Last night after one of my most treasured moments of the year, my daughters dance recital, they changed out of their sparkling costumes into comfortable clothes in the bathroom outside the auditorium. We walked to the car where they tossed their dance bags, worn costumes, tights, ballet slippers and jazz shoes then turned to hug and kiss each other goodbye. For a week.
They climbed into their dad’s car and waved as they drove off for a family vacation at the beach where we’ve summer vacationed for their whole lives. And I drove home alone.
For the next seven days, they will be a family on vacation, but without me, their mom, because we are divorced. There will be a mom and her two children and a dad and our two children and they will be a family on vacation.
I am feeling…….something. I don’t have a word for what I am feeling.
Weird? Strange? I don’t know. I just feel something.
The thing is I am not against this. I am happy that my daughters are having this time with their dad to bond, relax, enjoy each other’s company without the daily pressures and tensions that come with the hustle of life. I am happy they get to just be together. I feel mostly happy that their dad has chosen a partner that is kind, gentle and loving towards our children. She is sweet and calm. They enjoy her. They like being with her and her children. For this I am grateful. Very, very grateful. It could be worse. It could be horrible. She could be horrible.
But it’s not. It’s good. She’s good. I am lucky he chose her. We all are.
Last night as I closed my eyes on the end of the day my thought was….”I chose this.”
I asked for this divorce after 20 years of marriage, raising children and residing together. I’d lost hope in our relationship ever being what I needed it to be. There were issues that felt like they could not be overcome. I’d tried. I just couldn’t endure it any longer. My heart finally closed and the marriage could not be saved.
Coming to that decision I never envisioned this week happening. I never thought about it at all. As the separation and divorce proceeded I didn’t ponder moments like this or what it would feel like to spend whole weekends without them, shuttling bags of clothes to and fro, kissing them goodbye for a week to go to Hawaii for their uncles wedding or a week in San Diego to celebrate the woman who was my mother in law, a family I was part of for 20 years, without me. I didn’t think about how it would feel somewhere down the line when my children would be a family on vacation, but without me. Another woman as mother.
But it happens. It’s happening right now and I feel……..something, unable to name.
As the separation and divorce proceeded, we tried to make it as gentle on our children as we possibly could by being kind to each other, respectful, and united as parents, no matter what. We even went to counseling at the beginning to try to ease the tension and open up communication. Something we never did when we were married. We were all suffering. We wanted our children to suffer less. Add to the divorce a five year run of emotional adversity, that caused more suffering, chaos, confusion, and pain, our son’s two closest friends died two years apart in car accidents, our daughter’s best friend had a two year battle with brain cancer, both of my parents died 3 months apart, we battled a raging addiction to prescription drugs with one of our children. We are battle worn. We just want peace for ourselves and our children. Ease. Gentle. Calm.
Our kids didn’t choose to get divorced. They didn’t expect it and they didn’t deserve to be subjected to more pain because we couldn’t be peaceful. I figure this is just the beginning of how its going to be. They have a lifetime of special moments coming down the pike. Graduations, Weddings, Babies. A lifetime of Birthdays, Christmas’s and Thanksgivings to celebrate and they don’t deserve to suffer those worrying or stressing about how their mom and dad are going to treat each other on their special days. We are always going to be connected as parents of these children. The best gift we can give them in this situation is our peace.
In the grand scheme of things, having a good relationship with a woman who could potentially be my children’s step mom is important to me for the reasons stated above. We have a lifetime of special moments coming down the pike, a lifetime of holidays and celebration and I don’t want a single one to be tainted when they can be joyful, loving, peaceful and connected.
I refuse to sacrifice my own enjoyment of these moments with bitterness.
This morning I am feeling……something.
My children are on vacation. Like a family, but without me.
All I can think is…..”I chose this but I don’t regret it.”
I hope they have fun. I hope their relationship with their dad deepens, grows and cements the way girls need their dads to be for them. In the way that makes them feel loved and connected.
And I am grateful he chose who he chose for a partner and she is who she is and they like her.
Even if she isn’t me.
Feeling something, unable to name,
Last night sitting in my second class of yoga teacher training the instructors opened the class with a “clear the air” moment. One minute to tell the person sitting next to you what transpired in your day and “clear your air” so that we could be present for the next three hours of our training.
“I feel angry.” I say. An unusual proclamation for the yoga environment and probably too big for someone I’ve only just met. Equally unusual for me to confess to being angry. I don’t do anger. I do peace, love, happiness. I’ve been called “happy, happy, joy, joy.” and “Pollyana.” I always look for the best in people, in situations, in all things. I just don’t do angry. There’s been too much of that in other people in my life, so I’ve never been “angry.”
Today, I’ve been asking myself, “what did Mother Teresa do when she was angry?”
I am unfamiliar with expressing anger but I am feeling very angry.
“I have fury that I don’t know what to do with.” I said.
I don’t know where to put my fury. It’s around an issue that’s been ongoing my entire life. A pattern I am actively working on breaking in my family. The pattern is now revealing itself in someone I love and my anger is triggered and rising to the surface and I am afraid to express it because I am afraid I will hurt someone. I’ve always held the anger in, pushed it down, switched it off because I am afraid it will hurt someone, or make them use drugs or drink too much, or worse it will make them not love me.
Today, right now, I am inflamed and the anger is demanding release. My body refuses to hold it the way it has for my entire life any longer. I am suffering physical pain. I am losing weight. My body is angry and so is my heart. I want to scream. I want to rage. This is not something I typically do. Scream or rage. I don’t yell at my kids or my dog. I don’t get mad at strangers or people in cars in front of me. I don’t throw things or tantrums. I am silent with my anger. Kept in check. Contained.
“Smash things, write it out, scream into a pillow,” say the few people who I confide in.
“That isn’t going to work today,” I say.
“How about yoga? That is the perfect place to calm your anger. ”
“My anger doesn’t want to be calmed.” I say. It’s always been calmed, held.
My anger wants to be heard. Seen. Witnessed.
Expressed with force.
I am angry with addiction. I am angry with obliviousness. I am angry with emotional neglect. I am angry with selfishness. I am angry with recklessness. I am angry with entitlement. I am angry with silence. I am angry with suffering. I am angry with what family members endure in the realm of addiction. I am angry with high alert. I am angry with separateness and disconnection. I am angry that they can’t see what it’s doing our souls, our children’s souls, my friends souls, the souls of the women who call me in the night and cry, who write to me with what they are suffering at the hands of people with untreated addiction. I am angry that I feel the way I feel. I am angry that I am angry.
STOP IT. I want to scream. PLEASE STOP IT. It hurts. It hurts too much. It’s cruel and unusual punishment.
WE CAN NOT BEAR IT. They can not bear it. Please stop it.
Look. SEE. See what is happening here. Please SEE the suffering this is causing
and STOP IT.
I am furious.
There are people that embody these feelings that I could unleash this anger on, but I won’t.
I don’t want to hurt anyone with my anger. I don’t feel like anyone could handle it.
What’s a peace loving, open hearted, tender, furious woman to do with her anger?
Somebody. Please.Tell me.
Family Recovery Advocate
I serve women seeking healing and transformation.
I serve people who have been impacted by addiction recover their lives.