It’s official. My kids are going to have a stepmother.
They don’t know yet, of course. But since my ex has posted photos of the ring and yesterday’s proposal on Facebook, I figure it is okay for me to talk about it. It wasn’t a surprise, and my own feelings are a bit mixed. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to feel. Part of me is genuinely happy for him, for them. He’s a good man and he deserves the love that for whatever reason I was not able to give. I’m also sad and still grieving the loss of the dream we both shared of a happy, intact family that would go to Disney World together and host sleepover parties for our children. I feel jealous, not of her, but of him – that he is ready to move on while I’m still working through the emotions of the divorce. I feel grateful that she seems to be a kind and caring woman, especially since she will be a stepmother to my kids. And I feel fearful. Just because.
There’s a song by Missy Higgins called Where I Stood which captures almost word for word the emotions I’m experiencing right now.
“I don’t know what I’ve done or if I like what I’ve begun.” After almost exactly two years since he moved out, I’m ambivalent about what my life looks like. On one hand, I can see that I’m a much healthier person, physically, mentally and spiritually. But I don’t always like it. I don’t like being without a partner, nor do I like the confusion and vulnerability that comes along with dating and getting to know new people. I don’t like having to share my kids with someone, even if she is very nice.
“I don’t know who I am without you; all I know is that I should.” I lost myself in the relationship with my ex-husband. It’s not something I intended to do, nor is it something either one of us recognized as it was happening. In fact, when I look back, I can see how much I deliberately fought being swept away by the relationship, acting independently and refusing to yield my own individual will to what was best for the marriage. It was in this fighting that I lost myself. I didn’t lose myself so much as hide myself. I was in a lot of pain when he and I first met, and the relationship was a perfect place to hide from the pain, from the truth about some of the decisions I’d made up to that point. Once we were married and my expectations were thwarted, as happens with every naïve newlywed, I then hid in my resentment until the pain of my resentment was greater than the pain of my past.
“You taught me how to trust myself, and so I say to you, this is what I have to do.” I don’t regret getting married, nor do I regret ending it. It was what I had to do, both times. Regardless of my current unpleasant feelings, the one thread woven through it all is peace, serenity, and trust that everything has happened exactly the way it was “supposed to.” Both of us had to learn the lessons we learned in our marriage in order to become the people we are today.
I learned that I need to wait and face my pain before I can be ready to give my heart to another person. I learned that I need to accept who and where I am, instead of pushing headlong into a life I think I want. I learned to trust – not just trust myself, but trust the prompting of the power that seems to be guiding my life. Call it God, call it the Holy Spirit, call it the Over-soul or Higher Power, but I’ve gained a faith that I can trust thanks to everything that has happened.
I don’t know what his lessons were, but he says he’s learned a lot. If he has, she’s a lucky woman to stand where I stood. He’s funny, creative, and has a lot of integrity. And excellent taste in rings. Sincere congratulations to them both, and welcome to this beautiful, broken little family.