Live, Love, Blend:
Get Mad, And Then Get Over It
I did something the other day that I haven’t done in a long time; I got mad at my ex-husband.
I understand, you may be mad at your ex all the time and can’t yet imagine those feelings becoming a rare occurrence. Have faith. The day will come when he will no longer be a thorn in your side. Whether time or distance, or unforeseen event intervenes, the one thing we are guaranteed is that change is inevitable. Hang in there.
For the most part I really don’t think about my ex very often. We haven’t heard a peep from him in more than 2 years, so as far as our day-to-day lives go, he really doesn’t factor in very much.
There are times, however, when his absence is less of a blessing. For me, the lack of child support gets a bit stressful. For our 2 boys, the void is greater. They don’t talk about him much but I know they miss him. I know they wonder why he doesn’t call or write. I fear they blame themselves in some way for his decision to stay away. I can tell them until I’m blue in the face that it’s his own hurts, habits and hangups that keep him from reaching out. But still they wonder. The older son especially holds many memories close to his heart.
Then recently we had what Oprah might call an “Ah-ha Moment”. I was driving my older son through the town where his father’s family lives, and on a whim we decided to drop by. We were greeted with hugs and open arms, which was really nice and oddly therapeutic for both of us. Then, my former mother-in-law informed me of the reason my ex has been so MIA… he’s in prison. Wow. I can’t honestly say I’m surprised because I knew it was only a matter of time given his battle with alcoholism. I guess I was more shocked that no one told us, or that I hadn’t guessed.
In any case, my son did not take it well. He was so angry. At first I tried to pacify him, explaining that at least now we have a better understanding of the gulf that separates them. Then I decided to shut up and let him feel his feelings. It’s okay to be angry sometimes. I believe it can be an important step in the healing process.
It took another day or two but then something unexpected happened. I got angry too. Nobody saw my outburst, especially the boys. I took some time alone and basically threw a big temper tantrum, shouting (yes, out loud) at this man for letting us down. I yelled at him for not being the husband or father we had needed. I cried for the way his addiction stole his self-respect, and eventually my trust and respect for him as well. I shouted about all the ways I’d tried to help him during our 12 year marriage. I mourned the father my boys were supposed to have. And then I let it go. He’s God’s child, and God is the only one who can help him.
Now that a little time has passed I realize that I needed that outburst. I needed to get mad just as much as my son did. Now we both need to move forward and look to the things for which we can be thankful, and there are many to be found.
No matter what your situation, I encourage you to make a gratitude list. It’s amazing once you get started how many things you’ll find are actually going right in your life, and in your blended family.
Here are my top 3:
- a healthy, fit body
- a healthy, loving husband
- 5 healthy, smart kids
What’s on yours?