I thought about this from the very beginning
of the separation and divorce in 1997.
It would be healthy for JJ and JWF if their parents
are cordial and civil; dare I hope for us to be on the same page?
I remember therapy sessions with SL about this subject. I remember her saying “better to have an ass of a Dad than no Dad at all.” She encouraged me to “push them to their Dad.” Ugh! But I did it. I can’t say that I pulled it off 100% of the time but I gave it my best shot.
The hard years,1997 and 1998
They were so angry at their Dad for the affair. They handled it differently, which was par for the course. Here’s what I didn’t know for many years. JMF wanted my/our sons to meet Doo Dah, over and over again. And over and over again they both drew their boundaries of not meeting her until the divorce was final. Pretty cool. Right? They were so young and so wise at the same time.
JWF’s college graduation May 2002
So back to therapy with SL in early 2002! JWF is going to be graduating from James Madison University. JMF and Doo Dah were married in October 1998. I met Doo Dah right after JMF called and left a message that they were getting married. Just Doo Dah and I met in July 1998. That’s another blogfor another day. I had that meeting because I knew that JWF would be graduating one day and I wanted my meeting Doo Dah to be behind me. I wanted his college graduation to be as normal as possible.
So graduation day arrived. We are in Harrisonburg, Virginia; home of James Madison University. My Mom, sister and brother-law are there. JJ is glued to my side protecting me. JMF and Doo Dah are there. It’s going to be my first time to see them together.
There is the main graduation and then parents are escorted to the disciplinary schools on another part of the campus. I can close my eyes now and remember this moment forever. SL had coached me to trust myself when I first see them together. So I walked over to the next graduation, a more intimate graduation site; through a tunnel under Interstate 81. All of a sudden here’s JJ running to me and whispers in my ear, “ Mom, tits up! They are straight ahead.” Boy did I need that! And indeed, I stood up straight with my tits up and hugged Doo Dah! It was an out of body experience for sure but I was so proud of myself. I was hoping to format our future; that we could all be on the same page for my sons that I grew and birthed.
So fast forward to the current situation. Remember the cutoff with JJ? That graduation day seems like light years ago and it seems as though I worked so hard for nothing because I had it wrong for so many, many years. I kept forgetting that it takes two to tango and JMF doesn’t think like me. We’ve never been on the same page; ever! My vision, my hope that we would be on the same page in regards to our sons is just plain disappointing for me. I had it wrong.
And this is me finally facing the truth. I’ve made him up to be someone that he isn’t.
Brené Brown writes in her book Dare To Lead:
“The research participants who demonstrated the most willingness
to rumble with vulnerability and practice courage
tethered their behavior to one of two values, not ten.”
She gives an entire list of values on page 188. My two values are integrity and courage. These adjectives ring true for me and my journey in life.
I believe that the Mom and Dad are the leaders in the family; even when divorced. I begin to think about JMF and our oldest son. I wonder if JMF is fearful if he takes a stand with JJ on my behalf that our oldest will cut him out of his life like he has done with me. What would that sound like if he spoke with our son? It may sound like this, “I think that cutting your Mom out of your life is hurtful, possibly toxic for you. I encourage you to reach out to her. I realize that I can’t make you reach out to her but I think it would be good for everyone.” I did this back in 1997. I told my sons, “This is between me and my husband. He’s your Dad and everyone needs a Dad. So stay connected to him.” It was that simple. Of course they wanted to bad mouth him but I would 95% of the time encourage them to stay connected with their Dad. I am glad that I pushed them to him. I just expected something different from JMF.
Taking a stand for what is good and right is so important to me.
The Sweet Spot
So where is the sweet spot for me in this mess? Owning my feelings and saying them out loud is important; stating my truth as I see it even when it sounds harsh and judgmental. That’s my sweet spot. My intention is not to be judgmental. This cut off is hurtful and unnecessary. I do believe that sometimes cutoffs are necessary in some families. I just encourage you to think long and hard about the consequences if you choose a cutoff.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Families are interesting for sure! Navigating situations like this can be tricky. What are your two values? Where’s your sweet spot when you find yourself in the midst of a family mess? I found this quote from M. Scott Peck way back in 1997 which helped me because belief me, I lived with a lot of fear.
“Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the making of action
in spite of fear, the moving out against the resistance
engendered by fear into the unknown and into the future.”
So I would love to hear your thoughts when there is a cutoff in your family!
Well this is a funny for sure. Click on over to find my thoughts about JWF’s graduation from my Ripple Blog. I’ve come a long way! And thanks Robyn over at The Robyn’s Bird Nest. You may want to follow her on her brilliant blog.