I Am Torn: Honest Ramblings on Being a Long Distant Parent
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February 23, 2017

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The main reason I started this blog in the first place was to have a safe space to share the reality of separation and divorce and provide a landing space for other women like me. To tell someone, "You are not crazy. You are not an asshole. You are not alone." I've been playing it pretty safe for the most part by writing about books and movies and road trips, but  I feel like I just need to ramble a bit today. A little writing therapy. Get some stuff out that someone else might desperately need to hear coming from a kindred spirit.

I wrote a post on distant parenting and how I'm handling it and it was overall a very positive post. Then I wrote one about my biggest fears and it was pretty honest but carefully worded and edited. And considering that my parenting is a dominating force in my life, it shouldn't be surprising that it's on my mind again.

I. Am. Torn.

I love my daughter with every once of blood that pumps through my heart. She bewitched me the moment I laid eyes on her. Let me make it very clear how happy I am with my new love, in my new city, in my new house... but still I am haunted. I hear taunting voices in my head, "What kind of mother leaves her child?" It's in those terrifying moments that I feel a literal pain in my chest. I picture my heart contracting, squeezing it's eyes shut saying, "Shut up, shut up, shut up." 

It hurts. 

But I remind myself how unhappy I was in my marriage, and wonder what I was teaching my ever-perceptive teenager about love and commitment and life. I remind myself that I am now showing her how to make choices for herself, to choose happiness when it comes her way. She is living with a really great dad. He might not have been the best husband for me, but that doesn't make him a bad father. He loves her, makes good choices for her and guides her well. His new girlfriend absolutely loves her, purposely spends time with her and never says anything dishonoring about me. She has a strong group of friends, attends the church she's grown up in, is excelling in school. I have in no way left her wanting...

except that she still wants me. And then the pain hits again. 

She just spent the weekend with us for the first time. There were some awkward times and I cried more than I'd ever admit to her. There were also some very encouraging moments, like when she, boyfriend and his two girls and I sat around the campfire and made s'mores. And when she said she enjoyed sitting in the tattoo shop because it was a cool place to hang out. There were other times that hurt. Like when she didn't seem to want to be around us, and when I held her as she cried and said she "wanted her old life back."

What do I do with all these feelings?

I share them with boyfriend when it seems like the right time, but it scares him. Makes him think I want to leave and go back home to her. And, frankly, that has come up. I've said a couple of times that I'm going back, because I'm so split-minded on what I want. I tell him I can't do it anymore, and then my heart squeezes it's eyes shut and says, "Shut up, shut up, shut up." Because I can't do that either. Can't leave the only man I've ever been in love with. Can't drag my heart away from the other side of the country.

So I hug her and kiss her soft cheeks and pink hair and watch her disappear into an airplane. I let the tears drip because I don't care about the strangers smiling sympathetically. I float back into the arms of the man who loves me desperately.

I smile and cry and stumble and learn.

 

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