Monday, September 22, 2014

At peace

For once, I feel at peace.  Maybe it’s because of our happy and silly week end with the children, rushing from one event to another, eating snacks along the way, bantering, singing along to songs playing in the car, and making penny wishes into the fountain outside of our mommy and girls’ lunch date.  Maybe it’s because the children’s play therapist was saying that DD1 is showing some resilience and that maybe her conflict isn’t as much attributed to her dad as it is just the normal “how do I fit in now that the fairy tale wedding is over?”  (Although, this is not to lessen the information that DD1 and DD2 share with me from what comes to their dad’s house.  Yes, a factor, but maybe not as big a factor as we first thought?  Maybe?)

Maybe it’s because I am sensing more strength in DD1—some days she is super engaged in how dad is ‘feeling,’ but other days she’s simply, ‘uh huh. Yep. No. nope. Yep” when talking on the phone with him, so maybe she is learning how to hold her own, how to place her boundaries, how to separate herself from him.

Maybe it’s because I sense a softening on A’s part—that he is genuinely making an effort to ‘let go’ what we can’t control and focus on making a positive life for the kids and our family.  Maybe it’s because I’m seeing DD1 slowly come back to her former, pre-wedding, bonding self with A.  Maybe it’s because of relaxing all together this week end, catching up on a favorite movie, or reading books together every night, and the giggling ensuing when A helps me get the girls into bed.  Maybe it’s because we planned a social event around DD2, who is always waiting for and following DD1 around, and she had a blast with her bestie, hanging out and having a grand old time.  Maybe it’s because we skyped with A’s dad—the children’s only known ‘grandpa’—as both mine and my ex’s are deceased, and the girls asked grandpa when he would come and visit.

Maybe it’s because my job is going very well, despite certain challenges, I feel like I’m “making a difference” in the people we serve and maybe even for my staff.  Maybe I feel proud that the “higher” I’ve grown in my career, the more humble I feel about what I do, because the main reason I’m successful is because of the people who work with me.

Maybe it’s because over the week end there was a conversation in the car that went like this:

DD1:  Is Barack Obama alive?
Me:  Yes, he’s our president.
DD1:  Well who’s going to be our next president?
Me:  I don’t know, it depends on who we vote for.
DD1:  I want to vote for a girl!
Me: Me, too!
DD2:  Me, three!

I love that they just assume they can vote for a woman, it never crosses their mind that they can’t!  This was further underscored by this speech given at the UN, by a young woman who can be a role model for my daughters, Emma Watson.

Maybe it’s because despite the vitriol I’ve lived through and continue to field (i.e. nit-picky email about haircuts and messages of forgetting to turn in DD1’s school fundraiser form), the bigger picture lately has been one full of happiness and love and growth.  <3 span="">

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Thank you letter

Dear God,

I am really sorry that I’ve been complaining a lot lately.  I feel like I’ve been all wrapped up in the negativity and stress, and today I woke up very thankful (and a little guilty for being all wrapped up in the stress).

I’m thankful because:  my two daughters are healthy and are growing and thriving.  They love their respective teachers and love learning about the world all around them.  DD1 has a big presentation today, and she practiced it so enthusiastically the other night, peppering her speech with “motions” and “gestures,” like horseback riding with her cousins, fishing with daddy, swimming and boogie boarding in the Atlantic ocean with her step-family.  DD2 loves her preschool pals and teacher, and she’s started gymnastics—and despite the speed bump this past week end, she is enthusiastic and loves it and bounds around excitedly, it’s all very sweet.

I’m thankful for my home, that we have a place to call home, when so many do not.

I’m thankful that we live in a country where girls can actually go to school and not be kidnapped or harassed or shot for doing so.

I’m thankful for my husband, who has, during the latest drama vitriol email exchanges from the ex, demonstrated calm support and encouragement, rather than getting frustrating and then wading into the thick of things to ‘fix’ it.  This latest go around was night and day compared to previous ones.  Apparently he is keeping his word about letting go of these things and doing his best not to overreact, and while I am still watchful, I recognize how hard it is for him to transition into “instant-family” and appreciate his efforts to support me in the hardest times.

I’m thankful for my support network, friends who are therapists and attorneys and friends who have just been there for me, throughout the pre divorce, and contested divorce, and now post divorce.  These people are my chosen family and I couldn’t have made it through without them.

I’m thankful for the myriad of support for the girls, especially for my DD1, who is lucky enough to be involved with lots of activities outside of school so she can build relationships and learn about things (dance, art, music, social responsibility and confidence in brownies), in addition to the elementary school rubrics.

I’m thankful that I have a fridge full of food and a closet full of snacks, so that we never have to worry about going hungry.

I’m thankful for my job, which makes me grow and learn something new every day.  I love that my work helps people in ways that I didn’t understand before coming here.

I’m thankful that I found a safe place to write about all of these things and have made connections with people who are going through similar experiences. 

Actually, now that I think about it, this list could go on and on.  And I’m really thankful about that, too.

Jane Thrive

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rawr. And a little hope.

i am so angry.

that i have to be the one to shlepp the children to their activities, because he won't contribute.  or he will make up an excuse.  that because of his obstinance in helping, most of their activities fall on my days, then we are up late doing stupid homework, instead of relaxing and having family time.  that at the dinner table, my husband and dd1 are finally relaxed and happy, but i have marching orders to get the damn homework done, because of said things.

so do i pull dd1 out of her activities?  i have never been the fan of the over-schedule, but she LOVES her pals and the things she gets to learn and do with them.  so what to do.  give up?

i feel like i have smoke coming out of my ears.  and i know i get stressed and i'm hurrying up dd1, and she is so patient (usually), and it's me who is having an aneurism, she is fine.

i am so angry.  and tired.  and just sometimes feel like giving up.

so the latest--i signed up dd2 for gymnastics, something discussed ages ago and even (surprise) agreed upon.  I gave official notice of dates/times/where/when a week prior to his week end.  Guess who was 'too sick' to go last saturday morning, but made a miraculous recovery to go on an outing to an outdoor party and chirp happily on the phone with me, while riding in the car hours later with dad and big sister?  Yes.  You betcha.

so who is taking dd2 to her make up class, because she loves it so much and is chirping away, leaping about, tumbling along the balance beam?  yes, that would be mom.

i don't even know why i'm writing about this.  i guess i'm trying to get the stress out.  i am so mad. thing that did melt my heart today that i'm going to hold onto for a little while--at dinner, before A came home from work, dd1 referred to him as her special name, AAA, TWICE, unawares. so very sweet. 
It means a lot, because right after we got married, she used it all day and every day, until her father got into her ear, made her feel bad about that special name, so she's been conflicted about using it ever since and has been using an alternative (that we've been supportive and accepting of, anyway).  maybe our neutral support is working.  i can only hope, right?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Letter to Heaven

Dear Ms. Steenkamp,

I wonder if you are watching down from Heaven.  I hope with all of my heart that you are beyond the pain and grief of what happened to you, and where ever you are, you feel only that you are loved.

I’m sorry that I don’t believe the judge.  It sounds like she will be coming to a legally sound judgment, one that makes your killer responsible for manslaughter, but I don’t believe she is completely correct. I’ve learned from leaving my domestic violence filled marriage that you can receive a legal outcome that does its “best” but is not perfect (in my case, protects you as best as possible), and still does not hold your abuser accountable for the egregious things that they did.

I believe the neighbors--that they heard you screaming.  I believe that Mr. Pistorious was likely screaming, too.  I believe that you ran into the bathroom with your phone, scared.  I believe that Mr. Pistorious killed you in one of his anger outbursts that evidence shows he was more than capable of.  I believe that he embarrassed you in front of your friends and made you feel responsible for his bad moods.

I once was responsible for my Ex’s bad moods.  I once was the one who tried to reason and explain and hope for the best, out of love and commitment—because I loved my Ex so much.  That doesn’t mean that the good things didn’t happen, I also sent him love letters and happy texts between the explosions, it just means that the bad things happened, too.

I believe our justice system is designed to be “fair,” but isn’t always “right.”  It’s why some killers are acquitted, or wrongly accused killers are convicted.  It is the legal system that puts on the blindfolds of justice and has to weigh the A, B, C, and Mr. Pistorious had a very savvy, educated defense team.  So the legal rights of both “sides” are weighed and balanced and then the system walks the line in between.  I’m sorry that witnesses that heard you screaming were not believed.

I’m sorry for your family, who will grieve your death, and I’m sorry for all women in this world who are killed by their partners.  How I wish I could wave a magic wand and stop this violence.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blended family blender, post script

I hope my post yesterday was not TMI--it's been an emotional roller coaster lately—and writing it all out helps me work through it.  My husband again assured me last night that he realized he was freaking out about the wrong things, overreacting around the wrong things (i.e. of course young children will wake you up in the mornings!).  That he realized after the drama this week end and the packed suitcase, that he needed to STOP and regain his composure.

I am wondering if what we are going through is "normal" in the sense of blending within the context of drama ex.

I look back at our 'courtship' (I do love those formal words), and I was so very careful to vet him--I put him through the ringer, he met all of my friends, my adopted family where i've made my home for the last seventeen years.  Because I was so afraid to trust completely my own judgment in the affairs of the heart (of note: my mom could not stand my ex, and like a dutiful daughter, I did not listen to her!—please DD1 and DD2 don’t repeat my mistakes!), I sought input and observations from my closest people, my therapist, everyone.  I seriously ran a background check (I work closely with legal research, lol). But most importantly, I believed in his kindness, intent, and beyond his sweetheart words, I watched for actions.  Did his actions match his words?  They did.  When it come to how he treated me—yes he swept me off my feet in every romantic way, but more importantly when there were any concerns and how we handled disagreements back in the day—there were never raised voices or angry slamming doors.  It was all very civilized.  He talked and I listened, I talked and he listened.  What we said to each other—we agreed or we agreed to disagree, but on any ‘bigger’ topics, we agreed upon and made changes for each other to help each other feel more comfortable.  And that was such a difference to what I experienced before—he was responsible, he would say something and follow through.

I think that is why I’ve been in state of shock and stress at the behavior that I described yesterday--so opposite of what happened prior.  I'm hopeful the drama over these last few months are part of the "transition."  Of course we would be upset that as soon as we married, my ex husband would make the children feel guilty, especially DD1, and do everything he can to interfere.  Of course there will be conflict as I try to introduce parenting to my husband, who has never had children, and on top of it all have to deal with the Ex interfering and making demands and manipulating the girls.  Yes there will be a huge learning curve on his part, and mine, in becoming a blended family. 

I would like to believe my husband’s words with regard to our latest dispute.  My past has made me cautious, and I will watch and see.  I love him and I love my daughters and if we could work through this, I think we have every chance at being a positive, loving home.  The other side to that, though, is something unbearable, something I do not want, and so I remain observant.  Cautious, but hopeful.