I actually had no intentions of writing about this ever. But for some reason, this issue kept showing up in conversations with others who were struggling with something similar and I felt the nudging to share. I’ve said before that I’m a firm believer that we are not meant to hold our lessons in. We bring healing when we give our voices to share with one another. We bring healing to others and ourselves. I believe this unpleasant moment in my life brought forth some healing for me. It wasn’t actually painful either. However, it was surely an Aha moment.
I have been divorced for 9 years. I’ve said before how in spite of the trials of that relationship, my ex-husband has served as one of my greatest teachers because I’ve learned a lot about myself. He didn’t fail to teach me yet again. During the summer, we had a significant blow up that resulted in me having to call my cousin who happens to be a Seargeant for CPD and also me making the decision that it is best that he and I no longer speak. It’s not something I’ve ever wanted. I actually hoped that by this point we’d have transitioned into co-parenting bliss. You know, we get along so well cause we’re actually friends. Unfortunately, that is not the case and I doubt it ever will be. Good thing for me is that I’d have been devastated if this had happened years ago. But as they say, when the student is ready, the teacher (and the lesson and test) appears. And so did the test appear, hand delivered by the teacher, my ex-husband, and I was ready so I was not devastated. I instead accepted it as it is.
While I won’t go into specifics, I will say that his behavior was unacceptable. From my point of view, it was a simple miscommunication. However, judging from my ex’s behavior, it was about more than the particular miscommunication. I probably will never know the full reason(s) behind it, nor do I need to. Suffice it to say that he became aggressive–unnecessarily and unacceptably so. He did so in front of our daughter and his other children. It’s important to note that my point of this blog isn’t actually about him or his behavior. This is actually about me and what I took away from that. I could easily point my finger at him and say he is horrible and call him names. But he’s not. He’s just a mere man, going through life just as I am. His path is full of lessons for him just as mine is filled with my own lessons. We have served our purposes in one another’s life and created a beautiful soul in the process. We have gotten all that we needed from one another and our time has come to an end.
Let me say that I’m one of those people who has no problem being friends with exes. I have actually never understood why one wouldn’t want to remain friends with an ex–bar there is no abuse or severe mistreatment. I’ve always been of the belief that if you were a huge part of my life, I can’t understand why you can’t remain in a different capacity. Suffice it to say that I don’t let go nearly as often as I should. But that logic stayed with me through my divorce. As far as I was concerned, I had no major beef with my ex husband other than the fact that he was my husband. Once he ceased to be my husband, I was cool. But that was selfish on my part because I didn’t give space for him to feel whatever he feels. Now he has never actually said it in words, but I fully believe the man hates me. And you know what? That’s ok. Problem is, I wasn’t giving him the space for that. In my mind, we are parents and we are tied together for life (and we actually are). Since we are, we may as well be friends. But he doesn’t want to be my friend. I’m not even sure he actually wants to co-parent with me. And again, that’s ok.
Over the years, I have done what I thought I could to mend the bridge between us. I would offer olive branches. I would ask for talks to get to the bottom of things and clear the air. He would have a list of grievances and even though I didn’t agree, I would agree with him to make peace. My logic was that he needed the win and if I gave it to him we would be that much closer to getting along. Well, I was wrong. The moment I found myself standing in his doorway 9 years after our divorce having to walk away from his aggression is the moment I finally accepted that it just is not meant to be. That’s when it hit me. Aha! It took me 9 years to finally let our relationship go–even though I knew before the wedding, during the wedding and after the wedding that we were not a good fit. And now it has taken me 9 years to fully accept that we are not and will not be friends or cordial co-parents. And that’s ok. Let me say now that it will not take me another 9 years to get any other memo from this dead relationship. Lesson is learned.
Honestly, I could have saved myself the trouble if I’d accepted this years ago. Now please let me be clear. I am in no way assuming responsibility for his behavior on that night in July. I’m taking responsibility for my role in not accepting things as they were prior to that night. And to be honest, it has always been about me and not him. I struggled greatly with choosing to end our marriage–even though I knew it was the best thing for us. We just did not fit. There was a big part of me who felt like a failure. I failed at holding my marriage together. Actually, I felt like a failure before that because I chose to marry a man whom I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold down a marriage with for long. So as far as I was concerned, the least I could do was successfully co-parent with him. It was bad enough our daughter wouldn’t be from a two-parent household. I owed it to her to show her parents who were mature enough to get along and work together. I was especially charged about this because when I was growing up I saw my parents argue frequently over two things: money and me. They disagreed often about the best course for me and I vowed I would never have that problem. We’ve all heard about saying never, right? In my mind, the least I could do is get the co-parenting right. It was not acceptable to fail at both marriage and co-parenting. I wasn’t making space for the fact that doing what was best for everyone involved–including (and especially) myself isn’t actually a fail.
The other thing I struggled with is accepting that my ex does not like me. To be honest, I always felt like he didn’t like me–even during our marriage. But that’s something that I hoped would change after our divorce and it hasn’t. I actually think it has intensified. There are people in life with whom you disagree regarding values and views on life, but you find you still like them. There are those with whom you disagree and you don’t necessarily like them, but you do find them tolerable. And then there are those with whom disagree and what’s more, you just cannot stand them. Their views and who they are just gets on your nerves and you do not like them. I believe I fall in that final category with my ex. Who I am and my way of being bothers him. The fact that I bother him so much has bothered me. Can you say co-dependency? I was like a 6 year-old who just kept offering toys to get him to be my friend. And it never worked. And I never understood, nor would accept that it wouldn’t work. My ex and I are fundamentally different and that’s ok. But I had to learn how to allow it to be ok that we will not get along because of that. But here’s what I finally get. Because we are so fundamentally different, my ex sees me through a lens that is veiled by his own perceptions. He sees a completely inaccurate intent from me when I do things. No matter how many times I explain my logic and point of view, he sees what he sees and there is no changing his mind. That bothered me a lot. It finally got to a point where I had to ask myself why it bothers me so much. The truth is that it bothered me because on some level I still cared what he thought of me–not necessarily as a person, but as co-parents. I told him when we divorced that I would never intentionally stand in the way of his relationship with our daughter and I meant that. I have done my best over the course of our daughter’s life to uphold that bargain. I take that seriously. Our daughter is entitled and deserves to have a relationship with her father, no matter what is going on between us. So it bothered me to know that he sees me as intentionally doing things to undermine or disrespect that. I had to come to accept that he is just one of those people who will never see me as I am. And that’s ok. He doesn’t get me. He never did. But what’s more important is that I understand that how he sees me is not the truth of who I am. It may be his truth. But again, his truth is veiled by his experiences and his being and in no way does it dictate the truth to who I am. And I can’t say enough that this is ok.
The other thing that I realized is that I just had to let go of control. I’m a pretty laid back person and don’t think of myself as a control freak. However, in some ways, my inability to accept things was a form of me trying to control the outcome. I’m not sure how long I was willing to go on this crazy ride with my ex, but I know I have gone for far too long and I was willing to do it to make sure that I got the picture that I wanted. The picture consisted of peace and harmony. After all, wasn’t that in the best interest of our child? I was unwilling to accept that the peace and harmony would come from me letting things go. It has been several months now since that night and I haven’t spoken to my ex since. Frankly, it has been quite peaceful ever since. I can’t speak for him, but I’m willing to bet the same has been true for him. I certainly hope it is. And who knows? Maybe now that I’ve stopped fighting against things, some day in the distant future we’ll evolve into the picture I held for so long. Or maybe not. Either way, it’s ok.
If there is anyone out there going through turmoil in your divorce or post-divorce relationship, I encourage you to accept things as they are. Release whatever picture you have in your head of how things should or could be. And for the love of all that is sacred, please don’t take anything personal! You are reacting from your stuff just as your ex is reacting from their own stuff. No one is actually right or wrong. Instead, you are both doing the best you can–at least I hope you are. I’m not saying you have to like it because you don’t. But I do believe accepting things will bring you so much closer to peace. I know it has for me.