Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On Birthdays and Breakups (Part II)

Prince Charming, Cinderella and Hansel all have July birthdays.
Last week, my ex-husband and ex-stepdaughter came to my house to celebrate Hansel's 9th birthday.
This past weekend it was Hansel and Gretel's turn to visit their Dad's to celebrate his and Cinderella's birthdays.
But before that, presents needed to be purchased and cards were made.

I know the subject of birthdays is a hot topic amongst divorced and stepparents.
Admittedly, my own opinions on this subject have changed over the years. In the early days of this blog, when I allowed myself to be bitter and angry over situations I had no control over, I had a total  FUCK YOU attitude and played the tit-for-tat game with Maleficent. If *she* didn't take Cinderella to get a gift for her Dad, then *I'm* not taking Cinderella to get a gift for her.
Later, as I stepped into the role of acceptance and rose above the pettiness - I let go of the things I couldn't control and focused on what was right for my stepdaughter, I found greater peace within and so did Cinderella.
If a present needed to be bought, I took her. If her Mom didn't help her pick out a gift for her Dad's birthday or Christmas, I took her shopping for one.
Likewise, I took Cinderella to pick up gifts for her mother because it didn't matter how *I* felt about Maleficent.
It wasn't about *me.* It was about my stepdaughter.
What right did I have to deny her the pleasure of showing her love for either parent? What would it prove by refusing to take her shopping? Who would I be hurting most?
I try to live by the mantra: Love your kids more than you hate your ex.
This applies to ALL ex's... your spouse's ex too.
In keeping with this mantra, both Hansel and Gretel were taken out this past week/weekend to pick out birthday presents for their Dad and their sister. And they were excitedly dropped off to celebrate with them on Sunday.
Though, in all honesty, it wasn't that difficult of a task.
I'm thankful I don't have the kind of relationship with my ex that *he's* had with his ex. Where celebrating birthdays, or simple acts of compassion, are forced.
I know my kids are happy about that too - for it creates a safe environment where they can express and show their love for their Dad.
Yesterday was Prince Charming's actual birthday. I made sure my kids called to wish their Dad a happy birthday, and when they handed me the phone, they heard me wish him the same.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Root of All Evil

I'm quickly running out of money.
Despite moving into a new house that's cheaper in rent (and utilities) and increasing my hours at work, I'm facing the reality that I will most likely be able to cover my rent for one more month after which my savings will be totally depleted.
I'm feeling a little panicky.
My car is overdue for inspection. And an oil change. And there's a rattle in my muffler which was *just* replaced by the ex-BF.
My MacBook Pro which is what I use for WORK so I can get PAID has bit the dust and needs to be taken to the Apple Store if I have any hope of remaining a productive asset to my clients. Estimates are it will cost +/-$400 to repair.
I'm writing this post on an archaic PC - for which I am grateful because at least I can do *some* work.
No health insurance. No child support. Bills. And an upcoming vacation booked and committed.
This is one of those times when all that I have learned over the last year gets put to the test.
I've been running through them all for the past week:
  • Have trust and faith
  • Focus on the haves instead of the have-nots
  • Breathe
  • Stay in the moment
  • Energy follows intention
  • Like attracts like
  • Law of Attraction
It'll all work out, right?
In the meantime, I'm accepting applications for a Sugar Daddy... ya know, just in case.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On Birthdays and Breakups

"I don't know why [he] wouldn't want to be my Mom's boyfriend anymore because I think she's the most beautiful woman in the whole world."

Honest words spoken by my now 9 year old to his therapist, over my recent breakup with my (rebound) boyfriend.
Aside from the whole "AWWWW!" factor to his statement, it was also a glaring reminder that a follow-up conversation was needed to set some issues STRAIGHT over the how's and why's of my newly single status.
I forget that simply telling kids something ONCE, doesn't guarantee they hear me or they GET IT.
I mean, how many times do I have to tell them to brush your teeth/wash your hands/clean your room/get to bed/stop licking your brother!!! before they actually LISTEN??
(And if you leave a comment saying that YOUR kids listen the first time you ask them to do something, I will SOOOOOOO delete you!)
My son expressed sadness over this recent loss of another man in his life. And Hansel blamed himself for this breakup. It's no wonder, really, considering the last time he had seen the ex-boyfriend, we were disagreeing over his opinions on my LACK of disciplinary tactics and HIS lack of respect for me as THE parent.
Relationship over. Respect reclaimed.
Despite one of the first things I said to the kids regarding the break-up was that YOU DID NOT DO ANYTHING TO CAUSE THIS, Hansel blamed himself. And admitted to feeling sad about it.
So Hansel was told again - and again that HE wasn't to BLAME. That brownups break up for grownup reasons and not because of other people.
My son then admitted to being a little mad at the ex-boyfriend assuming that HE broke up with ME.
I set him straight on that one too.  The ex-boyfriend didn't break up with Mommy.  It was Mommy's choice, and it had nothing to do with Hansel or his sister, or any arguments they may have overheard. So he didn't need to be mad at him.
Hansel was then again reminded that the ex-boyfriend was still their friend and they would still see him.
"Oh really? Then I want him at my birthday party."
(And once again the lesson of doing what's right for the kids is tested, as it so often is when one is going through a divorce or breakup. GAH!)
And... so, there in the parking lot of my kid's therapist's office, I put my own personal feelings aside and texted the ex-boyfriend to extend the invitation from my son.
And this past Saturday, my 9 year old lived and experienced the lessons *I* have learned about divorce.
He, the son of a girl whose parents divorced at a similar age and whose Mom, Dad and Stepmom came together regularly for her own birthday and other celebrations, caught a glimpse into what divorce DOESN'T HAVE TO BE.
This year, Hansel's 9th birthday was spent surrounded by the people who meant the most to him, because we are all able to put aside our personal feelings for the sake of one child's happiness.  Some of those people included PrinceCharming, Cinderella, my ex-boyfriend, my Dad, my Mom (Dad's wife #1), my Stepmom #1 (Dad's 2nd wife, now divorced) and my Stepmom #2 (Dad's current wife). All of us smiled together, tossed water balloons, helped assemble gifts and stood shoulder-to-shoulder to watch this uniquely intuitive and sensitive child blow out the candles on his homemade icecream cake.

No, my dears. Mine ain't your average fairytale.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Just Breathe

"Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them, however you want to..."

Breaking the fourth wall of this fairytale story has become a double-edged sword lately.
This blog and Twitter have been my forum for seven years.
Both started as a place of anonymity where I could escape my reality and write, vent, wax philosophical or mindlessly ramble without feeling the need to censor myself out of fear of someone I know reading it and potentially getting offended.
Writing for me, is therapeutic. And I'll be the first to admit I've needed LOTS of therapy.
Over the years, however, I've let down my guard. Let some people in on my seekrit life as a blogger and tweeter. I allowed real life to cross over into my virtual life.
And with that has come the challenge of sometimes knowing WHO is reading, and sometimes holding back on what I want or need to say just to avoid dealing with the backlash.
And that... sucks.
Part of the healing path I have been on this past year is letting go of my need to control everything and everyone, speaking up for myself and focusing on the things which I CAN control.
I can't stop people from reading my blog. Or my tweets.
I can choose to stop writing - but that would just hurt me.
I can choose to go private and limit who is allowed to see what I have to say - but that would hurt those who look to my blog for some comfort or sense of stability or realism or whatever other reason those of you who keep coming back, come back.
Remaining public is a blessing (albeit sometimes a mixed blessing).  I benefit from the many different opinions and kinds of feedback that gets posted.  Be it positive or otherwise,  I always try to learn something from each and every comment listed.
So, I'm going to keep practicing walking the walk and talking the talk.
I'm not going to worry about who is reading, or censor what I have to say out of fear of threats to post a comment in response, or getting pissy texts and phone calls or emails criticizing what I had to say.
This blog is my personal account of the events in MY life. My emotional responses to them, rational or not. My opinions - biased or otherwise.
Take my words however you wish. Interpret them (or misinterpret) however you like.
Learn from them - or don't. It's your choice.
Just like I can't control if someone chooses to read my blog, no one can control what I write.
And if you don't like what you see, you don't have to keep reading.
As for me, I'll keep writing. No matter what.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Matter of Time

The kids are going to see their Dad today.
Technically, this weekend is my custodial weekend with them.
But the lines of custody and visitation are blurred in our home lately.
And I'm ok with that.
For ten years we were controlled by a strict custodial schedule with Cinderella, which did little to foster a positive relationship between her and her mother. Instead it served as a constant reminder of the bitter court battles, arguments and disparaging remarks out of which the custody "agreement" was born... and mostly, a convenient excuse to perpetuate it all. For. Ten. Years.
There was NO give and take. Every second was accounted for, planned out months in advance with no allowance for last minute changes or negotiations.
No compromises.
No swapping of days or weekends.
But today, the kids asked to see their Dad. And, so ... they are going to see him.
His time vs. my time?
Who gives a rat's ass.
They're OUR kids.
So it's OUR time to do with as we choose. They want to see him, and it's not about me.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Doing Everything I Can

"Keep and eye out for Cinderella and tell the kids that I love them!"

This is the text that I received 10pm Sunday night.

Since taking the kids on full time since May, they've seen their Dad only a handful of times. And have not slept over his house for months.
He's being treated for anxiety and depression; checked himself into a local behavioral treatment center TWICE and is working to find the right combination of therapy (group vs. individual) and medication. All while taking steps to get closure on certain events (like his toxic relationship with Maleficent, our divorce and issues with his mother and sister) and look for a job so he can keep his house, get medical coverage to PAY for his therapy and drugs and help support his kids.
That's a tough reality to face, even for the healthiest of individuals.
He's up. He's down.
The day before, I awoke at 7am to a text asking if I was awake.
He sent it at 6:30am.
His meds weren't working he said, so he was cycling through some kind of emotions that he did not share, because I mostly didn't pursue. I didn't push for more info. Didn't engage him or pull him in or put myself into the role of caretaker.
I told him I understood and then went about my day.
Then I get THE text the following night. 36 hours after he first reached out to me:

"Keep and eye out for Cinderella and tell the kids that I love them!"
"It's hard not to read into that text," a friend noted.
Yes. Yes it is.
"You put too much trust in a habitual liar. You're the only one who believes him," says the (recently) ex(ed) BF.
(I actually laughed at his accusation against Prince Charming, when considering his own 20+ year history of adultery and current attempts at manipulating the immigration system. A certain saying about a pot and a kettle comes to mind. But... I digress.)
Maybe I believe Prince Charming.  Maybe I don't care enough to NOT to believe him.
I mean, my energy is better spent on making sure my kids and I are taken care of and supported, than expending it on trying to figure out if I'm being told the truth or not.
His truth isn't my concern. My truth is.
My truth is that I have two children who need love and support. I can give that to them. So that's what I'm going to do.
And, for arguments' sake - what if Prince Charming ISN'T lying?
Quite frankly, I don't want the responsibility of NOT doing something. I'm sorry but anyone who receives a text with even the slighest hint of a suicidal threat is OBLIGATED to do something - whether you believe it or not.
Which is precisely what I did.
I texted him back and when he didn't immediately respond I called every goddamn number he had until he finally picked up. I advised him to call someone - his therapist, his doctor, a hotline. Threatened to call 9-1-1- if I have to. Made him promise me he would call someone and then check in with me because he was stronger than this and giving up was not an option.
Yes, I chose to believe there was some truth behind that text.
I did it for my kids. So that, in the most horrible of potential endings to this chapter of my fairytale, I can honestly say to my kids that Mommy did everything she could do.