Well there is no hiding it now.

Imagine my surprise while Twitter alerted me that DivorcedMoms.com had tweeted a link to me. Of course I click on it, and too my surprise and almost embarrassment – there is my story. There is my story, and there is my name. There was no hiding from this now, it was out there.

I had in fact sent them this personal writing as a pitch idea for those going through divorce. To share how I felt in those first few months, the emotions that came and went – so that anyone else in my shoes could feel as if they were no longer alone.

But there it was, in black and white. My fears, my life, my inner most personal details were screaming at me from their site. While feeling proud, and in shock at the same time – I figure that if they posted it that quickly and without any communication, it must be worth reading. Click the link below to read what I never thought anyone would, and what the inner workings of infidelity and divorce feel like.

http://www.divorcedmoms.com/articles/he-left-two-weeks-ago-this-is-what-hatred-looks-like
This is how hatred feels

http://www.divorcedmoms.com/articles/he-left-two-weeks-ago-this-is-what-hatred-looks-like no

Divorce & the StepMom

Have you ever awoke from a dream that was so intense and real that your heart breaks as you open your eyes?

I dreamt about him again, and its such a double edged sword because even though for the duration of the dream we’re together again, there is always the waking up that rips him away.

Divorce sucks, everyone knows that,  divorce with your children involved even worse, but nothing is worse than divorce with a stepchild.  Nothing.

Ethan was only one when he blessed my life. Having had a hysterectomy after my son, I always believed God wasn’t done with me as a mother, therefore he brought me Ethan. We had him in our home every other week for a week at a time, which is virtually unheard of at his age.

At first, it was hard to get used to, because my children were 5 and 7 at the time. Diapers, sippy cups and highchairs were a thing of the past. But, it took no time at all to fall in love with this blonde little sweetheart.

He always called me mom, because he copied my kids. It was hard because his mother hated it. It was something he chose and though I was uneasy with it at first, I grew to love it and to call him my son. Raising him was a joint responsibility in our home. In every definition and action I was his mother, and I loved him dearly, and still do.

Through battles in court, battles between my husband and his mother, I fought hard for this little kiddo. My love for him and my relationship with him, is what started my blog, and my parenting page. My children took to him instantly and we were a family.  And then after three years, we weren’t.  He was gone.

His dad left for another woman. He left while my kids were not at home, and while Ethan was with his mom. There was and has never been a goodbye on either end.  My children were left heartbroken by the dual loss of a stepfather and brother. And, I, well…I haven’t seen Ethan since. Except in photos here and there.

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That is probably why I still dream about him. In my dreams Ethan calls me mommy, and hugs me so tight as if to hold me over until our next date in our dreams. He caresses my face and tells me “I love you mommy” the way he used to do. This time I was so happy to see him that I was crying, and woke up feeling as though I was going to cry. My heart hurts, still, a year later.

It makes me hate his father, and the woman he left our family for. The woman who informed me it was better for Ethan and my children, to not see eachother or the man that was a father type in their life. She has no children of her own, how does she know? She made the rules and he followed them.

While I’m thankful my ex is gone, and even more delighted that they two now are eachothers karma;  I miss my son. I miss his laughter, his silliness, his sweet breathy voice and the way he loved me so. I miss him crawling into my lap, caressing my face and telling me stories about bullriding and hockey with his excited little boy voice. I miss him holding hands with his brother and sister and how excited he was to see them when he came home every week. I miss the 3 am tapping on my shoulder, saying “mommy can I snuggle you?”

Now, awake and emotional, I will go on about my day dealing with the loss of my son again. The sinking  feeling in my heart, that dull aching pain which will exist unbeknownst to anyone throughout the day. I’ll suffer quietly because noone understands it and everyone expects it to go away because its been over a year. But, guess what?  It hasn’t. 

It hides away until we meet again in our dreams.  I miss you Ethan, and love you always. 

Loving yourself – Invites Love in.

Yesterday after sharing my feelings about a certain someone special to my friend, she wrote me something that really made me think.

She wrote : “You are an inspiration Jessica. I love how you may have had ups and downs, but you aren’t afraid to continue to love! I am more than happy for you and kiss enough frogs you are bound to find a prince.”

Instantly I thought, wait – out of everything why the hell am I not afraid to love? I am afraid to get hurt, to be left, to be cheated on – but I am not afraid to love which invites all those fears in… That makes no sense. How is my heart not hardened, bitter, and broken to all things that even remotely involve a connection with another person? Then I thought… did I really maybe kiss my last frog – could he be the prince? The fairy-tale hope never dies, does it?

Loving someone, although a risk is also a very freeing feeling – to give so much of yourself without a second thought, in hopes someone will return the love and see within you all the things you already know exist. On my way home yesterday I was thinking this over, which is something I love to do – to rehash, over think and analyze myself constantly and become my own worse critic. However, I realized that letting someone in, starting over with someone new forces you to fall in love with yourself and get to know yourself all over again.

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When you are in a relationship that has in many ways caused the loss of who you are, that has drained the existence of simple happiness, it is easy to fall into that hole that makes you think that you are worthless. Even worse when you are left – because we think to ourselves if I was worthy of love, he wouldn’t have left me. If I was beautiful, he wouldn’t have chosen her, if I could just show him I can be more, be better, he will come back. However, day after day, more and more you realize that is not the truth and not want you want. In fact, because you are worthy of love and happiness – he is gone – because he wasn’t worthy of your love.

A friend of mine told me once, “Be careful what you fight for, because one day you might wake up and realize it isn’t anything you really want anymore.”

She was right then, and it rings true now. Maybe that is why I am not afraid to love, because I know myself, what I have to offer, my heart and my desires. We all make mistakes, choices that we may regret, and we can talk ourselves out of anything and everything. Trust me, I am the best at all of these – but I have never successfully talked myself out of loving.

At the end of the day, I believe that if you love yourself enough, the fear to love dissipates. After all, a life without loving – is not worth living, and I want to love.

Packing my bags when I need to stay…

“I’d be packing my bags when I need to stay, I’d be chasing every breeze that blows my way” Toby Mac

For years, I was a strong believer in “If you aren’t happy get out” – so much so in fact that I did just that. If things weren’t the way I had expected, or something else was better, easier, or just less work I could throw that whole relationship in the trash and move on. It used to piss me off to no end, when I would hear girlfriends say, “I can’t leave because of the kids”, or ” when the kids are 18 or move out, I will leave then”. That was always a crock of really stinky crap to me, and I would fight back with advice like ” What about you, you don’t deserve to be happy now?” or “do you think your kids should live a lie thinking your life was great for 18 years than, all of sudden you get divorced?” Or, how about “your kids need to see you happy, they need to see two people who love each other, don’t you think they know you are not happy right now?” And, while those are all still great points, valid points, and should really be considered – I know see where that comes from.

Admitting I was wrong, or possibly, slightly, part way incorrect – maybe is well, the truth. I was wrong. Truth is, if you are scared, not dedicated, maybe didn’t really mean your vows or many variances of lacking in the commitment to the marriage, your spouse and yourself – leaving makes sense and will most likely happen.

My friends used to say I was in love with falling in love. That all relationships go stale and become work, that is normal. For me, I thought when it stopped being fun, all the lovey-dovey stuff went away – and lies and skeletons in the closet came out to play and REAL LIFE came into account – the relationship was over, done, finito – adios – buh-bye! Although in my defense, cheating, abuse and drugs and alcoholism all are valid reasons to end a relationship – but only if you really need to use that excuse. There are many marriages who have made it through that and much worse, my guess is that they were fully committed. My other guess is that the love and the respect for the other person were genuine.

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My heart is an odd heart, it backfires, misfires, gets overheated and freezes over faster than that Frozone’s snow boots! When I shouldn’t have loved, I did – and too much. When I should have loved, I didn’t – or not enough. Being thirty-three I can tell you I have been in love only two times – which is odd because there have been four “main” men in my life that I spent years saying the daily I love you’s, the promises of every tomorrow, the I Do’s which turned to I Don’t, I Didn’t or I won’t do that. One relationship which produced my beautiful children – my true loves of my life – but looking back now, wasn’t real – no love.

Then as with any broken or failed relationship you tuck a little piece of “baggage” into a deep dark little hole, and move on to the next. And so on…so that when you settle down with the right person there is just enough unpacking, sorting, and repairing to drive you crazy – but without driving you away.

My husband and I do not have the perfect marriage, we are not that couple that never fights, I am not the perfect wife, and he is not the perfect husband. Our marriage is WORK, literally getting down and dirty, elbow grease and all – WORK. There are days where he can do no right by me, there are days that he irritates me, hurts my feelings, pushes my buttons and my limits making me feel like at any moment I could bust through the barrier of wonderful married-ville, and strangle him. AND, there are days when its reversed and I am all those thing to him. We are not easy to be married to, to live with – but damn it if we don’t find a way to always find a way. We do that, because we finally found the person, the commitment, the relationship that is worth all the WORK.

If someone were to ask us, how come you don’t just give up, or how much more are you gonna take? Our answer would be because of our family, because we love each other, for the kids, the extended family, our life – etc. Before, my kids weren’t a reason to stay in a relationship – now I am not saying that you should stay solely for the kids, but what I am saying is that it makes sense what I heard my girlfriends saying all those failed relationships of mine ago. It makes sense why our grandparents and great-grandparents were married 40, 50 and 60 years to the same person. Dedication and Commitment. My grandfather made some bad choices, and I am sure so did his father, and his father’s father. They may not have been the same bad choice, but you can bet your tush they weren’t perfect – and neither was their marriage.

There are those select few, the elite married couples who just really do have it perfectly figured out, they never fight, no one gets jealous, they are always kind, considerate, thoughtful, selfless – no baggage, no dramatic issues or life altering problems and just are HAPPY. If that is you, you had better go in and find your spouse – lay a big smooch right on them and take a minute to realize that you are lucky. Not everyone has that, and not necessarily because they can’t – but because they won’t.

There is a quote by Marilyn Monroe that was me exactly. It says:

“A wise girl kisses but doesn’t love ;
Listens but doesn’t believe ; and leaves
before she is left”

What it should say is a wise girl is a lonely girl too….

If I truly loved the people in my past, the way I do my husband – I would still be there. If I valued my relationships then as much as I value my marriage now, I’d still be there. It’s the same with cheating – I used to think that you can cheat on someone you love – because to be honest I cheated – and I thought I loved the person I cheated on. Truth is, I didn’t – because if I did, I wouldn’t have stepped over that line. Cheating is a choice, it is a premeditated, thoughtful process that you either decide to follow through with because you don’t care or you don’t love the person you are with. We all could cheat, we all could fall into that bottomless pit of deceit and have great affairs that are pleasing for the moment, that will only be detrimental internally, and externally for those we let down.

The saying “once a cheater, always a cheater” isn’t true. The truth is, when you find something and someone who you could or would never risk the chance of losing, you won’t cheat. When you think to yourself, that would be “fun” but it would ruin my family or its “new and exciting” but how new would it be, if you got stuck with it forever? The new and exciting, the fun, is in having those “trying” moments and not failing – but instead making it through them. It’s seeing your family and knowing that they are not dispensable, that you are valuable to them and to yourself.

This may sound like a bunch of soap box talking – but truth is, it’s just a couple of things I learned from messing up. Before my husband, before this marriage, I was packing my bags when I needed to stay, I was chasing any breeze that blew my way…luckily it led me to where I should be. Now my bags are staying unpacked and the breeze will blow me closer to my family, not away.

Out of broken homes.

Life blows us in directions that we never see coming – or that we see the possibility of coming, but believe that they will never get that bad. Finding out you are wrong, and that it doesn’t just hurt yourself but others – is a hard pill to swallow. My children have survived, managed, whatever word you feel best describes living through our divorce. There really hasn’t been a hard time, or adjustment period – there has been hard times – but mentally and emotionally they have remained intact. Until now…

daughter and dad.

Lately I find myself questioning if it is my fault that my daughter dislikes her father so much? Is it because I divorced him? Is it because I married my now husband, and he is more fun than her father? Should I have not remarried and stayed single until she was in college? If you find yourself asking these questions, the answer is no. Children need to see a happy, fulfilling relationship that works, that is stable and creates a safe haven for them. As for my daughter, she is simply an old soul – she is intelligent and very forthcoming, inquisitive and mature for her age. When she asks questions, I answer them – whatever they may be – and I tell her the truth, even if it makes me look bad. Personally, I think this is best way to be a parent, but it’s not for everyone.

If you saw my daughter three years ago, you would be confused by the difference. Her daddy was her world, he could do no wrong and if I said anything to contrary she was first to defend. This was 4 years after our divorce, she has always been a daddy’s girl. Now, she wants nothing to do with him – Odd don’t you think? How is that even possible? Not only does she want to exclude him from her life, she wants her stepdad to be her dad. Placing me right in the middle of CRAP no matter which way I turn. A wrong move, hurts both my daughter and husband, or my ex-husband – whom although contrary to his delusions of hatred I have for him – bothers me.

Sitting here, I put myself in her fathers shoes. What if she lived with him full-time, and she decided she wanted nothing to do with me anymore, who he support her in that? Would he go to court to modify visitation to ensure she didn’t have to follow the court order? What if she wanted her StepMom to be her mom, and they had the relationship we should be having – how would I feel, what would I do? Then it hits me… “What if’s don’t usually happen” and I know this wouldn’t happen to us. Is it because I am a perfect mother? Not even close. Is it because I am a better person than her father, No. Is it because I wouldn’t allow myself to be in the background and take a backseat to her life, whether I was the custodial parent or not? YES!!!

See, that’s just it. If in court that day, I lost custody of my children – and they went to their dad instead, I wouldn’t have let them go completely. My heart would hurt, I’m sure I would harbor resentment towards my ex, and even be depressed not having them as I had before. BUT, I wouldn’t allow that to come between us more. I wouldn’t miss a sporting event, a school event, a conference, I wouldn’t miss anything that I was allowed to attend. I would ask for more time, not less. I wouldn’t let my children down. When they look around a crowded room, or ball field to see if I was there, they would find me every time. If they were sick at school, and needed to be picked up, I would pick them up, no second thoughts about it. When my children tell the truth about illegal things, I would never accuse them of lying to cover my own secrets. My children would know I loved them, want them, miss them, everything, as often as I could tell and show them.

He didn’t do this. As soon as he lost custody, he checked out of his position of a parent, a confidant, a role model, even as a friend. Little by little, his lack of involvement, his distance and constant avoidance of activities and important events for the children caused both kids to lose respect, question actions and pull away from their dad. What happens in a home, where you are remarried, and the ex removes himself from the kids lives – and you have a husband who loves your children? Naturally, they fill in – they STEP up, and do those things that a father should be. Is that really so wrong? Should we stop a natural progression of a parent role being filled in the best interest of a child? NO!

For approximately a year, I emailed, texted, called, reminded, re-reminded my ex of every detail, every event, and tried my best to stop what I saw unraveling before me. Was it because I didn’t want my husband stepping in? No, it was because I felt like my ex owed his children more than stepping out. When I think of my stepson, I know I could never replace his mom – it’s just impossible. But, when I look at my daughter – I see that it is very possible for her to replace her dad, and that makes me sad. Not because he deserves my sadness, or because he just got a bad rap – but because I know my daughter lost something inside her – she lost her father.

I lost a father, it hurts really bad – it’s a deep inside pain, it’s a core shattering, confusing, left always wanting and never feeling good enough kind of pain. The thought of her feeling this – tops that pain. A father is supposed to love his little girl no matter what, to be the one man a daughter can always count on, a little girls first love, and the rock that pulls her through. I never had that, and now I see that she doesn’t have that with her dad. However, God must have seen it coming – because he sent in a replacement.

Replacement, may sound hard – Second string, alternative, Stepparent – whichever means that it wasn’t the first option – but it is now the permanent. My husband loves my daughter more than I could express. He puts his blood, sweat and tears into her for everything. He doesn’t let her down, he doesn’t try to be her friend, he doesn’t miss an event that he can’t avoid – he doesn’t break her heart, he simply does his best everyday to be a parent to her. He disciplines, he reprimands, he teaches, he practices, he listens, he snuggles, he shows, he provides, he protects, and for all those reasons and more – she respects him. She loves him, and she considers him her dad. As much as it pains me to admit it, I am thankful she has him. She doesn’t lose out, she doesn’t go without, she gets that role model, that picture of what a husband she be, a father should be – and I can’t pretend that I don’t appreciate him for that.

Who are we to decide who is socially accepted to be a parent? Just because my husband isn’t biologically her parent, doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t make him love any less, it doesn’t make him unfit, or inexperienced or less than any other father. It makes him better, bigger, more, it makes him a father to a daughter that loves him. Which is priceless if you asked me.

Does it make our situation magically improved and we can all ride off in the sunset together, unfortunately not. Life is far more complicated than that. I still don’t know how to react, or defend her in her choice to choose her stepdad. The law prevents me from many choices, and my conscience does as well. However, when I sit back and question the why’s and what if’s, I know the answer. GOD, he is why – he knows, and he knew she would need a father, and he provided that for her, for our family. The blessing of my husband didn’t just include the gift of my wonderful, loving, sweet stepson, it blessed my children with another dad. What could be a better blessing than that?