Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sucking Lemons

I have days when I am so consumed with bitterness towards my Ex that I can barely function.

I never thought I would feel like this.  Particularly after being separated for two years.  Especially because we are so amicable for the most part.

Maybe that's the problem.

I'm so busy putting on a brave face and 'doing the right thing' for our children - that I have effectively swallowed all the hurt and anger that I genuinely feel and yet have never expressed.  To him at least.  It is all so unsatisfying.

I focus on my adorable children.  I focus on the wonderful life I have (honest to God, I have so many things to be grateful for and KNOW that compared to many others I live the life of bloody riley).  I am grateful that this whole separation and divorce has not been a traumatic shitstorm.  It could have all been so much worse.

Still.  It doesn't stop me from wanting to smash his bloody head in sometimes.  Like a couple of weeks ago when we Skyped daddy at the weekend and I discovered he was on a weekend getaway in Miami with AG.  From out of nowhere a tidal wave of acid erupted from my abdomen and crashed through my chest.  This surge of resentment and envy - and downright hate - coursed through my body with such intensity that I had to walk out into the garden and physically cover my mouth to stop myself from screaming in bitterness and anger.  My whole body was shaking - and yet all this pent up energy had nowhere to go.  It seethed and writhed within me, while my head swam with vicious, venomous thoughts.

You see, sometimes when Ex is nice to me...I forget.  I forget that he has moved on.  I forget that when he says in an email 'I never stopped loving you' that he doesn't mean 'I never stopped being in love with you' (world of difference, isn't there?) and that actually, he has totally moved on and is IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE ELSE.  And if we are talking Life of Riley...well, sometimes his lifestyle makes me want to chew my own socks with frustration.


How on earth did it turn out this way?

Yet the biggest, most urgent question is, why am I still unable to come to terms with all this over 2 years later?

Why do I let this bitterness consume me at times?  Why can't I just Let.  It.  Go?  Please, dear God, I really do want to be free of it.  I am so sick of being side-swiped by destructive emotions, that knock me out for days on end.  And I know I am the only one who can choose not to allow his life to impact me emotionally.  Which just makes it worse.  It's not him, per se, it's me.  Bleugh.

Despite my best efforts to be a spiritual, enlightened human being, it turns out that deep down, I am still like a sulking, self-absorbed child...

"But you told me you would ALWAYS love me...I trusted YOU!  And I don't want you to be nice to me any more.  I don't want anything to do with you any more.   You lied to me.  You spent years lying to me.  And I can't forgive you for it.  In fact, I hate you for it.  Truly hate you for it.  Because I trusted you more than I have ever trusted anyone in my life.  And, whatever you might believe, you are not my friend - because friends don't betray each other like that.  Ever.  So I will smile at you and be nice in front of the children.  I will pass on daily titbits about their day and ensure you feel constantly involved and updated on their lives.  But really?  Deep down?  I would just prefer it if you would just Fuck Off and I never, ever had to see or talk to you, ever again."

Oh my.  So much still to deal with.  Thank God I don't feel like this every day.  If it was constant, how on earth would you live with yourself?  The random days here and there are bad enough as it is.

Of course, I would love to express all this to Ex - to dump it out there and just walk away.  But I know it would just sit there in the middle of us...and it would definitely impact our boys.  And once the words are said - well, they can never be retracted.  And they would always be remembered, of that I am sure.  So instead I will just say them here - and feel all the better for it.  And I will push thoughts of him to the back of my mind and replace them with thoughts of my brave and beautiful boys.

Because really, they are two of the most incredible brave and beautiful boys that you would ever have the good fortune to come across.

I am astounded at how well they have settled in the UK.  They are loving their new school and have made so many friends.  Many of the parents have remarked what happy children they are, and how quickly they have adapted.  I am so very proud of them.  They really don't seem to hanker or yearn for their old life in Chicago at all - they are so immersed in the present moment and enjoying the freedom of their new life.

Things are working out really well with Johnny Drama - the consistent application of rules is working bloody wonders and his behaviour has improved beyond measure.  I have also found that getting him to take on extra responsibility and tasks around the house serves to make him even better behaved, which is a bit of a result.  And the more that I resist bringing Mummy Shouty Knickers into the equation, the less resistance and retaliation I encounter.

Honestly, the boys are a complete joy right now and I am, more or less, loving every minute that I spend with them.

As I said, I truly am very lucky.  I have a lot to be grateful for.  The Ex bitch slap will have to be consigned to my parallel world, where I have it on good authority that I am a total bitch and couldn't give two hoots about being nice...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Unwanted Visitors

So it's nearly half term, which means that Ex is coming to the UK to spend the week with the boys.

This should be a good thing.  A break for me.  Some much needed bonding time for them.  But I am dreading it.

You see, the arrangement we have - that I suggested in fact, way back when I was ensconced in Chicago and would just about promise anything to get home - is that when Ex comes to visit his sons, he stays in my house and I move out for the duration of the visit.

As well as being a much more homely environment for the boys to chill out with their dad, it also reduces his expenses and makes it more affordable for him to visit them more frequently.

Oh, it all seemed so obvious and doable when I was in Chicago.  And I know, in my heart of hearts, it is in the boys best interests.


Now I am here and it's MY home...I must be honest, I really don't want my Ex anywhere near it, not least have it tarnished with him sleeping in my bed, sitting on my sofa, shitting in my toilet, blowing his nose while using my shower, using my pots and pans and generally making himself at home in my space.  What on earth was I thinking to even suggest such a thing?

What's worse, on this visit he is being accompanied by his girlfriend and they are going to be sharing my bed together.  Therefore the amber alert potential of his early morning wank has graduated to the full blown red alert threat of their multiple orgasmic shags - the thought of which almost makes me want to move out...and never come back.

To be honest, it isn't really that my home (and new sheets!) are going to be sullied by his (or her) presence.  It's just that I hadn't really considered what a pain in the arse it would be to move out for a weekend/week once or twice a month.  It means that the break that I crave, from single-handedly looking after the boys 100% of the time, day and night, doesn't really materialise.

I don't have the money to pay for a hotel and am very lucky to have a very generous friend who allows me to stay over with her and her daughter.  But it's not the same as being able to relax at home.

However, my main bone of contention is my suspicion that my Ex spends his visit judging my house and how I live.  I just can't stand the fact that he is probably turning his nose up at my dinky little house with its shabby little fixtures.  He has made it very obvious that he expects much more than this for himself and his girlfriend when he finally moves over.  The last time he visited (only 2 weeks ago) I spent two whole days doing my best Mrs Mop impression, cleaning the house from top to bottom, so it would supposedly meet his expectations.  Don't ask me why I did this.  There is no sane explanation.  The need to win his approval is one that I constantly feel I am fighting a losing battle with.  I could climb Mt Everest in a swimsuit and a pair of ballet shoes and you can bet your bottom dollar he would fail to be impressed.  So WHY I even bother would be a sure-fire question for my therapist (if I had one).

On the aeroplane home he wrote me an email entitled 'Your house...your rules ;-)' and then proceeded to give me a list of child proofing recommendations.  Far be it from him to keep his opinions on where I am slacking to himself, obviously.

It's only four more days till his arrival and, already, I am edgy.  I don't want to see him.  I don't want to see her.  I don't want to leave my home.  The boys, needless to say, are counting their sleeps till their dad arrives and are breathless with excitement at the thought of spending six days with him.  They deserve to have a lovely, relaxing, fun time with their dad - and I will continue to do whatever I have to do to make that happen.  But it's not an ideal solution.  Not for me, anyway.  Far from it.

As I sit here in my cheery little kitchen, watching the clock hands tick slowly round to school pick up time, I can see a couple of small coffee stains on the work surfaces, flecks of mud on the floor, a fine layer of light dust on the table in the living room.

I am itching to clean it.

Desperate to whizz around the place like a maniacal housewife, armed with dusters, cloths and the ever faithful Mr Pledge before vacuuming every speck, hair and feather that I come across.

But I am not going to.

I am going to resist the urge to clean this time, even though I think it might induce a panic-attack.  So what if he (or she) thinks the place is a mess?  So bloody what?  As if their opinion counts anyway.  In fact, while I am at it, I might go one better.  Just before they arrive I could scatter the contents of the bathroom bin over the floors, just to give that truly lived in vibe.  Then, to test their nosy natures, I should fill my bedside table with all manner of dildos, butt plugs, handcuffs and toys of a dubious sexual nature, along with a selection of half used lubes and a well thumbed selection of erotic fiction.  (That would make a slight change from the box of spare light bulbs and half used Vicks Sinex that currently lives there...)

Or not.

To clean or not to clean...?  That is the question.

Oh, look at the time - better get myself out in to the rain and on with the school run.  The cleaning can wait.

Till tomorrow at least.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Defiant To The Very End

So I have to face facts here.  I have a very truculent, constantly defiant, verging on intolerably rude 5 year old on my hands these days.

I think, to be honest, he has been living with me for approximately 2 years but I have steadfastly stuck my head in the sand and refused to acknowledge it.  Have gladly made all manner of excuses for his disobedience, general lack of respect and violent outbursts.

'He's acting up because his parents are separating'.

'He's testing the boundaries because he is 3...4...5'.

'He's not really a destructive little shit at heart, he just doesn't have the emotional capacity to express his innermost turmoil over the move home...'

Maybe there is a nugget of truth in all of these statements - but it is getting to the point where I now feel that I have to apologise and attempt to explain his behaviour to family and friends.  His roguish demeanor is seen as being obnoxious and disdainful to others when he is not getting his own way (and even sometimes when he is).  And I just feel overwhelmed by the task ahead of me in trying to straighten him out.

Part of me struggles because I know, deep down, that Johnny Drama - as well as being an incredibly loving and affectionate child - is also quite trepidatious.  On the surface he is brash and confident.  A scene stealer.  Seeks the spotlight and adores being the centre of attention.  Highly competitive (particularly against his older brother, who doesn't seem to give two hoots as to whether he wins, loses or draws).

But actually he is much more fearful of new situations, openly doubts his abilities and gets his knickers in a right old twist about not being as competent as his peers.  Stick him in the garden with  a football and a couple of mates and he is in his element.  Sign him up for a sports class of any description, even one he particularly excels at, and he will sit cautiously on the sidelines and refuse to participate out of sheer nerves.

He is also the boy who, on one hand, will stick his tongue out when being told off and hit me if a request for sweets or more TV is turned down.  But on the other hand will smother me in cuddles and kisses, pronouncing regularly and in the softest and most ardent of voices "I love you so much Mama.  My heart squeezes so much love for you that it just wants to explode all out of my body, everywhere."

It's obvious that I haven't dealt with this Jekyll and Hyde behaviour well.  I know I should have nipped it in the bud a long time ago, rather than making excuses.  Initially, it seemed that I bore the brunt of his anger and defiance - and I'm ashamed to admit that I think I let a lot of it ride because I felt, deep down, that I deserved it.

Now his behaviour is extending to family, friends and at school.  He even whacked my dad on their last visit, which earned him a significant time out, but it shocked me out of my complacency a little - how on earth does he have the confidence and gall to hit one of his grandparents?  On what planet has he been led to believe that is acceptable behaviour?  And who is responsible for guiding his actions and teaching him right from wrong?  Well, that would be me then.  Look what a stellar job I must be doing.  It's mortifying.  But I know the crux of it is that I am not doing my beloved son any favours by letting him behave this way.  And a simple time out or a telling off doesn't seem to have much effect.  I know the time has come to be more hard core and, more importantly, ruthlessly consistent.

Oh, how fucking exhausting that sounds just writing it down.  And therein lies the problem - I just feel too weary to tackle it alone.

Which I guess has been my excuse for a very long time now.

Has anyone else dealt with this before?  You know, the whole Second Child Syndrome on steroids?

I know I need to step up and stop making excuses, because I would hate him to become the insensitive, self-absorbed bully that we have all seen or experienced as he gets older.  I've read enough books to know what I ought to be doing and, although I think I am applying the techniques religiously, I think my sister would agree that in real life I typically exhibit a Warts And All style of parenting.

Oh God, it's so depressing to think that I have moulded this little monster.  My very own engaging, hilarious, gregarious, energetic, passionate miniature schizophrenic.