You will never be remorseful enough for me

Happy 2013 Long Suffering Readers!

Right off the bat I should come clean and say: over the holidays I started dating someone I met on an online dating site. We’ve had about 5 dates since late December and things seem to be heading in nice direction. I’m certain my “year long” dry spell will soon be over (in fact probably would be if certain logistical problems were not in the way….)

But that is not what this post is about; that topic will require a unique post of it’s own. This is about Catherine and I.

Mary, my oldest daughter, has always been emotionally sensitive. She is prone to going through stress and that stress manifesting itself in unique ways. It is one of the reasons we started taking her to counseling 2 years ago. This divorce has obviously caused a tremendous amount of angst for both of my daughters and over the last couple of weeks Mary has been showing renewed signs of this stress.

So, Sunday night Catherine (my Ex) calls me. She’d just spent the weekend with the girls and was telling me about some of the things the girls were telling her. They’re feeling stressed out at he moving back and forth between our houses during the week. They’re feeling confusion and guilt. They feel like they don’t have enough toys to play with when they stay at my house. (All of which I agree with and obviously i’ve been trying to minimize.) It’s sad for me to hear but Catherine suggests that perhaps we go back to the “old schedule” for a few weeks where the girls see my during “my weeknights” but they’re not actually spending the night at my house. (This was our late summer schedule where I’d go to her place and hang out with the girls until their bedtime, but not take them home with me.)

The conversation eventually get’s to a point where she says, “If you’d like me to help you make their room more comfortable for them at your place, I’d be happy to to do that.”

“No thank you,” I tell her. “The time for you to ‘be helpful’ is long passed.”

She is trying to be cordial but I’m obviously upset at this news that a) Mary is having a hard time adjusting and is grieving and b) the result of this is going to be me seeing even less of my daughters. I tell her this is her fault.

“No!” she adamantly says, “This is NOT my fault! People get divorced! Kids go through this all the time.”

“You made a commitment to me:  You lied. You left. If you had stayed true, we would’ve made it work.”

This devolved even further into arguments we’d had many times during the summer, but haven’t had in a while. Points on a theme that i’ve put out here time and time again in the blog, and here they are yet again…

  • I’m wired that you don’t quit when things get hard. She’s not, and that’s why she left. I loathe her cowardice.
  • She argues that she was unhappy for many years and fell out of love. That justifies her leaving. I was unhappy as well, but  instead of leaving I tried to make it better. I disdain her for not doing the same.
  • She left because she was so unhappy she felt she wasn’t available for the girls. Now my life has been profoundly impacted, the girls’ lives have obviously been horribly impacted, and through her actions I see my children less than half the time I used to (as does she, to be honest.) Her selfishness disgusts me.

The other day (before this big argument when things were cordial) we were talking about the girl I have started dating. I asked her how she felt about it. “I feel happy for you,” she said.

“OK” I replied.

“How do you want me to feel?”

I thought about it a moment and then replied, “I’m not sure. Given your actions, you will never be remorseful enough for me.”

Ah, well, my friends. Just a small bump on an otherwise upward trend. I closed the conversation with Catherine re-iterating that I would do whatever I could to minimize the impact to the girls even if that meant I’d be seeing them a bit less over the next couple of weeks, because that’s what I’ve been doing since this whole fucked up thing began. That’s how I’m wired.


6 responses to “You will never be remorseful enough for me

  1. This is a tough one… As the mother of children from a broken home and a step-mom I know how very hard divorce is on a child. Could you imagine being shipped back and forth between parents and having no say whatsoever about it. This is just a suggestion, if your wife offered to come to your house and help make the girls room more comfortable I would let her. How is it going to hurt? It’s for your kids benefit, plus your kids would see that you and Mom are getting along and still a team where they are concerned. There is no shame in doing the right thing for your kids. You should throw any pride you have about the situation right out the window. My husband’s ex-wife has been in my home more times than I can count, she comes for birthday’s and to chat. When my stepson who lives with us broke his leg his Mom came over and would lay in bed with him and watch movies. It’s for the kids… You could ask your girls if they’d like Mom to fix up their room, if they say no then you need to figure out a way to make your kids as comfortable as possible in your home. Maybe if they brought a few things from Mom’s, like a favorite blanket or a pillow it would help.

    Congrats on the new lady! Sounds like you need to get over your wife before you get to serious with anyone else though. Best of luck…

    • Hey there Ms. Still Loving Him,
      Actually, the Ex and I (usually) have a really good relationship; she was over most of the holidays, spent the night here at Christmas, we do dinners, etc. I was mostly pissed off last night because I was upset about “Mary” going through what she was and it just re-opened all those old angers. Even thought we’re very cordial and almost pleasant around each other, doesn’t mean I don’t feel deep disappointment in her behavior when I get to thinking about it.

      As for The New Lady, I’m trying not to overthink that. I do feel over Ex, but she still pisses me off sometimes. I’m not sure if that will ever entirely go away. Regardless, I feel your caution.

      As always, thanks for reading!

  2. Wow. Reading through your blog sounds like my exact journey since late 2011. Very similar stories and context, affair, kids, all of it. Thank you for sharing this, it often feels like no one can understand the horribleness of this stuff, and I struggle with “first world problem” guilt a lot. I do my best to put on a positive face every day for kids, friends, family. I make light of what I can, but “devastation” is the only word that can describe how I really feel on the inside. I’ve been through some tough shit in my life, but everything pales in comparison to this experience. I’ve never been knocked out of focus like this, never had a point in my life where I didn’t know what the next year more or less would look like for me.

    Reading this helps me feel human again. Funny how common themes of suffering can do that. For a long time, she made me feel like all my flaws and shortcomings were the cause of our marriage failing and by implication, her justification for being with someone else. None of my successes were ever celebrated, none of my contributions really recognized by my spouse. Only recently have I been able to drag myself out of the shadowy pit of that line of thinking and recognize it for what it is… a form of emotional abuse, masking selfish motivation on her part.

    After extensive ongoing therapy, I’m starting to see she has severely unresolved issues towards relationships in general thanks to her own father, and I’m just the most successful in a long line of stand-ins for him. She refused to give counseling or any reconciliation a chance, because she had already found her next crutch/victim and decided long before she even mentioned separation to me. My prediction is once the dust has settled from this, and I can no longer be an explanation for the source of her unhappiness, she’ll move on to her next target: either her boyfriend or a business partner. She will look again externally for the reason, instead of dealing with her internal shitstorm of repression.

    I’ve been wanting to write about it like you have, but I can’t risk detailing anything publicly yet for fear of reprisal, as we are still going through the divorce and it is getting pretty ugly. Not that I should be surprised, given her extramarital relationship… but it’s just her level of dishonesty is frightening. I’m talking outright lying on the record, like straight up saying “No” when asked to her face by a court representative if there was another relationship. She has been openly dating this dbag (who was also married) for over a year! we don’t even have temporary orders in place, and she brings my kids around him all the time. Don’t get me started on finance or parenting issues.

    I feel like I’m emotionally in a similar place to where this particular post sits. I’m through the worst of the personal pain, as far as she and I go. If it weren’t for the kids, I’d be doing great and moving on with my life. I can be diplomatic and peaceful with her, especially around the kids. Luckily, working with people I can’t stand was a skill I developed in my own career.

    However, because of the kids’ sake, I’m resigned to having to spend the rest of my life connected with this nightmarish specter of my once true love. There will never be closure like there is in childless divorce. Mutual friends will never understand just how frightening and awful this ghost woman appears to me. She derailed everything, for all of us. Instead of trying to work hard through the tough times… she just quit.

    The sentiment “you will never be remorseful enough for me” rings so true. Your three bullet points are EXACTLY what goes through my head every time I have to interact with her.

    BTW, I think you are spot on not accepting her help in your space to setup your kids’ rooms. Every therapist and professional I talk to and most of the research I read says you should do everything you can to make it clear to your kids that you will not be getting back together so they can move down their own emotional healing path. If an ex spends time in the other parents’ residence that wouldn’t be normal for a casual friend (e.g. bedtimes, decorating a room, even shared meals), it is confusing and allows the kids to stagnate in false fantasies that you may still work it out, because developmentally they cannot decode these things the same way adults do.

    So yeah… thanks for having the guts to post this blog. I created an account here just to reply to this and say thanks, it really is helpful for me as a dad going through some real stress in my own process. I hope you keep it up. 🙂

    • Hey there, thanks for the note. Your comment actually prompted me that I hadn’t written in a while so thanks for the quick in the ass I needed to do a quick update. 🙂

      So, first of all allow me to offer my sympathy and condolences for your own situation. I would never wish what I experienced on anyone and it sounds like you have it much worse than I do (sure, the lying and cheating are the same, but at least my “Catherine” has been rational when it comes to the actual financial/time-sharing part of our divorce.

      It sounds like you’re in a healthier space now and you’ve done some healing so that’s good. You’re absolutely right, though, we are tied to these people due to our kids. I don’t know how many times I’ve had a conversation with someone that went something like this:

      “So, I was doing XYZ with Catherine and the girls…”
      “What? Why would you do that? Why would you do anything nice for her?”
      “Because of my kids.”

      I’ve eaten a lot of shit and put on a lot of fake grins so that I could see my children more than if I tried to just be an asshole about it. And to be clear: I spent a lot of 2012 trying to make Catherine feel like a bad person–but I’m passed that now. I just want to see my kids. It sounds like you get that, you know what’s really important now, and for that I applaud you. And you’ve also learned another big lesson that, while still painful, offers some comfort to the alternative: it wasn’t you. It was never about you.

      Thanks for reading and I’m glad you were able to find some comfort in my experience. I’m glad it was able to help, even if it was in just some small way.

  3. Pingback: Adultery Discovery: 1 Year Later | Divorced D20 Dad

  4. The above comment is exactly how I felt reading through this blog.

    The same thing happened to me at the end of 2010: the woman I’d been with for 16-years and with whom I had four children announced she “no longer wanted to be a mother” and “was unhappy and hadn’t loved me for years” and simply up-and-left.

    I shortly thereafter pieced together (and finally confirmed) the affair she’d been having for the past six months…which was so very obvious in retrospect: the endless hours on the laptop, which was suddenly password-locked, hiding and locking her phone, a sudden lack of any intimacy or physical contact, numerous out-of-character trips out-of-town, and a sudden interest in whether or not I’d like to be in “an open marriage.”

    I learned from her friends later she insisted her cheating and leaving was all my fault, and that I had been painted out to them as a completely different person than they discovered I was.

    I lucked out in that she never once showed up to any court date for custody, or anything else, and was surprisingly stripped of her parental rights by the judge after the third failure to appear, so I didn’t have the stress of a prolonged legal battle. Which didn’t make much difference as she more-or-less abandoned the kids, which has been painful and confusing for them, and still is.

    The whole experience almost killed me. Literally. I was in a deep depression for months, so badly I regularly contemplated suicide. And it took a year before I started feeling like myself again.

    So I have no patience for anyone who cheats, ever. They are indeed weak and selfish cowards, and there can never be enough remorse from them, given the pain and destruction they leave in their wake.

    Coming across this is…well, not nice, but helpful. To know others have been through similar.

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