My first reaction was defensiveness
Who did he think he was? Just because he got a wild hair to work out of state for the hot Arizona summers didn’t mean that he could unilaterally decide that our parenting plan should just change to accommodate him! (Not to mention that every single time I had requested a one-time exception to our regular parenting time for any reason, he refused. Not that I was bitter or anything. Yeah right.)
Then I talked to my kids. I could see them struggling to not hurt my feelings by saying they wanted to go too enthusiastically. Let’s face it, a month in sunny California on an adventure far from home out of the Arizona oven? What kid isn’t going to want to do that? I felt like I’d been manipulated by my ex who of course told the kids before me what he wanted to do so that if I refused, he could then blame me for not letting them go and the kids would be well aware of that. And now I’m getting even angrier! I was manipulated for 17 years by him and he’s still doing it! Aaaaaauuughhhh!
take a breath, and step back
Sigh… I decided to remember that no matter what, no matter where they go, no matter who else might love them, I am their mother and nothing in this Universe will ever change that. If I’m upset it’s because I’m allowing myself to react this way and I can choose to stop. Here’s what my inner-dialog changed to. “My kids love me and I love them. If they are gone for a month I will miss them but hmm, I could do some fun things with my time too! When they return, I’d have a month with them all to myself and we could do something special too. Despite what I feel about my ex, he is their father and the only one they will ever have. They need to form their own relationship and opinion of him without influence from me.”
And you know what? The boulder fear-weight resting on my chest started to slip away. It just dissipated into nothing and I realized that THIS is how I take my power back. THIS is how I get healthy. When I focus on love, focus on the positive, refuse to take part in drama, and do the right thing for my children, everyone wins.
I realized that any button pushing that my ex may do to me, intentionally or unintentionally, is only possible if I have the buttons! You can actually decide to just release the buttons and let them go. I KNOW it’s not easy and takes practice but I have to tell you, it’s the most rewarding practice I have ever undertaken. When I was able to do that, I truly became free and JOY became available to me in ways I never expected.
JOY is waiting for you too. Good luck and blessings!
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