After months of busy work, school and activity schedules, I was looking forward to a long holiday weekend to relax and enjoy some down time. We had a few things planned and my ex-husband and I were getting close to finalizing a car for our 16-year-old daughter, but I figured I would still have some time to rest and relax. On Saturday, we spent the morning signing papers for the car and figuring out logistics on how to surprise our daughter. The afternoon was spent picking up the car, surprising her with it and driving around to visit her friends. Who knew the emotions that giving your child a car would evoke? Although she’s been driving for months, giving her a car means having to let go a little more and not being able to protect her because she’ll be out there on her own when she’s on the road. It’s overwhelming to think about the fact that you’ve taken care of and driven this child around for 16 years and all of a sudden, they want to be out there by themselves and with their friends while you sit at home and wonder if everything is ok and track them on your Life 360 app. High school and driving are like tests of letting go for the parents, before the kids head off to the real world.
If that weren’t emotional enough, I was faced with more interesting information. I’ve been talking and to and hanging out with a guy for the past year; he lives over an hour away and is in the Army and was deployed a couple of months ago. We’ve never claimed to be in a “relationship” due to our schedules and distance, but we pretty much text/talk every day and it felt like we were. I won’t get into all the details, but let’s just say that I found out this weekend, through social media, that things were not what they seemed; another woman changed her status to say that she was in a relationship with him on the day after he stopped texting me. While I was worrying about his safety, he was busy playing me; I found out that he was back home from deployment and saw a picture of the two of them together. My emotions have been all over the place this weekend along with many tears, trying to figure out what in the world happened, going back and looking at old texts, questioning things and coming up with plausible theories. Maybe it’s my fault … I get truly invested in the people that I care about and can be over the top. Sure, that sounds great, but it can also be a tremendous weakness, especially when it causes you to get hurt often. And when it causes you to overlook red flags along the way because you just want to be in a relationship again.
The situation transported me back to when my ex-husband and I were discussing separating and all the feelings and emotions. Obviously, this situation is not even close to that, but I just remember constantly wondering what I did wrong or how I could have changed things, instead of realizing that it’s about him and not me and that it’s his loss or that I deserve better than this. Thank goodness for good friends who will remind you of that. I was constantly trying to keep things together on the outside for my girls while I was falling apart on the inside. When you have kids, you can’t just crawl in my bed and wallow; you just have to keep things going. On one hand, that might be a good thing because of the distractions. But, at the same time, the feelings of betrayal, loss and disillusionment are real and need to be addressed.
Ironically, the same day I found out this information, the girls and I attended my friend’s wedding. I was not feeling great about going, but I was excited to celebrate my friend. She and her fiancé both have gone through a lot in life and were each getting married for a second time. To sum it up, the wedding was just perfect – intimate, beautiful and heartfelt. As I watched them take their vows and listened to the speeches, it brought tears to my eyes; I was sad for what I was dealing with, but it also made me feel hopeful. These two had been through a lot and those experiences brought them to this point, where they were able to join their two families into one. I felt so grateful to be included in this amazing celebration of love and it gave me some hope that good things are coming.
If you remember one of my earlier posts, this year I tried something new and chose a word of the year – embrace (click here to read that post). I told myself at the beginning of the year that I was going to embrace life this year, the good and the bad. I’m trying to embrace all the changes in life as I parent a high schooler and a rising 4th grader, which is not always easy. I also embraced opening myself up to someone new and letting my guard down.
But now I wonder, what lessons am I supposed to learn from this latest challenging experience? I still don’t have the answer to that and maybe it will be a while before I figure that out. The fact that I invest in the people that I care about can be a positive and a negative. What I don’t want to happen is for these experiences to change me in a negative way. I hope I don’t become a pessimist about love and life and become cold, bitter and extremely guarded …. I worry about that. Right now, I don’t know how much more my heart can take, but at the same time, I really don’t believe that I’m meant to be alone forever. So, I guess I’ll just keep plugging along, taking care of my girls, working on myself, doing the things I love and just keep embracing life as it comes. What other choice is there?