I cannot take one more plot twist, or surprise guest, in this ugly story of divorce.
Who would expect it to get any worse? It should be getting better by now, shouldn’t it? At least, there shouldn’t be any new surprises, or ugly hidden truths, coming out into the light of day by now. We’ve gotten through the hardest part, right? It’s over, it’s time to move on and find our “new normal”.
But that’s just not happening. Not yet.
I thought I could finally look forward, be happy and work on creating a life that was my life the way I want it to be. My life with my kids living in a happy house, relaxed and ready to embrace the future. I thought we could finally work towards being parenting partners, no more surprises, only working for the greater good of our kids. Things would eventually come up, new situations and new people, but we would be ready to deal with it then.
I was wrong. So wrong. He’s always been and always will be a self-centered narcissist, why did I expect anything to change?
We have this thing called a parenting agreement, or a PAJ. It’s a mandatory exercise for divorcing couples in our state to sit down with a mediator and come to various agreements on how we plan to “co-parent” before we can go before a judge and have our divorce approved and finalized.
I had to add the quotation marks to co-parent, because I really can’t remember a time that we ever truly co-parented before our divorce, but we can start now? That’s rich.
We went through this process, completed all of the excrutiating steps, including the parenting class – another requirement in our state. Oddly enough, my ex was able to take his “class” online since he works and basically lives out of state for the most part, plus it’s “busy time” at work. This excuse has been thrown around conveniently, only for his benefit, during many different points in our divorce. His ‘burden’ of traveling causing him to only have limited time with his boys, making us unable to have meetings on any weekday because, you know, he works and lives in California.
But, in the end, he insisted on keeping our family home only five miles away (on the other side of town) from my new home, and it’s listed as his “permanent residence” in our divorce agreement.
But, that’s a story for another time.
Part of the PAJ was meant for us to come up with agreements now, with future situations in mind, so it doesn’t become a heated discussion, or argument taken to court, later on down the line. Things like visitation, vacation schedules, holiday schedules, expectations of how we will parent, etc.
It also includes how and when we can introduce a new significant other into our children’s lives. And when we can have “sleepovers” or inclusive vacations with this “special someone” and our children. We had to come to an agreement on all of the many points of parenting for now and in the future, and it is put into a legally binding contract.
We both had to sign it before our divorce could even be finalized.
I’ve recently come to realize that my ex obviously doesn’t think that these rules apply to him. His way of approaching it is to “do the best” he can to acknowledge the agreement.
He’s doing his best, what more can we expect?
His latest bombshell? He’s had a steady girlfriend already for the last nine months, nine months that he’s admitting to in my opinion. Plus, she’s someone that he worked with in the recent past whom our children had already met once from a holiday party in our own home less than three years ago. Did I mention that she’s in her early 30’s? Yeah, my ex just turned 50 last year.
And she’s moving into our family home, to live with him. Next month. He told the kids two weeks ago.
He’s just changed the locks this weekend, only telling our children after it was done. And the kids don’t get a key until they “earn his trust”.
The boys were stunned, to put it lightly. I was beyond stunned. It was all so deceitful, mean spirited and hurtful, that words cannot begin to describe the hole I fell into, and am still trying to work my way out of. And our kids, shocked into silence and really not able to process this so soon, are spinning. They’re just trying to get used to us being divorced and moving out of their family home, they never expected “someone new in the mix” as my ex referred to his new love by text to me.
But to him that’s unimportant. That’s old news for him and his new honey. They’ve already been together for nine months! It’s not new anymore.
The kids feelings about realizing that they have to share their promised weekend time with him, the time he couldn’t – or obviously wouldn’t – give to them for the last year, with some other woman has hit them hard. Having this young woman living in their mother’s house and sleeping in her bed – with their dad – when they go to visit?
That’s not a total mind fuck?
Our children are just collateral damage in this train wreck. They need to “turn the page, to move on to the next chapter, it would be in the best interest of everyone involved”.
Oh, and that PAJ we signed? We agreed to wait at least six months, from the day of our divorce being finalized, to even introduce a new significant other. We agreed. But that’s just a piece of paper, a “formality” really, our marriage has been over and we’ve been apart for over a year now, so the boys should be fine and ready to move on. I’m just letting my emotions influence me, and I am trying to push my agenda onto our kids.
Our divorce, that “piece of paper” as he so lightly refers to it, was only signed two months before this load was dropped on all of us. Right before Christmas.
They need to accept my ex and his new “special someone” as a couple, or it will limit his involvement with his sons, he explained to me by lengthy text. He won’t be able to have them stay over for our PAJ agreed weekends until they meet her, accept her and get over it.
Convenient, isn’t it? He gets to be the injured party, the victim who is under appreciated and being unfairly treated, with the added bonus of experiencing the heady early days of being a newly minted couple without the hassles of balancing a divorced family life with all of it’s challenges and responsibilities.
Can it get any better for him?
I can’t even wrap my head around this person that is claiming to be my children’s father, acknowledged now as my ex-husband. He has become some alien being that I have never met before, or could even guess would exist. He is so irrational, unfeeling and obnoxious now, his texts are lengthy, spiteful and ugly – like a teenaged girl with PMS – and he treats his children like they’re almost strangers. Or bothersome and inconvenient. He dismisses how they feel about this all by saying that they’re being “dramatic”. Who is he??
Or is this just his coping mechanism, like so many other middle aged men looking for that last shot at youth? Jumping into a full on relationship, with a much younger woman, that makes them feel invincible and giddy, causing them to turn away from or deny their own family, at any cost or expense to their loved ones. What a freaking cliche.
This feels like a constant car crash, on repeat, and I’m not the only victim. Sadly, I can’t save or protect my children from all of it either. And the more I react to his ignorant and thoughtless actions, his obnoxious texts, the more ammunition he has to use against his kids. He thinks he’s hurting me, that I deserve to suffer, but he’s wrong.
All of those meetings, sitting at that table going over our future lives as a divorced family with a fine toothed comb to come to an agreement, were just a waste of time and money.
In the end, it’s just papers that have been scattered to the wind. Meaningless.
Anyone can sit at a table and nod their head in agreement, even sign the paper, but that doesn’t guarantee that they will uphold their end of the agreement. That they will keep those promises and follow those rules. And he’s had this relationship cooking the entire time, secretly, as we sat there in these “talks”, as he cried over missing his kids, and how difficult this all was for him.
He never addressed the reason why he only spent six hours a weekend with his kids, even when asked by the mediator, he blamed me for making him uncomfortable when he came to the house and the mediator even gave him the out of “needing me time after working all week and traveling almost every weekend to get home”.
He didn’t think the timing was ever right to inform anyone of his relationship for the last nine months, not to even mention to his children that he was even possibly dating. We weren’t really communicating he tells me. From what I remember, we communicated pretty often over the last year, in and out of the meeting room. Another point in our PAJ is to inform the ex-spouse of a serious relationship if it’s over six months, but we were still in the stages of monetary negotiations at that point. Why would he risk it?
He kept it under wraps to protect himself, nobody else.
The rules are just rubber bands that he continues to stretch, until eventually they become so thin that you barely notice them. And yet, they are almost cutting off my circulation.
Rules are for suckers.