Let’s consider this to be part two of last Friday’s installment on what the Kane County (or any) justice system is and isn’t. The basic premise was the folks who toil in the Judicial Center aren’t out to get you for no other reasons than you’re not nearly that important and there’s a huge difference between corruption and a vast dysfunction.
That column came as a result of the plethora of people who’ve come to me with their own personal Judicial Center horror story over the last two years.
While I’ve tried to help each and every one of you, and the occasional success story keeps me going, what’s really stuck with me is how some folks need absolutely no help destroying themselves, their lives, and their children’s lives.
It’s one thing to hear about a bitter celebrity divorce or custody battle on TMZ, but trust me, it’s another thing entirely to listen to over 70, mostly women, rage against the system, their ex, and how patently unfair life can be. Some readers have even gone as far as devoting entire Facebook pages to denigrating their exes.
And I thought my single-minded pursuit of superhero statues was obsessive. My favorite former managing editor actually thinks I’m developing a mild form of PTSD as a result of what I call my “family law” practice.
So, even though I’m probably spitting into the wind – again – in an effort to head off more time-consuming propositions in which I can’t help, let’s go over some of those how-to-get-your-life-back-on-track basics.
And it always starts with taking responsibility. Can life be unfair? You bet! But while we can’t control life, we can control our reaction to those perceived slights and injustices. The common thread between the people I can’t help is the belief in a vast justice system conspiracy specifically targeting them. Not only is that the height of an out-of-control ego, but it’s incredibly self-destructive.
Clearly, there was a time you saw something good in your ex. You believed they had the qualities that made you fall in love and perhaps even have children with them. So, how did they suddenly go from significant other to evil incarnate?
My point is, you chose that person, and if you failed to see who they really were, no matter how charming they were at that time, that’s on you. I guarantee you that your friends and family saw the issues right off the bat.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about blame. It’s about taking the kind of personal responsibility that allows you to acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them. I’ve never been presented with a divorce scenario where one side was completely innocent.
But if you blame your ex and/or the entire justice system for your current plight, you will remain stuck in that place for the rest of your life. And that’s the very definition of a Christian Hell.
I regularly hear horrific tales about abusive exes, but rather than rail about it, if a criminal act has occurred, please go directly to the local police. Please be as evidence-based and unemotional about it as possible, too, because if you go completely nuts, they won’t be nearly as likely to help you. Police already hate getting involved in domestic cases for good reason and they’ll be wary of any unfounded domestic violence or sexual abuse claim.
If you insist on posting your exes “criminal acts” on Facebook, which is never a good idea, you’re not only setting yourself up for a libel lawsuit, but if those posts are presented to the family court judge, you’ve just dug yourself a ten-foot legal hole.
But what amazes me most is these battles are often waged without a single thought for the children involved. Worse yet, they’re often used as weapons.
One of my favorite friends had to endure an uncomfortable divorce, but she absolutely refuses to speak ill of her ex in front of her two children because he’s their father! As she put it, “Children are smart. They know they’re half him. If I keep referring to him as a bleep, they’re going to start believing they’re half bleep.”
And if you do demonize your ex to the point where your young children buy into it, when they grow up, they will never forgive you. But if you remember what you once saw in your ex and convey that instead, your children will never forget that kindness.
Sometimes no one is to blame. Sometimes a split is simply matter of a relationship running its course. In that regard, it pays to remember that the converse of love is not hate, it’s indifference. Sometimes you discover you’re better apart and nefariousness has nothing to do with it.
In that very vein, that same friend has come to realize that she and her ex-husband are not only better people apart, but they’ve become better parents as a result of their divorce. They both learned to put their egos aside and understand that the future is about their children and not about rehashing a past which can’t be changed.
So, to reiterate some previous stipulations! Journalistic standards prohibit writing about a divorce and I’m not about to break that rule. If you need help better understanding the justice system, dealing with a real judicial injustice, you require an attorney that is adept at handling your particular situation, or you want a fresh perspective on that situation, in the words of that late great philosopher Leonard Cohen, “I’m your man.”
But if you’re going to insist that I listen to your tales of your heinous ex or how those Kane County Judicial Center inhabitants have it in for you, in the words of those great philosophers The English Beat, “Save it for later.”
If you do find yourself sinking into the abyss, please seek out the services a certified therapist or psychologist. I may not go every week, but I’ve been in therapy for most of my adult life because it truly takes a village with Jeff Ward.
But sadly, if you’re bent on self-destruction, there’s nothing I can do about it.