My oldest son, Caleb, refers to himself as the souvenir from my practice marriage. My divorce from his father has been a big part of the only reality he’s ever known. This is probably why he was the only one that didn’t have energy on how it would go between his father and I at his college graduation festivities last weekend. Caleb knows we don’t get a long and has long since accepted that. Most everyone else in our lives is still uncomfortable with it.
Our divorce was pretty hard core, however, it was the years that followed that cemented my feelings about his father. I’d healed my wounds regarding how I perceived I’d been wronged, but in my opinion, my Ex wounded our son over and over again by being a miserable father. Note, I said “my opinion”. I won’t lie. I had quite a story running on that. The truth of the matter is I don’t know my Ex at all. I’m guessing the man I think he is, is nothing like the man he really is today. Everything I believe to be true about him is up for debate. Granted my story came with a lot of evidence to support it, but all stories do.
So, as everyone on both sides of the family gathered to celebrate Caleb’s college graduation, the sideshow in the room was Tony and I. Everyone wondered how it would go. It wasn’t like an elephant in the room, it was more like a herd of elephants in the room. Even Tony’s father said to me at one point, “You should probably sit here with us before all the rest of the seats fill up and you have to sit with my Son.”
I’d like to report Tony and I played along and pretended to like each other or had some sort of moment that felt healthy or reconciliatory. I’d also like to report I had some sort of “be the better person” moment and welcomed him with open arms and congenial conversation. I can’t report any of that. There were twenty plus people at the party and it was easy for me to avoid speaking to him all night long. Everyone there made it even easier than it might have normally been. One of my best friends was assigned to one job, run conversational interference. She did a good job. Tony and I exchanged one awkward handshake as he was leaving.
However, for me something truly cathartic did happened. As I looked at my child, who’s grown into an incredible man, I realized I could let go of any need I had for Tony to be different. Caleb doesn’t need Tony to parent him anymore. Who knows if he ever really did. How they manage their relationship is really none of my business anyway.
For so many years I’ve always needed my Ex to be different in someway or another. I needed him to be a better husband, a better ex-husband. More than anything I believed I needed him to be a better father and that need has kept me connected to him all along. In one moment I realized that Tony could finally be himself and I could finally be free of him for good. I wonder, in fact I know, if I could have let him be who he was, without needing him to be or do anything to make things better for me, at any point before that moment, I could have been free then too.
So, I’m happy to announce that as of last Saturday night I ended my relationship with my ex-husband of twenty years. We parted with a handshake and an awkward smile. The slate is finally clean and we both can be free. Tony can be Tony, and I can be me. All is well that ends well and when I look at my son, I know it all ended very well.
Freedom is always a choice. The cost of resistance is loss of freedom. Resisting the reality of what was robbed me of all the energy I was voluntarily giving to a marriage that ended twenty years ago. In fact I was giving my Ex husband energy and attention he did not want from me. I didn’t know it until it stopped.
It feels good.
Lisa Hayes is an LOA Relationship Coach and Author of How to Escape from Relationship Hell and the Passion Plan. She is also co-founder of Good Vibe Coaching Academy, specializing in LOA Coach training. To get Lisa’s FREE Audio, “How to Talk to a Man” Click here
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