Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Examining my point of view

In my last blog I wrote about the tricky topic of forgiveness. It’s funny how everyone looks at forgiveness differently.

Someone commented to me that they find others aren’t as quick to give them forgiveness. Someone else told me that they don’t feel the need to forgive someone they have no use for any more.

I made the comment that just because I forgive someone it doesn’t mean I want to have a relationship with them.

I think it shows we all have different ideas about forgiveness and what we expect from other people. Point of view seems to add to the trickiness of forgiveness.

Some people don’t feel like people forgive them, but maybe people are just tired of their crap and even if they do forgive, they don’t want to be subject to any more abuse?

Some people refuse to give forgiveness because they feel it make them look weak, but others could care less because they don’t want to have a relationship with the person anyway.

Who knows?

I’ve been reading an old journal I kept when I first started the divorce process with the ex from August 2009.

I wrote about how I was dumbfounded that he would call me on the phone, angry with me that I was filing for divorce. He said things like “I don’t deserve this” and tried to convince me I was overreacting—“You don’t have to do this,” he said
He continued to bring up a topic he brought up a lot with me—I never forgive him, I hold on to anger and never let things go.

That was his point of view and there was just enough truth in that statement to make second guess myself.

Technically speaking, I didn’t HAVE to follow through on the divorce. I didn’t HAVE to walk away from a 17-year relationship.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I didn’t follow through. There were plenty of times I second guessed myself and I got weak. 
There were many times when just filling out the paperwork in the attorney’s office was too much to complete.

When it came down to it, we were just two different points of view. He was of the mindset that things would be okay and that it was a waste of time to get a divorce. He was of the mindset that I should just forgive him and that everything would work itself out.

I was of the mindset that I could not waste another second of my life with a man who was fake—a man who only cared about his own wants and needs, a man who acted pious but was living a secret life and deceiving the woman who trusted him more than anyone else in the world, a man who was hurting his children by making their mommy a very sad person, a man who was hurting people who cared about our little family and hated seeing us miserable.

Sure, he said he was sorry. I have forgiven him.

But that doesn’t mean I want to be friends. It doesn’t mean that I’m not allowed to be mad sometimes.

It also means my tolerance for other people’s shenanigans and drama is very limited. Life is too short to put up with other people’s problems—especially when they live with the point of view that they are not the ones with the problem.

When I decided to go through with the divorce, my former brother-in-law called me to see if I would change my mind. He desperately wanted to help us reconcile. I appreciated his effort.

I explained that I had spent six months working on things and saw that the ex was never going to change his behavior. Not only was he not going to change, but he acted like everything was my fault.
I told him that I finally realized that God did not create me and give me life so I could live like that. Not only did I not deserve to live that way, but no one deserves to live that way.

No one deserves to be miserable.
But it’s not up to other people to make you happy either. You have to find it and sometimes it’s really hard.

Sometimes it means you have walk away from toxic relationships. Sometimes it means you have to look in the mirror and change your point of view. Sometimes it means you have to accept that you are the asshole in a relationship and sometimes it means you have to be the asshole and end an abusive relationship.

I think one of the hardest parts of walking away from my former life was accepting the fact that once I walked away, there was no turning back. That old life would be gone. And even more frightening was the fact that I would have no one else to blame for anther failed shot at life except for myself.

But nothing in life that is worth having and fighting for is easy. It’s really hard.
Not knowing if I would have to live the rest of my life alone was hard. Being away from my children these past weeks has been hard. Starting over financially was hard. Trying to restart my career at 39 is hard.

It’s humbling, it’s frustrating, it’s exhausting…

But walking away and cutting those ties is also exciting because you get the chance to do things again—do them better, make things better, make life better, make yourself better, make relationships better.

And no matter what your point of view is, when life is better, you know you are doing what is right and living life the way God meant for you to live it.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

God, grant me the serenity ...

I’ve made it through the first week of the children being away at their father’s house—well, almost, 6 p.m. is technically one week.

I’ve never been away from them this long. They’ve never been away from me this long.

It’s tough. I wake up every morning, realize they are still gone and wonder if they are okay.

There were times when I was kid and my parents went out of town and left us with people. Sometimes it was strangers and most times it was my grandparents who lived in Seguin.

For the most part, we liked going to the house in Seguin. It was a huge home out in the country that had a trampoline (luckily we remembered where the holes were and where to jump) and sometimes it had a pool. But it always had lots of space to explore and it was always an adventure.

After a while, it was obvious my grandparents were tired of us and were irritated with my parents for not coming sooner to retrieve us.

But we were children and that also meant that our feelings were less important than adults—at least that was the way I grew up.

Instead of staying in the large house, we stayed in the “guest house.”

The guest house was really a small one-room trailer that didn’t have air conditioning for the first few years. Did I mention how hot south Texas gets in the summer?

It was also infested with mice, roaches and scorpions that would run across our legs at night time and wake us up.

But we had each other. I’m not sure what life would have been like if it had not been for my sister Amy and my brother David. Luke came around later and wasn’t subject to those “vacations” at people’s homes—mostly because we were able to stay home alone and could watch Luke while my parents were out of town.

It makes me feel comfort to know my children at least have each other while they are gone, but still it’s tough. It still sucks to be homesick.

Someone mentioned that I should have mentioned “forgiveness” in my last blog when I wrote about the unfairness of share custody.

It’s true on some levels, but for me forgiveness has been a tricky topic.

I think we are all programed to believe that we have to forgive people who have wronged us in order to move on and have healthy lives.

I know I believed that if I could just forgive my ex then everything would fall into place for me and we could all live happily ever after.

That is partly true.

You can forgive someone for something really bad and move on. I did.

I have forgiven my ex for causing us to have a divorce. I’m grateful every day that I was given the chance to get out of that doomed marriage and have the chance to have a normal and healthy marriage. It’s obvious now that he and I weren’t meant to be together forever, so I can easily forgive him for that.

I’m glad that the divorce led me to counseling where I had the chance to dig deep into my childhood and open my eyes to the fact that I had some serious issues that I needed to deal with in order to have normal, healthy relationships.

But forgiveness is something you have to do over and over again when you have to constantly deal with someone who is destructive, deceptive and hard to get along with.

It’s hard for me to constantly forgive over and over again, especially when I see my children sad.

My parents are reflective and humble enough to admit that leaving us with strangers and with grandparents who were not the best caregivers in the world was a mistake. They have apologized.
I forgive them.

It’s easy to forgive something like that—especially when the apology is sincere.

But if my parents continued to be destructive to me and my children, then that would bring in another level of me being angry with them. It would take me back to the times in my childhood when I needed them to protect us and they didn’t.

See, it’s hard to be truly forgiving and all “light” and “love” when someone says “sorry” out of one side of his mouth and then does the same old shit again and again.

So, yes, forgiveness is very important, but sometimes it comes down to finding forgiveness for yourself rather than others and sometimes we fail to see the difference or understand why we need to forgive ourselves.

I’m working to forgive myself for putting my children in this situation. Some days are easier than others.  It’s hard not to feel constant guilt when you are a parent—that’s how good parents are wired.

But guilt is a dangerous feeling that can force you to do things that are not healthy or make you feel so bad about yourself, you find yourself in a deep depression.

So, enough with the guilt already.  I’ll work on the forgiveness.  

And for the next week, I’m going to continue to stay as busy as possible and pray everything works out the way it was meant to be.

And when things get tough, I will continue to tell myself a simple prayer that has gotten me through a lot of the guilt that comes with divorce/co-parenting:
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Time limit on sadness

Yesterday was my son’s birthday. Hard to believe he’s 10 years old.

I love my children’s birthdays. I always crawl in bed with them on the morning of their birthday so I can make sure I’m the first person to tell them Happy Birthday. I hold them and tell them the story about the day they were born.

Even my usually cranky teenager still looks forward to our morning snuggle and hearing about how my doctor was dressed as Santa for the hospital Christmas party and freaked me out when he came into my room to check on me the day after she was born.

Then I let them eat birthday cake for breakfast, or if they want, I make them pancakes with whipped cream. They get hot chocolate or a milkshake.

But I didn’t get to do that with Jude yesterday. I didn’t get to have my son in my home on his birthday. He was with the ex.

It was hard getting out of the bed yesterday morning, but I forced myself up and took a deep breath. I went running and got ready for work. I tried to stay as busy as possible at work and stay positive. I got through the day with only crying a little bit twice and I worked so quickly, I was completely done with all my work by 2:00.

As soon as the clock hit 3:20, I ran to my car so I could get to see my children from 4-6.
Why 4-6? Because that’s what the court says I can do. If the kids are with the ex on their birthday, I get to see my children from 4-6. Two hours.

Two freaking hours. Two stupid hours! AHHH!

I’ve ranted before that it makes me angry that the court can dictate when I get to see my children in this stupid shared custody arrangement. Why does it make me angry? Because I can’t believe I live in a world where a stranger can make decisions for the children I gave birth to.

And why does a stranger get to make these decisions for me? Because I made a mistake.

I made a big mistake. I trusted someone who lied to me and now I have a stupid shared custody agreement that made me go without my children on Thanksgiving, Christmas morning, and now my son’s birthday.

But I’m not the only person in the world who has to deal with this crap so I’m not going to go on and on about it. It’s not healthy to focus on the bad all the time.

Moving on means you have to change your way of thinking. I’ve been focused on that a lot lately. Of course moving on means you still get to cry sometimes and you still get angry—but you have to set a time limit for being angry and force yourself to find that happy place.

I had to change the way I was doing things. Fighting against the system and obsessing about it was literally killing me.

In the end, I know I will always have something special with my children that other people will never get to have and we’ll make it through this.

I mentioned in my last blog that I had to go back to counseling for a few sessions to get my feet grounded again. It didn’t take much “talking” to realize I had to change the way I was thinking because what I was doing was not working for me.

When I have a negative thought, I have to replace it with something positive. So when I wake up sad because I don’t have my little guy to snuggle with, I have to throw on the running shoes, find a playlist that reminds me of a time that was really happy for me and  turn it up and focus on what I can do for the day to make me happier.

When I’m tired of a quiet house, I have to get out and do something fun. I’m starting my Christmas shopping. I’m putting together scrapbooks I’ve wanted to do for years but never got around to doing.

I’m making plans with my husband to do things we can’t do with the children or to go places we’ve always wanted to go. I’m writing projects that I’ve been putting off. I even have a trip to Texas planned.

I’m doing anything I can think of that is positive, things that tap into that happy place.

That way, when I see things that remind me of the children that I will miss for the next few weeks, I can give myself a minute to cry or be sad or mad. And then it’s time to dust my hands off and say, “okay, that’s enough of that, now let’s do something fun.”

I'm lucky. I have a husband that loves me and goes out of his way to make me laugh and smile even though his heart is breaking over the children, too. Some days I have to cheer him up, but most days he reminds me that I have to shake off the sadness and so something that makes me smile. 

Life is too short to sit around shell-shocked over things you cannot control or people who are unpredictable and hurtful. Life is for the living and I’m going to live it the way it was meant to be lived.