The Problem with “Positive Denial” is Denial

Unguarded

I have been writing from an unguarded place, and I do not do so often. I am uncomfortable here; my survival depends on privacy, and my own ability to maintain a certain distance from approaching realities in order to persevere – the clarity of facts and figures, debt and expenses, and the clock ticking, all too loudly.

Some days I grip the spotlight tightly. I aim it, though it is heavy and I would rather not. Its light is glaring, and I don’t wish to see what is laid out before me. But I must, and so I step out from behind the wizard’s curtain where I’ve created “appropriate” versions of my life. I step out to be heard, to speak my mind – not because it is easier, but it may be healthier.

To those who counsel me to work on my attitude and to “look for the light,” I say this:

The light that shines from within has not disappeared. But there is another sort of light. Hard truth. You simply do not like the view. And frankly, nor do I.

Each morning I go about the business of parenting. I wake my son, I tend to his needs, I make sure he gets to school. And on the drive home, daily, I say thank you to my God – that both my sons are well, and that I am still here to parent them.  Then I come home and write, I search for projects, I turn from my worries to actions I can take by phone or keyboard, and to the many topics that intrigue me – a news item that catches my fancy, or something I wish to share about my children.

This is the writing I do for the pleasure of it, for the discipline, and for the discussion which follows. When I write of movies I’ve seen, or strolling through the mall, or falling into the deep blue of the morning sky – or better still, a lover’s arms – I do so for myself, and I do so for you. As part of this extraordinary community of strangers, a place to share laughter, to gather strength, to tender hope, to find repose.

We all need moments to step outside ourselves, our stresses, our hectic lives. Positivity helps. But so does raw honesty.

The Isle of Denial

I lived in denial throughout my marriage – something like marriage – right from the beginning. I lived in denial throughout my divorce, convincing myself that the man I loved would never hurt our children. I lived in denial for years afterward, following the rules set forth in the agreement between us, trying to reason with the man who would not.

Many of us have our variations of this story, of these experiences, these disappointments. And we have lived in denial when we said “yes, yes, you’re right” to the friends who popped out their platitudes from their careful, comfortable lives – words like “just forget about him – you can do it on your own – living well is the best revenge.”

I accepted the lack of accountability from the father of my children, and consequently, my own double duty as a parent. There is nothing unusual in this scenario, nothing exacting in the way it has played out, and those of us in this situation – men or women – are well aware that parenting is a profession that simply goes unrecognized as such.

But time wears on and it becomes clearer that attempting to “do it all” was detrimental to my health, to my marketability (and thus capacity to earn a living), and to hopes for a sustained relationship. I also benefited, as did my children, in so far as it was I who raised them, though the background of undermining skirmishes was always present, and still is. But I have known great joy in parenting, and I believe my sons will become good men.

Make no mistake. I am fully aware that my current situation is the result of many factors, including my age in a horrendous economy, my lack of family, and dwindling options as is the case for anyone when health is compromised. But I say this with certainty: the situation I find myself in was set in motion and perpetuated by the man I married, facilitated by a broken family court system.

And I never saw it coming.

If just one woman in the process of divorcing reads what I’ve written and considers a different path away from denial - then these occasional writings from an unguarded place will have meaning.

I will also add that my children love their father. I would never take that from them. I see glimpses of him in them, bits I remember, and cherished. I am glad there were good moments that he shared with them, but I will not pretend that I don’t pay the price every day of my life for having trusted him, and trusted our legal system.

Seeking positivity

Some of what I have written in these past days has disturbed you. If it can happen to her, can it happen to me?

Some of what I have written has touched you. I thank you for your kind words.

Some of what I have written has elicited responses like seek the light, think positively, or we all have choices.

I understand. Sometimes there’s nothing much to say really, and we express concern or offer hope any way we can. Maybe you even believe that I am in this situation because I’ve done something, or not done something, which has resulted in my circumstances. Maybe you believe that were I a positive thinker, everything would be better.

I am a positive thinker, or everything would be worse.

One lovely and caring reader, a divorced mom, has written about the benefits of Positive Denial. She suggests that if you “tell a different story” you can change your reality. She mentions her own moments of trepidation when things looked bleak, and how positive attitude has helped. She also references another writer whose story about thinking herself outside the box – or in this case,  outside the explosive pain of a migraine – helps to change the conversation. It eases suffering.

I believe in the lessons of finding temporary relief in seeking positivity, in surviving difficult times with bits of fantasy or imagination, with a mental journey to a place where you are happier. But here’s the dilemma with “positive denial” in the face of serious issues. The problem is not in the positivity, it is in the denial.

Stacy Morrison, a book worth reading

When confronting formidable problems, denial changes nothing. In fact, it exacerbates everything.

I am the example of positive denial gone awry. Years of it. Convinced that I was in the process of making things better, and reinventing my life. Perhaps I was, but denial is a temporary fix, if a fix at all.

I am certainly not the only woman in this position, and nor is this solely a woman’s issue. But I will cite my own commentary, When Marriage Ends and You Don’t Know Why, and specifically, I will offer you the words of Stacy Morrison, former Editor of Redbook, and author of Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist’s Journey through the Hell of Divorcea book, incidentally, which I couldn’t put down.

Ms. Morrison offers what is ultimately a very positive message, presented in a realistic, wrenching, at times brutally honest manner, including these words on the undue burdens that single mothers carry: 

… until we stand up and speak the truth of our lives to the people we work for and the governments we support, then we’ll continue to shoulder the impossible.

When positive denial is dangerous

To offer suggestions of looking on the bright side may be well-intentioned, and even helpful. If anything, I am for carefully assessing a situation – discerning hardship versus tragedy for example – a distinction which is also an act of positivity, a means to put events in perspective.

But “it can always be worse” or “you need a more positive attitude” is also dismissive, even if unintentionally. Worse – it is dangerous, when coupled with denial.

Is denial ever the right answer?

What if your marriage is dying and you look away? What if you’re ill? What if your child needs help? Or a neighbor, or a stranger, or an entire community without sufficient voice?

Oh, there may be times when distracting ourselves from our troubles is just what the doctor ordered. The only way to make it through another grueling day. As with many things, it’s a matter of degree and context. But to practice denial as a way of life is dangerous. I know. I made a habit of it. And it equates to never addressing or resolving serious matters.

Denial was my path through a lonely marriage, and was not in my best interest, nor that of my sons. It was not in my best interest through a long and painful divorce, and in the years of its aftermath. So here I am. Not dwelling in the past, but dealing with the present. This is not a good place. But as Stacy Morrison said so eloquently, I will speak the truth of my life, and encourage others to speak the truth of theirs – however frightening – so  we will no longer be expected to shoulder the impossible.


© D A Wolf
 

Comments

  1. I think you already know I totally agree with this. Denying our feelings doesn’t make them go away. And, in turn, takes away the good ones because we’re so busy faking it, real happiness can get lost in the fray. Your problems are real, your feelings are valid, and your writing of them speaks the truth for many of us. And it makes me smile so much more for you when you write of those moments of sheer happiness and love.

  2. NoNameNeeded says:

    I am the one on Since My Divorce who wrote about parental alienation. And, I join you in saying to the others out there who substituted some previous religious bromide for the new “the universe gives you what you ask” balderdash: I am positive. (You are too, clearly.) But, what is happening is really really really bad. (I know these things happen from bitter experience.) And, I guess I am sorry that the fact of “Sh$T happens to good people with good attitudes” disturbs the sense of coherence. (PEOPLE ARE SO SCARED OF CANCER, DIVORCE, and the STINK OF POVERTY)… magical thinking that this might be catching. Magical thinking that surely it’s deserved in some secret way.

    I believe you. What you say does not shake my house of cards. I already know that the unthinkable is possible. I believe you. I hear you.

    I do not know what to say about having shielded my children from the reality of what their father did to me and continues to do to me. I continue to chose to protect them from this, which in a way, means they are protected from truth. I never thought that I would have to hide actions within a family from them. Who thinks that a former spouse — often beginning within marriage — will send poison darts into unsuspecting flesh or later salvos of bombs by way of legal actions, the withholding of money, the lies the lies the lies the lies …

    You are very courageous. I wish I had “good stuff” and treasure to share. God bless.

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      Thank you, NoNameNeeded, and April, for sharing. I believe there are good men and women who put the interests of their children first, when marriages end. But like you, I know that many of us are disbelieved (or marginalized) when that isn’t our situation. We keep trying to take control back – control in the sense of being able to raise our children well, earn our keep, and not be constantly fending off the next maneuver. We hope for the things that everyone wants – to love and be loved, a healthy family, to contribute in some way. But sometimes someone else is pulling the strings, and we live our lives behind screens and public faces and yes, we keep certain facts from our children – in their best interest.

      I don’t have answers. I do know that living on the battlefield day in and day out will grind you into nothing – nothing for yourself and certainly nothing for your children. So to the extent that “positive denial” allows for some time to think the best, to give the emotions a breather, to lead with a smile when we can – so we may reach out and enlarge our communities – I’m all for it. Life is scary. Life alone is even scarier. We do what we must to get through it.

      But hiding from difficult realities doesn’t solve them. And assuming that if someone’s life has taken a dramatic turn for the worse that it’s their fault – or their attitude – is very short-sighted indeed.

      For your children, I hope you continue to do everything you can, so they know they’re cherished. It’s not always easy, but I believe it’s the most important thing there is. For you, I hope there are some moments of peace. You’re not alone.

  3. Doing what is best for our kids is sometimes the greatest challenge – I don’t protect my daughter from who her dad is and what he is doing. She isn’t privy to everything, but because of her age and her perceptiveness, keeping things from her (though her dad does this with his own kids and her) wasn’t the right move for me. Not to mention, actions speak louder than words… so giving lip service to deny something she sees doesn’t work… when he displays cards from his kids and wife and not the one he received from our daughter… Denial isn’t an option. She sees, she feels, and she must learn to accept the reality of that without judgment or white wash. It is what it is; he is who he is.

    Your words ring of truth and feeling – and they do and will reach others. It isn’t about being upbeat or optimistic or looking on the bright side as much as it is looking at the individual situation and doing what we can and what we feel we each must do as parents. Having spent the last year being told by one group of friends to fight and another group to walk away and take my daughter with me – I had to start silencing the noise and find the courage to see the reality of my situation and do what I felt to be best for us. It is a process that doesn’t end – I find myself continually facing different aspects of my situation and figuring out what to do next.

    I have experienced my own denial; yet, I find that I am working with someone who lives in it. If they believe the sun is shining it is. He believes that our daughter feels love and won’t notice her card missing or won’t ask him about it or won’t feel anything as a result… and yet all of these things she did. Yet if I engage him; if I dare to talk to him, to try and help, to offer suggestions or insight, I am ignored or negated or denied. It is like banging my head against a wall. Denial – so is the battle worth it for my own health? And yes, the system is not working; the states laws are not in keeping with the reality of the families or with the advice of specialists. I often question how a better system might look? A professional, that does work with the courts, suggested that kids prefer stability and invitations while parents need schedules and guidelines and structure for how things will play out. The courts want to stay out of it as much as possible not wanting the responsibility for the results of their actions… and in the end, it is all money.

    And how would it look were it to work best? Do we need a system that is not about cookie cutters and models but that is about individual situations?

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      A system based on individual situations. It sounds so logical, TE. And like you, I believe that in the end it is about money. And the children suffer. And we suffer. Not simply by virtue of working multiple jobs or not having a “life” other than scrapping to get by, but living with constant worry. It isn’t lost sleep in the night from loneliness, though that plays a part as we grow more and more isolated from those who don’t live these scenarios, but it’s lost sleep year after year from carrying burdens that no one person should have to carry – man or woman – while another plays games in the background.

      What would a system that “works” look like? I don’t know. But it wouldn’t allow attorneys to bleed us dry. It wouldn’t mean that agreements are unenforceable. It wouldn’t mean that when we’re finally done parenting, we’re done in. So much waste. So much waste for our country.

  4. When the father of my children and I divorced, I expressed no negatives about their father to the kids, and I accepted and worked with less than adequate support payments, struggling to carve a life out for us on a woman’s income – in those days, nowhere near that which a man would command. We made it, by hook or by crook, developing a life that worked for us. In their teens, the kids spent some time with their dad (we had moved across country because that worked best for us, and because he rarely visited them when we lived in the same town) and came back to me recognizing what created problems for me. Not saying I was a perfect wife – I was not. I was, however, far more qualified and capable as a parent. Finally, when the kids were teenagers, I was able to develop a profession, at last earning enough that we could buy a townhouse and live a little less frugally. But both of the kids had to take out student loans, get scholarships and work to go to college. I was still not in a financial position to help them, and their father had just come apart at the seams and provided no support. Financial or otherwise. Life for a single parent is not simple, but even at that, our life was better without him than it would have been with him.

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      Thank you for sharing your story Carol. It sounds like you’ve maintained a close family unit. No easy task. You did it. And you did it as a team.

  5. There isn’t much I can say, beyond the fact that coming to this world – the blogging world, has caused me to be honest in real life through my writing, and to myself because of my writing. I don’t tell it all, but I share bits and pieces that help shape my perspective, make it real and help me move forward. It’s helping. What you do here is a brave thing, I can’t imagine how hard it is to not only face it but to share it. But it is important, we learn from each other and there is value in sharing.

  6. A beautiful post as always. My personal belief is that what we focus on expands. So if I focus on my problems, they get bigger. When I focus on solutions, they get bigger and I just may find a way out. My current “problems” have no solutions of my doing. My ex, while he would like to give more economic support to me and my kids, made poor decisions that led us to a more constricted financial situation. My personal way of dealing with this is to turn the other cheek and focus on what is good in my life.
    There are so many times that I could blame him for the ways in which he has done me “wrong”, but instead I think about what a tender heart he has, how loving he is with our children, how he still helps me out around the home from time to time, how much I still appreciate his friendship.
    I loved the man deeply and find that when I focus on his flaws and how they have negatively impacted my life, I feel crappy and I don’t want to be his friend. When I focus on his positive aspects, I love him and have the inspiration to be a harmonious co-parent with him, which benefits not only my kids but me as well.
    Yesterday we celebrated the 12th anniversary of our wedding with a family dinner with the kids. He and I had a heart to heart talk about our problems and apologized to each other for the mistakes that we both made. It was a touching moment and I am sooo grateful that we still have a positive relationship.
    I can see why you would dislike my use of the term denial but positive thinking has worked for me. It has allowed me to see that life and the people in it are complex, but if we can see the good in everything that we encounter, that expands and makes living so much more enjoyable.
    Peace-Molly

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      Thank you for this thoughtful comment, Molly. It sounds like you and your ex are both a fine example of seeking forgiveness and acceptance, and a good model for your children. One significant difference between your situation and mine, and you should be heartened and encouraged by this (along with your other reasons to be heartened and encouraged by the way you co-parent) – it does not sound like you are dealing with malicious intent, cowardice, or even indifference on the part of the father of your children. I suspect that because of that, you will not find yourself where I am. So lay aside those concerns. And thank you for sharing this with us.

  7. Sometimes we live in denial and sometimes we’re just not ready to hear and acknowledge the truth at that particular time. I have certainly experienced that. I believe that only focusing on positivity (or negativity for that matter), is damaging — we shouldn’t put energy in absolutes. Because life isn’t black or white; there’s soooo much gray.

    But this stumps me, BLW — But I say this with certainty: the situation I find myself in was set in motion and perpetuated by the man I married, facilitated by a broken family court system.

    If we’re taking responsibility for our own actions, then acknowledging that the choices we make are ultimately the truth; you married this particular man (as I married my former husband), and we have no one to point a finger at but ourselves.

    I suppose people who want to be helpful would just listen, not advise or judge. Most of us are not very good at that, though!

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      When you marry, Kat, you don’t expect to divorce, obviously. If you divorce, you don’t expect the father of your children – who is well-off – to disregard financial responsibilities mandated by a court. Or many other things which I cannot go into, which have taken place over nearly a decade, and show no sign of stopping.

      I take responsibility for marrying a man who did an excellent job of hiding who he was in order to get what he wanted.

      I will not take responsibility for attorneys who bled me of massive amounts of money, yielding a horrendous result. I will not take responsibility for a family court system which all but tells me “yes, you’re right, but can’t help.” I will not take responsibility for his immorality, his despicable actions, and the destruction they continue to cause.

      I will take responsibility for having raised two fine young men – alone, and against more odds than you can imagine.

      To suggest anything else, Kat, is to do so without pertinent data, to do so lightly, and yes – judgmentally. This is exactly the sort of judgment that has hampered everything I’ve tried to rebuild all these years. It is this sort of stigma that has no place in this equation. I stand by what I said. And know it to be true.

  8. I wish I had any kind of answers, but I don’t. I do believe that in order to create “positive denial,” you probably have to wallow a little in the sorrow of your situation, don’t you? Are you given a period of mourning, of raging, of feeling every slight and injustice? If not, I don’t see how it can work. I’m a big believer in re-building, but I also think you have to sit with the sad for a while in order to let it go.

  9. @ Kat, yes BLW and I chose to marry our husbands as many others have chosen theirs. I don’t think anyone married expecting to divorce but I KNOW no one married expecting what we go through on a daily basis as the result of being divorced to men like our exes. Even when we blog about what it’s like people pass judgment and blame but how could we possibly know – or even be responsible for – someone else’s narcissism and psychopathy? Anti-social behavior is not always obvious and sometimes is very successfully masked – until it’s too late. Those who come in contact with these people, especially closely, are taken advantage of and ARE NOT TO BLAME!

    My ex has waged an 8-year-and-counting legal war against me for the sole purpose of causing me harm. When I married him I had NO WAY of knowing he was a narcissist that when teamed up with another, who is also a sociopath (his now wife) would make it their mission to cause me harm. You really should not pass judgment until you have lived this because no matter how positive I am despite what he does and how he manipulates and uses the law and his money as his weapon of choice, ultimately there is nothing I can do to stop him – short of giving up my children to him – and even then there would be no guarantee.

    As for Molly’s comment, “what we focus on expands”. Sorry, not true. I have focused on building my life, taking care of my kids, and living in peace for the last eight years but that hasn’t ended the malicious litigiousness of my ex which interferes with and derails my life – as intended. In fact, the more successful I am, the more aggressive the legal attack.

    To put some perspective on it, answer this question: If someone were coming at you with the intent of causing you (and your kids) harm, would you just stand there and focus on something positive or would you fight for your life? And how about if this went on for YEARS??

    The fact that BLW, me and people who share similar experiences are here to tell our stories as well as live our best lives possible is a HUGE testament to our ability to remain positive where others who simply “focus on the light” would have broken long ago.

  10. dadshouse says:

    I’m someone who says to let the light inside you shine out. That’s not the same as looking on the bright side. When you say you are looking at the cold hard truth, I suspect you are focused on form rather than spirit.

    What I write here is probably crap to you. But it’s the heart of Buddhist wisdom, for whatever that’s worth. In my life, I found it to be worth a lot.

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      I don’t consider what you say “crap,” David. It works for you, in your circumstances. My circumstances are very different. Spirit won’t keep a roof over my head, or pay my creditors, or offer an answer to my son when he asks why we can’t visit colleges, or why he can’t get a driver’s license as I have no money for insurance, much less things much more important. Spirit won’t get me medical care. I will say that knowing my “light” within, and the light I find in my sons has kept me going for years. And will continue to do so as long as possible. But the cold hard truth lies in numbers. In my life, at least. Do you call a roof and health care and food on the table “form?” Last I heard, those things were relatively low on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

  11. Being a daughter of divorce, I can only say that the denial gets us all nowhere. However, losing the positivity can eat you up. My mom is still so angry with my father that *my* family (my husband and children’s relationships with my sisters, mother and father) is fractured, as *her* family (her 3 daughters) tap dances to keep the anger at bay. Nothing makes it better and there’s no safe ground for those of us in the middle.

    I applaud you for maintaining the positivity in the face of pure assholery. I wish I was willing to share you with my mom as I think she’d benefit. But I’m too selfish. ;)

  12. @BLW and @Mindy — whoa, I am not passing judgment and if I came off sounding that way, I apologize. I am acknowledging responsibility, and obviously none of us here in BlogLand knows anything other than what has been put out here so it would be foolish and misguided (and mean) to judge.

    Of course none of us expect to divorce when we marry, or that he/she’ll turn into a meth addict or a boozer or an adulterer, nor do we expect that our children will be born with Down’s or autism or OCD or ADHD. Things happen, sometimes with our (implicit or explicit) knowledge and sometimes not.

    But, it isn’t a matter of who is to blame; that sort of thinking leads to nothing. Except, perhaps keeping us a prisoner of others’ actions.

    The world is horribly unfair, and people can be horribly mean; blaming the world and others keeps us beholden, and that eats away at — who? — us over time. Forgiveness frees us. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s an essential step in releasing the toxicity of the harms others have caused us.

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      I understand, Kat. And I agree, rage is toxic. But forgiveness is possible if you’re talking about someone who is dead, or long gone, or who ceases to threaten or hurt. When you find yourself still in the heat of it after years, it isn’t about forgiveness. It’s about protecting your children from the source of the ongoing manipulation and harmful acts. It’s about survival. These aren’t past actions we’re talking about. This is the present for some of us. A present that lasts for many years, and with no end in sight.

      It’s almost impossible to explain, if you haven’t lived it. I would never have understood it, so I don’t blame others for not understanding it. Part of its peculiar collateral damage is the isolation, which of course, makes everything worse. So you do the best you can, and go on.

      Yet my point – in the original post – was that denial changes nothing. Certainly not the situation for those of us who live whatever our post-divorce scenario may be. And not for those who could benefit if we spoke up and said “watch out for this” or perhaps it’s time for divorce reform, and some new ideas around that.

      Perhaps we look to apply rules for divorce attorneys relative to their accountability? Or their hourly rates? Or some other rational monitoring so ignorant and distraught men and women both won’t be taken advantage of? I don’t care for government intervention, but something needs to be done. Too many millions of stories in which single mothers (especially) sink into poverty, with no voice. That is what lies at the heart of these posts. Frankly – despair. And at the same time – desire – to do something about an untenable situation in this country. To make a difference, by no longer pretending. By speaking up. By more of us, speaking up. Constructively.

  13. I hear you and I know it feels so hard sometimes, when all sort of things need to be done, and it’s all down to you. Be strong and just let your feelings be. -x-

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      Thank you Angela. Sometimes to be heard is truly helpful. And thank you for your comment on the Numbers do not lie post as well. Sounds like you’re going through your version of this, and with worries ahead about financing college. I will say that my elder has scholarship and loans and a job, and he’s working his butt off. He’s resourceful and grounded, and very capable. My younger is the arty one, and needs more infrastructure facilitated by me. So I do what I can, with these next months being critical. I guess we figure out what we have to as we go, and we do so with each individual kid in mind, aware of what they can handle and what they can’t. I don’t know what else to do.

  14. NoNameNeeded says:

    Thanks, MindyMom for saying this hard truth. And, to DadsHouse and others who have two things operating (1) your positive attitude and (2) moderately good fortune, consider this: fortune is random. To be treasured, to be sought, to be grateful for. And, I would think that a real and mature response of gratitude toward one’s good fortune would be to acknowledge that another person might not have such fortune. My Irish granny, no stranger to very hard things, would say, “There but for the grace of God, go I.”

    Insert what you will for “God.”

    All that some of us say — only very occasionally — is that life can be dreadfully unfair. And, briefly, we might say, even online: I am so very, very, very tired. Tomorrow, I will get up and place my neck in the yoke and will work hard, mostly smiling at the good fortune to be “not dead.”

    I would also remind others about the intellectual fallacy of “good things happen to those who prepare themselves and seek such.” I imagine that most mothers in Iraq and fathers in Afghanistan whose children are dead are no less deserving of goodness or happiness than us. And, my goodness, the scores of Pakistanis in the Punjab who may have survived the floods but now face typhoid and cholera. I will say that some of the kindest people to me over the last five years have been those from developing countries who know first-hand the arbitrariness and fleetingness of fortune.

    DadsHouse, one precept of Buddhism is to work against the suffering of all sentient beings. My reading of Thich Nhat Hanh is that the heart of compassion is really listening to another person. I think that being light, rather than talking about light, might be the more compassionate gesture to another person who says, “I am so hurt and exhausted that my knees buckle tonight.”

    One deep human need is to be seen for what we are. God bless the friends who have looked into my eyes and not averted their gazes. This quiet honesty — without revulsion — helps. As does the box of groceries on my porch. Or the pan of lasagna.

  15. NoNameNeeded says:

    And, one last flourish here. I admit to being angry. Boy, have I learned about our attitude toward the poor. Now that I am poor, I see so clearly:

    we are to be deserving
    hardworking and positive
    cheerful and industrious
    flexible
    take crumbs without question
    faithful to something (God, Karma, the Law of Attraction, Fortune…)

    We are to be Tiny Tim, always. And, interestingly we mostly are. But, dare we say, “May I have some more.” (pardon for switching stories from Scrooge to Oliver)… Can we get a chorus of Orphan Annie, on Tomorrow, Tomorrow!!!!

    I am grateful to be invited now to empty out my notions of the “good poor.”

  16. Thank you for your honesty. You have invariably helped a great number of women going through the same thing. Back when I got divorced, I was a lone wolf. I was surrounded by couples who looked happy on the outside and never in a bazillion years admit to anything but this happiness. I felt alone. I hope by sharing and hearing from others that you are not alone. Keep your eyes on the prize and that is raising two healthy, happy boys in spite of the ex. There is a certain revenge in this, something your ex would never understand but I do. I do.

  17. Very well said BLW and NoName.

    All I can add is here now is that when you have and continue to experience the constant maliciousness of someone who, because of their direct ties to your life through your children, has the power to cause the damage that they do, being told things along the lines of “forgiveness will set you free” seems condescending. I am constantly focusing on the positive and trying to rebuild my life after each new legal attack and it’s fallout but doing damage control all the time is no way to live.

    Like BLW said, the fact that so few of us experience this to the extent that we do means very few people understand it; I get that and so does BLW. I think her point is to not be in denial about it to ourselves or others just because it is foreign to so many. We are the exception, not the rule, but our current laws do nothing to make things better, only worse. Our legal system needs to get out of denial too.

    Its also not a matter of life being fair, it’s a matter of survival and constantly battling against someone who wants nothing more than to make your life hell. That is not akin to having a child with a disability or a loved one with an addiction. It is not about blaming anyone, it just IS and it’s appalling that it’s allowed to continue to the detriment of families like ours. Forgiving and thinking positive is not a solution under these circumstances but finding a way to end it would be, and that starts by discussing it and gaining some understanding of the problem.

    • BigLittleWolf says:

      What I wonder, Mindy, is just how exceptional it is. The details may vary, but how many of us are there, really? How many who simply don’t speak? Do we even know? And what about those for whom the situation may be somewhat less extreme than yours or mine, or even more so?

  18. You are such a sweet support for others, while you are still struggling. It’s what I love about you. I sure wish I had known you when I was going through my divorce. Even just a virtual hug from someone who “gets it” would have been so nice at such a difficult time.

  19. I’ve been watching this thread with interest. I’m blessed to be able to call BLW a friend. As her friend I’ve been on the receiving end of her support, concern, caring and love.

    If I need her, she is there. She is able to step outside her own problems and help me in my times of need. Regardless of how she is feeling physically or emotionally, she has never let me down.

    I can read the comments on this post and know right away who would and would not respond to a friend in need the way BLW has always responded to me.

    As NoNameNeeded said, there is a difference in being light and talking light. BLW is an example of true light. When it comes to spirit, compassion and empathy for others she is abundantly rich.

    She is a “sweet support for others”and I’ll take her kind of light in my life any day over the light of those who preach Buddhist wisdom and the power of positive thinking.

    We all go through times of adversity. Doing so reveals and helps build character. It takes character to live what BLW has lived and still be able to offer the kind of support she offers a friend or a stranger in need.

    Give me the hard truth any day over positive denial and if I’m lucky I’ll grow up to be as full of love and light as BLW. If I decide to grow up ;-)

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