I realized last night that next month will be a year since the final mediation to solidify the divorce decree.
It has been...a really long year, and I haven't written much about it beyond kid stuff. Mostly because I just have not been able to find the words. I cannot adequately describe how devastating it feels to attend your own divorce mediation two days before Christmas and sign that paper knowing it is the end.
The very end of the family that was your greatest treasure and that your best efforts couldn't save. I couldn't bring myself to relive just how it felt to drive home while pulling over multiple times to cry, knowing that the person who caused it all is likely celebrating. I would love to forget how it felt to want nothing more than to crawl into bed and disappear forever, but instead force myself to brave the holiday crowds because Santa still needed stocking stuffers. Writing wasn't an option because it took all my energy to face another Christmas (the second of many) as a single mom, keep up the usual traditions and show a happy face to my kids. I learned the hard way that even if you think you are prepared for something, the reality can still hit you like a freight train when it actually happens.
There have been no words to illustrate how it really feels to get the news that the divorce is finalized and then get the text (yes, a text) a week later that your barely-ex husband has officially made his long time mistress the stepmother of your children. The feelings of betrayal and humiliation connected to that are endless and overwhelming and (unfortunately) still constant. There is nothing I have ever experienced that is harder than handing my kids over every week to spend time with the woman who was a sneaky third wheel during my pregnancies with all three. Having her be part of my children's "family" ignites every protective instinct I have because I don't trust her. What is worse than feeling that way? Not being able to do a damn thing about it. What is worse than that? Knowing that my job is to make sure my kids feel comfortable loving all the people in their lives. Even her. Some things just plain suck, but I do it because I love my kids far more than I hate her.
Ironically, with the exception of some events and elements regarding the day Sis was born, I rarely dwell on my ex's affair during my marriage. In so many respects, I have moved beyond the many details and forgiven him for them. They don't keep me up at night anymore. It's the choice he made to leave and everything since that keeps raking over my raw emotions and reopens wounds. He brought cancer into our family and then married us all to it and we are dragged along in the wake of his decisions trying to find footing. Particularly as long as our children are little, I don't get the luxury of distancing myself from what often feels like emotional torture. I am just trying to get used to it, but for now, it is still a constant ache in my chest.
Time with my little guys is going by so fast. I begrudge the time they have to divide between two homes. I begrudge moments the DLS gets with them that she doesn't deserve and that I have to miss out on. My heart sinks every single time the kids drive away with their dad because every part of me shrieks that I don't want this for my kids or for me. It still digs pieces out of me to hear about their time away from me with a world of people, some of whom I have never met and will never know. My heart breaks every time he misses a 'moment' with the kids and again when I know that I did (Sis took her first steps at his house.) I have a daughter who I have almost no memories of parenting together with him (and it was a lonely, bewildering, self conscious pregnancy as he became increasingly distant and disinterested.) Because of this divide, being married and half of an 'us' feels like a dream or another lifetime. Most days I feel like I have always been a single mom. At the same time, the memory and comfort of happier days with my best friend is ingrained in me enough to miss it like an arm. Like an amputated limb, I suspect that you never actually stop missing it as much as learn to live with and accept it.
There aren't enough words in the world to describe how badly I want to shed this burden and wake up each day without it being the first thing on my mind. I have as many active steps as I can this year to try to do just that (another post for another time.) More than anything else, I wish I could just choose to never have to see him again. I wish I could treat our demise like a bad break up and store away the good memories, work my way through the bad and eventually wish him well wherever he is. After the last few years, I wish I could have him be no part of my life and I have no doubt that he feels the same. This path of triggers, pitfalls, painful reminders and humiliating new elements seems much harder, especially since we have to see each other weekly and I think it is important for our kids to see us interact amicably. I haven't missed the irony that the person who was once my most comfortable place is now the opposite. That always makes me sad. I wish I didn't have to hear 'her' name in my home, or casual (painful) details from the kids about the life they live, or wonder how much longer I am going to be bearing the brunt of his choices with limited options. Unfortunately, what would be comforting for me right now would be the opposite for my kids and ultimately, I would far rather that I be the one to suffer. While I might daydream about being free of my connections to him, I don't really want that for my kids sake. At the end of the day, I am glad that he is there for them as much as he is but, I often wish I could at least see the light at the end of the tunnel for me.
I do have my moments here and there of pure, warm comfort that wraps around my anxious mind and I am startled by the unfamiliar emotion that everything will be fine. It's a snippet of the overwhelming contentment I had when I cradled my baby girl the night she was born, thought about my three boys and genuinely felt "now I have everything I ever want." I was under no illusions that there weren't rough times ahead because something was clearly wrong, but ultimately I was comforted that we were a family and we had everything we would ever need to make it. Not making it was never even on my radar. Someday, I want that feeling back and the glimpses I get keep me keeping on. I adore my children and treasure my time with them. They make even the worst days bearable.
When I write posts like this, I sometimes feel like I should wrap it up with a reason why everything will be fine or defend my reasons for still going to bed most nights with such a burdened heart. But, sometimes things just are what they are and keeping from a destructive path that might numb temporarily is the best you can do. Some days, weeks or years are going to be incredibly difficult for different reasons and there is something to be said for acknowledging that, feeling it, concentrating on digging out and not letting the junk define you(while counting your blessings and hoping for better times of course :-) This is where I am now. I know that my goal is to get to where I can keep the good and make peace with the bad, but it's a bummer that horrible experiences don't have an expiration date. Enduring isn't as hard as enduring well and enduring well is an even bigger challenge when you don't know how long you will have to do it. :-)'Fake it til you make it' plays a big role in my life these days. I am grateful for the people in my life that let me put that facade aside when I need to and let me just 'be.'
I had hoped for a less stressful year, but I can't say that I will be sorry to see 2011 close. But, my issues aside, how stinking cute have my kids been this year, right? Plenty more where that came from :-)
Fingers crossed for 2012. Thank you to everyone for your love and support and encourangement this year. You know who you are.