It has been two and a half years since my ex-husband killed himself. I am not callous or un-caring, but if I am honest, it was probably the best thing that could have happened in regard to my healing and my ability to move forward with my life. My ex was not involved in our lives at all, but I knew he was out there and I thought about him from time to time - what he was doing, if he thought about us, if he was sorry for what he had done, etc. I was fairly sure that he would never cross paths with us again, but I knew it could happen. As time went on it got easier not to think about him, but he was still out there...and I felt it. While his death was traumatic and monumentally sad, it also brought a sense of freedom. He was gone and could never hurt me or my son again.
His parents, my ex-laws, are another story. We had not had any contact since I filed for divorce. This was their choice, not mine, but it was a blessing in disguise. They were a tie to my ex and it was easier to move forward without them in my life. However, after the suicide, I held out some notion of being able to reconnect and have them be a part of my son's life. I am not sure why I thought that things could be different...perhaps it is just the passage of time that makes you minimize the bad and idealize the good.
They reached out to my son about three months after the suicide. We slowly initiated contact which progressed to include a couple of supervised visits. Unfortunately I realized that just because you hope that things will be different does not mean they will be. I had a gut instinct when I was with them that something was not right. I suspected that their motives in rekindling this relationship were not in my son's best interests. My life had been torn apart by secrets, dishonesty and hiding from the past and I was not going to expose my son to more of that behavior. I told them that unless we could deal with the past and our underlying issues, through counseling, I would not support a relationship between them and my son. I knew that anything less than an honest and healthy relationship was not good for him. There has been no response.
But I still allow them to affect me. Every now and then something happens that makes me anxious, reactive and angry again. This weekend it was finding out that they had not told a close family member of their son's death. I was angry that there were still more secrets. I was angry that there is still so much I do not know. I was angry that I still allow them to affect me this way.
After about 24 hours of nail-biting, anxiety and imaginary letters written in my head, I realize that I must find a way to let go. My ex-laws are not healthy people. They are dysfunctional and secretive and have problems that I can only begin to understand. They will not change. I will not be able to make sense of it or figure it out. Rather, I need to let go and move forward. As my therapist once said, I need to look at it in this way: I crossed paths with insanity and I was able to get out the other side.
I will never understand them. They will never be the grandparents that I had hoped they would be. But the reality is that I do not need them. My son and I have an incredible network of family and friends and we are not missing anything by not having them in our lives.
Accept what is.
It is a journey...my everyday journey.