My ex-husband and his new wife picked up the kids recently to take them on a two-week road trip.
My sons were beaming with excitement as they loaded suitcases and backpacks into the car. "Did I pack my CD player?" my younger son yelled out to me. "Yes, you did honey" I said, trying hard to hide the sadness that was coming over me in waves.
The balloon of tears behind my eyes was growing and stretching thinner by the minute. I prayed it wouldn't explode until they could no longer see me waving goodbye in the rear view mirror.
If I hated road trips, this might be easier. But, I love road trips. Memories of road trips with my children, before the divorce flashed in front of me. I remembered the songs we'd sing in the car; I remembered the euphoria I felt hitting the road with my ex for the first time, way before the kids were even a twinkle in my eye.
"We're set," my ex shouted. Still lingering in memories, I headed toward the passenger door as if I was going on the trip. But, there was a woman in my seat. The same eerie feeling I used to get when I watched the Twilight Zone rose up through my toes and landed in the pit of stomach.
It was as though I had gone to sleep and woken up in a different life. How did this woman replace me? She'd become wife to my husband and mother to my children.
Breathing deeply, the feeling of strangeness was quickly replaced by another wave of sadness that settled in my heart and pressed firmly against my chest. Even though it was painful, I was grateful for the sadness. After all, until just recently, I was filled with anger toward this woman.
Sadness is difficult, but anger is far worse. Sadness hurts, but it also heals, leaving in its wake a tender and open heart. Anger, on the other hand, feeds on itself, burning and destroying as it goes. Once it has you in its grip, anger doesn't want to let you go.
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I held onto the anger at the woman in my seat for longer than I'd like to admit. If my ex had left me for her, my feelings would have seemed justified. But, he didn't. Still, I clung to anger like a drowning man hangs onto a log bobbing in the ocean.
Thinking back on the scene several years later, she was enthusiastic, eager, bubbly and fresh. I was threatened. Deep down, I was terrified that my children would trade in their old and boring mom for "supermom 2000" — a new and improved mom. She brought out my deepest, darkest insecurities; I became hardened and resentful.