I’ve started with that title—quite deliberately—as a reminder to myself stay focused and not let this post devolve into a gripe-session. But it’s also a marker of what I hope (if not entirely believe) to be happening.
My Ex-Husband remarried yesterday.
Keoni asked me, in the small hours of yesterday morning (having observed me struggle uncharacteristically in putting together a Post, which did detour into griping-about-the-Ex), how I felt about that. With the disclaimer, before he let me begin to talk, that any (honest) answer was okay to share.
I’m fully aware of the human capacity (okay, mine) for fooling-Self about what we really feel, but I don’t believe I’m fooling myself in answering that there’s not any feeling here of jealousy or regret regarding the Ex—either from the standpoint of my not-having-him (thank goodness, sez I), or from the standpoint of someone-else-having-him. I didn’t leave him until I was thoroughly certain that I couldn’t live with him any longer. (In fact, in retrospect, I probably should have left earlier. But what’s done is done.) And when the presence of an unfamiliar yellow car in his driveway, combined with the kids’ chatter, illuminated the presence of a girlfriend (now the wife) a few years ago, I was frankly tickled. I figured with someone new in the picture, he’d let go and Move On.
That’s not precisely how it played out, though. Okay, that’s not at all how it played out. He’s still angry with me, and she’s an Angry Person, and those two can work each other into frenzies like reef fish when frozen peas hit the water. They are offended by my very existence—and I disoblige them by continuing to exist, and loving the children who are our joint concern.
My feelings about yesterday’s wedding have a great deal more to do with those two kids, and their feelings about all this. They’re not set against step-parents in general (they have loved—and known themselves to be loved by—Keoni for three and a half years now) and they don’t object to their dad’s choice to marry, per se, but they are firmly united in being set against his choice of step-mom for them. Elena Grace’s observations about “Icky Nikki” (her designation, not mine) could provide fodder for a whole graduate seminar on the archetypical Wicked Stepmother. Christian’s observation is more to the point: “Dad keeps saying ‘Nikki’s just not used to kids,’ but she’s been around for a few years now. Let’s face it: she just doesn’t like us.”
With all the people in this world who love these two kids, their dad just married someone who either doesn’t like them, or behaves in such a way that they both take her dislike of them as an established fact. Elena Grace didn’t seem to have Christian’s reservations about the wedding itself (enchanted by the dress she was going to wear, and curious to “see a wedding”), but Christian has been stating categorically for several months that he didn’t even want to be present for it, let alone have to stand up front with his dad and wear a tux.
(As a side note, the tux-comment actually shocked me—the men of this Filipino family wear their traditional Barong Tagologs for every formal occasion. But then, the kids also talk about how relentlessly she eliminates anything that has traces of me, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that this wedding wouldn’t match his first in any of its essentials…)
But back to the topic at hand… A couple months ago Keoni and I were sitting in the principal’s office at the kids’ school, meeting with Christian’s teacher and the principal (whose grandson is Christian’s good friend, and who has known him personally as well as professionally for half his life). We were there because of their combined concerns that Christian was having trouble at home. Not, it must be noted, in the home-of-the-two-alcoholics, but in the “respectable” home. (We’ve used that word jokingly ever since my Ex’s outburst, in custody mediation last summer, that “She LOOKS respectable!”—implying untold depths of unrespectability.) These ladies who know Christian so well were astute in their assessment of his unhappiness, and its causes.
Normally not a rebellious type, Christian has been talking about dyeing his hair orange just before the wedding, or shaving it into a mohawk—some sort of irreversible aesthetic protest at being forced to stand up front during the ceremony. I dissuaded him (though I privately found his newfound penchant for punk-protest pretty funny) with the reminder that the Resulting Wrath might not be a price worth paying. Morosely, he agreed. I hope he’ll be lighter of heart with the dreaded wedding behind him—although it doesn’t resolve the kids’ feelings about the bride.
I imagine I’ll hear all about it in a couple hours. Keoni is at work (cooking Prime Rib Dinners for Father’s Day customers) and will be picking up the keikis on his way home.
I’m sitting on the front porch with the laptop, listening to neighbors Bill and Anatoli shout Father’s Day greetings across the fence to one another. Anatoli’s yard is filled with a chattering of Russian, and Bill’s with grandkids playing tetherball. (His granddaughter makes him get on his knees to play, so he doesn’t have a height advantage…) Our custody agreements have always specified Mother’s-Day-with-Mom and Father’s-Day-with-Dad, so a few years back the kids declared that we should celebrate a separate StepFather’s Day the week following. Two years ago, Christian made Keoni wait outside the little local Recovery-shop while he went inside and asked to buy an 18-month Sobriety Coin, which he wanted to give Keoni for “StepFather’s Day.” If I remember right, they didn’t have an 18-month chip in stock, but we were both touched by the kiddo’s notion. I think he bought a “Shit Creek Survivor” hat (“Been Up & Back, No Paddle”) instead.
Writing that, I realize that today is (once again—and Please God, for the last time) our eighteen-month Sobriety mark. And we’ve celebrated the day as we celebrate every Sober Day (as evidenced by the fact that I didn’t remember, until just now, that it’s an Important Date)—by waking up together and saying our Third Step prayer:
God, we offer ourselves to thee
to build with us, and to do with us as thou wilt.
Relieve us from the bondage of Self
so we may better do thy will.
Take away our difficulties
so our victory over them
may bear witness to those we would help
of thy Power, thy Love, thy Sense of Humor, and thy Way of Life.
You know me well enough by now to guess which bit is our own addition, right? Yup, that’s us—moving along, joyfully.