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Once upon a time, a well-respected psychologist that I know told me that sometimes when we dream about something familiar, like our childhood home, it’s because our minds are working out unresolved issues. This resonated with me—I know I have a lot of unresolved issues, and I know I have a lot to work through. Some things still trouble me, hence this blog (ha!), some I’ve learned to let go, some I wish I could let go. Maybe we have to take two steps forward and take one step back to heal. Maybe we’re all puzzles with some pieces easily fitting together, others we struggle to fit, pushing them repeatedly and repeatedly, even when we know the ends don’t meet. (By the way, I do love a great jigsaw puzzle—my mom used to set them up at Christmas and we’d all work on it together. When the girls get a little bit older, I’m going to introduce this holiday tradition!).
So last night, I dreamt about my ex. And in it, he wasn’t the scary, angry, rageful person that I used to be afraid of. He was the reasonable, self-effacing, friendly person that I fell in love with, he was that friend I had for many years before we started dating. My dream self saw him with dread, but he simply asked me for directions, then accompanied me to various stops along the way (I think we were shopping in some random, indoor/outdoor mall type of place), until he found the store that he was looking for. We said our goodbyes in a civilized manner. And then I woke up.
I’ll be honest, I did have nightmares of him when he first moved out. The threats to kill us; my girlfriend and attorney had me change the locks to my house. I’d dream about huge fights and yelling, or sometimes I’d dream about huge fights that were enacted out by his ice old, chilling, silent seething. I think those were almost worse than when he broke things and threw things, because it was like the calm before the storm. At least when he was swearing and breaking and throwing stuff, it was out in the open. (Neither of these scenarios are good, I know.)
So last night’s calm and civilized dream—I wonder if it was my mind working out some things about my ex, and in response to a heated debate I had with my hubby. We debate a lot about my Exie and it’s getting to be tiring. I’m of the—let’s move forward and if I can, how come you can’t? And Hubby gets frustrated that Exie “gets away” with his misbehavior (manipulating the girls, interfering with phone calls by making them feel responsible for him, see almost every entry about coparenting challenges in this blog). Hubby’s perspective is—the children are not his children, but he loves them as his stepdaughters and he loves me as his wife, and he will do everything and anything to protect us. And build a life for us that is free from pain and suffering.
I explained to my Hubby that over the years and because of the divorce, the Ex doesn’t hurt me anymore. Yes, he is frustrating and a pain in the arse, but I’m no longer cowering in fear, rather, I think of the challenges that we face with Exie as facing someone like a radio with missing frequencies—we’ll never get him to tune into the FM “behave like a reasonable person” channel—the Ex has trouble taking responsibility of his actions, behavior, words. The Ex needs to be loved in a way that is not the healthiest. Trying to hold Exie accountable or demand he change his ways or combat and treat Exie the way he treats me and the girls so he will “change,” is just not doable.
Instead, all of that energy and time and effort—I have to put into my job to show the girls a different way of loving and living.
Our blended family is a work in progress. At least Hubby is aligned with the fact that we remain positive, upbeat, and neutral about the girls’ father in our home, even when Hubby gets upset about the things Exie does and says to the children. So I’m thankful for that.
In the meantime, as my dream panned out—my exie is not a two-story monster. He is definitely a pain in the arse, but he’s not someone who I need to be scared of. Concerned for the well-being of my kids, yes, but no longer the threat like the monster that I so dreaded before.