My ex and I went to an appointment yesterday for one of the kids.
It was a looong drive in bad traffic. We passed the time by catching up on the latest news about family and friends, renovation plans for his apartment, that sort of thing.
We arrived a little early, so he grabbed a coffee for me and an English breakfast tea for himself while we waited. Cue more chitter chat.
The two women we were meeting found us quite novel. They often do the appointments separately with parents who’ve broken up, as they’ll refuse to be in the same building, let alone the same room, together.
The women even commented on us finishing each other’s sentences. I think it’s more that we both talk so much that we don’t let anyone one finish before chipping in.
I also explained that having spent 23 years as a couple meant we kinda “grew up” together as adults, so there’s a lot of common ground.
Their reaction to our relationship made me feel a bit weird, like it wasn’t normal to be nice to your ex.
That said, I much prefer being this way. I’d hate to be fighting.
I met a woman over the weekend whose husband left her for another woman seven years ago. She was initially devastated, but ended up feeling awful for her ex. His new girlfriend turned out to be a nasty piece of work and left him in a very fragile emotional state. Rather than thinking “ha! Sucked in!” the woman called his family and asked them to keep an eye on him – she knew he was going to need it … plus their kids needed him to make it through.
The woman recently married her new partner, who she met about seven months after her husband left. She never thought she’d marry again, but he was keen, so they had a lovely ceremony on the beach, surrounded by all their children.
Hearing her story reminded me that a lot of good comes from letting the bitterness and anger go.
It’s so much better for everyone, particularly the kids. But also, just as importantly, it’s better for ourselves.
She and I were open to finding happiness again, rather than shutting ourselves in a box with bad juju.
I’m making it sound all unicorns and rainbows, so I’m going to admit something. I had a panic attack during the convivial appointment with my ex yesterday – something was mentioned that triggered me.
It was a reminder that I’m not completely healed. There are still relationship milestones to be faced and overcome.
I was never one for panic attacks in the past, but I’ve had two this year. Neither have been major, but they’ve still been a bit off-putting.
On both occasions, I felt heat rise in me and an overwhelming desire to flee.
The first time it happened I did flee. But I talked myself into staying put yesterday, because it’s a little dramatic to run from a room.
I tried to stop myself crying, but the tears refused to comply and burst out of me, startling us all.
I couldn’t explain why I was crying. It was too complicated when the appointment wasn’t about me.
I shook for ages afterwards and it was hours before the tension in my chest subsided.
Our trip home was much quieter and more circumspect. I bought my ex another soothing cup of tea on our way out, plus a coffee for me.
When he dropped me home, we had a chat in my driveway about this and that, but I think he was too nervous to ask about the tears.
And I was too nervous to tell him. I’ll get there eventually, because one of the main things we got right about our break-up is keeping the lines of communication open when it comes to co-parenting.
We’re determined to focus on our kids’ well-being during the complicated teenage years ahead.
After that, there won’t be much need to stay in touch. But right now it’s vital.
<strong>Song of the day:</strong> Cher “Do you believe in life after love?” (She is touring, after all …)