Where’s the respect?

“I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me…All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”–Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson is one of my first heroes.  When I was still a child I had a tiny transistor radio that I listened to in bed at  night.  I would turn it down really low and listen to The Dodger Network on WATA, a small radio station in Boone, NC.  I learned about Jackie’s struggle for respect in what had previously been an all-white world.  All he wanted was for the other players and the fans to accept his talent as a player without regard for his race and dark skin.  I remember feeling indignant and sad and angry when he was treated badly.  And I remember feeling happy and at peace when he was welcomed and befriended by some teammates.  One such team member was Pee Wee Reese, The Little Colonel.  Once when the crowd was yelling hateful things at Jackie, Pee Wee stepped up and put his arm around Jackie.  The crowd became silent.  I love that true story and I love Pee Wee as much as I do Jackie.  Sometimes all it takes is one sane person to quell the insanity.

I have always favored fairness and justice.  And I have always believed that all human beings deserve to be treated with respect.  Not because they’re someone’s mother or father or teacher or doctor or neighbor or ex-wife–but because they are human and equally created.

I wish I could say there was respectful management of our divorce, but there wasn’t.  After much research, I suggested that we go for a “collaborative divorce.”  He found a lawyer and I found a lawyer.  Then we would meet together, the four of us, and discuss our settlement.  This type of divorce, according to the so-called experts, saves money and feelings, etc.  Well…..it was immediately evident that D’s attorney didn’t understand what collaborative means in terms of divorce.  He was combative and hostile from the beginning.  Even D didn’t like him.  We both liked mine.  After meeting with them a few times I told my lawyer I couldn’t be in the same room the other lawyer so from then on she managed the whole thing for me.  I like the idea of collaborative divorce but I think it’s counter intuitive to an attorney.  They’re in it for the money.  It is in their best interest to drag it out and find things to bill for.  My attorney’s office billed me in six-minute increments if I even spoke with my attorney or one of her assistants on the phone.  They charged every time I sent an e-mail and every time they sent an e-mail.  I imagine D’s attorney did the same.   We ended up spending thousands on those two.

Here’s the thing:  I didn’t dare not have an attorney.  At the point of needing help from the experts, I had lost all trust in my soon-to-be ex-husband.  If we could have sat down together without lawyers and decided on an equitable distribution of assets, we could have saved a huge amount of money.  But even today I’m glad we didn’t because I still don’t trust him to treat me fairly.  Numerous lies and deceptions do not make a congenial divorce.

And it isn’t about just lies and deceptions.  It’s about the absence of respect from my husband from the moment he told me he wanted a divorce.  And it got worse once he knew that I knew about the other woman.  He lived in the house with me until the end of April, 2007.  And even the following month he would sometimes spend the night at the house because of medical appointments.  Then on Father’s Day in June, 2007, I learned how disrespectful he could be.  He was going to his mom and dad’s house for the celebration.  My daughter and her children were going, too.  And he was taking his girlfriend. He had broken up with her for about a month and a half which I knew about.  I did not know that they were back together so I certainly wasn’t expecting that he would be introducing her to my family.  His inconsiderate behavior continued ad nauseum. To this day I’m left wondering:  Where’s the respect?

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