10 Things I Feel Every Time I Drop Off My Kids With My Ex-Husband
Once my divorce was finalized, I honestly wished that I would never have to see my ex-husband again. We have kids together, though, so I not only have to see him, I have to see him on a semi-regular basis. Sill, that necessity doesn't save me from feeling so many different, complicated, and complex emotions every time I see my ex-husband and drop off my kids.
The first time I saw him was terrible. It was awkward and scary, and when it was all over I had a panic attack. Fortunately, and years later, seeing him has gotten easier. It's still hard sometimes, but in different ways and for different reasons now that it's been a while since our marriage ended. Now, seeing him generally makes me a little sad or angry, especially when he disappoints the kids, doesn't pay child support, or tries to egg me on and push my buttons. In other words, co-parenting really sucks sometimes. Seriously.
I always try to remember that I don't have to interact with my ex-husband beyond what's necessary for us to co-parent our kids. Even then, I don't have to show him how seeing him makes me feel, and now that we are no longer married, I definitely don't have to care how he feels about me. When I remember those aforementioned things, seeing him isn't so bad. In fact, sometimes I'm surprised I feel OK and am able to see him without letting it ruin my day, which honestly, makes me feel like a total badass.
Because my ex-husband was abusive, seeing him again was so damn hard. I had to keep breathing while simultaneously trying to maintain eye contact. I repeated the mantra "you can do this" in my head over and over again. Fortunately, while it will probably never be "easy," it has gotten easier.
Sometimes, seeing my ex makes me rage. I am angry at him for cheating on me, hurting me, and ruining our marriage. Most of all, though, I am angry with him for being a crappy dad, who thinks he can buy toys or Happy Meals to earn our kids' love and trust while simultaneously paying child support and frequently cancelling visits. Our kids deserve so much better than that.
I constantly worry about how my ex-husband might treat our kids when I can't be there anymore to tag him out or resolve tense situations or tantrums. Seeing him, especially when my kids go to his place for a visit, really makes me worry.
Sometimes seeing him makes me feel panicky, even when he doesn't do or say anything harmful in the moment. For the longest time, I totally freaked out whenever I saw a car like the one he drives, and would quickly change my route just in case. I stopped shopping at stores he frequented and went out of my way to avoid seeing him.
Sometimes seeing him makes me feel nothing at all. I'm just numb and nonreactive and, honestly, I'm not convinced that's the worst thing.
Other times, seeing him can cause me to feel such mixed emotions. On one hand, we were married for over a decade and have two beautiful children, on the other, he is a horrible human and still frequently uses our kids to continue to try to abuse, control, or manipulate me. Nothing about co-parenting is simple.
As happy as I am now with my awesome life, married to a partner I adore, seeing my ex still makes me feel sad for the loss of our marriage and life we could have had.
I am not proud of feeling petty when I see my ex, but I get a huge amount of satisfaction when I see that he's gained weight or see the new woman he's with. The end of our marriage was definitely his loss.
Honestly, I am really bitter about the way my ex treated me and our kids and how he still continues to behave, sometimes. It's so hard having to co-parent with someone who's a narcissist. Grrr.
Most of the time, I am completely OK seeing my ex. I rarely feel afraid or have panic attacks anymore. It is so hard to see my kids go for a visit, but I am no longer faking a sense of calm for my kids' sake. It's so freeing to be able to move on and to no longer have my ex ruin my day. While I will probably have to see him frequently, at least until our kids are grown, he now has no power over me, and that is something that makes me feel really happy.