They say that living well is the best revenge. And while it’s taken me 5-6 years to get here, I am happy to report that my shining qualities are back up and shiny. And I’ve found someone who can appreciate me, as perhaps you did near the beginning of our relationship, before kids, before money, before the house, and 9/11, and unemployment, and all that hard stuff.
The thought of you giving up on me, however, still has a sting to it. From time to time I wonder, wow, what would it have been like if we’d stayed together, rejoined in our marriage, and continued to combine forces to build our family and the empire of love we set out to create. But you didn’t.
At some point you decided, made a decision, to seek a different path. I hate you for that decision, and while I still love you for being the mother of my children, I will probably never fully forgive you for that transgression. And when I wonder, in those sad moments of reflecting on what could’ve been, I still feel a bit of anger. Some days, a lot of anger. Some days none. But I’m getting better at forgetting what you did. I’m getting better at loving you as the mother of my kids, and as a woman who made some judgement calls that went against us staying together.
But the part that makes me mad is how you gave up on me. Not only our dream together, but me personally. As I began blogging for fun at the beginning of 2010 you felt threatened and angry that I would be spending ANY TIME doing something other than looking for a job to replace my big corp income. And that Twitter thing that I kept writing about and spending time on, well, that was just some form of mental masturbation and distraction from what I “should be doing.” Again, in your eyes I was not doing what you wanted me to do.
Today, I’m in the process of pivoting my entire career around the blogging and writing that I started and continued even as you protested and threatened me with leaving. There was no call for that kind of manipulation and there is still no call for it today. And today I say, “Well, you missed on that one.”
It’s not enough that I’m doing well, it’s in these exact moments that your angry teeth come back out and you start grabbing and exclaiming for more. You start screaming of the injustice in the debt you have incurred because I lost my job during the last 5 years. It’s like Pavlov. When I do well, you send in the daggers and demand more of something. You push into my happiness with your demands. And again, I can’t help thinking you are targeting my happiness in hopes that somehow you can get some of it. That somehow, my joy and your needs will sync up and make you (finally) happy. But I’ve got a reality check for you:
- My actions are not the cause of your anger and distress.
- My joy is also not the cure for your ennui.
- We are parents of two great kids, but that’s it. For them, anything. For you, only what serves them.
You seem to get these things mixed up from time to time. Asking me to consider your situation. Asking me to take into account your hardships and what you’ve endured. And then, with consistency, asking me for something, in the “name of the children” that is really a request for YOU.
If you could separate your joy from mine I think we’d both be a lot happier. See, I was trying to do this when we were married. And in those days, I DID have some responsibility to support your happiness. Today, my responsibility stops with the care and parenting of our kids. I’ve worked hard to divorce myself from your needs and your wants. But I’ve done it. I’m free.
Until I think about the leisure time we could be enjoying if we hadn’t needed two homes, two mortgages, and all that silliness with the AG’s office. But that’s where we are. I do, in fact, wish you well. But more in terms of how you support my kids rather than are you happy or not. I think that’s as it should be.
The Off Parent
< back to The Hard Stuff posts
- Back to the Beginning: Serenity with Your Coparent
- The Best Will Come Out, Eventually… But First This
- Texts From the Ex. What’s the Crisis?
- Give Me a Bullet to Bite On: My Ex and Her Anger
- The Winter of My Discontent: Ex-Partners and Co-Parents
- Patience Please, I’m Doing The Best I Can
see also: the nyc poem sequence: nyc m
image: the author and the object of his affection, cc 2015, creative commons usage
I have to say, I am flourishing with the creative and self-development time the divorce has afforded me. Now, looking back over the three years since it became official, I can say I’m better off divorced. For a long time, I was not sure I was ever going to be able to say that. But it’s true, today. It was not always true.
In the initial storm of divorce your emotions will take over all negotiations and adversely affect your judgement. In my case, I was set on demanding 50-50 parenting schedule and joint custody. It seemed FAIR.
In the month or so of negotiation with the ex-y and a wonderful child psychologist who specializes in divorce, we came up with… guess what? … the Standard Possession Order. Even in my happy state, I’m not sure giving in to this demand, and advice, was the BEST option for me and the kids, but it is certainly what the ex-y wanted, and would likely get were we to enter the Texas court system. (80% of all divorces in Texas end up with the mother getting primary custody and enforcement of the SPO.)
On days when money is tight, I feel like I was ripped off. And occasionally I feel like I should FIGHT and enter the courts again, and go for 50-50 and reducing my financial obligation to my ex-y. BUT… I don’t. And here’s why.
Today I crave time with my kids. There is never enough time with them. SO, when we are together, I am 110% engaged. There is nothing more important than being an engaged father. Occasionally I am sad about not having them with me, but I’ve been on the UP side of creative for a year or so, and that makes my alone time quite productive rather than sad.
The ex-y has a very different situation. She craves time with her boyfriend. And occasionally offers the kids to me (mostly too late for me to actually accept) for an additional night or day. If I’m reading that right, from her self-centered approach to everything dealing with me, she is asking for time off from having the kids. Or more accurately, time with her boyfriend. That must be a strange pull. The desire to have time away. When I am on the exact opposite polarity, I crave time WITH THEM.
It’s neither good nor bad, but it’s very different.
And I can understand. During the school year she does have the brunt of getting the kids to school on time and homework. BUT, that’s how she wanted it. That’s what she demanded in the therapist’s office, that “she was the more complete and responsible parent, that she had been providing the majority of their care.”
In the heat of that discussion, I was furious. But over time, the therapist showed me the reality of the situation, should I want to fight this PLAN. I objected, but I did not fight. And I gave in. “In the best interest of the kids.” At least, that’s the language they use when you’re negotiating.
So I ask you. Was it in their best interest? Perhaps. They got to stay in the marital home. They stayed mostly in their old bedrooms and got to school from Mom’s house in much the same way they did when we were married.
Of course, the reality was/is, I was the primary morning person that roused the entire house and got the kids ready and fed on the way to school. Often the ex-y would be much more focused on getting ready and pretty. And that’s okay. That’s just the way it was. I loved my mornings. I still get up at 6am and do most of my creative stuff in that first few hours of the day, before I had to wake the wife and kids to start their day.
And so, she got exactly what she wanted. The house. The kids (on SPO and full custody). And full child support payments, including healthcare. Seems like a pretty good deal.
But I know it’s been HELL getting her routine organized to get up and get the kids ready and fed and off to school in a “happy” and unrushed way. The clocks that have appeared in every room of the house, sort of point out the fact that I was also the “happy time-keeper” saying “Okay kids, we’ve got 10 minutes before the car leaves the station, let’s go.”
The most satisfying moment, came in year two when my son said he’d advised his mom to do mornings “more like Dad.” And he described my typical morning routine with them, as the gold standard.
“Get us up early so we’re not rushed. Give us plenty of time. Make it fun and not so rushed.”
So my not-a-morning-person ex-wife now has most of the kids-to-school duties. (grin) AND she’s working a own-your-ass 9-to-6ish job, that has her working hard than she ever did when we were married.
That’s victory enough.
So she’s craving time with someone else, other than the kids. And I’m craving time with the kids, with no other priorities or relationships demanding my time and attention.
I think I got a fine deal. Hard on the pocket-book at the moment. But over all, I’m happier than I had been in the last 1.5 years with the ex-y, when she got terminally mad.
And she’s still terminally mad. She likes to project this anger at me. But today I no longer have to take any of it. And I’m happy to be clear from that toxic situation.
Happy Independence Day!
The Off Parent
NOTE: Image is not of my girlfriend. I don’t have a girlfriend. That is a “friend” from Facebook who lives 2,000 miles away. So there! But she’s an inspiration on many levels.
- The Divorce Library (reading list)
- Songs of Divorce (free listening library – youtube sourced songs)
- Laugh It Off (building a resource library of funny videos and other diversions)
- Facebook (follow us on Facebook and keep up with all the conversations)
- The 5 Love Languages (a book on love styles by Gary Chapman)