Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I know this is gonna sound crazy, so just bear with me, k? And keep in mind that I'm trusting my gut on this one, so even though it probably is crazy, it works for us and our abnormal relationship. BTW, no, I'm NOT going back to him, so don't freak out on me! Now that would be crazy!

Okay, here goes, sorry it's so long. This is definitely gonna be another potty breaks required post.

I guess you could say I had an epiphany on Saturday. Ever since that damn email showed up in my inbox, I had been stressing and worrying about how I should respond, just what I should say, how he would react, the consequences of my words, where this is going from here, what might happen, etc., etc. My stomach was in knots, I couldn't focus, I was unmotivated and quite frankly, I just wanted to bury my head in the sand and forget about it... like always. And then it occurred to me; aren't these some of the very reasons why I decided to leave in the first place? So I wouldn't have to feel this way anymore? Uh, DUH! (smacks self in head) I don't have to do that anymore! I don't have to worry about expressing my true feelings, because now I can hang up/leave/not respond/etc. At the end of the day, I get to sit by my open window, in my eggshell free home, without worry of the next talk or falling short of some unattainable expectation. At the end of the day I can shut it all out and curl up with my precious girl while a contented little smile splays safely upon her lips, and more importantly, in her eyes. And I can know, without a doubt, that I am in charge of my own destiny, that I can decide what I will allow to affect me and what I won't. That I am free and can live my own life, and that I am okay just the way I am. I have a voice, by god, and I can use it however I see fit! No more bullshit secrecy designed to save me from a life of hell. NO, now I can say what I need to say, and he can find a way to deal with it. Now, I'm not saying that I'm just gonna go off on him and unleash years of pent up rage and frustration, I'm merely stating that I don't have to try to fit into his little mold for my any longer. I can be me, and he can fucking get over it.

So, like I said, I was totally stressing about his email (gross understatement, I was a freakin' mess!) and trying to avoid it as much as possible, until that realization kinda hit me on Saturday while Em had been at Bub's since Friday for their first sleepover together. So I had started feeling a little better about things, until... Em calls me Saturday evening right around the time that I was supposed to pick her up, asking if she could stay a second night. I thought about it a moment, not wanting to be the bad guy, but with the next day being Mother's day and all, I just firmly told her no so she wouldn't try to talk me into it, which is what she usually does. Anyway, I told her she could stay a little longer and then went to pick her up a bit later. When I got there I could tell something was up by the way she was looking at me. I thought that Bub may have been being himself again, or that she was just angry with me for not letting her stay a second night, but I wasn't sure. Well, on the way home she starts with why? Why did you do that to daddy? Why did you try to make me think that he did all of this bad stuff to me? Daddy just had a temper problem and that's it, and he fixed that now. Why are you trying to make me tell Mellany (her counselor) that he is abusive? Why did you lie? Why did you make daddy act that way? He said he only acted that way cause he was always frustrated with you, and that he didn't used to be like that until you turned him into that. Etc, etc. Oh, and here's the kicker. I don't know if I ever talked about this or not, but years ago when Em was just a baby, and I tried to leave for the first time. I had gotten really close to a mutual friend of ours who recognized how Bub was, even back then when it wasn't so bad, and he fell for me and I considered leaving Bub for him, even though I knew I didn't love him, because I was young and selfishly (to this poor man) viewed this as a way out (I knew I couldn't afford to leave on my own back then). Anyway, I DIDN'T have a physical affair, although I believe that just the act of confiding in this man was crossing the line, regardless. But nevertheless, I did tell Bub that I was in love with this man in the hopes that he would just let me go; again, young and stupid here. He then, of course, proceeded to make his usual grandiose promises of change and remorse, and I bought into it, hook line and sinker, and chose to stay for our family. Like I said, I wasn't really in love with this man, and I honestly believed that Bub would change back then, so I stayed. Which was probably both a good thing and a bad thing. I'm sure it never would have worked out with this man, but I also wish I had just taken the opportunity to try to make it on my own. It was my first real chance and I blew it. Perhaps it just wasn't the right time, but I'll never know. And it kills me that I could have saved us from all of this had I just done it so long ago, y'know? Anyway, Em says, daddy told me how you tried to run off with his best friend when I was a baby and how he can't trust you cause you're a liar. YOU ARE A LIAR! She went on and on, and I just tried to let her feel what she needed to feel and let her know that each person views a situation from different perspectives and chooses their actions for different reasons. She, of course, being 8 freakin' years old views everything as black and white, and assumes that one of us must be lying if our stories are different. And since daddy had just been telling her all about my lying problem, and knowing herself that I quite often didn't tell him things in an effort to protect us, she assumes that I am, indeed, a liar. And then she starts telling me how she wants to live with daddy now, cause he fixed his temper problem and she doesn't want to live with me anymore. And that she wants me to move into our old house and her and daddy can move in here (cause she likes this place better) and that's all that will make her happy, so please make her happy! All I could say was that I would do what ever I can to make her happy cause I wasn't about to invalidate her feelings by telling her she couldn't live with daddy, I knew she was just venting and needed to work through this in her own way. And then she also wants to know why I'm trying to get her to lie to Mellany that Bub is abusive. Which floors me cause all I've ever told her is to just talk about her feelings, what ever they may be and who ever they may be about. Although, last week, I did remind her that she needs to bring some things up that she'd rather just forget about because Mellany needs to know as much about their relationship as possible if she going to help Em to be able to talk to Bub about her true feelings and stuff. But it wasn't anything that she, herself doesn't freely acknowledge, like buttering him up to put him in a good mood with her and then secretly making faces behind his back and expressing to me how much she really couldn't stand the situation anymore. So anyway, I just couldn't let this one go and I said don't you remember what it was like? What you, yourself told me about how you felt? And she was like, what ever, what are you even talking about? And then I knew. She was doing and saying all this because she wanted me to counter. She wanted me to stand up for myself and tell her my side of the story so she could believe in her mommy again. And she needed me to prove to her that it wasn't all in my head, or hers, or daddy's for that matter. So I showed her a note she had written to me and a picture she had drawn after one of the many "Bub" incidents, and that was all it took. She remembered and she calmed down. And I told her, I have never and I would never tell her how to feel or try to make her believe things that never happened. I said, you came to me and I listened and tried to help as much as I could, and I made decisions and took action based on what you told me and what I actually saw and felt you going through, and nothing more. And that everything I've done, I did because I felt it was the best and the right thing to do. All she could say was I'm so confused, and all I could tell her was I know baby, and I'm sorry. Then she just wanted to hug and cuddle and try to pretend nothing happened, saying it's okay, I'm good. She asked me to color with her (this was about 10:00 at night) and of course I did, then she wanted to sleep with me, again, which she always wants to do after emotionally difficult days, and of course I let her. My poor sweet girl, I made sure to tell her over and over that I love her and that it was okay to be mad at me. She apologized for saying that she wanted to live with daddy, and I told her I understood and that I'm not mad or upset with her in the slightest, but she still felt bad nonetheless.

So, my immediate, internal reaction was, of course, why the fuck is he telling a freakin' 8 year old all of this obviously adult and highly inappropriate information? And that he's turning her against me and that OMG, my baby thinks I'm a liar and doesn't want to live with me anymore! And I gotta tell ya, I was just sick. I couldn't function, I couldn't think, I couldn't eat, (The hell you say, she couldn't eat?! Damn, something must be wrong!) I couldn't sleep and I believe I ruined my own Mother's day morning, much as Em tried to make it special for me, but I was a zombie. I just didn't know what to do. But then I thought about it. Em told me that she had pretty much spilled the beans to Bub about all that we did to survive that hell, and how she not only knew about us leaving, but that she specifically asked me to leave him. And she said she was the one to bring it up, not him, so I was glad that she felt comfortable enough to talk to him about it, even though I believe she should have waited until she could have the benefit of Mellany's guidance. Anyway, she told him all (as she saw it) and from her 8-year-old point of view, I could see how frighteningly bad everything must have come across to him. Now, I'm not excusing his reaction, but I can see why he would feel the need to defend himself to her and explain his side of the story, however inappropriate it may have been. Again, not excusing it, just recognizing his initial gut reaction had the roles been reversed. He hadn't gotten feedback from me on his email yet and he was already in a heightened state of fear about the possibility of me trying to keep her from him. And then when what looks very much like plotting against him (from an 8-year-old's viewpoint) comes to light, I believe he panicked and full protection, defensive mode kicked in. Plus, you know Bub, nothing is ever his fault, right?

So I thought about it, and came to the conclusion that this needed to be dealt with now, and that, like I said before, I do get to have a voice now, and by god, I can fucking talk... out loud... to him! So I called him. And boy did we ever talk. I tried to articulate as best I could what living with him was like, although I know I didn't do it justice, I did at least put it out there. And I knew he would be receptive to it (much as Bub can be) because my blindsiding him the way I did put him into full fix it mode. Being the analytical thinker that he is, he recognizes that there is a problem, and that problem needs fixing in order to proceed. So I told him things I never would have dared before, and although he just couldn't comprehend the fact that I never felt as though I could express myself openly before, he was willing to accept the fact that I felt that way nonetheless. I'm sure he thinks it complete bullshit, but that's his problem. He just kept saying that all he ever wanted was for me to tell him my honest thoughts and opinions about everything, and I simply couldn't make him understand what he did to me when I tried, which led to me giving up trying, which to him, of course, is unacceptable. Yet again, his problem, as I no longer have to give in and recant my feelings just because he doesn't agree or understand. Anyway, there was a whole lot more to it, but the point is that I wasn't scared to tell him how I really felt, and that alone was huge! Then we started going over the things that Em told him. A lot of which were taken completely out of context and from a child's black and white point of view. He felt that so much of what went on was highly inappropriate, and I simply kept reinforcing the fact that I did what I felt I had to in order to get by. He understood (to a certain extent) that the situation with Em had gotten desperate which was made crystal clear when she told him herself that she wanted me to leave him. So he was able to see that my mother bear instinct was going in full force, and that I was doing what I felt I had to in order to protect her, whether he agrees with any of it or not. Anyway, I told him that I believe that what I did is probably what will end up saving his relationship with his daughter and that I was excited that they were going to have this chance to work their problems out now that he is receptive to hearing it and willing to make changes. He, of course, maintains that he would have always been receptive to it, but I know how I felt and I'm just not gonna argue that one. He also said he was going to be getting some individual counseling as well as family counseling with me and Em. So even though I know that he's always going to be the same person, and I don't have high expectations, I do have some hope that he can learn to deal with Em in a manner that will allow her to desire a continued relationship with him. As for me? Well, I just don't have to care anymore, he can be as much as a freakin' idiot as he wants to be, and like I said, when all is said and done, I get to leave, hang up, disagree, speak my mind and generally not give a shit what he thinks, cause baby, I'm FREE! Anyway, I made sure to reiterate the fact that Em's best interests are my highest priority here and that I have no desire to drag him through court or keep her away from him, as long as she remains comfortable and he continues down the path of healing his relationship with her. And that I have no animosity or desire to get back at him, that I'm simply done with all this and wish to only move forward as easily and painlessly as possible from here. We also decided that if we have questions about anything Em says, that we should just ask each other before we jump to conclusions. This was mainly for him since I could give a flying flip about what he says and don't generally give much credence to an 8 year old's one sided rendition of a conversation. I realize that she's being a typical kid right now and trying to milk each of us for what we're worth. She's going to manipulate to get what she wants and try to play us against each other. And I just don't plan on playing into the he said she said game. Hopefully he'll have enough sense to do the same and just call when he has questions or concerns, but we shall see. Anyway, he agrees completely and wants to keep things as friendly as possible, even doing things together with Em to give her a sense of security that she still has two loving and devoted parents. Like I've said, he's always been extremely family oriented, he's just always taken it to such extremes that it stifled us. And quite honestly, as long as we do not have to deal with each other from a personal level as what the stress of day to day married life requires, we can actually get along quite well. When it's not about anything important, we've always been able to talk, laugh and somewhat enjoy each other's company. Well, okay, I wouldn't go that far. But he is at least tolerable when nothing personal is involved, and we actually see eye to eye on quite a bit. So, although I would never freely chose to be friends with this man now that I'm older and hopefully wiser, I can most certainly be friendly with him and humor his idiocy as long as I'm no longer being confined and controlled by it.

So my plan for now is to just let this one go. And I know how ridiculous that sounds considering all the crap he told her and what doing so subsequently put her through mentally, but like I said, I can understand the reaction. Plus, I knew that he was gonna have to hear the truth eventually and that he couldn't possibly take it lightly, and that's why I was hoping it could be done in the presence of a counselor so we could all be taken through it calmly, honestly and rationally. But since that didn't happen, I'll just have to make the best of it. And I'm not about to make matters worse by telling her all sorts of inappropriate information of my own and confusing her even more. I'm just going to work through it with her in counseling and do what ever is best for her emotional well being, cause bottom line, that's all that matters. Not what she thinks of me or Bub, or what Bub thinks of me. It's about what she thinks of herself and that she feels safe and loved and content, and that's it. It does appear that Em has taken three steps forward and two steps back in terms of her behavior. There has been significant regression in her ability to control herself and cope with difficult and/or stress filled situations or conversations. But it's completely understandable given what she went through this weekend, and like I said, with Mellany's help, we'll work through it and grow stronger because of it. So even though you all must be screaming into your computer screens that I'm making a huge mistake and that I should just cut all contact leave it all up to the lawyers and get ready for a fight, I honestly believe that I'm doing what's best for us, and I promise, I can handle it. I'm simply in a different place now. I'm tired of being afraid and I don't want to do it anymore. I've realized that I have much more control over the outcome of this volatile situation than I've given myself credit for. I've realized that this can be as easy or as difficult as I allow it to be. And I've decided to choose easy, or as easy as this can possibly be.

So what now? Well, we seem to be okay with each other now, and can actually talk and make plans. Like we both attended the ice cream social at Em's school on Monday evening, and were able to just chat about inconsequential things without a problem. In fact, and here's another one of the crazy things, we're actually discussing taking Em on a mini little vacation to a semi local amusement park this summer. I know, I know, but I promise I haven't completely lost my marbles, I swear! This is something that he is insisting on paying for completely, so there would be no financial stress, which has always been one of our biggest issues. I mean, if he wants to blow his wad giving us a super fun filled vacation with the mutual agreement that there is to be no stress or tension, just fun and excitement, then why the hell not? If we're of like mind to just give Em the best possible time ever, which is all he seems to be about anymore that he doesn't get to live with her and see her every day, then hell yeah, bring it on! A fun, relaxed vacation is something Em and I always wished we could have but never did with him. So this might just be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy an all expenses paid vacation now that we're no longer expected to live up to some sort of unrealistic expectation of what his family is supposed to be like. We can just have fun, be ourselves and he can either lump it or leave it. Of course, we're still just discussing this, and by that I mean I'm expressing my concerns of what it might be like and setting some ground rules for how it would have to be in order to make this happen. And like I said, it'll be later this summer after we've all had a chance to benefit from some much-needed therapy and hopefully growth and understanding and willingness to do things differently to make this successful. I know, it's still crazy. But my point is that we get along better when we're not together, and I think he can appreciate that. And just so you know, he's not making any attempt to win me back. He has accepted that this is my decision and that I'm standing by it. And although he wants to attend family counseling with us, it's not so he can learn how to be a better husband so that I'll take him back, he just wants to learn how to deal with me (and Em) now that he realizes that what he's been doing isn't working for him, so that we can continue to work together as Em's parents and get along for her sake.

So, that's it. I'm sure I left so much out, but I was doing good just to get this much down in writing. It's been a tough week, but I'm cautiously hopeful now and interested to see just how all of this really does play out. But what ever happens, it is what it is, and I will handle it regardless.


Blogger Dawnyal said...

I'm sorry to hear you've had to go through all this stress on the weekend of Mother's Day but it looks like you got it all worked out in your mind before talking with Bub and from the sounds of it, it went well. I have no doubts that had he started in on his shit you would've hung up with him because he wasn't being rational. I do think he needs to learn not to talk bad about you to Em. That is a big no-no and when she gets a little older she'll be able to see right through that.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like you're doing okay. I don't know many that would have handled it any better. My only note of caution is to be very careful not to give Em the impression that you will someday get back together. My ex and I got along great after we got divorced and it gave my kids hope that we would get back together. Our counselor told us we shouldn't do things as a "family" anymore because we were giving the kids false hope.


11:17 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Sandy said...

Bev, you have grown so much! I really think you have nailed it. Your decision is sound and I think you will make this work. Caution, though. There may still be some attempts at manipulation in the future. Stay on guard.
You handled Em so well. You ARE a great parent and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!
And, yes. You can tell him off and not have to deal with any fall-out as a result. You are in charge of your life.
Hugs and more hugs,

11:17 AM  
Anonymous jilly said...

Dayum girl! How did you get so mature, perceptive, understanding and rational at such a young age?!? You handled the situation with Em brilliantly (yes, I know you were a mess inside, but you listened, took in her words and realized where the truth lie and then conveyed everything to her as it should be).

As for Bub, my first instinct would have been to arrange a hitman for what he talked to Em about (didn't he say in his e-mail to YOU "Remember Emily is watching"? What a hypocrite!!!) But you managed to put aside your inner turmoil and stress and reach deep inside to understand that it was his way of trying to maintain control and defend himself. I'm so glad you had that epiphany and well and truly know that you're the one in control now and the one who rules your own destiny and thus can deal with him in a firm and decisive manner. I'm very proud of you for that.

Although I was against you discussing your reasons for leaving (mostly because I figured it would be like knocking your head against a brick wall), I'm now glad you were able to verbalize to him for YOUR sake! If you can keep things civil and even mildly friendly, then its all good. BUT, personally, I not not at all on the same page when it comes to a family mini-vacation. NO way. As impressionable as Em is, I agree with the person who said a totally fun-filled time together would build up in her hope and expectations that you could be a happy family together, and since that's not going to happen, would ultimately make her dangerously resentful. She still has a mother and father who love her, but in effect she has to understand that she has two separate and distinct families from now on. You'll see that it will become even more distinctive when you and Bub move on with your lives to the point where other people become personally involved (although in Bub's case that seems highly unlikely). I can't use my daughter as an example because you know there is no contact with her father, but when it comes to G's girls, they accept their mum's new husband and her as one family and G and myself as their other family. While we have been known to ALL spend time together (Christmas Eve for example), can you imagine how confusing it would have been if G and his ex did vacations together with the girls without including me and their stepdad? I know you're not even thinking in those terms yet, but it will happen, so its best that you encourage Em's contact with Bub, but keep your own personal contact with him at a minimum (let his time with Em truly be his time). My two cents.

I, too, am sorry that you spent a fretful Mother's Day, especially since I was thinking what a relaxing, joyful one it must have been without Bub. Oh well, next year my dear. Onwards and upwards xox

11:55 AM  
Anonymous Linda from PA said...

Dear Bev,
You're awesome!!!
But beware of the "vacation"...i'm scared....

4:33 PM  
Blogger Joc said...

I have to agree wholeheartedly with what Jilly said. Opening honest frank discussions with him is fine, especially when you now know you can end the discussion whenever you want, but a family holiday I think would go a long way towards setting up expectations for Em that are not a reality.

I also would question whether it would be a "relaxed family" holiday as once you are all back in the same place together who is to say that Bub will be able to avoid falling into long held patterns of behaviour.

Definitely work towards being civil and cooperative regarding your day to day communications about Em, but think long and hard before deciding on anything more - a leopard doesnt change its spots.

Whatever happens I have every faith you will handle it well though, it seems to me you are really finding out who you are, and surprising yourself with what a strong and special woman that is.

5:59 PM  
Anonymous Paulina said...

Wow! I would hope that you will share this entire encounter with Em's councelor and yours as well. He stepped over the line by including her in the ugliness of the divorce.
My ex did just that and I felt like I lost my son's love at the age of 14, and only barely getting him back at the age of 18. He has major trust issues with me because of what his father told him to be "true".
Be very careful of letting him fill her head with so much doubt and grown up issues. He needs to learn NOT to talk with her about ANYTHING that has to do with the two of you adults. Period.
If he can't then maybe he should not see her until he can control his emotions and his words.
Another thing that he may do is tell Em that he can't tell you what they talk about anymore if she wants to spend time with him, cause you as the "bad guy" will not let her go if she tells you about it. The blame for everything will always fall on you.
As far as the "family vacation" goes, that makes me very scared. As others have said, children will always think that their parents will get back together and with Bub's manipulative ways, it will most likely not be very relaxing and happy. And guess who's fault it will be if the family vacation time is ruined? My advice would be to let that whole subject go.
Please be careful and please take it slowly. He has me worried.

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's fantastic that you have suddenly realised you are the one in control, and you no longer have to put up with his crap on the phone and anything else. And while telling Bub the reason why didn't happen on your terms initially, I think it's great that you could tell him why, and it helped. It's great that your discussion was open. I really hope that he will check in with you first in future regarding Em's view of the world.

You dealt with Emily's questions beautifully. I only wish I could answer my own children's questions so well.


"Why did you lie? Why did you make daddy act that way? He said he only acted that way cause he was always frustrated with you, and that he didn't used to be like that until you turned him into that".

Ignore it this time, but don't let him manipulate that sort of thing again. He's a professional victim.
If he does this again, call him on his behaviour first and foremost. Address the behaviour. Don't get distracted by the content of the complaint. It's a technique to keep you off balance.

4:21 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Holy Cow! That's a lot of standing up for yourself for one weekend. It must have taken a lot of strength and focus, and I'm so impressed at how far you've come.

You did a great job of handling both Em and Bub. *applause*

As for the family vacation, I know Bub can't drive that far with Em alone b/c of his sight problem, but could he do a group tourbus deal? I know my community recreation department organizes groups to go to our casinos, maybe there would be something similar for the amusement park? I'm trying to think of ways they could go without you, to avoid the false hope for Em that you're getting back together.

11:56 AM  
Blogger chryscat said...

You are such a lovely individual. Sounds like you have things under control. And that's absolutely marvelous.
And the fact you're facing things head-on makes me SO PROUD!!!

8:11 PM  

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