Doing The Right Thing When You Don’t Want To (and you’re pretty sure it won’t work anyway)

I remember when I was a kid growing up with two other siblings, fairness was always an issue (and a totally rational excuse for starting a fight). If my elder sister got to go on a date, it only made sense that I should be able to go on one too. If my brother didn’t have to do dishes, then I shouldn’t have to do them either. When we were kids it made sense, and we applied that rule to EVERYTHING. As humans, we are always comparing, measuring, balancing, as if it is our responsibility, our personal obligation, to make sure he doesn’t have more than me, because if he does, it’s simply not fair and this world MUST be fair.

In some circumstances, this may be true, but what we often fail to recognize or consider is that what may be suitable for one is not always suitable for another. What may be good timing for one person may not be good timing for another. My sister went on several dates before I did. My brother never had to do the dishes. But it didn’t ruin my life. In fact, it made it better.

As we grew up, somehow the term “eye for an eye” was misinterpreted to assume that reciprocal justice had to be carried out by you (or another person, or some legal official) instead of leaving it to karma, or “God”, or whatever other beliefs are out there (I’m going to talk about divorce, because that’s what I’m really knowledgable about). Divorce cases with children typically end up losing the main focus (the best interest of the children) and result in two spouses fighting it out, sometimes for years, until they either both lose, or the more powerful feels they’ve adequately gotten “even” with the other person. The idea of “taking the high road” or “doing the right thing” has not even had the chance to become an option. Emotions are high, pride is on the line, and ego is at stake. The idea of revenge feels so much more pleasing than walking away and starting over. Why should I have to accept this? Look at all he’s done! He shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this! He must be punished!

The past few weeks I was blessed with the opportunity to challenge myself on several occasions in trusting this “karma”. Although tempted to manipulate the situation, I took the high road. In each moment, I took a risk, but knew that even if I lost, I would still have the resources I needed to make it through.

What happened, you may ask. Three things:

1) In signing the child custody papers, I was supposed to select 3 co-parenting therapists (a professional that helps two divorced parents peacefully parent a child). I found two extremely qualified Psychologists that I felt would be an excellent fit, and one other that was “meh”. Since I couldn’t find a third “amazing” Psychologist, I added the “meh” one but noted that she didn’t accept insurance (the other two did).  Since my ex is all about money, I assumed he wouldn’t pick one who doesn’t take insurance. As luck would have it, my ex chose the “meh” one and I immediately starting thinking of ways I could manipulate the situation so that we didn’t have to have her as our therapist. I reminded myself that these kind of tactics don’t work in the long run, and that I needed to trust the Universe, trust the process, trust karma, and accept the repercussion of my own decisions. One week later when we tried to schedule the “meh” therapist, she responds that she can’t take on any new clients, which left us with the two preferred therapists in the end. My ex ended up selecting the one I ultimately had my eye on.

2) Our child custody case has always been high-conflict. Our biggest problem was that my ex was a flight risk. He had threatened on several occasions to take my son away from me and move to Japan, or Vietnam, or Detroit. My attorney and I were able to put stipulations in place so that he couldn’t fly out of California without my permission, and I was to hold on to the passport and IDs, but Japan is still an infant when it comes to child custody and divorce issues. Even today, they have little to no regard for any US court orders in child custody cases. If my ex wanted to create a Japanese passport for my son and fly him out of the country, there is almost nothing I can do from preventing that, and once done, almost nothing I can do to bring him back to the US. That said, I did some research and found that I could petition to the Japanese Embassy and ask them to put a restriction on renewing/creating any passport for our son. The catch? When our son was born, my ex failed to name me on the Koseki Tohon (Family Registry) so the Embassy didn’t recognize me as my son’s mother, and told me that I had no authority to put such a restriction in place. I was doomed… I tried to think of ways I could manipulate the situation, and again, had to remind myself that “doing the right thing is ALWAYS the right thing”. After talking to my best friend in Japan I found out that there were other ways of going about it. After directly contacting the Ward in Japan, we resolved the case in less than a few days and they sent us the documents we needed to continue the process.

3) My ex had been out of the country and out of our lives for nearly all of my son’s life. It was only 2 years ago, when he found out I was seeing someone, that he asked for custody of my son.  Our litigation has taken that long. To make a long story short, the cause of the delay was basically unnecessary delay on his part and my allowing that to happen for too long (This is a topic I’ll address in a separate post about what you need to know when talking to your lawyer, and how to take the lead on your case). My ex delayed the case because he needed time to hide assets. The Financial Disclosures he did provide were incomplete and we didn’t know any better because they came to us in Japanese, which no one could read. After some translation (on my part) I found out that he was missing several months of salary and stock/bond options. When it came time to present our case to the Settlement Officer Conference (something we had to cancel 3 times prior because he “wasn’t ready”) they again, asked to post-pone. But this time, I was smart enough and decided to call them out on their bluff. I gave them the their Financial Disclosures and asked them to account for the missing salary and stock information, or to sign off on the orders immediately. I threatened that if they did not sign off on the orders, I would hire a forensic accountant and external attorney to discover assets with the intention of pursuing half. The document was signed the next day… Yeah, they got away with fraud, but I got closure to the custody issue. I didn’t get everything I wanted, but I got what I wanted most, which was peace from the hell of litigation.

What happens now is to keep reminding myself that good always triumphs. We cannot see, hear or feel the magic of this truth, but it is out there. I promise.

“Everything will be ok” does not equal “everything will go my way” but it most certainly means that you can trust God, the Universe, or whatever you want to call it, that doing the right thing, even if you don’t want to, will always be the right thing.

We live in a 3-dimensional world in which we define our reality as what we can see, hear, or physically feel, and given that our species is still so young, that doesn’t make us much different than gorillas, dogs, and fish. Our small minds are more reactive like our primal ancestors, and we fail to see the larger picture. But as scary as it is, it was precisely this restraint from primal reaction that allowed us to evolve as human beings, and I believe it is the nurturing of this restraint that will continue to push us towards further evolution (and possibly into a 5th dimension…but that’s for a different post). There’s a Confucius saying that I absolutely love:

“The ultimate revenge is living well and being happy. Hateful people can’t stand happy people. Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”- 
Confucius

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