Being the Mom who Asked for a Divorce…

Ok, yeah. So, I was the one who went to my Children’s Father, my dear husband of 9 years, and asked for a divorce…

That was, indeed, me. I told him this was what I needed to make my life come full circle after marrying him at 17. I do not, really, regret that decision. My ex-husband is a great father, a kind human being, and I have found that I like him so much more when we are not romantically forced to be involved.

I would go to the ends of the Earth for my ex-husband. Yes, you read that correctly. I would. When I heard that he was in a car accident a couple weeks ago and his future-wife was in a frantic rush to collect our children to get to him – I was closer, I said. “I’ll go, I’ll meet you, just take your time.” I got to him. He is the father of my children. I love him in a way that is not comparable to the way I love Drew. I love Drew in this mature, long-term, passionate, “We are truly compatible and meant-to-be” way. I see Drew as my partner, and the person I look forward to growing old with the most in this world. Truly. I look over at this man, every single day, and go “This is exactly what my life has been building me up to. To be with this amazing person who brings my whole life full-circle and shares all of these common interests and personality traits. This is my guy. No doubt.” Different, see?

My ex-husband, I see as this person with whom I, essentially, “grew up with”. Imagine your best friends from childhood and growing up and always being eternally connected to “Man, I really wonder how so and so’ is doing. I really miss them!” That is how I feel about my ex-husband. We grew up together. I care so deeply for him, and trust him so much, that I don’t feel like I have to hide who I am as a person, or as a mother – because he trusts me.

When I began dating Drew my ex-husband told me to “Be careful”. Because he KNEW after our divorce I had some REALLY bad experiences, one with a man, who cheated on me, and repeatedly reminded me how “less than” he thought I was for over a year. “I know, I know! YADDA YADDA BLAH BLAH!” I didn’t want to hear it… but he was right. Even though we were no longer capable of maintaining a romantic relationship that saw us through to adulthood… we cared about each other. I *still* care about his well-being… and when I pulled up on the side of the road where his car was all smashed up after being violently rear-ended by some Wichita – Kansas – Shocker’s fan’s RV… I went into protective mode. He is the person, that at some point, I chose to father my children and my job is not to make him feel like he failed our marriage, like I sometimes felt I did, but to make him feel like “Hey, I’m still in your corner. As long as you care about me, us, our kids, I’m *IN* your corner.” Hell, I’ll defend him and his soon-to-be wife, because he CHOSE her. All of that, I’ll defend, because to me – we are a team raising a family together. I never feel as though Drew and I are the sole decision makers, sole parents. We always say to others, to ourselves, etc… “We need to consult the other parents.” Because they deserve that respect, these are their kids, too. End of story. I had to learn to share mothering with another woman. Hard stuff…

But yeah, I was the “Mom” who was the one who asked for a divorce… I told him I knew what I had been feeling since a year after our smallest baby was born. I didn’t ask for that to happen to me… it just happened- not overnight – but a slow and then fast progression that told me that the love I was seeking that would take me into my old age, was not this one.

I asked… he reluctantly rebelled to the idea… I persisted… because I *knew*.

He knew what I was seeking in love, and in life, and he knew (knows) my vulnerabilities. He knew I was vulnerable to believing the many promises that men can make to a woman and be completely false. I didn’t want to listen. We carried one another through our divorce and into dating other people. We were codependent. But after we were no longer romantically connected I was able to put it in perspective. We were 17 and 20. I’m pushing 30 in a very real way and it just NOW that I really know what I want… what I truly need in a partner for me as an adult.  Holy shit, what do 17 year olds know about anything at all about anything?

Now, fast forward to raising two children who are the product of divorced parents. I absolutely refuse to say “Broken home”. We are not a broken home. We are two separate, awesome, loving homes. Period.  I never ever say a cross word about their father,  because even when we disagree – I don’t feel like its anything catastrophic, or more the less, anything I ever would say in front of people who love or care for my ex-husband. Nothing is ever that big of a deal. Robert and I, we will get over it. End of story. We are grown enough and mature enough – we will ALWAYS work it out, so long as we do not have to be married or romantically involved. Sounds strange, but with that removed – we can co-parent really well.

The pieces of being the “Mom” and the “Wife” who asked for the divorce is a whole lot of blame…Painful painful blame.

We have an eleven year old daughter that is incredibly impressionable and sometimes family “units”, that she trusts, tell her things that are not true…

Recently, they  said some things that, had Girl Child not known better, it might have made her look at me in a very poor light- or think I loved her less because my Facebook doesn’t have any public photos of my children. (Because somehow this is a measure of how much you love your children apparently.)

First of all, if you recognize on this blog, she is Girl Child. I don’t post her name on here. Nor do I make many photos on Facebook with my children public. if so, RARELY… because there are weirdos out there.

However, if you are my Facebook friend; you see taco nights with my kids, funny videos, sports photos, silly face selfies, family events, family vacations where the kids are all present in photos on my Facebook. They are my life – but they are not all of my life.

I have had to face that people who, duped me into thinking they were “Always going to be my family…” and I would “never lose them – no matter what”…, were going to attempt to convince my impressionable eleven year old that I loved her less, or cared for less, her father cared for her more, etc.  I have also allowed several people to stay a part of my “online social identity” because, quite simply, I have nothing to hide.  I am acutely aware that they are connected to my online social identity solely to pass along information. I have no concerns. I have had to answer some really hard questions, and let me tell you, always terribly, painfully, honest. I won’t lie to her.

Tonight was one of those nights, except that, I have finally accepted that I cannot change those people who talk about me to my daughter. She has told me they are “Her family” but she “Does not trust them” because “What they say, doesn’t sound right, and makes her uncomfortable.”  I can, however, show my daughter the truth. I handed her my phone after what she told me her family member said about me.  She scanned through the photos of herself and her brother and us as a family and giggled and asked questions about the photos and recalled funny memories. I realized that no matter how hard these people try to poison her… she knows that I am her mother and I will always tell her the truth.

“Why do they hate you so much?” she asks.

Well, because they believe that by asking for a divorce I deeply hurt someone that they love. And I did all of those things…but…I was hurt, too, and for that I make no apologies.

At eleven she recognizes the people who are respectful, and considerate, and do not ever speak poorly about me (from her Father’s side of the family) — she sees that there is an entity that is completely different than any other family she associates with. She questions this relationship and this trust scenario and knows she has had to lie to that entity before in order to prevent the ambush and narrowing eyes upon her.

She is told things that I am able to disprove with documentation in a matter of seconds, which makes her immediately distrust that family member and question why I don’t “Do something”. Well, because, I know better. I’m grown, intelligent, and the truth is  – if someone loves you – trusts you – all you have to do is tell them the truth. So, I did.

When you are the Mom/Wife who asked for a divorce… these are the challenges you face. If you are terribly lucky (like I have, mostly, been) there are family members who still care enough about you that you will make certain that you pen them into your wedding invites because they aided in molding you into the human being you are… (and, also, the father your ex-husband is)… But then there are some questions that you must sit across the dinner table from your eleven year old daughter and answer painfully about yourself, and your history, because someone she trusted planted it in her head. While all of this is happening, you watch her squirm with upset. I grew overwhelmingly angry. How dare they make my child feel “in the middle”!!? I hear my Drew, softly in the background, “Stop, you’re better than this. You know the truth and that is all that matters.” And I reel myself back.

Make no mistake. They are in the middle. Someone will find a way to place them squarely in the middle due to their own anger, their own confusion, their own desire for drama.

I have to trust that I have taught her well enough to know better. Tonight, after she told me everything she had been flood-walling to protect herself from being ambushed, and slack-eyed by this party. I said. “Girl Child, do you know how much I love and care for your father?”

She nodded. Yes. She knew! Even though she had been TOLD some rude and unflattering things about her Mom, by a person she trusted  — she still knew who to trust. Myself and her Dad. I am so grateful that even though our pre-pubescent relationship is a strain – she knows who she can trust – and its not the constituents that degrade her mother and tell her fallacies. I have done SOMETHING right!  She recognized, that even though those people are CLUELESS, how much her father and I care for each other and that was the only “song” she needed to listen to. You know, kind of like a baby Whale. They know the song their mother Whale sings. They know to follow it – even if the waters are cold, scary, and rough. Girl Child knows the song to follow. I knew that meant that getting on the horn and puffing out my chest and yelling at that person for lying and portraying me poorly did not matter – because my own daughter had removed that constituent from the “Trust Tree”. She took her own power back, and with that, she took mine back, too.

I know it seems odd, but I will call this day a success. My Girl Child looked me in the face and told me she trusted me to tell her the truth, even when another entity tries to convince her that because I could no longer romantically love her father, that somehow translated into not loving her. She hears my “song” and she knows better.

As the divorced Mom/Wife, especially if you were the one who asked for the divorce, gear up for this. People whom you believe loved you and had your best interests in mind will turn on a dime, and sometimes will possess the ability to make your children feel so deeply conflicted, and doubtful, that they don’t know whom to tell about the injustice.

You know you don’t need to angrily exact revenge when your daughter looks at you and says she knows to trust you… her Dad… and both her step-parents, first, before anyone else.

“Mom, I am sorry that what I told you, that they said about you, hurt you.”

“Girl Child — they didn’t hurt me. They made me angry – but to hurt me would mean that I would have to care enough to be sad. I am not. You know. I know you know.”

Girl Child: “I know. I trust you.”

I am doing something right… even if I am the mom who asked for the divorce and had to deal with the backlash. I have instilled her with intuition and that is not something that can be replaced with false memories and lies.  Kids are resilient and I don’t regret one minute of the last handful of years of our lives together, pre- and post- divorce. We aren’t broken. We are beautifully replaced in differently situations. And to me, that has not been a bad thing – but we have been better at navigating it than others who are desperate for someone to blame.

Girl Child makes me proud – even if she is still grounded! ;)

“You think those things are real?”

Yeah. No. No, they aren’t. But that is not the point — but we are definitely going to talk about that point…

As the world knows, if they read my blog, that I have struggled with some underlying body image issues that have become extreme at times, and definitely a lot in the last year or so since I am unable to control what is going on with my metabolism and my thyroid… I have been down, depressed, hurting, self-deprecating, almost to the point of being incapable of leaving the house. However, July 4th, I had a long hard look in the mirror and told myself that I was going to look amazing and I was going to leave the house in my red dress and not drag my fiance down into my little hole of feeling “un-pretty”. He deserves better… I deserve better.

So, this day, (July 4th) which is also my late grandmother’s birthday and has represented different life  lessons to me over the years… and a small part of me wonders if it is because of her – but maybe that is hocus-pocus, perhaps – or some The Secret thing. Who knows?!

July 4th, 2012 – I moved out into my first apartment after asking for a divorce three weeks prior. I also ended up being coaxed out of the house and on an outing with a man who would later break my heart and manipulate me into a very dark place.

The Lesson: Never EVER let a man treat you ‘LESS THAN’ or toy with your emotions. REAL men don’t do that. 

July 4th 2013 – I had given up all hope of finding someone to share my time with. I was very lonely and very depressed and I had to be literally dragged out of the house by my friends because wallowing was not going to get me anywhere. I met another guy that night, that I dated briefly, but even though he turned out to not be the right one for me he kept my mind off of the issues that I was losing myself to. I learned something big from that weekend.

The Lesson: Calm down. There are a million fish in the sea. Nobody likes a depressed Debbie Downer… Even if it doesn’t work out – keep trying – Oh, and trust your girlfriends who have done that ‘dating’ thing a whole lot more than you ever did, since, you know… you got married at 17. 

July 4th 2014 – I had met Drew and we had been dating for a handful of months at that juncture, but I was just beginning to meet the bulk of his friends. I was a bit anxious. I wanted to be liked. I wanted to be more liked than his ex-wife. (I certainly still do…) I wanted to be the most liked of any person Drew had ever dated and so I was going to overachieve, like usual… I was SO worried about whether or not they would ‘like me’… that I obsessed over it for days! Who the hell does that??? Who in the world wastes that much time concerning themselves over-the-top with whether or not they will be “liked”. 

The Lesson: I met lots of them, they were all so nice, pleasant and accepting, and legitimately interested in me as a person. I ended up really making friends with several of them myself. If you meet a man who loves, adores you, and treats you with respect — chances are that he only keeps company with people who also care for others and treat them with respect. Stop worrying so much, Alyssa – it robs you of today’s joy before anything bad even happens!

July 4, 2015… was different… let’s get back to that red dress. I put on sandals since we were going to walk a mile or so from our house to our friend’s homes on the parade route. I wore the strapless red dress, a big blue ring (to be festive!) and even some red lipstick, to boot. I left the house feeling like a million bucks, believing in the fact that I needed to give Drew some relief of my “down” that has snuck into our lives in the last year and made it difficult to focus on anything else. I needed a break, too. I felt pretty good. We headed to our first stop, met up with our family and friends and friends-of-friends and it was nice to see everyone in one place. People lifted my spirits, talking about the wedding, and flowers, and invitations, etc. It gave me a nice little pick-me-up since the wedding and honeymoon have been a big brightspot in my life to help overpower the “down days”. We decided to part ways for a little bit and head down the street to visit other friends. The sidewalks were slammed. Absolutely jam-packed, so the only option was to walk in the street – closely to the curb to avoid the oncoming parade. As we walked past the house next door to our friend’s home that we had just left — there were three women standing on the sidewalk in front of the hedges, in front of the house…

“Wow… pfft… you think those things are real?”

(Laughter among them)

“Proooooooobably not.”

I heard it and my heart started pounding. They were talking about me and they were talking about my breasts. Laughing about my breasts, in public and where families with small children could hear.

I turned on a heel, still holding Drew’s hand. I scanned the eyes of the people sitting close to them and it was clear they were staring at my chest. All of them…(except the little kids, of course.) I felt completely naked and on display. My chest, not my breasts, hurt. I felt so heartbroken and hurt in that moment – that I yelled back…

“Hey, no, they aren’t! But, you could have just asked. I’m real open about it!” 

Awful. They were objectifying me for some insecure reason of their own… on the street… in front of families. In front of the man I will be lucky to call my husband in less than three months. In front of my community. Neighbors. People my kids go to school with. And for what? I think my biggest question is.. “Why?” Why do women not support other women and go straight for the jugular of cutting down a woman’s looks? I’m a stranger. I am a kind person – who would never do that to you… so, why me? Why this day? Why on this particular day when I had to have a pep talk with myself to get myself out of the door and even into that dress…? Why did they choose to call me out? What have I ever done to deserve this type of behavior from others? I certainly couldn’t think of anything. I have caused no intentional harm to another — so I couldn’t think of any bad Karma I had coming…

What if I had been a post-augmentation double mastectomy cancer patient? Would they have cared then? Pffffftt…. probably not.

So, I did what any self-respecting, strong woman would do. Ignored it.

Hahhh…. No, I didn’t. I definitely did not do that. I utilized a community site and called them out for objectifying me. Karma is not fast enough, as I have learned from previous relationships — I laid all of the facts out there in hopes to speed Karma up. I let them know how completely backwards this behavior is between women within the same community, raising children together, and building businesses and building friendships.

And the response that I got from other women was an explosion of AMAZING! So many supportive women poured out of the woodwork, many that I had never had any previous interaction with. I was feeling the love. Lots of women stepped in, who didn’t have to, who could have easily sided with these catty women… – they told me how important it was that we were talking about why women are competition to one another, and shouldn’t be, and how we need to really have the hard talks about things like this so our daughters don’t grow up on a foundation of insecurity — or, let’s face it, bitchy, catty, behavior. But most of all – many of these women felt like they had to apologize for these humans of their gender for doing such a deplorable thing to another of their same gender. Most especially unprovoked.

My only conclusion is that women tend to bond, far too often, over the circling of the wagons by cutting another woman down. And on this day, that woman was me. This is NOT acceptable.

I owe other females, strangers even, my respect. Period.

The lesson: Teach your daughter to love herself, her body, and most especially to love and respect other women, because otherwise we are backpedaling on this whole “women’s liberation” thing. Women are designed to be catty, jealous, competitive, and degrade other women – likely, more than men are. It’s OK to be mad. It is also OK in whatever forum I choose to be angry. Those are my feelings, my emotions and I own them and they are OK to have – even if they are not kept private. Others are free to choose whichever action, road, what-have-you, that they would like but they are NOT in ANY WAY free of the consequences of their actions. My emotions, my anger – those were the consequence and if all of their neighbors now know what they did and feel as though they do not wish to continue a relationship with them, then that is their consequence. 

Oh, and I looked amazing in that dress, those cluckin’ old hens didn’t know what in the world they were talking about! ;) (Also, part of the lesson…)

Happy 4th of July, Peeps.