Rumbling in the background is the divorce. It's now been long enough for the heated emotions of betrayal to fade slightly, and new, more complex issues to arise. We've decided it's time for mediation. The hardest and most painful topic will be contact; how much and how often my baby bears should be going off without me. This is something I never expected to have to consider. It breaks my heart every time I time I think about the trade off that has to happen in a split family. They need a good relationship with their dad, but they also need stability, security and their mum. They are so very young that I struggle to know how much is enough (or too much) when it comes to time away from me and from our home.
I've been talking to my health visitor for advice, and trying to reach a place where I can view the whole thing positively. It's very hard to do when my STBXH keeps popping up with solicitors letters pushing me to divorce him faster and bringing his girlfriend down to stay when he visits or dropping other painful reminders of what lies ahead into my path. It's a bitter pill indeed to think that his decision to fulfil his own needs will force me to give up the precious family time I have, so that my own children can go and be with him and his partner. There are few things that I can imagine feel more unjust. But concentrating on that feeling of injustice and pain can't be helping me. Getting angry doesn't mean you will get even - contact isn't about getting even. It's not even about me, although I have to be involved in the process. It's about my little bears and the life they are now living, also through no choice of their own. I have to keep remembering my old mantra, 'I love my children more than I hate my ex'. Actually, I need to let go with love for my ex as well. His decisions have cost him more than they have cost me. He just doesn't recognise that yet.
Reacting to life is not the same as acting on life. I know my strongest urge right now is to react to all this pain with anger, or to run away, and deny access to the things I hold most precious to me. But this isn't an option if I want to build a happy future for us all. I need to act on what I know to be right, no matter how I feel about the cards I've been dealt. There is no magic button I can press to make me feel less rubbish about this next stage, but I do believe that if I make it through with dignity and kindness, I will be able to look back and know I played a good hand despite it all. I don't know what their father wants or will even be able to commit to when it comes to seeing the boys. He's about to start working full time, a three hour journey away, on an unpredictable shift pattern. The typical 'every other weekend and one night in the week' almost certainly won't apply. But what we've been doing (every weekend) is not sustainable for me either. I need time with my own family, when I can see my parents and friends with the children, and not have to arrange everything I do around his life. However the idea of a compromise isn't something we have a history of reaching.
I am coping by learning about meditation, more specifically, cosmic ordering. I'm not one for new age hippie mumbo jumbo believe me. I don't think a simple affirmation will change my life. Nor do I think that saying 'I'd like one big happy family' is going to make my life rewind or rewrite itself so that the ex can come home. I don't want him to! But I do recognise that what you focus on is what you very often get. If I focus on conflict, fear, anxiety and pain, then the whole process of mediation is likely to feel very much like more of that. It takes practice to let go of fear. Daily, rigorous work in fact! Good job I don't mind putting in the effort. I will be meditating every day now, imagining my family as it is, and as I would like it to be - not a perfect nuclear unit, but a happily functional spread of people. A family that will give my boys room to grow and where they will feel loved wherever they turn. I'll focus on believing that with patience and compassion, and understanding, that we will be able to reach a positive place. I'll try really hard to ignore that little voice in my head that says 'pffft, yeah right!'