Choosing happy

In my blog reading wanderings I come across so many who seem so unhappy for a variety of reasons. Lives are difficult, people have problems, times can be very tough. I know I do my fair share of complaining whining venting about life’s ups and downs. I try hard not to dwell in the negative spaces and have more joy that sorrow or anger.

I am not always successful.

Looking back over the first part of 2014 I can see where I was frustrated, depressed, and just in a frame of mind that says screams unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Job stress. Health stress. Extended family drama. Life. I realize that I got through it, just like I expected I would, eventually. In the moments it seemed like my distress would consume me and have me trapped in its little tiny box. Forever.

Here and in life I speak of M frequently. He is my partner and such an embedded part of my landscape that it’s difficult to imagine days when he is not around, much as I enjoy the hours when he is away doing his own thing and I have the house all to myself. Our time now as empty nesters is beginning to truly take off, and much as I love and adore my young adult children, this time in our life is special and wonderful. We are still young enough to get out and pursue physical hobbies. Our income is adequate to enjoy modest vacations and getaways and special events. Best of all: we enjoy these things together. Yes, there is a lot I do because it makes M happy, but it’s balanced, he does the same for me. Plus we each have our own individual pursuits that provide plenty of wide open space to do our own thing.

I am starting to believe it is not so much that M and I are blissfully together that makes me happy and content with life so much as I choose to be happy. Our marriage has had some rough spots that we had to work at and to make it work. We still have issues lurking beneath the surfaces with the kids and close friends. These are not things that divide us, though, although they could if we allowed it to happen. We can agree to disagree, and despite that we can make the conscious choice to pick each other first over the others we love and who are closest to us. My kids know this, and honestly, I believe once they choose a permanent partner that person should always be their first priority. When they were growing up, I had to put M first, knowing the kids were just a hair’s breadth behind him in my priority list, and only because their well being was as important to him as it was to me. There were just occasions when we disagreed what was best for their well being. I never wanted to be in a position of having to choose my kids over M, and he is wise enough, generous enough to not put me into that position. It’s only now, that they are grown up and launched into independent lives of their own do I realize just how fortunate we are to have avoided that conflict.

Such thoughts are flooding my mind tonight because of the kids’ stepmother, my former husband’s wife. In my observation and the kids’ recollection her approach toward parenting was very different than mine. In her mind, in her writings, she speaks of the kids as if they were abandoned and she is the only mother-like influence in their lives. It upsets me, but only because it is hurtful and infuriating to my kids to read or be told about what she puts out there as gospel. To correct her is to invite conflict and confrontation that would become heated, ugly, and pointless, a verbal or written slug-fest where nothing positive is accomplished, no higher moral ground is gained. But frankly it angers me, and I hate that such a silly and ignorant woman who means nothing to me can affect me in this manner.

I get that she chooses to be angry and bitter, that what she tried to steal was rebuffed and rejected. The big thing is … my two beautiful, funny, bright kids have enormous capacity for love and affection, plenty to go around with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Family ties are strong and deeply meaningful to each of us. That said, you do not dismiss, minimize, or ever try to vilify the other set of parents or any other family member, especially when the kids are seeing them all the time and the other parties have enormous influence, probably more so than the weaker link in the family chain. I see it playing out now in her public blog, which unfortunately I see and hear about routinely.

She now finds herself alone in her grief and sorrow, her anger resulting in many malicious, exaggerated, and untrue statements about my kids, their dad, his family. As generous and as charitable as we try to be to friends and strangers alike, our past dealings as well as her present behaviors make us/me unwilling to even contemplate extending a very long olive branch. My kids, active and responsive family members, want nothing to do with her after her treachery and venom.

It is sad. But …

All I know is, the choices we make dictate the life we lead. “To thine own self be true.” (Bill Rago, Renaissance Man)

She chose … poorly. (Grail Knight, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)

This is about as close as I get to being judgmental, even with someone I do not like or respect. I just wish for an iron dome to shield us from her.

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