I wish I knew.
Knew what was happening and why it was happening.
Knew what angle she was coming from.
Knew how to fix all this stuff.
I wish so much that there was any way for me to grasp what in the name of heavens was happening. I can't comprehend what evolution we are in the middle of or why we are in the middle of it. I expected things to be fixed, stupidly, I guess. I thought that once the new paperwork was stamped and finalized that this would all end and things would start to finally get better. That finally we would be able to co-mingle like all the other split households I've seen and read about. All the happy meals, holidays, phone calls, and fluid communication. Occasionally, there were small glimpses into normal that came out about three months after all was said and done, but that is but a distant memory now.
It seems almost as though none of the MANY months spent agonizing over court paperwork ever even happened. Like all the reprimands for irrational behavior and promises of conducive co-parenting fell on deaf ears. Like we are just in the middle of a volatile, stressful, pissing-contest that won't end anytime in the foreseeable future. But the problem is that all the pissing isn't coming from our direction. It's irritatingly coming from the East and aimed right at us.
I don't understand why it has to be so hard. Why communications need to be so erratic and broken. It feels like we are trying so desperately hard to keep things under control. Like we shattered a gigantic mirror and are now trying to pick all the pieces up. We are systematically picking each portion of this broken thing up piece by piece, only to get jabbed randomly for seemingly no reason at all. The pieces all look smooth enough, but some of them have shitty little jagged edges that will cut you like you owe it money if approached wrong.
Each and every email sent in our direction is rife with demands, accusations, and absolutely not an ounce of kindness. They're hateful and irritatingly unexpected given the amount of healthy communication we try to illicit. For all the "pleases," thank yous," and "how does that work with yous," all we are ever gifted in return are "nows," "immediatelys," and "your message has been noteds."
Why is she so unwilling to work together with us for the sake of their child? Why can she not listen to that little girl and hear her say how desperately stuck in the middle she feels? Why does she do anything that she's been doing?
I wish I had any idea where she was coming from. I try so hard, as I've always done, to interpret and guess blindly why she is acts out. I understand parts of it, I really do, but then more stuff flies into the fan and splatters all over our lives for what seems to be no reason. I've pawed through dozens and dozens of books from each side of the fence, trying to put this mosaic together. This image of what the hell is happening and why.
I've read about jaded women, ex-wives who were still, years after the divorce, trying to piece together the broken parts of their emotions in an attempt to keep it together enough to maintain a flat smile during handovers and birthdays. Women who were left lost, trying to rebuild after many or few years with the same man. Women learning to trust and love again.
And I've read about new women, new wives who are trying to find their place in the dynamic of a broken family. Step-mothers who toe a very, VERY fine line between just enough and too much. Women who love abundantly and sometimes make mistakes because of the uncharted territory. A territory I've become painfully familiar with because of the last several years. A territory that has tried to rip me limb from limb with the guided hand of BM. A hand that has been very clumsily thrashing in my general direction in a vain attempt to cause as much distress as possible. A hand that I, for the love of everything I've read, cannot understand.
I try to fix things. I read all the books, respect all the set boundaries, and am still left empty-handed. I'll be honest, I occasionally find myself frustrated with little things
she does, even if it's not wrong, but just because she rubs me the
wrong way. The conflict that has been fueled between us, or at least
from my position, comes from keeping BM frozen in a story. I was keeping
her as an unchanging character in my mind who was only capable of doing
one thing or another and no more, without any chances for improvement.
That's not fair to her, or anybody for that matter. I've come to realize
that it is okay for me to admit that BM has a few good qualities, and
I made the conscious decision to forgive. I told myself
that I will stop the energy drain of attack and defend. I initially felt
incredibly vulnerable, but trusted myself to take care of me and what I
needed. I have laid my own groundwork for something new to happen. I've
developed compassion again. Understanding that she is just as human as
us. I understand that we all occasionally act from a place of
self-interest and self-protection, and we often make mistakes, and even
if we would not like to be seen as behaving in such a way, that's
alright. Compassion is necessary, not only for BM, but also for the little girl who is caught in the middle of everything.
I had several conversations with SD during her past visit which started with her telling me how hard it is for her to be the kid in the middle of this. A sentiment that I explained my understanding of. I explained my childhood and the strained phone calls between my mom and dad, the urgent trips in the middle of the night my mom would make to her parent's house so that she could hide me if she thought my dad might come to try and see me.
The problem that I had with her admission is that she has never shown any signs to us that she's struggling prior to that night. Looking at her little face, I saw her break a little. She asked me why her mommy didn't like us, why things had to be the way they are and why we never came to visit her at her house. She showed me a side of herself that I forgot existed. A side that I ached for, because that used to be my voice. A voice of desperation and realization that perhaps all the realities that she's been living with for so many years might be shaken and not as sturdy as they once were.
This can't be just about BM anymore. Both sides have to share power with each other. Neither side asked for permission for that power and neither side granted it, yet there the arrangement lies. BM has this need for control that she can't shake. She demands things and expects people to bow to them. There's just an absolute unwillingness to meet us halfway at all. Neither side can parent in isolation though. We need each other.
Whether BD is a hands-on parent or not, there will probably be times
when BM and I will need to bail one another out or rationalize one another's actions and having someone on her side could really help, if only she could see it.
We understand, just as I imagine she does, that it is almost impossible to let yourself relax when you know that someone is just waiting for you to mess up. We KNOW that there is someone out there talking about us, watching us, biding their time, and that's the scariest part of our life right now. We become defensive, and we become this way because we assume that someone is attacking us now for something one of us did in the past, and we're anticipating more attacks in the future. Anticipate and gather information.
We try to ensure that we monitor where we are getting our information from. We don't want to get all flared up before knowing what is the truth and what isn't. I try desperately hard to communicate to foster harmony between myself and BM. I communicate to listen and consider any changes that might need to be made. I gather my information and pay very close attention in an effort to make things better. I gently piece together the small fractions of information I can from where I can so that I can better even my little portion of this mess. I make a rudimentary effort to be kind and provide cheerfulness and friendliness to BM in hopes that one day she might see it and decide to stop being so angry. Stop clutching onto these hurt emotions that she is harboring.
Until then, I'll just have to keep wishing...