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.

 

 

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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.

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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….

Transition in Feline Form

Death, its meaning, questions raised, the symbolic dance of it reverberates throughout my heart, mind, soul. 

Upon the death of my Mom, awareness of life quickly rose.  All that was within me, heightened, propelled me to think more clearly, look at myself and take action. I began questioning what mattered, what my true beliefs, values and purpose was.

Ok, maybe because I’m in my fifties now. Maybe because I’m that much closer to the senior menu at Coco’s or Denny’s. Maybe because I’m now divorced, a freer thinker, allowing myself to be. Whatever IT is, something stirs inside of me and there is a new shift taking place….again. 

My cat died this week. Well, she was my daughter’s cat, though again, whatever, I loved the shit out of that sweet old girl. She was 16 years old. 

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I write about her, as her death has changed me.  Just as with Mom, the cat represented love.  And like Mom, the cat is gone from this Earth, though the love continues through me. I can feel it. What transpired upon the cat’s death is what has caused me to take pause. I am listening once again.

To grieve a death, one must never be alone. It came to light, through my dear girlfriend, that upon the death of my mother, neither of my girls were there for me. Her celebration, six months after she died, a most glorious day for me, full of love, joy, loss and pain, that day brought me to another level in life, the beginning of what true legacy means. I have honored that legacy ever since.

The girls had come to know of their parents’ divorce only a month after the death of their Nana. They too, so close to the magnificence of who she was; we were all devastated by her death.  During this time, the estrangement was new. By June of 2012, all communication was gone. I had endured 2 graduations; one daughter from college, the other, high school. No photos taken with their Mom (their choice).  I rose above that, kept my public tears at bay and stood with grace during those joyful yet painful events. Then my Mom’s celebration within days of graduation. At no time did either girl come to me, embrace the loss of such a wonderful woman. At no time did they approach me, make eye contact, none I could see. I stood onstage with my brother, both he and I loving this night, a time to not mourn but to celebrate the wonder of Mom. How I longed to embrace my daughters that night. To let them know how much their Nana loved them, how much I loved them. My older daughter sang, like an angel, the purity of her voice so beautiful. My youngest, her humor interjected, balanced with poignancy, so expressive in sharing what her Nana meant to her. And yet all the while, no solace between the three of us.

At that time, I was unprepared to cope. I was coping, yet my strength had yet to emerge. Looking back, as my friend reminded me this past week, where were the kids when you were grieving your mom? I had not thought of this, never crossed my mind, in fact.

My cat’s death brings forth new feelings. If not for my ex, his email, phone call, I would not have known of her death. I do not see the as heroism on his part. He is far too pragmatic; our relationship far to emotionally disconnected for heroism to me. He simply does the right thing. For that, I am grateful. But I digress.

I will write more soon. I am coming to a new understanding of myself. I am coming to a new understanding of the estrangement, all it entails. New feelings are arising and I’m listening with more abandonment. It’s loud, becoming more pronounced.  I’m dealing with it head on.  I believe it’s called anger. 

Grieve Divorce, It’s Real

Is it the family times I miss, all of us together or do I miss my former marriage? I’ve thought a lot about this and have come to a semi-conclusion.

I miss the hell outta my family.

My kids are older, young adults now. The great memories of my family, kids growing up, far supersede the negative. While that’s a beautiful thing, thereby the grieving so deeply entrenched as I continue moving forward.

Does estrangement make a difference?

If I were to talk, connect with my kids now, how much of a difference would it make in terms of my grieving process? I think a lot about this as well. Interestingly enough, ex (I really dislike that term – perhaps former…) and I still communicate, mostly about our children. At the same time, there was a time, he truly was my best friend. Which begs the question:

What the hell happened?

After almost thirty years together the reasons are endless. Well, the small ones anyway. More pertinent reasons involve love, acceptance, tolerance and respect. Pretty heavy shit. And somewhere along the road of my marriage, I began feeling very little of this from my former. This is not to say I held no responsibility on my part. Our demise is much greater than behavior alone.

A side note…

I have purposely decided to not write about the man I now love. He is his own man, has his own life and I am not quite ready to share. I’m discovering the further along my own journey continues, so are our lives intersected. That is its own story I will share soon. His story is a familiar one very much like mine. Grieving is a process that must come at its own time on its own terms.

Let the grieving continue. I don’t know where exactly I am in my own process yet I know I’m still grieving. Fighting it is moot. The sad feelings will never dissipate until/unless I allow myself to feel.

How does one know if they are wallowing or merely grieving after divorce?

My answer lies in healing. Awareness is part of healing. And I am acutely aware of who I am now, what my family means to me and where I want to go. And so I carry on, write here, share myself, listen to others. An open mind leaves room for more healing. As painful as this process continues, so am I able to help others. I think that is where I long to be.