As per my therapist's advice, I sat down last night with my boys, and we had a talk about everything that was happening. I shared with them that the most important thing to me is that the grow up to be emotional honest men with integrity. And that that means talking about things, even when it's uncomfortable and hard. That I wanted to be sure they understood that there's nothing they can't talk to me about. There are no big secrets. I asked NO if he felt like it was his fault I was upset on Monday night. He did feel that way and I tried to tell him over and over that it wasn't his fault. He hasn't done anything wrong. I asked them if they thought it was their fault Daddy and I are getting a divorce. They both sort of felt like it was. I reiterated emphatically again and again that it was not their fault. The MC had a convoluted way of explaining why he thought it was his fault, sort of a backwards version of if you never got married I wouldn't exist turning into because I exist you got divorced. Oy. So we went over all that and tried to impress upon them how very grateful we both are to have them and how even with all this pain and heartache, I wouldn't go back and wish it any different (about being with their father) because we wouldn't have them, and I know he feels the same way. NO couldn't articulate why he thought it was his fault, just stayed quiet and teary.
We talked about J. being more than just a friend to Daddy and they asked if he was going to get married. "That's something you'll have to ask Daddy about," I said, "I don't make decisions like that with Daddy any more, so I don't know." They asked if I was going to get married again and I told them that I while I would like to have a husband again some day, right now I'm only focused on healing my heart and taking care of them. That it was going to be a long time before I'm interested in being in a relationship with anyone.
I told them that I wanted to have this conversation because I never wanted them to have to worry about hurting me or having to hide things from me to protect me. That it was ok if they like J. (Of course secretly I hope they hate her guts, but hopefully I convinced them otherwise.) And the MC said indeed that he does like her. Great. Yay for my life. But I told them that I wouldn't want them to have an adult in their life that made them unhappy, so it's a good thing if she is someone nice to them. Fake it til you feel it right? Say the words until you can believe them, like prayer?
When we talked about how I wanted them to feel comfortable sharing their feelings with me without worry about secret things hurting me, the MC expressed that he did have something to say that he was worried might hurt my feelings. I encouraged him to share. I proceeded to tell me that he loves Daddy more than he loves me. Without batting an eye, or a fleeting pained expression, I told him it's ok to feel that way. That it's normal for kids to go through stages where they like one parent more than another. I told him how it used to be the opposite when he was a toddler, and it was all about Mama and how Daddy always had hurt feelings about that and how I repeatedly told Daddy not to worry, this is normal and things will flip flop at some point, just you wait and see. All said with a loving smile on my face. And I mean it, I really do, but part of me wanted him to say, I love you best mama. I'm sorry Daddy hurt you so much. He wasn't very nice to you. I don't like Daddy anymore. There's enough sense in me to know that's not what's best for my child's emotional development, but the broken part of me would have felt nourished by it.
And then later NO said that he hadn't realized in the conversation with Daddy that J. was more than a friend to him. According to STBEX, that's how he described the situation, but it hadn't sunk in for NO. Either it was just too big of a piece of information to comprehend or he misheard or something, but it certainly seemed like NO just understood what that meant last night. He was pretty broken over it. I thought I understood why. "Is this hard because it makes it really clear that we're not going to get back together?"
"Was there part of you that was hoping that might still happen?"
"Yeah," tears streaming down his face.
"I understand kiddo. It feels the same way to me too. It's really hard to get used to all these changes isn't it?"
And of course we talked about how we're going to get through this. That it won't always feel this awful. That three years from now, standing together on the bima with his mom and dad at a bar mitzvah, he's going to look back at the challenging journey we've been through and realize how strong he is and how much he knows about his emotions and how to deal with tough stuff. That we're going to get through it by working together and taking care of each other, etc. etc.
I wonder what, if any, of that conversation will trickle back to their father. Or if I'll ever even know.
The boys go to him for the night and then are back with me Saturday and Sunday anduntil Monday afternoon. Then we go to Seattle on Tuesday. STBEX is going somewhere this weekend so he couldn't have them Saturday or Sunday. I don't know where he's going and that bothers me. I traded time with him so he could go to the work conference (with her), but it annoys me to be trading this time with him. I don't know why. I get the feeling that he's going somewhere with her and that doesn't seem fair. On the other hand I don't think it's really strategic of me to say no to switching if I want the reciprocal treatment when I need to go somewhere, such as my cousin's baby shower in a few weeks.