Just got back from our second meeting with our therapist not too long ago. One improvement? I'm not sitting on the couch crying hysterically into the phone with my mother. I'm not saying it was some kind of lovefest (in fact, this time, I was the one who was repeatedly reminded to steer clear of digs and other judgey statements), but I think we both left with a clearer understanding of each other's motivations and why we responded so intensely to this whole situation. For me, I learned that my STBX took my announcement to move out of state as a threat. He worried that if I did that, I might then decide to move farther away down the line, which would very much interfere with his relationship with his daughter. The fact that none of that was ever my intention—I would never deprive my daughter of a relationship with her dad—didn't matter. I wasn't clear, and I didn't anticipate or even consider the possibility that he'd be upset or worried. When he started to feel panicked, he felt he had no choice but to threaten me with court. For him (and I'm just projecting here), I think he finally understood just how deeply betrayed and trapped and wounded I felt by his reaction...not only to the move, but also to what he said in our last session (you know, about not trusting me at all and saying I'm "struggling" as a mother).
Now, if we had the skills to communicate and share our feelings like two respectful adults, we would have probably been able to avoid most of this drama. But right now, we don't. We are still so damn stuck in our old patterns, and we do whatever we can to push those buttons we so expertly installed in each other. I noticed a few times tonight that I launched poison darts without even thinking about it. My instinct was simply to make him feel as bad as I did. I wanted to punish him. And that's a problem. A big one. I guess what I'm starting to realize is that punishment really has been a major part of my M.O. in dealing with my STBX...and it's something I've been loathe LOATHE to admit. I can't tell you how many times he's accused me of this and I poo-poo'd it, making it seem like I was oh so above such base behavior. Not true.
There's another thing I haven't let go of: my outrage at his seeming lack of responsibility. Which, surprise, surprise, is probably why I keep wanting to find ways to Make Him Pay. I can't do that anymore. Look, it's not like I had some holy epiphany and all is forgiven. As of 11:15 p.m. on May 18th, 2011, I'm still holding on tight. What has changed, though, is that I finally believe it's time to start loosening the grip. Agreeing to stay in our home state because doing otherwise is a very huge problem for him is a first step (the fact that I will never understand WHY doesn't matter). Finding little ways to stop blaming him for everything will be the next. Bottom line: I've been spending a lot of time talking with whomever will listen about fresh starts and how I can't wait to have mine. But here's the thing about fresh starts: You can't drag all the pain and hurt from the past along with you. Sort of defeats the purpose, no? xoxo, Evie