A few months ago, my ex-husband and I passed the milestone of our fifth “divorce-aversary.” This date passed with no arguing, no disputes. I don’t think we even spoke to each other on that date. It has become a non-event.
After five years, we have reached a place of calm. We no longer own any joint property, and the only thing that continues to tie us together will always do so, and that is our children.
Over the years, I have had a select chosen few who have heard all the details, probably more than they would like. The majority of my social media “friends” however did not. It is not that I chose to be fake, I chose to be respectful.
Respectful of my children, of their lives, their emotions, their privacy. I never felt that my pain, no matter how real, was more important than what they were going through, or would for the rest of their lives.
In our current culture, there is so much temptation to exploit every emotion on social media. It feels good to put someone on blast.
There are people that I follow on social media who post every detail of their personal lives, every slight change in their relationship.
The need for affirmation from those outside of their relationship holds a strong pull for them.
But that feeling does not last.
When my children’s father and I decided to go our separate ways, there were a few rules that I put in place for myself.
- This man, while no longer being my husband, is still the father of my children. For better or worse, he is not going away.
- His relationship with them is his own. He can build it, he can ruin it. It is NOT my job to influence this at all. If he builds it, then my children benefit. If he bombs it, then I will be there for them. I CANNOT attempt to sway them on how they should feel about their own father.
- (This one was my own, and not possible for others) I chose to not cry in front of them. During the day, it was business as usual, as much as possible. After they went to bed, I allowed myself to melt down a little. But I am able to compartmentalize pretty well.
- I never ever wanted to go back and have to justify what I posted about the situation to my children. That was the filter I ran every single social media post through, “Would I say this openly in front of my children?” If the answer was no, then I did not post it.
These rules saw me through that period of time, and are guidelines that I keep with me still.
I want to instill in my children the ability to process life outside of the social media lens. I am no expert on relationships or parenting and do not claim to be. I am however an expert on my kids. Mine alone. For them, this was the best choice of action.
Since that time, I have had a few friends who have joined me on the same road, though they are behind me in their journey. Once or twice I have been asked what advice I could give them (still not qualified to give life advice, but here we go).
After much thought, this is the answer that came to me: Stand in the pain. As much as it hurts, stand in the pain. I told my friend to let the pain wash over her like a shower, to embrace it, and to feel it with every fiber of her being. Then, as the time is right, as with every shower, step out of it. Leave the “shower” behind you and move forward.
I feel that those who do not embrace it, who try to run from the pain never get through it. If you attempt to hide from, shove down, ignore, or self-medicate away the pain, you can never really get over it. Then you become stuck in a place of half-healing and can never fully move on.
Maybe that is how acceptance works.
From that point, life does go on. Kids continue to grow. Hearts heal. We fall in love again. We follow dreams.
Hopefully, if we have made wise choices, we will not have to attempt to go back and justify something that was said or posted in our anger and pain.
*Still not an expert, and most definitely not claiming to be.