Wednesday, October 29, 2008

In Which I Explain Why I Am a Bitter, Angry Bitch

Wow. Just-wow. On another one of my favorite single mom blogs, the discussion has turned ugly and some woman has suddenly decided that there are way too many bitter, angry single mamas out there. To give this person (who, by the way, wouldn't even leave a real name) a little bit of credit, I don't think her initial comment was meant to be construed as "mean," even though it came across that way. Her response to some of the other comments, though, WAS mean, and it just makes me weary. I have blogged about this before, I will blog about it again, and for those of you who are T.I.R.E.D. of hearing the same thing over and over again, please stop reading now. I am SO on a rant about this one.

The question was asked, and I have heard it before, "How did you fall for someone like that? You are smart, pretty, etc..." and yeah, yeah, so we made poor choices. Shoot us now because we are human. The thing is, even now, I cannot look back at my choice to marry my ex-husband as a mistake. Regardless of the way we met and the haste in which we married, regardless of my personal issues that drove me to choose this particular man, I went into the relationship and marriage with the highest hopes. I went into the partnership with another person wanting to give him love and affection and caring and support; I loved him. It is so easy for me now, 12 years later, to see that I didn't really love him, that I had all this other stuff going on and so really had no idea what the word "love" meant, and that is true. However, 12 years ago, it felt like love to me, and I really believed that we were going to be happy. I am well aware that I would not be in the mess I am in-5 years post-divorce!-had I not married him, but that knowledge now has nothing to do with the person I was then.

I know that my bitterness and anger (and yes, dear Reader, I freely admit that I am both bitter and angry) is hard both for people to understand and to deal with. The bitch part of me thinks "Oh fucking well. Not my problem." However, for some strange reason I seem to be mellowing just a little bit (and I am sure it will pass) and I really want to try to give people a glimpse into my life and perhaps get a small bit of understanding from them. I want to be able to explain why I am bitter and angry and all of those other things I have been called.

My bitterness and anger stems from the fact that we as a nation do not hold these men accountable. Not just MY ex-husband, but every man in the world who has overnight made the decision to walk away from his children and family. There are court orders and laws in place to "assure" that moms and their kids are at least given some sort of financial support, but that is no guarantee that the absent fathers are actually going to PAY that; the deadbeat dad laws in place look really, really good on paper, but when it comes to implementing them, well, let's just say they are a joke and leave it at that. And there are no laws or mandates or anything in effect that will force a man to be a parent to their children-nothing. I would not bitch about the money part of it were Sam's dad present in his life; I would not complain about having to provide everything for my son if his dad was at least emotionally and physically available for Sam. It would still be hard, of course-but for me, the money is a concrete, tangible thing about which I can complain; the emotional implications of his absence in his son's life are far more pervasive and much less easily explained.

We are asked, dear reader, how we smart and pretty and funny and talented women could ever fall for assholes like we did. How about we change the question: how is it that men can use their fists or their words to batter us, emotionally or physically, and get away with it? How have we as a nation allowed this to continue to happen? How have our parents raised men who think that this kind of behavior is at all acceptable, and even condoned? And here is another little scenario: if we women walk out on our children and don't provide for their needs, we get our children taken away and we go to jail. What happens to the men who have abandoned their children just as surely? N.O.T.H.I.N.G. It is somehow seen as okay for children to be raised without their fathers, despite the fact that statistics show that fatherless children get into more trouble, have more behavioral and mental issues, and further go on to abandon THEIR children; it is a vicious cycle, and while we bitter single mamas are doing all we can, it is often like bailing a leaking rowboat with a teaspoon-impossible.

I just want to weep sometimes with the futility of the battle we are fighting. I have watched my ex-husband go from woman to woman, spending time and money on families that are not his own, and it makes me see red-because in the eyes of the world, it is okay for him to be doing this, but not okay for me to even date. I hear the lies he tells to people about what a bitch I am for keeping him from seeing his son, and never once have I heard someone ask WHY. They take him at face value, and perpetuate the lie. A note for my women readers: when a man tells you that his cunt of an ex won't let him see his children, that should probably be a red flag to you-because believe me, it is NOT easy to keep a parent from a child if said parent wants to be in their lives. It took me two years and a lot of tears and fear and pain and worry in order to get this far-and he did not even really FIGHT the custody issue; the courts sure did. I had to prove over and over again that he was unfit to have even partial custody, and the funny thing is that he didn't even want it. Yet who is there to hold him accountable? The court? Other men? The women with whom he has hooked up? No; it is too easy to blame me.

I don't have any answers; I know that there are a lot of things I think should be different, but they aren't. I wish that the really great husbands and fathers would have the balls to tell their loser buddies, "dude-this isn't right." I wish that more of the upstanding men would be extremely vocal about the way deadbeat dads are leaving a nation of damaged kinds in their wake. I wish more women would stop buying into the "I don't get to see me kid" sob story and instead question the "why" of it; while of course there ARE women who use their kids as weapons, they are not nearly as prevalent as the men would like you to believe. I wish that I would never hear another man complain about how miserable he is with his wife/girlfriend/partner simply because it is "the thing" to do; I know several men who, when they get with their buddies, can bad mouth their wives to beat the band, but who actually adore them and would walk through fire for them AND their kids-it just isn't manly these days to SAY that. I wish-well. I wish a lot of things, but what I wish more than anything is that people would just open their eyes a little bit wider and see that perhaps we bitter single mamas have a reason, a legitimate one, for feeling the way we do.

And believe me, I don't WANT to be bitter, I really don't. It is something I struggle with almost daily. However, three years ago I fell in love-totally, deeply, the-kind-you-don't-get-over-in-love with someone, with Owen's dad. And part of the reason we are never going to be together is because he has grown up his whole life seeing the ravages of divorce, feeling the same abandonment issues that MY son Sam feels, he has heard the jokes about wife beating and heard the men in his life bad mouth women at every turn, and he will never give himself over to taking a chance on being happy. To taking a chance on loving someone and making a life together. That itself is bad enough. What is worse is that in the eyes of the world, I am not supposed to want that anyway; I am not supposed to date, because I might expose my kids to some sort of revolving door syndrome and give them ideas about sex that they shouldn't have. I mean, when I got pregnant with Owen, it was predicted that Hannah would be pregnant withing the year because I was single mom who had sex and got pregnant, therefore she would, too. Nothing at all was said about Steve, who obviously also had sex outside of wedlock. No kind of prediction was made about his future, no aspersions cast on his moral or religious beliefs, no suggestion was made that he might be at all responsible. How is that possible, and why is that right? It isn't.

It is just so frustrating and disheartening to be blamed so often, for so much. Not just by our nation, but by other women. I am tired of being told that I should not want home and family and husband, how I should be content to sit back and watch other families get together for the holidays and exchange gifts and be with people they love, how it should be enough that I have my kids. It is, and it isn't. I am tired of defending myself at every turn for things for which there IS no defense. I cannot make things any different than they are; all I can do is simply keep going, and hold my head up with as much grace and dignity and beauty as I possibly can. It's like my kids-sometimes it is enough, and sometimes it isn't.


April said...

Brava, my dear Kori! It's so easy to dismiss us bitter, angry single moms as cliches rather than really delving into why the cliche may exist. I love you.

Mr Lady said...

I second April. BRAVO. Who is to judge anyone else? I mean, unless you're eating the livers of your neighbors of course. Then I'm going to judge you. It's a character flaw; I'm working on it.

Otherwise, god...I am so sick of people trying to define what a FAMILY is to the world. As if everyone hasn't made some choice that later seemed questionable.

You know, you met and loved Owen's dad because YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO HAVE OWEN. And maybe because you were supposed to love his dad, too.

As if being a single mom isn't hard enough, people judging you? WHATEVER. You know you're doing a fine job, you know what is true. Ignore the rest.

Mama Smurf said...

"hold my head up with as much grace and dignity and beauty as I possibly can"

And you are doing a marvelous job at that.

Quit worrying about explaining and defending yourself. Those people making the negative comments don't know you...don't know your situation....and surely have made bad choices themselves. Lord knows I've made a few of my own but those bad choices happened for a reason. I learned from them. And grew as a person because of them. I don't regret those poor choices because they made me who I am today.

Lynn said...

Again...BRAVO! to you Kori! Anyone who says they haven't ever made a choice that turned out not to be the best one is lying - and also apparently incredibly judgemental.

And who cares what their opinions are anyways? You know, and many of us know, you are doing the best job you possibly can, and you have no reason to explain or defend yourself to anyone. Ever. Period.

Keep on doing what you're doing, and hold your head up high with all the grace and beauty and dignity you posess....

There are many of us out here in the same situation as you who support you and applaud your voice.

Hugs to you my friend!

LiteralDan said...

I wouldn't blame anyone involved in a messy divorce for being bitter or angry, but I think it's often overstated and depends enormously on the side from which you're looking at things.

In your case, I don't think it would matter WHAT side you were looking from, but obviously some people are always going to be oblivious to reality.

FreedomFirst said...

I can tell you why all of that is possible and accepted. People don't like to think. They want things to be exactly the way they appear, because it means they can make an instant judgment and move on without ever thinking about you again. It's the same reason people are voting for McCain. They don't want to think about it. If they did think, they would see that he is a huge fake and the whole government right now is one big money-sucking facade. That goes for the Democrats as well.

It's all the same mentality, I promise you. People want things to be easy, so they take whatever they're told and run with it.

Tara R. said...

I sure many, many people asked my mom the same 'why did you marry that guy' question. My dad was a piece of work... he didn't pay the court ordered support because he thought it was too high, had more 'other' women that I lost count, and for years wouldn't have known the truth if it bit him on the ass. My mom married one man, and the real one didn't surface for several years. The double standard really sucks hairy... well you know.

Unknown said...

Brilliant post, and I loved every word, and you know what we are all human, that's the best we can do, all our foibles and fear, and flaws put together make us the gloriously wonderful women we are!!! You completely rock and amaze me...this is a blistering post and if I had an award to give you I would so give you the rocking post writer award!!!!

Martin said...

My testicles shrivelled considerably while reading that.

The thing is though, you are trying to defend your position against those who will ever change their opinions, to those who aren't judging you in any way.

Save your energy for the battles that deserve it.

Like we say back home, 'Fuck the begrudgers'.

Kerrie said...

Oh...standing ovation here...!!!

This is my first visit to your part of blogland...I could have written your post.

In short, 15 years ago I became pregnant, my daughter's father wanted nothing to do with her, has never to my knowledge set eyes on her and contested paternity, (I later find out that he was advised by his lawyer to do so because for the time it took for paternity to be proven, almost a year here, he wouldn't have to pay child support.
Based on his income he would have had to pay around $9,000 and the costs for paternity testing were around $4,000...ergo, he contested to save himself money, not because he doubted that indeed he was my daughter's father.

I have blogged recently about having had to get his signature on her passport application. It dredged up some rather unpleasant past issues with his abandonment of her for me and with her now being 14 she wanted to know why he refused to have him name on her birth certificate. It has been difficult to say the least.

We had some mutual male friends who called him on his behaviour, told him that how he was acting was downright wrong and that from the moment he chose to have sex without a condom he was responsible and had to be accountable for the consequences of his actions...they did this of their own accord and to this day I love them dearly for standing up for my daughter. He sadly, refused to listen and severed the friendships.

However, despite his actions, or lack thereof, not for a moment do I regret any of what transpired. He was a beautiful friend at the time and I loved him dearly. Not for a moment would I consider my relationship with him a mistake. I'm sad that he has missed out on his daughter, sad for both of them.

When I met my current partner, he told me of his older son who was born when my partner was 20. It was an unplanned pregnancy and his relationship with his son's mother was tenuous, to say the least. My partner had to fight in the Supreme Court to be able to have time with his son...this alone spoke volumes about the man he is, a far cry from my experience.

Thanks for this post, it's provoked much thought, hope you don't mind if I stick around.

BTW...eventually the passports office rubber stamped my daughter's application, thankfully they listened to my story. I was astonished that there was the flexibility in their red tape.

Anonymous said...

This should be an op-ed in a syndicated paper.

justme said...


Your post totally got me thinking about the issues I have with Patriarchial society and Patriarchial religious structures. I have somewhat recently realized my feminist bend and figured out that my issues with the religion I was brought up with are directly linked to the damn Patriarchial ideals and the problems and issues they create for us women. I think your post is just another example of this. It is so infuriorating! The men are given a pass; are put on a pedestal, are not judged, while the women are the evil ones and the cause of all that is wrong.

Ahh, I could go on, but I won't. As a not single mom, I probably related to your post differently than others, but it was a great post, that further clarified and solidified, as well as provided further proof for some of my issues with Patriarchial structure...

Mnemosyne said...

Hell yes Kori!!! This post had me cheering!

"We are asked, dear reader, how we smart and pretty and funny and talented women could ever fall for assholes like we did. How about we change the question: how is it that men can use their fists or their words to batter us, emotionally or physically, and get away with it? "

How true and how eloquent. I truly loved this post and appreciate it greatly.