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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!