The last weeks have been full of high highs and low lows. They have been so far apart in their emotional impact they really couldn’t have been any different. It’s been hard and happy and so exhausting. My people though? My people have been amazing. I already talked about the highs in my last post, so let’s talk about the lows. I finally signed documents to take F to court after months of asking for mediation. I’m beyond disappointed that this is where we’ve come to. I’ve been asking him for mediation for so long. All his messages are full of manipulation and anger. It’s so hard to deal with. And yet, I still reach out over and over and try to get him to change his mind. It’s my exercise in futility as I try to get what is best for my kids.
The most recent chapter of the conflict with my sister came to a close last week with a court date and not entirely the result I wanted. Turns out I can’t protect my children from her because she hasn’t treated them badly enough. At the very least, I won’t have to have contact with her for the next two years. I guess that’s something. This loss, however, had me feeling pretty shitty in general. I tried and failed, which isn’t a big deal, but in the process, I hurt my parents, two people who have done nothing but support me and love me. I put exactly how much she had hurt me out in the light and it wasn’t enough to protect those who matter most to me, my kids. And F and W were there to watch the whole thing.
Predictably, F started stirring up shit within a couple days. More manipulation about extracurricular activities and arguments about getting my kids in counseling. Seriously, why would anyone ever restrict permission for their children to get counseling when they are going through a nasty divorce? Well, F, of course. We are in the middle of a nasty conversation that largely involves him accusing me of doing things that I haven’t done to distract from the fact that his kids don’t want to go to his house and that they have been talking to me quite openly about what happens at his house and none of it is positive. I have called him out on that, after he made thinly veiled accusations about my children seeing a genital piercing I have and it being inappropriate and accused me of intentionally alienating my oldest daughter when I told her what I had told him that she had said to me. That’s right, it’s that confusing and convoluted.
So much of this is old news. F stirring up shit. Manipulating the stories to serve his agenda. The loss in court last week had me questioning myself and my decisions. Was I making the right decisions for my family, especially my kids? Was it worth the emotional impact to me and the stress and hurt it caused? A long list of very accusatory and manipulative emails from F added to that. While I could see what he was doing, he totally used what he knows of my insecurities and my triggers to throw me further into doubt. Of course, I didn’t tell him that, but that was the net effect. The result of this is that I haven’t been able to sleep very well. I wake up a lot and can’t get back to sleep because my brain won’t shut of. When A, P, or T have been in bed with me, I’ve been attached to them. Apparently have an innate need to feel protected and cuddled as a result. I have nightmares. Horrible nightmares involving awful things happening to my children and the people I love. I’m exhausted.
Add to this that it is my busy time of year and I’m drowning in work and I’m just done.
I’ve been living with this stress and not really understanding what the actual twisty bit was behind it until it hit me on my commute to work this morning. I sent the most recent awfulness to G knowing that she would be the only person I know who would read it and not go directly to blaming F and his assholeness, but would understand that underneath I was feeling a lot of pain and doubt. I knew she would get it and understand that what I needed to hear was not that he’s a dick and to ignore him and take away his power, but that I needed to feel all the horrible feelings, sit in them, know what they do to me, and let go of them so I could move on. I need to feel those horrible doubts so I can take away their power. Knowing that she would get it, I sent her this:
“It has me questioning everything. And feeling like every decision I make and action I take has to be perfect. I hate that he is so horrible to my kids. And I hate that I haven’t been perfect in responding to the way he treats them. And I hate that I haven’t been perfect in responding to them when they talk to me about things. And I know perfection isn’t possible, but it’s not possible to be human and make mistakes when co-parenting with someone like him. And I hate that I can’t protect them. He isn’t “bad enough” to warrant losing the kids. He isn’t good enough to deserve them. I hate it all. I hate the way he manipulates things to get to me and I hate that I respond to those things every time and doubt myself and my parenting ability and that I’m doing the right things for my kids.
And I hate more than anything that asking to put my kids in counseling took a conversation like that and I still haven’t got permission, when I know damn well he won’t be taking the kids to counseling himself.
Heartbreaking is the only word for any of it.”
This afternoon, I had a good catch up and quick visit with one of my best work friends. She commented that I look exhausted. That the pictures I’ve been posting on social media are great, but that she can see in my eyes that something more is going on with me. So I filled her in. Among the many things we talked about was how being kind is so important to me. Living a life where I choose to understand where people are coming from and forgive them for their mistakes instead of condemning them for being human. She said something that really resonated with me and may have been the thing that I needed to hear. She is often very complimentary, and she is an introvert with a need for a lot more alone time than I do. She always says: “You have 4 kids, 2 jobs, 3 partners, close relationships with many friends and your family, and a very active, successful career. I don’t know how you do it all and still make time to laugh and enjoy life.”
Today she said all those things and then said: “Everyone deserves grace. But you, you do all those things and you are kind and supportive and generous and acknowledge that you are human. You deserve grace most of all.”
I don’t know if I *deserve* grace any more than the next person, but I know that grace isn’t something I’m going to get from F. That I’m going to continue to be put under a microscope and he will continue to criticize my actions or inaction as he sees fit. He can only live with the gravity of his actions if he makes me out to be worse that he is. If he’s criticizing me, he doesn’t have to look within himself. But I need to give myself the understanding and forgiveness that I give others. I need to forgive myself for being human, for being fallible, for being imperfect, for being myself in the world where everyone wants all of us to be someone else.
I need to give myself the grace that I give others. Forgive myself my imperfections. This is hard to do when my kids face the consequences. So I’m going to sit in these feelings and take away their power. Gracefully.