September 15, 2010
Turn About Is Fair Play: How I Came to Never Judge My Clients
An old client recently pointed out to me that I write about my clients in my blog. Now that may not sound like a thought I should need brought to my attention—but the impact she experienced thinking I had written about her, triggered a realization for me that it’s true: I write about other people, my clients, in my blog.
So with this post I offer a bit of payback to all the past and future clients who I will write about over my career. I offer a few moments from my own divorce, which occurred about eight years ago.
- My ex-husband, we’ll call him Bob, drove up to my new house to give me the signed title to my car. He didn’t get out of his car so I stood in the street talking to him through his driver-side window. He signed the title, and handed it to me, and I asked him to also sign a form I had with me giving me the secondary insurance policy that came with the car, as I needed his signature to make a claim. He said no, our attorneys had only instructed him to sign the title, so that was all he was going to do. And then he started to drive away. I needed to make the claim so badly, and couldn’t believe he’d not sign the form, so instinctually I reached into his car to grab the steering wheel while asking him to stop and please sign it. In a split second I realized we were about to go all Jerry Springer—I was half inside and half outside of a moving vehicle. I let go, ending up in the middle of my street shaking my fist and swearing at his receding car.
- Another time, my attorney called me to give me some news I didn’t want to hear. I have no memory of what she called to tell me, but I do remember raising my voice to actually yell at her—yell at her a lot—in response to the news, just spewing out my frustration at her over the phone. All I can say is: in that moment, apparently, I was mistaking my attorney for Bob.
- Bob has two beautiful children from his first marriage. Months after our separation, Bob agreed to let me to see the kids once, at a restaurant with him. The situation dictated we all go through the motions of a normal dinner, but in such extreme circumstances, the evening was surreal at best and torturous at worst. As I drove home from that dinner, with my heart breaking, I screamed and screamed and screamed as I drove—at the top of my lungs. It was the only thing I could do to alleviate the pain of having to bottle up all that grief, all that love, for my step-children throughout the evening, so I could make it through the motions of a normal dinner and support the kids to do the same.
And the messages that I hope you take from these moments in my life are: 1) divorce makes most people act a bit crazy once in a while, so try not to judge yourself or others going through the process harshly; and 2) as a mediator, I never judge my clients—the ones I write about and the ones I don’t—because I can empathize with just about any response a client might have to the highly-charged moments of the divorce process. Why? I’ve been there.