Time can heal all wounds.
It was Thanksgiving Day and it was going to be a long day. The pain had started early in the morning and it was hard to walk. I knew I better start the pain medication otherwise I'd be crying before I even arrived at the in-laws; or the outlaws, as we like to call ourselves.
I didn't want my daughter to be worried about me and seeing me wince in pain would definitely do that. I prayed that the medication would take effect and at least help me pull off my little charade of feeling just fine. Her dad and his wife were also going to be spending the day with us and I wanted it to be a day of joy, not one of worry.
For so long I blamed my former husband for the events that led up to our divorce. I had a lot of anger that I kept buried deep inside. What I didn't realize is that the anger was there long before I even got married. I still don't know everything that is buried in there but he got damaged goods and neither one of us was aware of it. You can't fully love anyone else unless you love yourself first and that was my problem. I didn't know how to be open and vulnerable, well, I did but it wasn't going to happen. The added plus was that if he did see what was underneath all of that he wouldn't love what he saw. Having gone through all of that and very slowly came out of it, I wasn't sure how I felt about spending the day with them. All I did know was that my daughter wasn't going to pay for my insecurities and I was determined to smile, no matter what.
The conversation during dinner was so easy. The families were blending beautifully and I couldn't ask for anything better. Then my former husband asked me if I'd spoken with my aunt lately.
Maybe it was all the carbs and the sugar but I had a moment of clarity. I'm not saying my ex-husband was an angel but my reactions to the issues and problems that we had were way over the top. He was surrounded by the women in my family who had their own problems in their marriages and, in this case, misery really loved company. I have no idea if we would have worked everything out but it seemed that everyone from our pastor (and that is whole other story) to my family was actively sabotaging our marriage. The scary thing is, I allowed it, reveled in it and did my part to destroy it.
It took me a very long time to get away from the dysfunctional dynamic this side of my family possessed. It was a family that needed drama, intensity and high volume to survive. The women were strong and heaven help you if you got in their way. Well, they would just steamroller over you and that was that. I ended up with them because I had lost both of my parents and I moved in with them. The trauma of losing both of my anchors so early in my life took a huge toll on me. I already had issues with abandonment and losing my parents cast those issues in stone. I took on the personality of my aunt as my own and even when I disagreed I couldn't open my mouth. I felt that if I did take an opposite stance I could lose another set of parents. I was locked up in a prison of my own making.
When my aunts and cousins marriages were breaking up I was at ground zero in the middle of the perfect storm. As far as everyone was concerned, men were bad and then it turned out that my husband couldn't even breathe right. I was in an environment of malice and I couldn't stop it. I felt powerless and I went right along with all of it. It wasn't until they turned on me as well that I found out that I still had my own personal power; and, at that point, I used it. However, by the time I used it the cost was very high. I had been a loose cannon and everything was fair game. By the time the storm had stopped there was a lot of devastation in its path.
It's bittersweet to look back and think of the different paths that could have been chosen. There are ways to handle conflicts and I chose every wrong one. It took a long time for me to finally be at peace and I value that more than anything I possess. I can now look at him and, with all my heart, thank him for the years we did have together and for our beautiful daughter.
I can say how sorry I am, and mean it.
I don't have to preface everything with, "if you hadn't......... then I wouldn't have....."
I guess I've grown more than I realized.