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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Being an "EX"

There are pieces of divorce that affect you every day. 
The obvious; your children live with one parent and visit the other, you have to check the “divorce” box on surveys, you have to learn a new normal, you adjust to doing things without a partner, you get random comments regarding your personal life like, “why did you get divorced?  He’s so nice.”  I always want to say, “because I’m not” but I just give them my best bored smile.  Preconceived notions of what it is to be divorced are now my reality.  The divorce label attached to me and my children like a scarlet letter some days.  It’s frustrating, it’s infuriating, it’s reality but honestly, I don’t allow it to enter our world most of the time.

Sadly, what brings me to today’s post is about what happens when death enters the foggy area of “ex”. 
When my Dad died suddenly, my ex-husband was not allowed the time off that you get for a parent.  His company didn’t give him ANY bereavement since my Dad wasn’t a “relative” any longer since divorce papers were signed.  He was upset, he was shaken, he needed time to grieve and I was horrified at the way he was treated.

Flash forward 4 years.  My father-in-law, Norm, suffered a massive stroke last Saturday.  He passed on Tuesday.  It is a very sad time, especially for my children.  I was lucky I guess because I am allowed time off for a “friend”.

BUT it was the comments that both of us received during that horrible time that will stick in my head forever.  “Well, it’s ‘just’ your ex”,  “he was your EX Father-in-law right”?  As if the fact that they were an “ex”, didn’t warrant us the right to grieve.   I’m sorry but WTH?!  Those men that have been part of our lives for 20 years, men we both loved like a father, whom we have stayed in touch with, that we could call when we needed something or just to talk, that we still saw and enjoyed their company is an “ex” and somehow that means nothing? 

Or let’s play devil’s advocate here and assume our divorce was ugly, that we hate each other and everyone that came with us.  They are STILL the grandparents of our children.  Our GRIEVING children.

I realize that these people are in the minority but it is things like this that make me really ANGRY.  ANGRY because Craig and I have done an awesome job being co-parents, a fantastic job of keeping the sense of family and a wonderful job of supporting one another when life throws us something hard and yet the attachment of EX negates all of that on occasion.
What I guess I would like to say to those that don’t understand what being an “ex” entails is…either open your mind or close your mouth.

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