I hadn’t had a lot to talk about, although I did mean to make a post wrapping up my very quiet summer.
I keep meaning to start a series of “random story” posts, too. I used to be a person who’d share stories that were not relevant enough to the topic at hand to justify making someone I’m not close to listen to them. It would be better to post them here, even without context, than to continue one of my behaviors that put people off of me. I guess I’m starting to internalize that no one gives a shit–including me!–because, so far, I haven’t even bothered to record them here.
The exception to this, of course, is my relationship with my ex. Unfortunately, I’m still hurting from old things–from our whole relationship. I’m lucky if I can sort through them with a therapist every two weeks, and a lot has come up just over the last two days, so…
Here I am.
There are certain things that I won’t talk about on here because there are certain things that I hold sacred. I don’t tell peoples’ secrets. I talk about all kinds of cringe-worthy things about myself. When it comes to other people, I don’t talk about things that would be anything from “tacky” to a breech of confidentiality if I discussed them here. I consider it a betrayal even if the other person hasn’t treated my secrets with the same amount of respect.
I have to draw a line when it comes to my ex, because there are a lot of personal things that messed me up and need to be sorted out before I can put them aside. There are current things that I need to vent about, but some of them are off-limits. It’s hard to find that line, and in my worst moments I remember the things he told “the other woman” about me (some of which weren’t even true) and I’m tempted to just say what I need. I always make myself sit with it until I come back to a place of keeping true to my ethics.
I’ll try to make that boundary “it’s okay to talk about things that are or were common knowledge among our peers.” Beyond that, I’ll try to bypass the circumstances/details so I can get right to the feeling.
This sat for a week due to a combination of little time to write, and being troubled by other things when I had the opportunity to write. It feels like old news, buried under bad recent events…but I’m going to finish this, because it’s meaningful to me.
My ex and I had a “thing” last weekend. Not a fight. It was just tense, and then painful, but the dialogue pushed me to articulate things that I hadn’t (to him, anyway) before and hear from him something that may help me heal.
It started with him asking me for something last-minute two days in a row, which was irritating to me.
I find being asked something last-minute to be stressful because
(1) I’m wound a little extra tight lately (mostly worrying about avoiding meltdowns to get out the door at 7 am sharp so I’m not late to work, and how my kid would adjust to the huge change this school year…different school, group day care, and no longer seeing the beloved woman who’s been like a second mom for five years)
(2) I feel very guilty when I have to say “no,” and
(3) I’d rather say “yes,” and I pretty much always do if I have some advance notice. It’s frustrating when I could help, but I can’t, or if I do it but there’s no reason I couldn’t get more notice.
However, I misunderstood him when he asked and didn’t realize that it really wasn’t a big deal if I say no.
Honestly, saying no to something like “can you pick up Boo at my house instead of me driving her home?” makes me feel like I’m rejecting her..so it rarely feels like it’s not a big deal. I know that’s 100% my own stuff, though.
Earlier that day, I had had my first therapy appointment since June. It was mostly a catch-up and summary of what I worked on over the summer, but doc also picked up where we left on regarding my difficulty in accepting compliments or acknowledgement of something good about me–I either appear to ignore it, or I say something to mitigate it.
She was complimenting how I’ve handled things and how I treat my ex and trying to make me acknowledge what she said and not just change the topic. I had recently told a girlfriend that I need to find a way to get over this experience and forgive myself without his acknowledgement that it wasn’t all my fault. My therapist said that in 40 years of practice, she’d never seen someone handle divorce/coparenting/ex’s relationships so well. You’d think that would lessen the need for a pat on the back from my ex, but it just made it worse on that day.
Back to the last minute request: Our texting exchange escalated to the point at which we were explaining our side by one-upping how challenging our schedules are. I’ll never know what it’s like to have his job or schedule, and he’ll never understand understand the same about me. Once in a while, I see no commute and the flexibility to decide what time to start things as a little “easier,” and he sees my job as “easier” because it pays well without me having to hustle or hound companies to pay me.
I really think we were just trying to explain our sides of things rather than engaging in a pissing contest. I felt afraid of him judging me on the times I’ve said “no,” and I felt he was being hard on me.
I finally said it to him: I said that I wished he’d give me a little more credit about how understanding I am. I’m a cheerleader for him and his work, and I do what I can to help him out so that he feels that he’s got backup, especially when he’s not feeling well. I said that my “understanding” is also what has allowed him to support the woman for whom he left me and her son. (She has published comics and sells drawings, but that’s obviously something you do for love rather than money).
When he brought our daughter home, he pulled me aside to talk. It was a reversal of roles–him initiating a mature conversation, and me wanting to run and hide. (I was impressed with him, though…I think it shows growth on his part, if the complete opposite for me). I ended up crying. I’m not comfortable crying in front of him. It was embarrassing.
I am uncomfortable crying in front of someone if I think it’ll trouble them or I fear that I’ll end up feeling worse for opening myself up to that person. I guess it was the latter with him, although he’d never be callous in that situation.
I explained that it wasn’t that he asked, it was that he asked last minute. He said it really wasn’t a big deal for me to say no. I said that it is to me, because I’d have said yes if he had asked earlier in the day. I said that I feel guilty when I say no…and that I feel guilty all the time, that I guess it just comes with parenting.
He also made a HUGE point of telling me that nothing about this is his fiancee’s fault–all of the “supporting” stuff was on him, and that he’d have the same expenditures if she and her son weren’t living with him.
That was when I started to cry.
He said, “is that why you’re crying–because you feel guilty?” I didn’t really answer. I just wanted to get the conversation done before our kid got curious and came into the kitchen. I also didn’t want to cry any harder or have to come up with an explanation to my kid.
I was crying because he had never been so on my side that he needed to defend me against a non-existent attack. I was sad that I never had that kind of devotion from him.
After he left, I emailed him. I guess I thought I had broken some kind of seal in terms of embarrassing myself, so I might as well go ahead and say anything I felt I needed to say in order to facilitate something resembling closure.
I said that I wasn’t okay with all of this. I’m okay overall in life, but I’m not “over” it, over being left so abruptly. Since it’s my own words, I’m quoting:
Specifically, I struggle with (1) the inability to think I’d ever be enough for a partner (because I never felt I was with you…by the time I got my place in the front of your mom, hookups, [name of a person from the past], it was the beginning of the end and you were building your case against me) and (2) trying to live with myself knowing that you think the failure of our marriage is all my fault. (It haunts me and infects just about every positive belief I start to have about myself or the world).
It’s just the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to navigate…
[His fiancee] is a good stepmom–anything beyond that wouldn’t be any of my business anyway, but I don’t have any beef with her. You going out of your way to make sure I knew [she] was completely blameless (when I wasn’t even talking about her, let alone talking shit about her) brought up some old feelings. I noticed how it important it was for her to not have any perceived negativity directed toward her, and I felt sad because I remembered the embarrassing, personal, and not necessarily true stuff you told her about me. I wish anyone would ever consider me sacred like that. It was just another reminder of me being inadequate/not enough/not good enough.
That’s what has stuck with me since then–I wasn’t enough for him. I’m currently not enough for anyone else. This probably won’t change. I can’t not hear it.
I’m not using this as an excuse to give up, backslide, indulge in unhealthy coping mechanisms. I’m plugging along, just trying to be enough for myself, because that does count. I can live with myself now, and that was a lot harder a couple years ago.
Also plaguing me is my increasing anxiousness to actually be divorced. I’ve been obsessing over it. He signed the papers last October; I signed them at the beginning of November. I don’t know why the 11 months is my breaking point (maybe because someone I know who started the process LONG after me in my state just had his divorce finalized), but I’ve had it. I had to push to get the process started (even though he was the one who wanted it). The psychologist we consulted said he wasn’t in any shape to do this. I waited. I had to push again. We did it, we worked out how we wanted to do things with literally no disagreements or unpleasantness. Then we handed it to lawyers to draw up, and it just fucking sat there. Then we signed–it was supposed to be 6-8 months. I’ve had it. I’m sick of waiting.
I have to do any of the lawyer-bugging, because I get 40 hours free through my trust fund, and he has to pay his lawyer for a phone call or email. I emailed my lawyer’s paralegal Tuesday. Nothing. I called her Thursday–nothing. Now I’m getting angry, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I called the lawyer himself Friday. I told a coworker who had had the same lawyer (and had had no communication problems at all) that I was going to call daily starting next week. Finally, late Friday afternoon I got an email:
Unfortunately, the only information I have for you at the moment is that your file is with the Special Referee, which means it could be signed any day now.
“Any day now” doesn’t really mean anything to me. I’m not at all convinced that they didn’t screw something up. The first copy of the divorce agreement that they sent to my ex’s lawyer was missing pages and had pages of what was clearly someone else’s divorce agreement in there.
I’m not sure about his lawyer, either, though. I never understood why he decided to use his mom’s lawyer–her uncontested, “no fault,” mediated divorce took six years.
No court, uncontested, no fault, no resistance on my side, no disagreements at all about how to do things, and it’s been 3 years and 3 months. I’m done, and I’ve found myself saying things that everyone else says about lawyers.
I know it doesn’t change anything emotionally, but it’s something hanging over my head on a to-do list that shouldn’t be there, and I have done my part to get it off the list. How I feel about this borders on rage.
Anyway, I think the talk with him was good–if emotionally draining. He wrote back, and he finally gave me the one thing he can give me to help me, which is to tell me that it wasn’t all my fault. I said that I’m not looking to re-write history so that it’s all his fault–I was there, I remember. I knew intellectually that it was both of us, but I couldn’t shake the feeling.
I’m so afraid of settling something in my mind as being something other than “I am a terrible person who is being rightfully punished,” because what if I’m wrong? Then I’m not taking responsibility for myself. I don’t know if I’d ever stop punishing myself as long as there was a chance that it was all me.
Maybe I’ll be able to quiet that particular tape in time now that he has told me it wasn’t all my fault. Maybe it’s a step toward feeling like I’m doing a good enough job of being a person. (I think I’m a good enough mom right now). That’s what I’m working on–picking the righter, kinder option every time, and trying to be a decent friend.
That way, even when I’m lonely and don’t get held on days like this, I’ll just feel sad because I’d like to be held–as opposed to being sad because I’d like to be held, but I don’t deserve it anyway.