Monday, July 23, 2007

Having Trouble Dropping the Past

I am now seven months along in a separation from my ex and unlike being pregnant with a definitive due date, I just can't see the end of arguments about the past. Just today, I found out that my ex posted a picture of his girlfriend on Facebook. (She's a major reason for the separation.) In my humble opinion, this was just plain tacky. But aside from my opinion, my problem is that every time I discover some new thing about him, I end up more hurt. This in turn makes talking about any subject almost impossible. There is no safe topic--not even the weather.

Many negotiation and communication books offer loads of advice on the topic of improving communication between separated and divorced couples. One example of this advice is there is no right or wrong answer to the past. Each person has his or her own why's and how's about how a relationship failed. Many times, a person's opinion just can't be changed. In my case, I would interpret my ex's failure at marriage as his inability to tough out a special needs child and his overwhelming need to be self-important. My ex would say I let the relationship fail because I did not put him above my child. The advice of experts is helpful for self-introspection, but it often takes weeks, months, or years to sink in. As I said in the beginning, I just don't see the end even after seven months.

So in the meantime, I am trying my best to cope. I try to stay neutral when I talk to my ex on the phone. I don't talk negatively about my ex in front of the kids. I attempt to realize that I can't change my ex, even though I have known him for 15 years and he is now a mystery to me. This helps to some degree, but I still get stick in the rut of communicating my feelings and my side of the story, especially when I see hurtful things like the picture of my ex's girlfriend posted on his Facebook page.

Today, in response to my discovery of the girlfriend Facebook posting, I sent my ex an email through Facebook's "Send Message" feature. I sent a message that included the following excerpt,

    "I can not change the outcome of his actions--carpe diem is his mantra. I do however have the power to look after two beautiful children who love unconditionally and bring me joy everyday. I can foster the growth of two young boys into becoming two good men who will put others' needs in the same league as their own needs. I can hope that when my sons become fathers that they understand the word commitment and sacrifice even in the most difficult times.

    Rock on carpe diem. Go on and count the increasing number of virtual friends on Facebook to feel self-important. Talk about "complicated" relationships with people who may only care about you for your money. Take the easy path through life instead of toughing it out and seeing the big picture beyond next month, next year. At the end of the day, kids and family are life's real support and source of strength--the ones who support you, stick with with you and remember you. They are not just a virtual experience."

I did not share the entire email, but my ex got my high-horse attitude, and he even called late at night to tell me he hid the girlfriend's picture so it's no longer public. He was annoyed at my email and bringing up his affair for the umpteenth time.

I hope someday that he grows up enough so that I can find some ground for talking to him again without arguments or hurt feelings. I hope that I can listen to experts and practice their advice. It's just not so easy to start.

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