Finding The Gift

St Valentine's day greeting card with candle and hearts
St Valentine’s day greeting card with candle and hearts

There are times in my life where I let out a big sigh and I have to remind myself why I am a partner, lover, best friend, mother, teacher, nurturer, caregiver and entertainer.  And that would be because I enjoy it, “RIGHT”.

Well for the past 2 weeks not so much.  I feel like I have been pulled from pillar to post and somewhere in-between and I can tell you there is nothing sexy about it.  It is hard enough when you have your own kids, let alone a blended family, which for those that don’t know that is us.

I have one child and Branden has two and as far as blended families go, we have it pretty good.  He is a great Step Dad to my daughter and I to his kids. The kids get along fantastically, there are no dramas, no fighting, no jealousy, no real dramas at all except with us the parents.  Yep I said it, I will admit it, when it comes to parenting we see things a little differently and deal with situations differently, thus creating a little angst between us.

We do our best to not let it get in the way of us and move through it as best as possible. But I have realised that it is not just him that pushes my buttons in this situation it is his ex the mother of his kids.  Well over the last 2 weeks my buttons have been pushed on every level when it comes to this situation. Let me explain a little about me first.  For those that know me, know that one thing I am passionate about is doing the right thing and no matter how much you are hurting or have been hurt by your ex partner, when there are kids you need to get over it and realise it is not about you or how you feel, it is about doing what is right for the children.  This doesn’t negate how you may be feeling, but you have to become selfless in the situation not selfish.

So here is my rave, in a blended family situation you are affected by the decisions that your partner and his or her ex makes when it comes to the kids.  Whether we like it or not, you as the current partner are not really considered in the decision making process.   You have to accept the holiday arrangements, the birthday arrangements, the mothers day and fathers day arrangement, the parenting arrangements, the Easter and Christmas arrangements, hey you will even have to look after the kids, because that is what you do for your partner.

So where have you set your boundary…. Please remember this is not an expectation, it is a boundary of what is okay for you as the partner in the situation.

For me all I have asked for is mindfulness – Well that is what I thought I was asking for, but I realised it doesn’t matter whether my Partner is mindful or not, he is still affected by her decisions and her lack of kindness and consideration for anyone outside of her that are in her kids life.

So it is up to him to set clear and present boundaries with her and not in a forceful or righteous way, just with clear intent.  He is learning this after 5 years.  In the beginning he felt the pain associated with the separation from his kids and would not set boundaries or do anything to upset the his ex for fear of her not allowing him to see his children.  But what he didn’t realise in the process of being accommodating, he allowed her to control every aspect of the kids and gave her the power over him, where he became unimportant and worthless as their father.  This has destroyed him as a man and even though he is working on changing that dynamics it is a long road of challenge ahead, because it is harder to change a patterned behaviour of someone outside of yourself.

Whilst I know, they have co created this scenario together unconsciously, it is devastating for me as his partner to witness the pain not only for him but for his kids.

And whilst this is not uncommon for me, it had pushed me that much, I realised I have a long held passion for every parent and child that goes through this process.  I’m not sure if you saw my Facebook post last week, but if you didn’t let me recap for you.

“My heart is aching today out of frustration and anger because I feel helpless. I am a passionate soul, and one thing I am passionate about is CONSCIOUSLY SEPARATING couples who cannot reconnect and see no other option but to divorce, particularly when there are children involved.

Let me make one thing clear. I have been there, both as a child and as a parent plus I am an advocate for what is fair and just. I understand that every situation has differences so let me help you understand – there is no reason at all to withhold a child/children from the other parent, unless the situation is deemed unsafe for the child/children. 

I expect that I will push a button with this, but I am prepared to do so for all those who suffer, for every man and woman and child who feel lost and disconnected and feels their only way out is to end their lives and those of their kids. This is why I am writing this, because right now I am living it through those I love and bare witness to their pain and their children’s, this gives me a heavy heart.

Unless your child/children are in physical danger, exposed to alcohol, drug & sex abuse, emotional or verbal abuse, then there is no reason to withhold them from seeing both parents equally.

Children need both parents to grow & evolve because you both offer different variables to parenting and love that the other parent cannot solely fulfill.

So to all the parents out there that withhold their children from seeing the other parent equally, who manipulate the children, who teach the children to disrespect the other parent, who devalue the other parent in front of the children, teach the children to lie to the other parent, complain about not having enough money, but will go out and spend a fortune on the kids I feel for you.

You are no better than those who emotionally and verbally abuse others and you are teaching your children that it is okay to disrespect, lie and manipulate others to get what they want in life.

It is time to pull our head out of our arse’s and take responsibility for our actions. The family law system is in crisis because parents like this create the suffering and pain and unnecessary drama for all.

You have a conscious responsibility when you have a child. 

Would you feel responsible if you lost your child/children to the other parent through suicide?

Would you take responsibility for your co-creation should this happen?

Would you like it to happen to you?

No one deserves that. 

We have become so full of self importance that we believe the other parent is worthless. It’s time to wake up and take a long hard look at ourselves and how we are acting as a parents. 

Step up and show your children how to love through the action of love.

I know separation is hard, but it doesn’t have to be and it certainly doesn’t have to be a personal vendetta against the other parent because they hurt you.  It is important to find joy in separation and move beyond it and understand the damage you do not only to the other parent but the children.

One of the most challenging aspects of life, is one of separation. Separation in the family and intimate relationships can be a devastating and debilitating experience for all concerned, but it does not have to be, it all comes down to choice.  How you choose to react is very important, most people going through a separation not only just feel the loss of a loved one through grief, but they can face abandonment, guilt and rejection which all fuel anger that determines our response to the one we are separated from.

Let’s look at a relationship breakdown.  Most breakdowns occur because one partner feels that their needs are not been met, so they seek this out in other areas of their life, affairs, gambling, drinking etc and the separation in the relationship begins to unfold.  The interesting part of this is, the emotions each partner has being feeling started before all of this began manifesting into reality, but they never communicated this, so resentment, guilt, anger and blame start to fuel, opening the door for separation even wider, until it is too late and the relationship has ended.  In other areas of relationship breakdowns, you come face to face with your partner just not being in-love with you, and their desire to connect with another person begins to create separation, again fueling emotions that play a large part in our reactions to the situation.

What makes these experiences more devastating is when children are involved in a relationship breakdown and then the parents/partners feel that as they have lost control of the relationship, they can manipulate response through the children.  As much as we would like the father or the mother of the child to be someone different when going through a separation, it is not going to change and regardless of what your partner may or may not have done to you, you have to accept who they are and who they represent to the child.   In some cases this is not possible but for most relationship breakdowns, when we stop trying to control how another should feel, think or act, then we naturally respond to the separation instead of reacting to it.

When you stop trying to make your partner suffer, then you will stop the suffering within yourself.

Try this little exercise;  next time you have to communicate with your partner, just for a moment think about  your approach, and then place yourself in your partner’s shoes and say, if he or she approached me in the same way I am about to approach this situation, how would I respond.  Then if you feel that you are going to become defensive to the communication, you need to change the delivery.  We complain that our partner does not listen, or understand how we feel, but you must first listen to yourself and understand what you are truly feeling before your partner can.  When you stop being a victim to your own emotions, then you’ll stop trying to take advantage of how your partner should and shouldn’t feel.

Communicating how you feel is a key to coming face to face with the places that scare you in any relationship breakdown, and if you feel that this is not something you can effectively do on your own, then seek professional assistance to help mediate the relationship back to a harmonious balance.

One of the most important aspects of healing in any separation is to look at the lessons you need to learn, and the part you played in creating it in the first place.

Until next time!