I have a few thousand words of embarrassing self-reflection that I probably won’t finish unless/until I decide that posting them isn’t pure self-punishment. But for now….
I met my ex’s fiancee last night. I hadn’t had a problem with the idea of being in the same place as her for a long time. It was never really about her for me. If anything, I find it slightly less horrible to be abandoned for someone else rather than for aloneness, because it is glaring proof that it wasn’t all me after I shouldered all of the blame for nearly a year. It was a relief to find out about her.
I campaigned for a while to meet her when she moved her, because my therapist was adamant that that was part of my job as a mother. And it’s true: I wouldn’t allow someone that I’d never met to babysit my child.
He, she, or both actively avoided the meeting. I let him know my feelings on it, but I kind of gave up on it. (Note: I wouldn’t have done this if I had any concerns about her being alone with my daughter. To me, it was more of a formality). I had done all I could without inviting the opportunity to be miscast as the psycho ex-wife. I invited her and her son to my daughter’s birthday party and hoped that they’d attend.
My ex texted me Friday night to ask if I’d like to drop off my daughter and meet his fiancee. I was like “oh, damn, I played myself. Now I have to drive 90 minutes round-trip,” but I said I would do it.
It went fine. It was awkward, of course. I realized 1.5 seconds into blurting something out after coming out of the bathroom that I’d just interrupted, I tended to address my ex rather than her (which is the exactly opposite of how I usually am–usually I show pretty obvious deference to the woman in a couple, and I meant no disrespect–but she’s new and I’m terrible at looking at people until I know them). I made my awkward goodbyes, told her it was nice to meet her, and then I picked it apart on the way home.
I feel SO guilty, because I didn’t say goodbye to her son. I have such a soft spot for him because he’s had a lot of life changes at his young age, and I also just plain old think he’s super. I feel like I snubbed the fellow.
It’s funny how alike she and I are, even physically. Same exact size, pale skin, red hair (hers is real though), deep speaking voices. I know a lot of men have “types,” but it’s still interesting to see it in my own situation, especially since I don’t have a “type” so much as a list of things that I need in someone with whom I’m going to be for the long haul. (The only physical thing on that list is height; I just don’t see myself with someone tall).
I guess it went okay. I do care how I came across, because I feel better about things when I picture us all getting along well. She has also become a little more human and less of a character in a drama since I met her son and felt an unexpected feeling of womanly/single mom solidarity with her. She became even more three-dimensional when I heard why she avoided meeting me and that he is repeating some of the same patterns with her that make him an angel in the short term but make things dangerous in the long term.
If I could say two very inappropriate things to her, I would say:
(1) Please don’t leave him a year or two or three from now. You’ll destroy him.
(2) You must find a way to help him internalize that you are strong enough to withstand things if he is honest and doesn’t expend all of his energy trying to anticipate and prevent anything that might possibly cause you pain in the short term.
I would never. It’s not my place. Even if I had poor enough boundaries to overcome that, there’s no way to communicate those things that is receivable.
But I can write it here.
I called my sister and talked about it like it was no big deal. I texted a girlfriend but got right to the point and didn’t go on about it. I emailed my parents to let them know that she’d be at the party, and to remind them that it’s only about 90 minutes long and I’m glad that she’s coming (in other words, “if I’m okay with it, I expect you to be okay with it or keep it to yourself convincingly”).
But I cried a lot last night. I’m sad because it’s a big reminder of how much my life has changed. The whole thing–divorce, anyone’s divorce–is so sad.
I also had more memories come up unexpectedly. It was nothing….just what he’s like when he cries. I just don’t understand why I should recall things like this in such detail. It doesn’t seem necessary.
I’m okay with crying about it.
I know it’s weird that I want her and me to know each other.
I’m not being fake with all of this “let’s not make a deal out of it” stuff, though. I know I’m objectively wrong with it, but it comes from an intense desire for things to be no big deal. I want things to be okay, non-dramatic, as un-stressful as possible. Wishing doesn’t make it so, of course, but I’ve been wishing harder than usual lately.
My friend J got in touch with me this week to tell me his divorce was finalized. I asked him how he felt so I’d have an idea of what it’s like on the other side. I told him that my restlessness for it to be legal had given way to dread because I’ve realized that that doesn’t mark any kind of endpoint in terms of my own grief. I think the only way I’d stop actively grieving the failure of my marriage would be to find out that he wasn’t the only “great” love of my life, and I truly don’t think that will happen.
But still, I move forward. I would have loved to have met up with girlfriends and wine. I saw that a couple people I’m friendly with at work were on a bar crawl, and I thought about seeing if I could invite myself to one stop, but then I saw on FB someone in the pics who doesn’t seem to care for me (or maybe she talks down to me for a less personal reason), so I didn’t.
I gave myself about 5 seconds to think how it would be if I was coming home to someone who’d hold me while I cried about this, and I couldn’t even form a picture of how that would work.
I felt the tiniest bit of relief realizing that I didn’t have anyone to run to, no one to rescue me and take care of me. I had to deal with my pain on my own, and although I’d rather not, there wasn’t any question: it would pass, and I could absolutely handle it.
As I was walking up the path to my house, I realized that my beautiful, 13 year old cat was there. She had had a decent checkup that morning, and she’d come snuggle me. She stayed by my side all night. It wasn’t using someone to work out my own issues, distract me from my own pain, or rescue me…it was just mushing a cat.