Posted in Family, Recovery

Moving On

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.

Barong Tagolog
Christian in a Barong Tagolog at my sister’s wedding, 2005

(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.

Sobriety: the best accessory!
Sobriety: the best accessory!

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.

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Author:

I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

39 thoughts on “Moving On

  1. Congrats on your 18 month anniversary date, and thanks for sharing your daily meditation / prayer. I’ve been divorced going on more than ten years, and yet I sometimes still get a momentary flash of the “what if’s” and then, just as quickly, I’ll remind myself that any energy expended in that direction is wasted energy that might be useful in some other way, such as in celebrating 18 mo anniversaries, or allowing my brain to get swallowed up in precious memories. Even so, an ex remarrying is still a sort of milestone in the Moving On journey. One step forward, and then another. Ten years from now, this will be your 11 1/2 anniversary date, and you’ll have forgotten about the other. With that ten year chip in your pocket, you’ll be Moving On.

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  2. So many events in life require us to ‘move on’ so we can happy. (The alternative, hanging on, often results in misery.) I feel for your children and their obvious unhappiness with the situation. I do hope they are able to maintain a relationship with their father, if not with the new wife at some point in the future.

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    1. Well put–moving on vs. hanging on… I harbor the same hope–and one of my worries is the fact that they both talk about their dad “loving them less” than HER… But… All that is out of my control, so I mostly try to focus on OUR household–though it’s admittedly difficult not to get my mind in a knot about it.

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  3. Once again, you’ve written a beautiful post that is filled with compassion and strength and inspires me! Good for you for teaching your kids how to accept things they don’t like (and can’t change) and how to live a better life in general. My mother always says that children are often better judges of character than adults with our preconceived notions and biases. Your kids understand the difference between loving caregivers and the opposite, and more importantly, they’re lucky enough to have the first in their lives. Love this post :-)

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  4. A dear friend of mine has also been in the *looking askance at the new step-mom* situation, only in her case new step-mom is a blogger who, as of the wedding, is a self-declared expert on blended families and parenting step-children. I have never read this blog, but my friend has and finds it laced with criticism against the kids and her, which feeds her justified anger. I thoroughly support your position…I just hope that your candid discussion of the Ex and his bride doesn’t fuel more animosity the kids have to bear. I am pretty paranoid; likely they don’t read your blog (but it sounds like something they’d might do for ammunition.)

    I love the prayer and the photos and you have my warmest well-wishes for a lifetime of sobriety!

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    1. I appreciate your thoughtful concern–it’s a delicate line to walk (and the topic of conversation last night with Keoni, actually)… AND it’s the reason why this post is only about one-third as long as what I originally wrote–believe it or not, I excised plenty before hitting the “publish” button. ;) I do my best to stick with what is “true and very full of proof” (to quote Much Ado About Nothing), and a limited selection even of that–nobody (including myself!) needs the un-edited volume of griping! ;)

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  5. Aren’t step fathers great? My kids like my hubby too. His son loves me.. However they are all unsure about the other parents spouses or significant others. Weird.

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  6. Life is blended these days, moreso than not, I think. We find our way through it, both the ex’s and the next’s. :-)

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  7. Bless your heart for looking at this as clearly as you’re able. With you and Keoni always behind them, your kids will survive growing up in their father’s house and be strong, intuitive, passionate, and healthy adults. No doubt about that.
    And Mazel Tov on the 18 month anniversary. None of this is easy.

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  8. Great addition to the prayer! And yes God definitely has a sense of humor ; ) Besides, I’ve always believed that life without humor isn’t truly life. I haven’t found a situation yet that can’t be made better with a bit of laughter, even if it’s just noting the ridiculousness of something.

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  9. Very skillful telling of a what must be a minefield of emotion and pain for you. I know Keoni and the children appreciate your balanced approach to this thorny situation. Although an orange Mohawk could be really cool ;-)

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  10. May the Lord answer your daily prayer mightily as you move onward…step by step and day by day. How else does anyone move on? Thank you for a wonderful post.
    Judy

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  11. I always think about the phrase… “The result was nil until we let go absolutely.”

    Letting go of some of it or most of it doesn’t do anything. It’s that last little wedge of sickness we cling to that will eat our lunch-bucket. I always thought if I let go a little I would get a little. Oh, if that were only true.

    The kids will see the truth regardless of the quality of the lies. The answer lies in the 4th step writings were it says… “Nothing counts but thoroughness and honesty.”

    It’s in truth that you will find yourself and heal.

    Congrats on 18 months. :-) I’m coming up on 25 years in a few short weeks and this is what I have come to believe with every fiber of my soul….

    How long it has been since my last drink is not really important. How close I am to my next one is extremely important.

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    1. Our relapse 18 months ago taught us how close that next one is–IF we don’t prioritize our Recovery every day. (And our relapsed neighbor’s suicide today brings it home with a resounding thud.)
      Congratulations on that quarter-century! it’s ALSO important. :)

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  12. Oh how I cried reading about stepfather day and his desire to buy that chip! You’ve got some great kids, and the most awesome part: I don’t need to tell you that for you to know it. Keep up the good work, with your kiddos as well as the sobriety. Hugs to all of you.

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  13. Very touching post, and full of deep honesty. I feel like you have poured out a lot here, and that must be a good feeling. Blended families, step-families, however we want to label them are only as successful as the individuals playing. The kids are going to be just fine, they are so much more resilient than we realize. It’s the adults we have to worry about, lol.

    As long as you keep holding your head high and focusing on your life, your stuff, then the other side won’t feel so thorny/invasive. Good luck :)

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  14. Hello Kana,

    I found this post enlightening. I feel for the difficulty your kids go through because their parents don’t get along and that they, inevitably, still have to deal with that.

    But what really caught my attention was Christian in a Barong Tagalog. May I ask who is of Filipino lineage?

    Cheers and Godspeed with your continuing sobriety,
    Nel

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  15. What a shame. Mine never remarried but he’s never been a good father or grandfather. No good memories for my daughter. It’s kids who are hurt most.

    Glad you are moving on and why wouldn’t you, with the lovely hubby you have NOW.

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  16. “They are offended by my very existence—and I disoblige them by continuing to exist, and loving the children who are our joint concern.” Thanks for this Kana. My wife Jodi and I have recently gone through a situation with some new family members (our daughters in-laws) that these words fit perfectly. My only solace came from a Proverb that says, when you contend with a fool, whether you rage or laugh, there is no rest. Congrats to you and Keoni for 18 months! Keep on keepin’ on! Love your tales of everyday life!

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  17. Kana,
    You’re a powerful writer, and I don’t say this lightly. This post was touching by its honesty. You are a very courageous woman, from the little I know of you. And I’m never this serious in others comments. Sheesh.
    Le Clown

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    1. Thank you—I’m honored to be the cause of a rare moment of seriousness. Hope it doesn’t last too long, though! :)

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