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Things I Care About: Do Unto Others

Golden Rule Plus

If you’ve read very many of my blog posts, you kind of start to get a feeling for things that I’m passionate about. Like

Fathers’ Rights.  I deeply believe that the best way to keep our kids whole through the divorce process is for them to have BOTH parents in their lives.  In this world of family law, where custody seems to default to moms, we should not forget that there are a lot of really great dads out there who are heartbroken at losing time to just Be around their kids on a daily basis.  While that may not be practical in a divorce,  that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work to keep Dad there as often as possible.  And intentionally keeping a loving father from his kids IS child abuse.  We need the courts to take it more seriously, and we need a general shift in societal thinking that defaults away from thinking that single moms are always saints.

and

Domestic Abuse.  By this I mean ALL forms of abuse.  We tend to think only in terms of physical violence as being abusive, but psychological abuse may be far more pervasive, and can take a helluva lot longer to get over.  Victims of abuse tend to be less likely to have custody of their kids, because they tend also to have less access to resources with which to hire a lawyer in a divorce.  Moms who don’t have their kids could well have been victims of domestic abuse in their marriages, and every day of their lives without their kids is just another stab in the heart by the abuser.  We as a community (especially a community like I live in here in Utah) need to lay off judging moms who did not get custody as though they’re some sort of addict or loser.  Heaping misery on the wounded is cruel; we are better than that.

and

Kids.  It seems like in any divorce action, kids always end up being the Big Losers.  They don’t get any choice in their whole worlds getting thrown into chaos; in Utah, they have no choice, really, who they get to live with.  And even if they DID have the option, how do you choose between two parents you love dearly?  I remember being a freshman in college and having a nightmare that my parents were divorcing, and that I was begging them not to, and they wouldn’t listen.  I woke up sobbing, and had to call my mom to make sure that it was just a really bad dream.  The biggest pain in my life is knowing the MY kids never got to wake up from that Really Bad Dream.  I’ve been divorced nearly 12 years, and I still feel horrible every time I think about it (like now, writing this post, and blowing my nose and wiping my eyes.)

and

Fairness.  and Decency.  and Human Kindness. and Equity.  I mean, seriously….whatever happened to these values?  I see them evidenced in some divorce cases, but way more often it’s as though the parties feel a need to feed the fight, and take whatever they possibly can, and hurt the other person, no matter what the cost.  I know I’m way too sensitive (part of why I can’t do this family law thing full time anymore), but I don’t think it’s asking too much for people to apply a little Golden Rule into their lives, even if their lives include ex spouses.  Do unto others as you would have them do to you, ya’ll.  Or better yet, don’t do things to them that you wouldn’t want them to do to you.Even Better

And if we would all live by just that one little rule, what a wonderful world it would be.

….and it’s the holidays. Again.

christmas-over

My mom, dad, sisters, and I have an ongoing conversation via text message that my brother in law dubbed the “Tatter.”  Back just after Halloween I was bemoaning on the Tatter how Walmart already had Christmas stuff up and how much I hated it.  The response was quick– “I love it!”  “I can’t wait to get on with Christmas!”  And then there was me, Queen Grinch herself, grinching about how Christmas is depressing, wears me out, and that I generally can’t stand it.  Bah Humbug.

My mom commented that I just need to focus on the Reason for the Season, the birth of Christ.  And that part I’m totally ok with…It’s just all the Pressure.  The stress, the expectations I cannot and never do meet, the crowds and traffic and noise and PEOPLE EVERYWHERE.  The Reason gets drowned out in all the madness.

Then there’s the inevitable Dealing With The Other Parent.  As I’ve said, my situation with that is generally no problem at all, it’s the Other one that we have to deal with.  There’s always Trauma Drama in that department, and the anxiety in thinking about it just puts me into a panic.

I have generalized anxiety disorder.  And panic disorder.  And major depressive disorder, and dysthmia (having symptoms of depression for 2 years or longer).  I’m on medication to address the more pronounced symptoms of all this Crazy, because I still have to function.  Some days are worse; some days are better.  But Christmas….UGH.

Maybe in another post I’ll go into what it means to have a brain that wants to kill me, but for today, I’m tired, I’ve been on the verge of tears all day for no reason, I have the shakes, and I’ve had pain in my chest now since Monday with Christmas looming and an empty bank account.  So please do forgive the Bah Humbug.  I’m working on it.

From the FB Archives: November 17, 2010

*I love this one.  From a very long time ago.  My brother continues to struggle, but this is what’s inside him…even if he can’t see it right now.  And I believe he can come back to this; but then, I’m biased, because I love the guy to death.

17 November 2010

Bit of a Rant 🙂

I was going through one of my saved emails folders tonight and came across this gem.  It was a response from my brother to an “I Voted Democrat because…(fill in the blank)” type email that I’d forwarded to him.  To give you some background:  My brother barely graduated from high school, and is a felon in Idaho because they have a “3 DUI’s equals a felony law”, and his “first” DUI was a prosecutor’s Good Idea for a plea bargain when he was a teenager (I’m thinkin’ 15 years old, but I could be wrong on the exact age), instead of a minor possession charge. (Incidentally, I’d like to find the prosecutor and punch him in the throat for THAT bit of grossly horrible legal advice).

My brother’s thoughts on the Economy, American Ingenuity, Etc.:

“I believe this is the way it is suppose to be. Our freedom to think is being stripped away by seat belt warning chimes, metaphorically speaking. The opportunity to surrender our minds is readily available and most people will. I believe this will lead to the downfall of society, but lets not think of it as an end but a new beginning, for when society falls natural selection can once again cleanse the gene pool of those who would blow dry their hair in the shower if the tag didn’t tell them not to. I don’t think I’ve heard of a single great thing this nation has accomplished by playing it safe (Franklin, key, kite, lightning… I rest). Necessity is the mother of invention and if our greatest necessity is how we can change the DVD without leaving the couch, then by God we will find a way. By adopting this safety first mentality we are allowing trillions of tax payer dollars to be sent into the private sector to save businesses that should have gone the way of the dinosaur due to their failure to adapt, and why? To save jobs? Stabilize the economy? It looks to me like the economy was stabilizing itself. Natural selection. And to those who would lose their jobs, why would they be too incompetent to survive? The field they specialized in would have new openings for business owners who could provide jobs for others. These monster companies started that way: Americans with a dream and the balls to do something about it. Well, I have balls and I’m not afraid to let ’em hang out from time to time, and I believe there are still others out there that have balls; I’ve seen them from time to time. The state of our country is wonderful for those who are still able to say, “Hey, lightnin’ storm comin’. Better get my key and kite.”  These are exciting times we live in. Everyone doesn’t have to believe the same thing. Some things are true whether you believe them or not. Just a little rant…”

I’m gonna add a Hear, Hear to this, even though I may be coming Damned close to being “de-selected”.  But then I’m a raging Libertarian :).

ingenuity

 

From the FB Archives: April 2, 2013

*Things got better for a minute, so I could take a deep breath…and then they tanked again after this.  Such is life.  And I AM in a much better place now.

2 April 2013

The Miracle of the Passage of Time

I signed a new client today, with the accompanying retainer payment, and got payments from a couple of other existing clients on their monthly bills.  And as I was getting in my car to go to the bank to deposit them, I could not help but reflect back.  Not too long ago, every new client with new retainer money, every payment from a client on work I’d done for them, was a miracle–a sudden, miraculous gift from heaven, that swooped in at the last second and saved me from imminent financial ruin.  There were a lot of financial miracles back not too long ago.  The man I did not know who paid for my gas when my credit card (unbeknownst to me) was expired and declined after I’d put $20 worth in my car.  The large Christmas present from my grandma that paid my child support and a couple of bills.  The money stuffed in my purse from my aunt that bought gas money to get home to see my kids.  The rent paid from across the waters by my big brother, coincidentally on HIS birthday.  And every time a check came in from a client, it was like some of the weight that threatened to crush me continually was lifted, if just for a little tiny bit of time.

 

I marveled today that I am not in that place anymore–that place of wrath and tears, beyond which looms but the horror of the shade, to quote William Earnest Henley, in that poem I love, Invictus.  There is still significant struggle, but it’s no longer for the basic necessities of life.  I have enough to keep consistently afloat every month, without the cellphone company calling and threatening to disconnect if I don’t pay immediately.  And today I am grateful, and marvel at the miracle of the passage of time.  I used to really like that quote, “It will all be ok in the end, and if it’s not ok, it’s not the end,” but I had a hard time feeling it.  I’m starting to feel it.  Thank God for that.

take-a-deep-breath

From the Archives: FB Notes September 25, 2012

*It’s always odd to look back to the same dates from years ago…Some things have gotten easier; some, not so much.  My number of moves since my divorce is up to 15… but hopefully I’m where I’ll stay for at least the next 5 years or so.

Wouldn’t Want To Get Too Comfortable…

In the first year I was divorced, I moved 3 times and held 3 different jobs (2 at the same time, then a new job altogether).  Not trying to be flaky, just trying to hold it together financially, so that I wasn’t always being strangled, get into housing that worked with my kids (when I had them), and trying to work my work so I could still see my kids ever.  In the second year, I moved twice and worked a regular job, a bunch of temp jobs, and finally a regular job again.  In the third year, I moved again, this time to Laramie to law school.  I moved back to my parents that next summer, then into a different place in Laramie in the fall; to Yellowstone the next summer, then back in the fall; to Utah and in with friends while I studied for/took the bar exam the next summer, then to my aunt’s after that, then to the house I’m in now.

 

All told, I moved 13 times in the first 5 years after my divorce.  I worked at least that many different jobs, and drove nearly 200,000 miles so that I could see my kids on a regular basis through all this.  Since moving back to Utah in 2010,  I’ve worked for 5 different law firms/attorneys…some with better luck than others.  My most recent, Feller & Wendt, was really great.  And then it was really stressful.  And then they cut me loose.

 

That was a week ago.  Today I went into the office to do the whole “wrap up” thing with business with them.  They are truly leaving me better than they found me.  They cut me loose because they don’t want to do domestic law AT ALL, not even in their peripherals, so I am taking all but the most horrible of the domestic cases (less than a half dozen) lock, stock and barrel–all monies due and owing to date become mine, and all monies earned going forward are mine.  100%.  Which is a helluva deal.  But they wanted me to lease my office from them for more than I can afford, and it’s 15 minutes away from the courthouse, and 20 minutes from my house, and all in the wrong direction from the locations of all of my out-of-valley cases (better than half of them).  Not really worth it to pay more than I can afford for space that doesn’t really work for me.

 

So I’m taking my practice back home.  Which is good and bad.  Good because I go back to being able to work in my jammies ;).  Bad because I am ALWAYS at work, and I have no place to bring clients or meet new consultations.  I have to do my own billing/accounting, etc., again, which I hate.  And I am again alone.  No one to commiserate with/to, no one to bounce ideas off of.  I hate that too.

 

What I LOVE is the autonomy.  No one breathing down my neck.  No one telling me when I have to be in the office.  I have other obligations in life that are NOT work related, that are really more important, and now I can be, again, more available to those people who matter most to me:  My boys.  But still;  I only lasted 9 months.  It’s extremely disappointing.  I was so looking forward to being a Real Lawyer, in a Real Firm, for a Really Long Time.  It seems in my life, nothing stays the same for longer than a few months.  Which is why I say it’s a good thing I am so damn flexible.

 

flexibljuggling

This, but without the smiling…

I’m gonna cry about this for a little while, because I’m so tired and so not wanting to move my office/make another major transition on top of **The Face issues, but whaddaya gonna do? Suck it up and move on, that’s what.

 

Finally, a quote I saw on a mug several years ago (and ended up buying):  “Just when the caterpillar thought it was the end of the world, it turned into a butterfly.” (anonymous)  Am I a butterfly yet???

**“The Face” issues–I got a staph infection in my face, which turned into a nightmare, all at the same time as this was happening.

From the FB Archives–November 1, 2012

*Another one from the archives…More about how a Nice Girl Like Me Ended up Being a Lawyer, and what happened next…

1 November 2012 ·

What I do for a living…

I’m exhausted today.  I practice family law, and to me that means that I am meeting people who are in one of the worst times of their lives, and doing what I can to comfort, advocate for, and provide a dose of reality to, my clients.  I see myself almost as a Mother to these grown people, who are not related to me.  Probably not good for my mental health.  The Dalai Lama has a book about about loving others, and he advises thinking of yourself as the Other’s mother in terms of how you feel toward them.  While I don’t think he meant that I should make myself crazy by “mothering” my clients, there is wisdom in having that attitude about those we come in contact with daily.

I had been thinking about this Mothering thing I do, and how I really need to NOT do that, today especially, because I am so very tired.  I have problem solved, comforted, hand held, buoyed up, and advocated today, and it’s wearing the hell out of me.  At 3p.m. I was thinking it was time to curl up on the floor and let all of the Others’ problems sort themselves out.  I shouldn’t do this.  I shouldn’t take all this on myself.  I shouldn’t.  And what if I didn’t?

Edgar A. Guest wrote a lot of poems that are viewed by many to be trite, or cliche, but there is this one….It’s called Myself:

Myself

by Edgar A. Guest

I have to live with myself and so

I want to be fit for myself to know,

I want to be able as days go by,

To look at myself straight in the eye.

I don’t want to stand with the setting sun

And hate myself for the things I’ve done.

 

I don’t want to hide on a closet shelf

A lot of secrets about myself,

And fool myself as I come and go

Into thinking that nobody else will know

What kind of man I really am;

I don’t want to dress myself in sham.

 

I want to go with my head erect,

I want to deserve all men’s respect

And in this struggle for fame and pelf

I want to be able to like myself.

I don’t want to look at myself and know

That I am a bluster and empty show.

 

I cannot hide myself from me;

I can see what others can never see;

I know what others can never know,

I cannot fool myself, and so

Whatever happens, I want to be

Self-respecting and conscience free.

 

I had a client, at the end of a very long and stressful mediation, who snapped at opposing counsel, “How do you sleep at night??”  The attorney looked at her and without a break said, “The same way your attorney sleeps at night.”  She looked at me, and I looked at her, and I said, “Sleeping pills.”  The brain won’t shut down and leave these clients alone at night, when they are not paying me to worry about them….

So until I find out a way to separate myself from my clients and STILL respect myself, I will continue, on what may be a self-destructive path, for the sake of liking myself.

maninthemirror

If you don’t like who you see, might be a good time to change it…

May 8, 2013–from the FB archives

*Another from the archives…

It really is the little things

I got this email today, from a woman I’ve never met….Subject line said “Thank you”

“Found your blog this evening, as I was searching for the garnishment limits for ORS.  Really appreciate the article on what has ORS done for you lately.  In February, got a judgment signed for almost $6000 in back child support, child care and medical expenses, am researching why ORS only increased the ex’s garnishment by $100/month (over and above child support of $455), when he makes around $4000+/month.  Guessing he somehow has them not considering his commission pay, which is the bulk of the income, since it is a commission job with the security of a small base.

Anyway, I am enjoying the other articles on your blog as well.  Thank you for getting it, for completely getting it!!  Thank you for the reminders of different ways to approach things with the ex.  Your writing style is wonderful!
Just thank you, needed this little bit of support just now,

(signed….)”

It’s been a really tough month.  I have honestly and seriously looked at NOT doing this thing I do.  And then I get little bits like this out of the blue, and I have to sit back, take a deep breath, and remember that I CAN do good, that I DO make a difference to people, and I AM worthwhile and useful.

And I do hope that it doesn’t always hurt so much to be Useful.

Appreciated

…even for lawyers 😉

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