Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Need to Process

Mind if I use my blog to do so?

I've been having a conversation about anger, and how anger is really feeling a lack of control, and how the only way really to get past it is by feeling empowered.

There's so much anger out there. The men who responded to my article are clearly very angry. And yes, I'm still angry at my X. (I posted a response, btw.) I'm not angry every minute of every day or anything, but it doesn't take me long to get angry if I think about it for too long.

My first conversation with X didn't go so well. HE was angry. I actually didn't even think I was going to be talking to him at that moment, so I was more confused than anything. He called back and apologized, and eventually, we just had a conversation.

I told him that I wasn't punishing him or the girls, just trying to do what's best for them. I explained to him (very calmly) what it's been like for Sylvia lately, and the chain of events that led us to where we are today. And he seemed to understand.

The thing about X - he's not all bad. I don't really believe that pure evil exists, and even if it does, he's not pure evil. When I say that I tell my girls the truth, the truth I tell them is that he's just not capable of taking care of them. Sylvia pointed out the other day that he's not even capable of taking care of himself. And she's right.

He hurts everyone that cares about him. But in the process, he's hurting himself. I tried everything I know to get him to heal himself, but I had no control over that. And sure, that lack of control can still make me angry, but I've just truly given up.

He never learned how to deal with the disappointments, with the obstacles that life throws us. I think he still believes that someday, there will be some sort of happily ever after. And there just isn't.

I think one of the reasons that I've been able to enjoy my own life more this past year or so is because I've come to terms with that. My life is by no means perfect, and there are still things that frustrate me every day.

But I also revel in every time I laugh, every time my kids make me smile, every time there's a successful moment in my own life.

And yet, I still don't ask myself if I'm "happy." My mom always says that she just wants me to be happy. As a mother, sure, I can understand that. But here's a cliche that X taught me: "happiness is an unnatural state of mind."

I don't really believe that, but I believe that happiness is like any other emotion: with a beginning, a middle, and an end until you get to experience it again. A good day today doesn't mean tomorrow isn't going to suck, so what the hell, I'm going to enjoy today. And when tomorrow sucks, I'm going to be angry or sad or frustrated, and may even cry about it. But even on my best or worst day, I know that there are good and bad moments within it.

The worst feeling in the world (at least, that I've felt) is NOT believing that another moment of happiness is going to come. X's way of coping with that is to get high. My way of coping with it is to cry, and to reach out for help.

I spoke with Kori until my phone died on Thursday night. I was traveling alone and didn't yet know anyone at the conference. So I clung to her for dear life and she held on to me. And the next morning, I met someone else from my district, and we clicked immediately. And then I met more and more, and that night, I reached out again when I needed to. And one of them held onto me (figuratively) until I was okay again.

In the first few years following my divorce, my greatest fear was no one would hold me again. I didn't know yet that it didn't have to be a spouse. I was afraid I'd never be able to hold onto someone for support ever again.

In the years since, I've met these amazing people, these awesome friends that I have. I text them, I email them, I talk to them however possible. And then I can move forward, knowing that there's support there.

And that support was what allowed me to finally have a calm conversation with my X. And when he showed up the next day, it wasn't comfortable, but it wasn't terrible. We talked enough that I know that he still hasn't found a way to hold himself up, or ask for the right kind of support, but those are his demons. As long as I can protect the girls from them, it's okay.

And really sad for him. He's missing out on so many great moments of happiness. But I will not, under any circumstances, let him drag the girls down with him.

And thus ends today's processing.


Kori said...

You have written a LOT of really great posts, but I have to say this is one of the best. You put into words so well the way I think and feel, too, about so many things, and I agree wholeheartedly with every word. And I love you.

Julie@My5monkeys said...

I totally understand you even better with this kind of post. You are an awesome mom and I can see that with your posts and pics and all that do you do for your kids. You Rock. Happy Early mothers day to you.

FreedomFirst said...

You know you're doing the right thing, and that's what counts. The naysayers can't take that from you.

Anonymous said...

Girl, you really took a beating on Examiner, and feel partially responsible because I was encouraging to put your awesome talent out there. I was so shocked at response. People barely even comment on my articles. You touched a nerve because what you wrote about is incredibly important and real and personal.

Thank you for being so brave. You inspire me.

I agree with Kori. This post is one of your best. I love your clarity.

Meg said...

First of all, I think touching a nerve is a good thing. I'll have to go back and read your post in the Examiner.

Also, I think working with anger and even happiness is a daily job. It's a practice. And it's hard.

Meg said...

OK. Excuse me, but HOLY CRAP!!

You wrote a well-defended, coherent article with a bit of tongue in cheek. You weren't addressing shared custody, so why did those douches even go there?

And to suggest buying clothes at thrift shops. Way off topic.

Point is: deadbeat dads (or moms) should pay for the raising of their children. What's the argument? I don't get it.

Meg said...

Oh yeah, I heard about this group of guys who go naked into the woods for retreats to regain their masculinity. Apparently they wear some rocks around their neck to represent their balls.

Bet they have an email list and someone send them your article.

Anonymous said...

You are doing what is in the best interest for your kids...period. So you are angry at your ex...so am I, even after 9 years! You are allowed to be angry, you are allowed to be happy and you are allowed to choose what emotion you are feeling or are going to feel.

YOU are the one in charge here sweets...never let anyone forget it! ;)

MindyMom said...

I love this post April. This really resonates with me too:

"happiness is like any other emotion: with a beginning, a middle, and an end until you get to experience it again. A good day today doesn't mean tomorrow isn't going to suck, so what the hell, I'm going to enjoy today. And when tomorrow sucks, I'm going to be angry or sad or frustrated, and may even cry about it. But even on my best or worst day, I know that there are good and bad moments within it."

I agree with your last paragraph too. There are so many people who actually CHOOSE not to "experience so many great moments of happiness" and the ones who are close enough to those people can become target for their anger/lack of control and when they can't control us they seek to drag us down with them.

You are a beautiful person.

Mark said...

Good processing! You know what is best for your children and that is the path you need to follow as long as it comes from spirit and not from ego. Sounds to me like you are coming from spirit.

Elisabeth said...

Vent away. That's why I blog...

Dingo said...

I finally got to read your Examiner post (great one!) and the comments (WTF?!).

There's nothing wrong with getting angry, especially if it urges you forward to self-preservation. You did, and do, what you have to do for you and your girls.

Unknown said...

Wow. I haven't read your posts (or blogs in general for that matter) for a really long time, but the essence of this post is calm, together, grounded, solid.

Even being a woman in a relationship, I got a lot out of it...about happiness - it made sense. So thank you. This post was huge.

Shiona said...

I echo the sentiments of the other commenters. I always say I take it one day at a time but this post actually helps me to understand what that really means.

Loth said...

Wonderful thought-provoking post, April. Having been a lawyer working in the area of family law, I know that a big part of the problem is that we can only have one set of rules and those rules have to be applied to every relationship. Sometimes the circumstances of the relationship will mean that the rules will work well and justice will result. Sometimes they won't and the results can be awful. That is just the nature of life and human beings. You have to do the best you can with the situation you have. And you clearly are doing exactly that. Good on you.

jenn said...

I'll chime in with everyone else. I agree with what's been said. Great post.

And I enjoyed your article. Some people just want to find something to argue about I think.

TnAHurst said...

I know that I dont know you like Kori does but I care about you no matter what you believe. I feel that to each can express their own thoughts and concerns. Whether you side with me or not I look for faith in someone who will lead our nation and I hope to get to know you better you're such a GREAT friend to Kori and I'm glad that you reached out and said something to me! I hope you know that if needed, I'm here to lean on too!

Anonymous said...

So profoundly and amazingly right on point....it is very calming and healing to recognize all of the things you talked about...lack of power and control can make a person crazy as you so aptly put and happiness is relative...what makes me happy is not what makes everyone else happy...so just like reinforcement, we find what works for us and make out own happiness time....like relaxing in a spa, having dinner made by your kids, just hearing them say, 'thanks mom'...there is more gratification for me insomething like that than an entire field of flowers or even a card....

I am so glad that you are reaching this level of understanding AND feeling GOOD about it...keep it up April!

Julia@SometimesLucid said...

What a great post! Please keep it up - there are many women still in marriages that learn a lot from you (if that even makes sense).