Divorce

The Olden Days & A Letter

Remember the olden days when you had to call long distance and pay by the minute? And therefore the whole time you were on the phone, you were sweating what it was going to cost you?

Well, I had to call long distance this morning to get my certified divorce decree from Texas. Last week, in order to save money, I took the long distance off my phone. It was half my phone bill.

After dickering online for a way to do it there and coming up short, I bit the bullet and called. I know I probably won’t pay much for the call. But then I had to call again. It’s the fact that I don’t know what I’m paying that bothers me.

It’s always the unknown that scares us.

The world can be a complicated place. Especially if you don’t live in a house that has money growing on the trees in your yard. You watch every penny.

As I was going through my files this morning looking to see what I did and didn’t have, I came across a letter. It was from 2012 from my divorce attorney.

I had no idea what attorney to use back then. But after asking around a bit, people told me that I wanted this particular man. And that’s who I used.

He was a no-nonsense kind of guy. And I guess that’s good when you’re using an attorney.

Anyway, back to the letter. He wrote this letter to me at a time when I was really needing my ex to pay what the judge decreed he pay. And he wasn’t complying.

I’m going to share it with you, because I think you may get something out of it. It’s a bit over a page, so it’s not brief. But I think you might appreciate what he says in the big scheme of things.

***

When I read letters like this from despondent clients, I kind of imagine a little whisper in my ear from Jesus to the effect of “this is why my father put you where you are…”

I have been very blessed. Probably to someone from your standpoint, I look like someone on top of the world.

I certainly try to stay out of the valley. But I also don’t plan on spending much time, from time to time, on mountain tops. Because the mountain tops are not reality.

But I don’t want being in the valleys or being in the ditch to be my reality. So I try to stay on the flat rolling hills ground. Above the valley and below the mountain tops, walking toward the mountain tops and away from the valley.

I have been in the valley a couple of times. Just slightly over a year ago I was lying in bed at 2:30 in the morning, awake. And I literally just vocally said or asked God to just let me die right then.

I even held my breath and can consciously remember thinking: “Just let the big one happen right now.” Meaning a heart attack.

I have 3 daughters and it is my experience in dealing with situations like this, with good women, why I always told my daughters since they were very, very young, to never “have to depend on a man.”

Some of the happiest people I have met in my life literally live intermittently under a bridge or at the Salvation Army or on the streets. And they ain’t crazy.

Some of the most miserable people I have met are millionaires who live in nice houses and drive nice cars. 

But I have also met miserable people who are poor and I have met happy people who are rich.

An experienced and ethical lawyer tries to work out a good deal for their client. But an experienced lawyer knows that a good deal on paper is no better than a bad deal, if people don’t keep their word and perform the agreement.

Where there is no present money to divide up, the only thing you can do is work out some type of alimony or payment plan and then cross your fingers.

Your former husband is, in my opinion, demon possessed. You may or may not believe that. Some people do and some people don’t. But I do believe in demons.

Don’t let him demonize you. Give yourself some respect for your fortitude in getting out of this horrible situation. Because you deserve it. Give yourself some respect for trying.

So much of the way we are, is, in my opinion, a blend of three things. Each generally constituting a third of our existence. One third is our upbringing and parenting and our experiences related to that.

One third is our own chemical makeup which is a physical thing. And the other third is our mental makeup. Which obviously to some extent is based on the effect our chemical makeup has on us.

But it is also how we react to the daily ups and downs. And they’re all interconnected. And some days 1/3 is bigger than a third and other days 1/3 is smaller than a third. But it all adds up to who we are.

But you do have control of your life, if you decide to have control of your life. It is all about attitude.

If he quits sending you money, we need to find out where he is. And sue him for contempt and at least put his ass in jail. He is a miserable person.

***

Now I don’t know if you made it through all that, but I found it a bit profound in some ways.

So much of what he wrote is true. That women shouldn’t end up depending on a man. Because when they say they will take care of you always, that is a fairy tale. And like all fairy tales, it is not reality.

We didn’t end up doing anything after that letter. I managed to move past that period and here I am today.

But I wrote all this down for you to read in case you have a daughter, a sister, a mother or someone you care about going through a rough divorce.

Tell her this may be the best advice she ever receives from an attorney free of charge.

What he said about the hills and the valleys and the mountain tops is what we all go through from time to time. And when he talked about people who are rich and those who are poor, it was all to say that it is sometimes about attitude.

Wherever we are in life is just where we are at that moment. But that moment will pass. And there is something beyond it. Good and bad and in between.

We just have to be strong, take a deep breath, and get through the valleys.


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30 Comments

  1. Nigdy nie zapominajcie o tym, by brac z zycia jak najwiecej, nie bljcie sie ryzykowac, plakac ani byc szczesliwymi. Najwazniejsze to byc w drodze. Kazdego dnia robic krok do przodu. – Martyna Wojciechowska

  2. You were blessed to have such a fine insightful man for your lawyer. I would think in this day and age they are few and far between.

  3. Brenda, thank you for sharing that letter and thank you for always being so willing to share the most intimate parts of your life…to inspire and help the rest of us! You are so awesome! Love and hugs!

  4. When I was going through my particularly horrific divorce my attorney listened to my story, then called his assistant in and cleared his appointments for the afternoon. (My first substantive clue that this was going to be really bad — I had been so gas lighted I was doubting myself.) Then he slid a yellow legal pad across the table and said “write down everything you want out of this divorce”. I was so shell shocked at that point that I really didn’t understand the question, but he nodded at the paper and said he would get us a coffee refresh and be back in a minute. I remember writing down “house, car, pets, clothes” and other things of that nature. When he came back with coffee he sat down, took the list from me and read it. He took out a red pen, slashed through it and wrote at the top “your mental health, your physical health, and your life” and handed it back to me. He said “that’s what I’m concerned about. I want to extract you out of this situation with your life and mental health intact and if we get you anything else it will be a bonus.” Then he asked, and I will never forget this “are you scared?” And I said yes. Very much so. I am very, very scared. He said, “you should be. You have every reason to be. But now we are going to get a plan in place and save you.”

    All these years later I thank the Universe for his caring and compassion when I needed it most. I still find it hard to believe that someone that you love and trusted can turn on you and be set to destroy you — for whatever their reasons are.

    The silver lining out of that experience was realizing there are good people out there that will help you when you need it. I’ve always tried to pay it forward because in this world of uncivil discourse and fear mongering you can always find someone in need and help, however small.

  5. Wow, that’s quite an interesting letter! I’m surprised an attorney would get that personal with you, but there must’ve been something about you where he felt the need to share…and even try to protect you a bit.

  6. That is quite a letter–especially coming from your attorney, who I wouldn’t expect to share so personally and deeply with a client. He sounds like quite an amazing human being. The essence of what he says is, it seems to me, is we must take responsibility for our own survival and for what that looks like. And, girls need to be taught this from the time they are young so that they don’t find themselves in relationships with men who are, as he essentially says, asses. What a remarkable and wise man and what a compelling and compassionate letter. A man with the strength to put himself out there in a most caring way for another person. Wish I’d meet one like him! You are so fortunate to have had him on your side.

    I don’t know if you have shared this letter specifically with “Liz” but I bet it would be a source of encouragement for her.

    Well, it is so bloody cold here in mid-Michigan that the kids have been out of school for two days now and probably will be tomorrow, too. It’s gone from single digits to below zero temperatures and even though I am wearing three layers of clothing my hands, feet and nose are freezing as I sit in my living room typing this. Spring and warm weather and flowers seem a very long way off at this moment!

    I hope you and Ivy and Charlie are keeping each other warm and enjoying your “Cozy LIttle House.”

  7. Wow! A truly moving and touching letter. Thank you so much for sharing. What a wonderful man and even more wonderful that you were led to him in that time of need in your life. And yes! Look at you now Brenda. You are an inspiration. Never forget that.

    I wanted to add something about your words on never being dependent on a man as a woman. I could not agree more. BUT I have been blessed with the fairytale. You see I have had many medical issues over the years and have been unable to work and support myself or our family. Even today, I still struggle with my own mental health issues such as PTSD and Depression. Much of the last 15 plus years I’ve been unable to work.

    During those years my husband was my rock and my financial provider. He still is today as I’ve chosen to take some time At home to continue to heal and not work. We have been married for 26 years and together for 28 years. I know how blessed that I am and I know even more how rare it is these days to see a man such as my husband and our marriage. So yes I believe women do need to be solely capable of taking care of themselves but I hope they won’t give up hope on the fairytale because it can happen and still does.

    Thank you again for sharing! Blessed Be.

  8. Brenda. With tears in my eyes , I reply to this wonderful letter you so kindly shared with us.
    What a wonderful lawyer. I definitely felt God in him
    His caring was so evident. So very few lawyers like him. My daughter went through a rough divorce and even worse, custody battle. We did not find lawyers like that. But God did see those 2 little girls through. I would love to tell you… both are now in college, one in medical school and one a teacher. The biological daddy, has long gone, and the girls are fine.
    I am so happy that you help the other ladies out there, that are going through the rough divorces, and abuse. I have not personally been through it. But watching my daughter and grandchildren were horrible. Abuse is a horrible life.
    Thankyou brenda.

  9. Wow! This man sounds very wise and very kind. I am happy to that God put him in your path. I hope this letter finds its way to the people that need it, and frankly that is every women in the world. Thank you for sharing.

  10. It is an insightful letter and for someone in a lawyer’s status of life, a rare occasion indeed. A special man to have shared with you this aspect of his life.

    The mountains and the valleys are something we all must live but in my perception you really cannot choose where it is you will be. Rather, you will be where Jesus puts you – and that is from where you must learn to walk.

    Talk of demons can be heady subject and certainly not for the faint of heart but I would agree with this man that your former husband was demon possessed. Yet, demons come in all shapes, forms and sizes and although a tyrant can be obvious to many, the wolves in sheeps clothing can also be some of the most formidable of all.

    I don’t know why you had the privilege of having to walk with a monster Brenda but I know this privilege too. Be grateful and because your story is not over yet where as theirs truly ended long ago.

    God bless you.

  11. SO SO True…thank you!! At this time the only way I can think to at least make some change happen for other people perhaps (tho’ it may not happen in time to help our family), but I am being very motivated to get political again and see if we cannot get some teeth into some laws and then throw out those who help abusers, be they judges, police, or whatever. We are a nation with no checks and balances left it seems…and that is NOT how our forefathers wanted it to work out.