As we rode the elevator with my attorney down from the court room yesterday, she turned to me with a half-smile and said, "Well, today was in our favor."
I smiled back. In some regards, it was true. The judge agreed with us on all the financial points my attorney presented. I just wished it all felt more victorious.
That's because, as my wise friend Karen says, no one wins in divorce. You sacrifice things just to get the hell out, and sometimes those sacrifices aren't fair or even reasonable. As much as I wanted to feel high from a judge saying that I am, in fact, entitled to the full amount of child support owed to me and that each parent should pay half of tuition and that it is not my responsibility to pay all the marital bills I covered when I left just to dig us out of financial despair, I didn't.
I felt more of an adrenaline rush because I yelled.
I felt good leaving the courtroom because I stood my ground when the Almost-Ex and his attorney began scrutinizing the bills I paid, when the issue of how our son would divide up his time on his birthday became an argument about how I do not ever put my son first. Then, I yelled. And even after the bailiff asked me to quiet down, we stepped out into the hallway and I stood taller, spoke firmer.
While I normally prefer for my attorney to speak for me in these situations, there was a pause and I knew I could no longer speak in the measured way I do now when there is so much talk talk talk talk. In that pause, I said my peace.
This all sounds more dramatic than it actually was. Really, it was a woman in pearls fighting back against the inadequacy that has kept her wrapped up in a no-asset divorce for almost a year. Really, it was just enough.
It was a good day in court, yes. But because there is still dispute over all those bills, there will be more days in court. We are scheduled to go to trial in January.
January. It seems like a million years away, just as yesterday's date did when we scheduled back in July.
Of course, I may never see what the judge said yesterday I should get. I may never get the money owed to me. Even if I do, it could take a very long time to get to me. And even still, there may have to be more sacrifices just to get the hell out.
This divorce isn't about money. There was so little to split. But it is about standing tall and standing up for myself, and that is where I have felt the proudest, the strongest, the most supported, when the most good has come to me. It is when I have thrived inside a year of sadness, shock, stress and changes. It is when I have won.
Victory, these twelve months have taught me, is sometimes a whispered prayer, sometimes a door shut behind you, sometimes a signed lease or solo adventure, sometimes fits of laughter or figuring out a problem completely alone.
And once in a while, victory is yelled back.
For all the tweets and comments and IMs and calls and messages that filled the space between my computer screen and the court room, thank you.