I had no idea, when I was married, that I could be so involved in other types of family situations. I always thought that we’d forever be a nuclear family. Abuse and divorce cheated me out of that. I then realized that nuclear families are not always ideal, especially if they were already toxic and broken, I started to heal. So then I became a single parent family and that actually brought me the happiness I had always wished for: a life without the other toxic individual and happiness and safety. Wowza!

So, when I met my boyfriend, we had a lot in common, both being single parents. We talked about how hard it was and how we felt cheated out of the nuclear family situation, with our exes blaming us for that mishap (yeah, as if). It did bond us, so we dated for quite awhile before we allowed each other to meet each other’s children. The acceptance process was a bit slower with his kids of me, then mine of him. Mine could tell right away how sweet he was and accepted his positive influence in their life. His were skeptical of me, but we did bond over time. I understand the wariness, so I didn’t blame them one bit. He and his former girlfriend were together for five years, so naturally they would still be attached to her. I think my patience and consistency paid off. I feel like they are surrogate children of mine now.

He and I are both now grandparents, so there is no ‘yours’ or ‘mine’ grandchildren, they’re ‘ours’ and I completely love it. I only have one biological grandchild, but I have two more (with a third on the way) grandchildren through him. Recently, his daughter called me a “Bonus Nana,” which I dearly love! I had no idea, five years ago, that I could extend my current family…but I have. It’s expanded my heart immensely!

Now, when we do things with his children and grandchildren, his ex-wife is naturally involved. At first, I was a bit uncomfortable with this, but I’ve come to terms with it now. I have no problems with her. I’m honored that the kids want to involve me too, so I have no qualms. In fact, yesterday was her birthday party celebration and I bought her a bouquet of flowers. He didn’t think it appropriate to bring her a gift, but we decided together that flowers would be great, because one does not come to a birthday party empty-handed (our mothers would be horrified, we discussed). I picked out a pretty purple display. She was VERY surprised, but delighted, which was the reaction I was going for. I knew she loved flowers, but then again, so did everyone else, because they brought her very beautiful hanging baskets.

I have to say, I’m so honored and delighted about how much I am involved in his family’s life. It means he feels I’m important and so do they. I am very friendly toward his ex, as I have no qualms with her. She came before me and she’s never been anything but kind to me. His issues with her are NOT my issues. Sometimes even, when he’s voicing his opinion of something that happened in the past, I play devil’s advocate and introduce another side of what MIGHT have been. I’m not taking sides, because it was not my fight. I can tell he poured A LOT of love into that relationship, because I can feel his hurt and disappointment, even though it was nearly 30 years ago. I love his passion!

I was also blessed to be able to get to know his mother, before she passed. She got to the point where she could not be left alone, so I would join in the group and sit with her when he had to mow grass. I cooked for the both of them, because she was not allowed to cook any more. She was one of the sweetest souls I have ever known. We had a lot of great talks, while I sat with her. It did hurt my feelings that his sister didn’t consider me family enough to hear what the funeral director was saying to “the family,” right before they allowed in guests at her funeral. However, my boyfriend put me right next to him in the receiving line, which probably didn’t bode well. I didn’t want to cause any issues with his family. That point made me question my acceptance in his family, to be honest. I had to pray about it and decided that she felt hurt because of her mother’s passing and it was transference.

Families of any type are work, like any relationship. There will be happy times and sad ones, angry ones and disappointing ones. I feel fully integrated. My kids already call him “Papaw” to my grandbaby, because their Dad isn’t involved with grandson at all and barely acknowledges him. My boyfriend has been more of a Dad and Grandfather than the Ex EVER has, I’m sad to report. Well, I’m happy for us and wished he had come into our lives sooner. There IS a family life after abuse and divorce. Don’t allow the abusers to let you think everyone will abandon you and you will be all alone — you won’t! Your “family” does not necessarily have to be biological!

Love and light! <3