Happiness is a choice.
This is a statement that, believe me has been put to the test in the last couple of weeks but it is so unbelievably true. I have so so much to be thankful for and so many unbelievable blessings in my life but every so often something happens that throws that happy world into chaos. The decision we have to make as humans is whether or not we let that ‘something’ control our feelings or whether we take control back. Yes I’m very aware it’s a lot easier to write than do and sounds so much easier than it actually is, but in essence, most of the time it is our decision as to whether we look for the good in a situation, however small, or concentrate on the negative.
Sometimes that choice is taken away by illness (as I know only too well) and it makes me so cross when I hear people say “I’m really depressed” when they are in fact just having a bad day. Depression is an illness and a really really horrible one at that. It is an illness that claims lives but is underestimated, its impact undervalued and it’s belittled by the view of many people who think you can indeed just snap out of it. Depression is a monster of a disease and one I would never underestimate but a lot of the time in our daily lives we’re just having a hard time and we actually just need to choose to rise about the rubbish and choose to be happy. This has been a lesson that has taken me a very long time to learn and for me surviving what life throws (or more often than not what R throws) is about giving it to God and trusting Him to sort it, because quite frankly there was no way i could deal with half of what life throws at me without Him!
I’ve known for a long time now that R has little or no real interest in the children beyond gathering the information he needs to make it look to the outside world like he knows what’s going on with his own children. The negatives flow very easily from that. It’s very very easy to get caught up in what he did that upset them, what he shows no interest in or what he fails to do, but over the last few weeks I’ve decided to let it go. I can’t change him, he’s never gonna be any more than he is and to be honest I can, hand on heart, say I can see a time when he walks away completely. This can’t affect what we do as a little unit or how we live our lives and I’m honestly sick of thinking about him and feeling all screwed up when he’s involved in anything. I’m sure this is a realisation I will battle with for a long time and it will take more than writing it down for it to actually become a reality but I really feel that starting 2016 the way we have, we’ve turned a corner. I have no idea what this new path is or where it will lead but I know the children and I walk it with God on our side as well as some truly amazing friends and family, so we’ll get through…. Whatever.
The reasons for this new found determination that he’s not gonna control us anymore are extensive but mainly because I saw very clearly over Christmas the control issues he has. The little ‘insignificant’ moments that no one thinks twice about that add up to the screwed up internal worry I used to live with and can now identify so clearly. I’m beginning to see the same reactions in my boys and there is no way on earth I want them to grow up feeling the same way I did for so many years. R is plausible. So unbelievably clever in the little things he does to control that you find yourself questioning your reactions and how you feel about situations, wondering if it is all in your imagination. He’s still able to manipulate my feelings now after over 3 years apart and a whole heap of counselling and that is not something I will let happen to my children! One example of this are the new tablets the boys had for Christmas. They had been set up in his name not theirs, with parental control passwords I was not given even though they are with me 13 nights out of 14 (until I drove him bonkers for two weeks asking and he finally gave in), and the kids were told if they downloaded any apps he would know. These little things in themselves aren’t an issue but knowing him as I do and watching the children’s reactions to the situation, I knew these were the same control issues that plagued our marriage. The subtle little comments delivered in such a way that they are designed to make you aware of everything you do. That isn’t something I want my children to live with.
There were many other moments I could bore you with to explain why I got to this point but as I’m sure many of my lovely friends and family would say, it’s been a LONG time coming!!
The final nail in the coffin for me came after the children came back from their last visit. After not seeing or speaking to their father throughout the whole Christmas holidays I was expecting them to come back having had a fabulous time and having been spoilt rotten. Instead I was confronted by seriously unhappy and slightly shaken children who had had a weekend of ‘disagreements’ with their father. Obviously this made me slightly cross and my instinct was to call him and explode. Remembering my new found conviction that he wasn’t gonna control my emotions and reactions I sat on the information and just text him and told him we needed to talk. I was determined that he wasn’t gonna get under my skin and I stayed true to that decision. When he finally called me at 9.30pm the following evening we talked it all through and as expected he couldn’t see or acknowledge he’d done ANYTHING wrong? He had an justification for everything and his reasoning for calling our 7yr old a “horrible little boy” was “well I won’t have him treating me or his sister like that, he has to learn”! How I stayed calm I have no idea and I’m sure it was one of those moments where God had his arm round my shoulders and a hand over my mouth!! R is and always has been very quick to use the “I’ve never been much good at parenting” line and turning it round so that in some way it becomes my issue. This is another thing that has to stop and during that conversation I was very blunt with him about everything that he now had to step up and take responsibility for. I am absolutely convinced it will make no difference what so ever but I will continue to say it until one day it penetrates that thick skull of his!
That part of the conversation though was nothing different and I’m sure it’s a topic we will revisit on many an occasion over he next few years. During that conversation however we looked at some dates for the upcoming year and how things like holidays we both have booked impact access weekends (my holidays with the children, his obviously without). At the end of the discussion and aware that the time is now 10:45pm I just happened to say “any other dates while we’re here?” To which I got an answer that came so far out of left field it completely blindsided me. His “yes, J and I are getting married” was honestly the very last thing I expected.
The feelings and emotions that went through me in the next 48 hours were something I didn’t really expect and took me a while to process. I know I wouldn’t have this guy back if he was the last man on the planet and quiet frankly if the girlfriend is stupid enough to marry a guy she knows is a cheat then more fool her! I think the emotions than ran through me were all to do with that feeling of rejection again. He left me for her, he was sleeping with her while I was pregnant with our youngest (although he still won’t admit that) and now he’s making her a permanent feature in their lives, in all our lives, without a second thought about how that will impact anyone but himself. I honestly don’t know why I was surprised and I’m not sure I actually was deep down, but the thing that surprised me was that after a day of being quite emotional about it all I’m actually completely fine with it. I realised the day after this bombshell how far I’ve come since he first walked and since my battles with my own self worth and PND. I realised I could choose not to let him screw with my emotions and who I am. I realised I actually don’t care what he does as long as it doesn’t hurt the children and that is the crunch point. That Tuesday morning what was shown so clearly to me was just how many amazing friends I have here and that God really does put people in your path at the right time. From the depths of the rubbish came a clear picture of all the people in my life who are so special. The coffee with a friend just at the right moment, the text reactions of others, right down to popping in to fill the teachers in on what had happened. God proved to me that morning that we are surrounded by people who really genuinely care. Not just about the children but about me too. Mr 9’s teacher hit the nail on the head when she just quietly asked how I was and when the tears started she just gave me a hug and said “holding it together for the kids again?”…. She was spot on. It’s what I do, but this time that ‘holding it together’ was a brief one. A 24hr period where I battled with the feelings of rejection again before realising we are worth so much more than he has to offer, I’M worth so much more than he ever offered.
The choice I have made is that this little piece of news will not, under ANY circumstances cause us to be anything less than we deserve. Yes there are gonna be moments when certainly the children struggle as they try and deal with everything that is going on but the depth in which we let it impact our lives is our decision. The children currently want nothing to do with it and don’t want to go anywhere near the topic of the wedding and that is fine by me. I will take my lead from them and help them through in whatever way I can. If that means they go to the wedding then we will deal with that, if not we will deal with that too. We will take everything one step at a time while having as much fun as possible along the way. Yes they are getting married but actually the impact it has on our lives is minimal. He still only sees them once a fortnight, he’s still not really interested in their lives beyond gathering info to make him look good in front of his mother and you know what? That’s fine by us as life is pretty awesome!