Sometimes I look back and wonder exactly where I went wrong in this whole ordeal with Eliza. Now that I’ve had to time to figure out what my “crimes” were, I must say that I am guilty as charged.
In hindsight I realize that I was a little too eager to make our relationship known to the world. I paid little attention to how she might have felt. I mistakenly assumed that she had accepted the divorce and moved on with her life. Boy was I so wrong! From her point of view I’m sure I came off as Ms. Goody-Goody–ready and willing to step in and take her place.
The first time I met her I smiled and extended my hand in greeting. Eliza glared at me disdainfully and ignored my gesture. She declined to say hello. In that moment I understood I was the perceived enemy. I was a little alarmed by her lack of decorum, but at the time, I really didn’t take her rebuff to heart. In my ignorance I figured she would eventually soften when she saw how well I treated her children. Wrong again!!! This approach had the opposite effect. It seemed the more I bonded with the boys, the more irate she became. Later down the line Eliza accused me of wanting her boys for my own.
Another offense I committed was my refusal to be scared off. I have to give it to Eliza; she really had some creepy, morbid, desperate weapons in her arsenal that would have caused a saner girl to break camp. I know that my diligence puzzled her especially considering she had successfully ran off several other women he had attempted to date. My dogged determination to stay with my husband only served to fuel her fire. She was willing to do anything to get rid of me.
Any time that they had court dates, save one or two when I just couldn’t alter my schedule, I was there. It didn’t matter that my husband had actually requested my presence. My presence was a constant reminder to her that she was no longer his wife. My courtroom cameos were an affront to Eliza. It meant that I was overstepping boundaries and “meddling in her business.” She told my husband several times “out of respect do not bring your wife or whatever you want to call her any where near me.” Seeing us together must have seemed like I was rubbing salt in her wound of a failed marriage. This was not my intention; but now I can see why it could have felt that way to her at the time. Really, I was simply a thorn in her side. She and my husband had many separations during their short time together. As long as he was single, there was always a chance for reconciliation. Our marriage was the end of this ever being a chance again.
However, I was not content to be a shadow in my own life. I didn’t feel that it was realistic of her to expect me to be invisible for the sake of her insecurities. My most felonious crime was being lovable in the eyes of my husband. Our marriage aggravated her obviously low self worth. Her solution to this problem was to compete with me. While he might have had me, she had their two children. Even though he divorced her, he could not truly cut ties with her because of the boys. She constantly reminded us both of this.
So what would I do differently you ask? I think I would have made my self less visible—not invisible. Perhaps I could have been gracious enough to give her the space she desperately needed to come to terms with her situation. This action could have saved us a lot of stress down the road, who knows?
Today I read a beautifully candid post by Thirty Something Mommy of Two Boys that details her journey at the other end of the spectrum.