Years ago, my daughter’s father & I were in a custody battle. It WAS indeed quite adversarial, & oh how I suffered. I suspect my daughter did too. And — it occurs to me now, for the first time, maybe her father suffered too. Hmmmmm………….
Luca was living with him at the time, & this was very hard on me. She had always lived with me before (The Dad & I were never married, so WE never lived together) & the daily life of “parenting” was gone for me. Her dad had always been a good-enough father to her, but they had never lived together before, & he had never been involved in the day to day-ness of raising a kid. His & my egos were heavily engaged (which is undoubtedly where the adversarial nature of the proceedings came from!), & a power struggle we had never had previously was raging. One of the things that was beyond awful for me was that he would restrict the communication between Luca & me — she was only 11 at the time, & kids then did not have their own phones. Not being able to talk with her daily, several times, was just killing me. This was some time before I had learned that we can choose our responses, & I suffered. Mightily.
I completely ‘forgot’ during this time that meditation would be helpful, & as I didn’t then have a regular practice going, it didn’t even occur to me. I walked a lot which somewhat eased the stress, & spent time with friends. And I vented to whoever would allow me, though I realize now that holding on to & constantly re-inventing the arguments is NOT helpful, healthy or healing in the long run. That is just being caught in one’s own shenpa, & is the ego’s stealthy guerrilla actions to keep control. I found myself singing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner” all the time, & thought I was going crazy, until a friend pointed out: It’s a triumphant battle song.
The thing that was the most helpful to me though, which kept all of this — my personal heart ache, the battle between parents — in perspective, was to stroll through cemeteries. Especially through the children’s sections. Knowing that these infants, toddlers, teens were dead gave me cause for gratitude — these hundreds of children had died of illnesses or accidents, or in the case of at least two, been murdered, while MY beloved child was only living with someone else. Knowing that all those parents would probably give anything for another year, another day with their long lost children made the limited visits with Luca truly precious. And, even though The Dad & I were locked in this war, I was still able to view his agenda with a measure of compassion — I could see that what he was trying to do really was based on What He Thought Was Best For Luca. It grew out of his real love & concern & caring for her. So, I couldn’t hate him. And I could not indulge in too much bereft victimization, not when I regarded the pretty little headstones of generations of dead children. Knowing that our lives, & our time together, & our time separated, was impermanent made it all much more bearable — In this way, I could remember to say for it all –The Dad’s & my acrimony, the separation from my kid – “This too shall pass”. The gift of impermanence, even within its challenge, is that none of it was going to go on forever. Change would come. And in that change lay every possibility, & I could breathe, & feel kinder toward The Dad, toward the universe, toward myself.
And, after a few months, with the court’s judgment going the way I thought was best:), we all got through it. Luca came back to live with me, she & her dad kept much the same relationship they’d always had, & he & I maintained a civil accord. After all, I could be gracious in “victory”, knowing that the sense of winning a battle also would pass away.
- She-Who-Brings-Light (mindmindful.wordpress.com)
- Want to cheer yourself up? Go for a walk in a cemetery (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)