I was showing my 11th grade students samples of a project in class today. One of the samples was one that I made years ago, which included photographs of my ex-husband. I have not assigned this project in years and I had forgotten that the sample included pictures from my “former life”. My one female student, who is lovely and very inquisitive, asked me innocently if seeing the photo from my wedding “bothered me”. I always try to be appropriately honest with my teenage students, so I answered her truthfully that seeing the photo did not really affect me anymore…that at one time it would have made me sad, but now that years have passed since my divorce, it feels like a lifetime ago.
It made me realize how far I have come since that time. I got divorced in 2010 and during the process I was a complete mess. That is no exaggeration. I cried every single day…for like a year. It did not help that I also lost both of my grandparents, my two favorite people, at the same time. I thought I hid it reasonably well at school during that time, but when I run into students I had that year, they always tell me how worried they were about me (I remember getting quite a few really thoughtful cards that year from kids). I remember people telling me then that I would get through it and that someday I wouldn’t care anymore or even get upset. I thought that was literally impossible. I really felt like I would NEVER get over my divorce. But those people were right and now it is such an afterthought in my life. I never think about it- or my ex-husband- at all, unless it is in a very specific context. It is funny how your life can be SO affected by something or someone and then one day you realize that it has been hours…days…weeks…months since you cried or even thought about it or them.
I kind of feel the same way about my father. He is still a big part of my life and he had such a negative impact on my childhood and teenage years, yet I really try not to think about the things that happened that much or what is going on now. I think over the years, I found a way to compartmentalize everything that happened with my family. I mean, at some point, I just had to find a way to not obsess about it or it would have literally drove me crazy. I haven’t seen my father since Christmas- for over six months. Part of me finds that really weird and part of me doesn’t care. I am so disappointed in him for starting to drink again that I had to find a way to separate myself from him. Whenever I start to think about it, I try to just *snapping my fingers* STOP. I do go to therapy, so it is not like I am naively ignoring my problems; I just simply know that I cannot let it affect my everyday life, which is often easier said than done. I know in AA, one of the mantras is to “let go and let God”. I am not religious, but I think that is sort of my mentality when it comes to my dad right now. I tried for so long to control him, my family, my life, everything…and ironically, the more I tried to control, the more out of control I felt. There’s just no point in worrying about things I cannot do anything about. If worrying and caring and crying could have saved my marriage, I wouldn’t be divorced. If worrying and caring and crying could make my dad stop drinking, he would be sober. I have wasted a lot of tears on people who didn’t deserve them.