I think the most difficult thing for me to keep in check since being divorced is the anxiety. Not over the divorce or even the kids. It’s the anxiety in being judged. Every single move I make feels like someone else is looking at it, just waiting for me to slip up and do the wrong thing.
Let’s take Facebook for example. A handful (and thankfully only a small handful) of times since the almost 4 years I’ve been divorced, I’ve posted a completely innocent post about something random, only to have someone take a screen shot and send it to my ex. Unfortunately when they send it, they give their own commentary or spin on it, then he’s upset because it’s always unfavorable because people just like to start problems. Instead of asking me if I meant something by it or what something means – he automatically will assume it’s about him. This happened earlier this summer when a “friend” on Facebook screen shot a post I did about missing the kids (they were on vacation with him) and counting down the days until they were home…and texted it to the Fiance of The Same Name. It was a mess. However, I do always stand my ground when I’ve done nothing wrong and I posted on Facebook (then sent him a screen shot of my own, so there was no question about it) how much I didn’t appreciate someone twisting my words and that if they were looking to hurt me, fine…but when they do stuff like that and make up things that make it difficult for me to co-parent with my ex-husband, they are hurting my kids and that I wouldn’t stand for.
Even something as simple as texts. We had a group text going for soccer recently and the coaches texted us about a practice and said that a parent needed to stay for a short meeting afterwards. The practice happened to fall when I was taking the kids on vacation. I knew EX was out of town when that text about the meeting came through so I simply responded that the kids and I would be on vacation, but hopefully their dad could make the meeting. Even though he was on a float trip, he still took the time to text me “there’s no ‘hoping’. I will be at the meeting” and then went on to ask me how would I feel if he texted something like that about me. I was lost. It wouldn’t have affected me at all. I tried explaining that I knew he was out of town, so it’s not like I was going to text and ask him if he could go, so I was simply stated that the kids and I would be gone and possibly he could make it.
Things like this happen more often than I’d like, so it feels like I’m under a constant microscope, trying to make sure I act/do/say the right thing. Not just from him either. Sometimes when I am just venting to my family, one of them will get onto a kick and become pious. I have to remind them that the things I talk to them about are not general knowledge and I actually vent to them so I’m not telling other people and get back to him.
With my kids though, it’s the most difficult. EX and I have very different parenting styles. When they come home from his house and tell me stories – like how they are not allowed to close their doors, or how Fiance of The Same Name walked in on them while they were in the tub because she wanted to make sure they were using the ceiling light and not the lights above the mirror, or how they are only allowed to use 3 squares of toilet paper…I can’t help but to be honest with them. I can’t tell them that I feel those things are fair. I can’t let them think that it’s okay for people to treat them that way because what happens when it’s not their dad doing it and it’s someone else. I want them to stand up for themselves. I want them to have privacy and respect others’ privacy. So often, in those situations, I will tell them that I agree, it is unfair or not the right thing to do. I’ve tried telling EX that first (in the hopes he would apologize and take back some of the insane rules he’s told them through the years) but that doesn’t work. So, I have to give my kids the confidence that when they feel things like that are wrong, they are correct. However, from time to time, this too comes back and bites me. One of the kids will mention this to him and he’ll get upset. Again though, I stand by what I did or said to the kids.
This all comes at a toll though. Stress. Added stress upon added stress. As if divorce and co-parenting and everything else wasn’t enough, I have to watch my P’s and Q’s like a hawk. Even when I think I’m doing well, something always seems to pop up that was misjudged.
I often feel like my life is on the edge of comfort and security, teetering into unrest and upset at the slightest unseen breeze.
I also know that some of that I need to get better about just internally managing. I need to focus on the fact that I am really doing nothing wrong, even though it may be perceived that way, and take comfort in that.
Some days though, like today, for no reason – I just feel like I want to puke.