Light in Dark Places

10/1/19 Tuesday

Early on in the divorce proceedings, I thought Sara and I would be able to work out a parenting plan and financial arrangement together, just two adults working out a difficult situation in the most positive way possible, for the benefit of all of us involved. When I started asking her preference on certain details of splitting up the assets, she said she was going to “speak to her attorney first” and that she was going to ask for “what she was entitled”. This was a bad sign.

I was naive in thinking someone I’d known half my life would be fair and rational in a time like this, would put the interest of the three of us above her own. I was naive about a lot of things. She asked for $1000 a month for alimony, another $1000 a month for child support. She asked for custody of our son , allowing him to visit me every other weekend plus a few hours each Wednesday. I asked for equal time with our son, plus less alimony since she had open access to our joint bank account. The judge saw it my way, but only for a temporary basis. The judge asked for someone o represent Day, a guardian ad litem (GAL) to provide feedback and a recommendation to the court before the final parenting plan would be decided. But if Sara and I could come to a parenting plan agreement in writing, a GAL would not be necessary. I still held out hope, so we did not line up the GAL at that time. But Sara and I were not able to come to an agreement, we were not able to agree on much of anything. Weeks went by, then months. With no agreement, Sara had the right to put her requested plan into action when Day’s school started, which she did, over my objection, over Day’s objection. I had made a big mistake. We needed a GAL, and fast. But her lawyer didn’t like my lawyer’s GAL pick, and visa versa. A stalemate, and in the meantime I am now without my son most of the time. I had to have my lawyer file a motion to ask the judge to appoint a specific GAL, we had to get this process moving. But this process can take 60-90 days, so for the time being I’m stuck. Tomorrow is my Wednesday, then I must take Day back to Sara, and I won’t see him for a week.

Why would someone do this? How can one turn against another so vehemently, when so much love was shared between the two before? There’s so much I don’t understand. Events from the past replay in my head. This is consuming me. It’s hard to concentrate on much of anything sometimes, especially work. Looking at spreadsheets and construction drawings my eyes glaze over. I lie down and stretch, I work. I lift weights, I work. I start a load of laundry, do the dishes, I work…

Last week I worked like a maniac and managed to pull quite a bit of overtime. But instead of asking for the extra pay, I chose to take a few hours off yesterday. It was to be only one of two sunny days this week, and it was also the last day of salmon fishing season. I hit the road to one of my favorite places on the island, a beach where there is no parking or even foot access anywhere close. It’s very private, and a beautiful place to spend time. The fishing is not as good here as other places, but I get this beach to myself. I love it here. The waves are small and carefree as they lap the shore. Seabirds keep me company, as does a friendly seal. A bald eagle watches silently from a branch on the bluff above. The sun rounds the bend, and I feel it’s warmth sink into my face and hands. Soon the hat comes off, then the sweatshirt, then the shirt. I fish and think, and after a while take a break just to walk on the beach. The sun hits an agate at just the right angle, illuminating it like a lantern, revealing itself from ten thousand cold dark rocks around it. Another unexpected moment of happiness, contentment, connectivity with my elements – water, sun, rock. No fish today, but as I head back down the beach I’m not worried about that. I caught what I was really after today, a moment of peace. I am better than I was before. / Agate from Whidbey Island

2/21- 11 am, I miss a call from Sara. She sounds good on her voicemail. At noon I’m able to call her back, and she sounds totally normal. We’re only able to talk a short while, but she is off unit restriction now, and later today will be our first visit. Visiting hours are each day, but only 6:30-7:30 pm, no children allowed. I’m excited to see her, it’s all I can think about as I make the long drive up the island, over to the other side, across to the freeway, down to the hospital. I check in, wait with the other family members who are also waiting to see their loved ones. 6:30 comes and we are all ushered in to the cafeteria. Sara comes in, wearing glasses and an orangish jumpsuit. She’s smiling and teary eyed at the same time, probably like me. I’m overjoyed to see her. She seems like her normal self after two cups of coffee, and we talk for the whole hour. We’re able to joke about things, and I’m reminded at this bizarre time how good things can still be between us. She says she thinks she will be discharged in a couple of days, but I know it will be at least another week. I don’t tell her this though, trying to stay positive. I want to ask her about things she has said that bother me, but I know it would be too much right now. It’s more important for her to get better, for her to come home. Looking back I’m glad I didn’t bring any of that stuff up, this one-hour conversation in the cafeteria of a psychiatric hospital will end up being one of the last good times we ever had together.

Author: Rainey What started out as chicken scratch notes on the back pages of my boat’s logbook has now grown into a blog. These words and images help me cope with a loved one struggling with mental illness, and they help guide me through divorce, and the process of moving on. Thanks for reading along as I learn about life the hard way, do the best I can for my son in my new role as a single dad, and find weird similarities between restoring an old blue water sailboat and putting the pieces of my own life back together. Come check out my story and feel free to say hi!

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