I've heard stories about amicable divorces. They are surely out there. Right? Can anyone verify that people really do separate on good terms? Are there any first-hand accounts available of what it is like to interact peaceably with the other parent or former partner? If there are, I think I need a nice, long sit-down over a pot of tea to understand the mechanics of that kind of relationship.
It's no surprise I don't have that. The peace I have has come from within, and I am grateful for that. I have worked and do work hard to get to that silent, still place in myself and in my life that is not cluttered by the noise of someone else screaming, of legal issues and complicated schedules.
And no matter what I write here or say to my parents or seethe over in my mind, I work very hard to have a workable relationship with The Ex. Sometimes, it goes better than I predict, thank goodness. Many times, it is tough but manageable. Other times, it is just awful.
Today was one of those days. A complete breakdown of communication into yelling and dredging up old stuff other ugly interactions that I am ashamed to admit. In defense of myself (and if I don't do that, who will?), I gave it my all. I tried so hard to just talk. I called back a second time, calmer, asking to negotiate, trying to reason. Sadly, none of that could be heard through the name-calling and accusations. It was as raw as it was early in our divorce process.
To be fair (and really, none of this is truly fair), I yelled back. I took the bait. I engaged even when I know, I know it is better not to engage. I tried to hard to let (my) logic win and I talked too much. I felt I was being fair, but I also know that too often I am not.
And in the end, I will not win this one (and no, when it comes to divorce, especially with kids, there is never winning). I will concede because otherwise the conflict will impact Lil E and I cannot have that. I am backing down.
Here I sit, hours and hours after the hour I spent on the phone with The Ex, and I am still sad, exhausted, overwhelmed by the idea it will always be like this (I know, it won't always be like this). The thing that feels the worst to me is being told how I am, who I am, and why I do the things I do (at least according to the other person on the end of the cell phone).
When I told this to my parents (as I tell all of these things), my mother asked me a hard but important question, "Why is it that you still believe the things he says about you?"
In my head, I don't. I know myself, better now than I did when I was married. But my heart sobs every time I'm told all of those awful things.
My marriage, until the end, was not like that. But my divorce is full of those hateful moments. I guess if I wasn't internalizing all those words, I wouldn't take it so much. I don't need anyone's "awww" for that. I am more upset that I let his anger inside the door of my home. Again.
Next time, I will end the conversation. Or hang up. Or follow through on my already-outlined list of exit strategies.
But I have a bigger task that clicking "end call." The opposite of love, my mother often reminds me, is apathy. Isn't that the damn truth? Truly, I was over the love immediately, and for most aspects of The Ex's life, I am completely un-invested. But I think today I got that I have been settled in the hate for so long, and now it is time to move into an apathetic place. Why is it so hard to get over so much other stuff but this, what the other person thinks of us, lasts so much longer than the loving feelings?
I have a lot yet to unravel. I have a lot to un-believe about the woman who messes up, yells, is miles away from perfect, but is doing her best in this single mama life a great deal of the time.
Even if none of you are blessed with an amicable ex-relationship, perhaps there are those of you who have been through the un-believing process yourselves. Please, share, share.
And if you, like me, are still caught in the chaos, do you continue to take your ex's beliefs to heart?