Monday, August 15, 2016

Shark Cage Dive soothes anxiety, ha!

While I've been struggling with anxiety and worry lately, I'm also happy to report that I spent some time "outside of the anxiety spiral" this week end.  Hubby and I went to the north shore and did a spontaneous cage-shark dive!  It was exciting to say the least.  I actually got a little queasy from the ocean waves (not pictured here, this is the calm bay around the corner from the harbor).  Once the boat got a mile out, it was pretty rough.  

Interesting story:  so the ocean drops off to 400 miles deep a few miles from here; and over the last century, the crab fishermen have left traps along the way.  They collect the traps and only keep the legal sized ones, and throw the rest back to the sea.  Well...the sharks have figured out that the noise of the boats means that people are sprinkling goodies back into the ocean, so now when they hear motors, they come circling.  Which means, while we aren't crab fisherman, the boat attracts the galapagos sharks and they swim and circle the boat while we're in the cage.  It was really cool! 

Although I almost barfed on the way back to shore, and then I fell asleep on the way home, ha ha ha.  Suffice it to say that it was good to get back to land.

I'm still tugging of warring with my anxiety, but I'm trying to hang on and enjoy the ride.  The girls were with their dad this week end, and I can't wait to see them today! This week end is a holiday week end, and hubby is off all three days, so we're looking forward to spending some QT together, yay!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Reflecting on Anxiety

Image credit (here)

Today at Survive, Live, Thrive, I’m in “survive” mode.

The anxiety and stress of dealing with the Ex has come back, delivered with five lovely emails to my inbox on Friday afternoon, a great way to start my week end with the girls.  I actually tabled them for now, because I didn’t want the nitpicking to ruin my quality time with them.

And I’m angry at myself that given that effort, I let his thoughts and opinions run as a constant background buzz from Friday to Monday—worrying how to respond, corresponding with the coparenting counselor by email on general advice on how to handle it, just generally, a PITA frustration.

At the same time, I enjoyed DD1’s end of summer tennis blitz—she was in the lead of one of her singles matches, ended up in a tie.  Overall their team lost, but they were all just so happy to be playing, and everyone enjoyed a potluck afterwards despite the sweltering sun and misty rain, it was fun being part of the event.  I even texted a team group picture to the Ex, rising above the crap. 

DD1 and DD2 and I enjoyed a girls day yesterday—filled with Sunday school, church, a girls lunch, a library outing, and then I cooked a yummy dinner and we all sat down to watch some of the Olympics before bed.  Lots of cuddles and hug time with the girls.  (Hubby was working on the week end, unfortunately)

So why can’t I shake the depression?  Part of it was that hubby and I got in an argument last week—he has a tendency to lash out verbally, and he knows it, takes the words back and improves his behavior, but when we’re “in the moment,” it takes its toll, on top of the other usual stressors of work, parenting, deadlines, schedules.  Having conflict with hubby triggers my anxiety, too, because I feel like I’m burning at both ends of the wick.  The good thing about hubby though, is that over the years we’ve gotten stronger and a better handle on how to deal with arguing, and he reaches out and “comes to his senses” in measurable, action-oriented ways.  I know I sound like Ms. Logic when describing this, but I’ve approached my relationship with Hubby much differently in relationships past, to be sure I can keep on the straight and narrow path.  And that can be tiring, as well as comforting, too.

The anxiety is seeping into other areas of my life, worrying what people think about me at work, overthinking, over-worrying about friends’ and colleagues’ opinions.  I never used to worry about this too much; especially with therapy.  Underneath I used to have this unwavering belief that as long as I was putting out “good” into the world, good would come back, or…if it didn’t, then it was okay, my job was to brush it off and keep marching along.  A blend of Buddhist/zen thinking coupled with my Christian upbringing of forgiveness and the golden rule of do unto others. 

Yet here I am, worrying about if I’m even supposed to be living in our beautiful city, in our beautiful state.  Maybe all the weird conflict swirling around lately is “a sign” somehow that I should be somewhere else, doing something else.  Worrying that maybe, just maybe, I don’t belong anywhere, anyway.  It’s like an out-of-body experience, I think we called it disassociating when I first encountered this in my teen years.  I feel like a disembodied entity, floating along sometimes, meeting all the deadlines and requirements of what a human being needs to do – work for a living, caring for my children, providing the survival minimum, but barely hanging on. 

Why do I feel like I’m grieving?

I miss and love my family who we visited, and at the same time am relieved that I’m thousands of miles away from the drama.  This doesn’t come without complications-- my mom has a medical condition that has evolved over the years, and now she’s in a wheelchair 24/7.  She does the best that she can and is in a “good” place considering—she has numerous friends and attends church and reads and puzzles, but it’s not the same as how she used to live.

My brother is someone who plays the distance card physically and emotionally, and I understand he likely needs it this way, perhaps for his own survival, i.e. not even showing up to say goodbye at our lunch that we had with our mom, his wife, and his two sons—my loving, hilarious nephews growing up so fast!  I know how that train rolls, so shouldn’t have been surprised, but it stings all the same.  Luckily, my two girls were so distracted by hanging with their grandma, aunty and cousins that I don’t think it registered.  And at least we had dinner all together the night before, and at least the girls were able to ride the horses with their aunty that morning before we left…but my mom noticed his absence on that day, and while she’s also used to it, I could tell she was hurting.

My father died when I was 16—my parents had divorced when I was 3, but his younger brother, my uncle, was always kind to me and my brother.  When the girls and I trek to visit, he and my aunt make a point to see us, and since my mom threw a birthday party for DD1, they made the hour and a half drive to attend.  It was so nice seeing them, and yet with all the people there, I didn’t have much time to socialize with them, but I did get a chance to talk at least to my Uncle a little bit, and we took a cute picture with the girls.  They didn’t want me to mention my cousin’s wedding in front of my mom, so I didn’t, but now that I think about it, it’s just a remnant of more family complications. 

After DD1’s party ended, the girls and I went back to the hotel pool and went for a swim with my college roommate’s parents and later had dinner with them (my mom was pooped and sat dinner out, which she was totally fine with).  I love M and B, they are like my own family!  I’ve known them for over 20 years, and they embrace my girls like we’re part of their family, too.  And…I wondered, M and B drove 10 hours to see us; is there something so wrong with us, that my own brother who lives 20 minutes away from my mom didn’t attend DD1’s little bday bash?  That my uncle and aunty couldn’t wait to get out of there to drive back home?  Or was it something I said that made them want to leave so quickly?  This does not take away the fact that my roommate’s parents are sweethearts who I adore, and our time together was full of laughter and hugs and love and splashes galore. And I know I should be thankful that the people who showed up, showed up.  I am, most definitely.  My mom’s friends are a hoot and so loving and kind.

And I love hubby’s family, they have been nothing but open armed and welcoming to me and DD1 and DD2, but they are hubby’s family, and while I shouldn’t be so negative, I know if something blew up in our lives, they wouldn’t be my family any longer, either.

Erg.  I need to figure out how to crawl out of this depressive hole.  Writing it down helps.  All families have complications. 

Somewhere, deep down inside me, there’s a hole in my heart that struggles so much with just saying goodbye.  To be close to people and then leave again.  I’ve connected with others who have been adopted, that it’s linked to the original loss, being left in the parking lot to be found in a foreign country as an infant, not understanding the separation from my birth mom.  A terror and fear and sadness and grief, from a time when I have no memory or language.

I think maybe, all these family complications swirl together and the coparenting stress is another prong to the grieving/depression wheel.  And then saying goodbye or when I’m part of a loss (temporary or permanent) nowadays, it amplifies the grief from so long ago.  I understand it a little better, but it still makes me sad.

So this is where I’m at these days, managing my anxiety linked to grief, and trying to figure out how to make the best of things.

I wonder if there are others out there who deal with this, too.  And if you are, my heart goes out to you, and my wish for all of us is that we can find a measure of peace and comfort in our hearts, somehow.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Vacation Love

Our summer vacation was everything I'd hoped it would be--extended time with family, days blurring into afternoons and then into evenings, with laughter and silliness, and laziness, and adventuring all thrown in together.  Reuniting with family near and far, a road trip in the middle of the country, showing off the landscape to my little ones, so they could experience pieces of how big and wide our world is.  An unexpected encounter with a three car river ferry to take us across to our destination, close-ups with horseback riding and galloping across a pasture, a tiny fawn leaping down the road, chasing its mom along the way.

Late night nail painting and storytelling, lazy mornings sleeping in, an hours long swim in the warm Atlantic ocean, a horse drawn carriage ride down the historic cobblestones of Charleston, more laughter with our cousins, silliness galore with aunties and grandmas and grandpa and nanas and uncles.  Driving a golf cart wildly down the private road with four little kids strapped in a laughing their heads off as we careened toward the community pool, complete with water slide; racing down said water slide and getting beat by my 7 year old nephew!

To be truthful, my heart is still lazily swirling along a southern campsite, alight with lightning bugs, one of one which my older daughter caught carefully between her cupped palms, oohing and aahing over its little glowing bottom, as well as more deer sightings as they languidly trotted across the national park pastured grass, along our walks through a cave 250 ft below the surface.  Stargazing just a wee bit until we all fell asleep, exhausted in our beds.  I can't believe how lucky we are to have been able to travel over 15,000 miles, there and back again, heads and hearts full of love and memories.

Here are some of the scenic pics:
Landing in Kentucky, to visit my mom and extended family; DD2's first "remembered" experience of a window seat and staring out as we descended through the sky. She loved the idea that we were above the clouds!  We had a day to recover from the jetlag, and my mom threw a birthday party for DD1--my uncle and aunty came down from about an hour away, and my mom's friends who I've known through the years came as well.  We had a blast hanging in the rec room, hiding from the blazing heat outside, kids running around and playing games.

Due to my mother's health condition, she is in a wheel-chair full time now--so I rented the biggest vehicle I could rent, and at her request, loaded everyone up, and we headed to a nearby National park for two days.  A beautiful country road!

The road ended at a river; luckily there was a three car river ferry that carted us across!  The girls and my mom thought that was the best part of the road trip. 

Once safely checked into the lodge, the girls let my mom rest with her nurse's aide who we'd hired to travel with us; and we went walking to the nature center, where we spotted two deer trotting around like they owned the place. 

The following morning, mom rested again, and I took the girls 250 ft below ground level to explore the caves on a guided tour.

Some of the oohing and aahing of what was beneath the surface.   

Later, we toured the nature center with my mom, which was handicap accessible, took some pictures by this beautiful creek, and then spent some time at the camp site with my BFF and her family, who had driven down to camp and spend time with us.  My mom was a champ!  All in all, a successful road trip to the park!

We went back to town, where we rested for an overnight, then headed out to my brother's farm, about twenty minutes away from where my mom lives.  Once off the interstate, it's all country roads, like this beautiful shot.

The property is definitely in "farm" country, where horses just hang out right next to the road.  These are my brother's neighbors.  

At the farm, two of their (12! yes 12!) dogs were busy "pointing" at a bird on a fence, while my sister-in-law saddled their horse to take DD1 and DD2 riding.  They had a blast!
And while DD1 was riding with my sister-in-law,  DD2 was hanging out with the barn cats.  This particular cutie pie is named Puff.

 After an overnight, we headed back to town, then had one more fun day of shopping and movies with my mom, before we woke up at the crack of dawn to head to the airport and fly to South Carolina, to visit Hubby's family.

The day we arrived, it was thunderstorming, so DD1 and grandpa (hubby's dad--both mine and my ex's father are deceased, so hubby's dad has really embraced the grandpa role with my girls *swoon*) got into a die-hard game of scrabble.  Considering DD1's at a 6th grade vocabulary and grandpa is a practicing doctor,  DD1 really gave him a run for his money!  Of course, she thought some of her word choices were hiLARious.

One day we headed to the coast, and grandpa had brought kites for all four kids (my two girls, and the twins, who are hubby's niece and nephew).  We got two kites up and flying! 

 The Atlantic ocean was so warm, we could sit in it for hours.  Another of my extended family flew up from Miami the day before, her fiance has family  in South Carolina, so they met us at the beach.  So sweet to have us all together.

The next day, despite the thunderstorm warning, we decided to take the kids downtown to take a horse & buggy ride through historic Charleston.  We drove across two bridges to get there!  

Obviously, these rivers far surpassed the width of the river ferry's river back in Kentucky! 

Luckily, no thunderstorm in sight, however it was hot, hot, hot, but not too hot to pet a sweetheart horse's nose, soft like velvet!

The view from the buggy, as we headed up to the zoning patrol to find out which route we'd take for our tour.  Apparently there are so many carriages going through historic Charleston, that they devised a lottery type system to divide up the routes, otherwise the streets would be bogged down by too many carriages in one place!

 One of the beautiful houses that we rode by--the staircase represents "embracing" your visitors.
All in all, we felt so embraced by our families far away.  It made returning home so difficult, but at the same time, a renewed sense of joy about being home and also committing to spending the time and resources to travel and see the world, share experiences with our family.  I often get lost in the grindstone of deadlines, being on time for work, rushing to pick up the kids, that I forget how important it is to step out of the routine and whisk my girls away (when I can) off the beaten path and into the wonderful big wide world of love and peace and laughter and silliness and wonder.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Leaving on a jet plane!

Image credit (here)

I can’t believe that in two days the girls and I will be on a plane to see our family!  I am so thankful that we’re able to bring our family together.  Hubby, being the workaholic that he is, is still considering if he can join us, at least for part of the trip (at least it’s not a hard no).  In the meantime, I’m concentrating on seeing my mom, my brother and sister-in-law, two nephews, my uncle and aunty, old friends from 20+ years ago, getting the kids together with my BFF from college at a national park—omg, it’ s just…my heart is so full.  I have yet to meet my BFF’s youngest, and she has yet to meet DD2.  It’s amazing!

And along comes my anxiety.  Exie is demanding every address of every place where we’re staying (providing the addresses is reasonable, the demanding and nastiness is not).  The irony to this is that I asked for similar information from him when he took the girls on a trip last summer, and when did he provide me the information?  After he returned.  Ha ha, hoppity ha.  (Of course I’m working on this and will provide it to him, before we leave.)

I wish there was a guidebook on how to deal with controlling exes after divorce.  Controlling exes who constantly shake the tree trunks for any morsel and crumb of control that can be regained.

Something that says, do A when B, don’t worry about X when Y, and if Z happens, well—THEN you do F, G, H. I wish!

Every time I take two steps forward, something happens with Exie that brings me one step back.  Because I can’t always react perfectly—the way I’m supposed to react—in every given situation.  Sometimes, his antics really piss me off.  Other times, I cry.  And like two weeks ago, I reacted with a full-fledged anxiety PTSD episode that lasted for a few days.  Waking up at 2am just filled with fear and worry for my daughters.

And then I get so frustrated with myself for letting him get to me.  Grrrrrrrrrr.

It’s been five years since he moved out of the house, and I need to celebrate how far I’ve come, and at the same time, keep working on how not to fall to pieces. 

I’ll be truthful, one of my triggers is when he pressures the girls not to talk to me on the phone.  I had been letting the calls go to my voicemail, and I’ve been texting back to avoid that, but it was the long week end, so I’ve been picking up.  They sound stressed, poor dears, and it makes me sad for them.  Note to self: will let the phone go to voicemail tonight.

And another trigger—it stings when I see him acting like the victim or when he’s doing his “hey, look! I’m super-dad!”  But, I also know that him acting well and on good behavior is actually what’s best for my daughters.  So I have to suck it up and be kind and grit my teeth and be okay.  It is okay, it WILL be okay.

This trigger, I think, has to do with being believed that I wrote about last week.  In my head I know I must fill up my heart with:  I know what happened, that’s what matters.  My closest friends and family who helped me leave a very bad situation—my attorney, therapists, and closest advisors—they believed me.  That’s what matters.  I have to figure out how to set aside the anxiety that comes when I think someone might be drinking his lemonade.  I have zero and zip control over any lemonade buyers out there.  The rest of me needs to catch up with my head on the logistics of all of that.  Baby steps.  Some days better than others.

So right now, I need to hold onto the sights of my lovely daughters, growing up so fast—meditating on their voices and laughter and giggles, breathing in every moment, even the exasperation when I have to assist in settling arguments or “it’s not fair,” or embracing the (awk!!) “mom, what’s pubic hair?”  type of questions.  (insert laughing with tears out of your eyes emoji here!)

I can’t wait to get on the plane and fly away for a little while.  To hug my mom and see my daughters hug her, too.  To laugh with my family, to be silly, to see new sights with the girls that they haven’t seen before.  Hurray for our new life!  I’m so lucky and thankful and grateful for this day.  Even if there are fingers of anxiety touching my heart, I hold onto the sun and the light and the love.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Healing Journey

Image credit [here]

Well, I guess I spilled all over emotionally during my last post.  I’ve since had the realization that should the Ex do that again--call me up to berate me about something I have no control over, just hold the phone away from my ear and remember it’s just noise.  He can’t hurt me like he used to.  That part of my life is over.  In our coparenting counselor’s words:  he may blur the boundaries, and you have to set them.  (and also) you always have to be the wrong one.

Gee, thanks.  I kind of knew that already.  But at least I have some validation.  I wonder why validation is so important?  I think it’s that part of ourselves—especially those of us who’ve journeyed the path of bullying and abuse--that wants to be believed.  Needs to be believed.

I recently joined a group of survivors online.  The focus is not so much concentrating on the pain that we’ve survived, but to embrace the new lives that we’re all building.  I happened to be on the page, and someone posted the unbelievable pain and heartbreak of abuse they experienced at the hands of their adoptive parents—horrible acts from the father, and the mother didn’t believe her and would beat her.  The hospital workers turned a blind eye.  As soon as she could get out at 18, she did.  She was angry—angry at her parents for enacting the abuse, angry at the hospital workers for believing the cock and bull stories her parents came up with, angry at the world that didn’t save her.  Didn’t believe her.  And this was the first time she’s ever told anyone about it. 

I immediately started writing—I believe you.

But the comment wouldn’t take…in just one minute, she took it down.  So I wrote a separate post—Dear J, I believe you.  What they did was horrible.  You did nothing wrong.  You did nothing to deserve their actions.  What your parents did, and everyone who colluded with them, are horrible.  I believe you. 

Later, she came back on—she said thank you—and that she’d had a panic attack and removed the post.  And I wrote back that I understood, healing is a journey, everyone takes their own time, and I thought she was brave to even contemplate sharing her story.  But no matter what, she was believed.

Those are really strong words to say to a survivor:  I believe you.

Yes, we are building new lives.  She is raising her kids, has traveled the world.  I have remarried to an honest, kind, loving, hard working hubby who loves and respects me, and loves and adores his stepdaughters as any parent would.  I’ve come a long way in trusting that peace and love are not some weird skin that needs to be peeled off.

Because people like her and people like me, we’ve learned that pain is normal.  Our houses have burned down and we’ve had to rebuild from the ashes countless times.  Because of being in situations that were untenable, the cost and pain of surviving pain—THAT was normal. 

Happiness and peace?  Alien concepts.  Something I believed in—lofty words that I reach for, because I know they matter, but never quite learned how to make them real.  How to make them stick.  So lately I’ve been working on letting happiness, peace, love win.  And not just theoretically, but holding it, embracing it, so it doesn’t feel like some alien has entered in my house.  Somehow, I have to figure out how to live in a place where normal is kindness, normal is patience, normal is forgiving.  It really is a new life I’m building.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summer Challenge

Image Credit (here)

It sounds like a fitness challenge!  And the good news is, I’ve really worked on exercising.  I’m feeling pretty strong and I’ve lost a bit of weight, but most importantly, when I exercise, I’m *not* worrying.  So that’s a plus. :)

But, wow was the two week extended time with the girls at their dad’s a challenge.  I tried to follow my “coping” advice.  I give myself a C+.  I passed, I survived, I didn’t fail outright.

Here’s my C+ evaluation.

The girls usually call when they’re with dad and vice versa, we call dad when the girls are at our house.  It’s kind of a pain in the a$$, because at my house, I make sure we have “manners” when the phone call happens, the t.v. is off, the games have stopped, the coloring pencils are down, etc.  When the girls call me from dad’s house, they sound stressed, want to get off the phone, the t.v. is blaring, they’ll tell me, mommy, can this be a short call, we’re watching Finding Nemo, or Shrek, or [Fill in the Blank].  And sometimes they just sound stressed, and that makes me sad for them.  I know it’s hard for them already to please their dad, and showing affection towards me—is something they know they can’t do in front of him.  So I’ve gone over with the girls that the phone calls are for them, not for mommy or daddy, but for them.  And they say, I know!  And laugh.  So sometimes, I let the phone go to voicemail, and I send them a text back.  I know that they love me, I know they don’t have to talk to me every day, and if I can lessen the stress for them, then fine.  And sometimes I do have to talk to them (i.e. don’t forget tennis tomorrow, or aunty so and so will be picking you up for girl scouts, etc) and at those times, then I remind them it’s good to have phone manners.  And…every time they ask for a “short call” I say, okay!  And hang up.  (Unlike when they ask dad for a short call, it drags on and on and on…but that’s another story for another day).

All right, so last week end, I heard from the girls they were going camping (still on their extended summer visit; plus father’s day week end, great.)  Exie sent me a text last week that he would have the girls call at noon on Friday, because he wasn’t sure about the reception at the camp site.  Fine, I’m flexible.  Well, last Friday I was in a marathon meeting, didn’t get out until 1pm, and when I did, heard a voicemail from the girls to call them back.  So I did.  It went to voicemail, so I hung up, and went in search of lunch, because I was starving.

A minute later, my phone rings, I answer with a cheerful, “HI DD2!”

Instead—it’s Exie in a nasty (but not yelling, at least) tone:  Didn’t you get my texts?  I don’t have a charger so I told you to only call for an emergency.

Me : No, I didn’t get any texts, I just got out of a marathon meeting and was returning DD2’s call.

Exie:  Well, I sent you texts saying that I don’t have a charger, and so now I’m going to have stay home for another HOUR to charge my phone before we leave.

Me:  Look, I am just returning DD2’s call, are you going to let me talk to the children or not?

Exie:  Well, I guess I’ll let you talk to the kids today, but only text tomorrow, because I don’t have a charger.

Me:  Ok.

The girls come on, they’re excited to go camping, not a care in the world, happy go lucky, for which I am grateful.  We talked for maybe 5 minutes or less—then on I went to get my lunch.

And in a bit of shock—we always communicate by text or emails (clearly, a good reason for that).  In line to get my salad, I check my texts and then I see them—a long drawn out text about how he doesn’t have a phone charger, and to limit calling to emergencies for the next two days. 

Look, I know I was all triggered by  my PTSD of having to talk to him.  He who used to choke our tiny dog in front of the girls.  He who kicked DD1 in the stomach because he was angry she wouldn’t get up off the floor to leave his mom’s house.  He who flicked DD1 on the back of her head when she wasn’t answering his question when he walked behind her at the dinner table, so instead of swallowing her mouthful of rice, she coughed it out and started crying.  He who kicked a giant fitness ball at wobbly DD2 who had just started walking, knocking her over.  He who locked DD1 in a pitch black bathroom to teach her a lesson.  He who… 

He who comes off as this “poor me” person to the rest of the world, I’m so sad I have a crazy ex-wife who tried to take the kids away from me.

(Healing is this long journey that I’m still on.  I’ve come so far and yet I can remember his actions so vividly.  And I hurt and am scared and am angry and trying, trying to move forward.)

Anyway, back in line after getting my sandwich, I decide, no, it’s not okay to call me up and talk to me that way.  No, it’s not my responsibility that you don’t have a charger.  Not that I push it, but the decree clearly states both parents have unlimited phone access to the children. So WTF was that lame a$$ phone call all about?

After I settled down (and consulted with one of my good friends, who witnessed Exie’s anger outbursts), I sent him a response via text—No problem compromising about the texting/phone calls, just received your texts.  There was no reason to talk to me that way when you called earlier; this is fine, a little more notice would have been helpful in today’s case.

Good, done, fine.  Girls called two days later, they had a blast camping, and then they finally came home last Monday.  Hurray, we’re back on our regular schedule.

But, no, not fine, because the day the girls came home, I get a long drawn out email about how when he “answered his phone,” he surmised I thought he was angry, he was not, and the kids and he discussed that he didn’t sound angry.  WTF?

So I had to respond again, correcting the facts (i.e. no, he called me to bite my head off about info I didn’t have): I had merely returned DD2’s phone call, and was connected to voicemail so hung up.  When I received his phone call, I was baffled that it was him, and not DD2, and further confused when I assured him I did not receive his texts.  At any rate, I had a nice conversation with the girls.

Blah blah blabbity blah.  This whole thing is stupid and tiring.  I’m tired of being the bad guy, I’m tired of being vigilant.

And btw, one of the first things DD2 told me when we were walking our dog after she came home from school?  Daddy says A is not my daddy, and not even my step daddy.

And me:  gosh, how did that make you feel?

DD2: bad, and…I didn’t want to get in trouble.

Me: With who?

DD2:  with daddy. 

Me: I’m really sorry he said that, sweetie.

DD2: skipping along with our puppy, nodding, and then distracted by the flowers we were passing, picking them to put in my hair and hers.  Next time, I’ll remember to say, and what do you think, DD2?  To help her make up her own mind.

That night, all sitting around the dinner table, we held hands, said grace, and ate dinner, the subject of divorce came up again (A’s parents divorced 20 years ago, both remarried and amicable and clearly moved on).  DD1 had laid eyes on her family tree project, displayed in the corner, across from where she was sitting, and laughed about having to have so many leaves on her tree because of having a dad and a mom and a stepdad and then A’s parents were divorced, too, and did that make A sad when his parents divorced?  And he said, you know, it did for a while, but then I was okay, because now I have two stepparents, and they’re like regular parents.  And DD1 didn’t skip a beat and nodded and said, yeah, like you!  (And my  heart about burst in my chest).

And DD2 was nodding and soaking it all in.

So maybe, in time, everything will just be okay.  I hope so.