Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Whammo! Unexpected grief

I once had a counselor tell me that grief was like a coiled spring. Each coil represents time that you are grieving. There are some days you will feel tightly wound, heartbroken and closely coiled in time. You may grieve for what seems like an eternity, day after day. Then there days, months, years that you are fine; the grieving seems to be over. This is because the spring is stretched out and the space between the coils is wider. Then one day, WHAMMO! You hit another part of the spring that needs to be grieved.

I guess I'm in one of those WHAMMO moments in grieving.

I am apparently still grieving the loss of my marriage.


I have been feeling very angry at my ex-husband lately. These feelings arise every time I would like him to spend more quality time with our daughters.

It comes up every holiday season like here and here and here. I have vented about him here too. With Spring Break coming up, he has made it very clear that he will not go out of his way to help keep the girls out of childcare for the week.

He enjoys his life, his time, and to get him to take time off of work, or off the couch or out of the house to actually do anything of substance with me the girls takes an practically act of Congress!!!

And there it is....

I realized this morning that the reason I hold so much anger towards him for seeming so checked out of his relationship with his daughters is because that is how he was with me.

I was endlessly begging to be noticed. I was always asking where on his 'to do' list did he have my name. I spent years telling him that I wanted to get out, go on a trip, go camping, go to dinner, go spend quality time together! Anything we did, we did because I planned it.

After we had children, it was even easier for him to make an excuse for us to stay in. I was too tired to plan. Things changed and I needed more effort from him. Even when I would send a list of babysitters so that he would only need minimal effort to get us to a nice evening out, the words still fell on deaf ears.

He was always too tired or too much stuff had to be done around the house or he'd just come home from traveling and didn't want to do anything or he was around people all the time and now wanted to be left alone....

Add all of that up and you have one very frustrated wife.

The question I have been asking myself today is, "Why am I expecting him to be any different now?"

The girls seem happy with him. They love and adore their daddy. They accept him just as he is. I want to do that too.

I guess, and I've noticed this before, that I'm projecting my own pain on his relationship with our daughters. My primary love language is quality time. His is not. Whether or not that is our daughters' love language remains to be seen.

Either way, I still have to look at this and do my best to let it go. Feeling this way causes me to be disappointed, resentful and angry towards him - an emotion that doesn't help any of us.

Coincidentally (or not), today's A Course in Miracles lesson of the day was:

Love holds no grievances.

Guess I needed that, huh?

Pardon me while I work on forgiving. Again.


  1. Work on forgiving?!? Now THERE'S an idea! At least you have the courage to try....some of us arent even that far yet.
    "Love holds no grievances" ......crap, Ive got some thinking to do. Thanks T...in case you forgot...you're an inspiration to crazy little mamas like me:)

    and an #assslap #justcuz

  2. ditto ditto ditto ditto ditto!!

  3. Well it seems to me most problems in any relationship begins with expectations. Often those expectations are given to another with no acknowledgment of the other person.

    Like you EXPECT your ex to want to spend "quality" time (your definition of qt) with your kids. Even though there is no reason for you to EXPECT that because you have know way of knowing if it is important to him but simply because it is important to you.

    Everyone knows you absolutely can NOT have disappointment without expectation.

    Good luck!

  4. I respect and appreciate your honesty here and that you admit what you are still grieving. It's amazing how long it takes to work through some things internally, isn't it? But it's not without a reason. And I think that if we stuff something and try to convince ourselves that it's "all just fine", that coil gets wound even tighter and then hits us in the ass when we least expect it. And there you go.

    Acknowledge. Be. Grieve. THEN you can let go. (But, you already know these things. ;)

  5. All I can say is me too. That, and it sucks, because I have come to the conclusion that he just DOES NOT get it, and never will. Love you T.

  6. wow...I think your X and my X were long lost brothers.

    He wasn't interested in his kids when we were married, in fact in 12 years he never changed a single diaper, got up in the middle of the night to sooth a sick tummy, or change sheets from a bed wetting.

    He didn't participate and I'm so very, very angry about it I can't figure out how to move past it.

    If you figure it out you've just gotta let me know the secret!

  7. Forgiveness is one of those things that has many layers to it, and does have to be worked on, particularly with some people. Looks like you're doing a good job with this.


  8. Great lesson for relationships...not holding onto grievances. The problem is that we don't have relationships with our exes. We simply function. (Or maybe just me.) And I've had to let go of the fact that their father is an epic fail who doesn't offer ANY financial assistance, is lousy with contact outside of his weekend, and simply sucks as a human being.

    Instead, I focus on how glad I am that I have such an amazing relationship with the kids. That has to be enough.

    Just know I feel your pain.

  9. I'm not grieving the loss of my marriage; however, I am frustrated that my ex does nothing to plan vacations or extra time with the boys. I was always the one who did that in the relationship and I guess I will always be the one that does that in the divorce. Unless, of course, I stick up for myself, which, is something I need to work on.

  10. I like what sage say's here!
    Everyone knows you absolutely can NOT have disappointment without expectation.
    I am writing this down right now!

  11. I think it's great that you can identify that these are YOUR issues with him and not your daughter's. If they are happy to just "hang" with him then so be it. Not everyone is a doer.

  12. This week has seen me having 3 full days of emails with my ex trying to get him to see the kids and help me over our VERY long break!

    I understand!

    (Funny the word verification was unkin)

  13. I am in the same boat with my ex. Only add the lack of wanting to SUPPORT his kids financially as well.

    But he has time in his life to go out and party, and is apparently now planning a trip to Spain. All of this is taking away time from our daughters. It's also consuming money that he later claims he DOESN'T HAVE. There is a lot of anger between us right now.

  14. My ex's mother suffered with depression and never interacted with my kids the way I hoped a grandmother would. I remember telling a fortune teller about this (I didn't think it was fair my own mom was dead) and his response was that it wasn't for ME to say what made a good grandparent. The children would still gain from the relationship and that I needed to accept it as it was.

    I remember that now and try to apply it to my ex - I'd love for him to do a ton of stuff differently but he didn't do it for 20 years so why would I think he's going to now??? But he is the only Dad my children have.

  15. I don't know the details of you and your ex, but if the girls are content with their time with him, maybe that time they get together is indeed "quality."

    My ex is the "fun" parent in our divorce, and if I'm not taking the kids someplace or doing something "fun" with them, she thinks I'm not spending quality time with them. She forgets that enjoying the present moment can suffice, and maybe is even more powerful.

    My time with my kids is very different than hers, and who is to say which of those times possess more or less "quality"?

    My situation has nothing to do with yours, it's just an anecdote.


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