We aren’t counselors, obviously. I mean, would a counselor reveal that she is a rodent murderer, that she enjoys making out with CPR dolls and that she at one time mixed vodka with her wine to help her cope with her pending divorce? I doubt it. But we are transparent, desiring to use our experiences to try to help others through their own divorce processes and pain.
There is this amazing woman that has been in communication with us since the inception of this blog site. She is experiencing real and raw pain. She desires to have an amicable divorce and do whatever she can to help her kids cope, but dammit, it’s just so hard to see in front of her nose toward the future. I remember feeling the same way. Now that I’m on the Other Side, I have confidence that she’ll be okay. I love hearing from her, and she has been very encouraging toward Devon and me to keep on keeping on with our story and ridiculous antics.
I heard from her today, after inquiring how she was doing, and she caught me up to speed. They haven’t had the “dreaded talk” with their children yet, but they’re working up to it. She recapped the past couple of months with me about their therapist’s recommendation to “plant seeds” by asking her kids questions and presenting scenarios to them, I’m guessing to scaffold their thinking to prepare them for the upcoming changes. She was particularly interested in how I got through the whole letting the kids go out from under my wing and them coping with two households. Here was my response to her, with names changed to protect the innocent.
Wow, wow, wow. I am feeling everything you’re laying down here. I didn’t realize just how much we had in common. Thank you for giving me some details. My heart remembers the things you are sharing. Seriously.
It was SO HARD for me. I was the stay-at-home mom and Devon was the provider. I was amazing at being June Cleaver. I even enjoyed wearing pearls. Not only did those kids come out of MY who-who, I raised those kids day in and day out. I knew them better than Devon did and they trusted me to protect them. When all of this started to happen, I felt like a momma bear wanting to keep them sheltered from adult realities.
I honestly didn’t think they should ever leave our home in order to see Devon by themselves at first. We argued a bunch about that. Not only did I think he couldn’t handle it, but the heart ache I experienced when they just went to visit him for a few hours was unbearable. Truly. I cried a lot.
What I meant by the kids getting used to splitting time is that eventually I got to a painful point where I had to let them go and allow for overnight stays little bits at a time. I didn’t want to with every ounce of my being, but I knew that with our future custody arrangement, that would become a reality. So instead of blindsiding them with this surprising new arrangement, I let go of my fears and doubts and started to gradually allow this to happen.
Honestly, and painfully to me, the kids saw it as an adventure and sleepover fun time. I hated it. But they are more simple-minded and would never have the feelings that I was experiencing. They experienced pain of their own, but the pain they felt wasn’t the betrayal and mistrust that I had. They weren’t divorcing the love of their life. They still had a dad whom they loved with all of their hearts. Things were just looking different than what they had always known.
I hope that makes sense. I don’t even really remember how I got through it. But I know that I did. Eventually (and I know this is hard to believe) I began to take advantage of my time alone and really discovered who I am at my core. Today, I truly relish those times without them. I know it may sound cold-hearted to you right now, but it is a reality. I make the most of things. I travel. I read. I have a clean house for one week at a time. I stop by their practices and sports games and don’t have to take care of equipment and meals afterwards… I go home or go out with friends. I have even started dating again. I know you’re not there yet, but don’t be surprised if someday you find yourself in that place. I am very happy now.
And when it’s time to have them once again for the week, I am crazy excited to see them and take care of them.
Devon and I never bash each other to them. We always back one another up. Trust me, kids will naturally attempt to play you against one another, usually in subtle ways. I hope that they don’t do that, but be prepared. If you and your soon-to-be-ex can effectively co-parent together, you will not feel bad backing each other up.
By the way, I also moved states, away from my family and support system [when we were happily married with children]. I toyed with the idea of moving back “home” and taking the kids with me at first. I can’t see into your future, but I can tell you that when I saw that sunset the other night over Lake Tahoe before Norah Jones came on the stage, I was so friggin’ glad I stayed.
Hang in there. You are a strong woman and will get through even better than you can imagine right now.
Hopefully that could be helpful to some of you who are in her position. Sometimes it’s good for us to post intentional topics about divorce instead of trying to entertain you with our crazy family stories.
Blessings and Future Sunsets,
Emily and Devon Reese