Tender moments

Last night my ex husband came over to celebrate our son’s birthday. We have an amicable relationship, but really haven’t spent too much time together this year. He moved out a year ago, after a tense and difficult summer. I think we’ve learned how to co-parent without pressing each other’s buttons by keeping our distance and creating boundaries. Not too shabby for someone I cringed at the thought of last summer.

Our son opens his gift and soon disappears to his room, in his typical teenage boy fashion. My ex and I are left sitting at my dining room table alone. I can’t even remember what we were talking about initially, but the subject changed to my father. I haven’t really shared much about my problems with my dad on here, and I’m not so sure I want to start tonight, but we’ll see…

Jeez, I can’t really go on with the rest of the story without giving you some sort of background on my dad. Hmm…

OK, so in brief… my dad loves me. I know this to be true. I can feel it when I’m with him. He loves me in the best way he can. The only way he knows how. It is difficult for me to accept this way, because I crave so much more. Intellectually speaking, I understand why he is distant. Emotionally, it kills me. Hey, that summary REEKS of someone in therapy, doesn’t it??

So, my ex tells me my dad reached out to him to see the boys. Another long story about why he needs to go through my ex, but I’ll sit on that one for a while. I’m pleased he’s making an effort to see them, but the conversation leads from one thing to another to another and the next thing you know, I’m crying…pouring out a few raw pieces of my soul…to my ex husband. I just couldn’t help it. The tears were down my cheeks before I even realized what was happening. And I just kept talking. Sharing the pain of my unmet emotional needs regarding my father, with the man who also left my emotional needs unmet for the past 20 years. Crazy, huh? The weird thing is, it didn’t feel crazy. He appeared to be listening sincerely, and appeared to feel bad for me. For all I know, I could be wrong about the sincerity, but I really don’t think so. He validated a few of the things I’ve done…things other members of my family have criticized me for. As much negative shit he and I have been through with each other this past year, he still understands what it’s like to have a dysfunctional childhood. At least that’s something we can connect on.

I spent a good half hour there, talking to him about my family, my childhood, the pain, the abuse…and for those moments, it felt like we weren’t in the middle of a sometimes tense divorce. It wasn’t like we were best friends, either. It was like we were two people who understood familial pain, and he was listening to me without judging me. Kind of a big deal, now that I’m looking back on it. We had some moments of tenderness last night.

I stopped crying and we went upstairs so he could say goodnight to the boys. He checked out my drum set and listened to me play a song, and he didn’t laugh at me at all. I’m actually getting kind of decent at Creep….for a 45-year-old brand new drummer mom. We walked downstairs, while he gave me advice on fall lawn care and getting things ready for the winter season around here. It came time to say good-bye and he hugged me. Not a quick, meaningless fake hug…but a long, sincere, probably sympathy hug. Normally, that is the exact OPPOSITE of something I would want to do with him, but I accepted it. And thanked him. And meant it. While I in NO means would even consider reconciling with the man, or even want to spend another evening with him like that, it did prompt me to think of how I don’t have a man in my life to support me during all this, and that left me feeling kind of empty…

You know, even though he’s not apologizing for all his stuff over the years, I forgive him. I forgave him well before last night. That’s the reward of processing your shit. That’s how you know you’re healing…when you can forgive someone who’s not sorry and feel good about doing it. I had told him about forgiving one of my family members, one who had treated me so badly as a child and still can be quite toxic to me. I told him how even though I can’t have this person in my life, because it would just cause me more pain, I’m still loving this person, from a human standpoint, from a distance. I’m wishing this person peace, as I know it can’t be easy being so miserable and agitated all the time. I asked him if he thought that sounded crazy, and he said yes. He and I…simply not on the same energy level. He’ll never “get” me, and that’s ok. That’s why we don’t live together anymore. But, he got me enough last night to create sincere, tender moments between us. And I’m smart enough to know that when those unexpected tender moments arise with someone, I don’t ignore them.  I will heal.


26 thoughts on “Tender moments”

  1. I can’t imagine that happening with my ex. I have to forgive from a distance, as you said. I’m inspired though. I’m going to send some healing thoughts his way today. Congratulations on your amazing maturity. ?

    1. I tell you, I never would have imagined it, either. I didn’t see it coming, even in the moments before it. And I don’t see it happening again. Just a moment of grace I’m grateful to have noticed.

          1. We’ve been without power for a few days (tornados knocking it out), and somehow I’ve been having crazy drinking drinks to go with it. I think the drinking dreams go with stressful situations. We’ve got power this evening, thank God!

            1. Ugh…I still have tornado dreams from my years of living in Oklahoma. Scary stuff! Sometimes, I’ll find myself dreaming that I started smoking cigarettes again. I quit over 20 years ago, and in the dream I’m so disappointed in myself for having started again. Super shame filled dream

  2. Jami – I read this with my jaw hanging! I’m so happy you had this experience. A part of your healing process. A part of your “making peace” and continuing to move forward. xoxoxo

  3. It’s kind of lovely when you can just pause all the past negativity with an ex, even if it’s for a blip of a moment, and connect again as human beings for that small moment in time. To have the knowledge of one another’s lives without the turmoil.
    I’m happy for you. 🙂

  4. Once again I relate with you my dear friend and know exactly where you are at. Sometimes people are not meant to share a life together, but there is still a comforting familiar trust and bond between that allows for such tender moments. It’s normal but I would say that few can realize it as such and enjoy the sincerity. Most are too busy to upkeep that tough facade and front without allowing their true feelings to surface.
    As far as forgiving others even if they are not sorry, I’m with you as well and it is no longer on you but on them. It is them who have to live with what they did to you. And while it is not your job to retaliate and punish, karma always has its own way. Oh have learned to let go of the negative energy that would only bring you harm and you have found your freedom, shedding your burden instead. Well done my sweet friend. Hugs

    1. Thank you, my friend! Sincerity is such a good word choice here. You’re right…even I was too busy, for a while, keeping up my walls. I’m glad I’ve softened. I still have plenty of work to do in other areas of my life, but I’m slowly getting there. Hugs to you?

      1. We all go through it Jami and we all had walls for various reasons. To fit in, out of fear of not being accepted, because society places unrealistic expectations onto us which often prevents us from being ourselves, or because we think we have to protect our hearts. In the end, the day comes and we choose how we continue to go forward. If we stay true to the world of pretending or if we find the courage for sincerity and being who we are. When we are no longer afraid to be ourselves, without fear of rejection, it is then that true freedom is achieved. Much love as always on your journey my beautiful butterfly. ??

  5. I’m so glad you allowed yourself to be vulnerable with him and that you were rewarded with a connection …. even if tenuous and brief. Your stories always touch me my friend!!!

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