Tuesday I met with what would hopefully become my newly retained law firm. I was so nervous by the time I got there that I joked in the group chat with A & H that hopefully they wouldn’t be too put out if I collapsed on their floor and became catatonic.

The meeting didn’t raise any red flags and I managed to keep it together, more or less.

I talked about my concerns and the kind of behavior I’d been dealing with from my husband, and I have to say it felt validating when she’d raise her eyebrows and have an expression of distaste over his behavior. And it felt absolutely wonderful when I mentioned the part where he’d tried to get me to agree to be celibate until my car was paid off and she threw back her head and laughed, and laughed, and laughed, and then said she wanted to see him try to argue that in court.

(Apparently when I’d talked about that before it hadn’t been in the group chat with A & H, so H was pretty shocked and said ‘who thinks of things like this?’ My husband, that’s who. I’m never forgiving him for making me feel like I was just a hole.)

I let her know that I was agnostic and bisexual, in case that was anything that would cause problems for me, and she said the courts wouldn’t care as long as we hadn’t raised the children in a super conservative church that had been teaching those things were a sin.

She also ran the numbers and found out that if we did a 50/50 split, he’d owe me child support. That put me into a bit of a tailspin – how did I want to handle custody in that case? I’m still convinced going with primary would end with him losing his job, be it voluntary or involuntary, and I don’t want my kids to lose that source of income.

Would 50/50 have the same risk, though?

Would what I can realistically make + child support be enough to support a 5 person household or would I be renting some bug & mildew infested house in a bad part of town to pull it off?

That night I did some calculations of my own, and found that it was unlikely I’d be able to support a 5 person household on what I could realistically earn – except when the child support was factored in. Even though it hadn’t sounded like a whole lot, over the course of the year it would really boost annual income. 50/50 custody would actually be… doable. I knew my husband would be furious and would be dragging me to court for the next decade, though – could I even survive the stress of that? Maybe I should just go back to letting him have primary.

I slept on it and when I woke up started chewing it over again.

My husband is going to be an asshole for the next decade no matter what. Even if I give him everything else he wants. I withheld myself, I messed up his little system of passive-aggressive control and domination and shut things down sexually and he’s going to hold a goddamn grudge about that for perhaps the rest of his life.

But if we do 50/50, he’s going to need to keep his good job for the weeks he has them. He’ll need that good job to retain a lawyer to take me to court. And in the meantime, I’ll get more time with my kids without having to live in shitty conditions and work two jobs. I’ll be able to dilute his influence with mine.

I decided I’d go for it and promptly sent an email to my lawyer to let her know.

Wednesday I received a call from the recruitment agency – they had a one day assignment Saturday that paid decently and was well within the realm of what I could handle. Did I want it? Yes, yes I did. When I went in that afternoon to finish the necessary paperwork and do the drug testing, the young woman that had interviewed me said when she saw the job she’d thought of me first thing and was excited to have something she could offer me.

I’d been afraid of telling them I was getting divorced for fear they’d decide I was a risk and not give me assignments. Instead, telling them had garnered sympathy and assistance. It was surreal to realize I’m receiving more sympathy and kindness from strangers than I did or do from the man I married.

He amply demonstrated his unkindness and vindictiveness when I approached him later that afternoon about the medical bills that had come in – what we owed for the ablation and what we owed for the urgent care visits I’d had for the neck strain last year. He flat out refused to pay them. Texted me later to say it would be brought up in mediation. When I pointed out they could end up in collections, he simply responded they’d be handled as debt. This idiot – we’re still married, bills that go into collections will be on his credit, too.

Then I headed out to my math class, and my instructor insisted I speak with the state employment agency’s rep that would there that night. I’d already spoken to the local state employment agency and have been assigned a career counselor, so there didn’t seem to be much point, but she insisted so I went along with it. The employee in question worked out of a different location and actually did go over some things that my local office hadn’t covered, especially in regards the online resources available to me.

He also gently scolded me not to sell myself short, and said he could tell from my testing assessment results that I could handle just about anything I wanted to pursue, career-wise.

Once again, kindness and sympathy from people that are either strangers or practically strangers to me.

More kindness and sympathy than I got from the man I married, or from my mom, or my little sister.

I wish I hadn’t been raised in a religion that taught me I was a worthless worm, and that any kindness and goodness that came my way was an undeserved gift. When you’re raised to believe that, you don’t notice the absence of kindness and goodness because it’s expected that’s the default state you deserve. My mom affirmed that she loved me – she never affirmed that I was inherently worth loving.

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