Friday, September 30, 2016

Back to School Night

  Image credit here
Well, we did it!  DD2’s back to school night was this past week, and I was gearing up to go it alone, be the perfect professional divorced mom and put up a brave, positive, upbeat front.  I did do all of that, but hubby ended up coming in support of DD2 and for me as well.

Hubby and the ex shook hands, we ended up sitting all together, the girls were happy, DD2 spent time in dad’s lap and in mom’s lap and even cuddled with hubby for a bit, and I enjoyed that everyone was on their best behavior for the girls.  Two steps forward.  Yes!

So three things that I observed:

1) When DD2 asked who was going to Back-to-School night, and when I said we all were, she immediately whispered in my ear that she was worried she was going to get in trouble, “because daddy says he’s her only real daddy.”  And I whispered back, yes that’s true, daddy is her real daddy, but she won’t get in trouble, because back to school night is for everyone in the family.  And p.s. A is her step-daddy, so that makes him a parent, too.  She nodded thoughtfully.  And based on the evening, and her gleeful running around proudly showing us her classroom, her friends, and her artwork—hopefully she feels okay and hopefully she *won’t* get in trouble.

2) Hubby was gracious, was the first to shake Exie’s hand (so he couldn’t really refuse), hubby participated in conversations with the teachers but made it a point not to leave Exie out, was inclusive, and also maintained appropriate boundaries i.e. when DD2 decided she was tired of sitting around listening and wanted to climb and play, hubby told her no, you have to sit with daddy or mommy.  (Awww…swoon.  Seriously, swoon.)

3) Before bed that night, maybe it had to do with the three of us being out together, maybe the contrast of our house vs dad’s house, who knows, really—DD1 had another moment where she said she didn’t want to grow up, because she didn’t want to be like Uncle F.  (Uncle F is my ex’s brother, the one person in that family who stuck up for the girls in the face of my ex’s anger outbursts, who also tried to come between my ex and their mother when ex would take out his aggression on their mom, too.  The one person who went on record that my ex has an anger problem and that he feared for the kids’ safety.  They all live in the same house now, and when the kids go to visit, DD1 has told me on numerous occasions that they’re not allowed to talk to Uncle F.)

And when I asked what do you mean you don’t want to be like Uncle F? DD1 responded that she wasn’t allowed to talk to him, because remember he fought with daddy about her and DD2 when they were little, and I responded—you know…adults make their own decisions, and the one thing you need to know is that their fighting is not your fault.  And…it’s hard to understand why adults make their decisions, but one day, when you’re a grown up, maybe you can talk to Uncle F, then.  And she just cuddled up to me some more.


Last thought of the day—I know I can be perfect professional divorced mom for my girls’ sake when we have to do public events like this, or whenever the topic of dad comes up at our house.  I’ve been doing it for five years.  Some days way better than others, but I’ll give myself a B+ for the early years, and an A- for the last year or so.  I’ve made it my mission to be neutral and upbeat and positive for the girls about their dad and fiercely protect the lines of communication—so they can express their feelings without feeling judged.  I hope I’m doing that, I hope my fear from the past doesn’t color my interactions with them or if so, in the most undetectable ways possible.

Because, there’s still that part of me that freezes up, the PTSD part of me that is triggered, just knowing I have to see him.  It’s what’s taking the healing process so long; I constantly have to deal with communicating/addressing issues/cranky emails that border on obsessively critical, or let’s just say it—accusatory nasty words.  In observations of when the girls struggle with something he says or does.  UGH.  It triggers all of the pain and fear, even though in my HEAD I know he can’t hurt me anymore.  Even though I’m doing my best to support my girls to honor and trust their own feelings and voices.

Sometimes this comes up with a specific event, i.e. back to school night, or now, Parent-Teacher conference time, which I dread a little bit every year, because I have to ask for a separate conference.  And I worry what the teachers will think of me when I ask, or am terrified they’ll refuse.  One year, I had to send in a copy of the TRO and then they were super understanding, but not until I had to go into specifics.

So it was comforting to have Hubby with us—not only for the girls’ sake to see all the adults in their lives behaving and getting along, but also a soothe to my soul, too, that I wouldn’t have to do this alone.  Does that make me weak?  I don’t know, maybe it does, but I like to think of it as giving me a break from the pressure of being the granite rock of a highroad tightrope walker.  That’s what it feels like when managing my EXIETY—for lack of a better word, lol—walking a tightrope but feeling like I have granite for legs.

I know I can do it alone, I have done it before, public spaces are okay.  It’s the small, private spaces that are scarier for me.  The truth of the matter is—I’m not comfortable being in a small space with my ex.  The thought makes my stomach freeze up.

I’m so happy to report that DD2’s teacher did say I could have a separate PTC this year, and so did DD1’s, both of their PTC times will be coming up in November.

So…all is well on that end, and I think that little kernel of anxiety that’s still beating in my rib cage will be put to rest once my conference times are confirmed.

Arggh, lol.  Where’s my anti_Exiety medication again?  I guess writing it down is a form of medication, and looking forward to a fun week end with the girls is also an antidote.  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Happy List

Image credit (here)

Awk!  Where has the time gone, I didn’t realize I hadn’t posted last week!

I’m happy to report that all is well on the Exie front.  I cringe a little bit when I write that, because I worry I’m inviting drama by acknowledging that there currently isn’t any—that’s my superstitious nature or my anxiety, arggh!

And while I know I can’t control my feelings, I can control my behavior.  So while I sit here and manage the anxiety, I’m also going to focus and write about happy things going on these days.  Change the scenery, so to speak.

1)     Squirrel is doing well at school.
2)     Ladybug is doing well at school, settling into her new routine.
3)     Hubby is embracing working out and being on a diet—his goal is to lose 30 lbs, and I’m so impressed at his dedication!  I’ve been worried about his health over the last two years, and I’m so happy he’s taking it seriously.
4)     My anxiety is only waking me up once in the night (instead of multiple times).
5)     I celebrated a dear friend’s 40th birthday, by surfing, drinking prosecco by the hotel swimming pool, and then swimming in said hotel pool. I mean really, what can be better than that?
6)     I’ve made some new acquaintances; we meet weekly to work on yarn/sewing projects over the lunch hour.
7)     I finished knitting a pair of socks for my mom, putting in the mail today!
8)     Embarking on new work projects that I think will help the community—this one is a bit amorphous and anxiety inducing, but oh well, keep on keeping on.
9)     Will be traveling to a dear friend’s wedding in November, and having a reunion with her and two sweetheart college friends for a girls week end!
10)  Exie agreed to keep the girls for the one extra night due to this traveling, and bonus, offered a swap since he will also be traveling, and I’ll have an extra holiday day with the girls. Yay!!
11)  I’ve been able to have some lunches with girlfriends that I don’t get to see very often these days—it’s really special to be able to catch up and spend some time together.

You know what, I think I’ll stop while I’m ahead on the happy list.

But I’ll end this post with one more thought, a light, I hope to help shine out some of my darker thoughts, inspired by the great Lisa Thomson’s post our lives as books—when I was little, I loved to read, and I loved the magical adventure novels like The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, or A Wrinkle in Time, etc.  And I thought maybe I’d grow up and have an adventure, maybe overcome some evil, maybe save the world!

And now?  Instead of that lofty goal of overcoming evil, lol, I hope that somehow, I’m able to help the people around me, my family, my friends, the people I work with.  I hope that I can teach my daughters how to be kind, how to be loving, how to be forgiving, how to be strong.  I hope that I can be kind and loving in all that I do, which is a tall order considering the $!@#$ that exists in the world.  But given that !@#$, I don’t want to sink into cynicism, I don’t want anxiety to rule my behavior and choices.  I hope I can be a light—for myself and my kids.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

An adventure to see lava

Last week end, we had the opportunity to whisk the girls away for an adventure to see live lava flowing into the ocean.

Per usual, my antiExiety kicked in—after notifying the ex about our trip, he told me I was endangering the children by traveling during storm watches and questioning my judgment.  I decided to take the high road and thanked him for his concerns, and responded that we were monitoring the weather closely and that I would update him on any changes to the itinerary.  (p.s. the travel arrangements had been made well ahead of any prediction of storms coming into the area…)

However, we completely lucked out on the weather!  Our flight out to the Big Island took off in the late afternoon, after the first hurricane Madeline had cleared the islands, and we were expecting the second storm, Lester, to pass over while we were there.  But then Lester decided to take a turn for the north, and all watches and warnings were cancelled, hurray!

Which led to fun hikes across lava rocks, a helicopter ride to see the lava flowing into the ocean, and lots of pool time, where the girls and I floated, holding hands like otters.  Heart full!

There is part of me that feels guilty, that I don’t feel I deserve all this goodness of late.  I think it’s my amped up anxiety and PTSD, which has for some reason informed my life that every time something good happens, then something negative or terrible has to follow.  I’m working on that—a continual healing work in progress.

That said, I was so happy I was able to table a lot of my anxiety and just be in the moment—holding hands with my daughters, relaxing by the pool or chasing them down waterslides, marveling at the night sky on the drive back after seeing the lava, showing them the milky way and shooting stars and constellations that shone brighter than they’ve ever seen, because we were in the middle of an island with no light pollution.

And even when the girls got grumpy due to over-excitement and staying up late, I still managed to comfort them with hugs and love and laughter.

Blended families are so complicated, sometimes—how I wish it could be easier.  At the moment, I think I’ll just relax into the vision of DD1 making eggs for the hubs, and DD2 snuggling up next to me in the wee morning hours, so excited to be on vacation that she was the first to wake up.

It’s hard to believe that just a week ago we were getting ready to get on a plane, and now we’re back again.  I hope these memories will stick with the girls, their games when they were playing in the pool, DD1 patiently giving horsey rides to DD2 when she couldn’t touch, both giggling and laughing and splashing and jumping in and out of the water.  Oohing and aahing at the fingers of lava falling into the ocean, DD2 telling me that the trees looked like broccoli as we flow over the forests.  Or DD1 and DD2 getting thrown into splashing fits of laughter by the hubs as we swam.

Please god, let me be at peace.  Please god, let my girls also be at peace, too.  Help us learn to accept good things in our lives without worry and stress.  I am thankful.