After just over four years of trying to make things work, R and I have begun formal separation procedures. I expect to be relocating in the next few weeks, getting a place to live and continuing my job search nearer to a supportive group of family and friends.
Here's the difficult part. I am in a position where I have to leave my kids with R. My lawyer indicated to me that if I had a job and a place set up, all things being equal, if it went to mediation or court that I would likely be awarded custody as the parent of record, but without a comparable situation to move them to, my choices were to stay here until next summer (which for both R and I is an unworkable solution), or to leave them with the marital home as their primary residence. As a result, we have agreed to joint custody, which gives me full and equal say in their upbringing and allows a more liquid arrangement in terms of how often I have access to them. It also, our lawyers have told us, will make it easier to accommodate changes to the arrangements.
Those of you who've known over the past couple of years, I want to extend my everlasting love and sincere gratitude, because I would be a screaming, drooling mess without you. Those of you who haven't necessarily known or suspected, you're receiving this because you have helped me through the worst parts, even if you didn't know you were doing it, and you have my love and thanks for kindness extended for its own sake.
I ask your patience in one thing. We have yet to tell our kids, one of which is R's daughter from his first marriage, and on my friends' list on Facebook. Until more of the details were finalized, and until school was finished, we were opting to keep the news to ourselves. All I ask is that for the time being, no references be made to this situation in public, specifically on walls on in statuses. Six degrees of separation..you know how it goes.
I have been very reluctant to say much of anything to anyone until it was all over, but I have also come to know, especially over the past day or so, that this last month will be agonizing. Packing, paperwork, getting things together on the other end, not to speak of knowing I'm leaving my kids and their everyday lives, the garden I planted with so much love...frankly, I don't have the strength to go it alone in the most difficult stretch. Feeling vulnerable isn't my favourite thing...but I hope to start changing that very soon.
I'm at the biggest crossroads of my life...where words are so inadequate, and where silence gets me no-where. If you are reading this, know how very much you mean to me right now.
I received an outpouring of loving and supportive messages from everyone who received that message. Except the one I got from my mother:
I'm very sorry about your unfortunate situation...feel free to contact me directly rather than through a mass mail out..maybe you will feel you can talk to me sometime in the future
The expression, I had one nerve left and she got on it, was the understatement of a century. The message I sent back is reproduced in its entirety.
I suppose I generally think of a mass mail out as an impersonal, factual thing, and I'm not sure how you could confuse me carving my heart out to tell the people I love what's going on, with something either impersonal or strictly factual. How ignorant of me to think only of myself. I apologize for intruding, and for believing I should include you in that aforementioned list. I have never been clear on why it has always been my responsibility to contact you & make sure that the lines of communication stay open between us. Does your phone not also make outgoing calls? Just a rhetorical question, which by no means should be taken as a request for you to prove that it does. Thank you for your message of love and support for myself and my children in this very difficult time. It's good to know that I can always count on you when it matters most. No response is necessary.
And none was received.
I emailed her, I guess two years ago, for her birthday, and she politely said thanks. Again at Christmas, then my birthday, then Mother's Day. Two years in a row, we, we have exchanged those cautious emails, nothing too emotional or revealing. She has never picked up the phone to speak with my kids at their home. Suddenly, a few weeks ago, she sent me a friend request on Facebook. I thought about it for a couple of days, and then I accepted it, and waited to see what would happen. That would be nothing. And now the ball is in my court, because today is her sixty-sixth birthday and I have to decide what to do.
On one hand, I have no desire to speak with her. Rereading her words to me fills me with all the bad feels. I look back on a lifetime of not feeling important to her after she and my dad split up, and I'm not surprised that we are where we are right now.
On the other, I look at her friend request, and wonder if she was reaching out to me for a change. I wonder how I'd feel, looking forward, if something happened to her and I didn't take the opportunity to find out if we could try again to be friendly and actually be successful for a change.