Updated: Sep 12, 2021
She called me early in the morning.
Her words were fast and frantic.
Filled with anguish.
“I don’t know how I am going to do this. I can’t pay my taxes. I can’t pay my kid’s school fees. I can’t afford school clothes. I feel like someone slammed me against a wall.
Was I better off living with the abuse?
At least I had money to support the kids. He’s not paying me enough to survive in spite of court orders. My stomach aches. I only sleep about 4 hours a night. I feel like I felt when I learned about his cheating 3 years ago. Oh, Kim, what have I done?”
She stops for a moment, inhales and before I could stop myself, I say,
Softly, I hear a “what?” on the other end of my phone.
I’m pretty direct and sometimes my mouth acts before my brain checks it. I sigh.
“Snollygoster. (It sounds kind of like snottygoster which always makes me laugh a bit.) A snollygoster is a shrewd person, not guided by principles. Snollygoster.”
She says, “oh.” with obvious confusion.
Well, I guess this is the me you get at 6:30am. I encourage her to continue her frustrated diatribe.
“You remember, we went to court last year? He wanted to reduce alimony and child support? He said his job new job was paying him less? We spent a full day in court. I listened to him wail his platitudes. We couldn’t get through it all on that day so the case got continued to this year. I spent another day listening to his tales of woe and now, 16 weeks later, 16 WEEKS, the judge still hasn’t written a decree telling him what support he should be paying.”
Me, “That sounds infuriating.”
She continues, “I guess I understand the courts are busy but on top of me waiting to see how much they are going to reduce from my alimony and support, he’s just paying me whatever he wants. He even just skipped a month. No courtesy email saying, ‘Hey, I’m broke. You have to figure it out on your own.’ Just no money. He hasn’t reimbursed me for any of our kid’s activities or medical bills since December of last year. I’m like, what the heck? I mean, I’d actually understand not paying all or the same amount he has in the past, but something would be nice.”
Me, “Ouch. How are you handling this with the kids?”
This is where her emotions become raw. “I just want them to be kids. I feel like my heart is being ripped out of my soul.
I feel trapped.
If I tell them I can’t pay, the courts chastise me for telling the kids about my finances. If I tell the kids he’s not paying, the courts can accuse me of parental alienation for making the kids think bad things about their dad. Then, he can hold me in contempt or worse, I could lose my kids.
I’m afraid to say anything to anyone. And the courts are just letting him be a dead-beat dad.
I feel like I want to wail, throw up and rage all at the same time.
I’m stuck …
I just want to be free.
I thought divorce would set me free.”
I hear her gulp and begin to sob. I look at my cold coffee in my favorite mug which has this written on it:
He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you Never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you.”
I can’t carry her but I'm determined to be here.
After a few minutes, she becomes silent.
Me, “Are you ok?” It’s a stupid question. I know the answer.
I hear her shuffling the phone. “No. I’m not. I’m not even allowed to call the courts to find out how much longer it will be before the judge tells us what he has to pay. I’m completely at the mercy of an incompetent court system. It’s like they are more worried I’m gonna say something bad about dad than they are about making sure my kids are fed.”
I’m glad she called to vent. She had the courage to address the impossible and grieved it for the moment.
Next, I encourage her to embrace what is possible. What can she do?
Well, she already took the first big step by picking up her phone and reaching out for support.
Well done, my wounded warrior.
Snollygoster: who came up with this word?
While the word physically sounds hilarious (especially when you change it to snottygoster), the meaning of the word is actually horrifying- a shrewd person, not guided by principles. That's not funny.
“Horror is next to humor on the emotion wheel.” (Omar Minwalla)
When I listen to my clients, sometimes I find I chuckle in the middle of their stories... And then I am repelled by myself. There is absolutely nothing humorous about their stories of abuse. They include rape, beatings, finding their husbands with other women, learning of secret sex lives, hearing stories of bestiality, child pornography and molestation… really awful stuff. So what the heck makes me chuckle?
Not a damn thing.
When the horror is too great for my mind to grasp, the only way to release the disgust and rage towards individuals who have caused their partners such agony is to chuckle.
Sidebar: Are all sex addicts snollygosters? Of course not. I empathize with addicts trying to overcome problematic sexual behavior and I am supportive of partners trying to save these relationships. They are not snollygosters.
I’m referring to the ones who hide behind fake smiles, insincere gifts, unfulfilled promises, and false truths.
Not guided by principles.
The women I work with are resilient in spite of feeling lost, crazy, depressed, helpless, and traumatized.
They have children they are protecting, will suffer financial instability, will endure court abuse, and do not have a future they dreamed of.
They refuse to quit.
And they laugh. A lot. Good, belly clutching laughs in spite of those snottygosters.
They keep fighting. What keeps them in the battle?
· The search for truth and justice, and
· The proverbial “mama bear” need to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
You know, these snollygosters have it wrong. They throw out pain with the skill of a magician leaving their victims befuddled and broken. But they have created an army of warriors that are learning the tricks behind their slight of hands and refusing to be silenced by fear.
These partners have a unique, secret weapon, completely foreign to the snollygoster, and a sensational skill that, ironically, was why they were targeted in the first place by the snollygoster.
Empathy- the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
This is why we are stronger than they are.
We support each other.
CoachingHope4U is part of a greater vision. We are joining with Tina Swithin in her crusade to change the courts. You can read her submission to the UN here.