I got an email after my post about my kids being on vacation with their dad (they're home again now) asking me how I could let my kids go with him and not feel resentful. How I could "get past it."
It wasn't easy.
First, let me say that my kids' dad is a great dad. He shows up for them emotionally every day and they are his priority. I never have to worry about their physical or emotional safety with him, so when we don't agree on things about them it's just a difference of opinion, not something actually worrisome. And I understand that we're really lucky that we can both trust each other to have the kids' best interests at heart, even when we don't agree on how to get there exactly.
So that helps, especially when they go on extended vacation with him.
But I also did a lot of work. When I knew I had to leave the marriage, and that my life wasn't what I'd thought it was going to be, and that it wasn't ever going to be that, I had a decision to make: Was I going to live a small, diminished life that was bounded by my failed marriage? Or was I going to do the work it took on myself and on sorting out the relationship and what I could do to move past it to create a future that fit me and that was a life better than I knew I could have?
I chose the second one. It was hard, and sometimes I needed to take a rest with a pint of Ben and Jerry's and a spoon and just give myself the night off from thinking and working on myself. But I kept going, and I asked my friends to help keep me on the path, and I looked at the unpleasant sides of myself and figured out what had happened and why and how, and came up with the vision of what I wanted my life to look like. And then I worked at that.
In the "Flourish Through Divorce" workshop I teach online we talk about boundaries and about how a bad marriage can erode your boundaries, and how we need to take the time to thoughtfully consider where we want our boundaries to be and learn to enforce them appropriately. One of the workshop participants last time told me that she thought reestablishing her own boundaries was the key to her recovery from divorce. Just talking about the idea that she was allowed to -- and supposed to -- have boundaries was empowering for her.
It's a cliche, but it really does all start with yourself. When you can look at all the good and bad parts of yourself, and establish your own boundaries, then you can begin to heal and to really live. And you can survive all kinds of co-parenting situations -- even if you don't love them -- because you have such a solid base just being yourself.
You're the best, really. If you don't know that now, take some time to figure it out so you can know it for the rest of your life.
The next round of Flourish Through Divorce starts August 15, and the round after that starts November 4. Information and registration for Flourish Through Divorce is here. Magda writes being a parent advice at AskMoxie.org, and writes about co-parenting after divorce with her ex-husband at When The Flames Go Up. She thinks you're the best parent for your child. And it gets better.