Have you ever explained something to someone and neither of you understood what the other was trying to say? When no matter what you said you couldn’t make your message clear? It becomes a comedy of errors sometimes and you just have to laugh about it. Abbott and Costello did a skit called “Who’s on first?” in their 1945 movie The Naughty Nineties, which perfectly demonstrates what I’m talking about. It gets funnier every time I hear it. Click here if you’d like to watch the clip. If you’re a baseball fan you’ll love this. It’s a classic. And hilarious even if you’re not a fan.
I recently had a conversation with a woman at church. We were making plans to combine the Portuguese and Spanish services on Sunday and I asked her a question about the order of songs in the service. I usually create the schedule, with the help of the pastor, on Friday night at rehearsal. This time a third party, M, had set up the schedule. She didn’t understand what I was asking and I was clumsily trying to explain. After a bit of incomplete/incompetent (on my part) dialogue, I looked at her and said, “I don’t understand.” She replied just as simply, “What don’t you understand?” Aaarrgghh! Deadlock. I’m laughing as I recall this incident. As it turns out, it was my not understanding the Portuguese that was causing the problem. I realized that after she went back to rehearsing her music and I was able to focus singly on what was in front of me. As soon as I caught her eye, I gave her a thumbs up to let her know I had resolved my issue. Fortunately we are both mature enough to realize it was no big deal. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
On a more serious note, have you ever tried to communicate with someone who doesn’t want/refuses to communicate with you? Well, I have and it isn’t pretty. The last years of our marriage I begged D to talk to me. He wouldn’t. Or maybe he couldn’t. I guess I’ll never know which but the one thing I do know clearly and without doubt–we weren’t talking. And I know what I think–he had already removed himself from our marriage. His mind, along with his conversation, was elsewhere. Once communication has broken down, the door is wide open for miscommunication to occur. One partner will take a word, a phrase, or even a small sentence and isolate it and obsess over it and make it into something much worse than it was ever intended to be. It’s so sad when that happens because it’s proof that real interactive dialogue is gone and the relationship is taking a nose dive.
I remember one time when I knew we weren’t connecting with each other verbally, and I decided I should write him a letter. (Back in the early days of our courtship D would write me long, sweet letters. I still have them.) So I wrote him a letter explaining my feelings about something; I don’t remember what, but probably our inability to communicate. I closed by saying that either he didn’tget it or hedidn’t care. I also told him I preferred to think it was the former. After a slow and difficult separation and divorce, I finally had to acknowledge it was the latter. He got it.
An aside: If my sweet brother Jack were alive, he would be 71 today. He hated sharing his birthday with Ronald Reagan. 🙂 I still miss him. 😦
According to Yogi Berra, “I never said most of the things I said.” If he did say the title quote, I doubt he meant the fork in the picture. I know one thing, though, the fork in the photo would be an easier decision for me than some of the other “forks” in the road. For one thing, it’s my stainless pattern. For another, it’s just lying there waiting to cause trouble. I would take it before it got flattened or injured someone.
I think the fork Yogi is talking about refers to a major life decision. If the road forks, it’s giving you an opportunity to take a new and better direction. Yogi says, “Take it.” Could it be that divorce provides that new and better direction? Certainly the decision of divorcing wasn’t mine. But I remember someone telling me early in 2007, shortly after I learned that I would be divorced, “This is an opportunity. Take advantage of it.” I should tape those words to my mirror so I won’t forget them.
So what’s this fork I’m supposed to take called? What sort of opportunity is it? Has something presented itself that I’ve overlooked? Whatever it is, I will have to be more creative than I’ve been in the past. I can’t throw money at it the way I used to do. Can’t afford that. Maybe that is the opportunity I’m supposed to check out: How to live a fruitful and productive life with less money, fewer resources than in the past. How to have lots of fun with very little money.
I don’t yet know the answers to all these questions. I’m constantly thinking and working on them. I hope I figure it all out soon. I’m an optimist. I think I’ll get it. I have infinite patience with my grandchildren but not with myself. Maybe that’s one of the lessons I’m supposed to be learning. I must be giving and loving to myself. Grace is mine for the taking if I can be kind enough to myself to accept it. In the meantime, I’m not sitting around twiddling my thumbs. I do constructive things daily. I really do.
“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?