Even 6 years later.
We’ve moved on. I’m happily remarried. We get along for the most part and are co-parenting our two daughters, but man oh man, when something happens between the two of us, it HAPPENS BIG and this recent altercation was no exception. Nothing like accidentally receiving a voice text of a recording of your ex-spouse bad mouthing you in a very disrespectful way to another parent on your kids softball team to send you right back to how you felt the day you ended your marriage.
I was listening to a recording of him say things about me that weren’t ever supposed to be for my ears which brought me right back to the night six years ago when I saw emails I shouldn’t have seen and realized our marriage was over. Here I was yet again, the third party infringing on an exchange that I was never supposed to discover.
Seeing those emails with my own eyes hurt me on a level that is indescribable. I won’t say listening to the voice text felt the exact same, but there was this eerily similar sensation in my gut when I overheard him speaking about me in a moment when he thought no one else was listening.
Our ex’s have this uncanny ability to make you feel like you’ve done something wrong when it was clearly them who was in the wrong. My ex-husband made a very inappropriate comment about me and when I called him out on it, instead of apologizing to me, he came back with “well, ya know, you DO rub women the wrong way” Wait, what? How did this all of a sudden become my fault? He then followed that up with “You’re just like your father and that’s why you rub women the wrong way.” I hated the fact that he was able to hit me right between the eyes where he knew it would get to me.
When your ex throws a jab at you, you want to shrug it off, convince yourself it doesn’t matter, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Your ex is that person who knows you intimately, and in my case, there’s a 17 year history with us, so he knows my vulnerabilities and therefore knows exactly where to hit me in the gut. I should have acted like it didn’t matter or I didn’t care, but I just can’t do that. His comments really upset me on several levels. That’s one of the many ways the relationship with your ex changes post divorce. Those qualities that they once so admired about you become the subject of scrutiny in a heated discussion in a parking lot on a sultry summer night.
When I was growing up I spent a considerable amount of time with my paternal grandmother and at her funeral she was referred to as a “pistol” and a pistol she was indeed! Tough, strong, and raised 8 kids with absolutely no help. She spoke her mind and didn’t give a damn what anyone thought. She was one tough lady and I admired her a lot. Turns out my Dad inherited many of his mother’s qualities; he’s known as strong, hardworking, stubborn, intimidating, and a bit ornery at times just like his mother was. I think everyone in my family will agree that compared to my two younger sisters, I have the highest amount of these “pistol-like qualities” from my grandmother and father and I couldn’t be happier about it. These qualities have served me well as I’ve grown up and have risen above adversities large and small.
Fast-forward to my early 40’s and I’ve needed to pull from the trenches of my strong personality traits as I went through a very difficult divorce, then lost my job shortly after and then a cancer diagnosis shorty after that. It was a 3 pronged sucker punch that I’m still trying to get back up from.
It’s this tough-as-nails part of me that I’m so thankful for because it’s gotten my through the thick muck of the past 6 years. My grandmother not taking crap from anyone, my father’s tenaciousness and outspoken nature were the traits that served me well as if my father and grandmother were right by my side as I navigated through these tough times. Adjusting to being a single mom and then not being intimidated by my doctor who was trying to tell me that I was premenopausal and needed an antidepressant when all along I had thyroid cancer. I wasn’t stopping until I found the right answers because I knew something wasn’t right.
Recently, my soon-to-be 13-year-old daughter had to complete an emotional wellness questionnaire at her annual physical and one of the questions was “Are you a leader or a follower?” and when I glanced over to see what she wrote, I was beaming with pride when she circled “leader.” My goal is to nurture those types of qualities in my daughters as they grow, to stand up for themselves and have a voice but to do so with skills that are seasoned with kindness, grace, discernment, and a little bit of patience.
My friend asked me “What do you think is the gift in all of this?” That can be a difficult question when you’re still in the weeds which is where I am, but upon pondering this question I think the gift in all of this smacked me square in the face as I was mid-rant with my ex-husband the next day. I had stewed over this exchange with him all night long, so naturally, I felt the right thing to do was get him on the phone the next day to give him a piece of my mind.
So there I was, going on and on to him and defending myself against the things he had said and accused me of. Then, mid-sentence, I had my epiphany – “why the hell am saying all of this to him?”
I don’t need to convince him of anything. The person that needs convincing is me.
Is it possible that I do rub women the wrong way? Perhaps, but which women are we talking about here? The women in my life, the ones that know me intimately, that ones that I care a great deal what they think of me, would never say that I offend them or rub them the wrong way.
As far as the other “women” out there that I supposedly offend that my ex referred to, if that’s the way I’m perceived by some in response to me asking clarifying questions or offering a suggestion then so be it. I’m not going to apologize for who I am or change who I am to appease others. I’m 46 years into owning who I am and so the additional gift I’ve received after this whole debacle is that I’ve realized how proud I am to be my grandmother’s granddaughter.