Book Excerpt: 'A Promise to Ourselves'

The following excerpt of Alec Baldwin's book, "A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey Through Fatherhood and Divorce," which was provided to ABC News by the publisher, St. Martin's Press.

Watch Diane Sawyer's interview with Alec Baldwin Friday on "20/20" at 10 p.m. ET

I never wanted to write this book. Although my experiences with judges, lawyers and court ordered therapists during my own high conflict divorce proceedings left me outraged over the injustices I believe are endemic to the family law system in our society, I had no desire to revisit them.

The pain I suffered, the fear of and anger I felt toward nearly all of the principals involved and the inescapable sense of helplessness and isolation exhausted me. However, to live inside of the divorce matrix, to be engaged in that battle, ultimately means to be poised to tell your story, to make your point, to argue your side at a moment's notice. It is a fire that is constantly burning.

These feelings moved me to share my own experiences with nearly any kindred spirit who broached the subject. In restaurants, ticket lines, airplanes, men's locker rooms, wherever I might be, when that particular conversation started, the facts of my own case would spill out in a torrent. Other times I would sit and listen for hours, grateful for the opportunity to allow someone else to unburden themselves. I could never tell my story urgently enough, and I never tired of the subject of divorce's iniquities. I believed that a book on the subject would write itself.

Eventually, that would change. The passion I had for this issue dried up. The ideas and stories, once so fresh in my mind that I thought they would pour out of me and onto the page like a Pollock painting, began to fade. For three years I had told my story, each recitation as fresh as the first.

But, any normal human being has a limited capacity for ongoing conflict, and I believed I had reached mine. I have heard people use words like "spent" and "hollowed out" to describe the ultimate result of protracted divorce litigation. Sadly, I have learned that little of this is hyperbole. Divorce litigation becomes like the island of Dr. Moreau in H.G. Wells' novel. The abused and horrified litigants want to row their boat away from that island at any cost. I was no different.

I wanted nothing more than to put this entire experience behind me and get on with my life. I had grown weary of writing this book, until I would meet another man who had suffered the same way I had. Suddenly, the old passion to address these issues would return.

Divorce litigation is a unique phenomenon in our culture. When someone is sick, our society usually offers some means of care. Often, that care extends to their families, as well. The sick individual reaches out to professionals who arrive with their skills and training at the ready, prepared to solve the problem.

When illness afflicts a marriage however, the professionals who arrive on the scene often are there to prolong the bleeding, not stop it. To be pulled into the American family law system in most states is like being tied to the back of a pickup truck and dragged down a gravel road late at night. No one can hear your cries and complaints, and it is not over until they say it is over.

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