I have a file on my computer. It is getting filled up with angry/sad letters to J. He will never receive these letters but sometimes it is therapeutic to pretend I am able to give him a verbal smack upside the head. I would actually do it if I thought it would do any good, but I am trying to be done doing him good. I tried my best. Now I am trying to focus on doing me and my children good. Tonight I wrote a letter that started out angry and ended up sad. Addressing him in such strong terms (even in letters he will never see) still feels strange because we were not a couple that fought. Aside from the small spats and disagreements, I don't ever recall yelling at him until the day he made the decision to leave his family behind. Most of these letters contain pretty much what I said to him that day with a few additions. Some things bear repeating, I guess. Yes, I cussed more than once and the letter included an awful lot of "why's?" because try as I might, I still am struggling to figure out how I got here and why it has to be like this. For the majority of my marriage, I would have bet my oldest child that my husband would not leave us no matter what mistakes were made. I trusted a little too blindly. I still feel like I am in shock every morning when I wake up. Slowly throughout the day, I get a little more accustomed to the idea if not accepting of it and I rarely go to bed without a burdened soul. It's like having your heart break every day all over again. I am really anxious for the day that doesn't happen.
It seems like there is always something to get through. The Christmas season is something I don't ever want to think about again, January had a few pitfalls, and I have been dreading Valentine's day weekend with all my heart for months. Every year for the last 9 years, (with the exception of last year) J has given me roses. I will miss them this year. I will miss the giver even more.
Tonight found me sitting on the kitchen floor in tears (don't stress mom and dad. I'm ok, just grieving. I'm told I am supposed to :-) Every few days, things catch up to me and I just need to stop in my tracks and cry. Last week was Junior's birthday and it happened to fall on a J visitation day. I had suggested a week or two before that we do something together with him so we could both enjoy his day and so he wouldn't have to worry about us (which he does. I overrode my own grievances and had J join us for both Halloween and Christmas Day so the boys could share it with him and Junior often references how cool it was to have dad "in our house" on those days). Needless to say, the day came, J threw a party for him and 'mom' was not invited. Having dropped Junior off at school that morning at 8:30, I did not get to see him on his big day until 9 p.m. I will admit I miss J, but I am not dying to be around him since it's fairly humiliating for me. But I was disappointed to miss Junior's entire birthday. It was even more depressing to remember that none of this was my choice or the kids choice but we get to be the ones who suffer. My son didn't get to see his mom on his birthday. My oldest is 6 and my youngest is 8 months old. It will be this way for the next 17 years and 4 months.
And I have absolutely no control over that.
I only get to control how I act and sometimes it is the hardest thing to override what I want to do or what would feel satisfying (i.e. excluding J from seeing the kids on "my" holidays). My standard is what the kids need and right now they need to see their dad as much as possible to be able to feel secure. I still feel like even if we are now separate units, they need to know that we are united for them. I will continue to do that. But I am not going to pretend that it is not hard and I am not going to pretend that it doesn't really hurt when that intention is not reciprocated. I still haven't reconciled that the one who once loved me most is now doing the exact opposite. I haven't reconciled that my children don't have a father who put them first. For some reason, I want to continue to believe that he is just going through a selfish phase. Every day is a little more disillusioning.
I spent the day helping a friend whose 18 month old (girl/boy) twins were admitted to the hospital with respiratory problems. Considering this friend has devoted almost as much time to me as her own children over the last 6 months, I was absolutely thrilled to be of service to her (and I just so happened to have a kid free day!) Both babies know me pretty well by now and although I wasn't as good as mom, each let me cuddle and love on them while the other one was getting poked and prodded (they had a really rough day). When their dad made it to the hospital, little Gracey lit up and lunged for her daddy. She put her tired head on his shoulder and relaxed in a way I hadn't seen her do yet. She is a daddy's girl and I am always touched when I see her relationship with him. However, it always inevitably follows that I am sad for my own little girl. J loves her. It's obvious when he looks at her. She will love him, but she will never run to meet him at the door after work like the boys always did. She will run to open the door to him twice a week and every other weekend. He will not be there to intimidate her Prom date or take her on impromptu daddy/daughter dates or tuck her in at night or be a constant example in her life. Someone else might be doing those things for her by then, but not her dad. He has chosen to view her growing up and the boys growing up with a limit even though I know he loves them. It hurts that that is acceptable. It will never feel acceptable to me. And it still doesn't make sense.
So, tonight was a night that I held it in until the kids were asleep. Then I cried. Then I wrote a strongly worded letter to J telling him (again) just how all this makes me feel and put it in the file. And I felt a little better. Not a lot, but at least I was done crying for the night. My therapist references my grieving process often. I know I have a ways to go. I know this because I have not even gotten to the point where I can imagine living without this pain or where I can imagine that living without J will not be painful. Part of me is scared to be without it because having the pain be gone means I have to accept that the life I have been building for the last decade, and that I wanted so much, is over and done. My children's one shot at a united family would be gone. The only man I have ever fallen in love with, my best friend and a huge part of my past, will be really, truly gone. A quarter of my life will have led to this (and being honest? I am not a huge fan of this life.) I will have to accept that at least for awhile, I am financially dependent on a man who no longer loves me and who will only consider me a financial burden. It's humiliating even if it is right and necessary. I have to accept that I now share my children with a man I don't know anymore and that for the rest of their childhoods, it will be this back and forth schedule that I hate. It's a lot to let go of and a lot to accept.
So, for today, I am back on my feet. I carry the grief of all these things we are losing every day but it doesn't always overwhelm me. Some days, some weeks, some minutes are worse than others. One foot in front of the other and one day at a time has never felt more uphill. But I am trying to keep space in my heart for the hope of gaining something back for us. Something I can't even see right now. I trust that God compensates. I really do. But I am not done grieving. Letting go is not a simple as it may seem even when someone has hurt you. There are a lot of gray areas of compartmentalize. There has definitely been some bad in my marriage, but if there also wasn't a lot of good, this wouldn't be so difficult. If there wasn't so much good too, I never would have believed that we would have a shot to fix things. I will never believe that this marriage could not have been saved with work. But again, it was not my choice. The letters I write will not go anywhere. Ever. That's a good thing (if I may say so, you do not ever want to get an angry letter from me. I'm pretty good at them. A talent I never knew I had :-) But it helps to say it even if he doesn't hear it.