If you’ve been following Carolyn’s story, you’ll remember that her husband and her best friend were having an affair. Carolyn is now divorced and her ex-husband and ex-best friend are now married. It’s hard for me to imagine an end of a marriage that would be more painful than losing your husband to your best friend. It would be easier for Carolyn if she could just put that behind her and not have to face them but she and her ex have two children and they share custody.
I asked Carolyn how you grieve the loss of your marriage and your best friend and yet maintain that relationship because you want the father of your children to be present in their lives. Here’s what she said.
I think I’ve always had this knack for disassociating from my feelings. In part, that’s what enabled me to stay with my ex as long as I did, denying all of my feelings. My therapist said,
“It’s a defense mechanism. That’s what people do to protect themselves from being hurt. When things are too painful for them to bear, they just don’t feel it sometimes.”
I think that’s what I did back then and I think to an extent, that’s what I do now, only with my different understanding of it, I don’t feel guilty. Out of necessity, I just block out what it feels like when I drop off my kids.
Most of the time, I walk into their house and I smile and I make casual chitchat. I’m both a relieved I can do that and a little disgusted. I wish I could just remind them over and over again, how much they hurt me and what wretched people they are, but that’s not going to help me.
It occurred to me early on that if I played my kids against either of my ex’s, but especially their new stepmother, it would hurt them, not me. If I tell my children what happened, or even if I just gave them a hint of the level of my ill-will towards her, and they were to express that in any way to her, then on some level she might start to resent them and not treat them so well.
It sucks that we’ve got to split homes like this but what would suck even worse is if either of those homes was not led by loving parents. As much as I hate that woman, she loves my kids. I know she loves my kids. She was their godmother, she held my hand when I was giving birth to my daughter. She’s been there since day one, and I hate her, but she loves my kids, she treats them well, she feeds them nutritious meals and she makes their time with their father better.
Honestly, it would worse to drop them off at that house if she wasn’t there because I don’t totally trust my ex-husband to be on top of the childcare as well as she is. I know her well enough to trust her with my kids.
I also trust in karma. I don’t think she won anything great. I think what she took from me is probably making her life worse and she probably knows it. Maybe I just tell myself that to make me feel better?
I have so much admiration for Carolyn. It must be so hard to put that chapter of her life behind her when she has to confront it, face-to-face every week. A mother’s love is strong and selfless.
You can read more about Carolyn’s journey at her blog, Leap and the Net Will Appear.