If nothing else, I am not a dumb person. In light of this recent event where I sit here and say “I had no idea,” that might not seem true, it might seem like I am actually pretty stupid, but I am not. I knew enough yesterday to ask Steve to go elsewhere with me while we talked over some things, in case it got heated and ugly words were said. I knew, too, to go somewhere where I was comfortable, over to a beautiful spot by the river, with the sun glinting off of the water and the bench being warmed by the sun. Neutral territory to an extent, but not really because I know that certain places give me peace and strength and therefore a feeling of power. We talked, and I know enough to know that his feelings of anger toward me, for asking him to talk and for bringing up certain issues, are defensiveness on his part because he knows what he is doing is really just cruel. I know, too, to not react, but instead to keep my own voice as steady as I can and keep the conversation on the topic at hand, I know to take responsibility for my shit and when he tries to hand me his own pile to take care of, too, I know to not take what is offered. I know that there is no such thing as resolution, but that I need the opportunity to have one chance to say everything I need to say, and I think I was able to hit all of the salient points; that will have to be enough.
We told the kids, but really he told them, because I refused to sit with him and give the kids the united front about how it just wasn’t working out and we decided this together; that wasn’t how it happened and I was not going to protect him. So he said what he had to say and the kids were as shocked as I had been, and as hurt. Eli was angry, too, and both Hannah and Eli are upset about him doing this to me, and don’t think it is fair. Well, I said, life isn’t fair and a lot of the times good people don’t always have good things happen to them and they need to not spend too much time worrying about me, but instead try to process their own feelings. Sam was, as expected, devastated, crying out that it was just like losing another dad, and of course this was downstairs where he couldn’t hear them, which-well. As we were all sitting up in the living room when Steve was breaking the news, I could see the kids all working really hard to control their emotions, and then when we went downstairs it all came boiling up. And it was okay. Hurtful, heartbreaking, but still okay-because they feel safe enough with me to vent about their feelings, and I can be there to let them feel their feelings and process them, with me, in an appropriate manner. No small thing.
After we told them, he left, because I know too that to sit there and watch him move his things would be horrible for all of us. I loaded up the kids and Eli’s girlfriend and took them all to the City of Rocks, where we hiked and climbed and took pictures, where we built a fire and burned hot dogs and ate s’mores. I know that it is important to feel our feelings and work through the grieving process, but also that life does and will go on, and I really wanted to make clear to the kids that good things are always there even when some aspects of life are bad. Plus, there was the added benefit of the simple fact that hard physical activity and lots of water and food to eat make us all that much stronger to deal with the shitty stuff, that it is hard to dwell in misery when you remove yourself from the situation for even a little while to gain a little bit of distance. This was our house before Steve moved in, and I want it to still be our house now that he is gone; if we all sat there and watched him take his things out piece by piece, that would be a bad memory associated with this house, and I didn’t want that added burden, for any of us.
So. Tuesday morning, and we passed the first day and the first night. When we got home, I immediately washed my sheets and blankets and made the bed up all fresh and nice, and we were all tired, so there were no tears last night, no one cried themselves to sleep or laid in bed staring at the darkness wondering what happened. I know what happened, and even though I have lots of feelings about the how and the why, I am very clear on the reality of it. I couldn’t have-and frankly wouldn’t have-done anything differently than I did, because Steve’s issues have nothing to do with my intrinsic value as a person. I cannot, will not, at least today, allow myself to second guess my decisions or beat myself up for having been so gullible. He told me something and until Friday I believed that something to be true, and it wasn’t EVER true, but really, whose fault is that?
I know there will be bad days; I know that there will be horrible feelings of anger and jealousy and fear and shame, but I know this, too: that those feelings will pass, they hurt but will not kill me, and I am a strong woman of great faith. We have been through hell, and in comparison, this is manageable. Hard, fucking hard and really sad, but-this will not break me. I might feel differently tomorrow or even three minutes from now, but-I have this moment, this one right here in front of me, and for now, it is enough.