What ever happened to…

Respecting our elders.
General kindness and courtesy.
Minding your own business.
Giving the benefit of the doubt.
The Golden Rule.
Not judging a book by its cover.
Owning and Rectifying our mistakes.
Getting to know someone ourselves.

Growing up it was expected that I lived by this list of expectations. If there wasn’t enough of something for everyone to go around, I’d go without. Whispering was rude. Inviting myself anywhere was never okay. Excluding someone intentionally was not acceptable. Gossiping was bad manners. I was raised with sayings like: “Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.” “Be kind to strangers, and to those who appear to have less than you. For those who appear to have less, their hearts have more.” And, my personal favorite “Pretty is as pretty does.”

While walking into work, I hurried past an elderly woman who was being helped by what I am guessing was her daughter to the door. Once to the door, I stopped and held the door for them. The look of surprise on her face in that moment was incredible. Here I was a young able bodied woman quickly passing her by. In her mind, I was just going to blow through that door and leave her in my dust, possibly like others had done before. But, I didn’t, and I never would. Her smile, and exasperated thank you, affected me in two ways – it made me feel good to have helped her and sad that her faith in humanity had shattered so greatly that this act of general kindness was abnormal. 

The simple rules we were raised by seem irrelevant and non-existent to many. Offering a helping hand is too much to ask to those whose hands are full of selfishness. Making time for our children, and our families, is too demanding on a schedule filled by personal appointments that reek of empty moments that will amount to nothing when the hands of time can’t be rewound.

It is as if we have all lost sight of what is most important. We’ve lost the desire to care, to show compassion, to go above and beyond for a friend in need – to allow room for our loved ones and friends to make mistakes. We have created such an uptight and demanding society full of worthless objects and sentiments void of any real volume or validity. 

Living in a small town people here think they know someone because they have heard about them. They chastise and make a mockery of those whose lives are not their own, and whose choices do not affect their lives. They volley conversations about personal matters and misfortunes as general topics for enjoyment. Making remarks such as “Oh did you hear about so and so?” “Oh here look at this picture, or mugshot, can you believe it?”   Why is this acceptable? Why are we blindly passing judgment? Who do we think we are?

We have become obsessed and consumed with not only finding out but revealing everyone’s skeletons hidden in their closet – that we forget our closet has a few of our own. Are we the mean girls and bullies from high school, hanging posters with peoples pictures and labeled mistakes for enjoyment? Why is the benefit of the doubt and the golden rule being tossed away in a gutter without any real remorse or understanding for what we truly are losing.

How many people do you know of, verses know? People whom you don’t like or associate with, solely because of what you’ve heard of them? Who is really missing out there, you or them? In my opinion – you are at a loss and they are at a gain. Personally, I would not want the company of a person who wishes me well, but not that well. Or a friend who would rather calculate my value beginning with my past. If today you are a kind to me, and a good friend to me – I care not what you did yesterday or a year ago. 

Life is about making a difference, sharing a voice, loving, caring, and raising our children to do the same. When someone falls, you help them up. You don’t stare, point and laugh. What is that teaching our children?

Our society cares more about the why, than the who. We share judgment before giving the benefit of the doubt. We condemn and chastise rather than commend and praise. Our conversations are overflowing with condescending overtones instead of respectful dialogue. For what? What do we benefit from this? A rise out of someone, a battle of wits and distorted temporary feeling of superiority? If that is what you want, go for it honey! But, I am not interested.

I say we, because I know I am not innocent. I too fall have fallen victim at times. However, I’ve made mistakes, I have, both on a small scale and a large scale. But, I will never choose to dislike someone because someone else does, or told me to. Others misfortunes will never be a gain in my eyes, and it is my choice to not pass judgment where compassion could prevail. I dare you to do the same, and to get to know someone for who they are to you – and not their past or their mistakes that were made yesterday or the ones they will make tomorrow.  Mistakes are made from trying and they provide a lesson learned, and an experience gained. 

Pride means nothing without humility. A little respect and compassion goes a long way.

Always the bad guy…Divorce sucks.

“There are two ways to get on my bad side pretty quickly and pretty permanently. Accusing me of doing something that I am not, or telling me the kind of person I am because you think it are the two ways.”

The truth is, being divorced is sometimes harder then having just stayed in the hellish marriage. Many times the reason we leave is because there are irreconcilable differences – what we don’t realize, is those differences follow us into Divorce-land as well. They saying “there are always three sides to every story” was coined for good reason – because there is. There is your side, their side and the real side – which only the two of you honestly know, unless of course one is mentally handicapped – which many of us may claim the other is! Either way – it can be a mess. According to my ex- I am the reason he doesn’t have his kids, I am the reason for everything wrong in his life. When the truth is – he is wrong.

Yes, there are those relationship where the split is amicable, the divorce right down the middle, no one screwed the other, the kids are peachy keen happy, one got the cat, the other gets the dog and rainbows fly out of everyone’s ass – I’m not a member of one of those!

We divorced after six years of marriage, with children age three and six months. The first year was utter hell – for everyone involved. Then things got better – pretty great actually for about three years. Then add in school, and sports and one side not being as involved and you find yourself being summoned to court for a Status Quo Order. If you are not familiar with this, it is an order that forces the parent making any change, to halt any change pending a Judge to hear the case and the other parents arguments against it. In our case, I was trying to change Schools and he was not in favor.

As quickly as I was standing there in court facing him, discussing our points and reasons for and against, I will never forget for the rest of my life what our Judge said next. Pointing at me he said ” you go get your documents, your dirt on him and all your people  and then pointed at him and said the same following with “You both have a custody battle on your hands – one of you is leaving here next time with Custody and the other without” – my heart fell into my stomach. I was terrified I would lose, I hated my Ex – because he couldn’t just work with us, and he had to bring us to court and now I was going to lose my children.

For the next month or so, I did my research, I met with an attorney, documented the “dirt” I had, contacted friends, family any witnesses possible to be on my side. Sleep never happened because I was sick to my stomach the entire time. Our lives had been thrown upside down and all because of a school choice.

Fast forward to court – walking in, I had my witnesses, my family, documentation, all my ducks in a row. In walks in my ex-husband alone, with not even a pen in his hand. Looking at him, I was confused – this didn’t make sense – what was he doing. He brought forth no witnesses, he used his same argument he has used before – which was repeatedly overruled. Within 15 minutes, the Judge gave me Sole Physical Custody of our children, and with my first breath of what felt like months, I wept instead of jumping with joy. Losing would have killed me, but winning killed me too – because it killed part of the children.

Later that night, he would call me crying saying the kids could to the school, and just go back to what it was – I don’t think he even understood that the court took that right away. My anger at him exploded, and I asked why the hell he hadn’t tried, why hadn’t he fought, why didn’t he say this thing I did bad, or that thing I did bad, where was his wife, his family – Seriously what the hell were you thinking. He just cried and said he was done fighting.

We went  a year without speaking, I was the one that took his kids away, making him a weekend warrior and no longer a father. School conferences would go without his attendance, anything about the kids on our time he didn’t care about – even if it was serious – he would say he didn’t have a say – so why tell him. It was hell on him, and them, and truthfully for me too. He never went to our daughters games, or practices – he would sabotage her by making her miss a game, or not allow her to go to practice. She would try to share things with him, and he would push her away saying she was like my husband now, and that she was choosing a life without him. For a year, he repeatedly did this, to where now she doesn’t spend time with him, unless she is forced. During this time, I wrote him multiple times, to get him to snap out of it, before it was too late, to not make the same mistake with her, that our parents had made with us – and he would just ignore me.

During this time, my husband and I would argue, because I was trying to fix things for my ex with the kids – because in my husbands opinion, I wouldn’t allow my ex to fail in my children’s eyes – I didn’t feel he should fail. Both kids during this time got closer to their step-dad. Which is to be expected, my husband was stepping in, where their dad had stepped out. As time passes, and things progress both kids are closer to their step-dad than their father and little by little, they pull away from him more. The middle is where I find myself constantly, trying to smooth things over, talk the kids into a visit, or the ex out of my evil accusations. I thought things would get easier as the years passed, and I was wrong. I’m not even sure who I am battling anymore, because its just a mess.

I never tell him, he is the reason  we got divorced, or that he is the reason he lost the kids – I never remind him of all the reasons or the facts – I just try to encourage a relationship with his children. But to be honest, who children are they really when he just keeps letting them down?

Some days, I just think I can never win – and my kids will pay the price.