Once Upon A Time

I know this woman, who recently went through a nasty child custody battle.  She was blindsided by her children’s father, who filed for full custody of the children and subsequently painted her a very bad mother.  I watched her deteriorate during those long days and months – and struggle to smile through her tears and the fear that kept her awake at night.  I felt powerless to help her – all I could offer was to remind her of faith, and remind her of who she always was, to never lose sight of herself. 

He called her a liar. He said she was trying to take the children from him.  He told her children that he didn’t want them living in her home.  He told the evaluating psychologist that she had been a drug addict, that she had emotional issues that required medication, that it was she who was the perpetrator of the domestic abuse, and – in a final blow after the evaluations were over – told the doctor that “given her prior abuse and neglect of the children,” he saw no other alternative but for him to be awarded full custody.  She read this statement in the actual evaluation report, after he had sat in the same room with her for the final review, where he had agreed that shared custody was best for the children.

Luckily, he didn’t win.  In the months that followed, she found that things began to settle down.  The girlfriend he’d had through the entire process, had moved out.  Then there was a new girlfriend, which ended so fast, she never even had a name.  He wanted to “work together” now, for the sake of the children.  There were no more attacks on her character, no more animosity from his camp, and very little communication beyond what was absolutely necessary.

This woman I know – she is happy and healthy again.  Mostly.  No one is perfect.  But, not long ago, the man who systematically tried to destroy her came to her with an appeal.  He apologized for being a bad husband, and all the mistakes he had made there.  He didn’t apologize for the custody suit.  He told her he needed her help, since the custody arrangement they spent thousands fighting over was going to be a hardship for him during the summer.  And, moreover, he wanted to share with her that he was dating someone new.  He’s in love.  The kids have met her.  He wants to marry her.   Turns out, she knows this other woman – however, casually, and from very long ago.

I thought she’d be stunned by this news, but she says nothing surprises her anymore.  She’s relieved it’s at least someone who she is sure is a good woman, who will be kind to her children.  But she was not without conflict, knowing the power she had to bury him.  In my opinion, she would be a better woman by keeping her distance, and saying nothing.  Not that I could ever blame her for a weakness to do otherwise.  Wish them well, and hope this is the last girlfriend her children will have to meet for a while.

I wonder though…who is this man – who destroyed her trust in him long, long ago – who is acting like this super nice guy – manipulating emotions to elicit her compassion, now that he so desperately needs it?  If he were stronger, would he think nothing of trying to take everything from her, again?  Who is this lovesick man – who shows women a softer side, who laughs, buys flowers, and goes places?  This man is a stranger.  He said he has changed.  Can anyone become the polar opposite of everything they once were? 

I say leopards never change their spots.

People don’t really change their attitude; they simply change their masks. ~ unknown

Someone told me that people change like the seasons, but I don’t believe it, there’s a big difference – seasons never change for personal interests. 
~ Senora Roy

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