Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, Or How to keep you head above water

I love Dori from Finding Nemo--her in the moment, zen nature and positive thinking, how I wish I could be like her all the time.  And…how I used to be like her, more often than not, but I’ve noticed that life’s harder edges took some of that away from me.  I am loathe to admit it—but I have become more cynical and less trusting of life and of people generally in the world.  And that sucks.

So today, I’m making a little vow to myself to concentrate on the good things that keep me going, despite the arguing with my loving new husband about how to deal with my manipulative ex-husband.  Despite feeling like I’m fighting on all fronts sometimes, fielding barbs from Exie, shielding myself, my girls, our family’s privacy, raising the girls and getting us through a hurricane warning (thank goodness all of that blew over, the Big Island’s mountains were not going to let some hurricane get us down!  And that while the Big Island still has lost 10% of their power, there were no casualties and we are all safe), and defending my “disengage and ignore” tactics with A. 

Actually, life isn’t bad, and even if I’m cynical about certain things, like trusting “love” will conquer life’s ills (thanks, 80s Disney movies and rom-coms, whatEVER), it’s pretty damn good in many places.  So please let me be thankful for this:

  •  The co-parenting counselor completely surprised me by handling the latest email diatribe.  She is being so helpful that I don’t even have to respond to the latest shenanigans.  No, Exie does not get to unilaterally decide when or where DD1 takes an extracurricular activity when it impacts both of our days.  No, Exie cannot demand to withhold medical copays because DD2 lost her lunch tupperware at school.  Yes, Exie has to show up with the children at a well-lit place at the next parent-to-parent exchange.  Wow.
  • DD1, while still feeling a bit conflicted because of Exie’s manipulations, has been coming out of her shell a little bit more since our trip to see our families.  She’s been asking A to help him cook, seeking him out to play cards, generally, just seeking his attention and cuddles and love.  It’s been very sweet.  We even overheard her referring to him as her “stepdad” to her little neighbor BFF, when she didn’t think anyone could hear her.  <3
  • DD1 has now ventured into 3rd grade and already loves her teacher, is reading voraciously, loves playing with her friends.  We found a new ballet school that DD1 is going to try and see if she likes—it helps her school BFF also takes lessons there, and we won’t have to worry about interference from dad because the classes do not fall on his days.  Also, DD1 discovered a new friend at summer day camp, who happens to live just up the street, and they’ve been inseparable over the last few weeks.  So sweet!
  • DD2 is happily adjusting to a new preschool year, and I will now have to start thinking about kindergarten.  Exie has agreed to apply DD2 to the same place DD1 went to kindergarten and thrived.  I’m thinking it’s a great start to school for DD2, and then we can transfer her to DD1’s school who is just down the road.  DD2 is bubbly, happy, and loving, her energetic self never failing her to show up anywhere with hugs and laughter galore.
  • My loving husband, while arguing about how to handle my ex, has helped me hire a nanny to assist with getting DD1 to all of her extracurriculars and finish her homework.  I seriously couldn’t be luckier.  I used to scrape bottom to find help, and it’s extremely lucky to have an extra pair of eyes and ears (the nanny also grew up in a blended family) looking after the girls on occasion.
  • Yesterday, while in a silent stand-off about dealing with Exie, A needed “alone time” after work so he missed dinner.  But, he showed up with a new blanket for our bed.  And other handy things we needed.  So his “alone time” translated into helping us with stuff around the house.  That’s pretty darn sweet.

I’m thinking that I ought to be in a “count-your-blessings” mode.  For the moment, Exie has been dealt with, and while likely to bring sh!+ up again in the not-too-distant future, my girls and me, we are okay.  We are safer than we ever were before. 

A and I have a lot to work on about dealing with stress and anxiety.  I have some ideas on how to handle that, and I’m hoping he is thinking of some, too.  He usually is.  I think together we can overcome this.  I think it’s difficult for A—and his loving, alpha male, no one messes with my family mentality, to see that disengaging and refusing to react to my ex-husband’s manipulations is actually a proactive way to protect our privacy and self-respect.  I wish I could wave a magic wand and help him see that.  It took me a long time to ignore the negative, too.  (I wish there was a handbook for step-parents coming into high conflict, or post abusive relationships.  Is there one?)

So I’m sending a little prayer out there into the universe—thanking the heavens for our bright and better days and future, and also asking for some patience and perseverance as we keep swimming forward.  Just keep swimming.  Swimming, swimming.

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