This is a long time coming. I expect it will take weeks to write but it’s still worth writing. It’s worth many things.
Many of you know my history from my last blog. For those of you that don’t, I wouldn’t even know where to start. But to jump ahead, I wanted to tell you all that things are wonderful with me & Gracie. …and even her mom. It’s good. Without jinxing it, it’s really good. There are still rules and guidlines and boundaries but as we build trust, those things feel farther and farther away. And for me, just seeing her is a miracle.
I’m not sure if time was the biggest tool in healing or if it was really just an honest conversation that needed to happen for 9 years or so. I think it’s different for both of us. I remember her calling one afternoon after we exchanged (not very nice) emails. I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror watching my lips move but not knowing what I was saying. I felt like I had nothing to lose. I was crying. She was crying. And even when we weren’t speaking, a whole lot was being said.
We’ve had a million conversations since that day and they’re always hard. But every time we hang up I wished we could’ve spoken that honestly all those years ago. I wish we could’ve been vulnerable and sassy and scared and just plain honest. What would’ve been different? And if we could stop any of you from the mistakes we made, what advice would we give you? We’ve spent a lot of hours talking about this very thing. What if I had just trusted her enough to say the hard things? What if I hadn’t given her reason to not trust me? What if she had more time to sit without making such big decisions? What if we didn’t have armies pulling at us – creating two seperate sides?
But it didn’t happen like that. We were awful to each other. The awful’est. We were enemies and it turns out that neither of us were ever really comfortable in that camp.
We were talking with her friend a while ago and she said, after spending the morning with us, “I can’t believe you were ever fighting.” My response was, “Oh believe!” But then said, “Actually, we weren’t. We paid other people hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight for us.” And it’s true. Any time we were together – just us, we were fine. Adding in all the laws and lawyers and ego just fueled the forest fire that should’ve just been a temporary burn from a candle.
A few months ago I went to a conference for LGBT lawyers. It was amazing and there were about a dozen other moms & dads there that went through custody battles like I did. Out of all of them, I was the only case that lost in court. But as we all spoke and hugged and cried, I wondered how many of them really won? There was one mother who won in court but her relationship with her daughter is so broken that she doesn’t even speak to her. A dad who spent 6 years fighting for his son but those years were too many and now they simply just don’t know each other. And another who changed the law in her state so now everyone under her is protected but she has such a wounded relationship with her ex that her relationship with her children is robotic – layed out hour by hour by a GAL to make sure the mom’s aren’t hurting the children by talking badly about the other. Ugh.
I get it. More than anyone and as the same as everyone, I get the need to fight for your child. I have never recommended that someone do it through court but I will stand with any one of you who choose to. I understand the feeling of “even if I lose, she’ll know I tried.” But what else can we do? If Cheryl and I could sit in the front of a room (without tomatoes being thrown) and talk about what we would’ve done differently, what would we say?
Coulda Shoulda Woulda. And a million other things.
I’ve been writing our story for years. But you already knew that. I’ve always struggled with the outline because there has never been an ending. Sometimes there is and I think, “is it really okay with me that it end badly?” And I guess it is. But I really don’t want that. I have always wanted a happy ending and I’m crossing every finger and toe for just that.