THE BLOG
08/05/2014 05:46 pm ET Updated Oct 05, 2014

Collateral Damage: My Relationship With the Kids

In the last month, on separate occasions, people have referred to my Girlfriend Mom daughter as my "friend." The implication, as I internalized it, being that she was no longer my GM daughter because I was no longer her Girlfriend Mom because of a certain break-up.

I felt like lacing up my red and black boxing gloves and defending my title. Friend? The comment seemed ridiculous and inaccurate.

Does a stepmother stop being a stepmother if she divorces? Does she then refer to her stepchildren (or children) as her friends? Holy, shit, does she? I don't know. What the hell? I don't know. What the f' happens? Where did I put the instruction manual?

If the girlfriend doesn't exist, does the mom part suffer a similar fate? Should I call a meeting? I deplore my loneliness in this process. It hits me once in awhile (or daily) how one action set in motion the undoing, redefining and rebalancing of several relationships.

I like to think that my current relationship with the kids has development organically and gracefully, under the circumstances. That being said, I'm not comfortable describing us as friends. It makes me feel marginalized and minimized and probably some other ized's.

Hey "unsolicited comment giver," please don't take my friggin' title away. I worked hard for that title. I put in the time. I earned it and I trademarked it, so... "I mean, I'm not gonna be ignored, Dan!" Yes, from 1987′s Fatal Attraction.

Funnily enough, I never saw my role as temporary. I've also seen first hand, the collateral damage that a break up has on children. A relationship with a child is fragile and I've never taken it for granted.

Every so often (or daily) there is some pain. It's manageable pain, though, because I understand its origin and I've learned to take the pressure off and to let things unfold. It was far from manageable back in January.

I hadn't seen the GM son since October and, although we texted weekly, I ached to see him. I know, that was a new one for me. I asked his sister about his wrestling schedule because he never knew it. I couldn't reach out to the ex-wife because this was before we became best buddies. The GM daughter told me what she thought was true.

So on a snowy Saturday, I drove to New Jersey, found the high school, in a town that I had never been to, parked and walked into the gym alone. It was surreal.

I peaked my head in but I didn't see him. After pacing for 20 minutes, debating on whether to go in, and feeling more than a little foolish, I texted the GM daughter, asking for her mom's phone number. Enough of the middlemen.

I didn't hear back from the GM daughter, so I texted the GM son, which in hindsight, I should've done before I left the city.

ME: Hey are you going to b wrestling. Is your mom watching?

(He recently had a concussion, so I didn't know if he'd be competing. I'd still get to see him, even if he were on the bench.)

GMS: No im not and my mom isnt going

(I still thought that he was in the gym)

ME: I had work down here n thought I'd stop by your wrestling. Can you come out to say hi?

(I lied about work because I wanted things to remain casual. And did I mention that I didn't know what the f' I was doing?)

GMS: I didnt go i wasnt feeling good

(cue the tears, anger, embarrassment and pain)

ME: Oh. Are u ok? Feel better n we'll talk soon. Xo

(How's that for casual?)

GMS: Yeah im fine i just got sick last night

ME: Well feel better. I miss you. Xo

GMS: Miss u to

I felt like an idiot. It was my fault for not communicating. Who was I supposed to coordinate with?

I didn't know what I was allowed to do. Was I out of place? Was I overreacting? I was angry at my ex for putting me in this awkward position and for making me feel that I was the only one that took this relationship seriously.

I was in love with his kids. They mattered to me and I thought that I mattered to them. Now I wasn't sure. I cried the entire ride back to the city, feeling like a stranger, wondering how I was going to keep this relationship alive.

Did my ex see any collateral damage on his end? In these moments, when I thought that I'd drown in the intense feeling of being abandoned, I wondered if he truly cared or if it would be easier for him if my relationship with the kids faded away.

Maybe it was his way of coping but at the time, it made me feel marginalized and minimized and some other izeds, nonetheless.

It's now six months later and my relationship with the kids remains and the GM will live to see another day.