Oh these Achilles moments.
It's best to start with the admission that I am not Immune to the "Smallness." Because my thesis is that of the courageously Loving Divorce. My self-assigned practice is to take the High Road; a conscious choice of Friendship with my Former. And much of the time I really can walk the walk:
He found New Love first.
Great. He deserves it.
He has a successful career and a pretty new wife.
Hey, Good for them!
He does things with her that he wouldn't do with me, like yoga and dance lessons.
Oh well. Par for the course, right?
They moved into a building across the street from where I work.
Er, Okaaay. ...I'm good!
My kids really like her.
Gulp. ...But, Cool!
He's hosting a big holiday dinner, something that he never did willingly with me.
Sigh. Yep. So it goes.
...So, Wow, am I impressively mature or what?! It all rolls off my back. All of the above! How about Me and my magnanimous self!
My kids tell me that their former sitter will be at his house for Thanksgiving.
Screeching brakes in my head.
So now I have that feeling. Ew!
It's the same feeling, but much bigger, that I had a few months back when a friend canceled on me, without a specific explanation (not that I generally require one), and later I realized that the reason was because she had been at his wedding*.
*Another thing that I learned belatedly. But his after-the-fact announcement of remarriage didn't bother me the way the friend's lie of omission did. And even that was something I let go of quite easily.
There is a simple route to a better attitude. The way is through generosity, rationality, Empathy. He shared intimate, family moments with the former sitter too, after all! She was there, with him, managing the days with our 3-year-old while I was at the hospital recovering from a second maternity train wreck (That was the doctor's word choice to describe the way I did childbirth. Healthy pregnancies; "Most dysfunctional labor and delivery ever.")
C'MON, I urge myself to get over myself. It only makes sense that they remain friends. She loves the kids; she cares about all of us. Indeed: She was in my home while I went through the transition phase of labor, providing a more soothing influence than the midwife did! ... But I digress.
And regress. Why?
Because she's MINE! I'm the one who found her, after fielding hundreds of phone calls from my newspaper ad! She's the one I bonded with. The one I had long talks with, and took the kids to visit during Spring Break after she had moved on. The one to whom I poured out my heart, she was the wise and bright and compassionate little sister I never realized I could have.
In all fairness, they have a lot in common. She's young. He's youthful. He and her boyfriend did business together. They Facebook. They Tweet. They live in the World outside of lunchboxes, and weekly extra-curricular schedules, and To Do lists. My little world.
Nobody is doing anything Wrong. She loves me too. I could see her any time I want to. She hasn't broken up with me. Far from it! It's not as if there isn't enough of her for everybody. So what the hell is my problem? Why does THIS detail unhinge me when all the rest of it doesn't?
Isn't it far more profound to digest (pun intended) the fact that this is the first Thanksgiving I am experiencing, NOT being someone's daughter, sister, wife, or mother? The first, ever, in 47 years of life? I'm okay with it too! Happy, even. I embrace it! It's just... Why her?
She stayed with us for a good while. She bonded with our second baby every bit as much as she had with the first. She was a loving witness and affirming balm to our marriage troubles. Non-judgmental, a walking Switzerland, she toed that impossible line of not taking sides. Personal Grace like you can't imagine.
She was in our home on 9-11.
Gradually, she shared her amazing Life Story. Worked at her creative pursuits. I cheered her on, too. Probably not enough. Definitely not enough.
But why go over this, now? What IS it about these little unexpected thorns, and the way they can pull the mind into dark places?! This is a season of celebration and thankfulness!
He has the kids, a wife, the extended family, dear friends, a kitchen with 2 ovens. And I don't blink. (Well. I guess I twitch, just a little, about that second oven.) He gets to have Her sometimes, too. And I lurch. The Reality that I have signed up for nudges me, too hard.
I know what to say to myself: Choose Abundance. Deflect the feelings of "not having." It's is okay to feel a little crappy, but it's imperative to understand that it's just how I feel, not what is Real.
My Thanksgiving is not theirs, not anything like theirs. But it is, for the first time, something that is explicitly Mine. I am hitting the road, fielding a handful of invitations, enjoying new companionship, beautiful places, and old friends. Discovery.
Fearlessly breaking from tradition, I am doing something, in fact, that SHE probably would admire and support. So, my assignment is to let go of the faulty "either or" mentality. I have not lost her. I have not lost anything. It is not a competition. It's just life.
...But you can bet your ass that I felt a pleasant thrum of "Low Road" satisfaction when my younger kid said that she would miss my cooking. And it's a guarantee that I'm going to get my Christmas invites out there asap, before Mr. Born Again Holiday Host gets any more nifty ideas about dinner guests.