I've been thinking about this a lot today.
Yesterday's session with the mediator did not go well. My fault, I think. I was still rubbed pretty raw by all the adjectives from Sunday and felt disengaged from the conversation. We talked a little bit about custody again, and I admitted that I felt bad about not getting to have the kids more; but I agreed that it was the most practical solution.
Then we started talking about ways to deal with the house. Si wants to keep it and buy me out. He told the mediator about how he wanted the kids to have the stability of their regular home.
"Do you think it may tip the scales a bit?" asked the mediator.
How do you mean?
"Well, unfortunately, the kids know that Kate is initiating the divorce. You will have more custody of them. You will live with them in their home, while Kate lives somewhere else. Don't you think it weakens Kate's position as an equal co-parent?"
He didn't think so. She asked me what I thought.
"Well, yes; I think that's true. But that's the price I pay." I shrugged and my eyes slid toward the window.
She sat still for a second. "What do you mean by 'the price you pay'?"
"By being the one who leaves." To me that was such a no-brainer. She looked at me funny, though.
Then, Si talked about his fledgling proposal to buy me out. We agree that the kids' college fund is sacred, but he is offering to cash out their trust funds, paying me with that money, then having the kids be part owners of the house. They get their money back (and maybe a little more) when he sells. I was amazed. When we were in the heat early divorce discussions, months ago, he told me...uh...firmly... that he would not allow me to touch their trust funds. As if I would have even thought of it. The trust funds are gifts from Simon's parents. It's Sara's and Nathan's money; and before that, it was Digginsmoney. I have never had much use for Digginsmoney.
Si now sees this a s a tidy solution, but I have issues with it.
"And when they find out? That Mom went away and took all their money, too?"
"Who will tell them? They don't need to know."
"They will ask where you got the money, and you'll tell them the truth. Or your parents will tell them. With gusto." They can't stand me. As my FIL put it, I "took our first born son away from his home and his country". (I know: gack. Yes, they really did say, "first born son", as if they were about to present him to King Herrod or something.) When they find out that I touched Digginsmoney, there is going to be nastiness.
I mentioned that I felt that this "tipped the scales" of my relationship with the kids yet farther; Si took exception. We were sent to our separate corners: the mediator wanted to see each of us alone.
She was in with Si for over half an hour. When it was my turn, the mediator said that she had talked to Simon about having some accountability for the demise of the marriage, and that he had admitted that he had not treated me well over the years. Given that, she asked me why I maintain that the divorce is my fault.
"Because no matter what, I'm the leaver, and that makes me the bad one."
"Why does that make you bad? Maybe you are escaping a bad situation."
"Well, because leaving is...selfish!"
"Why does selfish have to be bad?" I couldn't even figure out what she meant. I sputtered.
"Well... well.. of COURSE it's bad! It's the WORST! It's the WORST thing a person can be. It's the thing I most hate being." Believe me, I have been pondering the question of the worst traits a person can have, in my humble opinion. I think I may have settled on: selfish, unkind, weak and cowardly.
"Why?" (I know. She needs to cut it out.)
"Because... because.." I was at a loss. "Huh. Because... selfishness... is the absence of other-centeredness. And other-centeredness powers the wheels of social change... So when I divorce Si, I am gong to be-"
"Selfish. And broke and-"
"There will be money. You're going to be OK financi-"
"-and unloved and stupid and-" (Let's not forget rude, since I was interrupting her at that point...)
"Happy. You deserve to be a little selfish. You have sold yourself short for years. You are going to be happy, and show your kids what that looks like."
I am having a hard time getting my head around selfish ever being a good thing. I have a hard time dealing with all the guilt that my selfishness has caused. CB told me once that I should "be more selfish". He was talking about buying a guitar, though!