I’m sitting in the stifling hot room, the tension surrounding the adults so thick and heavy you can practically see it. It is a place to whisper. I look at my ex-husband with hatred and fear. His girlfriend next to him acting nonchalant, reading a magazine, engaging in conversation with the children. My children. The room is small, a waiting room filled with pleasant pictures and vases – as if it were a normal room in a Doctor’s surgery. This is no Doctor’s surgery though. It is the psychologist’s rooms. There are magazines and flowers but no music. The silence is punctuated only by the girlfriend or the kids. I sit at an angle to the girlfriend so I can study her unobserved. I look her up and down and watch her closely, this is the first chance I have had to really study this creature. The one who hates me so much but has never met me.
The psychologist comes out and calls my name. ‘Can you come in now please.’ The dreaded interview is about to begin. I have to explain to a complete stranger why we are having this family report done, that the documents my ex-husband has sent the court are a complete fabrication and that I am not stopping the children from spending time with their father.
I sit on the edge of the red comfy chair, the coffee table between us, a box of tissues the only thing on the top. The tissues must be used a lot. I hope I don’t have to use them. The room is cooler than the waiting room, the window open, the noise of the traffic filtering in. The tension is no less. I can’t relax, however comfy the chair. At least here I am not in front of the prying eyes of the ex and his girlfriend sitting outside. I have to talk quietly, the walls between them and me are only glass. I don’t want them to hear what I have to say.
It’s not long until I have to use those dam tissues – I wanted to remain calm and I really tried. But the first thing she told me is that the children are suffering from the conflict between their father and myself. This doesn’t come as a surprise, but to hear it from a complete stranger who has talked to my children for only ten minutes is like a punch in my stomach. I feel sick. I never wanted this for my children, I tried so hard to make it work. The tears start flowing and I reach for the tissues. I don’t want to hear what she has to tell me but I have no choice. We all have to endure this day – the court has ordered it. I have to keep going, wishing I was back out in that awful waiting room with two people who hate me, rather than in this room where I am now in the spotlight.
I take a deep breath and start talking.