you think you are? Why am I the one doing this?  My knees went weak. Standing before a judge can be intimidating. I was easily intimidated in those days. I was married to a master of intimidation. And now my well-paid lawyer wouldn’t stand up for me.

I stood before the judge, he looked down from his elevated throne, and I spoke. “Is it acceptable for my children to spend the night in the house with my husband and another woman before the divorce is final?” He said without hesitation, “No it isn’t.” Then he firmly advised my husband that he was not to stay with a member of the opposite sex during his visitation with the children. It was written into the temporary orders.

Just who did I think I was?  I was a mother, hurting, and hoping I could make a point that marriage should mean something.

The reaction I had expected did not take long. My husband wrote a letter to the children. Not that they could read it or even begin to understand what he was saying, so I have to believe the words were intended for me. In it he said “the judge wants me to lie about my life to you kids, but I do know in my heart that I would rather show my love for you by not seeing you than to lie to you about where I live.” So for several weeks he did not see the children. Then he decided out of the blue it was time to have them again. After which I learned that during visitation they spent the night with the other woman and their dad left to spend the night elsewhere. He managed to circumvent the court order. After all wasn’t he within the letter of the law? The children were not spending the night with their dad in the same house as a member of the opposite sex.

Later in court again for more final orders I asked the judge if this arrangement was acceptable. I will never forget the look on the judge’s face when I explained what was happening. “No,” he said emphatically “It is not acceptable.”

The judge did something few people had ever done. He addressed my husband with serious force and made it clear that if he wanted to have visitation with his children without a member of the court present, he would respect the orders of the court.

Just who did I think I was? I was a mother, hurting and hoping to make a point that marriage should mean something.

I do not enjoy retelling this story. Much water has passed under the bridge since then. I tell it to make one simple point. Sometimes it is necessary to face down the gremlin that asks you the question – Just who do you think you are?

Next time that happens – have an answer.

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