The X-Factor

Hello all and happy Sunday!  I love weekends. I spend most of the week wishing my life away, waiting for the weekend and when it gets here, I seriously enjoy every single minute.

It was an interesting week to say the least. Anyone who knows me knows that I am very happily divorced, and have been for 13 years. I love being single, truly love it. That’s not to say it’s been an easy ride. I have two kids. Two very awesome human beings that I have to say, amaze me. They are smart, independent, stubborn, outspoken, honest, loving, emotionally intelligent, wonderful people and I am grateful that I had the honor of helping to create them.

There is the other side to the DNA of course.  I often wonder what attracted me in the first place, but deep down and 12 years of therapy later, I know that it had to do with me, and not him. I was wife number two and we were married for eleven years.  About three years of that were decently happy years. I probably should have gotten divorced eight years before I did, but as anyone who’s ever gone through a bad marriage/divorce, you hang on for many, many reasons. In my case, and I’m sure in many others, it was “for the kids”, because I didn’t think I could make it financially, thought that maybe one of what turned out to be nine jobs he had during the course of that eleven years would make him happy, kept hoping that the kids and I would eventually come first, as opposed to second or even third to the things he wanted, his threatening to leave the state if we broke it up…yada, yada, yada.  Many reasons, all of which culminated eventually into, “it just doesn’t matter, I cannot do it for another second”.  I had a tremendous amount of support by my parents for which I will always be grateful. I never for a second raised my kids on my own because my parents were there every step of the way. Helping when I went back to school, teaching them to fish, shuffling ball practice, showing up to every game, you name it.

The divorce was heartbreaking of course. For me, and for my kids especially.  By the time we finally split I had been so ready for so long that missing him never happened. I could tell many, many stories of the years before the divorce that would curl your toe nails and make you laugh all at the same time, and not once have I missed his presence in my house, or my life. It was nice to have a fairly functional household after all those years of massive dysfunction. My kids had a hard time for a while but eventually learned to live with the new normal. He made true on his threat to leave the state and for the first two years actually made an attempt about every six months to see the kids. It wasn’t long before he met and married wife number three (W3) and that’s when the dysfunction started up again full force. I tried to like her, as did my kids. She made it about as impossible as she could and the drama never stopped. The kids went to visit and my youngest was about eight years old. It was this trip where she refused to allow the kids to call me because she thought since the kids were with their Dad, they “shouldn’t” be missing me. Never mind that they were young and away from home. I finally had to get the kids their own cell phones just so that they wouldn’t have to ask permission to call if they wanted to. Of course W3 hated that and at one point took my youngest son into a room and ripped him up one side and down the other for calling me, telling him what a terrible son he was, taking his phone away from him, and that was just the beginning. One Christmas my oldest son received seven gifts from his Dad and their step mother and my youngest son received a pair of shoes. It was heartbreaking how they treated him, all because he missed his Mom. I could tell horror story after horror story about the emotional abuse my kids suffered by her, and it finally came to a point where, because I had full custody, I made it clear that he could see his kids anytime he wanted to, but he would have to come to them and without his wife. It took a turn for the worse however, when his lovely Grandmother, whom I had been very close to, left me some money in her will. You would have thought I had personally tackled the woman and ripped that money out of her very hand.  Long story short is that I spent a lot of money and time in court just trying to hang on to the little amount of child support he was paying because the two of them fought tooth and nail to have it reduced and I believe it was all over the inheritance.  It didn’t work, but they continued to fight until their lawyer finally “fired” them, thank God. I did hear through the grapevine that they were telling people that his child support was “putting me through school”, which was truly hysterical to me. They very obviously did not know what it costs to raise a child. Regardless, the fight finally eased somewhat.

My ex did show up for my oldest sons high school graduation two years ago, but I believe it was only because he had to file in the court system in our state to get the child support re-figured for only one child, sadly. He showed up the afternoon of graduation, spent about four hours with the kids, attended the ceremony and left early the next morning. This, after he hadn’t even seen the kids in three and a half years. I was truly disappointed for my boys and could feel the hurt, although they both said they wouldn’t have expected much more. My youngest graduated this year.  Neither had seen their dad since the graduation two years earlier. I thought he might make an attempt to show up but he didn’t.  When I asked my son if he was disappointed he said he was, a little, but that the people who really mattered would be there.

I would honestly admit if I thought I was a horrible ex-wife. I tried to make the whole thing work, I really did. My main concern was my kids and I truly made a concentrated effort to help and not hurt the situation for their sake. The kids tried too. We had long conversations about the way things were, about W3, about their dad and why he allowed her to treat them badly. In the end they just wanted a relationship with their dad so they tolerated it until they just couldn’t anymore. Of course there is always two sides to every story but from my perspective I did try.

A little less than a year ago we got news that W3 had died. She wasn’t in the greatest health when he met her, auto-immune disease, heavy smoker, drank a lot, etc…and apparently it finally took it’s toll. I can’t say any of us were heartbroken but the kids felt badly for their father and so they called him to tell him they were sorry. I didn’t call, but didn’t tell the kids they shouldn’t.  They have always been aware of how I feel about their dad and have always respected me when I told them that their feelings about him were theirs and mine were mine. I never had a problem with them loving their dad despite himself and they have never had a problem with the fact that I didn’t love him anymore. The truth is, although the kids have every right to a relationship with him, if I never heard from the man again in my lifetime I would be just fine.

About a month ago, I got a text from a strange number. Turns out it was my ex. “Thinking of you.”  “How are you?”   Four words:  ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME?   WTF???  Where in the holy hell did this come from?  Surely he’s been drinking. I texted back, “Fine”  just to see where this was heading and sure enough, he wanted to have a friendly chat. A friendly chat. Needless to say I’m floored by this. I was not mean, but kept my answers short. Of all the people in the world, he would not be someone I would seek out for a friendly chat.  I mentioned it to my Mom later, who laughed and laughed. In fact, anyone who knows me and knows my story who heard about his texts, laughed and laughed, after they got over the shock, all of us asking what the hell is he thinking?  Is he delusional?  Two weeks later, it happens again, only this time he’s saying things like, “…wanted to make you smile, hope that happened”…and “I care about you and I want to see you happy.”   ~SMH~

I cannot imagine what is going through his mind. In my head I’m thinking, ok…so W3 is gone so now he’s back tracking? I don’t get it, I really don’t. The man helped to try and make my life a miserable nightmare for years, does he not remember that?  Now, mind you, I am not angry anymore, I simply don’t care. I gave up caring a very long time ago and I moved on. In fact, I moved on the day he moved out and I never, EVER looked back except for my kids.  It baffles me to think that he would entertain the thought that I still care about him, but in the wise, wise words of my therapist years ago…”with a narcissist Joanna, it’s always about them, never about you.”

I will not look back, not for a second. My life isn’t perfect right now but it’s good. I have awesome kids, family who loves me and friends I wouldn’t trade for anything. I will say it again, I love being single. I love not having to compromise on anything, clean up after someone else, deal with emotional stuff that isn’t mine. It took me a very long time to learn to love myself, flaws and all. It took a divorce, therapy, college at 40, raising kids without a partner, working my way up the ladder, being able to support myself and a tremendous amount of emotional and spiritual reflection to be able to say I am an awesome human being. That’s not to say I wouldn’t ever give a relationship a chance, but if it never comes along, I am surely going to be just fine.

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