Truthfulness Prevails

Be sure you want to know the truth. Truth can hurt. Yet, truth can also raise reality, causing one to face their greatest fears. 

Today I found out my youngest saw me at her graduation from community college last June. My ex and I were talking about our kids’ feeling abandoned by me. I shared that though she didn’t know I was at her graduation, I wanted to be there because I love her.  He corrected me and said she knew, that she had spotted me in the big crowd of proud parents, siblings and supportive family and friends. When I asked my ex what she said when she told him she saw I was there, he hesitated. I asked to please tell me. “What is she doing here?”, she remarked. Her dad said it was a public ceremony, no invites necessary and said her mom had every right to be there.

As stated, truth can hurt. 

A year ago that statement would’ve devastated me. Though a tear or two appeared, I remembered her truth differs from mine and the tears subsided as quickly as they came. My self-worth is not determined by the love and acceptance of my girls. It’s been a slow yet purposeful cycle getting to this point. How they feel towards me doesn’t affect my love for them. It simply hurts. And I’m facing my hurt head on.

I saw my therapist early this week. Been over a year since my last visit. Was compelled to reach out after reading my youngest girl’s blog post. Tough and meaningful session. Still absorbing and will share soon. Important lessons revealed. 

 

 

Advertisements

Name Change: The Last Acquiescence

What’s in a name? Plenty. It was stipulated in the settlement. At the time I agreed to change my name, didn’t give it much thought, being I was merely gasping for breath while staying afloat during those mediation sessions months prior.

He asked for 3 specific things in our divorce:

  1. That spousal support have a specific end date with no modifications.
  2. That spousal support end if I cohabit with another. (non-marriage)
  3. That I change my name.

Thing is, he didn’t really ask, he insisted, never inquired how I felt or made an attempt to actually discuss his reasons why this was so important to him. And to be fair, I was not in a place where I questioned very much at that time. I accepted his requests, albeit with quiet resentment. 

Why did I agree to change my name back to my maiden name?

Quickest answer: acquiescence. Changing my name was my homage – my last acquiescence of my marriage. And there were a LOT of them. 

That’s my responsibility. We all have a voice. Some use them more effectively than others. Being how I was raised, combined with genetic make-up, throw in deeply rooted self-esteem issues and you’ve got yourself a loving if not fearful woman, hesitant to speak her mind and raise conflict herself and others. 

My grieving would come much later post-divorce. There is no statute of limitations for changing one’s name in divorce. I found this out last year when I was so overwrought I wrote our mediator and copied in my ex. Our mediator assured me that though my name was legally changed, I would still need a notarized copy of our judgement for social security, DMV and all other government documentation. Thus it wasn’t until early this year, 13 months post-divorce I walked into a social security office one day and began the process. 

I believe the name change was important to my former husband because of his own hurt and pain. Perhaps he wanted to literally cut me out of his life, name and all. I was hyphenated during my marriage, as I never wanted to give up my maiden name completely. To him, all that was needed was to drop his name and go back to who I was. Yeah, not so much.  

For me, the grief continues, in parallel to grieving the loss of my daughters. Maybe I would’ve eventually changed my name, I don’t know. Maybe if not estranged from my girls, I would feel differently. Either way, I would’ve chosen to make the change during my own process, in my own time. Or not at all. 

Today I am proud of my given name, though grieve my married name, the symbolic moniker of my former life. I have worked hard to get here, to this place of serenity. I have had to let go of my girls and my married name. It is not due to any heroic triumph nor do I fall victim to letting go. I allow the pain when it comes and am finding my own methodology to all this, still, each and every moment.

 

 

Acceptance

The evolution continues, changes move within; slowly, at times with caution, that fine line between safety and protection, the other, new courage I feel to speak the truth about my current life.

Several short months from now it will be two years since I’ve been in the same room with either one of my adult daughters. Texting here and there on occasion, emails sporadic, the reaching out to connect… an email from my oldest last fall- her deeply anguished angry plea that I stay away, no more contact – to this past January, my younger daughter, her own separate anguished plea to please let her go, no more gifts, offerings or any sort of contact.

I am clueless. Both have told me so. I am a psychopath. Both have told me so. I am not well, I am a sick individual. I am a mom by blood only. They no longer know me or wish to know me as I am today. They have said their respective goodbyes.

Time for Acceptance

It is important to remember – to acknowledge their feelings. It is important to accept those feelings and move on. Closer now to acceptance, grieving feels different from before though its outcome very much still unknown. I can not change how my daughters feel. They see and feel what they see and feel. I have set them free to feel safe.

I am no longer clueless. Perhaps I say this a lot more than I realize but it’s important I continue recognizing this.  I am well on my way – a strong woman who has come to full-on grips of who she was, is now and who she is becoming. As I learn I share. No two experiences are exactly alike though there are similar threads of humanity. Falling into the dark hole, once as prevalent as each breath taken, now subside as I better understand the triggers I must watch out for.  A trigger can be as simple as a popular song on the radio or more complex like observing my friends’ beautiful relationship with their adult children. What I hope to do more than ever is to never see anyone go through the pain and anguish I have endured, as has my entire family.  Sacrificing my children due to the way my divorce played out is the last thing I would’ve ever expected. There are consequences to actions. Each decision breeds an outcome, some desired, some not so much. No longer do I feel the need to explain my actions for I’m at the point of forgiving myself and have learned the true nature of what self-compassion contains. Only for my girls do I need to express my remorse. If and when that day comes, I will be ready.

I will say this: unhappy marriages begin with unhappy selves. Contemplate deep within yourself before looking at the imperfections of your life-partner. Gaze into your own first. It will hurt like hell, pain you probably never quite felt before. Yet by doing so, you will have saved yourself  – your personhood – before completely drowning.  There is so much goodness in you. Look to that as well. You will begin to embrace and celebrate new-found insight and self-growth. You will begin to give back more openly, without shame or trepidation. Fear is real. You will combat it. It’s not easy but you can face it. Please don’t look to others first for validation. It’s useless energy and easily distracts from knowing the core of who you are. 

Wishing you peace as life’s journey moves onward….thanks for your continued reading, dear viewer.

img_0866.jpg

 

Letting Go

Like a nightmare, I awaken, reminded my life is in fact, quit real, indeed.

Last week I received an email from my youngest daughter; her goodbye, her request to please let her go. Holding on, even the slightest shred, gave me hope. And though it may be a long time until I see my girls again, I am finally willing to do so – no more small, random texts, short notes, birthday gifts. I wanted to show them I would never give up on them. I wanted to make certain they wouldn’t come back someday and say I never reached out, that I made no effort. The real effort is in letting go.

Feelings of self-pity, once so prevalent and unshakable, are now eroded. Replaced is self-compassion which helps in the journey of healing. The pain of which I’ve felt for so long has now shifted: practicing self-compassion, the pain transfers to my girls, the hurt that is so deep, I am able to finally feel theirs. Like a new-awakening, this brings new hope. I’m dealing with my loss. It is a death of sorts. A death of my former life. But they too, are letting go of their former life. Letting go of a mother they were once so close to, their family unit, their refuge, their stability, their certainty.

In Their Shoes

October 12, 2012, I wrote a blog post about what my girls must be feeling. It’s weird to read it now for it sounds as if I could’ve written it today. Yet there’s no way I was able to be in their shoes at that time. I’ve just begun now. After the last correspondence from my older daughter a few months ago and now the email from my youngest – denial is no longer an option. Time to awaken, look at life differently. Letting go, the loss, it is grand, devastating, leaves me breathless. But it is necessary. It is the greatest kind of love I can give my girls right now.

More to come….

The Stranger: Part Two – Familiarity of Self, of Love

Towards the end of the marriage, husband and wife became strangers to each other. How can this be when for so long we were the best of friends? As I dismantle the numerous knots, new insights emerge – at times, repeating myself, only because I am beginning to cope and live through the aftermath post-divorce. I like this feeling. It feels liberating, at the cusp of more empowerment I desire and need moving forward. All of these feelings, fairly new, learning to sit with them, allowing myself to simply feel.

At the same time, it is Christmas Day. Many sweet memories of our Christmases together, husband and wife as well as la familia. Time moves on, those memories etched in sync within balance of my new-found joy today. I am grateful for those memories.

The ability to change fascinates me as I learn to connect with myself.

I’ve changed, yet not into a new person – I’m now emerging into the person I’ve always been. Did it take something as monumental as a divorce to do complete this? Why now? Why, post-divorce do I feel more familiar with myself and not during my marriage?

The mind is magnificent.

I believe we are all capable of change. I believe we are all capable of acting upon choices. I believe we must learn to trust ourselves long before we love another. I believe in committed relationships. I believe in self-care, self-responsibility and self-compassion, self-forgiveness.

The more tolerant of others, the less judgmental I become. I do not ask or expect others in my life to uphold my beliefs nor look for their validation as I once did.

How my children will know their mother now, I don’t know. I miss them more than can adequately express. What I do know: I am the most complete I’ve ever felt, yet so much more to come. All the years loving, supporting, caring for my girls – immensely real, genuine, truly who I was – am. The other part which now emerges is simply the discovery to allow myself to be. This part was squelched the last years of my marriage. Not his doing, just mis-matched. I tried so hard to fit…into him. Yet I’ve let go of my gatekeeper to my girls – their dad. Letting go of their dad, healing continues as I don’t need him to reach the girls. This will happen in its own time, its own way. I’m learning I love my girls in ways like no other. A mother’s love is like no other. As I nourish self-love, my love for them feels healthier, more grounded.

On this day, the second Christmas spent without my girls, while they may see me a stranger, my love for them flourishes. I’m learning there is more to life than simply loving. It is in giving, actual LIVING one prevails. It is what I can do – the only thing I can do for my girls right now. As I live more authentically, the person I am, so too – eventually, will they begin to understand my reasons for leaving their dad and not them – no longer a stranger, rather, the loving mother they always knew, only now in her entirety.

The Stranger: Part One

A tidal wave of huge proportions today. Back in therapy after a 3 month hiatus, new ground to cover. Sometimes the depth seems never ending. I find I’m at a good place, only to sink deeper than desired. Yet I feel closer. This is how growth and insight are gained, is it not? I keep wondering what that place of resolution feels like. I have further to go until I know for certain.

I am a complete stranger to my kids. More horrific than that, at one point some time ago, they saw me as a loving mother, wife to their dad. This stranger, me, they are fearful of. I must begin to understand their fear. It won’t take long. There are particular benchmarks that clearly define new insights. Today was one of those.

They have heard things about me, stories, I don’t know. They have images of me, bi-polar, pathological, very sick and distorted views. Perhaps they see me as person who is sexually addicted. They know of my affairs. They know of them, only because I was threatened. And I have accepted my part in all of the bad decisions I made. In order to reach my girls, I must accept the brutal reality that they no longer see me as their mother. I have not accepted that I am a stranger to my kids. Until today.

As I work through therapy this time, the yearning to understand myself heightens as does my resolute. I am not solely responsible for the demise of my marriage. This is not why my girls are angry with me. They understand all marriages have their challenges. I believe they accept that. They are (rightly so) angry that I chose to have affairs. In their minds, their mother, one whom they loved, looked up to, trusted and believed in, ripped apart their lives, irreperably damaged their being. They know very little about the intimate relationship between their parents (nor should they). The see their father as the victim, mom, sick and demented.

Where to go from here?

Therapy continues. I will work on pressing through the shame which I am healing from. There is a great void, a disconnect I feel about my past. Cognitively, I understand my behavior. Emotionally, I am detached. Is this because I can no longer look at the kind of person I was? Have I not endured enough of my own pain in order to feel what the kids feel? How much longer does the estrangement continue without my having a voice, the opportunity to share myself? I now fully recognize where all of their anger stems from – that I betrayed my husband and my family, without a care about the consequences. In essence, there is some truth to this. Making the decision to seek solace and acceptance from another outside of my marriage, I did not think about consequences, period. How could I have been so detached from the two people I love so in this world?

I know my past behavior is just that – past. No longer that same person, each and every decision I make, consequences are considered above anything else. Try as I might, this includes my decisions to reach my children. Now I stand back, further than before. With the help and support from my own therapist as well as my kids’ therapist, I remain steadfast, working through all the pain necessary towards reunification.

Shifting Behaviors

Reflecting on gratitude and what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving Day, there are new questions, ones which I don’t yet have specific answers to but determined to uncover. 

After a three-month hiatus, I’ve decided to commence once again in therapy.  My first session just this past week, turned out to be the toughest session of all. Hello, humility. I think we need more time together.

Feeling stronger doesn’t necessarily mean DONE. It’s these damn expectations; one gains some new insight and should then be able to carry on, practicing new behaviors. WRONG. Takes time and a LOT of mindfulness as well.

Here’s the epiphany I discovered: I still see myself as a victim. I still behave as a victim. Not in the way of recent past. Lots of growth which I recognize. Problem is, still deflecting too much on extenuating circumstances and not enough on myself. How does one take on more self-responsibility without clobbering who they are? What’s most remarkable is seeing myself as a victim happened long before my marriage. And when I met my husband, he was the type of partner I wanted; strong, loyal, honest, intelligent. I, on the other hand; compassionate, warm, loving, kind. Our relationship was based on all the right things. For most of our years together, we were a great team.

What shifts took place? Why did the blending of our individual characteristics, once so easily meshed, dissolve and change? While I’m just at the beginning to understand my role as a victim, something different is happening within me. I am sad about my girls, of course. Losing them has been the most devastating event I’ve experienced in my lifetime. The toughest part of therapy last week was admitting I still look to blame my ex for the estrangement. God, that sucks. I thought I was further along in my journey. I had a rough email exchange with my oldest daughter a week ago. I continue making the same mistakes. Reaching out right now, that’s the first mistake. Second, I am not at the point of compassion I wish to be, wish to feel for her. I am confusing compassion and feeling sorry for myself.  And because my ex is the only true gatekeeper to our girls, I hang on to every text, email and phone conversation I can muster. This must stop, not good for me because I’m still playing the same role with him and not moving along further.

This shift is significant. My second Thanksgiving and second Christmas coming up without seeing my girls. It’s been a year and a half since I’ve been in the same room with either of them.  How could this happen to a mother who clearly adores her children, devoted to motherhood despite unhappiness during the last few years of her marriage? Estrangement only happens to parents who are not loving, who are selfish. Certainly the parents must have done something terribly wrong to have their child cut them out of their lives?

There is always a kernel of truth to why a child decides estrangement. This is my truth. I’m realizing things about myself that were here long ago. As I unravel my past, it already makes sense why I am where I am and how I got here. Helps to breathe a bit easier, knowing I have more to learn and be willing to admit so. I ramble on, finding the words to blend with thoughts, knowing that in time, more will begin making sense.

Two Separate Types of Pain

It is unbearable. The pain in which I feel today hard to describe. Important I do.

There is still a long way to go.
There is still so much to learn.
There is still much to accept.
There is still so much pain.

For those in an affair, I ask you to please think about why you have made the decision to seek solace outside your marriage. The question is not to pass judgement, it is to make one stop and think about why one chooses particular behaviors and decisions in the first place.

Next to think about are your children. For those in an affair, have you thought of how your children would react if they found out? Had I known the true, deeply entrenched pain caused by my decisions and actions, no way in hell would I had made the decisions I made in the past. Why did I NOT think of my kids? I always thought of my kids. Like it or not, truth is, affairs are ALL about thy self. Tough to face. Honesty is a bitch.

There are two separate kinds of pain:

The pain I have caused my children.
The pain in which I felt when married – reasons I sought an affair to begin with.

Again, there is still a long way to go.

Yes, I have grown, learned, gained insight. The pain though, it’s devastating. I now realize that I still feel much of the pain from my marriage, not able to let go of that pain as I need to. I do not place blame on my ex for my infidelity; rather, I haven’t completely let go of the hurt felt by his uncaring nature. And though he did care (I truly believe he did) I needed more compassion than he was able to give.

This, in conjunction with the pain I have caused my children, destroying my entire family is far more devastating than I initially felt. It is no wonder why my kids feel as they do.

Another painful awakening once again, yet necessary to feel….completely genuinely feel and deal with – head-on.

Love Thru Transition

Divorce, death, estrangement, life: welcome to it.

Like a gigantic physical wound, the levels of pain, at one time, excruciatingly intolerable, slowly transitions, the pain, still deeply entrenched though subsides more deliberately over time. I have come to this – my own conclusion: there is no conclusion, there is evolution. All done in our own time, I am beyond grateful for this time.

Aside from the continual Hallmark metaphors reeling in my mind of late (sarcasm IS a big component of me, ya know) love, REAL GENUINE LOVE becomes me. Like a satisfying chunky peanut butter sandwich smothered with apricot preserves, what comfort us is ours and we own those moments.  It’s taken a lifetime (well, MY lifetime of 50+ years thus far) to feel in tune with myself.  It’s also taken tremendous loss, pain, crisis and monumental introspection. There are no short cuts. 

I’ve written my girls, sent days ago, the letters written as authentically as their mom now lives and I am comforted by love. My heart is healing.  Always loving my daughters, the love I feel today, not quite explainable this moment…as I told them – fierce and readily unconditional. It is how my mom loved me. LOVE – always there, never whole, pieces missing, unsettled peacefulness, I now understand the complexities. Motherhood  – THE most empowering kind of love, how could estrangement happen when that love is so fierce? I love my children so much, why would I not protect them from harm and pain of the choices I made? For if loving then as I do, would I have not gone to whatever length to have made better decisions? Make the sound decision to simply divorce their dad in lieu of affairs? Did I not think these decisions would affect their hearts, the core of who they are and wish to become? These questions, so pervasive, harrowing, unanswerable, I choose to let go, for they no longer serve any purpose.  Self-punishment runneth over. It is never too late to learn from mistakes, gain new insight, make necessary changes and  carry on – a better person. 

LOVE – how I wish I wish I had fallen in love with myself as a younger woman, a younger mom. Loving oneself treads deeper than that: it must include a sense of self, the yearning to always learn when to accept who we are, to experience gratitude to evolve. I am on a new path, a renewal to give back, whatever that entails. My heart is open to love others as I love myself.

While I still struggle with feelings of shame, sorrow, loss, the fear of transition dissipates. Feelings of unworthiness, more prevalent than ever recognized before my divorce, I am shedding old cognitive patterns, appreciating the goodness of my true self. It is not narcissistic to love oneself. It is humane.

 

The Evolution of Divorce

The shock and disruption of divorce can not be overstated. It is like death with life attached; the navigation is a free-for-all, there are no immediate bearings to hold on to.  The aftermath of my divorce, the experience resonates within and I am in awe I am in my own skin. Divorce does not define who I am – rather, who I am defines divorce – my divorce. Each is different. I am but one of many divorced middle-aged women seeking new understanding, moving forward, living life with new perspectives. The fact I am estranged from my daughters adds another layer, a separate component I’m learning to cope with.

Without my divorce, who would I be? The same woman, fearful of speaking up, afraid to voice her convictions? Who knew she had a voice worth actually using? Approaching the first anniversary of my divorce, I’m no longer this woman. I am my true self. I remember feeling so repressed, not sexually or even emotionally. Repression came in the form of fear. Marriage contributed to that fear, though its imprint was made years previous to a marital agreement. I had no idea the level, the depth and scope of this fear. One learns to compensate, adjust, deny, ignore. Divorce awakens the soul.

I believe I’ve FINALLY figured out my definition of what being a free spirit means.  I’ve always been a free spirit.  As my former husband and I grew older, that free spirit dissolved. I remember times when I would express myself, have fun, my uninhibited laughter; at which my ex would see this behavior as childish and irresponsible. I would then retreat, question my behavior: “Am I irresponsible? Having fun, is that childish?” It wasn’t always this way. It grew slowly. Easy to miss. When does something like this happen? Why did I not see this in myself? Yet I did see. I just wasn’t paying attention. Divorce awakens the mind. 

Despite the pain endured from the estrangement I’ve rediscovered the joys of having fun, to laugh more freely, allow myself to feel alive and not bad about feeling alive. Divorce awakens new-found freedoms. 

Hope all are finding their own peace. xx