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As I passed through the metal detectors at the courthouse, my body contracted.
The ding of the elevator as hollow as my heart, I stepped on and was whisked upstairs to submit my legal request for child support. My stomach dropped as fast as the high-speed elevator.
I stepped up to the wicket and handed over a stack of papers the vertical height of my hand. Although freed from the physical weight of the stack of documents in my bag, the sensation of lead in my stomach remained intact as the clerk’s stamp thumped down on the papers.
The documents were now out of my hands, but the cling of financial desperation was not. I was awash with fear, anger, sadness, guilt, shame, and loathing that I couldn’t shake, even on my way back to the ground floor.
Nobody really wants to force someone else to do what’s right.
If we find ourselves single or lone parenting, we can become nearly relentlessly consumed with the pursuit of child support, thanks to a perceived need for financial assistance, but also a desire for justice, a need for retribution, and a sense of enforcing what we deem to be “right” for our kid(s).
This matter is often at the forefront of our time and energy output, sometimes for close to two decades.
It can eat at our time, energy, enthusiasm, heart, motivation, mood, and emotion. And it almost never feels good.
We need to put a stop to it.
If the biological co-contributor of our child(ren) is not paying child support and doesn’t want to: f*ck it. We need to move on and make our own money, live our own lives, and follow our own dreams.
We need to stop fighting for payments and start fighting for living a life we love.
It’s time to quit emotionally piddling our life away on court orders and maintenance requests from someone who doesn’t want to pay us.
Instead, this is our greatest opportunity to restart and rewrite our lives, believe in ourselves, fulfill our highest capacities, and bring our biggest dreams to life.
We are afforded the chance to live up to our own potential rather than relying on the financial potential of what could have been, had we maintained our relationship, or what “should” be now that we have ended it.
We are gifted with the opportunity to overcome the stigma surrounding “single parenting” and rise to the challenge of being larger, not smaller, than we were before becoming a parent.
Because absolutely nobody’s best life is spent chasing maintenance fees.
It’s not only possible, but it’s also the path I chose.
By the time the court returned my documents to me, I couldn’t help but notice a request for further documentation along with a denial of paternity: one of the court-provided options by way of a checkbox. The court offered three options, and the other party took it as an easy “out.”
I rolled my eyes.
There was no question of paternity, and we both knew it.
My body was overcome once again with feelings of contraction and tightness. This time, though, I said, “f*ck it,” and shredded the paperwork.
I had already moved on. I’d spent a year beautifully and carefully decorating my own apartment and the same year mindfully curating and opening a business. I was chasing my passions and relying on my professional capabilities and competence to support myself and my child.
I did this with a grand sum total of $0 from anyone else. With the underlying message behind the checkmarks on the legal documents, which I read as “I don’t want to pay,” I knew I would have to engage in additional legalities to force the other party to.
I made a choice to continue directing my energy in the direction that it was already going.
I intentionally decided to focus on what I wanted, instead of focusing on what I wanted someone else to do for me.
And with my choice to shred the paperwork came an expansion in my chest, rather than the contractive sensations I’d had at the courthouse.
If we aren’t willingly receiving payment, we need to heavily consider doing the same.
We can cut the ties to the time and emotions around the child support chase, eliminating ourselves from the toxic battles over accumulated unpaid back payments, and putting a stop to the resentment, anger, and injustice.
We can align our energy to the direction of success and recognize that we neither need nor want money from someone who resents or resists providing for their child(ren).
Many of us get stuck in issues of fairness and justice: a feeling that the other party “should” pay.
Is it “fair” if our biological co-contributors walk away and leave us to raise children without their financial support? No.
Oh f*cking well.
Carrying an emotional backlog is toxic. Getting money from someone who doesn’t want involvement does not fill the emotional void or build a sense of competence or happiness. Process the feelings fully and let them go.
If the other party is not willingly going to pay us, we can reinvest the energy we are tempted to direct toward resentment, anger, righteousness, justice, or abandonment, and instead relentlessly reinvest it toward hobbies we enjoy, connections we love, and careers that invigorate us.
This emotional refocus paves the way to financially offer ourselves enough income to fulfill our immediate priorities plus protect our future by way of savings, retirement, and education funds.
If you’re a child-bearing person:
>> We have the possibilities that our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers didn’t have access to, and we can grant ourselves the ability to use them. We need to invest in our education, careers, and dreams, no matter what—even if we have to start over, start from behind, or challenge ourselves with something that seems impossible.
If the other party is a biological co-contributor:
>> Women today are professionally competent, extremely educated, and afforded endless opportunities. Although we don’t have 100 percent financial parity in the workforce, it’s close enough that any one of us can work out a pathway to be financially competent with nearly as much effort as our male counterparts.
>> We need to examine our beliefs that it is a man’s role to “provide,” and consider why we do not demand the same of ourselves, should we find ourselves in the position of parenting with a financial deadbeat.
No matter what our gender is or what our situation is:
>> It’s as energetically more demanding to force someone to pay us when they don’t want to as it is to invest in doing the work for ourselves.
>> We need to find our professional love, be it writing, photography, or an entrepreneurial business passion. We need to follow our hearts and souls and find our right livelihood(s)—something we are good at, pays us a living wage, and represents doing what we love.
>> We need to expand our capacities rather than shrinking them: we get to emotionally rewrite our vision of life and pursue the positive.
>> We are able to cut the financial ties with our past and invest in energetically supporting our future. We can pour our physical time and emotional energy into creating our new life, following our dreams, and emotionally connecting with our child(ren) and community.
>> We get to become our own success story, not the byproduct of someone else’s, earning a percentage of their income. We get 100 percent of our own.
Many of us fight to hang onto what was rather than embracing what is or could be.
We want to replicate our old lives, but this is an opportunity to envision a different way of living.
I live in an apartment with my child instead of a home. We have loads of time versus a homeowner, as I don’t need to shovel or maintain the lawn or walls. That frees us to participate in downtown living, absorbing the culture and community around us.
My child doesn’t have a second parent, so instead engages in a formal community mentorship program, which provides an alloparent and a perspective outside of my own.
I decided vacations were a priority, and I got creative and figured out that I could do a work-travel trade to pay for them. These memories will last a lifetime.
My child decided to eat food from every country in the world, a project that will keep us busy every weekend for the rest of our lives. We have enough money to pay for everything we need.
Being financially abundant without child support is possible if we trust in ourselves and dedicate our energy to expecting from ourselves what we demand of others.
We need to stop giving fights for child maintenance our energy.
We can’t control other people’s choices, even if we disagree with them. Give someone else the space to live their life and soak in the consequences of their own choices. We don’t need to parent our former partners. Why fight someone to do something they don’t want to do?
Our old life is gone. It’s time to forge our new one.
F*ck the child support.