This is a guest blog from Kelly Greene, Office Manager at Smarter Divorce Solutions.
My first year of divorce, I was still very accommodating to everyone and anyone. I went out my way to make sure everyone transitioned nicely into our new lives after divorce. That is, everyone but me. Then year two came with the holidays. The children swap around is something I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to. Then came a text from my now ex father-in-law. He requests the kids spend Thanksgiving with him. He then throws in an obligatory, “You can come too”. I respectfully decline explaining that it’s my year with the kids and I have plans to go to a friend’s house. I remind him that he is welcome to see the kids anytime, as we live only a few miles from each other. He then offers to pick them up and drop them off so they can have dinner there. Once again, I politely decline and profusely apologize.
A few days later, I get a scathing Facebook message from my ex sister-in-law. She let me know that I was doing the entire family a huge disservice by not letting her father see his grandchildren on Thanksgiving. She also let me know that I should be the “bigger person” and “right the wrongs” and “fix the damage” my ex (her brother) has done to the family. Yes, I too had to read it a few times too to really take that all in. My heart pounded as I drafted my response. I decided on a pleasant, “It’s no longer my responsibility to take care of my ex. Your father can see his grandchildren any time he wants, with the exception of this Thanksgiving”.
Regardless, what ensued was a game of verbally abusive ping pong that ended with me not only un-friending her, but also blocking her on Facebook. Guilt consumed me. Should I let him see the kids on Thanksgiving? Maybe I could move around my plans to accommodate his…
My new self spoke up. She reminded me it’s MY YEAR with MY KIDS. If I wanted to sit home in my pajamas and eat pizza on Thanksgiving, well, I could. I am not responsible for other people’s happiness. I no longer need to carry the burden of making sure everyone has adjusted to MY divorce. From that point on, I learned to stand my ground. I handle each of these situations with grace and tact, I mind my manners, but I stay firm in my decisions. As you transition into your new life, I urge you practice putting up healthy boundaries. Even if you have to pass out copies of your divorce decree to all those involved, stand in your truth. Stand strong with grace, stand strong even if you quiver. All hail Rosie the Riveter, “WE CAN DO IT”.
Have you recently gone through a divorce, and now need to know what to do next? Here’s a completely free post-divorce checklist to make sure you’ve set up your new life for success.