I thought he felt the same way.
I really did.
When I told my husband that I wanted a divorce, I expected him to be relieved or at least not surprised.
In my mind our marriage had not been working for some time and I thought that he wanted out as much as I did.
Boy, was I wrong. I don’t think it was because he was truly still in love with me or even really liked me that much, but to him our marriage was comfortable and familiar.
Change was not a friend to my husband.
I had all these fantasies about an “amicable divorce”. We would both be committed to putting the well-being of our son first, we would get along, no one would get hurt.
Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. I hurt my husband (even thought that was the last thing I wanted to do) and hurt people hurt people. The next 5 years was a trip through hell for me.
This is not a post where I am going to bash and re-count every “terrible” deed of my now ex-husband – I have moved beyond that.
But I do want you to know that I have been through the nightmare.
The fighting, the tears, the threats, the blackmail.
What I wanted more than anything during that time was for someone, anyone to make my ex see how he was damaging our child (in my opinion). How because he wasn’t behaving like I thought he should, he was wrong.
Why did he not get it? Why couldn’t he be a rational person and see things my way?
He knew my buttons well and, intentionally or not, he was pushing every one of them.
I was living with extreme anxiety. I never knew what each phone call or drop off would bring. Would he be “ok” or would there be another blow up or tantrum over something insignificant.
It broke my heart to see my son caught in the middle and I wanted to know how to protect him, how to give him his own strength.
I had pages and pages of notebooks filled with dates and specific incidents and things said – just in case. Just in case it got that bad that we ended up in court. I thank God that it didn’t come to that.
So how did things change?
I gave up
I gave up trying to change him. I gave up trying to turn him into a “better father”. I stopped beating my head against that proverbial brick wall and walked away instead.
I stopped accepting the invitations to the fights. I stopped trying to exert my power over him and empowered myself to control my reactions.
I had faith that as long as I was a good mom and always tried to do right by my son and let him know how much we was loved by both me and his father, that it would all be okay.
Somewhere along the way, my ex started to change as well. I’m not really sure what happened. Actually, maybe it was more my perception that changed. I can’t know for sure.
Yes, sometimes there are still little flare-ups but they stay little because I am able to just let go.
To not take it personally
To just say “okay, he must be having a bad day” and move on instead of letting it push my buttons.
I has now been 8 years since the divorce and I am still floored sometimes by the progress that has been made.
I was sure that our relationship would never get better – that my son would have to choose which of us he wanted more at this wedding (me, of course!) because his father would refuse to attend if I and my new husband were in attendance.
I would never have imagined that my ex, my son, myself, and my new husband would be sitting down to dinner together on a somewhat regular basis.
And my son?
He is doing just fine. He still spends half his time with me and half with his father. I think he had the whole letting go thing down a long time ago. So maybe he was teaching me as I was trying to protect him.
In the end, it can all be summed up (as can most things) by the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things that I can
And the Wisdom to know the difference.