Last week my ex texted to see what day would be good for us to meet with the school and have our daughter present her presentation on why she should be allowed to stay in school after her "gang" incident at the end of the school year.
I asked how much work she had done at his house and let him know she hadn't done any of the presentation at my house. He said she was mostly done. When I asked her an hour later, she said she hadn't done any of it. Later that night she and I sat down and looked at the journaling we had done this summer and we came up with thoughts to be used in the presentation she would create. We made photo copies that she could take back to her dads to combine with what they would create.
Turns out he didn't let her use anything we had done together, nothing. She was not happy that he had made such a big decision on what was supposed to be her presentation. But time was short and she had to get it completed. I asked if he could send me a copy of the final presentation so I would know what she was saying before we stood in front of the group. That didn't happen. So she didn't get to really read through it and get comfortable with it in the day prior to the meeting.
The night before she picked out two outfits she would be comfortable in. One was basket ball shorts and a t-shirt and the other was a ripped up tight pair of jeans and a short t-shirt. She ultimately chose the basket ball shorts and t-shirt. We went to sleep and surprisingly, we both slept.
Up bright and early the next day to get my son to High School Freshman Orientation, then to the middle school. When my ex arrived, our daughter asked him to see the stuff she had laid out for him to bring. He only had half of it. He brought only what he thought she had laid out. Anyone who knows my girl, knows she is very organized and creates detailed to do list and always gets her stuff packed and ready. The journal she did with the counselor this summer was missing. She started to stress and calmed herself down. As adults this would throw most of us off prior to a meeting. It sucks when you realize you don't have everything you need or prepared.
But she shook it off.
Then he turned to her and started to say something and stopped himself. I felt myself inhale and hold my breath waiting for the fight to start.
A minute later, he turned to her and asked her what she was thinking wearing the outfit she had on. I felt it with her, the shame of having been told you fucked up. She started telling him that she didn't have any nice clothes, that she didn't have any other clothes. He was upset that the t-shirt had skulls on it, day of the dead skulls. Her face was red and she was crying and she walked away to go to the bathroom.
I stood there for a second unsure what to do. I knew where his anger would turn next and it did. How could I let her show up looking like that. There are skulls on the damn shirt.
I told him that she picked out her outfit and it was fine. He said I should have guided her to a more appropriate outfit. I remembered I don't have to listen to his bullshit anymore and I walked away from him to the bathroom and just hugged her while she cried and vented. Then we washed her face and went out.
Eighty percent of the time I have closure and visualize my ex surrounded by loving white light and happiness. I feel the peace it brings my body. I want him happy and I forgive him for what he did to me and I forgive him for what he made me feel. Eighty percent of the time I am at peace with him and other than the guilt I feel for leaving and changing everyone's life, I have moved from hate and anger and fear to peace and closure. However, several times a month he has to make everything so damn hard and he has to hurt me or one of the kids.
I had spent the 24 hours prior and the morning of getting her pumped up for her presentation. Asking questions to get her thinking about what she wanted to express. With a few words, he undid so much forward motion.
Imagine being a grown up having someone challenge and mess with you before an important event. Most of us can't rebound quick enough as grown ups.
The one request I have made to each of the counselors my kids have had over the past 5 years was that they teach the kids how to set boundaries with my ex. How to stand up firm to his need to dominate every choice and thought. How to feel comfortable stating their needs and desires to someone who is going to demand logical explanation and who will argue and tell you that you are wrong. They all just look at me like I have lost my mind. Why are we sending them to professionals if no one will help them learn to set boundaries to protect themselves?
They will lose touch with the feelings their gut provides them. They will start to doubt their ability to make decisions. They will doubt themselves. They will lose trust in knowing who they are. They will think they are broken.
They will be told that they are being unreasonable and over emotional and too sensitive.
It was very difficult to see my daughter get messed with.
The school didn't expect her to come back after two months as a compliant barbie doll, in a dress of pink with pearls.
That was never the point. He is an adult and knew what he was doing to her was wrong. There was no way to change what she had on 3 minutes before her presentation. He knew it would only stress her out and upset her. He has to know her, right? And he did said it anyway, just to be mean.
She did really, really good bouncing back from two big problems before her presentation. I am very proud of her.
Her presentation was fine, but completely missing the element of emotion and feeling that what she and I worked on could have added to round out the facts and nothing but the facts. But it was concise and effectively done in boring government power point. No images, no expressive font, no color. All dad, no mom.
On the way back home she had a great deal of emotion to vent.
Then she said, "I can't wait until I am grown up and can get away and be me." I almost stopped the car, but I didn't want to destroy the moment. I looked at her in the rear view mirror and told her I knew how she felt and that was why I had to leave. I just wanted to be me. I still just want to be me, without someone telling me I am wrong or bad, or stupid. We don't talk a lot about why her dad and I got divorced, but in every example she vented, I saw myself and 16 years with her dad flashing before my eyes. She said she hates how he never apologizes when he is wrong. She said she hates how he doesn't hear her and how he gets so mad when she changes her mind. She went on and on and she was preachin' to the choir. I was reading to start shouting "Amen" and raising my hands up to the Holy Spirit.
I didn't start the hallelujah chorus, but I did tell her that she has the power to be herself now and that she is strong enough to stand up to anyone, anytime.
Divorce moved me 80 percent of the way to freedom, but it left my kids struggling with the same issues that forced me to leave. I got mostly free. My kids didn't. I say this a lot, but it is heavy in my heart and words don't do it justice. Divorce only gets the adult out, there is nothing in place to protect the children.
I had hoped that if I left, I could break the cycle of abuse.That they would see me struggle and grow and heal and learn from my mistakes. It is hard to watch the abuse continue and know that breaking that cycle now rest in my children's tiny little hands. I want to see them learn faster than me. I want to see them stand firmer than me. Even when my son drives me crazy with his verbal explosion of unhappiness, I love that he isn't swallowing his words, yet.
I want to be a good role model of speaking my truth and living my life true to myself. I want them to grow up believing that they are worth it. Worth the fight. That they matter and that they should never just give up and that it is not their job to conform to make other's happy.
It is hard to get closure when the wounds get ripped open so often.