Assets and liabilities

It was all going so well, at least the meetings were. We were cooperating, cordial, polite and businesslike with a friendly vibe. We walked in together, left together. He held open doors for me, we chatted.

The last meeting was a whole new experience. The reality hit. Both of us. Actually, it hit all of us sitting in that room that day. The sun was replaced by storm clouds and there wasn’t a shelter in sight.

It’s funny how well you can get along with someone when you think you know what to expect, and how quickly those feelings change when you realize that your expectations where wrong. You can smile, joke a bit, maybe share a drink, all the while thinking that you know what the future has in store, so you’re doing the “right thing” by being nice and cooperative. You’re the bigger person in this drama, and everyone will be better for it, right?

They told us that the third meeting would be the most difficult. This is the meeting when you discuss money. Money is always a difficult topic, in any relationship at any time. Add in divorce and the difficulty is multiplied by a hundred? A thousand? …possibly a million.

Not just assets and liabilities, income and expenditures, no it’s not that simple anymore. This is when you figure out how it’s split up, divided, “equitably distributed”, determined by the laws of your state. Not everyone agrees on the definition of “equitable”, or the math used to divide it all, for that matter.

Obviously, or we wouldn’t need lawyers, judges and mediators to help, would we?

To watch his face harden during the discussion of the numbers, to hear his voice tighten while he questioned the math, and to see the white hot anger brewing beneath his calm surface when his new reality became clear, wasn’t anything new for me. I’ve lived with that reaction many times in the last twenty or more years. But our two witnesses to this circus we were performing in were getting their first taste of my longterm reality.

They were surprised, to say the least. My lawyer told me that she “didn’t see that coming.”

It’s a strange feeling to realize the amount of contempt someone has for you, after spending half of your life believing their promise to love, honor and cherish you for the rest of your life.

That feeling comes so swiftly, without warning, and takes your breath away. It makes you numb. You can’t feel your fingers and your body grows cold. It’s feels as if the blood has drained from your extremities and pooled into your feet, making you too heavy, too clumsy and cumbersome to move, or to run. To escape. The “fight or flight” mechanism comes to a complete and grinding halt, gears lock up and refuse to move, forcing you to sit in that padded leather chair looking into those eyes of contempt and dismissal across the table. You are in shock.



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