Here is some backstory to this post: I was married once, and my ex has a son, to whom I was basically the father for most of the union. The role of his biological father was “downsized”, shall we say. Our marriage lasted five years before we separated, plus the year and a half I was “in the picture” prior to the wedding. I still see my now-former stepson sometimes.
I was going to a store to get a gift for him, his birthday being tomorrow, and I saw my former in-laws getting something from a bakery further down the strip mall. They were very likely getting his cake (on a side note, I was once quoted in a college paper in which I said I don’t know why Jersey is called the Garden State when our chief crop appeared to be mini-malls). I was tempted to say hi to them, even though there was a chance I’d see them tomorrow anyway, but I didn’t catch up to them between the time they got into their car and I got out of mine.
I don’t really have a negative thought pattern regarding them, although, having been my in-laws, things weren’t always so peachy. The reasons I’m no longer married are not their fault, and my relationship with them at the end was actually very good. I think they understand what I went through and what I had put up with in the marriage. I know that paints my ex a very dark hue by saying that, but when and if that story unfolds here it will make sense. Not that I can’t say bad things about her, but I’m not doing that here and now. The point is that I haven’t any animosity toward her parents, and I think that this is mutual.
I’m writing about it because it was just a weird thing of, “Do I say hi, do I not say hi?” I had chosen to do so by the time I exited the vehicle, but it was too late. It just got me thinking about the nature of interpersonal relationships and the awkwardness that can arise in the aftermath of certain things.
I will be taking my now-former stepson out tomorrow to see a movie and give him his gifts. He will be 13, which just seems crazy. I met him when he was a year old or less, I was dating his mother when he was a year and a half, and I was officially his stepfather when he was 3. It’s been almost 5 years since the separation, and 4 since the divorce was official (although we were back together for a few months after the initial separation. I have watched him grow up, even though I haven’t been an active participant in that for a long time. I think that, to him, I’m still the father figure perhaps.
It’s not been an easy thing to stay in touch. It hurts a lot, frankly, the reminder of what went wrong, and I absolutely hate seeing HER, which of course I have to hide from HIM. But I can’t just let him go, even though he’s not my responsibility anymore. I can’t just leave him when I think he still needs my presence in his life. It’s not all a chore; I DO love him, but it’s just hard when I’m still not over everything that happened, even after all this time. Part of me does need to continually “ease” out of the role over time, for my own health.
Seeing his grandparents was yet another reminder of family had and family lost, with the internal question asked of “Where does this leave us?”
Stay close to him, because he still sees you as a father figure, and more important as a friend. I’m a child of divorced parents and was divorced so I’m speaking from both ends.
I know he still needs me. I can’t turn my back on him, although one could argue that I partially have by keeping a distance and not seeing him extremely often (once every month or two). I also (unfortunately) have to think of myself as well as the fact that the more I’m around him, the more chances I’ll be around HER. It’s difficult to hide my negativity towards her. He already has a lot of anger and aggression towards her himself (long story), and I can’t allow myself to give him another log for the fire.
Another fear is that he will blame himself if I go altogether. It’s a hard situation. I know I need my space and distance, and I know he needs my involvement. I know most people would have ran if it’s not their child, and my impulses tell me do so since he isn’t mine. My moral impulses won’t let me.