Friday, October 21, 2005

divorce mediation  

posted by Michael Piwonka 10:03 PM
Penny and I met with a divorce mediator yesterday for the first time. We have agreed to use a mediator, rather than getting entangled in an ugly fight involving antagonist lawyers. (Am I being redundant when I say antagonist lawyers?)

At this point, we are proceeding through what feels like to me to simply be a business transaction. We have to list all assets and debts in a spreadsheet, then proceed to split them. Penny and I have agreed to do this evenly, and we will keep joint custody of the children.

While the mediator said our situation might be slightly more complicated than most because we have a couple businesses between us, I think this should be rather straightforward. There really are no emotions or blame at this point; we're simply involved in an accounting exercise. It's not unlike preparing to meet your CPA to file taxes.

The mediator confirmed that North Carolina law requires a 12-month separation period before we can file for divorce.

Penny appears to be doing well. She is settling into her new life, and is doing a good job with the kids. She says that her dad is buying her a new house in our neighborhood, which should relieve her of financial concerns during this stressful time.

I'm doing well also. Al-Anon has really helped me to cope with both past and present alcoholism issues. While I don't subscribe to everything that the group employs, it has been a valuable support group. I have also been going to a therapist to deal with all this, and she has been suggesting books about Buddhist philosophy, particularly meditation.

I have enjoyed reading the meditation literature, which basically prescribes taking time to appreciate the current moment. The term that's used to describe this is having mindfulness. Being always mindful of where we are at any time is supposed to relieve of us anxieties about what has been or what will be.

The techniques suggested remind me of something my sister Dianne told me when I was a young boy. She was telling me to employ a technique she used when she had trouble falling asleep: she would think about how her body felt against the sheets of the bed. She said that if she concentrated on each toe, and how the bed felt against it, and then each finger, then each knee, continuing through her entire body, it would relax her and allow her to fall asleep. She said that she never would get past her ten toes before she fell asleep.

After reading this literature, I think that we could call what Dianne was doing meditation. She was meditating on the present moment, and letting all other concerns about tomorrow or yesterday leave her.

I've been intrigued by it all, and have been able to relax myself from time to time by just employing the technique of mindful breathing. If I simply concentrate on my breathing, whatever might have been distracting me is put into perspective. It's not unlike the sage advise to count to ten before saying something when we are upset (which is something I historically didn't do).

If I had employed such techniques during my marriage, or had been attending Al-Anon meetings, perhaps my marriage wouldn't be ending. I would have been more supportive and respectful of my wife.

But, alas, it appears that this may have been inevitable, regardless of what I could have done. Sobriety has given Penny the realization (or revelation) that she's not sure if she ever truly loved me, or if she did, it was only for a few years of our marriage. However, I feel (or hope) that one day she won't feel that way, at least for her sake. I feel sorry for her if she has been living such an unhappy life all these years.

I'm very confident that we will always be good friends. My family loves her, and our kids require that we be good friends. In fact, I think that we will probably be better parents that we've ever been before.

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