I feel lost inside a forest, thick with trees. I can't see which direction I should be going but all around me, I heard taunting and laughing.
You can't do this.
You will never make it.
You are a horrible person for trying.
And you will not win this battle.
You cannot control this outcome.
And in a way, those voices are right.
I cannot control this outcome.
I don't get to make decisions based on what is best for my family. I have to fight for those decisions. I have to be brave and get out of bed on the days where my anxiety feels as though it is strangling me.
And maybe I look like a horrible person for trying to fight for my family.
Divorce has a way of doing that.
It takes something done out of love and twists it into an ugly battle of "who will win" and not "what is best for the children".
I hate that about divorce. I hate that the easy decisions are made into difficult decisions.
And because when we haven't truly forgiven our ex-spouse and/or moved on and healed, trying to hurt them seems like second nature.
Divorce hasn't cleared away all of the beauty but it certainly has blackened a lot of things that used to be full of color.
Things as simple as birthday parties, work events, dance rehearsals, soccer games, vacations, school breaks, etc. are no longer easy. Because depending on the weekend they fall, the children might miss out on certain events. And even if they don't miss out, it takes extra scheduling and compromising to try and get everything to work out.
I was told this past weekend that my children are doing "family costumes" for Halloween this year---except that I am not a part of it.
They are participating in something labeled "family" that I am not also participating in.
I cried myself to sleep when they told me this.
Because it is hard. So, so hard.
Because when they go to their dad's house, they look like a more complete family.
And it just feels like a punch in my stomach.
I've worked so hard to move on from my divorce. I thought it would all be uphill from here. (ha!)
But then I felt like a bomb was dropped on me when my ex-husband told me he was remarrying. And maybe their marriage wouldn't be so hard for me if it hadn't come with such a huge onset of changes---filing for a new custody arrangement to include his new wife, my kids getting used to living with another adult, becoming extremely protective of her disciplining them, the Halloween costumes, requesting to change how we do holidays, etc.
It. Is. Too. Much.
And I wish that my feelings and my children's feelings were factored into all of this but they aren't.
I feel like I'm trying to grasp this possible new reality and I don't know how to handle it. I don't know how to NOT lose my mind. I don't know how to let go a little bit and let someone new be a parent to my children.
I envisioned this all much differently than it has happened. I planned on having a good relationship with my children's step-mom. It looked so different in my mind.
It looked a lot easier in my mind.
But the past four months have been anything BUT easy.
I spend a lot of nights crying. I have closed myself off. When I try and calendar our kids' schedules and the immediate response is, "Let me check with Jess and see if that works for us", my heart stings with an ache that is so hard to explain.
That used to have a different meaning.
I used to be included in 'us'.
And now I feel like they are building a family without me. I feel left out and hurt. I feel like my feelings aren't taken into consideration.
If only I could cry out and say, "I am not trying to be a crazy ex-wife! I just want what is best for our kids. If you could just take a second and look at it from my point of view. I carried these children and birthed them and got up in the middle of the night with them. I took them to their first activities and play dates. I stayed home with them for years. I was there to explain divorce to them. I let them scream at me when they didn't understand it all. And over the past four years, I have been the constant in their lives. I have never missed a dance recital, school activity, or parent-teacher conference. When they get sick, I take off work. When they need someone to talk to, I drop everything. I have poured my heart and soul into these children."
Because if they could try and understand it from my point of view, maybe they wouldn't be trying to change custody. Maybe they would realize how much damage was done four years ago and how hard I've worked to pick up those pieces and create a stable life for our children.
And maybe someday, they will. Maybe someday, I will look back at how hard this was and be grateful that it got easier and that the relationships got better.
But for now, I only have two goals: Be the best mom I can be for our children and keep my head above water.